Wedding in Monona!

There’s a faith in loving fiercely the one who is rightfully yours
especially if you have waited years and especially if part of you never
believed you could deserve this loved and beckoning hand held
out to you this way.

Our eldest daughter was married in Monona today at Winnequah Park. The appropriateness of both the location and the marriage sunk in more deeply with each passing moment of the day. This area of Monona has been the background of so many of our activities over the years. Here are some of the many charming details of the wedding:

The presence of the ubiquitous Canadian Geese:



The gazebo on the lagoon where the ceremony was held, which was festooned with flag decor that is required to remain in place through July, yet somehow added to the charm:


Peonies were used in the bouquets and the table decorations. The peonies were taken from my dear friend’s peony bushes. We have since discovered that peonies symbolize prosperity and romance and are an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage:


The bride made lemon bars (and gluten-free macaroni and cheese) the night before the wedding for the reception:


The music during the ceremony was a recording of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major as performed by George Winston. This was the same song used during the processional of my and my husband’s wedding:

And I think of the story of the storm and the people
waking and seeing the distant, yet familiar figure,
far across the water calling to them.
And how we are all preparing for that abrupt waking
and that calling and that moment when we have to say yes!
Except it will not come so grandly, so biblically,
but more subtly, and intimately in the face
of the one you know you have to love.
So that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them we find, everything holds us,
and everything confirms our courage.

The ceremony was performed by our neighbor Carmela. She and Tom and their family were one of the very first families we met when we moved to Monona 16 years ago, so her presence was very fitting and appreciated.


The average couple spends $30,000 on their wedding. According to this research,  spending $20,000 or more increases the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared to folks who spend $5000-10,000. For the best odds, spend $1000 or less, the price range this wedding happens to falls into, which hopefully bodes well for their future. It also pleases me that she was able to have the wedding she wanted with a minimum of interference and projections hurled her way.

According to the Gottman Institute, renowned for research into successful marriages, there are two things necessary for a successful marriage: kindness and showing genuine interest in your partner’s joys.  Fortuntaely I’ve seen plenty of both in this couple, both today and the past year, and no doubt will in the years to come.


and you want to live, and you want to love.
And you’ll walk across any territory,
and any darkness, however fluid,
and however dangerous to take the one
hand and the one life, you know belongs in yours.

– Poetry excerpts from the poem The True Love by David Whyte

Lagoon Walk: 90 degree edition


“Sometimes I think that the point of birdwatching is not the actual seeing of the birds,
but the cultivation of patience.” –
Lynn Thomson

90 degrees
Feels Like: 96
Humidity: 54%
Pollen Count: 11.0 (!)

A lazy Labor Day weekend Sunday.
I rise from my second nap of the day.
There are seven library books to return.
So I grab ’em and head for the lagoon.

No birdsong to speak of.
Even the cicadas are keeping it to a dull roar.
I keep an ear out for the bird I’ve been hearing the past couple of weeks that sounds like a monkey.
(That would be the white-breasted nuthatch.)
I don’t even hear that.

I finally catch sight of the great blue heron!
A pair or two of these herons always nest at the lagoon every year.
My summer is never complete until I spot at least one of them.
Now it is.

Walking towards the gazebo/Dream park/shelter part of the park.
A man stands at the lagoon shore talking loudly to himself.
Bluetooth makes it so hard to tell if someone is madly talking to themselves
Or not.
I don’t look hard enough at him to be able to tell if there’s an earpiece
Else he might think I’m slightly mad.

Then I catch site of a young photographer in a pink shirt.
His camera is on a tripod and pointed out over the lagoon.
I surmise the throng of happy people in the shelter must be wedding guests.
Unlike me he probably was able to photograph the great blue heron.

After dropping the library books off I spot a sign along the sidewalk,
The first in a series of four Burma-Shave style signs:



Lagoon Walk: Cicada Memories

79 degrees.
No wind chill.
Humidity 46%.
Pollen count 11.5.
I conclude it’s high time for a Winnequah lagoon walk.

But you hardly ever go for walks!

She’s right.
I haven’t set foot by the lagoon since eldest daughter’s wedding at the gazebo there.
Back in early June.
I marinate briefly in regret and self-chastisement.
Then head out.

No Fit Bit.
Those are against my religion.
No pedometer either.
I don’t care how many steps I take.

There is no birdsong.
Unless you count the panicked quacks of the three ducks I startled.
Sorry ducks!

There are cicadas.
Of course.
It’s August.
Although these cicadas aren’t as loud,
They remind me instantly of August evenings on my grandparents’ back porch in Dwight, IL.
30 years ago and more now.
I pause for a few minutes under the tree canopy and remember.

Moving on to the more public part of the park.
A teenage neighbor boy is sitting on a park bench and reading.
A dead pulp book.
Not a screen.
He doesn’t see me.
I don’t dare interrupt him and send a silent salute instead.

Speaking of books, I bear right to head to the library where two holds are waiting for me.
The gazebo catches my eye.
There is a wedding there.
I remember again.

Library books in hand I start walking home.
Cicadas much louder now.
Almost Dwight level loudness.

Back home.
I find a Ted Kooser poem:

What cicadas leave behind is a kind of crystallized memory;
The stubborn detail of, the shape around a life turned


Father’s Day: Remembering

wedding2“We attend the hushed memorial service for a dead friend and find the list of his achievements moves no one in the assembly, but the atmosphere does quicken in the crowded room when his daughter speaks of all the many things he loved and everything and everyone he held in his affections. The dogs, the chopping of the wood, the homemade telescopes, the sunsets from the porch, his daughter’s children, the jokes that enlivened the long meetings at work. There is laughter, surprise, revelation. Suddenly we know who we have lost… Death is not impressed by what we have done, unless what we have done leaves a legacy of life; death’s tide washes over everything we have taken so long to write in the sand. What is remembered in all our work is what is still alive in the hearts and minds of others.”

Speaking of which, here is the reflection I wrote about my father that was included in the funeral bulletin insert. It was accompanied by a bluebird drawing my daughter made but unfortunately you can barely see it in this scan. I didn’t think to scan the original at the time and, appropriately, it is now buried with him.

Above quote from David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

Rainy Day Reading

BookLover3Today’s rainy weather gave me an excuse to finish the Wisconsin author Nicolas Butler’s Beneath the Bonfire: Stories, a collection of 10 short stories.

From The Chainsaw Soiree story:

Then we drove off, away from the church and the site of all those chainsaw parties, and many years later I would learn that the volunteer fire department had burnt it down to the blackened earth. I had run into one of the volunteer firemen at a wedding, and he described the church in detail to me, saying, ‘After we lit the fire, it went up quickly, and then you wouldn’t believe it, from underneath the place hundreds of snakes came out and half the department ran off. I never seen anything like it.’

‘They used to have parties at that church,’ I said, ‘chainsaw parties. That’s how I met my wife.’

I also read some of The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book, by Ted Kooser:

As, in the dented spaceship of my seventies (shaking a little and leaking water), I travel the endless reaches of my ignorance, all of the books I haven’t read, and never will, come rolling at me out of the dark like a hail of asteroids. And now and then an entire library, with a glowing trail of checkout slips, just misses hitting me by inches.

I also enjoyed reading the New Yorker article Can Reading Make You Happier? and discovering that there is such a thing as a bibliotherapist. Maybe this is what I will be when I grow up:

We feel that though more books are being published than ever before, people are in fact selecting from a smaller and smaller pool. Look at the reading lists of most book clubs, and you’ll see all the same books, the ones that have been shouted about in the press. If you actually calculate how many books you read in a year—and how many that means you’re likely to read before you die—you’ll start to realize that you need to be highly selective in order to make the most of your reading time.” And the best way to do that? See a bibliotherapist, as soon as you can, and take them up on their invitation, to borrow some lines from Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”: “Come, and take choice of all my library/And so beguile thy sorrow…”

And, yes, reading does make you happier (not that I needed convincing):

Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines,” the author Jeanette Winterson has written. “What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.”

It’s a nice day to start again

Two kids.
Two museums.
Day 3 of staycation.
Do I have to go? I was having fun.
Oh oh.
Good thing we’re stopping at Shopko first.
Maybe this brief indulgence in consumerism to get comfy flip flops will appease her.
I’d rather spend the money on clothes than flip flops.
I guess not.
We come to a swift and terrible sartorial decision and are on our way. Placated. For now.

DSC00060Museum #1.
Wisconsin Natural History Museum.
The bedspread from Lincoln’s bedspread is on display.
There is a lumberjack exhibit.
My great grandfather worked as a lumberjack in Wisconsin well over 100 years ago, I say.
Moving on to the Progressive exhibit.
My great great grandfather, a pastor, was considered a progressive in Wisconsin at that time.
He helped start an insurance company that protected churches from fires, which was very controversial at the time.
More silence.
It was progressives in Wisconsin that started unions, giving us 40 hour work weeks, and helped abolish child labor.
Still silent.
But taking it in, I think.

DSC00068Walk down State Street.
The Soap Opera beckons.
Brief indulgence of consumer impulses again.
I try to talk them into getting an owl shirt.
You could totally rock that shirt, mom.
Nah, not age-appropriate.
Sconnie store next.

DSC00061Lunch at Five Guys.
Can’t we go to Subway?
I’d prefer a more State Street-specific locale for lunch, I say.
Gives you a more authentic experience.
Maybe one or both of you will go to UW.
If Walker doesn’t ruin it.
Or the tuition doesn’t get even more sky high by then.
Billy Idol blares through the loudspeaker as we dine.
A perfect day for a white wedding.
Sorry Billy, that was last Saturday. But I get your point.
Hey little sister, what have you done?
The two little sisters ruminate over their purchases.
Compare the burgers to those at other restaurants.

irelandMuseum #2.
Madison Museum of Modern Art.
Wisconsin Pastorale exhibit.
Splendid paintings of rural Wisconsin by Lois Ireland.
Youngest daughter liked the Coordinates exhibit the best.
Let’s go up the stairs!
Let’s not and say we did. Open staircase. I’m afraid of heights.
Everyone’s chicken of something.
There is nothing safe in this world
And there’s nothing sure in this world.

DSC00067A brief stop at the Capitol.
A dozen protesters singing in the middle.
“We won’t leave until it gets better” banner hangs – it has a graphic of the state of Wisconsin with a broken heart.
I give them a brief history of Act 10.
Silence, but listening closely.
There is nothing fair in this world.
Even Monk (Tony Shalhoub) came to those protests.
Got their attention.
Hey little sister, who’s the only one?
Hey little sister, who’s your superman?

We leave for home.
DSC00031Balloon fight ensues in backyard.
Then escalates briefly into a real fight.
Plans made to get slushies later.
And watch reruns of Monk, a summer tradition.
A Northern Cardinal sings hello to us.
Everyone placated again.
Take me back home, yeah.
It’s a nice day to start again.                                                                                     Yep.