Category Archives: Weddings

A great holiday/wedding weekend

We had a great time over Memorial Day weekend. (Yes, I am a little late catching up.) Our neice, Ellen, got married in Greenville, South Carolina. She is my middle sister’s daughter, so the event attracted a large number of my side of the family. I am the oldest of five. All are married, most with grown, or nearly grown, children. We and our cousins are spread all over the eastern half of the country. It’s been this way ever since I first moved away from Pittsburgh to Florida in 1971. While we are not geographically so close that we can call and say “Come on over for Sunday dinner,” we do have a good time when we do get together.

Mrs. Poolman and I took off on Thursday to make it a five-day weekend. Our first big surprise was Greenville itself. It has a very cool downtown. There is a small river with a waterfall cutting right through the middle of town. My sister commented, “You know, we lived here for ten years before we even knew we had a waterfall in downtown.”

Greenville's waterfall

Greenville’s waterfall

Wedding 3w

Brother taking picture of his son and daughter-in-law.

Wedding 4w

(l-r) Girlfriend, Poolboy and Writer Princess

Wedding 5w

Nephew, Mrs. P and myself

The rest of downtown is nicely landscaped, pedestrian friendly, and full of shops and restaurants. We went sightseeing both Friday and Saturday afternoon.  We had a very nice time. Greenville, South Carolina! Who ‘da thought?

In between the scheduled functions and parties, our family had a fairly non-stop party going back at the hotel. We were all in a Holiday Inn Express. At almost any time you could wander through the lobby and find someone to visit with. Lots of fun and laughter, and a fair amount of ethanol.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law's room works just fine.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law’s room works just fine.

I guess I should show at least one picture of the couple. Here is Stan and Ellen, zoning out at the rehearsal.

We all had such a great time, we started looking around at the single children and asked “So who’s next?”

“Répondez s’il vous plait”…What?

I am involved in planning two social events in the next two weeks and our “invitees” are making me crazy. Why won’t people let us know whether they are going to come to our party or not? This is a basic element of etiquette that seems to have gotten lost over the last decade or two. It is very annoying. RSVP. “Répondez s’il vous plait” What is so difficult about this?

I am planning a work related, casual dinner for a week and a half from now. The invitation list includes university administrators, state legislators, county commissioners and business leaders – in other words, people who should know how to behave in public. The invitations went out two weeks ago with a reply card and a stamped return envelope. All they have to do is print their name, check the appropriate box, and drop it in the mail.  We sent 124 invitations and asked for responses by today. Only about a third of the invitees have troubled themselves to respond.

Mrs. Poolman and I are hosting a couple’s bridal shower for the son of one of our good friends and his fiancé. We told the family we could handle 40 people at our house. They gave us a list of 67 invitees with the assurance that many would not be able to come. My daughter ordered the invitations and had “regrets only” rather than a full RSVP. (When I saw that, I knew we were looking at trouble.) Nonetheless, of the 67 people invited, we have had only six regrets. The party is tomorrow evening. We strongly suspect we will have around 40 people, but we need to be prepared (food and drink) for 61. Maybe that isn’t a break-down in the social system. Maybe all 61 who have not “regretted” will be there. That may overwhelm the infrastructure, especially since rain is predicted which may negate our use of the outside space.

I don’t know why I get worked up over this. I should be used to it by now. I realize not everyone has ever taken the time to read an Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt or Miss Manners etiquette book. (Of course, I think it should be required reading, but that’s just me.) Past experience has shown us that you will have people who say they are coming, but don’t show up, and those who don’t respond and still show up. Sometimes those balance out, but not always.

For my daughter’s wedding several years ago, we invited a couple. They RSVP’d in the affirmative for themselves and also wrote-in the names of their two adult children who were not invited on the response card. We didn’t make an issue out of it. Then, in the end, none of them came.

While planning a work-related event a couple of years ago, a local business leader called to say he could not make it because his wife, son and daughter-in-law would had already invited him out to dinner for his birthday that night. Then he called back and asked if he could just bring the whole family. Reluctantly, we agreed that would be OK. On the night of the event, he didn’t come…but the rest of the family did. Huh?

I really just need to get over it.

Talking God and religion with fifth graders

For eight months of the year, for the past seven years, I have spent nearly every Wednesday evening in the company of about two dozen 10 and 11 year-olds. I volunteered to teach the fifth grade CCD class at our church. This is a religious education program for the kids who do not go to a parochial school. In a Protestant church, it would probably be called “Sunday school,” except we have the classes on Wednesday evenings.

Mrs. Poolman is not at all certain why I continue to do this. I’m not really sure myself. I am a practicing Catholic, but I’m not a particularly devout or religious person. I do get some sense of satisfaction from filling a definite need in the parish. While I don’t think I’m a particularly good teacher, I do show up with some reliability and fill the space. Our CCD coordinator, Paula, is not overwhelmed with people knocking her doors down to teach a class.

I think I’m also providing a service to the students. It is been clear over the years, that for many of my students those Wednesday night CCD classes are the major source of their education / indoctrination in matters of God, religion, morals, ethics, values and life. My big question is: “How much of this is actually sticking with the kids?” I don’t have an answer to that. I suspect the answer is “very little.” We don’t have much time. Nor do we have the repetition to drive it home. Those 45-50 minutes a week are easily lost in the midst of busy lives of school, sports, school activities, dance, friends, and so on. I try not to dwell too long on that depressing note

Mostly, I think I like the kids and the discussions we have. The curriculum for this grade is to cover the sacraments.  It leaves us lots of time to talk about all kinds of subjects. Once they get comfortable in the class, fifth graders are not at all shy about asking questions and offering their opinions. I have a co-teacher, Sherry. Between the two of us, we try to get the kids engaged and maybe thinking about things that they haven’t thought of before.

By this point in the year, we have gotten to know the students fairly well, and they have gotten to know us. We know who is quick to raise their hand and those who we to be coaxed into participating in a discussion.

During our class this week, we covered the Sacrament of Matrimony. While this sounds innocent, it actually is fairly tricky. The Catholic Church teaches that a wedding vow is permanent, and divorce is not an option. (The issue of annulment is much too involved for this age group.) This fun part is to teach the kids that this is what they should seek to achieve in their adult lives, without appearing to criticize their divorced parents, cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles, etc.

The other interesting issue is we are never quite sure how much our students of this age have learned about sex from their parents, school, friends, TV and so on. If we were dealing with 13 year olds, we could be fairly certain they have at least been exposed to “Birds and Bees 101.” But for ten and eleven year-olds, we aren’t as certain. It makes it difficult to answer a question about a pregnant bride, which is one query we received last night. To make life very interesting, it just takes one student to ask, “What do you mean that they had sex before they were married? What does that mean?” Then we have opened a can of worms, and they are crawling all over the place.

We are fairly certain one girl was trying to “work us” last night with this exchange.

Her: I see all the pictures of the brides here are wearing white dresses. Why do brides always seem to wear white?  

Me: It’s a tradition, but you can wear whatever color you like.

Her: Even black?

Me: Yes, even black.

Her: But why do they usually wear white?

Me: It symbolizes purity or innocence.

Her: Innocent of what?

Sherry (jumping in to help out): It symbolizes that she is a virgin.

Her: A virgin? What’s a virgin?

Sherry: You know the answer to that.

Her: No, really (laughing). I don’t know. What is a virgin?

Sherry: Ask your parents.

We have just a few more weeks of class remaining for this year. This has been a good group. I’ll miss them when we break for the summer. Then I’ll take my chances with a fresh class in the fall.

I’m back

It has been a busy three weeks and I sort-of dropped out of the blogosphere for a while. I’m back after the break and, hopefully, have some new wind.

We had a house full of family company over the Labor Day weekend. Then we capped it off with a 60thbirthday party for Mrs. Poolman with roughly 60 guests.

Mrs. Poolman opening some gifts

Actually, we called it a second 40th birthday party since Mrs. P decided when she turned 50 that she would start counting backwards. She is looking forward to her experiencing her 30s once again. We had small children the first time around. In any case, a good time was had by all and, most importantly, Mrs. P was happy with the celebration.

Last weekend, the whole family, less Girlfriend, traveled to Delaware for a family (nephew’s) wedding. The wedding was in Lewes, Delaware, an historic town on the shore of Delaware Bay – most well known as the southern terminus of the Cape May – Lewes Ferry.

The waterfront on the canal in Lewes

We rented a five bedroom house about a block from the beach and shared it with two of my sisters and their families.

"Whaler Cottage" in Lewes

It was great to get most of the family together. However, our children are all now of the age when it is nearly impossible to get everyone in one place at the same time. School schedules and jobs always seem to get in the way. We enjoyed those who did make it to Lewes. Actually, with the number of nieces and nephews on my side of the family, I suspect weddings will be the reason for quite a few family gatherings over the next decade.

The drive to Lewes was a bit longer (Mrs. P would say “a lot longer.”) than we originally anticipated. It was roughly 12 hours door-to-door. The surprising part is that when traveling north, you would think “We’re almost there!” when you got off of I-95 near Norfolk. Heck no! You’re actually just past the half-way point. Mrs. P held off getting antsy until we were well into Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula. At that point I could honestly say, “We’re almost there!”

We ran into a major traffic jam in the booming metropolis of Millsboro, Delaware. There must be a local ordinance that at 5:20 on every weekday afternoon, everyone must get in their car and drive around town. How a town with less than 4,000 residents and, maybe, three traffic lights could experience that kind of gridlock is beyond me.

Overall, we had a very enjoyable time. The family of the bride did a great job. The best part was being able to get together with all of our widely-spread family and reconnect with each other.

The bride’s uncle hosted brunch on Sunday morning. He has an old and large house in Lewes’s historic section with a lighthouse attached to the back. The bought it and had it transported from somewhere else in Delaware. Now that is different.

CCD classes started up again earlier this month. I’m teaching 5th grade for the seventh year. Our first session was a Mass, followed by a quick “meet the parents” session. Last week’s class was mostly organizational. So last night we had our first real lesson. My friend, Sherry, is helping me again this year. We have a large class – 22 students at full attendance. We are in a classroom with only 15 desks, so we are using every stool, chair, table, etc. that is available.

At first glance, this class looks to be significantly easier to work with than last year’s group.  Actually, one of the more rambunctious kids in the class is Sherry’s son, which totally mortifies Sherry. It will work out.

Getting the family organized, or…

I sent an email to my brother and sisters (3) today to start the process of getting organized for a family wedding in September.

My nephew (brother’s son) is getting married in the small town of Lewes, Delaware. No one in our family lives close to there so it will be a “destination wedding” for all of us. The problem is there are really no affordable hotels or motels in or around Lewes. The alternative is to rent one or more houses for the weekend and, fortunately, there are a number of those available. The trick is to get everyone organized to answer key questions like:

Who is going to be there?

Who wants in on any group rental arrangements?

How many beds do we need?

And so on. I’ve checked into a couple of possible rentals and am ready to lay down a deposit, but I don’t want to bump up against any of the others plans or anticipations.

Usually, my siblings are a fairly business-like group, so hopefully this won’t be a difficult process. Otherwise, we may have to go out and get a professional “catherd” (That’s like a shepherd, except for cats.). I checked the Yellow Pages. I don’t see any advertised.

Take the fuss out of same-sex marriage

The issue of same-sex marriages is back in the news, as the “Defense of Marriage Act” is under attack once again.

More than a year ago, I wrote about a solution. Check it out here.

A solution to the same-sex marriage debate

The issue of same-sex marriage is back on the front burner this week, courtesy of a Federal judge’s ruling this week that struck down California’s Proposition 8, which would have outlawed the practice, at least in California.

There was an interesting column on The Huffington Post today with a reasonable solution — get government out of the marriage business.

Gee, I wish I had thought of that. Oops, maybe I did.

A wedding weekend

We are back at home after a long weekend of wedding festivities. Sorry the gap in postings. I really didn’t have the time.

The subjects of the wedding were my niece (Mrs. Poolman’s younger sister’s daughter) and her betrothed. Mrs. Poolman headed out to Jacksonville early Thursday morning and I followed after work that evening. We were co-hosting the rehearsal dinner at the home of Mrs. Poolman’s other sister, at her very nice home in the Sawgrass gated community in Ponte Vedra Beach. Also, I was the “official” wedding photographer. The whole thing kept us very busy.

I went to the rehearsal Friday afternoon to check out the venue. I have been to the church many times, as it was Mrs. Poolman’s parents’ church. We were married there ourselves. However, I wanted to check out the location from a photography standpoint, and also to get the guidelines (dos and don’ts) for shooting the ceremony.

One thing that did strike me is the way that accepted attire has changed. I wore a suit to my rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. At most other wedding rehearsals and dinners I have attended, most of the male members of the wedding party  wore nice pants and shirt, maybe even a jacket . At this rehearsal, the guys mostly looked like they were dressed for yard work.  Oh well. I guess I am a “stick-in-the mud” fuddy duddy.

Groomsmen dress

I reserved three rooms at a Candlewood Suites hotel for our family gang. I had not stayed in a Candlewood before, and I have to say we were very pleased. The chain is part of the Holiday Inn family so I used some of my points for two of the rooms. Apparently this family of hotels is primarily an extended stay facility. It lacked some of the services common to a regular hotel. No restaurant. No pool. No daily maid service. However, the rooms were very large and were equipped with a mini-kitchen. There was even a big, leather recliner. Candlewood 1

Candlewood 2They also included free high-speed internet. (Why is it I can get free internet at a low priced hotel, but have to pay a $15 premium at someplace like the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, where we paid $189/night?) The best part is the weekend rate for the room I put on my credit card was $42/night. Including all the various taxes, I checked out for two nights at less than $100. Can’t beat that.

Saturday was the wedding and the reception. All went well, although I worked my tail off. Between the rehearsal festivities and the main event, I took more than 900 shots. By the end of the evening, I was dead tired, at least from the waist down, and my feet were killing me.

There was one pretty funny story on the rehearsal day. The groom had not heard from one of his groomsmen, so he called him Friday morning. Apparently the conversation went something like this.

Groom — “Hey man. We need to go and pick up the tuxedos.”

Groomsman — “What do you mean?”

Groom — You know. Pick up the tuxedos for my wedding.”

Groomsman — “Why, the wedding isn’t until next week.”

Groom — “No dude. It is tomorrow and the rehearsal is this afternoon!”

Groomsman — “Oh s___!”

The problem? The groomsman lives in New Orleans, more than 500 miles away. Gotta give the guy credit, he did a super fast packing job and got in his car. He made it in time for the rehearsal dinner. I’m thinking the state patrols in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were not real attentive.

We drove back to town on Sunday, and I spent Labor Day laboring – doing all the usual weekend outdoor chores I wasn’t able to do while I was off celebrating eternal love.   Tomorrow is a furlough day. (State of Georgia’s efforts to cut the budget.) Everyone at our place is taking it well. I think everyone thinks it is much better to take a few days off without pay, then be laid off and see a whole lot of days without pay.