Up north to a wedding this weekend. Always fun to attend weddings. They beat funerals, for one thing. There’s cake. And usually wine, and frequently champagne.
There was certainly no shortage at this wedding, which was held in the northern Michigan woods. Not all the way off the grid, but edging in that direction — catering, but with porta-potties and an explicit warning from the wedding couple not to wear heels, because of the walk in from the road, which was decidedly unfriendly to delicate footwear. But once back there, it was a little oasis of loveliness, with a blue color scheme. The bride wore a $30 gown she got at Goodwill and had altered to her taste; why wear Vera Wang to trail behind you down a dirt path en route to the forest clearing? Any last-minute fit alterations just went with the color scheme:
The couple was said to be going for an effect that was “rustic, not redneck.” I’d say they succeeded. All guests were invited to camp on the surrounding acreage, and many took them up on it. We didn’t, and stayed at another guest’s nearby hunting cabin, which had the benefit of window screens on a night when the mosquitos were feeling particularly bloodthirsty. On the other hand, I bet the afterparty was a blast.
Leaving, it occurred to me the last wedding I went to in northern Michigan was also held right around the summer solstice. The sky after 10 p.m., as we were leaving:
They prize summer in the north. “Three months of bad sledding,” etc.
That was my weekend. How was yours?
On the way we passed the Perma-Log Co., a company about which the name says everything. I regret that the website doesn’t feature the other perma-items from the company’s acreage on M-33, which included perma-Stonehenge and perma-Easter Island heads. Both of which would be perma-cool in our front yard, I think. (CORRECTION, 9/2: Website updated. Check out Easter Island, Michigan.) Northern Michigan kitsch doesn’t have quite the same feel as that of, say, southern Ohio. Not so many fat ladies bending over or plywood silhouettes of a guy leaning against a tree, but there’s nothing like a flying-bird windmill to let you know you’re not in the city anymore.
Actually, there are lots of ways to tell you’re not in the city, once you get out of it, headed north. The entire economy of northern Michigan, never robust in the first place, seems to rest on competition between hospitals to land your next heart attack, at least to judge from the billboards. In between those billboards are other billboards advertising schools that can get you in a scrub top and working in the wide-open world of health care faster than the next one. Nothing really says, “We are a region of the obese and old” more clearly than this. I bet, in places like Portland and California, you might see the occasional ad for sports-medicine and laparoscopic knee surgery.
But we also sat with one of our filmmaking party, who moonlights as a DJ. One of his gigs is the local women’s roller-derby team, and he shared their favorite requests — 2 Live Crew, and assorted other acts whose lyrics feature maximum degradation of women. This tickles me, as it suggests rollergirls know more about what feminism entails than those who have PhDs in gender studies. There’s something about picturing these jammers and blockers, any one of whom could kill you with her bare hands, throwing ’em up to “Me So Horny” that cracks me up.
We’ve had a local story breaking in the past few days, with the Fox affiliate leading the way. The coverage — all bluster, posturing and “as I told you exclusively” — has been excruciating, but not as excruciating as this, which I beg you to watch, because besides being excruciating, it’s also sort of awesome.
The etiquette of the CrackBerry, something I admit I struggle with myself. Nothing like those little interstitial spaces in life for multitasking on your smartphone, I always say. Nothing like a little Wurdle to fill up a two-minute bathroom break in a meeting. When does it cross the line into rudeness? A question for our time.
My question for today is, can I get everything done that I have to get done? Only if I sign off now and go pick the dog up from the vet’s boarding kennel. Latuh.
Dorothy said on June 22, 2009 at 10:17 am
We went to a wedding too. The daughter of friends of ours – her identical twin was maid of honor. Very lovely event at the church on Kenyon’s campus, then the reception was a few miles away.
Hope everyone had a good weekend. We saw Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus last night. Very good show – but a very strange feeling overcame me when I had to head out to use the rest room before the show started. I passed up a guy using a WALKER in the hallways. Maybe we’re too damned old to go to concerts now?! We sure had a good laugh over that. We also were speculating about the wrist wear on one of the members of Chicago. Could it be a Medic Alert bracelet? my DH wondered out loud…!
moe99 said on June 22, 2009 at 10:55 am
Saw the movie The Visitor and thought it was extremely well done. Made me think about it all weekend, truly the work of a good movie.
Dorothy said on June 22, 2009 at 10:58 am
We watched that in February, Moe and loved it, too. You’re right – it is an extremely thought-provoking movie.
Sue said on June 22, 2009 at 11:14 am
We took my FIL up north. He has that asbestos damage that will eventually kill him. He’s not at the hospital-bed-in-the-living-room stage yet, but he’s struggling for sure and there’s a sense of urgency to spend time together – we all feel it. The reason I mention this is because while the guys were outside working on the porch, I was inside reading chapters from “The Glory of Their Times” to him, a book recommended to me right here by… who gets credit here? He really enjoyed it and I thank you… Dexter?
Also watched a stupid DVD – Bandits. Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett – it should have worked, and it seemed to go on forever. When all the guys in the room think a heist movie’s stupid, it’s stupid.
LA Mary said on June 22, 2009 at 11:21 am
The hospital billboards here are indeed for knee and ankle issues. Cedars Sinai (where the stars go to die) also has weight loss clinics, but doesn’t push the bariatric type of weight loss. Robotic surgery (often for fertility or urology issues) is advertised, and where I work, we hustle the Stroke Center. We also have a big bariatric program, which I’m told is the most profitable part of the hospital. I interviewed someone for a position there the other day, and heard about the 1-800-get-slim company. They advertise on buses, bus stop benches, billboards. The person I interviewed told me that while good hospital bariatric programs require counseling and a period of attempting to lose weight through diet and excercise before going for the surgery option, those bus ad programs just confirm your insurance coverage and go for it.
Connie said on June 22, 2009 at 11:31 am
I liked the part where the bear climbed the tree.
I thought Bandits was both stupid and hysterically funny. Favorite line? Yeast infection.
Made a trip up to Holland on Saturday and got all caught up in unexpected road closings due to flash flooding. And on Sunday had the first perfect pool day of the season.
Mindy said on June 22, 2009 at 11:33 am
No wedding this weekend, just the fun movie Death at a Funeral. Worth getting when madcap belly laughs are required to lift the spirits.
The Gulf side of Florida is plastered with funeral home billboards, especially near Sarasota with its huge population of oldsters. We lived on the Atlantic side for a few years and saw billboards for the local hospitals Jess Parrish and Wuesthoff. Locals referred to them as Just Perished and Worst Off, which married well with the billboards for local funeral homes.
basset said on June 22, 2009 at 11:39 am
Mrs. Basset used to work at a small-town hospital outside Nashville… Goodlark Medical Center, the locals called it “Goodluck.”
Julie Robinson said on June 22, 2009 at 12:29 pm
Loved The Visitor too, and peed my pants watching Death at a Funeral.
The DH was in Tampa last week and couldn’t get over the heat. So glad I didn’t go and instead had 90 degrees and 500% humidity at home. After he got home we watched Eagle Eye, which is to say he watched it and I stayed in the room and read Annie’s Ghost. But I found myself closing the book and only reopening it during the chases/explosions.
If you’re ever in West Palm Beach and have to go to the hospital, avoid JFK at all costs. My poor sister had to spend two weeks there for removal of an 8 inch wire that was leftover from her heart surgery.
Rana said on June 22, 2009 at 12:42 pm
Oh, my god, the bear! What were they thinking?!
mark said on June 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm
Crackberry etiquette? It’s only a question for those who have no sense of plain old etiquette. When you fiddle with a phone, you make a clear statement that your needs are greater than those who are interrupted or ignored by the fiddling.
What I find funny is those who think their importance is enhanced because they are on constant stand-by status for others. Baby-sitters are expected to answer the phone immediately. Obama can pretty much tell everybody “I’ll get back to you later”, or (more likely) have somebody else give that message on his behalf.
Jason T. said on June 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm
You raise an interesting question. Why can’t we have cake at funerals?
“He looks so natural. Very life-like. Say, is this buttercream icing?”
mark said on June 22, 2009 at 1:16 pm
Go with a post-burial wake. Same fun, but without the annoyance of coasters on the casket or crumbs on the corpse.
Joe Kobiela said on June 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm
Ya’ll can have cake at my funeral!
In fact I plan on having a big blow out. First off harvest anything you can use. Second cremate me. Third use half the ashes and spread from a airplane, take the other half and get hold of the Fort Wayne Rugby Club and use the ashes to make a tee and Kickoff a game off my ashes, finish game and let the party begin.
Jason T. said on June 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm
Mark: You’re right, vacuuming crumbs off of the corpse tends to upset the bereaved. Maybe we could use some kind of a sneeze-guard?
Joe: With ice cream? “It’s mint chocolate chip … he … he would have wanted it that way.”
Sue said on June 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm
But while we’re on the subject of dead pilots (premature, Joe!) have any of you heard of the book about a toddler who supposedly “remembered” freakish details of the life and death of a WWII fighter pilot? I haven’t been able to get hold of a copy from any of the local libraries yet but I’m curious based on what I’ve read. It’s called “Soul Survivor”, ghostwritten for the parents, and the only thing I can think of is that it’s a nasty scam to involve a kid in, assuming something really bizarre isn’t going on. And by really bizarre, I mean… spooky and where has that pilot been all these years?
mark said on June 22, 2009 at 1:41 pm
sneeze guard.. That’s funny.
Dorothy said on June 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm
Well, if it’s a closed casket you could use the top of the casket as a table, thereby eliminating the crumbs to be brushed off the corpse. Just spread out the table cloth on top of the casket and much away! Problem solved.
This conversation reminds me of the wake scene in “The Big Chill” and Karen (Jo Beth Williams) saying you’d never get a crowd this big at her funeral.
Peter said on June 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm
I’ve always wanted an open buffet at my wake, but I was told that it’s only allowed in California – seems there’s rules about the corpse being a toxic waste and all, so in Illinois food has to be served on a different level, which explains those lousy basement lounges. I thought it would have been cool to have a carving station and I would hold the condiment tray.
And speaking of death and hospitals, in north suburban Chicago there was Skokie Valley Hospital, which the locals called Death Valley.
Scout said on June 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm
Sue, funny you should ask about that kid. Someone just sent this to me last week:
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 22, 2009 at 2:59 pm
What does a cardboard bear do in the woods? Scat, i guess.
With the even odder rabbit interlude (it goes by quick) i get the impression he was going for some kind of way weird, way wild story on wildlife, and it got trimmed back to a cutout of its former self, or at least the originally envisioned story.
Or, the reporter ate some mushrooms he found in the woods. I think even Wolf Blitzer would blink twice before tossing to the next piece.
Sue said on June 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm
Scout, thanks. The video just adds to my skepticism. Everything filmed, including things that if true might have been better kept private (like visiting where the pilot died!), and a child who is either very articulate or very well-rehearsed.
derwood said on June 22, 2009 at 3:37 pm
You raise an interesting question. Why can’t we have cake at funerals?
My mom’s funeral ended up on her birthday. Her best friend brought a big birthday cake back to the house after the funeral. We had cake.
Catherine said on June 22, 2009 at 3:49 pm
Love the bride’s blue brooches — very Michelle Obama!
And while I heart my smartphone, here is a recent situation that drove me nuts: I’m driving my daughter, a good friend of hers, and the friend’s mom to a museum across town; about a 45 minute drive. On the way back, the mom spends the entire time doing god-knows-what on her iphone. Now, she is tenured faculty at a prestigious research institution and probably there is an astronomy-related emergency. But does this completely absolve her of making conversation with the driver (me)? Am I being oversensitive?
Scout said on June 22, 2009 at 4:04 pm
Catherine, I vote no. I’m sorry, but few people are that important. If she was one who was, she wouldn’t have been on the museum trip to begin with.
I had a friend that interrupted every single conversation we ever had with repeated breaks to thumb type text messages. She explained that she needed to be on call for her teenaged daughters, which I totally understand, except they were just texting nonsense shit back and forth like, “would you rather eat monkey meat or tree bark?” And I would think, oh for cryin’ out loud, just go bond with your kid instead of wasting my time! Note the past tense used in my first sentence of this paragraph.
mcegg said on June 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm
Reply to Dorothy at comment #18…
I’ll come, and I’ll bring a date.
Kirk said on June 22, 2009 at 4:43 pm
We went to a baby shower, but the hors d’oeuvres were heavy and there was an open bar.
beb said on June 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm
Getting to hospitals and billboards, there’s a hospital in the Detroit area advertising on the radio that since you would willing drive a half hour to get to a good restaurant, shouldn’t you also be willing to drive a half hour to get to a better hospital? My thought is that if I’m having a heart attack I’d much rather to the hospital “around the corner” instead.
Jolene said on June 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm
Where is Tim Goeglein now? Why, working for Focus on the Family, of course.
In this article, the new head (i.e., James Dobson’s replacement) comments favorably on Pres. Obama’s recent statements/actions on fatherhood. He sounds, actually, like about as decent a guy as you could expect for that organization. I guess Goeglein’s hiring indicates that they do, indeed, take the idea of forgiveness seriously.
Deborah said on June 22, 2009 at 8:47 pm
A friend of mine died in St. Louis a few years back. He was a super creative guy. He had a brain tumor, a slow demise so he planned his entire funeral down to the last detail. It was a blast, included an Elvis impersonator, tons of booze and food. He designed and made the container for his ashes. There was a life size cardboard cut out of him that you could get your photo taken with, sent to you later. It may sound tacky but it was so fitting for this guy. Still makes me laugh and cry when I think about it.
As for weddings… my husband and I got married on our land in remote northern New Mexico in 2000. We had 100 guests, a tent, a fancy caterer from Santa Fe, straw bales wrapped in off-white canvas for seating, no running water or electricity. If I do say so myself, it was beautiful and people are still commenting on it nearly 10 years later. It took a lot of planning (and money) but it was so worth it. And my husband and I both wore black (we’re designers).
Jolene said on June 22, 2009 at 9:53 pm
Re technology and civility, John Kelly, a WaPo columnist has started a campaign called Radical Civility, complete with its own logo. Its first focus is on stamping out–politely, of course–the practice of texting in movie theaters.
The lit-up cell phone screens are, apparently, damn distracting.
Kirk said on June 22, 2009 at 10:41 pm
A daily five-minute civility lesson would make schoolkids much better citizens than the time they waste every day on droning the pledge to The Flag.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm
‘Scuse, i must have walked in at a cranky moment, but before i duck back out — the Pledge of Allegiance takes maybe 20 seconds if you take it real slow.
And the point is — we don’t pledge allegiance to a Crown, or an inbred person who inherited the ranch from their royal bloodline; we don’t pledge allegiance to the elected president, which i’m thinking many would have been grateful for the last eight years; we don’t pledge allegiance to the land, or the blood and soil, or to Der Vaterland or Matyushka; we don’t pledge allegiance to the Volk or Holy Mother Church or the Great White Dome of the Capitol.
We pledge allegiance to the public common goods, the public things, the “res publica”, to the Republic for which the dang thing stands: that which we hold in common, a nation of laws, crafted to bring the greatest possible liberty and justice for all.
Then, those twenty seconds over, you can talk about text messaging etiquette to your heart’s content. Yes, i spent last week teaching hundreds of kids how to do a proper flag ceremony, including that tricky triangular fold thing that gives you a Valley Forge tricorn and not a shapeless squarish mass. There’s something about having a few unifying rituals i hate to see discarded because it’s so uncool to say anything in unison.
Deborah, your wedding sounds spectacular. Long may you both wave over Abiquiu!
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm
Here’s a cheerier bit of bloggage from up in Nancy’s backyard — http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2009/06/cant-forget-the-motor-city.html
CrazyCatLady said on June 23, 2009 at 12:00 am
We had cake at my mom’s Memorial picnic. She despised funerals and always said she would never make us go through that. Since she died the night before Christmas Eve, we had her memorial later the next summer. It was a wonderful party, without the religious bull she hated. It was a blast!!
Dexter said on June 23, 2009 at 12:23 am
SUE: Yeah, I recommended that book and I think it was Kirk who seconded the motion. Try and get the cassette tape version of that book…I ordered it from my local Carnegie lending library and had it from a Cleveland library in no time.
Wahoo Sam Crawford’s story of playing for his “Wahoo” team is priceless…travel from town to town in a couple of wagons, the cook bought round steak and bread and that’s what they ate, along with apples they came across , and other such truck.
We went to a wedding Saturday…the couple is from Tennessee, and the bride was married barefooted. We’ve known the bride since she was a a baby , and it was nice they got married, after being together fifteen years.
WHOA! That Cleveland bear story was hilarious!
My bike ride was done on a 1951 JC Higgins cruiser bike that I bought 15 years ago in Defiance at R Bike Shop ( used to be the Western Auto, I think)
It just seemed right to break out the antique . I managed eleven miles on it before darkness set in. It has a very high gear (one speed coaster brake ) but when you get moving at about ten miles per hour it becomes effortless and a lotta fun.
Linda said on June 23, 2009 at 7:27 am
We didn’t have cake at my sister’s funeral, but the usual big honkin’ catered spread that Polish-Americans have for any event. And the desert was key lime pie.
ROgirl said on June 23, 2009 at 7:47 am
The vintage brooches are the perfect touch.
The bear story and the “reincarnated” boy story were both on Fox. I rest my case.
I went to the visitation for the husband of a friend last week. Dropped dead at the age of 62. He happened to be a serious alcoholic and had some health problems, but still. It was open casket and I didn’t get too close, but I could see him laid out in an alcove at the far end of the room, an American flag folded under his head, spotlights illuminating the space, glowing a ghastly shade of salmony tan.
Connie said on June 23, 2009 at 8:19 am
Learning how to fold the flag properly will serve them in good stead later on when they become bakers. Just this weekend I made filled phyllo goodies which involves folding like a flag.
Tyler L. said on September 2, 2009 at 3:30 pm
I just read your blog and thought you might be interested to know, the Perma-Log website is now updated with pictures of everything on the property, and it is all for sale.