Turtle's Progress

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Tommy and the Jubi-Wedding

Three years ago today Tom and I got married (this picture is from Meg and Dave's wedding last year). We had been dating for over four years and most of our family and friends (especially our children) had been wondering outloud and often when we were going to get married! Well, we knew when and where and how... but few others did.

In Spring of 2002 we knew we were engaged though few others did. Tom gave me a diamond necklace that served as our reminder of that commitment but others thought it was just a Valentine's gift. I had decided in my late forties that I was going to celebrate turning 50 with a huge party. The plans began in 2002 and continued until June 28th, 2003.

Invitations were sent, Meghan and Erin decorated the space I had rented, the caterer prepared the delicious foods, and the coolers were filled with beer. My parents, sister and her family flew in from California, Tom's cousin and wife from Detroit drove down, a few of our friends who worked with Tom arrived from other southern states, and all of our local friends from church and the community were invited. All had been sent invitations to attend a "Jubilee" celebrating my 50th birthday. Meghan had even made matching dresses for herself, Erin and me to wear to the party -- all out of the same fabric but in each of our own style.

The fanfare began as Tom and I welcomed everyone and introduced our out-of-town guests. Then my daughters took over and begn a "roast" of their mother. After six or eight folks came up to tell lies about me, Tom came to my rescue and talked of our relationship. He ended his roast with the words, "... and that's why I want to live the rest of my life with this woman." He asked my parents and daughters for my hand as our friends looked on and settled in for a birthday turned anniversary party. But from the back of the room a voice could be heard .... the minister of our church stood and said, "Well, Tom, if you had a marriage license I could perform the ceremony right now." We looked at each other, grinned, and told our guests we would be right back....

We left the room with our children and changed into our "wedding duds"! Even our children did not know about our plans so they were VERY surprised but excited about what was about to happen. While we were out of the room, my bestfriend, Joyce, and her husband, Bill, who had also flown in from California, passed out new invitations to everyone indicating that they were really there for a wedding not a birthday party. While we were out the DJ played Tom's choice, "When I'm 64", my choice, "Grow Old Along With Me", and we re-entered the room to the beautiful lyrics of the "Wedding Song."

Of the one hundred people who came to celebrate my birthday, there were about eight who knew they were actually attending a wedding. We still have folks who were there talk about what great fun our wedding was, and we are extremely happy about how it all came together just as we planned....

But the wedding was just the beginning. The past three years have been a blessing beyond what I could ever imagine. Tom is an amazing husband. He is kind and loving, and generous to a fault. He takes care of me, loves me, and goes out of his way to do things that he thinks will make me happy. He's always full of fun and surprises, and anxious for us to do and try new things, and go to new places. He listens to me and cares about what I have to say. He's a wonderful father, loving grandfather, and has been the best "birthday" gift a 50 year old girl could receive! Happy Anniversary, Tommy! For your gift.... I have been considering joining you in this adventure ! I love you and can't wait to move to Nashville so we can be together more!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Life In South Beach Miami

Tom and I just returned from a week long vacation in Florida. He was working for part of it but for four wonderful days he was all mine and we spent the time down in South Beach Miami. We did the usual tourist things – took a tour (water and land) around the area to hear all about the place from the tour guides’ canned spiel. But the rest of the time we were on our own. The car stayed in the hotel parking garage and we walked or rode the local shuttle.

Watching people hop on and off the twenty-five cent “South Beach Local", as the brightly colored buses are referred to by those living in the area, got me to thinking about how living in a big city is different from living in a rural area or a suburb. The first ride on the “local” was just to see the sights. It dumped us out at the end of the line which was a Publix grocery store. What an eye-opener it was to see folks bring their grocery carts full of purchases out of the store and push them onto a conveyor belt (or a large elevator) which took them up to the store roof parking deck. Those without cars brought their purchases out and hopped on the “local” for a ride home. It made me think how much more complicated forgetting an item would be. The ease of driving to the store, parking in the lot, running in for the item and heading back home is non-existent when you don’t have a car or the parking deck is on the roof.

We also did lots of walking. I loved it! When we wanted lunch, we walked to the nearby café. When we wanted to peruse the local thrift stores we mapped it out and walked the ten blocks to get there. For dinners we headed up Ocean Drive and stopped at one of the many restaurants (not franchises!) located in the bottom floors of the old Art Deco hotels built in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The best way to see all of the beautiful Art Deco architecture from this era is by walking. South Beach has over 800 buildings which are protected by historic ordinances (you can see some of them here), and it seemed every time we turned a corner we came across another unusual building with lots of chrome or geometric shapes incorporated into the structure.

When we visit a large city we are often enamored by the “city life” but I don’t think we ever really know exactly what it would be like. Grocery shopping, as I noted, would be very different. But so would other kinds of shopping – most cities don’t have room for large scale malls with acres of parking lots, so the shops are in the store fronts of high-rise buildings. South Beach’s “Lincoln Road” is the country’s first “pedestrian mall” – five or six blocks of Lincoln Road have been closed to automobile traffic and opened to pedestrians. The area which was once a road is now full of tables for eating outside, trees, flowers, and kiosks selling trinkets and jewelry.

City life would also mean having a private yard give way to enjoying city parks. Lummus Park, the oceanside lawn right next to our hotel was constantly in use. It was a favorite place for folks to walk, play with, or train their dogs. This part of Miami is extremely dog-friendly; this park even provided “doggy bags” to pick-up after your pooch. Everywhere we went we came across people who had their dogs with them, some with more than one, each on their own leash; walking easily without becoming tangled. Many restaurants and café’s offered water bowls for their patrons’ pets. Seeing so many folks enjoying their canines made me miss Cali!

And, of course, no vacation diary of South Beach Miami would be complete without a passing mention of the beach itself. South Beach is extremely cosmopolitan, liberal, and open. Gay couples walk together freely and affectionately, and the beach is known for allowing topless sunbathing. We spent one morning out near the surf and observed a few of these bathing beauties. Tom tried to “discreetly” take a few pictures and cursed the slow shutter speed of his digital camera which caused him to miss every "perfect" shot.

We had a great time! Now on to California to meet my new granddaughter, Charlotte, as she makes her entrance into the world.