Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Paris/London Postings: Written Two Days after Arriving Home

Though I worked at least six days out of the 12 we were gone, I absolutely loved this vacation. The work allowed me to remember who I am, what I ought to be doing, and I was able to give the gift of time to friends I love. The reward was their gratitude and some of the most incredible sites (some not listed on any tourist map, some only highlighted in a footnote, and some that fall into the category of "must see").

Rather than offer up a day to day narrative, I'll provide a list of images and sensations:

- the English version should be the picture beside the definition for "rolling countryside"
- pub life cannot be compared to dropping by a bar in the U.S. . . . there's a whole culture that we don't come near to reproducing, plus the drinks aren't nearly as expensive
- when a bride and groom are both artists, their dreams of a wedding are like no other ... so if you are picking up the responsibility of ensuring those dreams are realized, it's good to get all the details before the other help start arriving
- jam jars and tea cups make for delightful drinks at an afternoon reception but removing almost 100 labels is a rather sticky job
- transforming a 500+year-old-hall into a meeting room/dining room/dance hall takes all hands on deck and it's great when many of those hands are artistic
- I'll never be able to produce dove bunting the way Rob can
- I'll never see a bride as romantically attired and beaming quite as brightly as Aimie was
- I love it when people who love to cook all wind up in a big kitchen together ... when the accents are Irish, French Canadian, Indian, Philadelphian, British, and Texan, it's even more fun
- When asked to prepare food for such an eclectic crowd be prepared to be asked if this, that and the other thing are gluten free ... several times ... with increasing levels of frustration on the part of the gluten free eater that you can do nothing for (other than suggest they eat the items that are obviously sans gluten)
- Never underestimate the ability of a Brit to hold his margarita, whiskey sour, Proseco, bellini, and wine. Amazing fortitude!
- An English countryside "hill" is a Texas mountain ... when climbing up it, take note and walk with the woman with the cane because you look good for "helping" and you are allowed to stop and breathe without looking like a fat wimp
- Weddings planned by spiritual artists who love visual and word art as well as the theater are quite spectacular
- You probably can't imagine but you may want to try ... on top of a high and windy grassy opening, overlooking rolling countryside which make their way to the sea ... all in view as the vows are exchanged
- Items included in the service: sticks transformed into wands which form an archway through which the women walk through, oil from the Holy Land, binding cloth, bread/wine, a girl wearing her fairy wings and a boy clad in a kilt to deliver the rings, a dog running through the circle that surrounded the couple and an embarrassed teen apologizing, biodegradable dove balloons released, and audience participation
- When the hall is stone and includes a smoke-stained Rueben, there's pretty good bones for a breathtakingly beautiful dining experience but add in garland and wildflowers, glass decanters and tealights, and 90 friends and family and it's beyond description
- Brits like written speeches rather than toasts at their weddings
- 1st course: lentil soup; 2nd: meat/veg/gluten free pies with 5 salads served family style; 3rd: cheescake for all and choices of 8 homemade cakes (including 3 which were gluten free)
- The barn dance reminded me of contra dancing ... and Rob and Aimie's friends like to spin . . . a lot
- Releasing biodegradable Chinese lanterns toward the stars . . . WOW
- The realization that the hired help had put in a 14 hour day and I had shared overseeing duties for at least 17 as I made my way to bed
- Listening to the sound of storytelling and singing by the fire through my open window . . . completely spent but pleased at having given the gift of peace of mind to my friends.

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