Posts Tagged ‘Wedding’

Forget Fashion Week. And don’t talk politics with me, I’m feeling sick about the whole darn mess. Shall I tell you what I want, what I really really want?

A dress.

I’m on the hunt for a dress for two glamorous occasions – our 50th high school reunion next month, and my son’s wedding next year. Yes, I don’t think it’s too much to ask this dress to do double duty. One occasion will be a beachy/Cali vibe, while the other will be what, more of a, “Of course it’s you, I’d recognize you anywhere after 50 years!”

Seeing as in 1966 I was dressed usually in loafers and kilts, my primal brain is feeling that approach/avoidance sensation. First because lots of our old friends have become new Facebook friends, and I can’t wait to actually SEE them again, and second, this is the avoidance part, because I remember hunting for a Mother-of-the-Bride dress in 2010.

“Everything I try on either makes me look like a stuffed sausage, or a Peggy Sue prom queen,” was my lament to Bob six years ago. We even traveled to the big city of Richmond, but came back empty-handed. Here is one of the few pix from the Bride’s wedding where I do not have a huge scarf draped around me – the detail from the back is telling. I need straps first and foremost! jm-0925

Unfortunately the fashion industry didn’t listen to my sobbing pleas for help then, and now it’s only worse. Yesterday I listened to NPR in the car, with Tim Gunn talking about his industry’s failure with plus-size women. He had this to say to the Washington Post:

Have you shopped retail for size 14-plus clothing? Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Half the items make the body look larger, with features like ruching, box pleats and shoulder pads. Pastels and large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade. Adding to this travesty is a major department-store chain that makes you walk under a marquee that reads “WOMAN.” What does that even imply? That a “woman” is anyone larger than a 12, and everyone else is a girl? It’s mind-boggling.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/08/tim-gunn-designers-refuse-to-make-clothes-to-fit-american-women-its-a-disgrace/?utm_term=.410b22a78cad

Thanks Tim, and yes designers are thinking about size 0 to 6 instead of size 16, but lots of us “Women of a Certain Age” fall somewhere in the middle and still cannot find a decent dress to save our lives. I noticed that Marilyn Monroe’s Happy Birthday Mr President’s dress is going to the auction block and should fetch around 2-3M. OK, so what if she had to be sewn into the thing and couldn’t sit down the whole night. Rumor has it it’s a size 12! Would it be oh so hard to design a dress just a little less sexy than her sequined, see-through number? Maybe something not matronly or childish?

I totally get Hillary’s pant suits now…

Designers I have a tip for you. Stop looking at movies for inspiration, or the 18th Century. Start looking at us! What makes our bodies look good? Yes we have ‘born babies’ and were the first generation to breast feed our offspring since our immigrant ancestors stepped off the boat in this country. Sure we have a few pounds to lose, but we’re not obsessively dieting anymore. We register people to vote. We work in and out of our homes, we swim, we walk our dogs! We are Nanas, hear us roar! We are genuinely happy women, until we start dress shopping.

If you think you may have a solution to my existential problem, feel free to PM me. Or comment. I’m open to online shopping in 2016. After all, it was only after Leslie Jones posted her plight to social media, about her hunt for a red carpet dress, that a designer stepped up to the plate. Sample size is not the normal American woman size folks! http://www.vogue.com/13452803/leslie-jones-ghostbusters-premiere-christian-siriano/

And if all else fails, I might just go vintage in my closet!


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The Rocker is engaged! In a week of nothing but bad news from Texas to Nice, I thought it best to lighten the mood and announce our good news. Ms Cait, aka Aunt KiKi, said “Yes” and we couldn’t be happier.

She was young when I first met her, barely 18, but I could tell they were mad about each other. All I knew was that she had graduated Red Bank Catholic, and attended college in PA. But then the Rocker told me she had traveled the world with her Jersey Shore Irish Dance Troupe, and I was smitten. She’s one of MY people!

Over the years our family has vacationed together, spent holidays together, and the happy couple even spent a month with the Bride and Groom in Nashville after Hurricane Sandy swept them out of Asbury Park. “What can I do?” Cait would always ask me in the kitchen, and together we would make culinary tasks fun and creative. Her Mama, Ellen, raised her right.

But of course you know all of this if you’ve been reading along since I started this blog to try and make sense out of another wedding six years ago! I was planning a destination wedding in Cville while two extremely busy Vandy residents were doctoring in Nashville. Today it’s a different story. Plus, it’s like the second child, I’ve been through the Willy Wonka wilderness of venues and cakes, I know what to do.

Cait is a proud feminist, a Millennial who is not afraid of the term. She keeps me up to date on the latest challenge to young, female artists; it seems she hates censorship just as much as her betrothed. And she keeps Bob up to date on the latest video games to challenge the mind. She is an excellent artist herself, with a wide ranging, multimedia portfolio. And she knows how to get things done; she created and helped organize the first Asbury music and art festival years ago.

When they told us they were moving to LA, I admit I was worried. Once a Jersey Girl, always a Jersey Girl. Cait has a posse of very loyal girlfriends, and her whole family lives on the East Coast. But they are an amazing team, and one by one – a sister here, a friend there – their coterie of new and old Left Coast friends has expanded. She landed an exciting job at the new contemporary art museum, the Broad, and settled right in.

The first time we visited them in LA, we walked down the block to their neighborhood farmers market and Cait knew almost every vendor by name. She has an easy charm, and a quick wit. Sometimes I catch my son looking at her, as if he can’t believe his luck. Her beauty is breathtaking.

And so the beat goes on. Great Grandma Ada is always reminding the happy couple she no longer buys green bananas (hint hint). And I am more relaxed now, after all the Mother of the Groom doesn’t have quite the same level of responsibility as the MOB. Ellen is still living in NJ and we get along like long lost sisters. Knowing these two creative spirits of ours, their wedding will be magical on any Coast they choose!

This was Thanksgiving on a beach years ago when the Love Bug was a baby. See how Ms Cait leans in! Welcome to our family, we love you like a daughter already!   IMG_3557

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Good Morning folks. Sorry for sleeping in but I’ve been exhausted lately, how about you? I once thought that by marrying into the Jewish faith I’d get out of all the Christmas hubub. But as my psychologist brother Dr Jim reminded me, I should feel lucky since I have two holidays to celebrate!

That was the story of my young life; one birthday party in NJ, then over the Delaware Water Gap we would go to another birthday party with my birth family in PA. To Nell’s credit, she did make it seem like having two Christmases, and two birthdays was really special. Double the fun. Later, I realized it was the Flapper’s way of keeping me in her life.

So my question of the morning is, “Do you ever feel like you are overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time in the day?” Have three people invited you to their holiday parties on the same night, and you just learned your child volunteered your cookies for the Christmas party at church the next morning? It’s no wonder psychologists say depression shoots up this time of year – we are on a treadmill of presumed happiness. Just to help you out, I give you another Ada Yiddishism:

Mit ain toches kent mir nicht zizen af tsen uriden

This is one of my favorites, and if you’re from the NY area you might recognize one word, pronounced “Toockes.” Loosely translated it means,

“With one behind you can’t sit on ten toilets!”

Stellar right?! This little saying hits so many of our buttons: the need to please; the desire to be perfect; wanting to avoid conflict. Or just plain needing to be cloned so we can sail through this joyful season. Oy Vey! But what if you take a deep, cleansing breath, and think about just one toilet – maybe it’s a fancy new one where you wave your hand to flush and the seat is always down? I love it.

My other little trick that Bob taught me is, I don’t have to apologize…or go into long, lengthy explanations about why I can’t do something like volunteer to clean up after the school’s holiday party, or corral the Kindergarten kids before the Tree Lighting in town, or well you name it. He once told me that men do NOT do this! Men will just say, “No,” and they might add, “Scheduling conflict.” Practice this phrase ladies – “No. scheduling conflict.” The more you say it, the easier it gets!

As for me, I’ve discovered the wonder of online shopping this year. Don’t judge me readers. At least Hannukah is early which is actually helpful, it forces you to multi-task. And anyone who knows me knows I’m purely a one-task-at-a-time girl. Anyway, this month is all about the kids, right?Turning them into little, civilized mensches despite and amidst crass commercialization. But I have faith, as long as I have a toilet nearby.

Here I am going to only one wedding as the Flower Girl. Even though I had three older sisters, only one was married during my gypsy years between NJ and PA. Thankfully. IMG_3502

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Every now and again we go all out. Usually it’s for a big event, like our wedding anniversary. To celebrate our early years in the Berkshires, we would travel across state lines to Hillsdale, New York for an excellent French meal at L’Hostellerie Bressane, a country inn. According to a review from the 80s, the rooms had a “rustic charm” and the kind of attention to detail that is similar to a French “auberge.” Of course I thought of an eggplant, but auberge comes from an old Germanic root and means an inn or tavern.

Now I was not entirely new to this type of laid-back luxury. When I was young, some of my earliest memories are of my older sister Kay taking me out to “dine” in New York City’s finest clubs and restaurants. Long before food network stars, there was a certain understanding that Lutece was the best of the best French bistros. It was THE place to be seen in the 60s, and has been recreated on the set of Mad Men. I always felt like such an impostor, a country mouse taking the bus from NJ to my big sister’s upper East Side apartment; being scolded corrected about my burgeoning Jersey girl accent; being taught what fork to use when, and how to eat a baguette like a lady. She was my Auntie Mame and I was her willing student.

Lutece was in business for 43 years, but alas has fallen prey to the new cuisine of a new world. Andre Soltner was not just the chef, he was the owner and greeter at the door. He swept the floors and ordered the flowers. A choreographer in the kitchen, he never opened another Lutece, there was only one and will be only one. Maybe it closed because of that, because its entire existence depended on just one man.

I could never have opened a second restaurant, though many people suggested it,” said Mr. Soltner, who missed a grand total of four days of work between 1961, when Lutèce opened, and 1994, when he sold it. “I had to take responsibility for each person’s pleasure and well-being. It was my job.”


A luxurious meal of old may be hard to come by today, with restaurant “themes” and chemical gastronomies of celebrity chefs who open multiple eateries around the country. But Bob and I managed to find that old world charm again for our 36th wedding  anniversary dinner in Virginia. From the moment we pulled up to Chef/Owner Patrick O’Connell’s The Inn at Little Washington, we knew. https://www.theinnatlittlewashington.com

We were greeted at the door, by name, and asked if we’d like to sit in the dining room or on the porch overlooking the garden. I could imagine secret liaisons between the ghosts of political power couples lurking in the corners, so I chose the garden room because I loved the light. Chef O’Connell transformed this sleepy town into a world-class destination, in the most gorgeous rolling countryside an hour from Washington, DC, just a year before we were married.

O’Connell has been referred to as “the Pope of American Cuisine”. His orientation is different from most chefs today primarily because he considers himself to be a restaurateur and as the title implies, his goal is to actually restore and heal people – the preparation and presentation of food being but a single element in the process. Selecting The Inn at Little Washington as one of the top ten restaurants in the world, Patricia Wells of The International Herald Tribune hails O’Connell as “a rare chef with a sense of near perfect taste, like a musician with perfect pitch.”

What an inspiring, delightful tastings menu! My palate and nearly every one of my senses was awakened The service was impeccable. Our waiter appeared just as we thought we might need something, as if he could read minds. He was professional but not stuffy, prompt but not intrusive. He asked about allergies because the chef was preparing an amuse bouche – it wasn’t called that, but occasionally we’d be surprised by a small bite between courses. Silverware was replaced immediately, and water was poured simultaneously; like a French Foreign Legion drill team. Bob chose the Menu of the Moment and I chose the Enduring Classic Menu, without the wine pairings:

A Shot of Chilled Minted English Pea Soup

Chilled Maine Lobster Salad with Marinated Hawaiian Heart of Palm

Carpaccio of Herb-Crusted Baby Lamb Loin with Pistachio Ice Cream

                          Pan Seared Rockfish with Braised Baby Bok Choy and Softshell Crab Tempura

Huckleberry Marinated Squab Breast with a Crispy Potato Galette

Veal Shenandoah: Local Prosciutto Wrapped Loin of Veal with Country Ham and Fontina Cheese Ravioli

The Inn at Little Washington is a member of the famed Relais et Chateaux. http://www.relaischateaux.com/en/search-book/hotel-restaurant/washington/#.VXMNgKaCblI Long before we heard of “farm to table,” small, exclusive restaurants were practicing and cultivating partnerships with local farmers. Created in France in 1954, today there are 520 establishments that bear the esteemed fleur de lys around the world. “Relais & Châteaux is an association of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs that has set the standard for excellence in hospitality. Relais & Châteaux has redefined luxury hospitality by emphasising holistic experiences that transport its guests, taking them on a sensual journey and introducing them to a deeper, truer understanding of the Art of Living.”

IF you were married in June, I wish y’all a very happy anniversary! And feel free to tell me what you do to celebrate your anniversary. IMG_2717

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Let’s raise our glasses, or our coffee cups, to the French! Today Marriage Equality is de rigeur in this predominantly Catholic country. Legalizing same-sex unions wasn’t easy, even though the mayor of Paris is openly gay. In fact it’s the biggest shift in policy since abolishing the death penalty in 1981…I wonder if SCOTUS is listening? I am ecstatic, and hoping for a complete overhaul of the wedding industry, which could use a touch of LGBT creativity.

But it’s not just the business of getting married that may be overhauled as state after state grants gays the right to marry. A recent article in The Atlantic posits that we heteros may learn a thing or two from gay marriage.


“Same-sex spouses, who cannot divide their labor based on preexisting gender norms, must approach marriage differently than their heterosexual peers.”

Liza Mundy has gathered most of the data from around the world on the sociological complications of straight vs gay marriage. Who will pay the mortgage? Who will run the kids from school to tennis? Who cooks and who will do the laundry? There is even a study where researchers threw a bunch of toys out on the floor with a child and its parents to see how parents interact during play…sure enough, it was the hetero dads who played lincoln logs in the corner by themselves.

I was in a bank line that wasn’t moving the other day, so I struck up a conversation with the dad and a stroller directly in front of me. I told him about my Love Bug, and he told me all about the same age baby girl he was caring for, his daughter, who was happily smiling at me whenever I looked at her. By way of explanation he said she was getting fussy so he thought he’d venture out. Then he volunteered that his wife was finishing a fellowship at UVA and they were moving to Seattle in just a few weeks. I said that must be exciting, and told him about my son-in-law’s fellowship in Nashville. But he didn’t seem very excited about moving cross country, and then the line started to move and he was gone.

I didn’t ask him “What do you do,” as I know some others might have done to try and pigeonhole his motives for staying at home to care for his daughter. I could see very well what he did, he had a clean, smiling, happy baby with him. I love to see young men caring for their children, during the week, when it is obvious this is their role for now, while the wife earns the money. Religious zealots, who fear gay marriage for whatever reasons, should take heart to learn that gay men are just as likely to denote one partner to stay-at-home (“specialize”) in their marriage as heterosexual partners. According to the latest Census:

“32 percent of married heterosexual couples with children have only one parent in the labor force, compared with 33 percent of gay-male couples with children. (Lesbians also specialize, but not at such high rates, perhaps because they are so devoted to equality, or perhaps because their earnings are lower—women’s median wage is 81 percent that of men—and not working is an unaffordable luxury.)”

Maybe this fact alone should put an end to the “mommy wars?” My friend Lee was an assistant DA in MA, a high powered attorney. She found a wonderful nanny, from France in fact, and had a very supportive husband with more reasonable working hours. It never occurred to us, both feminists, that we might be at war because I chose to stay at home!

So look out all you newly married heterosexual couples. Gay marriage just may have a profound effect on our culture, in a very good way. The old playing field is getting some brand new sod, and everything you may have once thought was traditionally your duty in marriage, is up for debate. Now, Bob, about that cooking class in Italy…

First French gay couple wed

Meet the first French couple – Vincent Autin, left, and his partner Bruno Boileau sign a document during their marriage in Montpellier, southern France, on May 29, 2013

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/05/29/meet-frances-first-married-gay-couple/#ixzz2UmudbzoC

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Happy Mother’s Day! Mothers everywhere are waking up to breakfast in bed, or so we’re supposed to believe. I made myself some coffee in my new tiny, one cup Keurig since Bob left before dawn for the hospital. And the new mom, our daughter the Bride, is working at her hospital today too. But her Groom, “God bless him” as my Mother-inLaw Ada would say, did remember to send her flowers.

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Ada has been my MIL now longer than Nell Mahon was my foster mother. In fact, she went to Nell’s funeral with me. I can’t think of how many funerals we’ve been to together, and there’s nobody better to take to a funeral, or a wedding for that matter. I met Ada when Bob and I started dating in high school, and she was the one who found me in the hospital while I was visiting my foster father much later. Daddy Jim was dying then, just when Ada ushered me into Bob’s room to rekindle our friendship. Bob went into the hospital for a little minor surgery, and walked out with his future wife…thanks in large part to Ada.

Oh and one more funereal thought – Ada bought me my very own burial plot right after we married. To this day, we both think that was pretty funny! But she did purchase a whole space in the local cemetery for her family, her three sons, and their wives…

She always said she was on my side. That if Bob and I ever broke up, she’d take my side, “All the way baby!” You see, Ada was from Brooklyn. There was no pretense, no argument, what she said always happened. She had gone back to school while we were in high school, to get her degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and in the late 60s until now, has always practiced in her home. She was going through her own divorce when Bob and I met up again near Daddy Jim’s hospital bed.

The youngest of three sisters, Ada had led a privileged life. Like many Jewish immigrants, her father was a tailor who came from Russia with nothing, and eventually owned a coat company in NY. She had a private car that would take her to school. She was expected to live at home until she married, this was before Betty Friedan. And she married a physician, like one of her older sisters. Unlike her sisters, she promptly moved out to the country, to the wilds of NJ, and had three boys.

Four Bridges was the bungalow colony her father started near their home in Chester, NJ. It was his retirement project, but also a way to keep the sisters coming back together every summer with their cousins and friends. I once gave Ada a painting, it was a picture of a house that had her name on it as a B&B, because she never met a stranger. Every time I would visit her, with the baby Rocker and young Bride in tow, she would have a house full of people, coming and going.

Ada is like Dolly Levi and Ruth Westheimer combined!

Well actually, she doesn’t have that Russian accent, it’s more Bedford Sty. She did get a doctoral degree and a certificate in sex therapy. I can imagine that went a long way when my teenagers told their friends their grandmother was a Sex Therapist. Here she is with the Bride at the Bug’s baby shower.


This is the kind of joy she inflicts on everyone everywhere she goes! She is still living and working in the same house with my wonderful Father-in-Law, Baptist preacher turned therapist, turned woodcarver Hudson, who was the Officiant at the wedding. You know, that wedding in 2010 that started me blogging. Between them both, they now have 7 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. At 88, she is still as effervescent and full of life as ever. They just got back from a cruise to Spain. An amazing woman, I am so proud to call her Mother.

I’ve always said I married Bob to get this woman as my Mother-inLaw. Thank you Ada, for always being on my side. And I’ll always have your back too. Now if only someone could fix our knees.

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Someone once told me that you have to live in a place for at least 10 years before it becomes home. When I was young, I called Victory Gardens home. It was a development in NJ for the support staff that worked at an arsenal during WWII. It was meant to be temporary; four rooms and one bath made out of concrete. We lived on Washington Avenue, all the streets were named after presidents. I would dream about this house for years, because this is where I learned what love is.

When you marry an Emergency Physician, you also learn to love moving. It was never easy. I’ve made friends in other states that will never be replaced, the kinds of friends who know where the spoons are in your kitchen. Women who would supply all the flowers and food for the Rocker’s bris without ever asking or saying a word about it. Women who would show up to escort an au pair to the train station, thereby saving her from physical harm and me from an arrest record.

And I learned to love each place. The snowy farmhouse at the edge of a bird sanctuary in the Berkshires. The brick, mid-century modern between two rivers on the Jersey Shore. And I’m learning to love my view of the Blue Ridge, on the cusp of Mr Jefferson’s Monticello and his Academical Village. This is the place where the Bride met her Groom and now the next generation is just beginning. They are making their home in the Music City and the Rocker and Ms Cait are feathering a new nest after super storm Sandy.

“Home” is the best gift we can give our children. That feeling that we belong, that we are loved unconditionally. It doesn’t matter where we find ourselves today. We were all tucked in our beds, in TN, VA and NJ. Well except for the Bride. Santa found her anyway. Wishing you all a warm and lovely Christmas.

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Black – searching for rugs:

Let’s do a six-worded color memoir for summer so far. The other day, we awoke to see 2 adolescent foxes playing on our lawn.

Lavender – sometimes at sunset:

They were pouncing, strolling, swatting and scratching. It was parallel play; searching for bugs beneath the grass.

White – butterfly on hydrangea:

I watched them silently, through the French door, wishing to run and get my camera, but rightfully fearing that opening the door would scare them off. .

Pink – peonies at a baby shower:

Their reddish-brown fur gave me this idea

Brown – pup on deck:

Have a sweet Sunday y’all!

Green – an August wedding:

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The dwarf Korean lilacs are in bloom outside my sleeping porch. They perfume the air as we clean the gutters, slip into the hot tub, or take a break to read under the twirling ceiling fan. Although I directed the builders at the very last minute to attach a porch off the master bedroom, we don’t actually sleep there, like true Southerners might have done in pre-AC days. But we do rest there, on our zero-gravity chairs, and smell the lilacs.

Lilacs bloomed outside my bedroom window when I was a girl, my foster mother Nell would mound them in mason jars on the kitchen table. She had a beautiful smile, and the best sense of humor. At some point in my young life, I decided it was my mission to make her laugh. Her husband Jim, made me doll houses out of Popsicle sticks, and together they created a home. A home full of love and laughter. And although Nell didn’t drive, because in those days women rarely did, I felt as if anything was possible.

I planted lilacs outside our home in NJ, in Nell’s honor. Every morning, a Great Blue Heron would swoop out over them toward the river to fish for breakfast. And I brought pressed lilacs to the 9/11 widow two houses away who’s husband, Michael Patrick Tucker, worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. Our little borough lost 13 people on that day. As I stood at the memorial weeks later, I remember thinking, “How can I put this into words?” There were no words.

Which is why I enjoyed reading this article at NPR’s website, about the ambivalence of hearing about the death of the BinLaden. “…because terrorism partakes of both crime and war, it is perfectly natural, and perhaps legitimate, to have both of these attitudes towards Osama bin Laden: to think that we had to disable him, and to think that he deserved to die.”


If a Harvard professor of Philosophy thinks it’s perfectly legitimate to rejoice in someone’s death while still thinking he was a sorry old man, probably sick in so many different ways; and that each person’s death diminishes me, to semi-quote John Donne, leaves me feeling hopeful. And thinking I may have to take a philosophy book out on my porch, and shut off the news of the day.

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