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Wedding Photo

Friday, August 30, 2013
This might be the coolest wedding photo I have ever seen.  That background is real.  Wow.  Special thanks to Brian Kraft Photography and the lucky newlyweds.  This is why you get married at Black Mountain Lodge.

Anne Barge Announces Re-Launch of Black Label Bridal Collection

Bridal gown designer, Anne Barge plans to re-launch her Black Label Bridal Collection at the International Bridal Market, October 13th and 14th in New York City, and we can't wait to see how she's revamped this classic line!

Black Label is geared toward the discerning bride, one who desires a sleek, red-carpet-ready look on her wedding day. The collection of graceful gowns has been meticulously created with a body-conscious mindset; silk charmeuse, chiffon, and crepe are delicately draped and folded to further accentuate the female form. 

Anne Barge re-launches the line this fall at a lower price point -- initially Black Label’s luxurious designs also came with luxurious price point. The new Fall 2014 collection welcomes a broader audience of bridal fashionistas by retailing gowns at $4000 and up.

The light airy fabrics with dramatic embellishments, hand-beading, and the juxtaposition of the soft, luxe materials paired with decadent adornments definitely give this re-new-ed line a dramatic entrance. Check back with Weddings Unveiled blog this October for photos from the runway show!

The Wedding Reception

By tradition the father of the bride hosts his daughter's wedding. The tradition was also that he paid for the reception too, though this cost os often shared around today. In keeping with that custom, the bride's father is often expected to host the wedding reception.

For some weddings a professional master of ceremonies is engaged, especially for society weddings. At many weddings the bride's father is will give an opening speech and propose the toast to the newly married couple at the start of the wedding reception, and continue to act as MC for the following proceedings.

There are five essential steps to a father of the bride speech.

The first item is to say some welcoming words to set the atmosphere and create a celebratory mood for a memorable wedding reception. The primary goal is to help the guests to relax. A good way to achieve this is to discuss the wedding ceremony, how beautiful the bride looks, the location chosen for the reception or even the weather -- things that all the guests will have an opinion about -- and how much you are excited about meeting everyone and sharing the reception with them.

Secondly, as the host, the bride's father offers a welcome to all of the guests. It is usual to introduce any special guests, especially the groom's family and those who have made a special effort to get to the wedding. Absent guests are often mentioned at this stage also, especially those with close links with the bride or groom who have been unable to get to the wedding. A much loved grandparent or favorite aunt who has recently passed away is often mentioned at this point.

The third stage of the speech is to create some excitement about what to expect during the reception. The highlight of the best man's speech and any entertainment planned for during the reception, and plans for events afterwards, might be mentioned. Your guests will relax more when they know what is about to happen.

As a fourth step in their wedding speech, most proud fathers want to say a few heartfelt words among friends and family about the bride, their daughter. Finding the right words to say is often the most difficult part of the speech to prepare for fathers. There is not just one way to express your love for your daughter. Telling stories, possibly funny stories, about your daughter meeting the groom and quoting poetry are popular approaches, among many others.

Finally, to place the attention of the wedding reception firmly on the newlywed couple it is usual for the bride's father to call for guests to join him in a toast to the bride and groom. Choosing the right words for the toast is an important step in preparing the speech.

Every father of the bride will add his own style of presentation, humor and feelings into his speech around this or a similar simple five step speech framework.

Few fathers will have much experience speaking at their own daughter's wedding. Most will find a professionally prepared wedding speech guide is very helpful. Speech outlines or templates, and examples of father of the bride speeches, can be downloaded, along with checklists of things and people that should not be overlooked. Time saving resources, such as popular wedding toasts, jokes, quotes and poems are available to select from. Not only do such resources save time preparing the father of the bride speech - they also lift confidence.

The Inherent Dignity of the Single State

I'll tell you what this blog isn't: it isn't a guide to getting a husband.

I wish I knew the secrets of husband-getting. Tomorrow I leave for Rome on holiday, and several million Euros would come in handy. I have some general ideas, but not a magic formula.

There is no magic formula. There is human nature, and there is Providence.

Human nature is very much influenced by society. Human beings are by our very nature conformist, and we tend to conform to society around us. In societies that champion premarital chastity, it is easier to stay chaste. In societies that champion early marriage, it is easier to get married. (It is, however, less easy not to be married.)

Catholic women are caught between a rock and a hard place. In the West, society champions premarital sex, and it strongly discourages early marriage.  But Catholicism forbids premarital sex, and it holds up vowed life--as a married person, a priest or a religious--as the ideal.

This means the Catholic woman who wishes to remain chaste and to marry without being "test-driven"  is going to be, in the West, a nonconformist, and men most likely not to be annoyed or unsettled by her failure to conform are going to be other nonconformists. And let me tell you about nonconformists: we can be weird. If we're nonconformists about sex, we can be nonconformists about religion, and if we are nonconformists about religion--I speak as someone who goes primarily to the Traditional Latin Mass--we might be nonconformists about clothing and opinions and social behaviour. Gleefully so. It's hard to find someone who refuses to conform to society's sexual expectations and yet is otherwise entirely "normal."

Incidentally, anyone who wears a Che Guevera T-shirt on a Western university campus is a total conformist. One of the most hilarious things about conformists is how conformist they are when they think they are being edgy. No doubt Miley Cyrus thought she was being edgy last week. In fact, Miley was just going along with the zeitgeist. I've seen similar behaviour in clubs.

The best hope for Catholics then, particularly the vast majority who are natural conformists--which is not shameful in itself, incidentally, as it shows a natural and even enviable openness to community--would be to withdraw from contemporary Western society and create a Catholic-only nation were it not for one thing: Providence.

Before Providence where scientific or social scientific (very dodgy) determinism falls down flat on its face. Atheists can stare at contradictory material data all day long and make pronouncements about how short men have little hope of marriage, and women over 35 can hope only for low-earning 50 year old suitors and how bumblebees can't fly. Catholics don't have the luxury of being so stupid.

Poor old atheists have missed out on the most important Reality of reality which is the existence of a Supreme Being Whose personality and love for us was revealed in and by Jesus of Nazareth. Catholics have not. And therefore, Catholics know Providence means more than the scribblings of sociology. Short men often marry. Thirty-something women occasionally marry high-earning twenty-something men. Bumblebees do fly. Chaste Catholic girls usually do marry.

The fact is that God has a plan for everyone's life, and everyone could figure it out much more easily if we would trust in God, listen for His voice and see where He is in our lives around us right now. God is not just "up there"; He is "down here" and among us. He has revealed His will through the Scriptures and Tradition, and by paying attention to the Scriptures and Tradition, in the way a blind person pays attention to her cane and her dog, we can find our way in the dark.

Yes, there are qualities that are attractive to other human beings--big eyes, shiny hair, a roguish grin and whatnot. The best ones I know are joy and confidence. And the deepest joy and confidence come from joy and confidence in God. And Catholic Single women living chaste (and therefore perhaps uncomfortably un-conformist) lives are a testament to obedience to God; what is needed for flourishing is also joy and confidence in Him.

The Single state, lived in a spirit of chastity, even if it should turn out to be temporary, is inherently dignified because it points to a sustained openness to and trust in the will of God, in Providence. It puts God's will above all else, particularly the Western god of Sex (for whom g*y m*rriage activists are currently the high priests). Sex is only God's servant; godhood sits ill upon it. The chaste Single person gives glory to God by not allowing the servant to usurp God's will for her.

And so the point of this blog is not to get you all married off, although you do seem to get married quite often--long-time reader Med School Girl is the most recently engaged--which does not particularly surprise me, as most people marry eventually. The point of this blog is to show you your inherent dignity as Singles and to encourage you in joy and trust in God.

With that, I am off to pack for Rome. I shall return a week Monday, D.v.  God bless you!

The Place Looks Good

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Liancarlo Trunk Show at Ivory & White Bridal Boutique

There are only 9 days left until the Liancarlo trunk show at Ivory & White in Alabama! Call today for an appointment for September 6th or 7th, and don't miss the chance to see this amazing collection!!

Ivory & White Bridal Boutique
55 Church Street
Mountain Brook, AL 35213

Auntie Seraphic & Need Pep Talk

Birthday/Girls' Night. Had sudden flu. Went to Goth club anyway. 
Dear Auntie,

I've written you a couple times before and have always loved your advice. And I love your blog! I was wondering, if you need a topic idea, could you post a pep talk of sorts for the searching singles? Not so much a don't list, but a you're doing okay list? And not so much a "watch out for this type of guy" thing as a "it's not your fault you're pursued by weirdos" thing (two of my roommates have been bombarded with really weird men pursuing them, to the extent that these fellows have made more than a few events awkward and unpleasant). 

All the single women I know (and there seem to be so many of us) are struggling right now: there aren't any weddings, or engagements, or boyfriends. The pool of NCB is limited to just CB, completely missing the N part, and it's really starting to get old. Okay, to be entirely fair, there are a few NCB's here and there, they're just not interested in us, or they have recently announced plans to enter the seminary. To top everything off, it seems like every sermon this entire summer was about being faithful to your spouse, raising children, etc. Nothing for the spinster Aunts! 

We're trying to to keep on trucking, work, be happy and enjoy the privileges of being single (and there are so many! don't get me wrong!), but there isn't much caffeine in our lives and there is a feeling of lethargy in the air. 

Thanks for everything you do!

Need Pep Talk

Dear Need Pep Talk,

You don't mention how old you are, but my usual recommendation for the under-30 set is to scamper straight to the mirror and admire your beautiful under-30 skin. Say, "I love you, beautiful under-30 skin, and I promise to protect you from the wicked sun with hats and sun screen!"

Possibly this is shallow, but I don't care. You 20-somethings have beautifully fresh faces; enjoy them while you have them and preserve them for the future. 

Meanwhile, if there are no men on the scene, you and your friends are in a Golden Era of Singleness upon which you will look back fondly, and one day you will all desperately try to figure out some day you ALL can meet up, even for two hours, or just dream that this could ever have been a possibility. 

This spring, for example, there was a Mostly Married Lady Miracle when five of my old crowd, nicknamed, "Les Girls", managed to meet in a Toronto restaurant, all together for the first time since E's wedding. 

K had recently flown in from the West Coast, bound for a conference. E drove down from the city limits. L couldn't quite get away from it all, so she brought the baby. Half-Pint was... Actually Half-Pint is still only 22 or something and currently still Single, so it wasn't that hard for her. And I was visiting from Scotland. For the first ten minutes, we barely spoke. We just sat looking at each other, grinning foolishly. We were all together!

We spent all our time catching up and eating, so we didn't have an opportunity for "Remember Whens?" But had we the whole night to chat, we would have definitely got to the "Remember Whens." And there is a lot to remember from those days when we sprawled around the "Les Girls" house, moaning "Why are we still Single? Aaaaaaaah!"

There was, for example, the time we went clubbing with the sweet Muslim housemates, who refused to leave us when we got drunk, even though they were somewhat disgusted that we were drunk. And then there was the time E and L planned this amazing Goth Birthday Party for me, and I came down with flu in the middle of it, but made myself sick so my stomach would stop hurting and we could go to the club anyway. And then there was the time E and I went to Montreal with silly old Der Guter (see book), and Der Guter told my brother he was going to marry me. And there was the time.... You see where I'm going with this.

You Single Time is your Single Girl time, and by enjoying it together, you are laying up wonderful memories for the future. The future is there, fixed in the mind of God. You're travelling towards it, and although things you do today help determine it, God already has a Plan for you. So although naturally you are worried about what this Plan may be, or when you're going to see the Truly Life-Changing part of it, make sure you take a break from worry to simply have the fun of being girls together.

Because, you know, that is what I loved best about Single life. It wasn't the travelling--I travel more now! It was just being with the other Single Girls. And our caffeine came from the parties we threw--even if half the boys there were male religious--and from rushing off to clubs in the freezing dark--and from baking muffins and impromptu pyjama parties and checking out sales and discussing our studies. And now, as I sit in my attic in Scotland, I think back on those days, and I am so glad that I had fellow Catholic Single girls to share them with.  

Meanwhile, the absolute best book I ever came across about Single Life is called "Live Alone and Like It" by Marjorie Hillis. It was first published in 1936, so it assumes you're either going to live a chaste life or to have to pretend you are, and it also assumes, as I do, that most Singles are going to eventually marry, so you must seize the opportunities being Single gives you. It has a wonderful tone, so if you need an extra lift, do get this marvellous book

I hope this is helpful!

Grace and peace,

P.S. You're not really responsible for what goes on in the heads of the weirdos. You can, however, head the weirdos off at the pass with firm "No's" as soon as they appear. I don't know what you mean by weirdos, so let us just call them "eccentric or socially awkward men whose advances you wish to reject." A kind but firm "No" in time saves nine. Speak to them loudly and offer them unsolicited advice, like a mother or schoolteacher, nun or aged aunt. 

Columnists Don't Get to Choose Their Own Headlines

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
That is your media awareness lesson for today.


We are starting to think about snowmaking.  The fans guns are ready to go.  Over the coming weeks, we will be doing our final testing prior to operation.  By mid-September, all the guns will be in position on High Noon.  We will fire up the system as soon as conditions are favorable usually sometime between mid-September and early October.   There is is still a lot of summer to enjoy, but we are getting ready.

StudioWed Atlanta 5th Annual Inspired Bride Event

This September, StudioWed Atlanta presents the 5th Annual Inspired Bride Event!

Brides will enjoy an afternoon of stylish wedding ideas inspired by the "Golden Ages of Romance," wedding design tablescapes, catering and cake tastings, they'll fill their swag bag in the gifting suite, meet a host of top local vendors, plus much more!

Register before ticket prices increase on September 1st and you'll gain access to this awesome event for only $25. Plus, guests of the bride can attend for only $10. Sign up today at!

September 8th, 2013
188 14th St. NE
Atlanta, GA 30361

Images courtesy of Claudia McDade.

Images courtesy of Janet Howard Studio.

Images courtesy of Melissa Prosser.

Tips On How To Be Confident In Delivering Your Wedding Speech In Five Simple And Easy Steps

The idea may be scary when you have to confidently deliver a speech on your wedding day however, if you go along with all of these 5 basic steps it'll be a lot easier for you to deliver your speech confidently on your wedding.
 Step 1. Look online
Let's start off with this step, look online for wedding speech samples. Any time you understand where to look for online wedding speeches, it's going to be easier for you find great wedding speech samples that you can use for the occasion. 

Step 2. Consider finding wedding quotes.
Adding a few quotes will make your wedding speech seem more professional as you share your speech to with all the guest, just don’t over do it with too many quotes. 

Step 3. Consider adding a wedding toast in your wedding speech.
This is very important to get right due to the fact if you consider adding a good wedding toast in your speech, the guest will surely applaud you after giving your speech which you really deserved it!

Step 4. Why not include funny one-liners?
Any time you do include funny one-liner on your speech and it's going to make it memorable, however, make sure that it’s not offensive. Else, you going to ruin the occasion..

Step 5. Obtain professional help
A final step will be to obtain professional help. Obtaining help from a professional will let you have a very successful wedding speech and simply just like a pro!
In abide by these 5 steps you will be capable creating your wedding speech confidently. However, this looks slightly too hard to you.

Sweetening or Festering?

An interesting question from Seraphic Alumna Shiraz:

But -- here is my but -- I have a pet theory about this. [My now-husband and I] were both young [when we met] (early twenties) and he was really very sweet and excited to have a nice girlfriend (he had had prior non-religious girlfriends who turned out to be Not Very Nice), so that helped. 

Also, I've found, and friends have found, that as the men you are dating get older, some of this sweetness dissipates. My friends have found that older guys expect more, and faster, whether religious or no. They are also more likely to play games, e.g. texting only after a time lag of a certain length, not signalling whether or not they are dating only you or others too, etc etc. I was wondering: what do you think about this? That yes, it depends on the guy -- you'll find jerks and non-jerks distributed through the religious and non-religious population, but that also that game playing and sexual expectations seem to increase with age? Does this hold true for anyone else, or is it just my friends who've seen this pattern?

Guys playing games sounds like "Game" to me. And "Game" is the plaything of men who are so frustrated by women, they begin to see us as a kind of commodity for which they are in competition with other men. And, unfortunately, some of the psychological tricks of Game work on some women.

Occasionally I try to imagine what it is like to be a man. This isn't as hard to do as you may think as men write so many books--especially novels--about being men. Also, I had brothers and I generally mined boyfriends for stories about their lives. (Poor boyfriends.) Two themes crop up: the beastliness of bigger boys towards smaller boys--the awful violence of childhood that damps down to adult competitiveness--and the mystery and confusion of women.

When I was a child, the boys I knew were very nasty to girls, and so boys seemed to improve as I got older. Although boys in my elementary school class were fond of obscene language and sexual harassment, boys I met in high school were not at all like that. They were rather sweet, now that I think about it. My principal crush objects from that era married shortly after they graduated from university. The only real trouble I had from Men Who Expected Stuff was from someone who assumed all Western women were sexually active and from a Gamer in his late thirties who was very possibly insane.

I suspect I sidestepped a lot of garbage by avoiding non-Catholic dating sites and by usually dating only guys who were Catholics or work buddies.

The reflection on guys I knew in high school gives rise to a hypothesis. My hypothesis is that sweet men--men who believe in love--form attachments at a relatively young age, and hang on like limpets to their beloveds. Most of them get married young, too, or move in with their beloveds in such numbers that, yes, it does indeed look like "All the good ones are taken."  Asses--men who believe they deserve a non-stop smorgasbrod of sex--tend not to form stable, loving attachments when they are young.

However, some of these sweet and tender limpets get scraped off by their beloveds, for not all young women are sweet and loyal (Exhibit A: the young Seraphic, whom I advise all Eavesdroppers to avoid should they ever have access to time machine), which makes them available again. And either they are still sweet, or their broken hearts make them bitter.

If bitter, they are encouraged in their bitterness by the Asses. And the Asses make misogynist jokes which shock but also amuse the Mr Broken Hearts, and if the Mr Broken Hearts admire the Asses, they try to be more like them. And they can do this quite easily if they start reading Pick Up Artist blogs or even shelling out the cash to take notes in Pick Up Artist seminars.

(I've noticed that PUA is never about finding ONE gorgeous woman who will MARRY you and HAVE YOUR CHILDREN and MAKE YOUR HOUSE LOOK NICE and STAND BY YOU when your HAIR FALLS OUT.)

The thing is, though, that there are men who carry on like Asses in their teens or twenties and suddenly, or not so suddenly, feel ashamed of themselves and want to be better men. In short, they grow up and get married--possibly to the women who inspired such grown-up thoughts--and have heart attacks fourteen years later when their little girls appear at the dinner table dressed in stripper wear for their first high school dances.

And those are my thoughts. In short: most sweet men settle down young, some sweet men become available latter, some asses have conversion experiences, and some rejected sweet men fester and join the remaining asses.

My own solution to the problem, were I a merry widow, would be to look for such delightful, unbrokenhearted, unattached and still-sweet young men in their twenties who admire ladies in their forties, and with that I shall now go look up what the PUAs have to say about COUGARS.

Update: Since we are talking about men's experiences, it's okay for Eavesdroppers to leave comments today. However, it's not Gentleman's Day, so I am removing my strict protection and code of conduct. Y'all can fight. No bad words, though.

Update 2: Game for women? Okay, this post is rather, um, frank and, um, coarse. But it has some good points, mostly gleaned from Why Men Love *itches. Incidentally, why do some women think it makes them sound more authoritative to use coarse language? My gym teacher never did, and when she said, "Jump", we darn well jumped.

Update 3: I have been reading another blogpost , which boils WMLB down (up?) to 100 points, and gave up at 37 because the points made me sad. The war between the sexes is, for me,  primary evidences for the lingering effects of Original Sin.  How nice if we just let our yes be yes, and our no be no, and nobody ever needed to tell anyone not to be a booty call.

Update 4: Once I got an email from a Catholic guy who said that Game really helped him, even though he understood that PUA culture was really disgusting. And so my loathing of Game wavered a bit. But today I saw this:
  • Several Heads Are Better Than One – like wolves hunting in packs, this chapter teaches you how to get your friends to "wingman" for you. With these teamwork techniques, the ladies won't stand a chance and you and your friends will be enjoying the results one night after another after another after another!
Wolves hunting in packs. "The ladies" won't stand a chance. You and your friends will be enjoying the results. Hmm, how very gang rapey. Gross, gross, gross.

Beavers EIS

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
I spent the day with a group of 10 Forest Service people.  We have formally begun the Environmental Impact Statement process.  We did a several hour hike through The Beavers and reviewed a few other projects we are proposing.  Today's visit was with several agency specialists including the soil scientist, wildlife biologist, hydrologist, timber manager, District Ranger, and more.  The objective of the day was to paint a very clear picture of our proposal.  

The next major step in the EIS will be the Public Scoping phase.  In the coming weeks, you can look forward to seeing documents and maps describing our proposal.  There will be plenty of time and opportunity to learn about the project and to comment on the proposal.  While we are still trying to pin point a date, there will be a public tour and Q and A session for those interested in learning more about the proposal.

For now, you can review our Master Development Plan on our website in "The Mountain" section.

It was a very nice day for a walk.

The wedding season

Whilst it is for many the happiest day of their lives, a wedding can come at considerable cost, an average of £25,000 in fact. Apart from buying a house it is often the biggest expense that couples undertake together. Naturally, this can mean added financial pressure at a time when they only won’t think about the gorgeous dress or memorable stag do. Little wonder that with fewer major banks than ever lending to us through personal loans and overdrafts, many couples are turning to payday loan companies as a perfect solution.
Couples may have already set aside some money for the happy event, but inevitably as the big day looms larger, unforeseen expenses arise. You may have to choose a pricier wedding DJ, or change the menu, or simply find yourself a little short of what the budget requires. This is where payday loans are invaluable.

Payday loans lend money with the minimum of hassle and fuss – you simply pay back the loan on your next payday. So there is no need to worry if the wedding or honeymoon falls in the middle of the month when you don’t get paid to the end. A payday loan can bridge that gap and let you enjoy the high points in life as they happen.

The same applies to the mother and father of the bride of course. During the wedding season, parents who are footing the bill for their daughter’s wedding are often happy to consider anything that can help with cash-flow. A payday loan can remove the awful anxiety that comes with money being tight on such an important day.

The wedding season, with its engagement parties, hen and stag dos and the day itself, is a fun time but can also be one when the wedding guests could do with a little extra help. No one wants to let down friends or family by skimping when you should be celebrating, so a payday loan can prove extremely welcome. For a lot of people, it means the difference between able to attend the hen weekend or not, or to buy the first-choice wedding present, or to buy that special hat for the ceremony.

Sound far-fetched? Well, the average cost of a wedding gift is £70 for close family, whilst the average Briton spends more than £7,500 on other people’s weddings during their lifetime. That can work out to be a lot of money per wedding, so it is not surprising that cash-flow has to be kept healthy.

Payday loans were designed for exactly such eventualities as a wedding. Based on what you can afford, yet usually approved online with no paperwork, they can be the most convenient and stress-free way to get hold of extra cash. Whether you are the bride-to-be, a proud father, or a guest who is keen to enjoy the best day possible, it is worth thinking “Do I need a payday loan?” The answer could well be “I do.”

Mostly an Excuse to look at Young Keanu

There was a seminarian like this in one of my Aquinas classes, no foolin'.

Ripped from Catholic Memes on Facebook.

Learning to Deal with Men

It's too soon to post it up, but this morning all I can think about is an email from a gentle reader who says she has never been alone with a man to whom she is not related. This is not a gentle reader from India or Saudi Arabia but from, I believe, the Good Ol' US of A. And she is in her late 20s.

Now, I did ask in my response if she meant that literally. For example, sometimes one does find oneself alone with a bus driver. Or in the work place with one's boss. Or in the hair salon with the hairstylist. Or in an office with a male prof, the paranoid prof having jammed the door open with several books. Or in  priest's office, weeping into a tissue. This would be much, much better than never, literally never, having been alone with an unrelated man. Because, really, how could one cope on a date, for example, if one had not so much as chatted with a bus driver?

And as a matter of fact, my poor reader did get ambushed by a neighbour, who suddenly popped up behind her car in the dead of night, to say that he had been watching her from his window, and she looked beautiful and like a true lady, and would she go out with him.

Terrified about the idea of being watched by the neighbour every time she got out of her car, my reader told her mother, and her mother gave her a hard time. Turns out Mr Neighbour asked her parents first, and the parents had never told her. And Mom went on to give him a chance and said mean things.

Excuse me? The parents never told their quiet, shy, never-been-alone-with-a-man not to expect the neighbour to come bounding out of the dark with date proposals? What the heck? And why did Doctor Spock never write a book called "How to Parent your Adult Daughter?"  Because, I'm sorry, my poor reader went on to have a nightmare that she had been whisked off in the neighbour's pickup truck against her will.

Someone is not rooted in reality, and it's my poor reader's mother. If your daughter is shy, retiring, and has never been alone with a man in her 25+ years, it is up to you to do something about it. You can't expect her to suddenly trust random neighbours with pick-up trucks just because they live next door and she's 25+ years old!

What Baby Boomers don't seem to get is that by tearing down society and ushering in the Sexual Revolution they have made the sexual realm so much more scary for their children. It's bad enough for girls who have to go to school with sniggering, hyper-sexualized boys; imagine the home-schooled. The girls in co-ed schools have at least learned what to expect and how to deal with it. The home-schooled go to college and discover a guy in a phallic costume shoving condoms at them during "Healthy Sex Week."

My reader's mother would probably wonder what I expect her to do, and first and foremost I expect her to tell her daughter within ten minutes that some guy is was interested in dating her. It's not like the daughter was going to say, "Oh, Mom! You ruined the surprise!"  Second, I expect my reader's mother to realize that her daughter has managed to be as socially sheltered as a well-brought-up 19th century lady and that it is up to her, the mother, to invite suitors into the parlour. It's the freakin' neighbour. It wouldn't even have to be into the parlour. It could be into the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

Update: I just asked a young Eavesdropper in the house where his generation learns how to date, which was a silly question, as the Eavesdropper looks not to his own generation for cues as to how to behave but to that of General Piłsudski. Were I his mother, I would probably arrange cotillions and things like that, shoving him at lovely, bashful wallflowers and cutting off married adventuresses at the pass. Well, I suspect his generation learns how to date from television---a horrible thought, but since so many women thought "Sex & the City" a good guide to real life, there maybe a lot of men who think "How I Met Your Mother" is the way things work.

If true, that would be very pathetic. Does anyone know if the "Third Date Rule" is still floating around out there? I haven't had to worry about it for five years. But if it is, I shall have to write about it again because I hate the idea of my gentle readers finding out about it the hard way, as I did.

Update 2: And that was extremely pathetic. He was living with his mother, whom he shooed away for the night, and cooked a meal that took simply forever to prepare, so that I was quite starving, and had a special mix tape including "Rainbow Connection", which he sang along with Kermit, and when I finally realized what he was up to and asked what gave, he asked, "Haven't you heard of the Third Date Rule?"

4-Pack Reminder

Monday, August 26, 2013
Just a quick reminder about 4-Packs.  Right now there are two great 4-Pack deals out there.  The Elevation 4-Pass (non-transferable) is on sale for $119 and a Transferable 4-Pack (basically 4 lift tickets) is on sale for $139.  You can buy these tickets on our website through Monday, September 2.  You can also pick them up at this weekend's ski shows; Powder Daze at Christy Sports in Park Meadows, Ski Rex in Boulder, and Sniagrab at Sports Authority in Downtown Denver.

After September 2 the price will go up on the Elevation 4-Pass.

After September 2, the Transferable 4-Pack will only be available at a few ski shows later in the fall and the price will go up.

Now is a great time to buy.

Winter Weddings at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

It's no secret how much we love Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, an exquisite venue set among the rolling hills of Virginia's spectacular countryside. Pippin Hill has been featured multiple times in the pages of Weddings Unveiled, including our current Summer 2013 issue. It's an extraordinary setting  for events during any season, but it's easy to imagine the enchantment of a winter wedding with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop. The property has recently received increasing interest in winter weddings and they responded with their fantastic new Winter Wedding Collection Package.

For a limited time, Pippin Hill is offering a customized Winter Wedding Collection Package with exclusive perks and discounts on weddings of 75-200 from December 1st, 2013 through March 16th, 2014! A few of the special add-ons from this five-star venue include, but aren't limited to:

Day-of Wedding Coordination
One of the star inclusions in the Winter Wedding Collection Package is day-of wedding coordination from nationally celebrated wedding planning company, Easton Events. Trust us: You'll rest easier knowing the details of your day lie in Lynn's incredibly capable hands.

Weather or Not 
Snow or shine, you will be covered, literally. Clear side walls and heaters will allow you to stay warm and still enjoy the signature views of the mountains while exchanging vows on the Veranda. The Granary offers a stunning space for your reception, where you and your guests can dance the evening away.

Warming Winter Cuisine 
How about this for a winter menu item? The Chef’s signature winter dish at Pippin Hill is the Buford Pear and Truffle Ravioli with chestnut pesto, French dandelion greens and Chardonnay fondue. Do we really need to say more? Hosting your event at Pippin Hill offers the options to create an unforgettable winter feast for your guests with a selection of warm and seasonal dishes from the property's five-star kitchen.

A Decadent "Cheers" 
The spiced cider and hot cocoa bar is a decadent winter treat, but the frosty season also offers the opportunity to be creative with specialized winter bevvies – consider an Eggnog Martini or a Winter Solstice Cocktail as a signature offering for your party.

Dazzle with Décor 
Winter offers the opportunity for seriously dazzling event decor and Pippin Hill is the perfect canvas for weaving wintry accents throughout your event design. Imagine a palette of silvery grays, neutrals and warm golds, florals with birch branches, vintage velvet ribbon accents, linens with a subtle shimmer and chic table settings. The possibilities are endless. 

Let there be Light 
There's nothing quite like warm, glowing candlelight on a frosty winter's evening and there's nothing quite as romantic as the candlelit reception space at Pippin Hill. The twinkling lights package offers candles set in every bar, on every table and in every corner. 

From a heated ceremony space, to gourmet five-star cuisine, Pippin Hill has everything you need for inspired winter nuptials. Click here for more information on their amazing Winter Weddings Collection Package and start dreaming about your amazing winter wedding at Pippin Hill!

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
5022 Plank Road
North Garden, VA 22959
Phone: 434-202-8063 

Images courtesy of Eric Kelley Photography. Event design: Easton Events. Forals: Beehive Events.

Searching for Mr Good Enough

Occasionally there are persuasive articles in the newspapers, women's magazine and blogs extolling the joys of settling. "Love the one you're with" just about sums it up. I think there is a lot to be said for this in the case of people who are living together and have children. No other "partner" is going to care about those children as much as the "partner" you had them with, so if you're getting along fine, get married already. Your own personal happiness does not matter as much as the children's happiness anyway. You have or had choices. The kids don't. I think "Staying together for the sake of the kids" is fantastic and noble and exactly what I would want my parents to have done, were they not staying together for the sake of each other.

I get a bit nervous, however, about the idea of getting married just to get married or just to have kids. This may have worked out more or less okay for society when society made getting divorced really, really difficult. But nowadays no-fault-divorce has made such thinking really risky. Of course the kids will be glad to be alive, most of the time, but the kids won't thank you if you rip the world out from under their feet by divorcing their dad because he is just so terrifically boring or annoying or lazy or whatever he is that you should have noticed when you were dating. That's what dating is for.

Anyway, I have broken up with men because they were boring, and it is a terribly embarrassing thing to do that. It made me feel like a frivolous, shallow, heartless heel, so why should you be exempt, eh? Why should you have the privilege of going self-sacrificingly to the altar with a boring guy if, should you have been a bit more heartless, you could have been Single for as long as me? It's not like I suffered too much in the long run because now I have B.A., and yesterday at a picnic he made our friends and me laugh so much I had long black streaks on my face from weeping mascara.

Okay, there is the childlessness thing, which is very probably age-related and sucks, but at least if we did have kids, the kids would have a dad who was funny and a mother who laughed a lot.

I got a really sweet email about that the other day, from a reader who said that having a great husband was even more important to her than having kids. She thought maybe this made her weird, but I don't think it makes her weird at all. I think it is a good idea to be pro-husband first and pro-kids second. After all, when you're married you have to put your spouse first and your kids second and then you third, and the same goes for him. Kids who find themselves put before Dad or Mum by Mum or Dad learn to despise Dad or Mum; it's not good.

The email made me wonder exactly how many Single readers would marry Mr Good Enough just to have kids instead of waiting for Mr Perfect-for-Her even if that meant never having kids. Then it occurred to me that I haven't taken a poll in the long time. Admittedly, this would make a scary poll, but surely my readers are not superstitious and do not think they will SEAL THEIR FATE if they vote one way or the other.

You get four five choices:

1. I would settle for Mr Good Enough just to have kids even if later we divorced.
2. I would rather wait for Mr Perfect-for-Me even if we never had kids.
3. I am a happy Serious Single woman and don't see myself getting married/married again.
4. I am an Eavesdropping Male.
5. I am a Married Lurker.

Oh, what a question for a Monday morning! But I'm dying to know what y'all would pick.

Update: A really great post on Orthogals today. Lots of great cheer for Singles.

More Rain

Sunday, August 25, 2013
We continue to get numerous afternoon (and sometimes morning) showers.  There are still a few flowers holding on and the greenery is outstanding. It is time to sneak in another Argentine Fork Trail hike.  There are a few yellow aspen leaves poking out.  Is it too early to start talking about snowmaking?

Honouring Your Identity 2: Single/Wolna/Célibataire

Saturday, August 24, 2013
"You can't wear that dress!" shouted my sister as I packed for our brother's wedding, now five years ago. "You'll look like a spinster aunt!"

"I AM a spinster aunt," I replied, but I don't remember if I wore the spinster aunt dress. What I do remember is that two years of blogging about my life as a Single Catholic made it easy for me to be proud to be a spinster aunt.

Besides, I wasn't legally a spinster aunt. Legally I was a divorced aunt, which from a Catholic point of view is much more depressing. Fortunately for my peace of mind, my annulment papers made me spiritually a spinster again. Not a virgin again, obviously, but still a spinster, free to be the me I was supposed to be.

It turns out I was not supposed to be a spinster aunt for very much longer. And the moral of the story, leetle gairls, is that if you flee from a bad marriage and it is quite obviously over and very probably was never sacramental and you have no children whose feelings you have to take time to consider, apply for the annulment as soon as the ink is dry on your divorce certificate. Don't wait until Mr Right turns up. Get the annulment ASAP and return to being a Catholic spinster, so that if Mr Right or Right Convent of St. Right in Rightsville breaks into your life, you will be ready to say "Yes."

In Canada it takes a year's separation to divorce and at least a year after that to get the annulment, if applicable, so that is two years for you to wait out Divorced Person's Insanity. Divorcing young Catholics should be locked away in a convent or monastery for at least a year, but very possibly two, for their own good. It is just so awful. It is so awful the primary purpose of this blog is to make you feel so happy and hopeful as Singles you do not just march into a bad marriage hoping everything will work out just 'cause. In short, I don't want you getting divorced and going off the rails.

I hate divorce even though I am grateful to divorce because it made me free, which reminds me that the proper word for "Single" in Polish is not "Single" (pronounced "SEEN-gluh"), which is sort of an insult, like "hipster" ("HEEP-stair"), but wolny for a man and wolna for a woman. And this is a much better word than Single because it is the same word for FREE.

"Jestem wolna" means "I am Single" or "I am free" and it points to the beautiful heart of Singleness which is that it makes you free for marriage, or for religious life, or for life in a L'Arche community, or as a numerary in Opus Dei, or for any commitment to which God calls you, in His own good time, through the medium of history.

We can only read the history of our lives backwards, so I see in my own life that God inspired me to start my Singles blog, which made me happier to be Single, which came through in my blog, which attracted B.A.'s friends, who alerted B.A., who read my blog and, when I wrote about coming to the U.K., invited me to visit. Hey presto. God working in history, both the history of communications technology and the history of little me, to show me my true state-in-life vocation at the age of 38. And because I had got my annulment almost ten years before, I was wolna, free, to say yes at once.

Incidentally, my writing in the Catholic Register inspired a lovely group of nuns in British Columbia to write to me personally suggesting I try my vocation with them.  Isn't that sweet? At the time it made me a bit cranky, though, as when deep down you really want to get married, religious life really seems second best and just not something you want to embrace. This makes you feel bad, of course, since religious life is the highest form of life, so what is wrong with you for not wanting it? Are you a bad Catholic, etc., etc? No, not necessarily. You probably just do not have a call to religious life.

Therefore I think it's not just the events of history but what God writes on your heart that you must read to understand what God wants you to do, and I apologize to the Vocations Director of the IBVM in Toronto for wasting an afternoon of her time. Oh, and to the VD of the Tennesee Dominicans for wasting some of her time although in her case I am not really sorry because I love to tell people that the Tennessee Dominicans turned me down sight unseen. Hee hee!

Where was I? Oh! The French also have a better word for Single identity, for it is célibataire.

Now, we English-speakers often use the word "celibate" to mean we don't have sex. This is not the proper use of the word "celibate", which in English means what it does in French--an unmarried person, like a priest. However, there is something in the word that makes us think of not-having-sex, so this is also positive, from a Christian point of view.

Why? Because to not-have-sex when you are Single means that you are not a slave to sex, at the mercy of all that sex can throw at you without the safety of marriage. Sex is a fine servant but a really cruel and nasty master, and if you doubt me ask anyone who is addicted, actually addicted, to internet porn. Ask the poor young woman now known as "Slane Girl", or read the British papers about the children of women who let new lovers into the house as if with a revolving door.

"Single" is a problematic word because it suggests that you are alone. However, you are not alone. You are a free and (I hope) celibate woman with a family, friends, community and, most of all, loving Saviour.  And you have nothing to be ashamed about. As a single person, you have the freedom to be there for your family, friends, community and loving Saviour in a way a married woman can't. For example, I could not be at my nephew's birthday dinner in mid-August because I am married and living abroad. Were I still his spinster aunt, I would have been there. And it hurts me a little that I was not there, and even more that I couldn't get it together to get to the post office on time, etc.  However, I have to put my husband and our Old Worldy stuff first, just as St. Paul thought so problematic.

So if someone asks if you are Single or, worse, "still Single", you may say "yes" happily and hopefully instead of feeling terrible. You are not alone but wolna to God's call, whatever it is, and to take care of your family and friends in a way you might not be able to later, and--I hope and pray--you are célibataire in the chaste way that keeps you safe.

Update: I have been wondering whether to write about poor Slane Girl at all, but the one saving grace in the whole awful story is that she isn't known by her name (and please don't look for it, poppets) but simply as "Slane Girl." This should make it easier for her to get on with her life. Meanwhile, thanks for nothing, Sexual Revolution. Now it's got Ireland, with a spandy new permissive abortion law and everything. Is Poland next? I seriously hope not--and there is hope for although Poland has allowed abortion since Communist days, there are comparatively few abortions in Poland. (Still, have some more children, ludzie.)

Okay, I wrote about Poland again. I just really love Poland. Yes, I know it's not Catholic Disneyland. But it is so much more Catholic than here. Have I mentioned how well the Poles take care of the graves of their dead...? And what Poles do instead of celebrating Hallowe'en....? I don't care how annoying Babcia is, she's right: Poland is almost like heaven compared to wherever she is now--only with, ahem, a lot of car thieves. Married car thieves who use contraceptives. Bad! (I don't care about the cars.)

Vail Time Trial

Friday, August 23, 2013
Another great day on the USA Pro Challenge.  Joined a gang of friends on Vail Pass. The rain and hail held off until the race was over.  Tejay Van Garderen crushed the time trial winning the Stage and opening up his lead.  This really is an outstanding Colorado event.  Lots of fun people.  The antler guy was in top form.  A-Basin skier Larry Grossman was announcing giving us the play by play.  Clean Bottle man was enjoying the show.  All kinds of weird things happening.  I am not sure I get the race chicken.  It is really fun living in a place where events like this happen.  Hats off to the USA Pro Challenge team.

Tejay on his way to victory.

Honouring Your Identity 1

Ancestral  (i.e. pre-1965) Canadian Flag  
The only way to stay rooted in reality is to tell yourself the truth all the time. This includes cutting through myths or wishful thinking about your own identity. This can be difficult for all kinds of reasons, but usually because of the expectations of other people or even your culture.

For example, as a Canadian born after the 1960s, I was encouraged by state and school not to think of myself as a Canadian without simultaneously thinking of myself as the member of an ethnic group, too, e.g. as an Irish-Canadian. However, like most white Canadians whose first Canadian ancestors arrived before the First World War, I have ancestors from more than one ethnic group.

Meanwhile, my father's family is from Chicago, but nobody ever suggested to me that one of my ethnic group was "American". I was encouraged to ignore my father's experience of Civil Rights days, the American experience of both World Wars, the American Civil War (someone in my family fought for the North) and, heck, the Revolutionary War (my dad's family fought both sides) and even life in the Thirteen Colonies before the Revolution. That's a lot of really cool history, but it didn't count. All who counted were the starving Irish crawling off the boat in 1847 and the adventurous Germans popping up in Chicago in the 1880s, and, on my mother's side, fed-up Scots and an English cook fleeing the stultifying British class system circa 1900.

Because it was too much trouble to say I was an Irish-German-Scottish-English-Canadian, I went with Irish-Canadian because my primary identities were, actually, Catholic and Red-head, traits I associated most with the Irish bunch. This drove my mother nuts, especially as the red hair comes from the Scots and the Germans, and so I tried to swim against the multicultural tide. However, my teachers wouldn't let me. My first-ever published story was a creative non-fiction piece about being humiliated by Sister W for saying I was "just a Canadian" instead of obediently claiming to be Irish or Scottish or German or whatever.

In Canada we are told that "we" are "all" immigrants except for perhaps the First Nations (American Indians), which is literally nonsense. My father is an immigrant from the USA, but my mother wasn't an immigrant, and her parents weren't immigrants, and I am not an immigrant. Well, I wasn't an immigrant. Now I am an immigrant--although that feels like a weird word to use when four of my great-grandparents were born here and, until 1947, everyone born in Canada was a British subject.

"Canadians aren't foreigners," bellowed a very Old School Englishman whose conception of Canada is trés pre-1968. "They're just British who live somewhere else!"

Not true, though it was once (de jure) true. And I wonder why it is that the Powers That Be feel they need to make the descendants of men who built the Ville du Québec, or who fled the American Revolution or slavery to Upper Canada, or who won the day at Vimy Ridge, or who survived Japanese prison camps, or who served in the Korean War feel like we don't really belong to the land where we and those men were born and raised. Maybe it makes us easier to control.

I think the Canadians of the pre-1960s era did a great job building Canada, and I am proud to have ancestors from among them. Ditto for the USA although I feel sorry for the never-ending racial tension nightmare and am so thankful I didn't grow up in it. That fact that we didn't is one thing that made Canadian kids of my generation different from American kids, and meanwhile I have a particular loathing of  the concept of inherited guilt. Again, cui bono?

Anyway, it feels positively revolutionary to say that the history and geography of Canada shaped my identity more than that of Ireland and Germany, and any lingering ideas that I was spiritually Scots got blown up at an Edinburgh Robbie Burns Supper attended by English and Scottish republicans. Apparently serious stuff has gone down since 1900.

And that was nine paragraphs just to state the obvious: I am Canadian. Jeepers.

Canadians are lucky in that nobody thinks about us all that much, and apart from some U-Boats and some crazy Americans who wanted to kidnap the country and trade it for Ireland, we haven't been invaded by an army for 200 years. Conservative pundit Mark Steyn was positively gleeful when a Muslim mob bothered to burn a Canadian flag: "Death to the Little Satan!" chortled Mark.

The only places I have come across anti-Canadianism is among Americans who think Canadians are just Americans who act funny, in northwestern Germany where there is still some lingering resentment about our brief occupation and, of course, from sulky immigrants in Toronto, although rather excitingly from a Dutchman who said that although Dutch women had been safe from Germans during the War, they weren't safe from the Canadians. So much for all that "We love you, our liberators, here's some tulips" stuff.

If Canadians were not so invisible--which is really a wonder, really, when you consider that Canada is geographically the second-largest country in the world, a G-8 nation and home to a cousin of everyone else in the world--people might try to make us feel worse about being Canadian. And I would correctly interpret this as an attack and fight back instead of thinking, "Oh boo hoo. Our terrible sins. I will allow my attacker to make me feel dirty and shameful." Because, once again, cui bono? Not me!

Aside re: anti-Americanism: I really wish every American girl being hassled by some rude Canadian or European had the guts to say, "Pooh to you. I'm proud of my country,"-- preferably in the native language of whoever is insulting her, so as to prove Americans can too speak anything besides English.

I know what my sins are. They're bad enough without me having to take on other people's, e.g. those of Winston Churchill against the Poles. But I wanted to write about where Single identity fits into all this. Hmm. Well, perhaps I'll wait until tomorrow.

Atlanta's Autumn Bridal Ball

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Atlanta brides-to-be, do we have a weekend event for you.

Bridal Ball is a one-day, interactive wedding planning expo hosted by Wedding One. Taste decadent hors d'oeuvres and desserts, sip a cocktail at the martini bar, have your make-up airbrushed by some of the top beauty experts and have your hair done for a trial-run at the Beauty Bar, all in one afternoon.

This fall's ball is held at the magnificent Emory Conference Center Hotel in one of ATL's most prestigious neighborhoods. Vendors are some of the most sought after in the city, and they're preparing to wow you with fall wedding inspiration. There's also five free honeymoon giveaways, over $20,000 in raffle prizes, a runway fashion show featuring couture wedding gowns and custom tuxes, and the first 100 brides receive a deluxe swag bag. Don't worry fellas, they haven't forgotten about you: The first 100 grooms receives a bag of swag, too. 

Tickets are $15 at the door, or $12 online. Click here to order and view the day's schedule!

Sunday, August 25, 2013
Twitter: @BridalBall

A-Basin Working Lunch

Some days work is tough.  Some days......................not so tough.

The Importance of Girlfriends When You're a Girl

This is should be short because it is B.A.'s birthday and I have to clean, shop, cook, bake and possibly get to Polish Mass because it is also the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Poland. Not being Polish, I feel no obligation to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Poland, but I would like to anyway. (Update: Whoops. I am credibly informed that although it is the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, the Feast of her Queenship of Poland is some other day.)

When I was in Gdańsk I went to Mass every day because my hostess Marta tries to get to Mass every day, and I thought this was very beautiful. It is very easy to get to daily Mass in Poland because there are churches everywhere, and usually at least one person praying in any city church at any time of the day, and the priests show up to say Mass in such a way that you know they would show up even if nobody else did.

This was splendid and heartening, and what was also splendid and heartening was spending four days with a cradle Catholic woman my own age. I know many of my readers really prefer the company of men and feel like fish out of water when with fellow women, but I am definitely the kind of woman who enjoys being around other women. This is not to say I don't like men, but--.

Hmm. How to explain that "but"?

The wonderful thing about being in all-girl groups and activities, like Girl Guides and girls' school, is that although you compete a bit, you also work together and there is no mental adjustment for the presence of men. There is also no competition for men. You can just forget all that for as long as you are in the all-girl environment, learning how to tie a parcel or prepare a slide for the microscope. And you can talk endlessly, effortlessly obeying the social conventions around women's conversation you hopefully have mastered by the time you leave primary school.

But at the same time, for 99% of women, you pin your hopes for romance and family life on men, which means there is (or should be) a certain amount of detachment: you don't go out of your mind with jealousy when your friend falls in love with some guy. Sure, you might feel a bit neglected, but your heart doesn't snap in half. And this means women can relax around each other in a way we probably shouldn't around men. For example, you can tell a woman all about the lingerie your other friend got at her bridal shower and have a good laugh, whereas you can't tell a good male friend all this stuff without him silently asking the perpetual silent man question, "Why is she telling me this?"

From a cradle Catholic point of view, it is relaxing to be around other cradle Catholics because you don't have to talk about Catholicism so much. I spend a lot of time with convert men, including my husband, and I adore them all, but my goodness, do they talk a lot about Catholic stuff. Not usually about Our Lord or Our Lady, but about churches and liturgies and processions and what Pope Francis did and what Pope Benedict said and what convert Catholic wrote what about who.

Cradle Catholics, the ones who try to be faithful, don't have to talk so much. We can silently swim in a great sea of Catholicism, beyond words and sometimes even beyond thought, just believing and praying side by side. And this is what I did in Gdańsk with Marta. I am 100% sure it beat getting drunk with your mates and some Australian blokes on the beaches at Tenerife, the stereotypical modern British mini-break.

I do not, by the way, want to put up any kind of wall between cradle Catholics and convert Catholics. Unless they became Catholics just to please their fiances, convert Catholics have had an amazing experience, an at times painful and frightening adventure, and are often very impressive. Most of my favourite British Catholic writers were converts. There are a lot of leading American Catholic apologists who are converts. But there is something about growing up in a Catholic home and perhaps even a Catholic ghetto or Catholic society that is unique. Many of us North American Catholics are, by the time we leave home, Catholics In Name Only. But a Catholic childhood is a Catholic childhood, and Catholicism is in our cradle Catholic bones and blood and teeth and hair. (But I suppose that is also why cradle Catholics who hold heretical views are so confident in their heresies. You know the drill: "Well, I'm a Catholic, and I think...")

Then there is the generational thing, about which I felt a lot when I was with Marta, especially in front of the shipyard at Gdańsk, the birthplace of Solidarity. When the strikes were going on, Marta was right there. But I was watching them on TV, seeing the photos in Time magazine and observing the Polish priest who suddenly turned up in our parish, out of harm's way, so I remember too.

Generation is about what you remember. Generation gap is about memory as much as it is about "new" ideas and new technology.  

Anyway, it is funny to write so much about the joy of spending a long weekend with a cradle Catholic woman of my own generation when it is my convert Catholic husband's birthday. (Happy birthday again, B.A.!) But the point I am making is that even married women (perhaps especially married women) need female friends our own age who know and remember many of the same things we do.

This is why, perhaps, it is hard to make new women friends when you get older or move to another city: the majority of them, native to the city, are so busy with work and their families that when they have time to spend with friends, they choose their oldest friends, the friends who share the same background, values and memories. Childhood friends. High school friends. College friends.

Hard, though, does not mean impossible.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
It is that time of year for one of my very favorite Colorado events, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  Yesterday I was in Breck for the finish.  We hung out at the corner of Park and Main.  The riders came by that location twice.  In both laps, they were riding downhill and going uber fast.  Mind boggling fast.  Somehow in the chaos, I think I spotted Chris Froome and Andy Schleck.   It was intense.  I plan on heading up to the time trial near Vail Pass Friday.  I love this event.  Make sure you catch at least one stage.

Wedding Season

It has been a busy and full wedding season and if I don't start blogging the gorgeous weddings of the year I am going to get behind! Let's start with the first one of the season, shall we? Lizzie & Everett...

It has been over a year ago since Lizzie, Everett and I started planning their wedding together. Time really flew by, but it tends to do that when you have a Bride, Groom and Parents of the Bride that are so amazing and fun to be with. The months leading to the wedding were filled with menu tastings, floral designing, sketching out décor together, wine tastings with the caterer, glasses of wine at our meetings {wink}, and some serious fun picking out linens at Select Event Rental’s show room. Lizzie’s Mother is from Guatemala so she added some Guatemalan flair throughout the wedding and I sure had fun learning about the culture!

I also have never witnessed a family that would do so much for each other, it was so refreshing.  Lizzie, the gorgeous bride, wanted a surprise of cherry blossom trees at the cocktail hour for her Mother. Everett, the Groom, and I shared conversations about surprising Lizzie at the wedding. The Parents of the Bride hired Poe, the Raven’s mascot, to surprise the groom during the reception (at the end of the welcome speech I had the band play Seven Nation Army and out came Poe).  You could feel the love from every angle! PS-With all of these surprises going on, picture me making sure I say the right thing in front of the right people and the putting the right things on the right timelines for the right people so no one found out about each other's surprise..…whew, can you say tougher than it looks!

She chose the Evergreen Museum & Library in Baltimore, but unlike alot weddings held there, which are in the stunning carriage house, she wanted the breathtaking manicured gardens of the Evergreen tented for her reception. That means we started from scratch on a bed of grass.  That week, the construction began: the enormous tent went up, the gorgeous fabric liner and (soon to be covered in 70 pounds of flowers) chandeliers were hung, heaters were brought in, cherry trees delivered, gorgeous overlays being spread upon the tables, escort cards being hung on hanging boxwood walls, buckets of flower petals poured down the patio stairs, lighting over 300 candles and of course, Poe, sneaking in during the cocktail hour to change. The weather report called for a slight chill, but otherwise a sunny and beautiful April day. Gina, Jillian and I were ready. 

Lizzie looked absolutely stunning when I saw her. I remember the moment Gina and I knocked on the window on the car door as she was waiting to enter the church with her Father. She looked up at me with a huge smile as her dress shimmered from the intricate sewn on details; she looked absolutely flawless. Lizzie walked down the aisle to her handsome groom and the evening began. It was a divine night with an amazing couple and their amazing family.  I was so lucky to be a part of it. 

Photographer: Michael Conner Studios
Wedding Planner & Design: ELLE DESIGNS (hi!)
Hair & Makeup: Amie Decker Beauty
Caterer: Zeffert & Gold
Ceremony Site: Corpus Christi Church
Florist: My Flower Box
Tent, Lighting & Staging: Loane Bros.
Tables, Chairs, Linens: Select Event Rentals
Wedding Cake: Flavor Cupcakery

Photos by Michael Conner studios & a few of my phone thrown in here and there…