Go 4th and celebrate . . .

wedding poster

Three years ago, I posted on social media about getting married on July 4th and what an excellent decision that was—both the marriage and the date!

This year, we celebrate our 30th year wed, one week from today. David teases that marrying me was only the icing on the cake. He scored highly by (1) having a wedding anniversary on a national holiday–so that he would never forget the date (2) being able to crack wise (endlessly) about how he gave up his independence on Independence Day and (3) there are always fireworks and everybody is celebrating–on our anniversary.

If you are interested, check out the memories in picture form below. Many hands went into making the day extraordinary: from location to invitations to posters to catering equipment to linen to flowers to cake to photos to staffing to music. We had a video thanks to our cousin from Indiana, but a baby-sitter recorded a Disney show over it one night when the kids were little. We can always watch the movie in our head.

This year, our daughter will be making her first visit from her new home in Charlotte, North Carolina, bringing an old friend from high school, and said friend’s mother–who has become a treasured friend. Fortunately, my husband loves company, always encouraging our friendships, ever solicitous and entertaining, the benefits of marrying a chef and caterer, even if that career is long past. As we always say, no one can pay us enough money to cater anymore; we only do it for love. We need to shop for food, mow the yard, check the pool water. We have a rain or shine plan. Love is definitely on the menu.

the house overlooking the Blue Ridge foothills in Loudoun County,

My sister and brother-in-law. Pam and Mike Boyd hosted us in their lovely home overlooking the Blue Ridge foothills in Paeonian Springs, Loudoun County, Virginia.


The bride’s hair before the hat. How 1989!

Descending the staircase to Pachelbel's Canon in D. I know. Please don't judge.

Descending the staircase to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. I know. Please don’t judge.

So in love (2)

So in love.

The flowers (2)

The flowers.

the cake (2)

The cake.

praise for the cake baker (2)

Praise for the baker of the cake.

our happy and generous hosts

Our happy and generous hosts!


My nieces and their exceedingly chill and compliant cat, Domino.

wedding poster

This poster was a wedding present from a friend and graphic artist, Lisa Crews Gillogly. Like us, it has faded a bit, but we still spark!

When the news sends you back to bed

Comfort1Illustration by Sabrina Silverio

It wasn’t a headline. I was playing Bridge Doctor online while waiting for the antihistamine to kick-in at 5 am this morning, hoping it would calm down my sneeze mechanism. The message “you have exceeded your allowable number of hands for the day unless you want to pay more moolah” scrolled a banner across my screen, and I clicked the window closed. My facebook feed confronted me with the CNN red and white logo, every article and photograph addressing the latest shameful comment or action from the Trump team, or the newest rebuttal to Trump, all of humanity seemingly embroiled in a spitting match. And then I read that someone spat at Eric Trump in a restaurant—such contempt displayed on both sides. I decided to go back to bed and try this day again later.

I woke up, thankful. Thankful to be able to try again. Thankful that others have more endurance than I do. Grateful for people like Expertina, who seem capable of reasoning us out of hopelessness. So, yes, this is my blog post to ask you to have hope. And if you don’t, read this commentary by Suzanne Heagy of The Gloria Sirens blog. Please, and thank you.



Frayed Threads and Fat Quarters

(Originally published in June of 2016)

After several days of radio, TV, and internet news, Facebook and Instagram posts, and Twitter feeds, I vented on the phone to my lifelong best friend when she had more than enough in her life to deal with, ending the conversation apologetically and vowing I would do something this time. I will advocate. I will participate. I will no longer be emotionally or politically constipated as I have been since I left the Washington D.C. area in 1990. In the intervening years, I discovered that people will hate you for what you believe, for the way you live, or love. My apologies to the South. The space we currently inhabit is not regional, but global, influenced by social, economic, and cultural tides.

Yesterday, as I took refuge from the heat in my home, bereft of a working air conditioner, I drove by an example of the Culture of Hate in my four-years-newly-adopted hometown: Frostproof, Florida.  Since Obama’s second term in office began, a particular sign has hung on the security fence of the former citrus plant.

Yesterday, I discovered a new one, also hateful.


Vote for whom you choose. Post their placard in your yard. Spread leaflets. Join the volunteer call center asking for donations. Discuss your choice rationally, and I will listen. However, don’t make your choice about hatred, or put that hatred on display.

I pointed my car south on Highway 27, missing the turns for the errands I planned to run, taking a sudden detour into the parking lot of a local quilting shop. I do not quilt. Something about perusing colorful, crisp fabrics, rows of bolted cloth (and not to discount the quiet hum of central air conditioning), drew me inside. The bright young clerk explained the sales items, pricing structure, and inquired about my quilting experience.

“I have a dear friend who quilts competitively and has won numerous awards,” I replied, proudly showing her the photo from a recent text of said friend’s latest project. “Just browsing!” I piped.

She returned to folding squares of cloth, known in the quilting world as fat quarters: square cut quarter yards of cloth, providing the quilter with maximum choices of fabric at minimum investment. I hovered over the box of fat quarters, enticed by the palette of hues. I arranged my choices on the work-space, mixing patterns and depth of color: red crosshatched with orange, orange dotted with yellow, a splash of honeysuckle to border a thatch of green, deepest indigo blue to follow, regency purple to close.

I turned to the clerk and said, “I need your help.”

Having watched me amass the swatches, she asked me, “What are you making?”

“A banner,” I blurted out, my voice thick, suddenly knowing–something to do at last. “A rainbow banner. To hang on my front window. For Orlando.”

The clerk beamed her approval, helping me choose the backing. She measured and cut and packaged everything I needed.

I am no seamstress. Mrs. Carrico, my 7th grade home economics teacher, would attest: I am dogged if not particularly talented. My Texan grandmother, Anna Pearl, did not bestow on me her professional seamstress skills of stitching and darting, keeping pattern proportions in her mind’s eye, shoulders roped with a measuring tape, pins protruding from her lips.

Even my mother, an accomplished home decorator, often chided me, “Stop whimpering every time you prick your finger. Learn to use a thimble!”

But I can doggedly produce a straight seam on a Singer machine if moved to do so.

I worked in my mother-in-law’s sewing room past the afternoon into evening, through frayed thread and bunched corners, frozen bobbins and slipping needles, singeing my fingers with the iron as I flattened seams. Two banners lay upon my kitchen island that evening, a small offering, fending off the culture of hate, nudging me towards hope, and action.

As I hand-whipped the final stitches in place, measured the points on which to slip the drapery hooks, coiled out the twine I would use to suspend the banners from our windows, my anger moved outward. I let it go. I let it go.

Ducking the heat . . . .

Warning: gruesome descriptions ahead, meant with jest.
So this happened. Cherries arrived at the grocery store. As many friends may know, I harbor a life-long morbid aversion to cherries. Too much cherry cough syrup in my youth? Who knows? The movie “The Witches of Eastwick” traumatized me at the still impressionable age of 32. Shout out to the friend who held me in my seat during the cherry/horror scene. Veronica Cartwright deserved an Oscar for her gustatory performance. 
But life and love beg compromise, right? So, I have been working to tolerate certain foodstuffs for my more palate-adventurous spouse. If I puree fresh cilantro into a dish, it tastes less of soap and more of green herb. If I roast cherries first, rendering their red flesh less of a “fresh kill” look, I am game for sauces and compotes and even tossing them in salads–another example of how a funky and veiny blue cheese performs an alchemist’s miracle on foods with equally strong flavors.
Voila! Duck legs/thighs with roasted cherry balsamic sauce, enhanced by the juice from Luxardo cherries and flamed with brandy. Accompany this with farro pilaf, a few haricot verts glazed with duck fat and pan drippings–delicious. While hiding inside from the sweltering heat and post-rain-sauna conditions, I enjoyed the opportunity to cook my husband a meal, with a cherry on top!
Duck with Cherries
Note: My husband’s choice for wine: the 2015 Rockin’ H Syrah from Bouchaine vineyards. Inspirational! I am a grateful girl.