Monday, June 24, 2013

The Picnic

Sunday, the day following Bill and Brit's wedding, some friends and family members gathered at the Marshall Monument picnic ground of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, California. I love this park for historical and sentimental reasons. And I love this picnic ground in particular. 
The area is steeped in family history. My great-great grandfather, Ezra Schooley, is buried in Coloma's Pioneer Cemetery where his is the oldest standing grave. Ezra didn't make it to Coloma alive; according to newspaper accounts from that time, ". . .he died ten miles short of the diggings, from the disease of the country."  Ironically, before I ever heard of Ezra Schooley, I bought a home in El Dorado Hills, which is about ten miles from Coloma, along the historical road that leads to the diggings. It could not have been any further than five miles from the spot where Ezra died.
My great grandfather, James Blair, wed Ezra's daughter, Amanda Schooley, in 1865. James and his brother, John, had established Sportsman's Hall in Pollock Pines, just a bit further east.
Sportsman's Hall served as an inn and a place to layover while wagon teams waited their turn to cross the Sierras on the one-way treacherous road that lead to the Comstock mines just east of Carson City. It also served as a pony express station. Today it is still in operation as a restaurant. My great grandmother, Amanda Schooley Blair, is standing on the porch with her two oldest daughters in this photo (one half of a sterioptican photo). 

Ernest, the son of James and Amanda Blair married my grandmother Minnie Pauline Nichols (born in Folsom, CA) in 1908. At the time of their courtship, both were living in Placerville and would on occassion take a day trip and picnic at the newly erected Marshall Monument in Coloma. 

So, to make a short story long, that is one of the reasons I enjoy visiting that picnic ground -- knowing that I am treading the ground trod by my grandparents during their courtship.

 Easily recognizable is Ben in the green shirt, cousin Robby sits next to him and then sister Valery and her friend, Jim.

 Brother Rick and his wife Kathy enjoy a moment of solitude away from the madding crowd. The picnic tables and barbecue pits are of WPA construction.
The first three people on the left are Kim, Jeannie and Jason. Kim is Jason's wife and Jeannie is Kim's mother. Jason was adopted at birth by my brother and his ex-wife. Jason reunited with his birth mother a couple of years ago in a fairy tale story that brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. Jason's birth mother, Dianne and her husband Danny sit across the table from Kim. Dianne released Jason for adoption when she was fifteen years old and never had another child. Reuniting with Jason was for her a miracle and they have been very present in each other's lives since.

Sitting next to Danny are Tom and Nichole (Tom is blocking Nichole). Tom and Nichole along with their daughter Mallaika have the distinction of being the ones who traveled furthest for the wedding. They make their home in North Dartmouth, MA, where Tom has just completed his first year of law school.
Folks you haven't seen in other photos are Susie Lee, girlhood friend of sister Valery, standing on the left. Next to her is Jason, then Rachel and Kevin. Irene Ogawa is seated in front of Kevin. She is a friend of mine from ROLM/IBM days twenty-five years ago.

And here are the newlyweds -- Bill and Brittany Paine. To the left of Bill are Amy Schulze and her husband Bill. Amy was Ben's (and Logan's) second grade teacher in California and she remains forever in our hearts and lives. She and Bill live in the Coloma area where she has a bunch of dogs and a horse. Bill keeps bees, is a birder, and a retired veterinarian (a providential match for dog lover Amy). They are wonderful people and intend to stay active in Ben's new life in California.

Avoiding inclusion in any pictures, but making a token appearance, was Seth Matthews, son of my dear friend, Nancy Matthews. Nancy and I were neighbors at the time Kevin and Colleen were born. Kevin, Colleen, and Seth have known each other all their lives. Seth is now assistant DA in nearby Calaveras County.

All told, it was a glorious day, a perfect balance to the wedding of the previous day, and a great chance to connect with some folks who didn't make it to the wedding.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Wedding -- Bill and Brit edition

To start at the beginning, one afternoon about a year ago, brothers Robby and Bill had stopped for a hamburger. When they were back in the car, Bill said to Robby, "I'll give you $5 to go ask that waitress for her phone number and I'll give you $10 if you get it." Robby got his $10, Bill got the girl, and so it began.
 The wedding was held in the beautiful Meadow Vista, California home of the bride's parents. When we entered we signed the guest book and then went through the kitchen where the wedding cake was displayed. The cake was baked by a Napa bakery, the same one that baked the cake for Eva Longorio. Apparently the baker is a relative and made this cake, a replica of a car owned by Brittany's beloved and recently departed grandfather. (BTW, this cake is far more clever than the Longorio cake).
Little touches throughout the house celebrated the couple, like this display on the kitchen counter. 

Among the invited guests (and there weren't many -- around 75 close friends and realtives): sister Valery and her beau, Jim; daughter-in-law, Rachel; my daughter and mother of the groom, Colleen Paine-Ivazes. I don't know in which of the many rooms of the palatial home they were standing for this photo. Just to give you an idea -- in a window niche of the foyer, stood a full suit of armor. Across the room, near a love seat arrangement in front of the fireplace, stood a mannequin in an antique wedding dress. I don't know if the mannequin was permanent or a gesture because of the wedding. The love seats and fireplace were part of the foyer, I guess it served as a waiting room for guests.

The harpist played everything from classical to Beatles music (or are the Beatles now classical?) to the traditional Lohengrin's wedding march. Bill and Brittany are both rather shy and preferred a simple wedding. They considered getting married on a cruise, away from all the fuss and bother, but compromised on this wedding in Brittany's parents back yard. The wedding beautifully blended tradition and casual elegance. It was perfect.

Mallaika was the only attendant and really enjoyed her role as flower girl strewing the path with rose petals (artificial) for the bride to enter upon.

Here comes the bride on the arm of her father. Brittany chose a formal strapless gown, that laced up the back and had an elegant train. She was (and is) gorgeous. 

The ceremony was performed by the bride's aunt who is a recently ordained Universal Life Church Minister (I believe she was ordained just for the occasion so she could perform the ceremony). She said it was her first and probably only wedding.
I'm pretty sure Mallaika thought the wedding was all about her. She didn't mind a bit that she was the only little kid there. She amused herself by wading in the water,

and giving a speech, audible to no one but herself. When I later asked her what was her favorite part of the wedding, she replied, "when I made my speech."

And that's all the pictures I took, because I turned my focus to champagne and dinner. After dinner a live band played up on the altar/bandstand, but there was little dancing. The bride and groom danced a shy slow dance for a few bars and then everyone turned to visiting and imbibing. It was truly a perfect wedding. The bride and groom joined us the next day for a family picnic (report to follow) and then left for a honeymoon cruise.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Some Sappy Sentimental Stuff

Fresh from the bath, they fell asleep in my bed one evening shortly after they came to live with me in El Dorado Hills.  Ben is on the left. A function of odd lighting, Logan's hair looks red in this picture. Ben is five years old, Logan is four. I'm struck by how Logan's hand still looks like a baby's.

 A trip to Legoland with cousin Danny for their first roller coaster ride. Ben is scared to death, but is determined to tough it out and then wants to ride again Logan is beyond scared and NEVER wants to come near a roller coaster ever again.

 A roar of victory by a nearly toothless Ben after being awarded his low green Tae Kwan Do belt by Paul Olsen in El Dorado Hills. He eventually earned a black belt just before we moved to Missouri. In Missouri he earned a second degree black belt (recommended) and then had to give up Tae Kwan Do when music began to take too much time (band. choir, and private drum lessons).

 Ben at Disney's California Adventure Theme Park in Anaheim, part of a three-day stay with brother Logan, Aunt Colleen, and cousin Robby.
Ben Franklin at Lake Forest Elementary School, 4th Grade.

Ben and Logan were blessed with wonderful compassionate teachers during their four years at Lake Forest School.  From the left of Logan is Amy Schulze, Kathy Miracle, Anita Garza, and Debby Valladon Hornsby. Missing is kindergarten teacher, Lisa Gardino. Yes, they are chewing bubble gum, blowing bubbles, and in general proving that teachers are normal crazy people. I love these women and am so grateful to them for allowing Ben and Logan to grieve in the mysterious way that children grieve.

Ben almost masters the surfboard on a trip to Maui in 2006. Friend Lisa Cardwell invited us to join their family on a week long stay at the Ritz Carlton on Maui. We had lousy weather and great fun!
Brothers share a chair in the city of brotherly love.  We took a very special trip to the east coast in June of 2006, spending a week on Cape Cod and then touring by train to Manhattan, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. When Ben and Logan were young, they often shared a chair while they watched TV or played a video game. This photo captures what was probably the last time that happened.

Ben's visit to the Bohart Entomology Museum on the UC Davis campus cemented his determination to attend school on that campus. That resolve will become reality this fall. Next week he departs to begin his new life in California. Getting ready for his departure entails combing through everything he has collected in his room during the past eight years and a long meandering trip down memory lane for me.

Ben studies a caterpillar while at GLADE last year. He spent a week at a nature camp (Green Leadership Academy for Diverse Ecosystems) and had many opportunities to observe nature and its inhabitants up close and personal.

I straighten up the cap and collar of his graduation outfit just before we head out for the ceremony on May 10.