28 January 2011

Well, we've done it:)

The wedding went off well, we had beautiful weather, beautiful ceremony, beautiful reception. Everything was perfect, it was incredible how well everything went!

Our witnesses arrived on time to the house, we had a lovely visit with them and then went out the door at the appointed time, walked down to the Registrar Office, had a lovely ceremony-the Registrar was fantastic! She'd worked very hard for us before the wedding helping us plan a personal ceremony, and it all went off wonderfully! We said vows we'd been able to write ourselves (with the addition of the required Scottish vows), and a dear friend of Paul's read The Apache Wedding Blessing at the end:

Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.

Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.

May beauty surround you both in the
journey ahead and through all the years,
May happiness be your companion and
your days together be good and long upon the earth.

Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and
remind yourselves often of what brought you together.
Give the highest priority to the tenderness,
gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves.

When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship,
as they threaten all relationships at one time or another,
remember to focus on what is right between you,
not only the part which seems wrong.

In this way, you can ride out the storms when
clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives - remembering that
even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there.

And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your
life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.

It meant a lot to me to have those words said at my wedding! I also liked our ring vows:

With this ring I promise that from this
day forward you shall not walk alone

It's been a good ten days of married life:) We stayed home during our honeymoon, although we did ride the bus down to Dundee one afternoon. We took walks, read, watched old movies, planned the rest of the kitchen and bathroom renovations. We stayed off of the computers, and just talked to each other. Perfect!

And then we found out that I will have to return to the US to request my spousal residency. We aren't happy about that, but have decided to take it gracefully-I anticipate staying with my son, seeing my grandson a lot, taking lots of pictures, and getting things like my passport and driving license changed into my new married name.

I HATE FLYING, and am not at all looking forward to two more 24 hour trips across the water, though, and frankly am trying not to think about it all while making sure I have all of the documents I need to speed the residency approval once I get back to the States.

I'm also trying not to think about the state of the house when I get home-I'll have to reclaim the kitchen, lol!


Has it really been 25 years?

I clearly recall where I was, and what I was doing the morning the Challenger blew up. I don't even have to close my eyes to see the little TV in the kitchen...

Crusty and I had been up for a couple of hours-fighting, as usual. He'd just gone into the living room and I'd gone into the kitchen to make his coffee, turning on the TV to drown out his voice. I saw the families in the grandstand looking at the launch, watched their faces as they smiled into the frosty Central Florida morning. I was thinking how great it was that someone was happy when the camera switched to a view of the rising Challenger.

I stood there listening to the voice overs "Go for throttle up" or something, and then the Challenger exploded, and the camera switched to a shot of the families, their faces frozen forever in shock and dawning horror. I've never forgiven the cameraman for doing that. I've never forgot the looks on those peoples faces, especially Christa McAauliffe's family.

I ran into the living room and snapped on the TV saying to Crusty, "Oh my God, the Challenger just blew up!"

We sat in front of the TV for two days, united in grief for the lost astronauts and their loved ones. Argument over.

Years later when we were posted by his company to Melbourne Florida, we frequently went out to Kennedy Space Center to visit. The space program was one of the few things we had in common, and we always stopped at the beautiful Challenger memorial at the Space Center to pay our respects to the lost astronauts.

Although it is called the Space Mirror Memorial, for us it was always the Challenger Memorial. Now, sadly, it includes the names of the men and women lost in the Columbia break-up as well.


While we lived in Florida, a friend gave us his pass to view the maiden voyage of the Endeavour. Fox was nine or ten, and I remember praying for the safety of the new shuttle as it lifted off, and that my son would not be an eyewitness to a Challenger like moment in history.


How very strange life is. How every moment is fraught with fragility-this blog post goes from the total joy of our beautiful wedding to the grief of that day 25 years ago when the lives of the astronauts families changed forever in the worst possible way.


16 January 2011

In twenty hours I'll be married again. I still have a couple of things to do before the wedding-iron Paul's shirt, finish the flowers, finish the favours. Just enough to keep me busy the last few hours to go.

I woke up early this morning and instead of getting up I lay there thinking-am I sure, why am I marrying again, what do I expect from this marriage...Yes, questions I asked myself over and over the past eight months since Paul asked me to consider marrying him. I guess it was just a final review, lol!

Such a strange life I've led since my last marriage broke up. I look at all of the things I've been through, watched happen to the world, I think of the years Fox and I were estranged. So many changes especially in the last eight months!

And now I'm going to be Mrs Homemaker, again. The past five months have been a big help as we wound our way through the process of making sure we really did want to be married, and then all of the paperwork associated with a foreign national marrying a British citizen-we've had ample time to realise we can indeed share a tiny Scottish bathroom, agree to disagree, and the best part of determining that we apparently have no deal-breakers looming.

I lay there this morning thinking about how strange it is to be marrying a man who was able to retire young, and how strange it is to not be a young couple planning when the children are to come along, and how we'll pay for their education. Marrying at a later stage in life is so strange, I can't help comparisons sometimes between what life will be like with Paul as opposed to what it was with Crusty.

I was a good wife to Crusty, far better than he deserved. He is alive and has a good retirement ahead of him (as far as I know, he may have gummed up all that hard work I did, who knows or cares at this point) because I was such a good wife-I very occasionally wonder if he thinks about all of that?

I wasn't here with Paul as he went through his career-I don't have countless hours logged ironing his shirts, making his breakfast so that he could get to work on time and looking smart; no hours logged at the teas and luncheons, cocktail parties, weekend parties I would have attended, hostessed, gossiped about, made sure he and I looked smart, and showed good manners-some of all the things a wife does.

We are in the middle of our lives, God willing, not the start, and we both come bearing baggage from our pasts, but not a shared steamer trunk of memories that middle-aged people rely on to get through the first years after kids and jobs are gone.

I feel funny about that. There is no 'ex-wife and three children' lurking in Paul's shadows, I'm his first (and last:) wife. He did what he did alone, and I feel a bit strange about sharing the harvest, so to speak.

This all should be interesting. No-one really expected that I would fire-sale my place in GA and move countries, and no-one really expected that I would ever marry again after what happened with the guy I thought I was going to marry three years ago Christmas-heh, he never asked me to come to London. Now here I am in Scotland.

And in 19 hours, I'll be a homemaker again.

I hope to God I remember how!

09 January 2011

I've just posted an very brief update on Mozart and Gonzo's blog, sadly, their last.

They have been rehomed in North Georgia for the last few months and are doing well. Fox's schedule just didn't give him enough time at home with them and it quickly became clear they were better going to live with a family who have known and loved them since each came into my life. They are safe, they are happy, and they are still amazing, they just aren't part of my family any more-it hurts and I will miss them forever.

But hearing that Mozart relaxed and was playing with Gonzo within hours of arriving at the new home, and slept belly up right away has made it much easier for me to let go. I hadn't mentioned to anyone, not on their blog, or in person, that Mozart showed the trauma of his life in the wild for a very long time after he came IN in his not sleeping belly up; he slept curled tight with his back up against a wall or sofa back for years and it was only the last year we were together that he started to relax enough to sleep fully stretched out with his stomach exposed.


Paul and I will be married in a little over a week. All of our paperwork has gone to the Home Office, been vetted, been approved, and sent back-we posted the banns on New Years Eve by notifying the Registrar. She is a lovely lady pulling out all stops to help us have a lovely wedding as quickly as possible so that I can quickly apply for the marriage visa instead of having the expense of requesting my tourist visa be extended, and then after a wedding in less unseemly haste, the expense of requesting a marital visa.

It's a lovely difference of about a thousand pounds-money better spent putting in the last of the double glazing on the front window and another wood-stove. Considering climate change we're seeing here in the UK, I'm for saving the money for the window and stove!

We had about an inch and a half of snow last night, and today have both existing stoves going (bedroom and study). It is not as bitterly cold as it was in the run-up to Christmas and New Years, but close. The photos below are of the icicles and snow we enjoyed:

Um, yeah, it WAS cold!

The snow isn't quite as high, and we are religious about getting out to clear the icicles as soon as we see them starting now. Paul gets out on a ladder and clears the rhones (gutters) while I shovel the paths and try to cut a few drainage channels through the snow from the garden walls to the downslopes-as a retired building conservation officer, Paul is meticulous about keeping water from the walls and building. Other people aren't as diligent, and there are burst pipes, collapsed roofs and walls, and interior water damage all over the UK. Not at our house, though.

Back to the wedding, am I practical, or what-I found my beautiful cashmere coat (gray, mid calf length) in a charity shop. I decided that wearing a dress or skirt was insane given the mid-January weather in Scotland. This is turning out to be the most brutal winter in over three hundred years-do you really think I'm going to walk to my wedding and reception in a dress and tights (what they call stockings in the UK), lol?!

So I hit the sales in Dundee last week, and found a lovely pair of gray slacks (called trousers over here), an equally lovely black cowl neck tunic knit, and a pair of very nice suede snow boots. I brought some of my fabric and patterns over in my luggage-I am one of those women who, when packing to leave somewhere, sees the sewing box and crochet needles as far more essential than dresses and shoes-so I am starting my white wedding blouse this afternoon.

Paul found his wedding suit in a charity shop too, and is wearing his old topcoat over it.

Monday after next we will wake-up, I'll put the finishing touches on the wedding flowers (yup, making those myself too) while he pops down to the reception site with the cake and favours. When he returns we'll dress for the wedding, and when the witnesses arrive-a lovely younger married couple Paul has known for years, and I have come to know and love-we'll all walk the quarter mile down to the Marriage Room at the Registrar's Office.

We'll be married in the Marriage Room, a lovely sunny yellow with period furnishing (the building is Victorian, built around 1860), Vivaldi's Four Seasons playing softly in the background and the floral decorations they kindly pull from a cupboard flanking the Wedding Table (which is where we sign the marriage paperwork).

Once we are officially husband and wife, we'll walk another quarter mile to the centuries old pub where we've reserved a large table next to the fireplace-our wedding luncheon. The favours will have been placed by the waitstaff before we arrive, but I'll hand carry the small floral centerpiece from the Wedding Table in the Marriage Room and place it on the table at the pub for further decoration; we'll eat the lovely trademark steak pie and veggie lunch their chef is preparing. We'll open the bottle of champagne, the waitstaff will bring out the cake, and then cut slivers of the cake for the quests share with us there, and some to take home too.

Fox will not be able to be with us (still trying to get his passport renewed, and frankly I didn't want him flying this time of year anyway) so when he comes to see us this spring we will be hosting a 'real' reception with around a hundred people. Another much missed guest and he will receive a parcel from us with cake, favours, cd of the wedding, and a hard copy wedding portrait, soon after the wedding.

I am making the flowers up from a half dozen roses to be picked up from the florist the Saturday afternoon before the wedding-two corsages (lady witness and Registrar), two buttonholes (groom and male witness), a single rose table decoration for the Wedding table where we'll sign our Marriage Schedule, and a single rose/heather/thistle/tartan ribbon 'bridal bouquet' for me.

I am also making the favours-sugared almonds and four different kinds of confetti in an organza bag with a hand lettered thank-you note and a wedding champagne bubble bottle tied on. I'll decorate each with a couple of paper roses.

Thank-you God, I am not expected to pull a cake out of my hat, too, and we've already ordered the cake-a traditional sultana with marzipan and sheet frosting with a wedding posie, our family tartans, and the date in silver lettering. Oh, crikes, I think I need to pick-up a packet of cake boxes so that our six guests can take home a piece of cake...I'd forgot about that!

I should have the materials for the favours by Tuesday, and I am going to get them put together as quickly as I can! Hopefully I'll even be able to post a few pictures.