Archive for July, 2011

Back to Normal
July 28, 2011

When the solution is simple, God is answering. ~ Albert Einstein


It was such an ordinary task to rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher tonight! How often we take it for granted. And how privileged I am to even have a dishwasher, much less running water. 

 It’s been 17 days since we’ve been able to do this chore. I am so grateful for all the hardworking guys who made it possible. There were four of them. The plumbers, Mike and Brett, the tunnelers, Cesar and José. 

As storms threatened all around, we were blessed with a window of dry weather that enabled the two guys to dig a 3 x 4 x 10 tunnel BENEATH the foundation of our house to reach the sink pipes under the island in our kitchen. 

They did this with a shovel, a bucket and a wheelbarrow. That’s it. They were nothing short of amazing. As I documented their progress on Facebook, friends suggested we make our underground space into a wine cellar or a place to store potatoes.

That would be nice unless it rained, which I am hoping it will do AFTER the dirt gets packed back in there. Because when our irrigation system did its thing overnight on Monday, there were a few inches of water in that tunnel. I turned the system off on Tuesday. Our cosseted plants in the back aren’t very happy about not having their regular water fix, but they will just have to deal with it for a few more days! 

Mike had warned us that he may have to disassemble the column by the sink that houses the electrical and water pipes, because the code requires a vent for below ground pipes… and 40+ years ago, it had not been done. 

His vision was that we would have to go through the ceiling and add a roof jack; all I could think about was the money flying out of my bank account. I had padded his earlier cost estimate, just in case, but from what he was describing, I feared that it would be much more expensive. 

I kept telling myself that it was only money, and that we would somehow manage. 

But then this morning, he came in with the blessed news that the below ground pipes were smaller than anticipated, so they could craft a vent that would fit underground and pass inspection! 

Hallelujah!! (or as the McCurdys’ grandson pronounces it, “hawaywooya!”)

From then on, everything else was just a minor inconvenience. Noisy? Yes. Messy? Yes. Expensive? Yes, but not nearly as bad as had been estimated, thank goodness. 

From a near disaster comes a victory. I can’t help but praise God again and again for his blessings. Looking at the big picture, this is one of those situations that on the surface may have been really awful, but because it turned out better than expected, it’s something to celebrate. 

Again, I say, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”



Unexpected Surprises
July 21, 2011

There’s no greater bliss in life than when the plumber eventually comes to unblock your drains. ~ Victoria Glendenning 

The joys of home ownership are many, but along with the positive aspects of it come some sickening moments when major repairs are necessary. Happily, they are few and far between. But when our plumber broke the news to me recently that the cast iron pipe beneath our kitchen sink had corroded, and would need to be replaced, I had one of those awful moments. 

The sink had backed up over the weekend, and we just thought it was due to putting too much down the garbage disposal. We tried Drano and a plunger, but had no luck. Mike came on Monday, drained and dismantled the curved PVC pipes, and found nothing. But when he snaked down the main pipe, he found mud within the first two feet. 

I had a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, and more stacked up on the counter. My plan had been that he would fix the clog, and then I’d happily run the dishwasher. But as I realized the gravity of the situation, my hopes sank. Not only would I not be able to run the dishwasher, I wouldn’t be able to use the sink at all for THREE WEEKS.

To fix this problem, Mike said they’d have to either jackhammer my floor (antique bricks!) or tunnel from outside. He said it would likely take an entire week, and that he couldn’t block the time out until the end of the month. His cost estimate was sobering. 

We’re still in a state of disbelief about it, not only at the scope of the repair, but also the expense, coming right on the heels of Shannon’s wedding, with all the various costs paid and yet to be paid.    

But the immediate problem was that all those dirty dishes needed to be washed by hand somehow. I went to Target and bought a storage bin, which I put in my bathtub and filled with hot water and soap. Kat brought in the dirty dishes, and I hand washed them, handed them off to Shannon, who dried them, and then back to Kat to put them away. It was an efficient assembly line, and we soon had them all done. I can’t imagine how tedious it would have been without their help!

Also while at Target, I purchased assorted paper plates, bowls, plastic utensils and glasses. It was a deja vu moment from last summer when we had the kitchen remodeled and were unable to access the sink or dishwasher. We lived through it then, and I guess we’ll live through it again! 

I could kick and scream and complain about the hassle and expense of it all, but with age comes perspective. There are many, many people out there who have recently had everything they own blown away in tornados or demolished by way of earthquakes or tsunamis. I know that these people would love to trade their problems for mine. 

This is merely an inconvenience. We’ll figure out how to pay for it, just as we have figured out how to pay for things over the years. The older I get, the less I let stuff like this get to me. 

Because God provides. He always does. Amazingly enough, we received two unexpected  checks in the mail this week for off budget items; all I can think of is how grateful I am for them, and how God blesses me over and over again.

Praise God!

Mother of the Bride, Chapter 17 (the final chapter!)
July 8, 2011

Mazel Tov! Yiddish for “I am pleased this good thing has happened to you!” (according to Wikipedia), or “Congratulations!” in other translations.

The Wedding Day! 

I can’t believe I slept late on Shannon’s wedding day, but I did. It was probably a good thing, in hindsight. I remember waking up and thinking what a marathon this day would be, and was grateful that I had slept so well (probably because both the rehearsal and dinner had been such happy occasions, and I was so relieved). 

The first item on our agenda was a lovely brunch, hosted by our IHGLAM supper club friends for the out of town guests, which was appreciated by all, especially the young guys who always love free food! IHGLAM stands for “I Hate Girls and Love Army Movies”; you can likely figure out by the acronym who organized and named this group (hint, it was not the women).

Miss Organized, here, I thought I was good with all my lists, but then I forgot to bring the hostess gifts for the brunch, and then I forgot the photographer’s list to work on while we girls were all at the hair/makeup salon after the brunch. And I forgot the napkins/plates for the sandwiches at the salon… so I made a quick trip home retrieve all of these things. Was I nervous or anxious? Maybe? Just a little?

It took quite some time to do the seven attendants and the two moms’ hair and makeup, but it was well worth it! Wow, did we  look pretty fancy! In a way, it was a relaxing process, with idle time while waiting for the others to finish. But then as the afternoon wore on, I began to get antsy about everyone getting finished in time for us to dash home and then to church. I can’t help it; it’s just an innate worry of mine to be on time.

Perhaps it was that innate worry in me that suggested that I drop Melissa (aka the “MOG”) off at her hotel while the girls were finishing up. When she and I set out, we discovered the traffic on Westheimer at the Galleria was a total gridlock. It took almost 20 minutes and a detour by the back roads to go THREE BLOCKS. Then I had to figure out how to get back to the salon. Eventually, I did, and I was so grateful that I had a chance to alert the others to take an alternate route. So perhaps it was a good thing in hindsight, although it rattled whatever calm equilibrium I had, just “a tad”. 

Because we knew how to avoid the traffic jam, we had a very quick turnaround at home, then it was off to church in the “clown car” (aka Donnie Ray) with six very beautiful passengers. 

The girls all dressed in the Parlor, and the guys congregated in the Hines Baker Room. Of course, our awesome coordinator, Joyce was everywhere, smoothing out details, like a button popping off the back of the  wedding dress (she has a basket with every known emergency supply that you could ever think of!). 

Then came the official photos of the bridal party (in lieu of doing it after the ceremony). Temple Webber and his two assistants captured every moment of the process. They were everywhere, and I know their photos will be amazing. 

And then suddenly it was 7 pm! An ensemble from Mercury Baroque played a lively piece that began the service and captured the joy of the moment. First down the aisle were all the grandmothers and me in turn, all accompanied by glorious processional music, thanks to Rob Landes. 

Following the family members came Kat, escorted by his parents, as is Jewish tradition. Then came the attendants, two by two, in their colorful attire, with a mix of girls and guys on either side. They all looked so handsome or beautiful (depending on gender), and because I have had such fun getting to know all of them, I was so proud of each one! 

Finally, with great fanfare and flourish, here came the bride and her proud father, processing to the beloved music of Saint Saëns Organ Concerto #23, which Rob graciously arranged especially for the occasion. It was such a thrill for us to have this particular piece played for Shannon’s wedding! Tears? I was very emotional, but held it in, mostly because Shannon said that if I cried, she would, too. I had a very crumpled kleenex clutched in my hand, just in case!

The service was a uniquely woven tapestry of both Methodist and Jewish traditions that made for a fascinating and meaningful wedding. I was absolutely rapt the entire time. Mercury Baroque played another piece as Shannon, Kat and their honor attendants ascended up to the Chancel. We are so grateful for their beautiful contribution to the service! 

Dr. Linda Christians and Dr. Robert Gerber were seamlessly in sync with the elements of worship; the entire service was absolutely perfect, in my opinion, and many others agreed with me, from the positive comments at the reception and later by e-mail and snail mail. 

The recessional piece was thrilling and joyous; the bride and groom jumped straight into their Town Car (since the posed photos had been taken beforehand), and the bridal party cheered and waved goodbye to them from the front steps of the church. 

Before the reception officially began, Temple took some special photos of them in the garden of the Cohen House, at a perfect time on a perfect day. The garden was so beautiful through the windows as dusk fell. As a bonus, the evening was mild, and many folks elected to eat outdoors out there.

 Inside, the reception was a blast with moustaches, cowbells and disposable cameras on each table, good food, plentiful drinks and terrific music! Just as many told me that it would, the evening went by in a flash, with the dancing, the cake cutting, the toasts and visiting with friends.

 After all the work and worry and planning for this day, I was ready to dance, which I did my fair share of! The music by the Swatchmen (from San Antonio) was infectious. Finally, Shannon changed into her going away dress, then they danced a last dance. And then it was midnight. 

To end the evening, she and Kat ran through a gauntlet of ringing cowbells into the Town Car which took them off to their hotel. We then collected all the leftovers and headed home minus our lovely clown car passengers, who opted to go out late with the fellows!

We left the back door unlocked; Joel said the girls hadn’t come in by 3:15 am, but when he checked again at 5:30, they were in. As it turned out, they partied some more, and then ended up at the House of Pies. After dancing so much at the wedding, I think they were just hungry! 

The next day, the guys drove back over here to “hang out” until we needed to make the airport runs. There was much laughter as they looked at Molly’s photos,  and each “friended” the others on Facebook. Everyone nibbled on sandwiches, leftover cookies and cupcakes, with coffee or soft drinks. 

I think it’s really cool that this disparate group from all over the country (CO, NY, PA, MA, DC, TX) had such fun together and plan to stay in touch after their shared wedding experience. I think it speaks well of Kat and Shannon that they have such nice and fun friends who thoroughly enjoyed being with one another! Here they all are hanging out before they headed off to the various airports on Sunday afternoon.

And now they have all headed home. The house is once again quiet, and while I am enjoying the peace, I miss them already! I cannot stop smiling after this picture perfect wedding weekend. We will savor this special moment in time for years to come…


Postscript: It’s now been two weeks since the wedding. Shannon and Kat have been on their honeymoon in Scotland and are due back in the wee hours of Friday morning. Things have calmed down considerably, and it may seem boring to get back to “normal” after all the recent excitement.

But the “Mother of the Bride” is now happy to relinquish her title and pass it on to my friend, Fran, and then to Ruth, and then to the next worthy mom whose precious daughter has set a wedding date!

Postpostscript: Thanks to Molly Peters for most of the above photos…

 (Note: Pewperson will return in two weeks on July 22.)

Mother of the Bride, Chapter 16
July 1, 2011

Those whom God has joined together,  let no one put asunder. Amen.FROM THE UNITED METHODIST BOOK OF WORSHIP

Shannon and Kat were married at 7 pm on Saturday, June 25 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas! The two of them worked very hard to craft an interfaith ceremony that included aspects of both traditions and some incredible music. By all measures, they succeeded. It was a beautiful and memorable ceremony! 

Notes from the Wedding Week: 

So the wedding week began with a trip to the doctor for Kat’s dad, David to get his injured hand x-rayed. Then we subsequently discovered that my sister Mary thought that she had broken her toe, as did Shannon’s honor attendant, Courtney.

At that point, we threatened  to wrap Shannon in bubble wrap for the rest of the week! 

All ended up healing nicely, although David kept a brace on his hand to protect it from the many handshakes that he anticipated over the course of the week. 

There were a few unplanned expenses that popped up; for instance, we hadn’t planned to video the ceremony initially, but decided to go for it after all, mostly for Kat’s paternal grandparents’ sake, because they were unable to come. The St. Luke’s media team even live streamed it to them, so they could experience it virtually. 

I thought that was very cool, and we are looking forward to seeing the DVDs of the ceremony, once they are edited. I’m so glad we elected to do this! 

The other surprise expense that we splurged on was to have lights hung from the massive live oak tree in the garden at the Cohen House for the reception. The photos we had seen of the gardens had such lights, which added an element of drama, but when we realized that they weren’t a standard feature, we opted to include them in the bottom line.

Because we were very much under budget, we had some wiggle room to allow for extras like this. I think both decisions were good ones.

I could not have functioned this week without the Word document that I had created with a blow by blow list of things to do each day of this week. Its name was “wedding schedule for week of wedding”. Yes, I know it was redundant to use the word “wedding” twice, but all documents pertaining to this event were prefixed “wedding” so as to keep them all together in my computer’s document folder. 

As things were crossed off this list, they were highlighted in yellow. As of the Thursday prior to the wedding, the first page was a sea of yellow with the one exception, “fix moustaches”. 

I finally fixed the moustaches (note: we sprinkled an assortment of moustache styles affixed to rods on the tables at the reception, for people to amuse themselves by holding them up under their noses for funny photos). There were a scant few that had become unglued, which needed “fixing”. The end result was hilarious, with even my mother posing for a photo with a moustache! 

The weekend kicked off on Thursday evening with a mani/pedi party at the Beautique spa for all the girls in the wedding party, including Kat’s mom, Melissa and me. It was so nice to relax and enjoy being together before things cranked up into high gear. We are so thankful to Shirley and Sally for hosting us all! 

The bachelor/bachelorette party followed on the heels of the mani/pedi party at our house on Thursday night, with much merry making on the part of the wedding party. Moustaches were the theme, and thanks to our friends, Kathy and John, who underwrote the festivities, a good time was had by all. I am glad the participants elected to either crash upstairs or take a cab to their hotel. 

I was amazed that the kitchen was so cleaned up the next morning, although the aroma of beer still lingered a bit. Also, the concrete outside the kitchen door was still sticky; apparently beer pong was the reason. The photos of the evening are hilarious, and I’m glad they partied here… regardless of all the sticky and stinky elements. 

Friday, we had to get up and hit the ground running; here was our schedule for the day: 

Fri, June 24

  • Becky arrives 7:51am (IAH) on continental 1677. Melissa pu?
  • Bridesmaids luncheon at Briar Club. 11:00 am. Betty drive Mom/Betty. Carol drive Shannon, Molly, Brittney, Melissa, Carol. Bring hostess gifts and pots!

  • Joyce L. arrives 12:50 (IAH) delta 1675. Kat to pu?
  • Pick up programs from Speedy
  • Order sandwich tray from Pete’s.
  • Joyce S. 1:45
  • Sarah arrives 2:30 at Hobby. Shannon or Kat pu?
  • Shannon/Kat pack overnight bag for Sat.
  • Lucas to kennel?
  • Rehearsal 5:30. Bring programs, checks for musicians/officiants, maps to Mary’s house and rehearsal “bouquets”
  • Rehearsal dinner 7:00 – ?
  • Bring guest book, pen, video display to Mary’s

This day (as well as the whole week prior) was literally a choreography of placing people and things where they all needed to be and when. Our awesome wedding coordinator (Joyce Smith) and I kept a running list; she would remind me if I forgot something. Each day brought a new list of questions to think about… what would we have done without her?  

The rehearsal was a very interesting experience, with a brief practice run of the processions, recessions, along with a limited review of the ceremony. Our cantor was unavailable because of the Friday night service at his temple, and our extra musicians were not present, having rehearsed their pieces beforehand. So there was a bit of uncertainty as to how everything would come together on the big day. 

The rehearsal dinner at Mary’s was a huge success; it was exactly what we had hoped for, with a relaxing atmosphere, good food, and the two families getting to know one another. Video presentations and toasts were well received, and with Frankie Mandola in the kitchen, we all went home satisfied. 

I had a carload of attendants both going and coming; we dubbed Donnie Ray the “clown car” because so many people piled out of him. All of us were tired, and with the big day pending, we old folks went to bed at a reasonable hour. Not sure when the young ones did, but I know for a fact that it was way later than we did… 

Tune in next week for: The Wedding Day!