santa cruz wharf

29 December 2008

Happy 27th Birthday Sugar Cookie

You are an amazing young woman...I love you and I am ever so proud of you! 

28 December 2008

The Magi Effect


I'm all jumbled these days.
being out of town.
preparing for Christmas.
my Mama's healing.
my brother's birthday (he would have been 46 today had he not frozen in time at 20)
SugarCookie's birthday tomorrow    (27 oh my)
Little Missy's birthday friday   (21 legal at last)
It's a big week.

I've been dwelling on the gift of giving.

gift ~ as in presents
all wrapped up for birthdays and christmas...

gift ~ as in talents
grace, teaching, faith, wisdom, knowledge, mercy, prophecy, cetera...
(a talented tongue is a gift...yes?)

the art of giving
the art of gifting

and maybe most importantly...
being mindful of what I have been given.
being grateful...
and thankful....
for what I have been given.

It comes to mind that I am thankful for YOU reading this.  I have been a less than faithful writer...and recently even an unfaithful I am thankful you surfed by...and that you have waded this far into my stream of consciousness... it is a gift that somebody learns what goes on in this pinball brain of mine.
(you are kinda like my flippers...ya know?)

I am thankful you are willing to "listen" to me ramble...even if it is not always an easy task to undertake.  Cause you see.....even though I am an "Earth Girl" I am NOT Easy...nor would I ever want to be. (
cheesy film reference).

Tis A Gift To Be Simple... true...I strive to be simple....yet another gift...but it would be a total drag to have to be easy. those of you who read my little weblog out of interest...not out of obligation....
Thank you for your gift of friendship.

One of my top five all time favorite Christmas stories is:
              "The Gift of the Magi"

So much so that while in NYC for work I bullied one of my friends in to visiting Pete's Bar where O. Henry wrote his short story in 190-something.
( I even wore my own long hair pulled back in combs for about ten if I could find true love with a pocket watch)

Not to be confused with THE Magi....The Three Wise Men (
We Three Kings of Orient Are....) who followed the star to find the baby Jesus.  Our tradition of Christmas gift giving derives from their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. An event which is very well documented outside of the Bible and which most of the world celebrates in the first week of January as the Epiphany.

I have had an Epiphany about gift is....well...quite simply...a gift.

To be able to recognize what an individual would embrace...a gift they would not always an easy task.

One of my kids won't give a gift they covet...that sounds selfish...but they are honest about what motivates their behaviour. 

Another kid calls for a gift list..."what do you think [fill in the blank] would like."  I am surprised how many of my suggestions they follow through with.

The other had picked out the exact perfect gift...and scared the recipient.  They have become a bit gun shy in their personal gift giving... and as a result...are generous to a fault in everyday life.

Why do so many people get caught up in the hype?  The bargain?  The trendy gift of the year...that you have to stand in eph-n line for in the middle of the night? Do they really know someone who WANTS a gift like that?

If the giving becomes caught up in price and loses its value.  If the focus is on comparison and is merely satisfying an obligation.  If it becomes more about the stress and is not a becomes a present.  (don't even get me started about've seen the way I decorate cookies...)

Don't get me wrong...I like receiving presents...I do.

Gifts that are given are presents...but not all presents given are gifts.  To my way of thinking...a present is something that can be given to any number of different people...a true gift has been selected specifically for the recipient.

It is not always just the thought that counts.
I told you my mind is all pinballing....

14 December 2008

Quintana Roo - dia dos

Needing to keep in touch with those at home...I have become acquainted with the cybercafe onsite at our beautiful resort.

I have never been to this part of the world.. as we landed in Cancun, I could see why people come to visit from all over the world.

2008.12.12 a landing

As you know each airline passenger is allowed two pieces of "baggage".  From the plane window, Teamster watched his second piece receive special treatment from the baggage handlers as it came out of the cargo area.

2008.12.12 ddp off

Immediately following check in we opened his "baggage" to make sure his precious cargo had survived the flights intact. (whew!!)

2008.12.12 drp2

Our resort is about an hour south of Cancun on the Mayan Riviera outside of the town, Playa Del Carmen.  We shuttled into town today to purchase supplies and walk around.

2008.12.12 pdc 01

 2008.12.12 plant

 2008.12.13 pdc bike

2008.12.13 pdc boat

2008.12.13 pdc ct

We had a late lunch a little place along the main shopping district watching tourists from just about everywhere. 

2008.12.13 pdc lunch

 2008.12.13 pdc vegifalls

Since Sunday is the the Lord's day of rest, we are gonna hang out by the pools and beach front....all day long.  (I never even do that at home!!) Tonight we are having dinner prepared by a visiting French chef.....

mas tardes.

12 December 2008

Quintana Roo ~ day one

blogging live from dallas fort worth....

With a bit of disorganizational craziness, a fresh passport...and too many pairs of sandals....I am heading off for about a week to the Yucatan Peninsula.  The Teamster and I have sorta vague plans for some tourista time.

Apparently being online is not as intrinsic to others as it is to I will be limited in my "air time" while in country.

Regretfully....I neglected to get my act together and create posts to magically appear while I am on holiday....but promise to take an embarrassing number of pictures to post later...

no te preocupes. voy a regresar

10 December 2008

05 December 2008

cookie monsters

Today begins our annual three day Christmas Cookie baking extravaganza.  Some of you may remember the pictures from last year (if not, here ya go....)

We doin' it a little low key this year.  We are only making five different types of cookies and only four different flavors of tarts.

I will admit it is expensive to buy all of the ingredients.  I wonder if my prominent product placement would qualify me for one of those sponsored posts some of you make coin with?

2008 cookies 004a

With kids who have their own lives and jobs...finding a weekend in December when everyone can get here is sometimes a scheduling nightmare. (okay...since SugarCookie reads this blog upon occasion...I will admit that I am gonna be away a couple weekends...) 

The oldest arrived last night...finished the supply shopping and first thing this morning started mxin' with her GammerKay.
2008 cookies 003a(the BearCub texted me at 7:30 am sayin' he was coming over when he finished pouring concrete...Little Missy works graveyard and is going through one of her phases...)

okay...gotta get back to it.
mas tardes.

02 December 2008

"this is the best [blank] you'll ever have, baby"

take the almost five minutes to watch the entire me

cheese pie and chai lattes EVERY night...


19 November 2008

a new gang member

I greet the usual gang.  After four months they are as familiar in my routine as coworkers and neighbors.  Down the hall...through the doorway, I notice new faces.  Without meaning to... I catch them in an intimate moment.  Their raw emotion hooks my attention. 

Two very attractive with his eyes closed relaxing in the recliner...a blanket pulled up to his shoulders.  The other man leaning over the chair lovingly running his hands over the resting man's face...massaging his head.  Gently rubbing his shoulders.  He stands up. I can hear him apologizing sadly.  He has to leave.

He softly kisses the top of his loved one's head.  Common courtesy dictates that I should turn away, but their poignancy is riveting.  He can't help himself....he starts the therapeutic touching again.  Face, neck, chest, head.  He straightens and even from my stand point I know he can not pull himself away.  Adjusting the blanket. Checking the water bottle. Touching a cheek. Smoothing the beard. He turns to speak to someone out of my sight. He is already late and he has to leave. One last kiss and he heads towards me.

Passing next to me in the narrow hallway he catches my eye and says,"Good Morning."

There is a strident sense to his voice that is all too familiar.  He so wants this to be a good morning. I smile and say, "Hey".  I watch him scan me and then my Mama with the nurse. I watch him figuring out our gig.  He touches my arm... turns... and strides back into the chemo room.  Reaching out for the other man once again...he needs to get going....but in his face I see that he can not bear to leave.  He is torn between love and obligation.

We walk from the lab office to the doctor's office.  The man standing sees us and greets my Mama "Hello".    He watches our slow stroll....her arm through mine.  At 5' 2" I am never tall but these days I tower over her.  I have this ragg-mopp of hair...she has none.  He watches us walk by...his fingers still stroking.  I smile at him and make some typically smartass comment to the chemo staff.  They have finally become accustomed to my irreverent banter and laugh out loud. Humor is my shield. As we pass I see the man resume his affectionate goodbyes.  

After our time with Dr.A (for whom I am most thankful) we join the chemo group.  A circle of lazyboys with colorful blankets and pillows hold a half dozen warriors reclining with their poisonous IVs. Lengths of tubing. Drip bags of venom.  On days like today there is room for embedded family and friends.  As Mama gets situated I realize the anxious man is gone...and I get a first look at his loved one.

They are virtually identical...the same man a couple decades apart.  This is not his lover...this is his SON.  There is a tug on my heart. Those endearments were not that of a lover's distress... what I had witnessed was parental anguish. I feel that hot pressure threatening to flood my eyes.

I gather Mama's coat and hat to stow during treatment.  Crossing the threshold out the side door tears escape and I am ticked.  I haven't cried at chemo since the very beginning and I am not about to do so now. 

Later.  When I can think it through and control the tears.  Then I will cry for the father's torment. It has been a year of tears.

Back in the chemo room I sit between my Mama and this boy. He is well over six foot. Handsome. We exchange names.  He graduated high school in 2003 and just transferred to Sonoma State. He's read about LittleMissy. He is majoring in kinesiology....wants to be a physical therapist. I remember his father's attention.   Like my BearCub he wears those stupid ass corduroy bedroom slippers as if they are shoes.  Today is his first treatment.  He has a ream of paperwork to complete.  He needs to schedule other sessions.  A girl calls his cellphone.  He draws designs in sketch book.

I look about at the other players in our little drama.

Knitting lady who is dropped off and picked up by her husband...but her friend always joins her in the chemo room.  Usually eating...they sit and talk the entire time.  The entire time. 

The black guy who can sleep and snore through everything. A linebacker type who barely fits in the chair.  I wonder if his shiny bald head is by choice or a circumstance.

The elderly woman from my church who comes with her oldest son.  She lost her husband in January and her younger son in July. To look and talk to her you would never know of her illness or loss.

The police detective who is always reading. He carries an accordion file stuffed with work. His chemo quit working (why does it do that??)   He will transfer to Stanford for a clinical trial.

The well dressed quiet fred astaire type who seems so sad...but whose face becomes brilliant when his three year old grandson brings him lunch halfway through.

And the new kid on the block.  Chatting with me to keep the other stuff at bay. I know I will think of him...and his father for a while.  I start to sigh...then manage to take up a deep breath before the sigh has a chance to take hold.  

I've gotten pretty good at that.

13 November 2008

thursday thirteen ~ giving Thanks

Last year...when I was a faithful little weblogger... and did Thursday Thirteens every Thursday... I even had themes.  My November theme was:

        Things I Am Thankful For

It seems to me a good idea once again this November.  (How in the world did it become November already??)

I am Thankful there are no more political commercials on television and radio.

I am Thankful for winding roads through magnificent mountains.

I am Thankful for Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Cruzio.

I am Thankful I have the right to vote.

I am Thankful for brisk clear mornings.

I am Thankful for warm hugging.

I am Thankful for living in a country where we can freely disagree.

I am Thankful for embracing change. 

I am Thankful for a mexican vacation to anticipate.

I am Thankful for winning bets and the promise of debts being collected.

I am Thankful for floating rainbows from the window prism. (remember PollyAna?)

I am thankful for Taxol, Taxatere, and Avastin.

I am Thankful for homemade tamales.

05 November 2008

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ~ anti trust ?

explain this to me...

Microsoft and Google are big successful companies.

AOL and Yahoo are big and formally successful companies. they are in serious financial jeopardy.

The federal government won't allow the successful companies to merge with, or buyout (all or even part of) the not so successful companies. 

I get the anti-trust, global monopoly concerns. it better to just sit back and watch AOL and Yahoo fail?  Allow their stock to plummet until bankruptcy ?  Stand by while their employees lose their jobs?

'Cause then the business...and the revenue will just rollover to Google and Microsoft anyway. 

They will still be bigger and more powerful.  They will still control damn near 100% of the market.

But this way they get the last little bit for free.

with my hand over my heart....


hat tip to sandee

04 November 2008

03 November 2008

manic monday with mo ~ colorful

It has been forever since I played Manic Monday with Mo.  However the theme this week is "Colorful"...and I had some photos I've been wanting to post.

Weekend before last I was enjoying a few days of respite in the central valley.  After church on Sunday, The Teamster thought it'd be nice to head out on the bike to see if we could find some Fall Colors.



In our part of California we don't get very many trees with leaves that change colors...a few here and there interspersed with the redwoods, pines and firs. We do however, enjoy an amazing Indian Summer.

We stopped for lunch at the Black Oak Casino's Mill Creek Sports Bar.  Didn't do much gambling...but wanted to catch the end of the NASCAR race and Forty-Niner game.

After lunch we continued our beautiful ride . At one roadside stop in the late afternoon, The Teamster wondered if he should just call in sick on Monday, so that we could ride through the Sierras up over Sonora Pass. I must admit I encouraged him.



The Sonora Pass with an elevation of 9,624 feet (that's 2,933 meters for ILTV and David) is the second highest roadway pass through the Sierra Nevada range.  It is extremely steep (a 26% grade at some points) and very narrow.  Every couple of feet they are are warning you about something.

sonora pass c

sonora pass a

We had just about nothing with us to accommodate an overnight trip....except four pairs of glasses, a couple of cameras, two cell phones...and a laptop.   No toothbrush or hairbrush or change of clothing.  Thankfully The Teamster had stowed the chaps in the saddlebag...cause it got a little cold on the eastern side of the Sierras.



My cousin Jamie saw this picture of our ride and said:

"Nice Pict! I guess Desert Brown is a fall color.
It's probably also the summer color there as well."

What does he know?  He's spent the better part of his adult life catapulting off some carrier and has just chosen to settle down in the garden spot of Wichita for crying out loud.


About nightfall we came to Topaz Lake and started looking for a place to stay....see that tiny red dot?   Topaz Lodge !

I highly recommend this little spot.  Friendly and helpful.  Very affordable and fun. Good food. Comfortable rooms. The only draw back is that the area has only a single cell tower and it's for Nextel.  Since we are AT&T and Verizon customers neither of our cellphones or the laptop had service. sheesh. We had to use the room phone to call in sick and notify family and friends. (When extending a motorcycle ride its a good idea to let people know....especially when they can't get through on either cell phone...or instant message...those search and rescue guys don't appreciate false alarms)

We had a very enjoyable..rather old fashion...evening.

Topaz Lake is closed for the winter...but when open is an amazing place to fish!

colors08 colors09

Once it warmed up just a little we started our trek back home....this time via Highway 89 and up over Monitor Pass (only 8,314 feet in elevation).







I am very happy we took this trip when we did....I heard the storms of the past few days will close both Sonora and Monitor passes until the Spring.




We stopped for a gluten free lunch at Mel's....
but she wasn't there...sigh....



while you are humming  "on the road again....
I just can't wait to get on the road again....."
go visit  Mo's other colorful Maniacs....

22 October 2008

08 October 2008

28 September 2008

my writing group

That's you guys.
My Writing Group
This is your new secret identity.
You all do write after all.
And you are quite the group.

I've been around family and friends a great deal lately. 
Pretty much all day every day.

Being online...reading your posts...watching your vlogs...laughing at your emails...listening to your radio shows...while my Mama and Stepdad are in the same house...has upon occasion...brought up a question or two. I refer to online blogosphere friends and acquaintances as "My Writing Group."

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~  * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

23 September 2008

wordless wednesday ~ san francisco fountain

sf fount a

fountain play

just for fun

I haven't done any of those fun little test things lately...this one has only four questions...grab something to write on and with.

Tibetan Personality Test

I came across this one at HomoEscapeons....where the writer and the weblog switch personalities on an alarmingly frequent basis...

19 September 2008

photo hunting - road

Visit the Tennessee Chick and other Photo Hunters....

don't vote by rote

I don’t have enough substantive information in my brain these days.  Even during the normal times of my life I am a bit of an information addict.   So lately…when I hit upon a subject that interests me…I get just a tad obsessive compulsive. 

It annoys me when I hear or read about people who complain about the electoral college during a presidential election….and then do NOTHING during the next four years….until it is time to elect a new POTUS…and then they start whining again. 

My previous post…just one down… asked if you all knew who would be casting your state’s electoral college vote.  I don’t.  So I get to go hang out in the “clueless corner” with all of the cool kids in the comment section.  But I wanted to refresh my civics memory…and find out some of the details I had never learned about the United States Electoral College.

In case YOU want to totally geek out in a patriotic need-to-know obsessive-ness…here are a couple interesting web sources:

The federal government site on the US Electoral College, which includes FAQs, past results by state, 2008 Presidential calculators, and much, much more.

The Wikipedia page (need to check their sources sometimes) on which I also found helpful maps and statistics.  I always forget California has fifty five votes…more than any other state…and 10.2% of the whole.

Both sites explain the historical evolution of the Electoral College and the impact these changes have had on previous elections and the one we face in a few short weeks.

Even if you just scan through the available information you can glean interesting factoids such as the following:

The Electors in the following states have no legal requirement by their State Law to cast their vote for a specific candidate:

ARIZONA - 10 Electoral Votes
ARKANSAS - 6 Electoral Votes
DELAWARE - 3 Electoral Votes
GEORGIA - 15 Electoral Votes
IDAHO - 4 Electoral Votes
ILLINOIS - 21 Electoral Votes
INDIANA - 11 Electoral Votes
IOWA - 7 Electoral Votes
KANSAS - 6 Electoral Votes
KENTUCKY - 8 Electoral Votes
LOUISIANA - 9 Electoral Votes
MINNESOTA - 10 Electoral Votes
MISSOURI - 11 Electoral Votes
NEW HAMPSHIRE - 4 Electoral Votes
NEW JERSEY - 15 Electoral Votes
NEW YORK - 31 Electoral Votes
NORTH DAKOTA - 3 Electoral Votes
PENNSYLVANIA - 21 Electoral Votes
RHODE ISLAND - 4 Electoral Votes
SOUTH DAKOTA - 3 Electoral Votes
TENNESSEE - 11 Electoral Votes
TEXAS - 34 Electoral Votes
UTAH - 5 Electoral Votes
WEST VIRGINIA - 5 Electoral Votes

18 September 2008

worth repeating and remembering....

You know we forget sometimes…
in all the talk about democracy

We forget it is NOT a democracy…
It’s a Republic.

People don’t make the decisions.

They choose the people who make the decisions.

Could they do a better job choosing?
Yea….but when you consider the alternatives…

Josiah Bartlett

who did you send to the college?
do you even know who casts your electoral vote?

16 September 2008

Portrait of Words

POWords_GraphicOur weblog friend Jeff of
" A Word In Edgewise" has put together a monthly writing challenge titled:

“ Portrait of Words.”

He provides a series of photographs representing the main character(s), the backdrop, the purpose, specific item, and your choice of wildcards.  The challenge is to write a story using the pictures as he has provided.  All the rules and guidelines can be found on his POW posting…and his story…along with links to the other participants can be found here

Tugging at the scratchy white satin I swore softly  The ruffled knickers were constrictive… especially for someone who rarely wore panties in the first place.  Sighing I tried to straighten the rows of lace around my ass.  “Whatever”  I thought,  “no one is gonna see’em anyway.”   I reached for the corset looking thing fingering the solid bone stays.  A medieval torture device if I ever saw one.

I love visions of romance more than most but this was beyond ridiculous. There are not many people in the world for whom I would consider wearing this type of get up.  But the joy in Erika’s voice when she asked me to play at her wedding and the pleading grasp of her hands swept me along. She had been my personal assistant since the early days, keeping my caffeine levels high and my anger levels low.  I owed her.

Owed her enough anyway to be in Vegas squeezing my body into old fashion Victorian undergarments…the pressure similar to sausage in its casing.  It was an outdoor wedding at an abandoned estate…and there was no way I was wearing stockings in the hundred degree desert. I brushed my hair and put on makeup like a grownup.  Jewelry not quite appropriate to the occasion…but true to my style. Typically, I was running early so I grabbed from my books I had stacked at the bedside.  I suffer from sensory overload in a casino environment and didn’t plan to be cruising the strip too much over the I brought books. 

The hotel rooms must cater to wedding couples and double as honeymoon suites, ‘cause the décor was valentine-like….all red, white and borderline nauseating. I considered calling the front desk to switch.  On second thought,  that would require packing everything up and besides….I didn’t have the patience to explain to the perky clerk what my problem was. Flopping into a heart shaped chair I lost myself in a few chapters until it was time to finish dressing.

The stiff taffeta slid onto my shoulders and flowed over my hips skimming the floor.  “Oh damn”  I suddenly realized there was no way I could get the two dozen tiny seed buttons all done up on my own.  From the hall I could just make out the sounds of soft Spanish and the rolling of the housekeeping cart.  Maybe I could get a bit of help.

I searched for my old high tops.  The suite was pretty small…they had to be here somewhere.  Most likely in exactly the same place I kicked them off wWC1_8-08hen I arrived from McCarran.

Holding up my dress in one hand and the bed’s dust ruffle in the other,  I looked under the bed.

TaDa!  Old worn-out and dirty, I loved these shoes.  They had form fit to my feet over the years and gave my step a bounce no four inch stilettos ever would.

Grabbing my door card I rushed into the hall….and found myself landing in a heap on the thick pile carpet. 

The first thing I noticed were the two large bazooka looking things lying across the threshold into my room. 

The next thing I noticed was the tuxedo in a panic above me. 

Too late I noticed the neckline of my unbuttoned dress had slipped to reveal most of the absurd corset. 

The tuxedo reached down…as if to help me…but no.  He was trying to gather the bazookas.  “What the hell are you doing?”  He snarled at me…pushing me aside to get to the cylinders.  I jumped up pulling my dress to where it belonged,  inadvertently blocking his path. 

oh I beg your pardon….was I in YOUR way…?” the sweetness dripping from my voice.  Housekeeping fluttered around us…mumbling something soothing in Spanish. 

Get out of my way”  he ordered
Get out of my doorway” I countered.

My hands were busy holding up my dress as I stepped backwards into my room over his cases intentionally brushing them with the soles of my high-tops. He set down a bundle of black leather bags.  I suddenly realized the large cylinders  probably contained camera lens or tripod…and not an over the shoulder surface to air missile launcher.

I threw the smirking maid a pleading look….turning to show her the back of my dress.  She rushed around the tuxedo into my room in a show of female solidarity.

You should watch where you are going” he admonished

You shouldn’t blockade the hallway” 
I matched his tone.

He stared at me in anger. What an ass. I smiled my sweetest and gently pushed the leather tube with my toe until it was in the hallway…and closed the door in his face.

The maid and I burst into laughter…which I was sure he could hear.  While she fastened up the back of my dress, I tried to smooth my hair into place. Finally put together, I grabbed my large leather handbag and took a quick inventory…fancy shoes, wallet, camera, sheet music pouch. I threw in my book in case I got bored.

The maid looked out the peephole and gave me the okay. As we crossed the threshold we looked both ways…and started laughing.  The coast was clear. The tuxedo was gone.  I gave her my thanks…making note of her name.  I would make sure the hotel knew what a great employee they had.

I got lucky at the taxi station and relaxed in the air-conditioned backseat.   Pulling up to the white tented gardens my taxi driver gave a long whistle under his breath.  He had spent the entire ride telling me forty years worth of stories about winners and losers…but this seemed to impress him.  Set up outside an old empty mansion were flowing while tents, and several rows of dark wooden chairs facing a houppa.  Over to the right a dozen white tables with flower and ribbon centerpieces.   I handed him the fare and climbed out on my own.  It was over an hour before the wedding would start and dozens of people in navy uniforms were scurrying around finishing final touches.

I headed toward the baby grand situated in the shade up against the mansion wall.  I wanted to plunk through a dry run or two before the early guests arrived.  I pulled the leather pouch from my bag…removed the music…and placed it above the keys.  I knew this piece, every note, by heart.  But now I was starting to get serious butterflies deep in my belly. What the hell was I thinking…agreeing to do this gig?  Almost no one outside of my immediate family even knew I played.  In fact I had not performed in public for over twenty years.

As I fingered the keys I thought about the afternoon Erika had had discovered the music.  We had been sharing a bottle of wine and watching a movie.  She had been to my home often enough to feel comfortable snooping in the piano bench and found the pages of sheet music I kept private.  She had barely glanced at the contemporary pieces making a beeline for the Pur_8-08leather pouch buried in the bottom.

ooooohhhh what is this…..”  Gently and gingerly Erika  extracted the  yellowed pages. 

Music” I responded from the kitchen. If I reacted in any way she would know it was a big deal and hound me without pause until I told her the entire story.   Softly she read out loud the handwritten note on the margin…and looked up at me in concern. 

I rolled my eyes and waved my hand in a never-you-mind sort of gesture.  To distract her from any explanation I put down my wine and played the piece for her.  Of course when it came time to plan her nuptials…she would settle for nothing else. So here I was at the keyboard staring at the music and taking very deep breaths.

From behind me I heard a crashing sound coming from inside the old house.  Tall windows of decaying wooden panes lined this side of the house.  I got up from theBD_8-08a piano and made my way to an open door.  Looking inside at what must have once been the ballroom I saw half a dozen  of the uniformed men hanging large sheets of golden fabric.

Apparently one of them had used a folding table rather than a ladder and it had collapsed.  Next to the table on the floor were several frightingly familiar black leather equipment bags.  Set up over by one of the windows a state of the art digital camera with an incredibly long Itm_8-08 lens. Oh for crying out loud.  Of course.  The photographer and the musician would be at the same hotel…and on the same floor.  Bet he wasn’t wearing a corset though.

YOU” the voice behind me was really angry this time. “You need to get out of here

I turned slowly with my hands raised in the international gesture for “no foul” trying  not to laugh at the situation.  “I didn’t do ANYthing….I just in came to see with at the noise was all about”  Tuxedo turned his anger on the guys hanging the fabric and I snuck back out the way I came in. 

I saw one of the catering staff setting up the bar under a grove of trees and tried to look nonchalant as I strolled over.  “What are the chances I can get a Jack over?”  I raised my sunglasses up to give the bartender a hopeful look.

“Sorry,  beer and wine only.”  I dropped my sunglasses and my shoulders in exaggerated disappointment.  “But I am pouring the Perrier Joulet…”  I peaked over the bar and saw my favorite flowered bottle.  I was flattered the bride had taken my suggestion and nodded a grateful thanks.

I was watching them hang fabric inside the ballroom…but the place is a disaster?”  I was curious.

The fabric gives the reflection from the inside a warm glowing effect. ”  he handed me a perfect crystal champagne flute. I thought about the golden fabric and how that would work.

I could hear someone approaching behind me.  However I was unprepared to hear the tuxedo voice. “Can I buy you a drink?” 

Grimacing at the bartender I replied, "No.  Thanks. 
I think I got this one covered.”

“Well then…you need to allow me to apologize”

Facing the tuxedo, I raised the flute.  “of course….”

I could see him looking uneasily over my shoulder at the bartender. Obviously having the audience bothered him. 

Back at the hotel….I was angry you had knocked my lenses over.   While I realize you didn’t know my equipment was in the hallway… you really shouldn’t have come out of your room without looking.  Especially in those shoes

Shaking my head, I just walked away…in “those” shoes.

He followed. ”wait….please…”

I kept walking. 
I need to practice…you need to take pictures”

“oh c’mon….don’t be like that….”

I stopped and turned.  He ran right into me, sloshing my champagne all over the front of my dress.  I gasped and sputtered at the ice cold going down the front of my dress.  He tried to wipe the bubbly off my bodice. I smacked his hand away and he stepped back thinking I was gonna smack his face next. 

He may have been right.

I practically sprinted over to the piano…thankful I was still wearing my high-tops and not those damn stilettos Erika had issued. Grabbing a handkerchief from my bag I dried off my neck and down the front of my dress.  I smelled of alcohol and felt sticky. 

He approached me warily…the flowered bottle in his hand.  He reached for my glass and filled it back up.  I took a sip and eyed him over the rim of the flute. 

“I have to practice now.” I said.  He nodded and tipped an imaginary hat.  I have to admit his walking away was a fairly nice view.

The bride was beautiful….the groom resplendent. The bridesmaids were dressed like me.  My part came about halfway through… the couple exchanged rings while I played.  The angle of the setting sun gave me good reason for keeping my sunglasses in place…and no one but the bride would know my eyes filled with tears. 

Duty done I downed my second glass of champagne.  Out of no where,  one of staff appeared to fill it up again with a smug look.  I pivoted around to locate the photographer…he was no where to be seen.

As the minister completed the ceremony I headed over to where the other guests were seated.  Erika and her new husband came down the white runway and I gave them both a warm hug and wished them all of God’s blessings. The families swarmed…and I smiled at the love that surrounded them.

At my elbow was yet another young server topping off my champagne.  I laughed and put my hand up for him to wait while I guzzled the glass…and held it out for him to fill.  I was feeling giddy.  Partially from the champagne…but more so from the relief of having my performance behind me.

I mingled with people I was previously acquainted with and nibbled on appetizers.  Each time my glass was half empty…some server was there to fill it up.  Obviously I was being given special treatment.

As the traditional festivities began,  a half dozen photographers appeared with small unobtrusive cameras.  During the cake cutting and stuffing in each others’ mouth event, the tuxedo sat down next to me…with his very own flowered bottle.  And an empty glass.  He set both down on the table.  “Truce?”  he whispered.

I picked up the bottle and filled his glass.  I wasn’t making any promises. 

The dancing had begun… with half the women taking off their shoes.  He glanced under the table to look at my feet.  “You didn’t ever change your shoes?”  I pulled my feet out and plopped my dirty worn high tops on his knee.

Apparently not”  It was almost a challenge…which he accepted gracefully.  I realized I had imbibed more than my fair share…put my feet back where they belonged…and took yet another sip.  He filled my glass.

We shared a few personal details of our private lives.  I picked at the food and continued to enjoy the champagne.  He leaned over and said, “You need to let me apologize.”   I let him.  

A group of giggling, grabbing women gathered to catch the bouquet.  “aren’t you going to join them?”  I shook my head disdainfully.  I explained I had been married once…a long time ago.  I had the tendency to attract men I didn’t respect and didn’t want to risk catching the bouquet.  Not that I was superstitious….but…still.

Before long the happy couple were whisked away in a long white limo and the guests began to party in earnest.  He pulled my hand and before I could object we were on the dance floor.  I don’t really dance in public and fought the instinct to run.  He was so much taller than me I found it hard to match his steps.  “You need to let me lead.”  I let him.  It was just easier to follow than to fight.

The sun had set and the gig was in full swing.  The food was scrumptious.  Perrier Joulet in the flowered bottle was still my very favorite.  I knew I had had enough.  I disengaged myself gently and thanked him.  I gathered my things while calling the taxi company.  He walked me to the driveway, first with my hand in his…and then with his arm around my waist.  As my cab swung around he lifted my chin and kissed me slowly.  The combination of alcohol and passion combined to make me a tad dizzy.

On the drive back toward the strip I started to wish I hadn’t left him standing there. The thought of going back to the valentine room by myself made me sad.  I asked my driver to take the long way and sat back looking at the strip’s bright,  garish neon and contemplated my life.

I walked through the lobby.  My dress and shoe combo getting a smile or two.  Pushing the up arrow for the elevator I examined my reflection in the shiny metal.  I didn’t look too bad considering the day I had.  As the door slid open I started to step in...and was almost knocked over…by the tuxedo. 

Grabbing my shoulders to steady me he said, “You need to stop running into me.” I stood with my arms akimbo ready to point out he may be the one at fault.  But he was kissing me and I lost my train of thought.  The elevator door opened again and I pulled away realizing people were watching.

C’mon” he whispered “we need to get out of here.”   He pulled me by the hand out through the lobby.  I  let him.  I remember the kisses in the taxi cab.  I remember the fountains at the Bellagio.  I remember the dinner and dancing. I remember him holding me while we looked out over the entire city. I remember the hours of conversation. But there were somethings I did not remember.

I remember waking up in my hotel room bed.  The bone stays of the corset pressing into my ribcage.  I felt overly warm and kicked off the sheet.  I was still too warm.  I opened my eyes.  The tuxedo was there next to me…without the tuxedo. And I was without my dress. I pulled my face into my hands…oh geeezzzz.  What had I done?  MC_8-08 The left hand on my cheek felt….heavy.  I focused.  On my ring finger….a gold band.  I looked past my hand as he woke up.  For a full five minutes we just lay there staring. 

He touched my face gently…and pulled me closer. 
We need to start our honeymoon” he whispered. 
I let him