from Sandy Needham

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sara's Wedding Dispatch

My niece Sara is the most gorgeous and engaging high school German teacher in NJ. Her new husband, Rob, is the equivalent for 'high school history teacher!' They opened their wedding weekend in Colts Neck, NJ with a Friday night informal dinner for all the guests in town for their wedding. It kicked off a welcomed and glorious family reunion for us with our far-flung relatives!

My nephew Brad, whom I last saw in 2005, is a professional percussionist (jazz, rock, classical) in Durango, Colorado. He also runs his father's recreational vehicle business. He arrived with his four kids: Emily - the oldest great-grandchild, who is only three months younger than Jake - the youngest grandchild. She lives in San Diego and manages an association of 'green' vendors. Her sister is Mary, a ballerina, who is about to join not one, but three dance companies in the Los Angeles area. Their brothers are Nick, 13, and Bradley,
12...the two most handsome and athletic guys one can find voluntarily sweeping up the babies in the room and lovingly entertaining them! We missed Tracy, the mother of this wonderful brood.

My nephew Todd, Brad's brother, and his wife Jenny live in Manhattan with sons Sam and Ethan. Todd works as a media specialist and writes children's books (one getting published next summer: How About a Kiss for Me? !) and comic screenplays. Jenny is the admissions director at the Studio School. Sam, 11, and Ethan, 8, are growing their hair long to donate it to children undergoing chemotherapy. My sister Dorothy and husband Bill of Durango and Scottsdale are the parents and grandparents of these beautiful people. They could not make it to the wedding, unfortunately.

One of the high points of this night-before-the wedding was a group of us dancing in the hotel bar after dinner with Sara (don't know where Rob was). Sara kept the live band on fire dancing away till closing, sometimes with the floor to herself. It is an image I will hold in my memory forever!

So on that sunny Saturday before the wedding, people went various directions - including to the beach. Newton, Jake and I had to stay put at the hotel for two reasons: one, I had been working for some weeks on a decoupage tray for Sara and Rob that I had to spray outside with acrylic finish; and two, no one could find our car keys (they were later discovered on the second look under the bed's dust ruffle). Last Christmas when I made a decoupage jewelry drawer unit for Elise with some nice Japanese rice paper, gift-wrapping paper ended up stuck all over it on Christmas morning, so I had to redo it. The Modgepodge doesn't actually dry in Natal - it's just too humid here. So I decided to do all the painting and attaching of kimono designs for Sara's tray in Brazil (Sara and I share a love of kimono), but then to carry the tray and the Modgepodge to the US, buy acrylic spray, and finish it up there. I applied five layers of Modgepodge at Elise's apartment in NY. By the Saturday of the wedding, only the acrylic finish was needed, so Newton and I hung the tray from a tree behind the hotel and sprayed several layers all afternoon. When it came time to take the tray down, I noticed that the acrylic spray, which didn't specify any particular finish, had actually turned the fabulous, lacquer-like, smooth finish of the 5 coats of Modgepodge into a dull, rough, lackluster finish. I still had a very small amount of Modgepodge in the room, so started in with the last two coats that I could eek out. I had to wait till the Sunday morning brunch after the wedding to present my gift to Sara and Rob, sans acrylic, but at least dry with a patina and not sticky.
Now it was time to get ready for the 6:00pm wedding Saturday evening. There would be two shuttle busses from the hotel to the wedding in Freehold. We decided to take the 5:25 one, but when we showed up to catch it, the group waiting said it would be a few more minutes. We took some photos of ourselves all dressed up. When we noticed that the group was no longer waiting, we confirmed with the desk clerk that the second shuttle had not yet arrived. Getting worried about the time, we decided to drive to Freehold, Newton insisting that he had the directions in the car. As we pulled out of the hotel, there was a bus turning in, but we didn't have time to check if that was the shuttle. It turns out that the directions were something Newton had downloaded from Google, not the official ones with the name of the place AND the correct address. Once we hit Freehold and it was 5:55, we spent the next twenty minutes trying to find #3 on Main Street, rather than the correct #30. We were running down Main Street, around parking lot strip malls, wondering why there was no #3, no place by the courthouse for a wedding, and what the name of the place might be. I finally asked a man crossing the main intersection of the charming town if he knew of a place around there that held weddings. He said, "Yes, right down there with the red awnings...they have one today!" So we ran another block and a half and arrived for the last 5 minutes of the (short) ceremony, with Larry officiating. Damn. DAMN. And my aching feet in those heels. Luckily, my nephew Todd could give us a minute-by-minute description of the ceremony, including the readings. Of course the reception was magnificent and delicious. We were SO HAPPY we didn't miss that.
My niece Amy of Gaithersburg, MD, Sara's sister, is a statistician at the Energy Department in Washington DC. Her husband Sean works for the Government Printing Office. Their 3-year-old, Allison, is an official pisser, and their one-year-old, Paige, is the embodiment of tranquility. Here they all are in the wedding party with my sister Donna and brother-in-law Larry:

My sister Janet and her husband Rex came to the wedding from Denver. I'm very proud that Janet is carrying on our father's tradition by being a Hospice volunteer. Rex is an all-round cool guy, who keeps the card table buzzing at these family gatherings with participants of all ages. They stopped in Tulsa on the way to accompany my mother, Laurene, 94.

And Mother was the biggest draw of all! Here she is with Jake, looking like a glamour-puss after they did her hair and make-up:

But that didn't really fool us, as we could all still see the cardshark behind the eye liner!

Only my sister Donna and brother-in-law Larry, the epitome of hosts, would have all the relatives to their house in Lawrenceville after the Sunday brunch at the hotel. Another special day continued, with card-playing, pizza, beer, and plenty of lovelies out in the backyard on a summer afternoon throwing footballs, chasing around. This culminated in an egg-toss competition. Needless to say, by the end of three dozen eggs the order had degenerated into a gooey free-for-all among the young-uns. No one was brave enough to have a camera near-by.

We got to stay another two days at Donna's to have some quieter time with Mother. Donna, Larry, Janet and Rex had a day at Atlantic City while Newton, Elise, Jake and I pursued several 5-way Hearts games with Mother. Then we all left Donna and Larry in peace to catch their breaths at last. Janet and Rex delivered Mother back home to Tulsa, and the four of us took off for San Francisco. See next dispatch!

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