Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


You aren't going to tell us which lovely fragrence you chose?

Happy New Year, dearest... may it end with the joy it is beginning with, and you have nothing but the same in between...

By Blogger Amie, at 9:39 AM  

Happy New Year, dear Bess! I have loved 2004 just because we looked forward most of the year to meeting and then, of course, the actual event. All good things come your way.

By Blogger Larry, at 10:44 AM  

If nothing makes you happier than being with those who love you, then prepare for SERIOUS DELIGHT when we get together in the spring!

Here's wishing that the end of 2005 will find you with even more blessings that you have today.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:28 PM  

Okay, I have to ask, which scent did you pick? I'm hooked on their Cotton Blossom, it's light enough to layer and office-friendly, it doesn't smell like perfume, it's just very fresh and clean (good after a long day out on some site visit).

By Blogger Catherine, at 4:51 PM  

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Friday, December 31, 2004  

Nothing, and I mean Nothing, can lift your spirits as fast as being with people who are really glad to see you. My visit with Mom and Dad, while brief, was so wonderful. BD came with me. We have a dear friend who needed his help moving some bulky things (with a Move-By-Saturday deadline attached) so we took the truck. I forgot that doing anything with BD takes lots longer than doing it myself and we didn’t get to M&D’s till nigh on to noon, but we had a gentle lunch and some good conversation till early afternoon when we drove across town to D&P’s. Good news on both fronts, for the guys got the heavy stuff moved and P took me to the mall where I could return the last of the rejected MOG dresses.

I haven’t been in a store since before Christmas and things are pretty well picked over, but marked waaaaaaay down. I had one last purchase to make - my New Year’s Day bubble bath - which is all part of the New Year’s Day Routine. Bath and Body Works had a nice scent that was light enough to layer, using bubble bath and lotion, so I am completely prepared for one of my favorite days of the year: the day of New Beginnings.

But today is the Auld Lang Sine day. I’m going in to the gym early and getting groceries as well. There’s an enormous ham bone that is begging for dried peas. I may peek into some of our local shops to see what they have on sale. Probably check out a movie or two. The Christmas Tree is still so pretty I hate the thought of taking it down. But the living room is so utterly cluttered I’ll be glad to do so. And this year the tree performs an encore later in the month. It will go in a shed in a bucket of water. And on that I shall say no more.

Sunday I pull out TheWeddingDress and snip the lining out, re-sew the left back bodice facing, see if I can tighten up the stitches at the point, replace the lining and then mark the hem. I couldn’t possibly finish the hem on Sunday but I can get a lot of it done and hand sewing hems has grown into one of my favorite sewing tasks. It’s a time to reflect and stroke and sort of bid good bye to a project.

Who would believe there's only three weeks and a day till TheWedding? Like another Christmas rush all over again.

posted by Bess | 7:51 AM


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Thursday, December 30, 2004  

Yes, LWLY, it does help. A lot. Thank you, all of you, for your warmth. It went a long way towards keeping me out of navyblue. So did talking some things over with BD. So did a trip to Richmond with S and a visit to the Durer exhibition at the Virginia Museum (oFA). This quite nice little museum has a very friendly membership option for folk who don’t live in Richmond and S has been a member forever. I am always intending to join but get home and loose the paperwork or just plain forget. I believe that will be one of my New Year’s Resolutions - to join the durn museum.

Anyway, the exhibit was wonderful. There were a few other woodcuts by contemporaries or students and they formed a stunning contrast to Durer’s work. His are so much deeper, more three dimentional - so much more delicate in detail and rich in texture. It was fun to see the variety of faces he used, especially when the same face would pop up in several different prints, now a court flunky, now a peasant in the crowd, now a jeering soldier at the base of the cross. What a thrill to see the originals of these familiar pictures.

Happily, S is always glad to drive so I got to knit on BD’s socks till the light failed. I think I’m ready to start the heel flap. I really ought to pull out Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts’s book
and master her heel technique. That too can go on the NYR list.

Speaking of NYRs, I picked up, not one, but two notebooks yesterday at Office Max. I’m not sure what it is about new notebooks, so full of promise, of possiblities, so very hopeful, but I can’t imagine a January first without having a brand new one to fill with hopes and ideas. As I’ve said before, I have dozens of notebooks full of the Januaries of my life. No reason to be different this year.

Another tool in my arsenal for keeping the blues at bay is visiting people who are glad to see me. BD and I will be off to Richmond again to have lunch with my folks and then go by D&P’s (P of TheWedding) for an afternoon visit-with-chores. The guys have heavy lifting chores that involve trucks and I am going to wheedle P into taking me out to the malls to return unwanted MOG dresses. Let us hope I can return both dresses to the same store, even though I got them at different branches of the same company. I’ll call first, of course.

Oh! and this will mean another long drive-with-knitting! That’s a good thing too.

I didn’t do quite so well staying within my daily WW limits yesterday, but I’m still well within the overall weekly parameters. I see, also, there is time for me to get in a brisk morning walk before we need to head off to the city - but only if I jump off here. Eh bien.
Adieu mes amis.

posted by Bess | 7:30 AM


Dear Heart, VirgoSis here understands completely! I too am back on the WW a year off has put too many lbs on! We can do this...make the lists, tick off the Finished Objects, compare notes, say a little prayer...


By Blogger Margaret, at 9:43 AM  

Big hugs from someone who's back on the WW Wagon more of this "can't make the meeting for work" for pity's sakes, Amie, you know what the food plan is, whether or not they see your face every week. There's just no reason for letting my health go the way I have...

Hugs hugs hugs!

By Blogger Amie, at 10:45 AM  

I am on the same exercise wagon as you are - I have returned to Curves as of this AM (1st time since 12/24) & it felt good. Although I have not eaten tons of extra "stuff" over the holidays, I know that what I have eaten has stuck to me. Waa, I want it off & off it will come.
And as a Virgo, I am a list maker too ^..^ Let's hear it for lists!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:23 PM  

May I be an honorary Virgo? I totally get the self-recrimination thing. Will it help to conquer the blueness to remember how many people adore you?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:16 PM  

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004  

I’ve been feeling a little blue the past few days. Unfortunately, when that happens I can quickly slide downhill into a pit of self criticism only another Virgo could understand. An internal audit of recent behavior doesn’t uncover any blatant sinning on my part so I am assuming the blue devils have a dietary origin. Another WW meeting offered plenty of reason to feel low as I watched the scale creep upwards yet again. Time to attack this enveloping fog before it completely darkens my life and dims the lives of everybody who has to be around me.

List making is one of the things that can help me ward off impending doom or slog my way through it if it overruns my defensive ramparts.

First off: there is entirely too much chocolate in my house - heck - in my life. I believe I am developing a psycho-allergy to the stuff. The combination of a deep seated belief that chocolate ought to be a treat and the depressing effect of it’s chemical reaction in my system is enough to trigger all sorts of downward spirals. I believe I shall have to banish it from my life - at least temporarily.

Second: there is not enough exercise in my life. I have known this for months - ever since I got slapped with strep throat last fall. The string of minor, but tangling ailments that followed, coupled with WeddingDressAngst just about eliminated physical activity from my days. That is at an end. Starting now, 30 minutes daily is as non-negotiable as my morning coffee or water or sleep. No matter how much anybody whines that “I’m never home”; no matter how much trouble it all seems, never less than a walk out to the mile point will be permitted - rain or shine. Believe me, I’m well equipped to fulfill this since I have great walking trails around my home, a gym membership and home equipment - really there’s no excuse for not exercising daily.

Third: my days feel unplanned, as if I have to wing it, responding to stimuli, not making deliberate choices. If I were on some golden beach, beneath blue skies, with handsome young men bringing me fruity drinks on trays that would not be a bad thing. Alas, Mon-Fri I am supposed to be at work, and my weekends for the next few weeks also have their claim me. Yet each day feels like a foggy evening. The only cure for this is to map out the day. The first half hour of each day must be given over to planning, not just at work, but for a while, even on the weekends. Mind now, I actually like scheduling things, even scheduling goof off time. Come February I can revisit the weekend duty but till TheWedding I better keep things pretty tightly focused.

Fourth: get with the WW plan. It’s a wonderful program for someone like me, not just because its food recommendations are so sensible, but because it has a list of strategies for dealing with the emotional side of food. There are 10 little “tools for life” they offer and I will pick one each week and concentrate on incorporating that into my life. The first one is to set your goal and I’m going to put some serious thought into just what it is I want. Spending time thinking about me and what I want can be a bit of pampering I can give myself each day.

Fifth: and not the least of them, either - it’s time to pray. My prayer is deeply personal, lots of folk wouldn’t even call it praying, but it’s my thing and, like exercising, its another one of those utterly good things to do that for some reason is easy to put off till later. Suddenly later becomes long ago and I find myself looking up and wondering where I am. Worse yet - I am usually lingering out in space, like Wile E Cyotee, run off the cliff and about to crash to the ground below.

So. There’s my list. I think I’ll print it out and carry it around with me.

Hmm. I feel a little better already. Sort of medium blue instead of navy.

posted by Bess | 7:50 AM


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Tuesday, December 28, 2004  

It is so durn cold this morning I can’t offer my usual erudition and wit. I’ll just kick out a quick update on ThingsInTheCountry.

It was good to go back to work if only to stop grazing in the kitchen. It was a slow day - in fact, the whole month has been extraordinarily slow at work, and for the first time in ages the circulation stats are down. Hmmm. There is a glimmer of something in my brain about that - best spend some time pondering.

I am reading an interesting new biography of Josiah Wedgwood. It is not well written, but it offers an interesting point of view about the dissenting religions (Wedgwood was a Methodist Dissenter) and their belief in the possibility of the improvement of man - and as such - man’s lot - and the role they played in igniting the scientific research that fueled the industrial revolution. It must have been a welcome relief from either the Catholic and Episcopal orthodoxy that kept every man in his place or the depressing Calvinistic doctrine of predestination. Ugh.

In another life I dabbled in pottery and still do love dishes more than any other piece of household furniture. I think the main reason I was in such a hurry to grow up and move into my own place was so that I could have my own dishes. I have loved Wedgwood, Spode, Meisen, you name it - since I was about 8. I even own some! Reading about the rise of the Staffordshire potteries is fascinating - even if the author is so PC he won’t even make a statement unless he can verify it with irritatingly superfluous quotes. Sheesh! It really is all right make claims in a biography - and it’s far more succinct.

While chipping away at the mountain of books returned over the weekend I succumbed to the temptation of a little Christmas mystery story by Monica Ferris, Crewel Yule. It rode home with me and I started it last night. It’s just a tiny fluff of a story but it’s fun. I’ll finish it tonight.

And hooray for me, I found the missing socks; the socks made from Jen’s yarn that are supposed to be for BD. They were in my gym bag, which lives in the car. No wonder I couldn’t find them anywhere in the house. So now I have a choice of little projects to play with. I shall be riding to the city both tomorrow and Thursday so there will be plenty of time to knit. Let us hope they don’t languish too long in Second Sockdom.

posted by Bess | 7:40 AM


Yes, I know the drill too, but my inner drill sergeant is AWOL! My small canine drill sergeant is very helpful though, he's pestering me even as I type this. I will bundle up in sweats and take him around the lake. It's been a fattening few days, and the awful cold rainy weather didn't exactly discourage sloth and gluttony. Time to clean up our acts!

By Blogger Catherine, at 8:10 AM  

Your Christmas/Boxing Day sound like mine! Lovely food, lovely gifts, lovely family...Two of our Darlings drive north to Edmonton today, having arrived overnight on Saturday (entirely too short a visit, but they have to work tomorrow). The other (DS) will be filling this house with testosterone the rest of this week (though GF is supposed to arrive Friday to calm him somewhat!)...And I know I put my own Drill Sergeant somewhere.... :-)

By Blogger Margaret, at 10:34 AM  

My own not-so-little-furry-drill-seargeant is too strong for me to do drills with myself - he's pulled loose from GB a few times - but it means we'll be working with him some more on his leash-work, and I'm feeling so ...umm.. FLUFFY can we call it? that I'm yanking out the treadmill that I've ignored since getting a dog... seems silly to walk on that when I've got someone literally panting at my heels, but it must be done...

By Blogger Amie, at 11:18 AM  

Amie, is he cooperative enough to get a Halti collar on him? That's the one that goes over the dog's head (some older dogs resist this entire concept). It makes it a lot easier to control a dog with that kind of four-wheel drive power, he can't put his neck and chest into pulling and it's easier to explain Walk Nice when you're not gasping to control him. (I had a big strong dog, can you tell?) Murphy's Issue is the opposite, he's so small and so heat-sensitive, we didn't walk for months when it was so hot, stormy, etc. We both gained weight, he's up about a pound, which on a tiny dog is a HUGE gain. We will be walking while the weather is this nice, for sure!

By Blogger Catherine, at 5:34 PM  

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Monday, December 27, 2004  

What is the day after boxing day called, anyway? This year I call it Monday, and Monday means I’m off to work in a couple of hours. My biggest tasks this week will consist of checking in the mountain of books that were put into the book drop over the past 4 days. The rest of the time will be spent emptying files of dated material and the never ending cataloging that lurks behind the most efficient looking circulation desk of any library. Happily, we get another 4 day weekend this week. I will be spoiled rotten before the new year.

Our Christmas day was leisurely and caloric, with present opening in the morning (it was a jewel laden Christmas for me, since I had specifically requested PrettyThings) and again right before dinner, when TheDarlings and BH joined us for roast beast and Yorkshire pudding. I made a double batch of the pudding this year and there was only one piece left as I cleared the table. I also made a cake and it was as dry as toast. It’s been well over 2 years since I baked a cake and I just don’t remember much about baking.

Funny how one’s hands can forget things like how bread dough or cake batter is supposed to feel when it is just right. Baking with flour is a magical thing and while one can follow a recipe, if one doesn’t get just the right tactile sensations while it’s being made, even before the dough or batter is popped into the oven, the knowledge that it will come back out tough and/or dry will have already lodged itself into the conscious part of the brain. I knew the way the batter handled in the mixing bowl that this cake wasn’t going to be good. If I’d trusted my feelings, something I ought to do most of the time, I’d have poured some orange juice on it (or some Grand Marnier) before I frosted it. Instead I just loaded it up with a fudge frosting, and that’s really the only part people enjoyed.

The upside of the dry cake, though, is that I shan’t eat any more of it. That is a particularly high upside too - since I have been dithering and shirking and failing at my healthy lifestyle for a long time now - since September in fact. I will give myself some slack about the downward slide, because over the past few months I’ve had a series of the oddest ailments - contagious things and balance things. And TheWedding has absorbed vast amounts of available time and prompted the most awful stress eating - that mindles gnoshing one does without even realizing it. Nevertheless, the scales have revealed all - and it isn’t pretty. I went to WW last Tuesday and I know what the benchmark is - now let us see if some resolve and some discipline can turn things around.

Today I begin repair work on the bod, beginning with a nice healthy breakfast and a visit to the gym at lunchtime. Buried in some corner of my purse is my WW daily record book. I know the drill. I just have to find my inner drill sergeant.

I’m on a WeddingDress hiatus right now. I know this is good because I’m already willingly committed to ripping out the lining and fixing that little glitch I didn’t like but had thought to ignore. But I can’t go fiberless for more than a few days so last night I cast on a pair of socks. That is because I couldn’t find the pair I cast on for BD a couple of weeks ago. This pair is for me - an Opal sock yarn with a wavy K,P design on it.

And so - Good Monday To You.

posted by Bess | 7:46 AM


Merry Christmas to you and yours, fellow early riser! Have a lovely serene day, and remember, Christmas Calories Don't Count! ;-)

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:57 AM  

Dearest Bess, have the best of Christmases. Thinking of you and all the fun of the year is making my holiday merry and bright. I'll write soon.

By Blogger Larry, at 10:02 AM  

Merry Christmas, Miss Bess! Sending you all my love from a crisp and sunny Northeast.

By Blogger Clara, at 11:03 AM  

Bess! Merry Christmas to you also! Keep us posted on the wedding planning; its so much fun to hear about!


By Blogger Martheme, at 6:05 PM  

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Saturday, December 25, 2004  


Though it is a special holiday, the body follows it's comfortable routine so I am awake and surfing the net while I sip my coffee. BD is snuggled all safe in his bed, while two dogs believe they have gone to heaven, curled up next to him.

Today we shall have a little Christmas gift opening in the morning and a brisk walk in the frosty coldness. Dinner will be around 5-ish, with the Young Darlings and BH as our guests. There will be phone calls to distant loved ones and wonderful books to read (I'm reading a new biography of Josiah Wedgewood). Somewhere in this leisurely day I will weave in all the ends of Bride's Christmas socks - the only knitting I've done in months. And Christmas music will play all day long.

I wish all my wonderful knitterly and bloggerly friends the most loving of all Christmasses.

posted by Bess | 7:25 AM


Merry Christmas, Darling Bess! Hugs to you, BD, LD and BTB (Bride to Be) too! May you have a year that is richly blessed with all good things!

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:37 AM  

Oh, how I love the movie White Christmas, too! Haven't seen it in awhile though.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 10:50 AM  

I rented Elf and Love Actually this morning, and we'll watch those (along with White Christmas, which I own) tonight while wrapping gifts (and knitting until my fingers bleed to get this last gift finished)

A Very Merry Christmas to you and you wonderful loves... SO glad you're in my life.

By Blogger Amie, at 11:16 AM  

Another cool Christmas tradition: the itty-bitty car & the tree - love it.
Ah, White Christmas - as a young child, I watched that almost every year w/my G'ma Mayme. Still adore the foursome of Rosemary, Bing, Vera & Danny.
Hope the holiday is filled w/joy, love, laughter, the Darlings & tasty food.
Thanks for everything, sweetness.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:33 AM  

The happiest of Christmases to you and Ed, dear. My life is SO much better for having you in it!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:16 AM  

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Friday, December 24, 2004  

Thankee thankee for the encouraging words about TheMOGDress. I’m still grinning at my triumph. I haven’t thought about TheWedding for 24 hours now, either. We went ahead and had our Christmas time squabble on Wednesday night - along with most of the rest of the families I know who are the unfortunate victims of that particular sort of tension. Nice to have gotten that out of the way. The refrigerator is full of high dollar food. There are food gifts as well, rich indulgences that seem to say "Christmas" to the Haile family. A perfect tree was found not 3 miles from home. The Christmas Fairy jumped in my mouth and asked BD why he insists upon taking the subcompact car to get the tree when we have a nice full sized pick-up truck (instead of my usual grumbling and arguing and getting ticked off) and he prevaricated, with moist eyes and faint blush on rugged cheek, finally muttering that it is our Family Tradition (?!?) - it is how we traditionally get the tree - that we’ve only had a truck for 5 years but all the other years we’ve brought the tree home on the top of the car.

Lawsee - the penny dropped!

“You mean it gives you that Christmas feeling? Well - that’s the best reason in the world for doing something” assured the ENFP wife, who will never again suggest we do the sensible thing and take the truck when we skulk down back roads looking for ThePerfectTree. Why do I ever forget that Mr.Sentimental clings so tightly to ThingsWeDidBefore?

We had spitty stormy weather all day, that eventually collapsed into serious rain, but not till P came and not till we’d put up the tree. While I was stringing the lights (this year’s tree is not so tall as most others, though it’s better shaped) the power blinked, then went out and we had only dusky winter light for the next hour or so. A balmy south wind had brought us the rain and it was blowing a bit. Some limb must have blown onto a power line. Today it dawned frosty cold, right at a fitting, Christmas Eve 32º.

Last night I sighed and wept my way through White Christmas - my favorite of all the Christmas movies. Sometime over the weekend I’ll also watch Meet Me In St. Louis, which I like alright because it has such great stage settings. I don’t plan on going to town again till Sunday or Monday. I would like to think all the shopping is done, although that does mean Santa isn’t filling stockings this year. But one never knows. It’s just possible I will go try to make Santa for us. Certainly the house is full of gifts. The Young Darlings will join us for Christmas dinner on Saturday but I don’t know if they are coming over for Oyster Stew tonight.

And today - besides cleaning the house - I might just bake a coconut cake.

posted by Bess | 8:20 AM


Lucky again! That you look good in beige, I mean. I don't wear the brown spectrum well -- except dark chocolate, that is...

Come to think of it, the MOG at my DD's wedding wore cream...she's a very petite (under 5') blonde gal, and it suited her down to the ground!

Remember, when the Big Day is through, we want pictures!! :-)

By Blogger Margaret, at 10:17 AM  

Yay for the perfect MOG dress! How wonderful that you and GD love it!

By Blogger Amie, at 11:17 AM  

Congrats, dear heart, on finding the perfect MOG outfit! Sounds gorgeous.
And re your jacket from this same shop, I loved you in it (you looked so cool) at the KR Retreat. Never would I have tho't of "Dynasty" or the clothes they wore. You are in an entirely different category from them.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:24 PM  

Yay! Congratulations!

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:18 AM  

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004  

Let us speak now of beige. The OED defines it as “A shade of colour like that of undyed and unbleached wool; yellowish-grey” and give an instance from the Daily News of March 1899 “The creamy lace will be deep enough in tint to be beige.” Another quote just thee years previous: “The colour of grass lawn is technically known as beige. In 1899 that same source assures us that “Beige is the coolest possible colour”. How timely that such a quaint idea translates into the hip jargon of my youth. Then there is this lovely quote from the British Weekly of June 24, 1926. “The dress of beige lace is very much liked just now.”

Of course, like any hue, there is Beige and then there is Beige. Just ask Catherine, of the Cream-in-My-Coffee wall paint, which is not to be confused with the Coffee-in-My-Cream or the Coffee-Spilled-On-My-White-Silk-Blouse. All of them are beige. There are grey beiges and yellow beiges and pinkish beiges. There is a beige for every possible complexion and most social events.

Alas, beige has many unpopular connotations. Think here: beige personality; beige food, from both good and bad perspectives. Republican beige, in blue states, is an object of mocking disdain. But remember, beige is also the new black - so I am assured after a quick scan with the metacrawler search screen.

But most of all, beige is what the Mother of the Groom wears, along with an inscrutable smile - so I am assured by every MOG article I can find. And since the only other options out there in the dress up clothing sections are black, plum, navy and white, it is fortunate that I happen to look very good in beige. Especially a beige with some warmth to it.

Those who know or love me well enough to have [virtually or irl] peeked into my closet are aware of the 4 other MOG dresses I’ve already purchased. I’ve returned one, will take back another, am tempted to keep the third and intend to keep the fourth - it was a beaded silk summer dress marked down to $45 - and I am sure there will be some summer event I’ll be invited to, sometime, that is fancy enough for beaded silk. TheWedding is looming and I am running out of free weekends and vacation days and the thought of facing the shops once again, only to be swathed in black or otherwise disappointed on my fashion quest has begun to drag on my spirits.

Clothing matters to me, perhaps a little too much, and dressing for an event is near the top of the things-that-are-important-to-me list. I can’t really say I admire, nor have I ever wanted to be, one of those women who just toss on anything old thing, even if I can be impressed by their nonchalance. For me, clothing is an important part of every setting and I like to have just the right thing at just the right time.

Shopping in our little town has consisted of Walmart sole, for about a decade. A few years ago a funny little southern chain department store opened, but they don’t run to evening wear or otherwise dress up stuff. Just this summer a small boutique opened up, a surprise of a shop with a delightful collection of gift/jewelry/toiletry/clothing at reasonable prices. I picked up a very chichi suede jacket with such a fluff of a fur collar for my birthday and always feel very Dynasty when I’m wearing it. I check the shop about every other week because you just never know what you might find there. So, on Monday, when P was visiting, I dragged her upstairs to see those suede jackets - I knew they had one in a blue that she really ought to own - and what do you suppose was hanging on the rack?

Yes. Beige beaded silk blouse with matching crepe skirt - in my size! Yep. 25% off. Yep. Almost exactly like the grape beaded silk I’d returned already, because the color made me look like a corpse in a purple shroud. Not too tight, so I can enjoy TheWeddingFood. Not too loose, so that I looked shapeless. Not too long, it was a petite and I wonder when 5’6” became petite. I don’t have to have the skirt hemmed. I love it when I can find a petite size that’s big enough around, because usually the cut between ribcage and hip actually fits me better. But I don’t wear a P10 - and often that’s is big as petite sizes go.

Best of all, it is the beige that makes my skin glow. No new makeup needed, no fidding or tweaking. Just the perfect warm energizing beige. No fading into the background, but no hogging any of Bride's limelight either.

So. Victory at last. I have my dress and my shoes and I think I’ll borrow one of P’s beaded bags to carry and won’t I just look splendid. Bride saw it and was so happy because she wouldn’t have told me to not wear the winter white suit. She knows how hard it’s been to find something and how little time we have left, but she didn’t want me to. TheWeddingFairy tossed dust at last. I am sure it is reward for my dedicated WeddingDressSewing.

Today is my last day of work before a long Chirstmas weekend. It will be spent doing absolutely nothing and wondering why anybody would want to check out a book when he’s going to get one for a gift in 3 days. Still. I must be there and besides, it’s payday. I love December with all it’s short work weeks.

posted by Bess | 5:21 PM


I vividly remember that perilous walk, my dear! I believe that "scared shootless" covers the subject. Thanks for sharing those pics - brings back the lovely memory of visiting you and BD and your wonderful habitat.

Never forget that I am...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:38 PM  

The photos are a perfect balance to the Polar Express wind & cold we have here in Philly this evening.
Thanks for posting them - they made me sigh & smile in addition to the many "aaah" sounds that escaped from my lips.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:22 PM  

Oh, *sigh*... wishing I was there (and it looked and felt like THAT) right now...

By Blogger Amie, at 12:27 PM  

Bess, thanks for the lovely summer via photo! It's -10C here and to be colder (though sunny!) tomorrow...True Canadian winter. The skiers are thrilled!

Back to my needles...

TTFN with hugs

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:08 PM  

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Monday, December 20, 2004  

It's freeeeezing cold down here in the sunny south. While cleaning up the clutter in the living room, preparatory to getting our tree I came across these photos. They are from a few years ago, but feel so much like summer I thought I'd treat everybody to some seasonal time travel.

This is the magical entrance to a woodsy path that will take you down to the pier.

At the end of the path is another forest doorway, out onto the marsh.

The pier takes you out to Jacob's Gut and the boats. Just think, LWLY made that intrepid walk down the plank one summer. You're a sport, LWLY!

At the end of the pier you'll find a choice of boating opportunities. In the canoe is Ike the Dog. He was with us only 4 short years but he filled our lives with a special magic.

posted by Bess | 1:05 PM


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Man, it’s cold as blue blazes out there and worse than that, a fierce wind is blowing. I’m not particularly bothered by cold but I hate wind and I despise cold wind. Crumbs. But we got a pretty little dusting of snow with this cold snap and the whole front yard is white with it. Like sugar coating on Christmas cookies, our world has been transformed from ordinary leaf strewn front yard to glistening greeting card photo op.

There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that I didn’t finish the petticoat yesterday so I couldn’t mark the hem. I’m not sure if I didn’t finish it because work expands to fill the time you have and Bride didn’t get over here till about 4 o’clock and I’d forgotten to measure how long to make the petticoat - or I didn’t finish it because I am tired of sewing. What I do know is that when Bride tried it on it was the perfect length but she wanted more layers in the skirt part. (The part from waist to hip is a single layer of soft silk twill shirting.) I’d used up all I had in the house. Even though P is coming from the city and has offered to bring me more netting, I am ready for a break. And so - all is packed up till after Christmas. Or at least, till after I get some Christmas stuff done.

While I did not finish everything by Christmas, which was my fervent desire, I am very far along with it all and there will be some time after the holidays for sewing. In fact, if I put a rein on my clutter scattering I might - just might - be able to work on the dress during the coming days off. The petticoat isn’t nearly so fragile that I couldn’t sew on it amdist Christmas clutter and the hemming can be marked upstairs in LD’s old room and sewn on in some less sloppy part of the house. Besides, I will probably sew the dress into a sheet-sac and hem, by hand, only the part that sticks out of the opening.

The good news is that the alterations I made at the waistline were Ab-So-Lute-Ly Perfect. The dress is so pretty that I get all teary when I look at Bride in it. It’s just, well, what more can one say. It’s her dream come true.

But now it’s time to do some Christmas things. I’m ready for a change anyway. After I packed away TheWeddingDress paraphernalia I quickly stirred up some rum balls and bourbon balls. These are really easy cookies to make, since there’s no baking. I remember when I was a child, my Aunt Sharon would always bring rum balls to my grandmother’s New Year’s Eve party. How a perfectly sensible and nice aunt could so ruin good chocolate cookies by putting that awful whiskey in them was a horrifying mystery to me. How fortunate I grew up and became intimate with those adult secret rites of taste. These particular sugar plums are now packed in decorative little tins, to be given to the volunteers at work.

Nearly all the gift buying/making is done, but nothing is wrapped. I think I can finish the last few bits of shopping here in town - lawsee, I hope so. But if I have to go to the city, I can probably slip over to Richmond early Thursday morning and be back with plenty of time to go find a Christmas tree and decorate it.

Finding the tree always involves driving at 10 miles an hour down the back roads here in Essex till we see just what we are looking for. Cutover timberland is the best - especially if it was cut about 5 years ago. That’s when the spruce pines are about 10 feet tall and, if you are lucky, evenly branched. Evenly for us, that is - they are nothing like the perfectly grown tree farm trees. Our trees are always interestingly gapped with holes that get filled with dozens of ornaments hung on different length cords, ribbons and strings. I’ve been looking over the land as I drive to work, all month, and I’ve seen a lot of good possibilities. Sometimes we find them on our own land, sometimes we - ahem - pilfer. This year, I believe we’ll find what we want on land owned by someone we know and will call him and ask for permission.

I have never seen anybody decorate a tree like ours. It’s got ornaments from BD’s 1940’s childhood, even some war-time home made things. It has the Santa I made in first grade out of one of Daddy’s Lucky Strike cigarette boxes. It has the bread dough ornaments I made when we lived in the yurt and didn’t have electricity. (Oh - I just suddenly had the multi-cultural mental image of a Christmas tree in a yurt!) It has an assortment of little toys on ribbons, home-made decorations made when LD was a tot and a school boy, and a good sprinkling of new things too. There is no theme to it other than a lavish glittery excess. I used to worry that it wasn’t “decorated” but now I wouldn’t have it look any other way. It’s a magic toyland full of elfin surprises.

In the attic are a number of other magical Christmas surprises - including a large candle carousel - one of those windmill type things that spins when the heat from candle flames causes a mini-updraft. I actually have so many Christmas decorations I never bring them all down. Some are truly intended to delight children and we don’t have children at the moment. Those are among the ones that stay upstairs - waiting till our grandchild era arrives. Others are essential to the holiday - the crèche, the wicker star, the tree shaped platter painted like stained glass.

So - I am ready for happy Christmas activities - though TheWedding is still large upon the scene. P is coming today to look at the church. Wonderful RF, the minister, has promised to drop the key by the library this morning and Bride, P and I will slip up there this afternoon. And I am glad to be going back to work, too. I’ve been there so little since Thanksgiving - and used up so much annual leave! I’m saving 4 days for the wedding, but I believe I shan’t have a day of leave left after that. Ah well. There is nothing I would rather spend my leave on than TheWedding.

Now, off I go to wrap up gifts.

posted by Bess | 6:07 AM


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Sunday, December 19, 2004  


It’s finished! All but the hem. It’s hanging by its little ribbon loops with a sheet pinned around it to keep it clean. Yes yes yes!

Yesterday was such a productive one. Bride dropped by in the early a.m. and I did another fitting, determining the waist needed to be taken in a good inch on each side. Fortunately, the skirt is attached below the natural waistline so that is an easy adjustment to make. We pulled out all the rest of the outfit; shoes, headdress, little fur bolero - and she tried them on. Yum. It’s delicious. And the Boy Darlings fluttered around like a couple of bemused and besotted puppies. There is nothing quite so cute as drooling fallen-in-love men. Papa’s heart is as swollen as if she were his very own daughter. Son thinks he’s gazing at the sugar plum fairy princess. And I feel like Glenda the good witch who made it all happen.

It’s the strangest thing to feel utter delight when the two men, who have always been mine, get all gaga over another woman. Usually when BD gets all soppy over a pretty woman it irks me. He doesn’t do it often and it doesn’t mean anything other than the cauldron of childhood fantasy, hormones, and esthetics is bubbling a bit. He’s so transparent and, I’ll admit it, clumsy, I can’t really stay ticked off. But this same reaction towards Bride is somehow darling and precious and actually something we share. And of course, I would hope that LD was all soppy - I’d be pretty upset if he weren’t. I’ve never had that sort of attachment to him.

So, we stood in admiration while she turned this way and that in front of the mirror.

Then she asked me if I could make her something to wear on her shoulders.

I’ll confess. The thought of having to come up with more WeddingAttire made my stomach turn over. I really want to be done with the pressure. But she assures me that it is considered tacky for a bride in a strapless gown to walk down the isle without something on her shoulders. (?!?!) Most brides wear a veil but she's wearing a headdress. What I think she really ment was that it might be slightly improper, not tacky, to go so bare shouldered down the isle of a church. I’ll confess, I’ve never been a fan of strapless gowns, not now, and not any other time they’ve been in fashion. Since I know that reaction is hugely personal, not necessarily esthetically defensible, I don’t even have an much of an opinion about other people wearing them. I don’t like butterbeans either, and I’m assured by the entire rest of the world that they are delicious.

I tried to use my formidable reason to explain that if one is wearing a strapless gown one ought not to put a jacket over top of it. The point of a strapless style was that it be strapless. If one wanted one’s shoulders covered, one wore a gown with shoulders and sleeves. It was a forlorn and futile effort. Besides the fact that I can’t resist her silent pleading eyes, I, too, feel an ever so slight discomfort about all that bare skin inside a church, especially in the dead of winter. There was a pile of cut up bits of organza; leftover pieces of the original gored overskirt. I took one skirt piece and began pinning it onto her arm - it came to the middle of her back. Another skirt piece pinned from wrist to center back created an interesting sort of architectural cloud around her shoulders. Where the fabric went across the back of her neck it folded down into a sort of collar that then flared out at an angle, framing her face, creating an Elizabethan effect. Where it was joined in the center back the bottom half flared open. Two darts at each elbow allowed the arms to move freely without causing the fabric to pull across the back.

Well. She is right. This is an essential piece to the whole outfit. It must be. I know I won't be able to get it finished before Christmas, but it shan’t be too hard to put together after the holidays. And really, truly - this is absolutely necessary, now that I’ve seen how it looks. I was too distracted to take proper measurements yesterday and she won’t be over here till late today, so I can’t really put it together today - but I am going to be busy enough as it is.

We discussed jewelry and she, a subscriber to the doctrine of less is more, thought perhaps just earrings. Her headdress has little clear teardrop shaped beads in it and I have a pair of teardrop shaped Austrian crystal earrings, brought home from Vienna by LD one Christmas when he was a teen. They are the perfect touch. They will be The Something Borrowed. The fact that they had been selected by Groom for HisMother was a precious bonus.

It was hard for her to take the dress off and she spent a long time turning this way and that before the mirror, but at last she relinquished the vision and I could get down to work. Lots and lots of handsewing yesterday, but I got it all done; zipper, bodice lining, tiny rolled him in the overskirt placket opening, ribbon straps - the whole thing. It’s pressed now and hung away and today’s task will be the petticoat.

Alas, I only have white netting. I’m really flummoxed about this because I know it isn’t important if the petticoat is white, and not vanilla, but I’m having the worst time letting go of EverythingTheSameColor-Itis. Still - I’m going to make the durn thing because I can’t mark the hem of the dress unless we know how far out the skirt will stand and by golly I want that dress utterly and completely finished. One of the few tasks I can do in the evenings, unless I’m really dead dog tired, is to hem. I actually enjoy the tiny repetitive motions of hem stitches. They’re a little like the tiny repetitive movements of knitting. The petticoat is just 2 tiers of net ruffles sewn into two silk panels that tie around the waist. It’s entirely feasible to imagine completion this week.

And now, my dear friends - I know you all want to see this confection, whipped up in a frenzy of Southern hubris, but, aside from the fact that I don’t yet have a photo, I’m not altogether sure Bride doesn’t want the final unveiling to be a surprise. Nobody who lives around here reads this blog - the only people coming to the wedding who do are my mother and P, who’s catering the wedding anyway. Still, Bride may want it to be a surprise. I’ll ask her tonight and if she says yes I’ll get a picture up here in a day or two. If not - you’ll have to wait, like the wedding guests, till after January 22.

I packed everything up around 4 and, stiff with sitting so long, crept upstairs and took a long hot shower and a brief meditative nap. Afterwards we went to a friend’s house for a Christmas Carol Party. She is our resident Martha Stewart - and I mean that in all the most fabulous and complimentary ways. The Martha Stewart of her first book, not the tragic one. LauraAnne isn’t all that different from MS - with a combination of money, education and artistic skill to create exquisite food, settings, and displays. She will cater or do flowers for select events. She’s a GardenClubOfVirginia daffodil judge. Her parties are really a treat. She is the only person I know who can make a setting worthy of a magazine layout without making it feel like a prop - but like a lavish gift to her friends.

And boy was that ever the break I needed. An hour of lusty singing is almost as good as a gym workout for clearing the head. Talking with people was a perfect antidote to 3 days of hand stitching. I’m refreshed and ready to get down to business today. I believe I’ll pen her a little thank you note, and let her know the important part she played in TheWeddingDress.

posted by Bess | 7:30 AM


Sorry I missed your post yesterday, or I would have left you a supportive comment, too. :-)

But I shall now ~ the dress will be splendid, because you so obviously know what you're doing. So much of what you write is "Greek" to me, but it is so clear that this is an art in which you excel.

It will be stunning, no less because of all the love you have put into making it. GD is going to glow from it.

xxoo Jen

By Blogger Jennifer, at 9:32 AM  

Honey bun,
This beautiful dress is coming together in such a wonderful fashion. We are all there in spirit w/you as part of that group of little angels perched on your shoulders, watching & helping (I hope) & supporting you. Thank you for letting us be a "part" of this joyous event. LD & GD are lucky to have you there!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:46 PM  

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Saturday, December 18, 2004  

Thank you so much, my dear, dear friends. I knew when I whined on yesterday’s post that it was a huge indulgence. There was a moment when I almost deleted it, but then, after all, the blog is mine, for my use, and I really needed a Bunch-0-Hugs and just couldn’t bring myself to ask outright for them. I could only whine and wheedle. Thank you, one and all, for hearing the need and responding.

And yesterday was a better day. For one, the custody hearing was receding into the background. For two - I made a crucial decision. There will be no Christmas tree on Sunday. I will need every bit of both weekend days to work on this dress. We can go find a tree and decorate it on Thursday. I’ve got that day off, as well as Friday, and since this year I’m picking up my Christmas dinner food on Wednesday, I don’t have to do a single other thing those days, except, maybe wrap presents.

Just releasing myself from that “goal” made a huge difference in my attitude. I think I knew all along I was going to have to snip something off the ToDoList, and I really knew it would have to be the tree. There was only a little pang of regret and then the relief flooded in.

But most important of all - the part of TheWeddingDress that was starting to look so amateurish suddenly decided to act professional. All I actually completed yesterday was the attaching of the skirt to the bodice, but that is no small feat. Picture to yourself, a line that forms a long, pointed "V". That's what I had to sew both a gored skirt (meaning curved and slanted line) and a gathered skirt (a straight line) into. I had to sew the fabric into that V and it make it come to a sharp point, not a U and there is a side seam in both skirt and bodice right at the tip. That means lots of seam allowance (excess fabric) meets at this intersection. It means doing a lot of cutting away of that excess fabric, but without snipping so close that a hole forms in one of those seams.

Who would believe it would take 2 hours to sew a skirt to a bodice? Well, now, that’s not actually true. I spent a good hour or so picking out gathering stitches and damp pressing the holes out of the fabric. But then I painstakingly stitched that skirt down. What a relief that was. BD was home in the morning and when I finished with the skirt I took a stroll out to the kitchen and laughingly told him I had to put my head under the faucet. He reached out and turned it on - and I really did - Just like Beethoven, I stuck my head under the cold running water - and you know what? I did feel better. Till I got a headache from the cold. By then we were laughing and falling into each other and I was crying a little.

After a little rest I pinned the zipper into the dress and then realized I just couldn’t do any more. I had some important banking chores to do. I wanted to see Todd, my best computer wizard friend. We needed some groceries. I needed some ribbon for the petticoat, which I must make before we can mark the hem on TheWeddingDress. I needed a shower. So I rolled that puppy up in it’s pretty white sheet and went to town.

That was just the refreshing break I needed. After lifting my head from the white silk clouds and gazing at a different landscape, I was ready to look once again at that zipper. I’ll admit, sewing that into the dress has been weighing heavily on my mind. A zipper is another one of those crucial places that displays skill or lack thereof. I’m using one of those invisible zippers and there’s nary an invisible zipper foot to be found. But who is the woman who taught a Put In Your Zipper by Hand class at the KRRetreat?

Yes. I threaded the needle and began to stitch - and what do you know - it looks fantastic! I didn’t try to finish inserting the zipper, but I sewed in enough to know that it won’t be difficult and will look splendid - neat, crisp, all those ruched up gathers will snug up against each other like the Mona Lisa’s smile. Whew!

That is one enormous relief. So - what is left to do is:

* finish the zipper
* Sew the center back seams in both skirts, below the zipper
* Make ribbon loops for hanging the dress and sew them into bodice lining seams
* Insert the bodice lining
* Tack all the edges of the lining to the seam allowances
* Make petticoat (she says that like it’s only one thing, but it’s a bunch of steps)
* Mark hems and hand stitch the taffeta, machine stitch the organza
* Press entire dress or find a good dry cleaners to do it
* Let out enormous sigh, then kick off my mental shoes, pour a huge eggnog and relax!!

Oh - and Mr.Horoscope promises an enormous gift of power and strength heading my way just before New Year. Isn’t that nice?

posted by Bess | 6:57 AM


Bess, dear, take a deep breath, have a cup of your very favorite tea, and remember just how fabulous you are. It wasn't ego that made you take on this challenge, it was well-earned self-confidence. I'm not going to say "oh, don't be silly - it'll be fine!" because I really hate it when someone says it to me. You have the encouragement and positive energy of those who love you.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 AM  

I fully believe as much love as you have put into this project will go into the cosmos and come back to you tenfold... you could probably just take a vacation and come back and little fairies will have finished the dress, so much love is infused in the project (though I wouldn't recommend testing my theory, as fairies notoriously dislike being taunted)

Love you so much!

By Blogger Amie, at 12:29 PM  

Honey, I understand *completely*! I have finished 2 twin quilts and a wall hangin in the past week...a lot of stitch-in-the-ditch and free-form...The back really takes it on the chin this time of year! (Doncha just love mixed metaphors...?) ;-) I'm ignoring Mercury and will *keep going*!

By Blogger Margaret, at 6:18 PM  

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Friday, December 17, 2004  

Mercury has been moving backwards through the sky. It is about to start moving forwards. Scientists may insist this is just an optical illusion but it looks pretty convincing from here. And it is deeply symbolic. It suggests that real progress can occur after a period in which everything has been difficult. There's just one problem. Because Mercury is now changing direction, it is currently what we call, 'stationary'. It is hardly moving from one night to the next and it has chosen an awkward spot in which to stand still. Heed its warning. You'll be fine as long as you keep moving this weekend.

Now, there are those who say that when something as frivolous as a horoscope hits the nail on the head it is because of random circumstance. All I know is that I sewed and sewed and sewed all day and I still don’t have the skirt attached to the bodice. I had hoped to have the zipper in by now. I suppose baby steps, but slow and steady is my mantra for the weekend, then.

It was cold as blue blazes yesterday and the house took forever to warm up. I don’t start sewing till I’ve cleaned the living room, dusted all surfaces, vacuumed and mopped the floors -each day - after all, this is white silk. Then the huge sheet gets spread on the floor and that’s my work surface. I’ve always been a SitUpStraight sort of person. My back only really feels good when each vertebrae is stacked neatly upon the next. I much prefer a stool to a chair and I sit cross-legged on almost any surface (I shamefully confess, even in restaurants, my legs begin to ache and the next thing you know I’ve hauled my feet up and I’m in a nicely perched lotus position with my knees beneath the tablecloth.)

The first thing I put together yesterday was the heavily interfaced bodice lining. I knew I’d be wanting to put the zipper in and the added thickness of that lining would determine how far into the center back edges that zipper had to be placed. Even if I didn’t sew it in, Bride could don both lining and dress while I marked off the seam line. Once the lining was completed I started cutting the new organza skirt. This new skirt used up all the fabric so there could be no mistakes. Because the skirt is cut on a slant I had to figure out the angle of that slant when measured over the added width of the skirt. Not a difficult bit of geometry. I just put a little mark at one edge of the skirt front, where it joins at the right hip and on the other edge where it is sewn to the left hip and then drew a straight line from edge to edge. It was 81 inches across, just about twice the total hip width or 4 X bodice edge. Not quite, of course, since the slanted bodice creates a longer edge than a straight across bodice would.

The same measuring took place on the two back pieces and then it was time to sew the miles of gathering stitches. I made three rows on each piece, French seamed the pieces at the side seams, and began gathering and pinning it to the bodice. Believe me, by this time it was nigh on to 4 o’clock and I’d been sewing since 10. Of course, there had been plenty of breaks for mind relaxation and lunch and to calm myself.

I needed the calming because it was impossible to not obsess all day about BH and the custody hearing. I know it’s not my problem and there isn’t anything I can do about it either, and I also know that her choices are what got her where she is. But it is still difficult to let go. When doing manual projects, slow, quiet and alone, the mind is free to pick at emotional scabs, and alas, mine scratched away all day. It’s possible I ought to have stopped altogether, for late in the afternoon there was such a near disaster I’m still shaken by it.

While pinning the skirt and bodice together I pricked my finger on a pin and before I could blink an eye a drop of blood flew out and splashed on the front of the skirt! Never, in all history, has the human body so successfully defied the effects of gravity as I somehow managed to dash to the kitchen, fill a bowl with cold water and arive back in the living room to dunk that tiny, but oh so visible corner of fabric into the healing elixer of cold water, before the stain set. Disaster averted, but at what cost to my heart? Thank goodness for the finish on the organza, which caused the blood to pool a moment before sinking into the fibers for all time.

That was my signal to stop, though, I did hand baste the skirt to the bodice so that Bride could try it on. I have the zipper seam marked and that is today’s task, after I do something with the right back skirt. For some reason it’s a little too wide. And I could see by her plucking that Bride wants more fullness right at the side seams, so I will redistribute the gathers there a little too. Nothing serious.

By then it was 5 anyway and time to wrap the whole in a new clean sheet and carry it up to its safe deposit in the upstairs bedroom. The Darlings came over later and I got those zipper placements, during an intermission of Emma - the Gwyneth Paltro version. Nowhere near as good as the BBC P&P, but entertaining enough. Most of the films I see on my video machine have such dreadful sound tracks that even piped through the amp system we installed, it’s hard to understand what people are saying and the music is always way too loud. The BBC stuff is always perfectly balanced. I would suppose it was a function of a real movie projection system, only, it’s just as bad at theaters as it is in my den.

So - today I will put in the zipper, the rest of the center back seams and the lining, then begin the long stretch of hand sewing. A small handsewn hem has to go into the organza overskirt at the back center seam, and all the bodice lining must be tacked in. After that, I will have to make the petticoat, because we can’t mark the hem till we know how the skirt hangs. Since I need several miles of ribbon to make the petticoat, I believe I shall finish the zipper and then drive down to town. There are some business chores I ought to do and a dear friend from Oregon is visiting his parents and would like to have lunch with me. Alas, this is not really a week for me to dally over lunch, but then - when shall I see him again if I put him off this visit?

And so - that is TheWeddingDress report. I had hoped to be a little more light hearted about it, since really I am just sewing now, not creating. But I am not. In fact, I am feeling pretty blue about it all. Full of doubts that all this effort is going to produce an amateurish effect. I am wondering what sort of outsized ego would ever have agreed to make a wedding dress and why ever did I pile so much onto my shoulders right at Christmas time? And how ever am I going to get anything else done and what is going to be snipped off the to-do list before I am once again relaxed and positive? I believe I can blame the stars, and perhaps, the King & Queen Co. domestic courts.

And so, I shall follow the advice above and just keep moving.

posted by Bess | 7:59 AM


Bess, Darling! Brave Ambitious MOG! I do hope you find something to wear for the Festive Occasion...I was fortunate as MOB not to be making The Dress, and was able to knit m'self a Little Lace Top (in hot pink!) to go with a purchased black organza skirt. I am a "Winter" in colouring, so wear strong colours *all the time*. Find The Colour that makes you feel *luscious* (like a million bucks) and go with it! Hugs...

By Blogger Margaret, at 10:06 AM  

I must second the *tsk* and also the recommendation to see if it is dyable or available in other colors. You will be the third most important person there (Bride, MOB, then MOG... Groom is somewhere around 23rd for importance) and will be very visable.

I think you'll be beautiful no matter what you choose, though!

By Blogger Amie, at 11:05 AM  

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Thursday, December 16, 2004  

I wrote yesterday’s post in the few minutes I had in the morning, but evidently I forgot to post it. It was a somewhat mad-dash sort of day anyway, what with doing some errands for BD, the last Christmas Story Hour and BH’s custody hearing. That one went nowhere - since, as long as the children aren’t showing serious signs of performance difficulty and both parents say they want physical custody of the children and there is no evidence of physical danger from either parent, the judge has no reason to favor one parent over the other. The longer things are this way, the longer they'll stay this way. Well - when they were all together in one house, BH did all the child raising, countering all the damage el creepo did on a day to day basis. She still does, but now she does it every other week. I’m not sure which is more difficult, but the job hasn’t changed even if the location has. At least she doesn’t have to eat across the table from him any more. Doesn’t have to do his laundry or pick up after him. That has to be something of a plus.

There is nothing so bad as a bad marriage. Give me a bad job any day.

But instead, today I have a good job. I’ll be sewing on TheWeddingDress. Not only that, but I have the whole house to myself. BD works every Christmas up in Fredericksburg for the Salvation Army. First he spends a week assembling bicycles and other boxed toys. Then he spends a week helping deliver the gifts. He comes home exhausted, but full of happiness and funny stories and, of course, since most volunteer organizations are womanned rather than manned, supremely flattered by all the admiration he most deservedly gets. It’s such an upper he’s happy for weeks afterwards, still telling little bits of stories about things that happen when you work in such a people oriented organization. He works at home, alone, so this is a wonderful way for him to plug into the community.

Anyway - since nothing but sitting in dreary courtrooms occurred yesterday I’ll log off and come back with a sewing update later.

P.S. BH tsks severely at the thought of wearing Winter White at TheWedding and said I must go shopping at Libbie and Grove in Richmond - where all the West End Matrons shop. Sigh. I suppose she’s right. But that will have to wait till after Christmas - because weather dot com says we’re going to have snow on Monday and on Christmas eve. No trips to Richmond for me before then.

posted by Bess | 7:16 AM


Would it be possible to get that winter white suit dyed a color more to your liking? Or failing that, can the store get it in another color from their supplier?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:00 AM  

I'm reading about your MOG dress struggle and remembering my mother this past summer shopping for her MOB dress. It was horrendous. I've never seen so many ugly dresses in my life. She didn't want to look like the dowered MOB in a cheap pastel color. She ended up wearing the only dress that she found that she liked. It was stunning. So I understand your frustration. Good luck finding the perfect dress. I think my mother had a harder time finding a dress than I did finding a bridal gown. :)

erica :)

By Blogger erica, at 5:08 PM  

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004  

Brrrrr. It’s really cold today. “19 º”, says weather-dot-com and I’m bundled up in pj’s, sweater and BD’s winter coat, because the office is the second to last room in the house to warm up.

I stopped taking the AlegraD on Monday morning, since I was going to the dr. Tuesday and I wanted to know how I really felt, not how I felt masked by medicine. Fact is, I didn’t feel all that bad by the a.m. and did feel a tad bit of a fraud when I finally (after the requisite idle hour wait in the front room) saw the guy. The verdict is acute vestibularitis, just like the first doc said, brought on by allergies. My nose is white where it should be pink, my ears are pink where they should be white. AlergraD is a good medicine but he gave me something to spray up my nose, saying it is even better and come back when the serious allergy season starts up. The good news is that I may never get vestibularitis again. The bad news is that by the evening I could really tell I hadn’t taken any allergy medicine for 36 hours. The dizziness had returned by the time I got to bed.

Ah well. Why should I be surprised when I live in the land of swamps and mold, I heat my house with wood and I have two dogs who think they are bed ornaments. I always figured sooner or later I’d move up the ladder of allergy medicines. Guess it’s sooner, now.

But once done - I was free to do some serious shopping - of the Christmas variety and the Wedding variety. First of all was to return one of the dresses I bought last Tuesday. It’s exactly the shape and fit I want but the color is so wrong I look like Corpse of the Groom's Mother, not MOG. While there I tried on one of those brocade suits with the fake fur collar. I sort of like the look. I really liked the color. But it’s not the absolute nicest fake fur and anything but the very best, in that line of clothing, looks so cheap. Sigh. It’s the only thing of color that I really like.

Then it was off to P’s house to hug, hear about her just completed 11 day cruise of the eastern Caribbean. P is also doing the catering for TheWedding so we chattered about that plenty. We checked out the wholesale florist in Richmond and she picked up the paperwork to register with them. Oh my heavenly stars. So many beautiful things - such prices. Lawsee - it’s enough to make a florist out of me.

We pried into every crevice of that place and then headed out for serious shopping. First stop was a Big Lots where we hit paydirt in both C and W categories. We found fabulous silver votive candle holders in an abstract shape, punched with stars - perfect for the winter wonderland effect we plan for the reception and delicious glass vases for the serving tables, everything under $4.00!! I also did some major gift purchasing and short of 2 presents, I’m finished with my shopping. Cool.

Then it was off to the mall. I’m still in search of the MOG dress. I may just tie a friend of mine, a tailored suit sort with a tomboy figure who’s daughter had a glitzy New York wedding and who bought 6 MOB dresses. I have, so far, plunked down $ for 3 and I’m still not absolutely sure any of them are right.

Alas, it’s just so durn difficult to find something that isn’t either dowdy, sexy or white, in the formal wear department. And that is if you are lucky enough to find something that fits. And even if the fit and color is right, the style can be so utterly wrong you can’t wear it anyway. There was a really nice burnt red colored suit that fit but made me feel like a sausage. The clerk and P were agog with enthusiasm because I have a Mae West/Dolly Parton figure and this suit sort of screamed the fact. Only - if you are shaped like that, and you aren’t Dolly Parton or Mae West you hate how you look, yearn to wear those long slinky tunics with silky skirts and wouldn’t be caught dead in something with a high waist. Like curly hair or freckles - nobody likes what she has and is sure the other person got all the luck.

I found a darling beaded silk outfit in white with spring time colored beads in green and peach and marked down to $45 so I bought that to wear to somebody’s warm weather event. I also found the exact fit and style outfit - a jacket, scooped neck side zipped top and long slim skirt in something that feels like brushed tencel, but it’s almost the same color as TheWeddingDress. Unlike the burnt red suit that made me feel like Porky the Pig in drag, this suit’s cut, color and fit made me feel like I could really get down and party - and even sit for 30 minutes in the church without squirming. It really is lovely on me but, alas. It is white! At least, it’s vanilla. P assured me so firmly that it’s okay to wear winter white (I’m sure that’s the name of the color - like those wool suits you can buy each January) that I succumbed. It is lovely. I do have it at home. I’m still not sure it’s proper for anyone but the bride to wear white at a wedding - even vanilla white.

Well, who cares how I look?

Well. I do.


And today is the hard day because I must drag my soul from the Joy of TheWedding to the flip side - the agony of divorce. It was supposed to be the final hearing for BH’s divorce. It looks now like it will only be the final custody hearing and, aside from the fact that the soon to be ex is definitely not a pleasant man with a major negative reclusive attitude about life, which he encourages in his children - typical alcoholic’s attitude - “It’s not my fault. They made me do it” - my gut feeling is that so long as he doesn’t show evidence of a physical danger and as long as he says he wants custody of his children, and the kids are not showing overt signs of mental deterioration - the judge will continue the 50/50 physical custody decision.

Is it best for the children? I wouldn’t think so - but I know the parties and think that much negativism is bad for any kid - but I am also emotionally involved. And best is not really possible to adjudicate in most situations. Preventing the worst is often possible. Providing the best is not. Even the best under given circumstances.

Well. I shall be glad when this day is over.

posted by Bess | 7:27 AM


Thanks so much, Bess Darling-Friend-of-My-Soul!

You're the best!

Love and Fortylevendy Hugs, Jen

By Blogger Jennifer, at 2:37 PM  

P.S. And Yes, I truly do remember ... won't ever forget that spectacular day! :-)

By Blogger Jennifer, at 2:38 PM  

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004  


You remember the first time we knew? When we reunited? Two fiber souls hurtling through time? That look of recognition across a room full of people? Isn't it fun when that happens?

This birthday wish is for you, of course and for Spirit Trail Fiberworks, for the munchkins and for your own BD.

Let the road spread out before you with a smooth surface on solid ground, hedged by the beauty of green grass and even greener forests, capped by blue skies and cooled by gentle breezes. May your every dream come true and may your joy know no bounds.

Happy Birthday Darling.

posted by Bess | 6:59 AM


Lovely girl! Lovely mothers! Though I must say you're lookin' mighty intense there, Bess Darlin'! I know, it's all that bridal gown contstruction stuff...for which I admire you greatly, and yet continue to wonder about your sanity! ;-)

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:43 AM  

HA! The camera had this little light that flashed before the real flash went off and the picture got taken. I kept blinking my eyes. that was probably picture #8 - because by gum, I was determined to NOT BLINK.

By Blogger Bess, at 10:21 PM  

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Monday, December 13, 2004  

Her are the mothers, flanking Bride. I keep thinking of Sally Field's brown football helmet hairdo in Steel Magnolias. This was taken at the shower, of course.

posted by Bess | 3:05 PM


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Who would have thought - the final decision on the skirt comes down to gathers!

I spent the whole day carefully cutting and sewing and pressing. I had seamed all the front under- and over-skirt pieces and was pressing the first set of back piece seams when Bride & Groom walked in yesterday. I had pinned the skirt fronts to the bodice to see how it looked and had draped it across a chair. Of course, the fabric is so stunning it’s always exciting to see and the bodice was much more three dimensional looking, though the skirt, of course was flat. There were murmurs and strokes of fingers, but I could tell that I’d missed the mark in Bride’s soul. I can often hear her heart speak even when her mouth is shut and her brain is working. Also, I’ve talked with her enough, and looked at enough magazines with her and shopped with her enough that I have, in my own heart, if not in my brain, all the information about what she’s hungering for.

And in fact, she was right. The dress, while pretty, was not right. It wasn’t stunning. It wasn’t knock your socks off WOW. And with this much silk it really should be. And for any bride it really should be. There is nothing so disappointing at a wedding, for bride or guests, than a ho-hum wedding dress. I’d rather have bad wedding cake than see an ugly dress - or even a dull one.

I explained to Bride that in order to go from a very wide hem to a very narrow waist one needs either gores with seams, darts, or gathers - and would she like to see what gathers looked like?

She nodded.

I eye-balled the hem width, gathered a length of silk organza and swiftly pinned it to the bodice.


That was what was wrong. All that magnificent organza needed an opportunity to show it’s stuff. Cut flat and fitted over a gored skirt it did shimmer in the light, but it seemed - what is the word? - subdued. Gathered into a full puff of cloudlike silken splendor - whooee! Did that dress ever zap your eyes out!

I had worried about the gathers because it’s being tucked into an asymmetrical line full of horizontal gathers. I’d worried about too much geometry. What I hadn’t figured on was the impact of puffs-0-cloud silk organza being tucked into snap-crackle-pop crisp ruching of silk taffeta. It’s a stunning effect. It wouldn’t work on just any body, certainly not on the curvy type, but on this slim woman with the flat belly - oh you betcha. It’s a perfect match.

Of course, I didn’t say this. I let Bride decide, but I already knew the moment I spread out the pinned together dress front that I’d hit the mark. I pinned the bodice together in the back and fluffed out the skirt with a roll of netting on the floor, so she could see how wide the skirt was, then brought down the mirror so she could see. But we both knew already, that this was IT. The perfect PrincessBrideDress.

She was so happy - and confessed that she’d hated to ask me to make a change in the design so far along. I laughed and told her it was providence - that she came in at exactly the right moment - when there was time and fabric enough to make the change. It’s even easier to do, since I’m just going to gather straight sections of cloth. The flat gores of the taffeta at the hip keep the gathers from looking too puffy. The heft of the organza is enough to follow the line down to the floor in a sweeping line that follows the exaggerated A line of the taffeta. If this were a softer fabric it would sink as it flowed down, making the skirt cling at the thigh area.

So - we are over the hump. I will need all of the 4 day weekend I’m planning on taking, to finish this dress - but it’s really just a matter of sewing now. No more thinking. And the French seams are stunning, btw. This obedient fiber just goes where I tell it to and stays there till I tell it to go somewhere else. Long Live Silk!

In celebration, all of us watched 16 Candles while we ate soup and sandwiches for dinner. I never heard Groom and Father-0-Groom laugh so hard.

And lawsee - here I am almost late for work.

I love all your comments. Hugs to each and every one of you. I promise, when I set up my Wedding Dress Sewing Business I will send you all cards.

posted by Bess | 7:53 AM


Bess, have I told you lately that I'm in total awe of you? Your design is ever-so-much lovlier than the "original," and your skills are just amazing. Can't wait to see pics of the dress...with Worth in it!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:10 PM  

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Sunday, December 12, 2004  

I’m taking a break from TheWeddingDress. I’m at a good point - no at a superb point - in the process, if not quite as far along as I’d hoped I’d be today.

Each of the 14 unique skirt pieces is cut out. Now there are only 84 feet of seams to sew. That’s an estimate, of course, it’s really a little more but the skirt seams average a yard or so and there are 14 of them to be done as French seams - which means sewing them twice. There are two gleaming spools of silk sewing machine thread with which to do this task.

I’m particularly excited about the skirt. When I pinned the front pieces together I knew it was right. It swayed and swung just the way I know Bride is longing for. Sort of the Scarlet O’Hara picnic dress, but New York-ey. There’s just something magic about a skirt that dances when you wear it and there are so few occasions for grownup women to wear them.

The bodice is assembled, though not pressed. The bodice was the tricky part - the part with all the horizontal gathers across an asymmetric line with a fitted waist. Curves and angles, I’d call it. That, though, is done and lovely if I do say so myself. When the two skirts are seamed I’ll lightly gather their top edges together so that I can make any adjustments needed when I join bodice and skirt.

Next comes the zipper - which I shan’t get to tonight. I am thinking of just putting the whole thing in by hand - so much less stress, if far slower than using the machine. I shall certainly baste it in first. But hand sewing through all that fabric might take the finish off my fingertips. We shall see - it’s something I can ponder over the next few days and sit down fresh on Thursday to put it in.

Then I’ll assemble the bodice lining and insert that, hiding all the skirt/bodice seam edges inside. Hmmm. After that is just miles of hemming. I will hem the silk organza skirt by machine, but I’ll probably hand sew the taffeta hem. I have always liked hand hemming.

Then there is the petticoat that is needed to make the skirt stand out - though it’s so widely gored if Bride were to twirl it would flare out almost like those circle skirts from the ‘50’s. That doesn’t have to be so exquisitely sewn, but there are miles and miles (and miles) of gathered net ruffles to make. I will just sew ribbon on the hem of that if I ever remember to purchase the ribbon.

And then I shall be done.

So - there is time for a little of that seaming before I call it a day.

posted by Bess | 3:50 PM


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I didn’t get a lick in on TheWeddingDress. Instead Stupidville sent an secret agentman to my car and left the lights on during the wedding shower (which was great fun). I stayed late to clean up while BH took her girls to be in the Christmas parade in town and didn’t find out my battery was dead till everyone was gone. BD was darling, of course, and came to jump start me but by the time I got home from a brief shopping excursion in town, on a Saturday 2 weeks before Christmas, high on party food made of sugar, I was in no shape to put scissors to silk.

I’m off to work on TheWeddingDress now and will come back later with a real report. Or will do so tomorrow.


posted by Bess | 8:38 AM


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Saturday, December 11, 2004  

Not much time to be literary today. It’s the weekend at last and we all know what Bess will be doing this weekend. But first I’m going to a shower that BH is throwing for Bride. I’ll report about the festivities tomorrow.

Last night, my dear friend C (of the borrowed sewing machine) dropped by to show me how to put in an invisible zipper. Back in the long ago days of yore, I put a few of them in some clothes and thought they created an interesting look, all smooth seam with no placket, but were far too fragile for ordinary use. The teeth would pop apart after the first washing. No thank you - give me a nice sturdy placket zipper any day. But hey - how often is this wedding dress going to be thrown in the wash? For that matter, how often will it be worn? And the smooth seam opening is exactly the look for this type of dress.

Only, I’d forgotten how the durn things went in. They’re tricky, but rather interesting, and once C walked me through the process, it all came back to me. She and I discussed the skirt also, and I may take her advice and do all the extra width in the skirt with gores instead of gathers. I’ll talk it over once more with Bride, before I begin to cut it out. Probably either way would look fine. C and I also discussed the delicate operation of the back seam of the overskirt and I’ll take her advice and do a rolled handkerchief hem around the zipper opening. I may put gathers there regardless, just to tuck that opening out of sight. A little bit of fullness at center back would be rather pretty.

The trouble with talking with people about this dress - people who sew, that is, - is that I begin to have doubts again. This, I am assured, by Mr. Horoscope, is because of the new moon this weekend. Here’s what he says:

As the Moon grows new, this weekend, there's a slight sense of tension in the air. People often feel pensive or apprehensive when the Moon is on the verge of vanishing. Early next week, that mood will give way to one of renewed enthusiasm.

And I am particularly charged to:

be compassionate and gentle: show good will to all... Avoid malice and pride.

Hmmm good advice.

And with that I’d best be getting ready for a party.

Lawsee - it’s only 5 weeks to the wedding! Imagine that - what will I have to write about after that?

posted by Bess | 7:53 AM


Hmm... raised quite near Baltimore myself, I've seen it labeled chocolate cake, but it's not, it's yellow cake with chocolate frosting... I'll get a Texans thoughts on it when I talk to GB next...

By Blogger Amie, at 11:16 AM  

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Friday, December 10, 2004  

It looks like this cake thing is not gender or age based, but is a regional designation. My assistant, who grew up in New York merely blinks at me, shrugs, and says “butter cake with chocolate frosting” but my children’s librarian, who grew up in Baltimore says that “everybody knows it’s chocolate cake”. Tidewater or Chesapeake Bay - the chocolate cake conundrum continues.

No matter what - we have our wedding cake and it is not chocolate in any form. It’s 4 layers of fine textured pound cake, 2 of them almond flavored, and frosted in my kind of butter cream frosting - one with the sweetness cut with a faint dash of salt. I know, I know, the Martha Stewarts of this world insist upon buttercream frosting made with unsalted butter, but that makes me a little bilious and I have always made mine with salted butter and cream. I didn’t ask the good ol’ boy baker what he uses - but I know there’s a hint of salt in his frosting and it is absolutely perfect.

The cake buying expedition was totally delightful. Our first stop was at Jean Jacques Bakery, where we were charmed and entertained by the cutest French émigré. We were a little late, but it turned out to be no problem, as there had been what Mr. JJ called an akseedont weess ze meexair. He was spattered with chocolate and excused himself to change. Then he brought out his forms, his photos and his cake samples. I will confess, I had no intention of buying a cake from this bakery because the starting price was about double what my budget. But I really wanted to know what a $700 cake tasted like, I absolutely love this bakery, and we had to start somewhere.

We had an hour of the most delightful introduction to the Wedding Cake Experience. The cake was a chiffon cake and the fillings were perfection. The frosting, alas, was saltless. And before I had to come up with a prevaricating answer about our choice, Mr. JJ asked where the wedding was. Tappahannock? Whair eess zat? Ohhhh nonono. I do not deeleevair zo fahr. We were smiles all around, and in fact, I could see him melting beneath the gaze of the blue eyed blonde Bride, so I bet we could have worked on him if we had pleaded - if we were going to buy - which we weren’t.

But - he will make a little wedding cake for a birthday cake if you ask - and I think that for some future birthday - I will ask.

The whole experience was utter magic and as we got into the car I warned Bride that I couldn’t promise her the same experience at the next stop - but I’d bet it would have a charm of its own. Good Ol’ Boy baker is the guy who has fished on Hundley’s Pond for the past 30 years. So we tooled on out to the west end. The Westhampton Pastry Shop is one of those old fashioned neighborhood shops. It’s been there 50 years. It’s cozy and small, though there were 3 clerks busy and another 5 or 6 people working in the back. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers own it and have baked together for a quarter century. And they are darlings. Down home, practical, but warm and generous and in a really busy environment with lots of customers, everyone working there was happy. Cheerful, friendly, smiling warm people. A good sign.

We flipped through the large book of photos and found several that Bride liked. (I like them all - the gaudy, the delicate, the formal) and then we tasted the samples. Yes! This was exactly what both Bride and I had in mind. Fine textured, delicate pound cake with just the right frosting. Price was right as well. Alas, they don’t deliver either, though Mr. R. said “I promise you I won’t sell you a heartache in a box.” Mrs. R showed us how the cakes are packed and how to assemble them. When I wheedled just a little, Mr. R said “I’m sorry. It’s a Saturday, isn’t it? I’ll be delivering all over town that day.” and Mrs. R chided him and said “That’s January. We’ll be dead as doornails then. I think you could deliver.” And we left it at that. I have enough Richmond friends. LD can go get the thing. We can work it out. What was important was that we had the cake - the last of the big items to nail down.

There’s still plenty of work to do, but no more huge decisions. Whew. And I have a weekend ahead to sew on TheWeddingDress. I can’t sit down to the sewing machine till Saturday afternoon. BH is throwing a shower brunch for Bride. But I have Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday to work on it. I’ll be at the point, on Sunday night, where I can tell how much longer the dress will take and that’s how much time I’ll take off next week.

In addition to vacation time, I’ll be using up a little sick leave too, to visit an ENT Dr. My head is still swimming, mostly in the morning, or any time I let my head lie prone. Some nights it swirls all night long. Sleep has been spotty this week. Once I’m up and going, I seem to be okay, but gad! Some mornings the actual getting up process makes me sick no matter how careful I am about it.

And in about an hour I get another shot at the perfect haircut - so I must dash.

posted by Bess | 6:47 AM


I have never had that problem about chocolate cake with my husband and son, but a similar problem about my hair. Bill always insists I have "black" hair. (But now, not quite as often, since it is both graying and getting lighter brown).

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:56 AM  

And I thought I was the only person born, raised and still living in Tidewater that looked at a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and said "that's a yellow cake with chocolate frosting"! Even the buildings Cafeteria has a little label on a slice of yellow cake with chocolate frosting that says "Chocolate Cake" and the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is labeled "Fudge Cake". I bypass both and head for the wedge of crust that has cooked apples and sugar in the middle that's labeled "Cinnamon Strudel" (but i secretly call it Apple Pie)

By Blogger L, at 9:55 AM  

yellow cake with choc. frosting. Asked for often by an ex. now chocolate cake (which is often asked for by the current SO) is CHOCOLATE CAKE with chocolate frosting. any combination of those 2 (choc and choc) is fine. guess she ain't picky, huh?

By Blogger purlewe, at 10:52 AM  

My DH is still asleep or I'd ask him...but you're right, a butter cake with chocolate frosting is just that! It was my fave growing up, but I always knew it was a b.c. because my mother had the BEST 'One-bowl Butter Cake' recipe -- and bless her, she passed it on to me.

By Blogger Margaret, at 11:01 AM  

I like the ready-to-wear better, it's a little fancier, and a 200 guest wedding needs a little flourish - do you have a skirt, or will you need one? Maybe a rich velvet...

By Blogger Amie, at 12:16 PM  

The off-the-rack top is goreoumous. I'd be a little afraid of looking like Bride#2 in the couture dress. Besides, do you really need more stress about this wedding by adding "will it get here on time?" to the mix?

You'll look beautiful no matter which you pick. Oh, and up nawth, yellow cake with chocolate frosting is....wait for it....yellow cake with chocolate frosting!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 PM  

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004  

Tuesday's post that never made it.

Happily, the new configuration for our ISP worked.

* * * * * * * * *

Tuesdays are turning out to be WeddingShoppingDays. Bride and I are off to Richmond to interview wedding cake bakers and maybe sample some cake. Probably not the best thing to do on Weight Watcher Tuesday - but I’m giving that the go-by this week. No point in trying to be two things at the same time. I can either be the Wedding Shopper, or I can be a WeightWatcherGirl. Guess which one wins.

BD exclaimed (really, it was exclamatory) that surely someone around here baked wedding cakes and I admitted that someone does - even someone besides Wal-mart. In fact, I’ve called two someones and one of them returned my call. Since I know she does this on the side, I’ve ordered a mini-wedding cake, frosted, to sample her cooking. And I would far far rather purchase locally if possible. But she couldn’t get the cake to me before today and if we do end up having to order a cake from TheCity, we have to do it by Friday - so - it’s off to the city for me.

Bride is looking for a dense cake, like a pound cake, though it doesn’t have to be one. Groom is looking for white butter cream frosting. MOG is looking for frosting that is not made with Crisco no mater how white that looks. It tastes like crap, gluing itself to the roof of one’s mouth and leaving the worst aftertaste. I have eaten some of the most awful wedding cakes recently. Caterer Soul-Sister warns to insist that the cakes are not pre-baked, frozen layers.

While on the subject of cakes, I have a little story to tell. In the fortylevendyhundred years of my marriage I have made many a cake, some of them outstanding, quite a few absolutely awful and all the rest pretty darn good. For years and years, though, when I would present my latest desert effort to Himself with the ubiquitous question “Do you like it?” I would get the same answer. “It’s good, but I really like Chocolate Cake.”

And so, I began to make chocolate cakes. I tried plain chocolate first, with a rich creamy white frosting. The verdict:

“It’s good, but I really like Chocolate Cake.”

So I tried a fudge cake with fudge icing.

“It’s good, but I really like Chocolate Cake.”

Devils food cake

“It’s good, but I really like Chocolate Cake.”

Red Velvet cake

“It’s good, but I really like Chocolate Cake.”

In a voice tight with frustration, one day, I finally demanded “Describe to me exactly the kind of chocolate cake you are talking about.”

“You know. It’s a chocolate cake.”

“What kind of chocolate cake?”

Chocolate, chocolate cake.”

“Describe it to me. What does it look like?”

“Well, it’s brown of course”

“What color is the frosting?”


“What color is the cake?”


I kid you not. That is what he said. Yellow!!!!! Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. No matter how many times I explained to him that a yellow cake, usually called a butter cake, or a pound cake or a Lady Baltimore cake, was not a chocolate cake, he insisted that it was a chocolate cake, that everybody knew that, and that’s the kind he liked best.

Unable to believe my ears, I questioned a number of people about this. And with a 90% hit rate, the women would tell me that a yellow cake with chocolate frosting was called a butter cake or a pound cake or a Lady Baltimore cake, and the men would say it was a Chocolate cake.

Try it and see. Ask the men you know to describe the colors of a chocolate cake and just see what sort of answers you get. Please share them with me, for I’d be interested to know if this is a Tidewater Virginia phenomenon, a pre-baby boomer issue, or if it has darker, world wide implications.

And so - it’s a shopping day for me. I’m going to do a tad of Christmas shopping and take Bride by the Prescriptives make-up counter for some pampering. That may turn out to be my Christmas gift to her. I will also be looking for a MoG outfit. Here are two possibilities:

This, which I can find prêt-à-porter. And this, which I'd have to order.

posted by Bess | 8:48 PM


Just asked my DH, he replied
"what color is the frosting?"
"what color is the cake?"

I see we need to work on his vocabulary, but it seems he is of the Brown & Brown school of Culinary Arts.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:24 AM  

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My ISP was down yesterday so I couldn't upload my post. It'll be up when I get home tonight and we can all travel back in time to hear about how we got to this happy point of cake-edness.


posted by Bess | 1:27 PM


Oh, I like your version much better than the "inspiration" though I can see where the launch off point was... and yes, she'll look amazing in it... what a special gift...

By Blogger Amie, at 11:36 AM  

It's now Wednesday...You must be working on La Belle Robe! As for me...I've been quilting...Stay well, dear Bess. Hope you are enjoying every stitch!

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:49 AM  

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Monday, December 06, 2004  

It’s Monday again?

(Bess looks at the calendar)

Yep. Back to work. Let us hope I can remember everything I have to do this week. First off I must review the huge statistical report I completed last Monday, thinking it was due Dec. 1, then submit it. There is a list of phone calls to make. I also realized, over the weekend, that there are some preliminary tasks that must be taken in order for me to meet the February goals in the current 5-year plan. I’d completely forgotten about them in the upheaval that has been Autumn 2004. And somehow I must make time to get to the gym.

So - nothing out of the ordinary for a Monday.

Now for the WeddingDressReport.
Bride called early and said she was coming over to get something - so I quickly made up samples of my midnight brainstorm. The dress is a fitted bodice with an steep diagonal line from about 2 inches below the waist on the right hip to the widest point of the hip - about 9 inches below the waist - on the left hip. From there a full skirt bells out to the floor. Bride has a wonderful body for this design and a sharp taste for heavily textured fabrics. The plan had been to cover the bodice with shirring from silk organza. I’d gathered a bit of the silk on Saturday night and showed her how it would look. She liked it - a lot, actually - but evidently something in her voice triggered something in my brain and while I was sleeping another idea was born. What about ruching made of the taffeta? What if I pressed the organza shirring flat?

I had two samples when she showed up - was actually steaming the organza - so I could show her that first. Now, really, it’s difficult to not like anything made of gorgeous silk. The fabric has a gleam to it that draws the eye even if you don’t care for how it’s used. She liked the steamed gathers a lot - but when I pulled out the gathered taffeta the penny dropped.

This was what she’d been lusting and hungering for, deep in her little Fashion-loving heart. I heard it in her voice. I saw it in her body. I felt it in her spirit. This was it. That blend of rich luster, rustling texture and high fashion brash that she wants to present on the day when everyone who loves her is watching. I swear - it’s not something I would ever have chosen for myself - not for my shape, and not for my taste. But it is exactly right for her.

With that decision made, it was easy to decide about the skirt. It will be gathered into the ruching, but cut wider at the bottom than at the top so it can flare out proportional to the bodice.

After vacuuming the living room floor I spread out a large bed sheet and started working on the RealThing. When I made the prototype, I cut out 2 sets of bodice pieces from the heavy interfacing, saving one to use as a new pattern. With the alterations we made on Saturday, I cut out a new set of bodice pieces from more heavy interfacing and used them to cut out the silk. I really took my time over this, measuring several times, because when it came time to cut fabric, could only cut once. Once the new patterns were cut out I pulled out the silk.

Oh my heavenly stars - this is the most beautiful silk. I didn’t work very fast yesterday. Only cut out bodice pieces, sewed the front pieces, then the back pieces together and worked with the ruched silk taffeta overlay on the front only. There’s no hurry on this. The actual sewing will zip along at a steady, if not fast, clip. But each step has to be perfect and gathers really need to be well spaced.

I’ve always been particularly good at distributing gathers. Producing them requires a marriage of vision and touch. I like to make 4 rows of basting stitches when I make gathers. It makes for a much more stable distribution. Then, while I’m watching my fingers, I listen to them while they tell me if the little puckers are evenly spaced. I put more gathers at the bust than across the belly so that the fabric can glide over that curve. Bride is small, so these extra puffs of fabric won’t look out of proportion.

The difficult in this is that the gathers have to be put in straight lines and the bodice curves in at the waist and back out at the hip. I had a 20 x 27 inch rectangle of silk with gathering stitches down both sides. I could line up one side of the rectangle to the longest side of the front bodice, and they’re sewed in beautifully. The gathers on the other side were a different story. That side is shorter by a good 7 inches and most of that was the curved in part of the waist. I fiddled and ripped and sewed and adjusted those gathers for a long time and I’m still not absolutely satisfied with them, but they are good enough.

The back bodice pieces will be much easier to do because they’re narrower - being half the width of the back each - and with less of an angle to work with. The front had a bottom seam line that went from the lowest point to the highest point on the hip. Each half of the back only has to cover half of the diagonal.

Bah - I know what I’m talking about, but I don’t expect anybody else does. Suffice it to say - at 5:30 I slid that bodice and all the other cut out pieces into a large plastic bag and laid it on the bed in LD’s old room. The rest of the stuff is backed in bags and on tubes and put away too. I’m sewing this dress in the living room because I have the best light and the most space there, but that does mean that everything has to be packed up when I’m done.

I don’t have any photos yet - but I do have some sketches from the idea book which I offer here:

This was the inspiration for TheWeddingDress.

Here are some sketches.

Oh - and I looked at knitting yesterday. And addressed Christmas Cards up through the G’s in the rolodex.

posted by Bess | 7:33 AM


Oh, yes, I'm so like that myself. I love to give gifts that make someone say "oh, that's perfect" and I want desparately to get such a gift from GB...

Love hearing about the dress, dear - will we get to see pictures? We promise not to tell LD before he sees it himself on the big day!

By Blogger Amie, at 3:20 PM  

I promise - we've only photographed the prototype dress but I have some preliminary sketches. I'll try to get them up tomorrow.

By Blogger Bess, at 8:33 PM  

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Sunday, December 05, 2004  

And the answer issss


Bess will get to cut into hundreds of dollars worth of glorious silk today. My fingers are absolutely itching.

I completed every task on the list except making the petticoat, so that when Bride showed up to try on the prototype dress we had to stuff the ball of netting beneath her skirt to see if the skirt was wide enough. It wasn’t, and the left hip of the bodice, where the deep point is, was way to wide. The bust needs to be just a tad bit tighter too, but the heavily interfaced lining is just the right amount of shaping to hold the dress up without boning. Though, as I type this, I may make her wear the silk version for a while, just to see if body heat softens it up to the point where boning is needed. I have it if we need it and we certainly don’t need the Janet Jackson effect at the Baptist church. But it’s not comfortable so I hope we don’t.

We both want the skirt to be a little fuller, too. It’s a sort of bell shape right now. I could either exaggerate the bell when I cut out the skirt or put gathers in - either technique would create the proportions we want, but the look would be quite different. I’ll have to talk to her on the phone - maybe even have her come over, to consult because once I cut the fabric, that’s it. I came up with another idea in the night, too, about the bodice. So there will have to be a morning consultation as well as a possible evening fitting. Ahh well. It’s all a yummy experience for me.

And now, as proof that I can think about something besides TheWedding, I want to talk about Christmas. Christmas gifts, to be precise. I’m thinking hard about gifts these days, partly because I don’t have a clue what to give anybody except BD, who actually told me what he wanted (Though he doesn’t remember). I already gave LD his gift because he needed it in November and there will be a small token gift for him from me on TheDay. But what to do for the rest of the precious people I’d like to give to is a problem I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around. I am thinking of something small and duplicable, like boxes of Godiva Chocolate or a book or something. I’m afraid I won’t have time to select individual gifts this year.

Normally I love gift giving. I love to take time to think about each individual and try to match a gift to her preference, his personality, her wishes. I also enjoy showing off that I remembered some obscure comment made way last June, and tracked down the object of someone’s desire. Well, I never said I wasn’t egotistical. Another fun thing about seasonal giving is that I love to shop. I like to go into stores and I like to spend money. I particularly like to spend budgeted money - to find bargains, riches, treasures, without spending money I don’t have.

The flip side to this gift giving stuff is the gift getting. BD asked me what I wanted this year and for the life of me - I was stumped. And this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this DeerInTheHeadlights sensation, when asked what I want - and heard the thought run throng my head: “oh lawsee - what do I want that I can’t just go buy myself?”

Now, if I were a more generous, less materialistic sort of person, I could just say, “make a donation to charity for me”. But I don’t want that either. I want a gift to open on Christmas Day. I want it from BD. I don’t want it to be something he wants for himself. I want it to ...


What is it I want from a gift?

I think the trouble I’m having is that I want a gift from him that not only symbolizes his knowledge of me, but also demonstrates his deep admiration for me and expresses his romantic love for me.


That’s a heckuva lot to ask from a gift - especially a gift from a poor unsuspecting husband. I realize this is a totally unfair, albeit very real, desire. That it is unfair is why I can be gracious about any gift anybody gives me, and that it is real is why I almost always go buy myself something I really want during the Christmas season (as well as just before my birthday) and let that be the official gift. And in many years I can actually tell my most beloved several things I’d like to have as gifts. Sadly, even those gifts don’t quite hit the bulls eye on the GiftsTarget. That’s because I know that if I hadn’t gotten it as a gift, I’d have gone out and bought it for myself sooner or later. The real gift was merely the convenience of not having to drive to the city or wait for the UPS truck.

Just typing the word “real” to describe “gift” brings me a little closer to the crux of this conundrum. What is a “real” gift. For one thing, it is an unexpected tribute to someone’s specialness. That is why a little box of Whitman’s can be a real gift when it comes out of the blue, from some unexpected source. That is why a new vacuum cleaner is seldom a gift, even if you desperately need one. A “real” gift is also a way for a person to pluck a piece of his heart out and place it inside yours. The pillowcases I lay my head on, sewn by my special Philly Friend, make me glow whenever I use them. Every few weeks I put a kiss on her because she put her heart into mine. The polished stone necklace from J warms me each time I wear it, because it came out of the blue and whispered “I am thinking of you.”

So. Now you know how demanding and materialistic and egotistical and unreasonable TheQueen really is. It’s true. Alas. I would that I were more altruistic, more generous, more open, less critical; altogether a finer person. I have worked on my flaws, not always to much effect, but at least I acknowledge them. And as I have typed this I realized two things. If I want BD to give me a romantic feminine gift, I really ought to tell him. And tell him that I will buy myself what I need. I want him to buy me something pretty.

But I also realized that he already gave me the gift I was aching and longing for, last weekend. That was the low point in the WeddingDressMaking process, when I began to doubt my worthiness to even exist, much less my ability to actually sew the durn thing. I mentioned his support in Monday’s post, but I failed to convey the complete perfection of his compliment. Unsolicited, he looked into my soul, saw something that is integral to my very being, and stroked it with unexpected words of the highest praise. The tribute to my specialness. The “real” gift. The perfect gift. I believe that is the real reason I had no suggestion to make when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. He had already given it to me.

Merry Christmas!

posted by Bess | 9:03 AM


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Saturday, December 04, 2004  

Brrrr. It’s 23º again - typical winter in the south temperatures - with cold mornings that warm up to jacket weather in the afternoon. And it’s the weekend at last. Not that my weeks at work are all that strenuous - in fact, this is a fairly quiet time in a library. December is our slowest month for patron visits and book circulation. Everybody is shopping, not borrowing, and who has time to read when there are Christmas preparations to get underway?

Still, library work is a lot like being a mother - it never seems to get done. We complete tasks, but while we’re doing them, new projects, tasks, and responsibilities seep in. I suppose all work is like that, but in library work, it never feels like you’ve finished anything. Or, perhaps, if I am more honest; with an ENFP like me, I never feel like I finish anything. By the time I’m being praised for one accomplishment, my brain is already listening to the thrum of the next project.

Anyway the next month at work looks to be fairly easy and the following month will not be strenuous - just ... well, I’m skipping all the politico stuff this year so it will hold only a board meeting and the preparations for a series of programs we’re offering in February. Hmmm. Well. I see I actually do have some important groundwork to do this month. Nothing like stream of consciousness writing to prod important information out of deep hiding places. Three cheers for Blogging!

So on the front burner today is WeddingDressSewing. I’ve got my steps mapped out:

* cut out the net for the overdress
* sew the shirring on the back bodice
* join front and back bodice
* sew dress and overdress skirt pieces together
* attach skirt to bodice
* insert zipper (ugh. I HATE to put a zipper into a completed garment)
* sew bodice lining to bodice
* press, trim and edge stitch inside bodice lining
* tack bodice lining to bodice inside
* make petticoat (gather 100 miles of netting)
* have bride try on outfit.

Whew. What a day.

With that, I’d best be off.

posted by Bess | 8:06 AM