Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When We Are Part of Nature




It has been a good year for feeling the wonders of nature. From our perch in the Cedar Rapids condo, we are often eye-to-eye with waterfowl, hawks, and occasional eagles. We had three fox kittens raised in our backyard last summer (link to that post), and of course herds of deer regularly cross the grounds of our condo.

Estes park gives us another dimension. We rarely see bighorn sheep, but this week we saw 3 herds in two days, more or less up close. The picture above was from about 20', the closest I have ever been to one of these in the wild. (If your browser has had enough time to download the full fidelity image, a click on the picture will enlarge it.) As one friend said "when my wife looks at me like that, I know I'm in trouble!).

Boxing day evening, I took Barbara to the Fawn Brook Inn (link), one of our all-time favorite restaurants. That night on the way back to Estes the roads were a Little icy, so we were going quite slow. What was clearly a large gray wolf, at least twice the size of a large coyote, crossed slowly right in front of us. They have been trying to re-establish the wolf population in small areas of Montana and Wyoming, but sightings in Colorado are extremely rare (map). Sorry, we didn't get any pictures of our own. Here is one I copied; ours looked just like this one:


I believe we are part of nature, and Barbara and I relish these opportunities to experience the awe that these encounters trigger within us.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Migration Underway

The Motorhome and New Tow Car
In Catalina State Park, AZ


Here we are in AZ again, on our way to Palm Springs, where Barbara will enjoy the sunshine and from where I will commute.\

As last year we moved in stages, but this year we are doing it a little differently by getting out of Iowa before the snow and ice hit. In return for giving up a third+ of my income, now I get quite a bit of time off, so we left Cedar Rapids on Nov 17, just before the temp hit single digits and the snow came. Our first destination was again Catalina State Park in north Tucson (the same place we were trapped by the river last year: )

While Barbara visited with Anne/RC in Phoenix and Karen/Brian in Tucson, I flew back to work for a couple of weeks, and then returned to move the RV to our site in Outdoor Resorts Palm Springs. Last week we drove back through Phoenix where I caught a plane back to Iowa to work again, while Barbara continued on to Albuquerque.
Today Barbara, along with Anne/RC, Karen/Brian, and John Matthew/Rachael who had all flown to Albuquerque, celebrated Barbara's father's birthday with him. I hated to miss it, but then I'm underwriting the whole thing, so I did need to be here working.
We are doing our part to support Detroit. Last summer we gave up our 1996 Buick and 1998 Ford for 2008 Buick and Saturn SUVs. In view of GM's troubles, I feel good about buying American. Barbara's Buick Enclave is perhaps the best car we've ever owned, and the Saturn Vue (Pictured above) has worked out well. Both are quiet, smooth, loaded with features, and, so far, reliable with a "quality" feel. I think GM and Ford have the vehicles, and I hope they can restructure their overhead to allow them to be competitive once more.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Great for a rainy weekend

I love BookTV, the weekend programming on C-Span 2.

Where else, in one weekend, can you hear lengthy talks, usually with Q&A sessions, with many well-known and diverse writers. Only this past weekend I heard Jessie Ventura, Ralph Reed, Stephen Pinker, Alice Schroder, David Horwitz, Lee&Roger Peterson (Peterson Field Guide to Birds), Christopher Buckley, T. Boone Pickens, Allan Greenspan and others give talks or long interviews and take unscreened questions.

It's usually informative, though sometimes I strongly disagree with the speaker. I find particularly interesting the unscripted comments made informally in the Q&A sessions. About half the talks/interviews I would enjoy, given the time to watch; the others I skip.
Many of the sessions are available as podcast, and can be downloaded for listening while walking or on longer drives. I prefer to watch the speakers however, and occasionally they have visual media with the formal talks.
Sometimes I have already read the books, sometimes I am motivated to buy and read them, and sometimes I'm convinced I don't need/want to read their book.
Granted, not every weekend has such a notable lineup, but often there is. If you have never sampled this programing, running continuously for 48 hours starting at 0800 most Saturday mornings, you may be pleasantly surprised if you give it a try.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yum!

La ZIZ

For those of you living locally, I have a restaurant recommendation for you.

(click Picture to enlarge)



Barbara and I were for some reason thinking this was a Greek restaurant and decided to give it a try last Saturday. We found a couple of things to our surprise.
First, it is Lebanese, not Greek.
Second, we have eaten this food before, just at another location and a long time ago. It is owned/run by a Lebanese couple who used to have a restaurant down on 16th Street SW, at the back corner of a large furniture store. We ate there a few times, and then were very disappointed one day to arrive and find them permanently closed. . . that was many years ago. She has now reopened at this new site and has developed a good lunch crowd with no advertising whatever. They are open in the evenings as well; closed on Sunday.
I strongly recommend the falafel plate. The sandwiches are ~$4, and the plates are ~$7-9.
This unpretentious strip mall Lebanese restaurant is out on Center Point Road, just north of Boysen Road, and next to Roasters Coffee shop for those of you who have been by there. The menu is short but all the food is cooked to order. They have no web site I can provide, and I doubt they ever will. Give it a try.

Monday, October 13, 2008

ART (&) HISTORY

The Plan: For the second time in 3 weeks, Barbara and I looked a few days ahead and saw what is not all that common; a weekend with both of us uncommitted and with good weather. Yes, there was a pile of paperwork to be done. Yes, there was yard work needing to be finished before the snow falls. Yes, the laundry pile was overflowing. No, we were not about to be responsible and stay at home to do all those things; gas was $2.55 and falling and there were lots of cheap hotel rooms waiting in Des Moines. We took the old Lincoln Highway (Hwy 30) which we consider more picturesque than I-80. The harvest was underway and the greens and golds of the rolling hills were beautiful to watch go by on the 2-hour drive.

We had two main objectives in Des Moines; the Art Museum and Salisbury House.

Saturday afternoon: The Des Moines Art Center is a small collection in a uninspiring original building, with a new wing that makes up in design for its modest size. I will be honest. I have trouble with a 2' square canvas with white paint holding a place of honor (as an example of minimalism) in a civic collection of art. Not to mislead you, I did enjoy the time there, and there were a few notable works (if it is an Edward Hopper or a Georgia O'Keeffe it has to be notable I presume?) I wouldn't go to Des Moines just to visit it however.

Saturday evening: We tried a new restaurant, Sage, on University just west of 65th. You can check out the menu at the Sage web site. Barbara had a wonderful spinach-cashew-strawberry salad. My Cesar salid was pretty standard. For an entree, I had Duck breast and duck confit on risotto with a duck reduction sauce, and a pumpkin cake with soft goat cheese topping desert. Barbara had a good pasta dish, though it was a little spicy. They have a large selection of wines by the glass, and about 50 different 1/2 bottles on the extensive wine list. I was pleased with a glass of Four Vines Zin; Barbara said the water was excellent.

Sunday: The Salisbury House , unlike the Art Center, is worth a trip and an afternoon if you are in Iowa. Salisbury House is considered one of the "American Castles." Built by Carl Weeks, a pharmacist who made millions before the depression selling a cosmetic mix of powder and cold cream, it is more or less a copy of a 16-17th century English manor house near Salisbury Cathedral in England, built with a more or less unlimited budget and with 20th century conveniences, it does a credible job of transporting one back in time (we visited many of these old manors when we lived in England in the 70's.) It was in the hands of the teacher's institute for a number of years, but is now owned by a preservation organization that is doing a fine job of restoration. Some random pictures of Salisbury house follow:










Sunday, October 5, 2008

Apples, Art and the Holy Ghost

About 15 years ago, Barbara and I did a day trip to the Apple Festival in Gays Mills, Wisconson. We had memories of the small-town fair with sampling tables of apples of all varities, applewood BBQ stands and locally made pies. The weather forecast was OK and I had the weekend off for a change, so off we went.
(left click on pictures to enlarge)


The Apples were largely ready for harvest. . .



The country side was beautiful with the crops approaching harvest . . .




Unfortunately, thousands of others had the same idea, and the small local stands and small warehouses had been replaced by much larger operations taking advantage of the tourist moving from orchard to orchard. Even in Gays Mills, the quaint, local fair had been replace by a . . . well . . . simply something a bit on the "tacky" side. We didn't even stop in the town. As I said, there was a high overcast, but this made the drive and views very plesant.

We did visit one more interesting place on this outing; the Holy Ghost park with the Dickeyville Grotto:





This is really the grounds of the Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Dickeyville, Wisconson. Here I stand at the entrance to the church grounds, which include the church, the cemetery, the grotto, and a lot more.




The Dickeyville Grotto is a series of grottos and shrines, and currently has 40-60,000 vivistors yearly. The Dickeyville Grotto was built by Father Mathius Wernerus, the pastor of Dickeyville's Holy Ghost Parish, from 1920 to 1930, and was renovated between 1995 and 1997. This preist had a LOT of time on his hands, and it seemed to Barbara and I that he was a better than average artist. Nearly all of the site's concrete structures are covered in shells, stones, tiles, wood, glass, gems and geodes from the area donated by parishioners. He inlaid them into the concrete in a fascinating moasiac, creating animals, trees, slippers, flowers. It sounds like a lot of kitsch, but it comes off as real art when viewed closely and individually (see the pictures below).
While most of the site's components are religious in nature, the Patriotism Shrine includes depictions of the liberty bell, Columbus, Washington, and Lincoln.




At least part of the purpose of this shrine was to demonstrate the patriotism of Catholics; Protestant Americans of the time believed that Catholics' allegiance to the Pope conflicted with their allegiance to the United States. Dickeyville's grotto itself inspired many other grottos throughout Wisconsin.



The grotto itself stands adjacent to the church.


This 6ft piece of petrified wood is incorporated into a green tree.


These fish swim through a crystaline and aquamarine river.


For someone else's take on the Dickeyville Grotto: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2242


There are several more midwest grottos including these:


http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2083


http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/latest


http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/16989


Here is a general information link about the concept of grottos and some links to midwest grottos: http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~niless/awsthome.htm



Saturday, September 20, 2008

A little political reading for the season

The Supreme Court Justices

If you, as do I, believe the administration produced by this upcoming election could be most notable not for its economic policy, tax changes and foreign relations, but for its effect on the composition of the Supreme Court, then like me you might have been refreshing yourself on that institution.

Many years ago, I think it was in the late 70's, the public was given an inside look at the Supreme Court in Bob Woodward's The Brethren, a sort of "tell all" book he managed to put together from interviews with justices disgruntled with Chief Justice Burger.
A bit more diverse commentary is the recent The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin. It is well written, and provides a great deal of historical background on the modern Supreme Court.
However, for pure enjoyment, you need to read Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship, a wonderfully funny, but politically astute tongue in cheek satire on the vetting and the appointment process for the Supreme Court. It is fairly short for a novel, so it makes a good companion for an airline trip or a slow day/weekend. While pure satire, it is rooted in the political insight for which C. Buckley is known. He was recently interviewed on Book TV (Link to streaming replay of the interview here.)

(Link to the publisher)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Great City! Great Kids!

Early this month, Barbara and I had the chance to visit John and Rachael in Portland for the first time in a year. Interestingly, we were able to purchase 2 round trip tickets from Denver and 3 nights in the Portland Marriott for less than a single round trip ticket from Cedar Rapids.

Portland is a great town. It has a wonderful light rail/trolley/streetcar/bus network that is easy to use and free in the downtown area. We departed the airport and walked no more than 150' from the baggage carrousel's to step on the light rail that took us to the Pioneer Square stop which was a block and a half from our hotel.



We had WONDERFUL weather for our stay. We took a short walk along the river to stretch our legs after flying tourist/sardine class. Most of the major bridges are historic (and old), but apparently in reasonably good shape.



Seven days a week, there is a farmer's market somewhere in the metropolitan area, and most of these are not far from the light rail system. There are a series of blocks with grass, fountains, and walks, but no buildings in the downtown area. These are known as North Park Blocks and South Park Blocks. The big Saturday Farmer's market is on one of these; and it is really large. There was excellent and affordable produce, honey, meat, cheese, bread, wine, pizza, etc. Below are Barbara and John discussing things, while Rachael buys some food for a later meal.



There is a lot of historic preservation in Portland (as the house at the corner of this market), a process in which John wants to become more involved.



Within a block of this market is the Oregon Historical Society, where Rachael works in Public Relations/Publicity (mainly fund-raising as I understand it). She treated us to an excellent tour of the exhibits. It's quite impressive if you get a chance to visit.

In front of the museum, and scattered around town are interesting four-headed fountains; "Benson Bubblers." Simon Benson (link) was a turn-of-the-century lumber baron, philanthropist and teetotaller. To provide fresh drinking water downtown - and discourage his workers from drinking alcohol in the middle of the day - Benson commissioned 20 elegant freshwater drinking fountains, now known as the Benson Bubblers. Beer consumption in the city reportedly decreased 25 percent after the fountains were installed, and the water fountains still bubble on Portland's downtown streets. (But there are still more breweries per capita in Portland than any other city in the country.)

That night we had dinner at the Park Kitchen restaurant (link). We did a bit of experimenting and sharing . . . it was a good choice. Everything was excellent, and we lingered at our table which was barely inside, giving us a little protection while still enjoying the outdoors.
On Sunday, after pulling in to the downtown Firestone dealer to get a tire leak fixed, we headed out to explore the northern part of the "Fruit Loop" (link), an area near the junction of the Hood and Columbia Rivers that is a patchwork of Orchards, Vineyards/wineries, and berry farms. The weather continued to hold. Along the treeline in the background you can just see one of the snow-covered mountains peeking above the ridge, maybe Mt St Hellens?


Pears and Apples were perfect! Fruit/berry stands dotted the area, sometimes within a hundred yards of each other.
We stopped at a "flower farm". Here Rachael, scissors in hand, selects cuttings at 15 cents/stem (regardless of the number of flowers). Beauty surrounded by beauty!


The flowers subsequently graced the table Rachael had set for dinner in their condo. Rachael and John have a really, really nice condo, close to everything in downtown Portland and The Pearl (link). Built in 1909, it is open, and has lots of windows for light.

For dinner, Rachael prepared a "fungi con risotto" (like me, she likes LOTS of mushrooms in her risotto). John/Matt did some greens, and Barbara and I contributed the wine. Great dinner.


In addition being where John and Rachael live, Portland is a great city just to visit. It has a mixture of old and new architecture, excellent museums, gardens, restaurants, brewpubs, and (sometimes) great weather.
Thanks for visiting. Enlarge pictures with a left click. Comments can be left by clicking below.




Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thar's Bars in them thar Woods!

We have lots of black bears in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and one is occasionally spotted in town here in Estes Park. For the last two weekends in a row however, a black bear has ambled past our house. The pictures below were taken by our neighbor to the west, Walt Borneman (author of the recently published book on President Polk) from his deck, looking towards our back yard. (left click on picture to enlarge)



We also are having other guest visit the neighborhood for dinner:


Barbara in the past year has also seen a mountain lion, a bob cat, and numerous other species in our neighborhood. When you come for a visit, be careful if wandering around outside at night!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Mountain Meadows Massacre - My Family Remembered

Links are shaded type

Overlooking the Mountain Meadows Massacre site

Before the tragedies of Oklahoma City in 1995, and September 11, 2001, the Mountain Meadows Massacre was the largest civilian massacre in our Country's history. It was the worst atrocity in the annals of the West. Yet the massacre of more than 120 innocent men, women, and children of the Fancher-Baker Train by Mormons in Mountain Meadows, Utah has been largely unrecognized, and rarely recorded in history books...

On our way to John and Rachael's wedding in July, Barbara and I made a slight detour to visit an historical site of significance to my family, the Mountain Meadows Massacre site west of Cedar City in southwest Utah.

"The Mountain Meadows Massacre involved a mass slaughter of the
Fancher-Baker emigrant wagon train at Mountain Meadows in the Utah Territory by the local Mormon militia in September 1857. It began as an attack, quickly turned into a siege, and eventually culminated on September 11, 1857, in the execution of the unarmed emigrants after their surrender." (Wikipedia introduction to the "Mountain Meadows Massacre).

17 members of family on my mother's side were in that wagon train. . . 14 of them either killed in the surprise attack as they prepared breakfast on a September dawn or murdered in cold blood 4 days later after accepting an offer from the Mormons to provide them safe passage in return for their surrender. The three survivors were children under the age of 6 who were thought unable to provide testimony against the perpetrators.


There was initially an attempted cover-up, but that quickly failed. At this point in time, both sides agree that the attack was a combination of Paiute Indians and white Mormons, and the subsequent deception and murder of the unarmed settlers was planned and carried out by Mormons. A major disagreement however is if Birgham Young was complicit in the attack and murders, or if it was solely instigated and directed by the head of one of the local Mormon Militias, John Lee.


Barbara should be writing this blog; she knows far, far more detail and history of this event than do I. Much has been written, but condensed information is available in several websites:

This is a good non-denominational facts site:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre
This is a good, private site with LOTS of information:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wallner/mmm11.htm
This is a website primarily from descendants of the victims of the massacre:
http://www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com/
This is a Mormon website:
http://www.mormonwiki.com/Mountain_Meadows_massacre
This is the best site with the most information; it works the old fashion way:

http://www.barbara-floyd-ask-me.info/

Reasonably historically accurate movie: September Dawn


As it turned out, we arrived at the exact same time as a mother and her son from Salt Lake City. She was pleased to be a tour guide insofar as she had been reading about the event in preparation for their visit. On top of that, her great/great grandfather had been involved in legal proceedings and economic development of the town in that area in the years after the massacre. Barbara, to her credit, has read, both in volume and in variety, more on this event than anyone I know, and was more than ready to rebut any historically revisionist view of the event. Below, you see Barbara (standing in front of the memorial very recently erected by the Mountain Meadows Association) explaining the facts, as her antagonist stands with her arms crossed in front as her son looks on. This went on for about a half hour until I had to step in with a "break" command. (Left click on a picture to enlarge it)


If you enlarge this picture of the memorial,you can read names of our original Arkansas family members who were killed: Tackitts, Prewits, and Jones

Standing at the monument and looking southwest you can see the site of the encampment where the morning attack took place. The train had many Arkansas mountain men who were hunters and well armed and, to the surprise of the Indians and Mormons, quickly responded and repelled the initial and subsequent attacks.


Looking to the northwest, you can see the massacre field. The men, women, and children were lead to this area, and then on a command "Men do your duty", the escorting Mormons turned and shot the unarmed settlers.


This is a rebuilt version of the original monument at the encampment site. It makes note of the "19" that were killed, just the number who lost their lives during the initial attacks, not mentioning the other 100+ killed 4 days later.


A laminated memento to a survivor had been placed at the memorial.


This is the current state of the Old Spanish Trail, which the wagon train was following. The encampment is to the right of the picture. A child was shot during the seige while trying to get a bucket of water from the stream (road with culverts is crossing the original forde.)


This link will take you to a Google map of the area if you want to see the satellite images. The road along the bottom of the map leads to a parking lot with the encampment on the other side of the creek from the parking lot at the end of the road. Just above the top left edge of the map is the massacre field. The tiny fish-hook road on the lower right is the trail to the monument with the inscribed names that overlooks the valley.

Just a note; if you visit the site, there is only a very small sign that says "Mountain Meadows 1" a mile before the turn off of Hwy 18. It's easy to miss, even if you are looking for it.






Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Wedding Party (Emphasis on "Party")


Weddings are happy events, of course, but there can be the undercurrent of the whole process itself that in some weddings can produce tensions, worries, and other negative forces negating the whole fun of the affair. Not so the wedding of Rachael Snow and John Matthew Floyd on July 12, 2008 in Nevada City, California. Not even the California Fires of '08 could encroach on this one!
(Here I will give a lot of credit to my "hyper-organized" daughter in law, and I say that in a most complimentary manner. Her "wedding book" was a ring binder of every detail, and saved the day on more than one occasion. Want to know the address of the tux store in Roseville, CA? Right here it is, complete with MapQuest instructions, under the tab for tuxedos in "The Book.")
Barbara and I had met Rachael's mother Maddy and her brother Jake in Colorado, and Barbara had met more family members at a shower this past spring. Still there was the usual apprehension of being thrown in with a large, extended family. Not to worry! The Hutters, Snows, Pitts etc opened their homes (literally) and their hearts graciously and generously. Simply said, we liked them all.
The wedding was a success because of so many people, and the lack of pictures and comments on each and every one of them is not a sleight. In this post, I have just a few representative pictures, culled from over 600 pictures from just my little pocket camera alone. It is an abbreviated diary of my experience, not a complete document of all the events and people. I dare not guess how many thousands of pictures and how many videos of the multi-day event were actually recorded in all. There will undoubtedly be many posted on picasa, kodakgallery, etc, and when I have the links I will place them here.

(As usual, left click to enlarge most pictures)
First you start with a beautiful bride, of course. The wedding was to be at Rachael's mother's home in Nevada City, CA. Mother Maddy had worked on her garden all spring and the entire garden and flowers were beautifully prepared for the wedding.

Next you add some friends and family. Here having dinner in an Italian restaurant a few nights before the wedding are Bill, Elaine, Tom, Dana, and yours truly.

A number of us stayed at the Deer Creek Inn B&B in Nevada City. Here for the 3-course Breakfast on the deck: ( from top, left to right) Anne, Ken (Innkeeper), Bill, Dana, Ann, Dale, Barbara, Brian, and RC.

Anne waves "Good Morning" from an upper balcony at the B&B.

Barbara and Dana stuff the welcome bags for all the out of town guest in Kathy Snow's living room. Later the bags were taken to all the places people were staying. Lots of neat stuff in those bags!

Kathy, in her kitchen, cooking cowboy cookies for the welcome bags. So many people and happenings in Kathy's and Maddy's homes I don't know how they stayed sane.


A brief melodrama, starring mothers Maddy, Kathy, and Barbara; fathers Cecil and Papa John; Grandparents Dean and Sharon; and assisted by various other family conspirators, had been written ahead of time for performance at the rehearsal dinner. We had a chance to practice it on location the morning before John and Rachael arrived in town. Here Dean (white hat), Cecil (red dress), and Maddy work on their lines and spots.

John and Rachael stand at the front of the line at the local recorder's office and prepare to pay the State of California for the privilege of letting them get married. Right behind them were Maddy and myself (now referred to as "Papa John" to avoid confusion), prepared to pay the same state for the privilege of being licensed to perform the ceremony. "Let's check out these forms. . . who is party "A" and who is party "B"?" (this was California; no "bride" and "groom.")


After the afternoon rehearsal, everyone (in the rehearsal or not) gathers at the Nevada Traction Company Depot for drinks and conversation prior to a train ride to History Hill. Barbara had arranged this whole shindig, some of it in secret. In order to get a drink at this point in the evening, one had to "sweet talk" a gold nugget from one of the saloon girls circulating around.


RC and co-best man Colin discuss the evening. Unfortunately, the next day RC came down with an acute GI flu and ended up being taken to the local ER by Barbara's brothers where he was rehydrated with a pressure forced IV. He made it to the ceremony thanks to Martin and Chip, but the brothers missed it (but made the party afterwards!)

Paul, the other co-best man. The wedding rings, which were to be a large part of the ceremony, were taken from his room that evening. After a few hours of panic, police, and more panic, they were recovered; made the police blotter in the paper a couple of days later. It was indeed a near disaster, but all is well, etc.

Just look at father and daughter. . .I have nothing to add.
After the initial "mixer" at the depot all 75 or so of us load the train for the trip to "History Hill" for the dinner.


A surprise robbery was announced with blazing guns half-way up. 6 bandits came and stole the heart gifts many people had brought to the dinner. They then went to the car with the bride and announced "We can't steal your heart. It's already been stolen!"
A little later there was a shoot out with the law (the sheriff was shot, and a bandit shot the train engineer and took over the locomotive).

After the ride up, Barbara talks with the (very ugly) bandit whom she had in advance arranged to rob the train.

Before dinner, everyone has a guided tour of the historic Chinese cemetery.

Brian, Karen, John and Rachael enjoy talking and sampling the buffet under the tall pine trees. Barbara had arranged an informal evening so people could continue to meet and mix, but the outdoor setting was complimented with a formal table setting. Since I had absolutely nothing to do with these arrangements, I can freely say that it was a great night, and Barbara deserved the compliments she received.

The next day the weather and the fires cooperated with cooler temperatures and a blue sky, setting the stage for a nice event. The platform Cecil built rest at the front, with the chairs arranged in Maddy's garden, all awaiting the ceremony.


A number of the family and guest came from far and wide. Rachael's uncle Louis arrives from Estonia for the wedding in his English "Sporting" jacket.

Karen and Brian with a sip of champagne waiting for the ceremony to get underway

Ann, Dale, Elaine, Tom, Sherry, Wilson, Kate, and Jay. We were SO happy and privileged to have these great friends make the long trip for John's marriage.

Maddy and I (aka Papa John) had the unique privilege of performing the marriage of our children. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Rachael and John, what made you ask us to do this I don't know, but I will forever be thankful for having this day to remember.


John/Matt walking his mother down the aisle.

Rachael is escorted by her father Cecil and step-mother Kathy.

Maddy, John, Rachael, Jake, and Jason as well as myself, all pretty sure of ourselves at the rehearsal, each had moments where the words were difficult to come. Happiness is a strong emotion!


After the ceremony some pictures. Here the wedding party.

The bride's family tries to all squeeze into the picture. The groom's family had lots of elbow room for their picture.


The reception was at the Stone House, an 1882 brewery now a wonderful restaurant. It was a great venue for the evening. The four horsemen quickly found the bar while they waited for the bride and groom to arrive.
The first dance. John pursued this woman by (among other things I presume) signing up for tango lessons, providing added poignancy to this moment.

John's dance with his mother . . . yes it really was to "Mother's don't let your sons grow up to be cowboys". Actually it was quite nice.


As the evening progressed, things became a little more informal. In the foreground Stephanie (John's/Matt's friend from high school and poetry reader at the ceremony) and Rachael lead the dance line.

The next morning at 0445 (yawn!!!) I picked up Stephanie to take her for an early plane flight departing Sacramento. Later, many of us gathered at Cecil and Kathy's house for brunch and opening of the wedding presents. It was a week of fun, good emotions, and memories, and those are all important.

Here are a couple of links; I may add more later.

Rachaels' website with a wedding section: http://web.mac.com/erachael/Site_2/Welcome.html

Website of the photographer (username jplusr and password 18237 ): http://collages.net/