Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Diminuitive Strand of Pearls

I remember my grandmother Annie as a woman of extraordinary integrity, compassion, and dignity. Although she died when I was very young, her influence on my life has been monumental. A devoted Catholic, the loving wife of a hard-working husband, and the mother of 16 children, she epitomized grace even at the most difficult of times.

As a young girl I suffered from a perforated eardrum, a condition that colored my young life for many years. Because of it, I was unable to learn to ride a bike, as it affected my balance. Lack of coordination made me clumsy and prone to falling. I always seemed to be sporting scrapped knees, sprained ankles or wrists and I was constantly plagued with painful ear infections. I remember one year when all my classmates were enthusiastically involved in swimming lessons at a local pool, but I was doomed to sit out, and watch them have fun because chlorinated pools were breeding grounds for bacterias that I was not able to properly fend off. I felt isolated, excluded. awkward and sad. My grandmother understood my disappointment, but never allowed me to fall into self-pity. When my doctors determined that they only way to deal with the condition was surgery, I was frightened, but hopeful that I would soon be able to participate in the many childhood experiences that my condition had kept me from enjoying. Sadly though, my dear grandmother had become ill, and died of pancreatic cancer days before my surgery. One of her last requests was for my grandfather to make sure that I received a bouquet of roses from her after my surgery. When I awoke from anaesthetic my eyes focused on a beauty lady's head vase filled with pink baby roses, with a small card that simply said "with love from Meme". It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The porcelain lady wore a grey-black hat, a diminuitive strand of antique white pearls around her neck. I was smitten by her simple elegance, and have always wanted to own just such a necklace of my own.

Pearls however, are an expensive luxury, and not something I could ever justify buying for myself. Even for my wedding, fifteen years ago, it just wasn't possible to see my way clear to indulging in something so costly. Five years ago my husband, a fine piano accompanist, visited China as part of a cultural exchange with the British Columbia Girls Choir. Knowing that China was renowned for pearls, and thinking that buying them from the source mught make them affordable, I requested that he look for a strand for me. When he arrived home, he informed me that, in fact, the pearls were VERY expensive, and it just wasn't in the budget. I was disappointed, but understanding. Two years later, on Christmas day, he gifted me with a gorgeous, long strand of ivory pearls, presented in a pink box from the pearl district of China. I loved them, but they were not the short elegant string of antique white pearls I had dreamt of for so many years.

The following year I began to teach ESL(English as a Second Language) to a group of wonderful Asian adults at my Church. At the end of the year, it is their custom to gift their teachers with a token of their appreciation. That day in June, I opened a little box to find something that took my breath away. There, cradled in a cloud of white cotton batton were the pearls of my dreams. My students did not know, as I had never mentioned how much I had always wanted just such a necklace. I was taken back, shocked really at how they were exactly as I had imagined them; unassuming, pure and elegant, just like the ones worn by the demure lady with the pink roses in her hat, that bitter-sweet gift from my Meme. So, it seemed appropriate to wear them on that special day this summer, lovingly coupled with my engagement amethyst when I once again renewed my wedding vows. The idea of them, a gift from my beloved grandmother, the reality of them from precious ones whom I have had the priviledge to teach and befriend in my adopted province.

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More on the Anniversary Party

Rose with Joseph Shore who gave the toast to the anniversary couple

Back again with a few more pictures from our recent soiree. Celebrating a 15th amiversary is a bit unusual, as it is not traditionally seen as a significant year, but we felt very much in the mood to recognize the blessings we have receieved over the past decade and a half. Our love for one another has been greatly enhanced by the friends and mentors we have met in our adopted province since 1994. As none of us are getting any younger, we wanted to fete not only our marriage, but the significant influence these wonderful folks have had in our "Common Life". Eric's pastor, a young man in his thirties, commented that many of our guests were elderly, and as I reflected on his observation, I came to the conclusion that this celebration was really in honor of these dear ones who have meant so much to us, and have taught us immeasurable lessons about what it means to be committed to God first and then to your life's partner. It was far more about them and much less about us. Because of their sainted example, Eric and I have successfully completed Marriage 101, and look forward to tackling advanced studies, and perhaps even our PhD in marriage like many of these folks have who have been faithfully espoused some of them for 45 to 50 to 60 years. It is one of the truisms of life that you never know when someone dear will be taken from you, so the rule of thumb should always be celebrate when you can, as often as you can, with as many of your loved ones as you can. Tomorrow may be a day when sterling memories of parties-past will be one of your most precious comforts until that Day when, all tears behind us, we meet at the Great Wedding Feast that knows no end.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our 15th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal and Reception

Question: How do you know you are getting older? Answer: When it takes an entire week to recover from planning,preparing for and implementing a small party! It has been seven days since Eric and I celebrated with our 15th Wedding Anniversary. Although it was a tremendous amount of work, it was truly lovely. We renewed our wedding vows in a short but meaningful ceremony presided over by Eric's pastor and witnessed by our dearest friends (minus a few, who due to illness or distance were not able to be with us). Eric and I catered 90% of it ourselves, although two dear friends brought welcomed additions to the buffet table, and several more sweet people aided significantly in the setting out and cleaning up. We are left with wonderful memories, and not a few unexpected anniversary gifts! (something we weren't at all anticipating, but my, wasn't it just so generous!)

As planned, I wore my wedding dress of antique white bridal silk. my pearls and amethysts, and the wedding wreath and veil I had lovingly designed as my something new ( the wreath) combined with something old ( the veil from my wedding day). Eric looked dapper and handsome in his new suit. Using gorgeous antique white and mauve-pink roses, my friend Hellie, made my bouquet, the corsages and buttonieres for various participants. The tables were set with lilac gigham, and antique white. It all looked just spendid! Our venue was the banquet room at a local condominium complex which was like a resort; the grounds were a verdant bower of summer blossoms; roses, hydrangea, daisies, petunias, dahlias, imaptients, lilies, nicotania, and pansies, to name but a few.

The buffet table looked most inviting , with the food set out on various levels, draped in lilac and gigham. We all ate to our hearts content, and from all accounts, we had a wonderful time. Despite the fact that Eric and I got little (Eric) to no sleep (me!) we enjoyed the celebration immensely. People are already asking when we will be doing it again, and we are seriosly considering revisiting the idea in 5 years for our 20th anniversary.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Celebrations A Plenty!

Pearls ( a gift from my ESL class) joined with my lovely engagement jewellery, an amethyst pendant.
(Above)) My hand-crafted bridal wreath with attached veil from my wedding in 1994

Dearest Readers,
It is hard for me to fathom that it has been over two months since I last blogged! Life is progressing at the speed of light! Entertaining house guests, maintaining my home while my husband has been off on a 3-week European tour, tending my fledgling garden, and planning an anniversary celebration which will take place in just three short days, has left me little energy to do anything else! But as the busyness will soon be at an end, I promise to take the time to share with you some photos from my activities as well as a few recipes from the menu of our up-coming festivities.

My husband and I observed our 15th Wedding Anniversary this year, on July 9th. I say "observed" and not "celebrated" because in fact, we were apart on that special day because Eric was away on tour with the British Columbia Girls' Choir. Alas, my ardent hope of joining him on that adventure to England, Scotland and Germany was dashed in early April when I had to admit that the precarious state of my health would not allow for extended and prolonged travel. Although the trip was one I had dreamed of for many years, I knew in my heart of hearts now was not the time to consider it. Instead, I chose to stay at home to rest, care for our beloved pets, and keep the home-fires burning, so to speak. ( not that we NEEDED any home fires, as we have been experiencing a bonifide heat wave here on the West coast. Yikes, The mid thirties and HOT, HOT, HOT!) Partially to distract myself from not feeling too sorry for myself, and partially because we felt the definite need to celebrate with our dear friends, we decided to pick a Saturday in mid-August to renew our wedding vows and have a little reception. It amazes me how much effort and energy it takes to plan such an event, but, dear readers that is what I have been doing for the past two months or so; planning, coordinating, and creating for our little festivity! In another day or so I will be knee-deep in catering preparations for our little soiree for 28 people. We have intentionally kept it very intimate, as I am more or less catering it by myself and want to have enough hootspa left to enjoy myself. Once it is over and the dust has settled , I will share some of our photographs. Meanwhile, I want to include here a picture or two of the bridal wreath and veil I made for the ceremony. The veil is the one I wore originally, but the wreath is a new addition which I really love. Please consider this a hopeful sign of things to follow, and meanwhile take good care of yourself.