Sunday, September 28, 2014

St Louis

I am on the plane, returning from a week spent in St Louis, preparing my mom's apartment for sale. I have sorted through books, papers, photos; opened drawers one last time; wandered through closets; stood in the office lost in thought.

I have packed boxes and hauled them to the car, and from the car to FedEx. Photos and papers have been shipped to New Hampshire. The photos will be digitized and preserved, the old postcards written by my grandfather to my grandmother in German during the First World War will be translated, old letters and papers filed away. Bills, tax forms, condo titles will be filed where I can access them easily until the estate is settled.

Shipped to Cody: a large chrome vise; to Daniel: a Shofer; to Sarah: a Le Creuset casserole; to Susan: a watercolor by Sandy Schultz. I'm keeping an oil painting of klezmer musicians by an Israeli artist. I want to hang it somewhere where I will be able to see it frequently; it reminds me of my parents.

An estate sale is planned for this weekend. I am a bit uneasy about it all. We have been stiffed by a painter who took our money and now says he can't do the work, and can't return the money either. We're threatening him with the police if he doesn't return the advance we gave him, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope. The estate sale people took something out of the sale and gave it to a friend of theirs without our permission. Fortunately I noticed that it was missing and demanded its return, but even so, how can I trust them now, to sell things in good faith, and give us an accurate accounting of the proceeds? I wish now that I would be there for the sale, but I won't. I've asked a few people to stop by and let me know if anything seems amiss, but I suppose it's out of my hands. At least they will haul away anything that doesn't sell and give it to charity. That's worth something, I suppose.

Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah. After taking one last box to FedEx I went to services at CRC, my mother's wonderful temple. They have a no ticket policy so anyone can attend and their high holiday services draw unaffiliated Jews from all over St Louis. I love their services. Their have a dynamic choir and a charismatic rabbi, Susan Talve, who was so kind and caring to my mother and all of us at the end.

I'm surprised by how emotional this is for me. I miss my mom sharply, and the prayers are more meaningful than they usually are. I sadly stand with the people who have lost a loved one for Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. It's just hard.

One night I meet my cousin Michael for a drink at at Brio's. One day I meet my friend Sarah for lunch at Chipotle one more time. One evening I go to dinner at Lester's with my Aunt Ray, my Uncle Al, their grandson Teddy, and his girlfriend Chris. These are old habits, things I have done so many times over the years, visiting my parents and later my mom.

My strongest connection to St Louis has been broken. But St Louis is where I was born, and where I spent the first 18 years of my life. It's where my parents lived for 60 years of married life, and where my mother ended her days on earth. A childhood in University City.  Teenage years in Creve Coeur. Cardinal games at the old Busch Stadium. Sledding on Art Hill. The Art Museum. The Zoo. The Planetarium.

The apartment building on Heman Avenue that my grandmother owned. The house on Judson Manor that my parents built. The condo on Oxford Hill where they moved for their last years.

Delmar, Skinker, Kingshighway Blvd. Olive, Ladue, Clayton Road. Lindbergh, Spoede, Woods Mill Road.

Creve Coeur, Frontenac, Webster Groves. Kirkwood, Bridgeton, St Charles. Wentzville, O'Fallon, Ballwin.

If I start listing all the memories that come to my mind this post will go on forever. I didn't expect to feel so sad to say goodbye to STL as a frequent destination, but I do. I said at the beginning of this piece that my connection to St. Louis has been broken and of course it has. Broken, but not forgotten. My habits will change, just like the daily phone calls to my mother no longer take place, the trips to Missouri every three or four months are over too. And will I really miss it? The heat, the traffic, the strip malls? Well yes, I will. I'll admit it. I'll miss you St Louis, very much.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Wedding

When I arrive in Minneapolis on Wednesday I have a list of things to do to finish off the welcome bags for our out of town guests. There's very little I've had to do on my own for this wedding. My daughter and Erik have handled almost all the planning all by themselves. The wedding is in their town, and I live on the east coast, so it only makes sense. But it's also just the way it should be. My daughter has been a planner all her life, making lists of activities to do with friends, schoolwork tasks, chores; with little boxes to check off, from the time she was small. And Erik is a designer. He has definite ideas of what this wedding should look like, and is far from the baffled disinterested groom.

Mainly I has been the research assistant, since that's something that's easy to do from far away. Research hotels, research florists, dress shops, limousines. I do my best, send in the data, and Sarah and Erik make the decisions.

But the welcome bags are all mine. And I manage to throw a wedding's worth of anxiety into these bags. After I pick up the rental car, I drive downtown and park in what I hope is a fairly central location. Downtown Minneapolis always initially confuses me. There are numbered STREETS and numbered AVENUES, and which ones run which way? But soon I figure out where the river is, and then my mind is set to rights.

First I go to pick up copies of the Minneapolis Saint Paul magazine, but get sidetracked by a Caribou Coffee shop, cause I need 30 $5 gift cards. Will they sell me all of them? Sure! I hope the people behind me in line don't hate me, but I can check that off my list. Now back to the magazines. I need 18 copies. I'm afraid they will be really heavy but 18 magazines turn out to be compact and not very heavy at all. Drop those off in the car. Next the little candy boxes from Candyland. It is freezing in Minneapolis and I need to walk several blocks to get there. Their store smells fantastic. They make popcorn balls too and I'm momentarily sorry I didn't order some of those as well. Take the candy to the car, drive to Lunds. They have cases of water buy one get one free so I get two cases, which is way more than I need for the bags, but I figure we'll use it so what the heck. I want 30 bottles of a locally made soda, Joia. It comes in glass bottles and strange flavors, lemon hibiscus, orange nutmeg. Now those are heavy, but it's not far to the car. I pick up some stuff for dinner and then it's off to Sarah's house.

Sarah is busy putting names on the guest cards for the reception. Presents for the bridal party are spread around the floor. I put my welcome bag ingredients in the spare room and take a breath.

We are busy, but calm. We are pretty happy too. Aren't weddings supposed to be stressful? Shouldn't we be freaking out, snapping at each other? I guess not!

I set up an assembly line in the spare room and put together the gift bags. Now all I have to do is drop them off at the hotels, but that can wait until tomorrow.

Sarah, Erik and I have a nice dinner together and go to bed early. We have a busy day tomorrow.

In the morning I go for a run, get ready and lug my completed welcome bags back into the car. First I take most of the bags to the Best Western and drop them off at the front desk. We make sure we have bags for all our guests, and we do, almost. One set of guests must have registered after I did my final count. Dang! I feel badly but there's nothing I can do about it. Then it's time to pick Lee up at the airport and check into our hotel. As we check in I drop off the bags for the guests staying at The W too. This all goes smoothly as well. Our room is comfortable and quiet. There is time to relax before we go out for sushi at Origami with Sarah and Erik that evening. They have all their tasks in order and will check into the hotel tomorrow.

Daniel arrives very late Thursday night, I see his text in the morning, letting me know he has arrived safely. Friday morning Lee goes to pick up Gail and Michael, our dear friends from Nashville. After they are settled in their room they come down to say hello. I practically burst into tears at the sight of them. It's just been too long, and I'm so happy they have come all this way for the wedding.

My Dear Friend Gail

At 5 pm it's time for the rehearsal dinner. It's still unseasonably cold and the ceremony is outside, in the Walker Sculpture garden. The wedding party gathers shivering and Sarah goes through the plan. We get our marching orders. First Daniel with Joanne, his grandmother. Then he scurries around; he gets to go twice. Then Suzanne with Erik. Then the bridesmaids and groomsmen enter two by two, and finally Lee, Sarah and I together. Both my parents escorted me down the aisle as well. This is a Jewish thing, but I didn't know this until recently. I thought it was just a quirk my mom had at the last minute. I'm charmed however when Sarah asks me to walk together with her and her dad.

The Wedding Party Shivers While We Get Our Instructions

Once we have all of that in order it's off to The Butcher and The Boar for the rehearsal dinner. Suzanne has outdone herself. We have a great private room, the tables are beautifully set. I've managed to get the last of the welcome bags for the wedding party into the room and set on a table. This is a barbecue place, and Suzanne has managed to get paper bibs for all of us messy eaters, printed with Sarah and Erik 2014. It's funny, and practical as well. I've tucked one away as a souvenir somewhere.

Lulu, Maice, Erik and Sarah
The food is great but there is a lot left over. Suzanne makes sure all of the young people have doggie bags to take home so nothing is wasted. I'm slowly realizing that it is the day before my daughter's wedding!

Saturday is sunny, and a little warmer. In fact if you get in the sun it's very comfortable. We have a busy day planned. The girls are meeting in the bridal suite between 10 and 11. We are getting our hair done, and Sarah and I are getting our makeup done too. I'm a little apprehensive about this, but Sarah has assured me that the people she's hired are good, and enough people have told me it's a good thing to do for photographs, so I'm hopeful.

My one other task that I was entirely in charge of was making sure there was food for the girls to eat during the day. No fainting and no crankiness allowed. I have Surdyks Wine and Cheese Shop do the catering and they do a great job. I order a veggie plate, a fruit plate, cucumber, Brie and peach chutney finger sandwiches, a dipping platter with pita bread and hummus, chèvre, and white bean dips. I order orange juice and prosecco for mimosas. And I order some sparkling water too, so there is a non alcoholic option. There are a couple of bottles of champagne too, hidden away for the limo. The only thing I forget are plates and forks. Oops! But the hotel comes to the rescue and sends them up from room service in short order.

Sarah Shows off the Food...And Her Curlers! Photo by Maice Scott

I've invited Gail to come and hang out with us as we get ready and Suzanne is there too. The hair and makeup  ladies come and start on my hair, which doesn't take long. They do a great job! They want to do my make up next, but I want to eat something first. I want to be sure to try out what I ordered! A mimosa isn't a bad idea either. And all those extra water bottles come in handy too. We are well hydrated!

There are dresses, shoes, foundation garments, hot curlers and makeup bags everywhere. The florist arrives with the bridesmaids bouquets and the corsages and groomsmen's boutonnieres. I run the boutonnieres down to our room where the groomsmen are getting ready. There is not nearly the chaos there that there is in the bridal suite!

Back up in the suite everyone is getting dressed. We all look nice! I've seen pictures of the bridesmaids dresses, but this is the first time I've seen them in person. What Sarah did was decide on a certain light mint shade of green and choose a variety of dress styles. Each bridesmaid picked a dress style they liked, so everyone had a dress that suited them, including the pregnant bridesmaid. And they were short so they will probably be able to wear them again.

Erik called Sarah. He said he couldn't find his socks and thought he had left them in the room! We started pawing through the piles of clothing and shoes scattered about. Sarah was mildly exasperated, I started trying to imagine what the groom would look like in a nice grey suit and no socks. But it turned out to be a joke; he just wanted to talk to Sarah one more time before the ceremony!

We also discovered the magic of something called dress glue. You apply it to your skin and press your dress into it. It keeps things in place and won't damage fabric. I used it on my shoulders to make sure my shoulder straps stayed where they were supposed to and it worked!

On with our shoes and jewelry. Sarah's dress looked wonderful and her earrings were amazing. A friend of hers at work had made her a beautiful bridal purse. Inside the purse one of my mothers handkerchiefs had been sown into the lining. I know mom would have loved that idea! Suzanne looked beautiful in her purple dress. My dress still fit, and my spanx were very comfortable!

Sarah's Bridal Purse

The limo driver called, he was downstairs waiting. We called James, Erik's best man, to warn him that we were heading downstairs and to make sure Erik didn't come down early and see his bride too soon.

Time to troop down to the lobby. I wanted to drop my stuff off in our room so I went down a little early. I got to the lobby first, stood around a bit, and then realized I had accidentally left my little beaded purse up in our room. Back up I went a little panic stricken, but not to worry, I still was back down in the lobby before anyone else.

The limo driver was waiting patiently out front. I handed him the champagne and clambered inside. It's hard to safely get into a limo in a long dress! Sarah said she couldn't imagine doing it in a big poofy wedding dress. She was grateful that her's was slim and that she herself was tiny!

It was fun and exciting riding in the limo, but it was a very short drive. In a few minutes we were at the Walker. We clambered out. Sarah and Erik were meeting the photographer at the front door of the Walker, which was around the corner from where we were parked. Erik was waiting for her at the door, the scene of their first date, a blind date set up on Sarah wanted to go there by herself. There went my little girl, down the sidewalk all alone in her beautiful dress. I couldn't help but think about one day in a park in St Louis long ago right after she learned to walk. We were sitting on a blanket but Sarah wanted to practice her new skills. So off she would go tottering down the walk as fast as she could. I would let her go until she was almost out of sight and then go grab her and carry her back so she could do it again. But this time I let her go. We all watched her disappear around the corner of the museum where Erik was waiting for her.

We took pictures before the ceremony. In between the picture sessions we would go sit in the conservatory, because if you weren't in the sun it was still pretty chilly. But the greenhouse was hot, so we would go out to cool off, get cold, go back inside.

Theresa Models Her Bridesmaid Dress in the Greenhouse

Guests started to arrive and sit in the chairs in the sunshine. The officiant brought the marriage certificates and Sarah and Erik signed them. The chairs were full of our family and friends, and it was time to begin. The music starts and we listen for our cues. When it is time Sarah Lee and I start down the aisle in the sunshine. Suddenly everyone stands up! I almost burst into tears, I have somehow forgotten that everyone stands up when the bride comes down the aisle! I have been to so many weddings, and once as a bride myself, but this is the absolute best.

The officiant welcomes us, talks about Sarah and Erik using little stories that Suzanne and I have given her. Kris, Erik's sister, does a reading from Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Everything is Illuminated. I need to find that passage in my copy, because it was great, all about the ups and downs, compromises and bargains involved in being married for a long time.

Sarah and Erik say their vows. Erik's goes first, and he starts to cry. Well that sets off my sweet soft-hearted husband, and before long he is crying too. Daniel is standing up in front of the congregation with the other groomsmen, and when his father starts crying, well HE starts to cry too! I had tears in my eyes until that point, but then I started to laugh! All these men crying was so touching, and kind of joyous too. I often cry at weddings, but at this one I was just too happy to cry.

Before I knew it the ceremony was over. There wasn't a receiving line, and the wedding party was going over to Bryant Lake Bowl for pictures and drinks before the reception, so I thought Lee and I should get over to Spill the Wine as soon as possible to be there to greet our guests. Gail and Michael needed a ride, and I had an odd feeling someone else needed a ride too, but I couldn't think who.

Sarah and Maice at Bryant Lake Bowl

We piled in the car and arrived at Spill the Wine right away. I got myself a French Cocktail (gin, lemon and champagne) and started greeting people as they arrived. Suddenly my phone rang. It was Suzanne. "Where are you?" She asked politely. "Are you still at the Walker?" "Why no," I said "we're at Spill the Wine!" Suddenly I realized with horror who it was we were supposed to bring to the reception - the mother of the groom, my co-mother in law! Dang! I feel awful and apologize  profusely but she insists that it's no big deal and gets a ride with one of her cousins.

Things start hopping; almost everyone has arrived. There are hor d'oeuvres and drinks, and music playing in the background. There is a fun guest book with a Polaroid camera where everyone can take instant photos of themselves, glue them into the book and write their comments. Everyone finds their tables. The table numbers are held up by Erik's father's beer can collection. These are old, heavy steel beer cans so they serve the purpose well. Erik's father passed away when Erik was 12 so this is his memorial to his dad.

At each table setting are two recipe cards. One holds Erik's grandmother's Swedish rice pudding recipe. One holds my Mom's plum pie recipe. These are the memorials for the two grandmas that both passed away this year.

The various dishes come out, one after another, interspersed with toasts. First Theresa, then James, then Suzanne and finally Lee. Everyone did a great job but I really only remember Lee's toast, since I edited it for him several times. He told two stories. The first was about Sarah. When she was about three years old one day she asked me, "Mama, how do you get to be a princess?" "Well," I told her, "you have to marry a prince." You could see those little wheels turning. "Mama, are there any princes in Columbia?" Then Lee said that he was glad she had found her prince.

The second story was about Daniel. On a visit to Chicago the men were off doing manly things together. Daniel was about 8. A friendly bus driver took a shine to Daniel and was talking to him and kidding around. "Son," he said, "You have a choice. You can be right, or you can be happy. Ain't that right dad?" Dad of course agreed, and Lee wished that both Sarah and Erik would have many years of happiness.

The food was good, but not nearly as good as it was at the tasting. Sarah and I agreed...must be the difference between making dinner for a table of 4 and a room full of 100 people. Some of the sides were great, but the chicken was terribly overcooked and the fish was just okay. Oh well! You wouldn't want to have a wedding where NOTHING went wrong, would you?

Soon the tables were cleared and the music was turned up a notch. Erik danced with his mom, Sarah danced with Lee. Sarah had picked Wildflowers by Tom Petty for their dance , and THAT made me cry. So many family car trips, so many memories. I hugged Daniel and told him how lucky I was, how incredibly lucky and blessed to have such an amazing family.

After the traditional dances everyone got out on the dance floor. I danced with Lee a little, but I also just got out there and danced danced danced, and hoped I didn't look too ridiculous. I danced to Michael Jackson, Nsync, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Arcade Fire, and lots of music I had never heard before. I only stopped when my feet hurt too much to continue. It was lots of fun!

Finally I sat down and put up my feet. Whew! It was nice to just relax, but then the late night ice cream came out and I had to try it. Salted caramel gelato and Strawberry Vanilla gelato. Yum! There was some lemon sorbet too but I never saw it, nor did I get to try the flourless chocolate cake. Oh well!

When the night was over, we remembered Suzanne and everyone else that needed a ride back to the hotel. It was late, way way past our bedtime. What a day! Truly one of the best days of our lives. I have to laugh, thinking of that hideous little newborn girl, so very annoyed at being born, and how my first thought when I saw her was "wow we're going to have to love her a lot, she'll never get any dates!"

The next day I actually got up and ran along the river, took a shower and then walked across the street to help host a brunch at the Hen House. Just. Give. Me. Coffee. Oh yes, and blueberry yogurt pancakes. Thanks.

We were so, so, so very tired, but later in the afternoon we went for a walk around Lake Calhoun with Gail, Michael and Daniel. A few leaves were turning, but the air was warm and there were wind surfers on the lake. Gail and I admired the asters and I took a few pictures. Time to send Sarah and Erik off on their honeymoon. Time to go home.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Constitution Marina

I wasn't going to write about this sailing trip. It's been fun, sailing down to Marblehead and Scituate again and then up through the Harbor Islands to Boston. But I figured my readers had heard enough about sailing for now! We're staying in a marina by the USS Constitution on the other side of the Charles river, right across from the North End. This is a very large, and very nice marina. There is even a pool! The shower and laundry facilities are excellent. I did a load of towels, and not only could I pay via credit card, but I could sign up to be sent a text message when my load was finished! Pretty fancy!

But here is the interesting thing. There are over a hundred boats in this marina that people live upon year round. The slip rental makes it an economical choice if you want to live right on the harbor in downtown Boston. The marina itself is locked and secure, and the docks are kept clear of snow and ice during the winter. Of course they have to heat their boats in the winter, and they tend to live on motor boats that are larger and have more space than an 38' sailboat! But it's an interesting proposition. Of course it puts a bit of a gleam in Lee's eye, but too bad for him he is married to me, and I like my house and garden too much. And boat toilets are a pain!

Tomorrow some friends are meeting us here and we are going to take them sailing. The plan is to sail out to George's Island and have a picnic. Then they will take the ferry back and we will sail back to Salem. We'll have to anchor at George's, and we've never actually anchored this boat, although we used to anchor all the time when we lake-sailed in Missouri. So we'll see. You have to be flexible when you are sailing!

So that was written on Wednesday. Thursday night we took Uber in Boston for the first time, and ate at a restaurant in the South End - Toro. They serve a variety of small plates, each one better than the previous offering. The restaurant was loud, and we were definitely the oldest people there, but the food was excellent! Items that stuck in my mind: a variety of olives (I'd been craving them), tuna crudite, eggplant, ham and crab empanadas, beef tongue, and a nice rosé. Lots of fun!

So on Friday our friends show up and out we go to George's Island. Much to our surprise, the USS Constitution is going out too, to shoot off their cannons on Labor Day weekend. We sail blithely along, watching fire boats spouting huge streams of water, with an incredible birds eye view of the vessel, and police boats yelling at us to get the fuck out of the way because the USS Constitution is going to be shooting at us! At first we simply don't understand that we are on the wrong side of the boat; we think we are just too close. Finally a nicer police boat gets close enough to us to explain that we need to be on the other side of the Constitution. Oh! Why didn't you say so!

Between the cannons going off and the planes landing at Logan overhead it makes for quite an exciting journey out of Boston Harbor. In retrospect we should have had the sense to turn on our VHF radio. We probably should leave it on whenever we're underway, but it's annoying; it squawks and make a lot of noise. But with everything going on in that harbor it should have been on. Next time!

When we finally head for Salem it's strangely peaceful out in Massachusetts Bay, even though there are 2-3 foot swells that are breaking right over our bow. Why we don't have the sense to close more hatches we'll never know, but not doing so means we need to do more laundry than we expected when we get home. Quilts, sheets, blankets, they all get soaked with salt water. I'd say live and learn but by now we should know better.

After all that we spend a quiet evening in Salem Harbor, eating odds and ends and taking pictures of the sunset. Our week on the boat ends with a day sail around Misery Island with Mark and Amy. Next up, a wedding!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...