Lucky Friday the 13th

Author: Betty Kuffel

Friday the 13 of June

No, we aren’t superstitious, but after our wedding day mishaps, maybe we should reconsider. This year marked our 39th anniversary after an interesting beginning to wedded life. Tom had assured me life with him would not be boring. As many of you already know, he was right.

As recent Alaskan arrivals, few of our longtime friends could travel that far to join us on the appointed day in 1975. After rainy days, power surges and electrical brown-outs, along with not enough time to get everything ready, the sunny day arrived.

Both of us working long hours impeded some of the arrangements. About an hour before our drive to the church, you would have found me clearing the back yard of dog poop from our four sled dogs, raking grass and sweeping the front sidewalk. Tom checked the bar and verified the bartender would arrive on time.

A quick shower followed by a hair and make-up flourish, I dressed and took a final look in the mirror. Before leaving, I made sure reception details had come together. The table looked perfect with flowers, candles, silver, napkins and plates…but the wedding cake was missing. I called the bakery. They assured me the cake would be there before our guests arrived.

By the time of the ceremony, all the planets aligned. The string quartet played beautiful music as the small log church filled with new friends. My five-year-old son had told everyone we were marrying Tom that Friday the 13th … and we did.

We exchanged vows, and with smiles, the three of us exited the church into sunshine.

Attendees filled our new home for the reception, along with Tom’s father and my mother who were staying with us…and did not get along. We ignored their bickering and enjoyed our friends as we awaited the delivery of the cake. — Well, the cake finally arrived but not the one I had ordered. This one fell. As the bakery explained, during a brown-out, their oven quit and the cake layers fell. They didn’t have time to bake another cake nor apply the beautiful frosting decoration I had ordered. Instead, the cake tilted much like the leaning tower of Pisa and had hard candy daisies stuck along the layers.

What could I do? Well, we all laughed and drank a champagne toast to the strange crooked cake. Then, as I cut the cake, I set the sleeve of my gown on fire as it hung across a candle flame.

The photographer did a wonderful job of documenting our wedding. We made our photo choices and placed the Wedding 1975.edorder. When I called to see when the photos would be ready for pickup, I was told the photographer had divorced his wife and left town. He had taken the photos with him. We were unable to track him down or retrieve even one photo.

As Tom says, even without the pictures, we are just as married. The blurry photo in this blog is one of the few I have. It was cut from a snapshot and scanned.

We are happy and actually make a habit of wishing each other a happy day on the 13th of each month. And…a wonderful gift to us is, our son and his wife also chose to marry on Friday the 13th of June. Each year we celebrate the date together.

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Memorable Weddings

By Author Nan McKenzie

The many weddings I’ve attended in my life range from beautiful and fun, to silly, to stultifying. But they are all satisfying, too, with the knowledge that love is ever hopeful.

One very hot June day some years ago, I sat with my former husband and our two teenage kids in the incredible re-creation of a European chapel while the Catholic priest droned on and on for ninety minutes, nailing the couple down with words. I could feel sweat running down my face, staining my blouse, the pantyhose a tourniquet for my poor legs. The whole congregation became giddy when we were finally released. The wedding almost lasted longer than the marriage, which ended a few short weeks later. What a waste of time and money. There was no reception, no wedding cake, no dancing. It was a beautiful pageant, though.

Another wedding many years ago united two very tall handsome people who walked down the flower-strewn aisle with their son. The wedding was held outside and my spiky heels kept sinking into the lawn, arresting my strides. We laughed and joked and danced on a noisy wooden floor, and ate too much and had a good time.

Her dad cried at her wedding, an almost silent affair in front of a preacher of some kind. It was 1960, and he’d driven her to Coeur d’Alene in Idaho where he gave his middle daughter away to a young man he intensely disliked. Not in June, February, cold and overcast. He said she didn’t have to do it if she wanted to change her mind, they’d figure something out, and he cried at the finality of her education, the lost promise of the best and brightest. He was right, she should have listened. But then, she wouldn’t have had two children, a son and daughter, the finest work of her life. She sure was glad when The Pill became available a couple years later, though.

There were tall trees, the sound of rushing water in a nearby swollen river, mosquitoes, way-too-loud music, and lots of alcohol, way too much. But the bride was beautiful in her pretty dress, the groom and his buds handsome in dark shirts and bright ties, the bridesmaids happy and silly in black dresses with pink sashes. The weather, wet and messy just a couple days before, decided to grace the couple with blue skies and tiny white clouds, the ice cream cake was on a tippy table and sliding sideways by the time it was cut, there was lots of shared food and good visits and wild kids tearing around. A typical Montana wedding in June, the summer solstice a gift.

All wedding have a heart, a hope, a fond foolishness to them. I love going to weddings, like to cry silently at the beauty, the pageantry, the right-now happiness.

Nan McKenzie, June 23, 2014

WHY A JUNE BRIDE?

VictorianBrideGroom

When it comes to the favorite month to get married, June is the reigning king (or perhaps I should say “queen”). The term “June Bride” has become as much a part of our lexicon as terms like the Easter Bunny, March Madness, or January White Sales. Movies, television, and ads in slick magazines and online websites celebrate the June bride, as well as raking in the lion share of the 72 billion dollars spent on weddings in the United States alone.

I admit I too was once a June bride. I picked June for my wedding because I’d graduated school in May. June weather was generally good, friends and relatives had more time off and thus, could attend, and frankly, I too had bought into the “June Bride” fairy tale that somehow any other month was a distant second at best. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the historical reasons for getting married in June had more to do with hygiene and crop harvesting than romance.  (Spoiler Alert: if you want to keep any romanticized notion of June weddings, don’t read any more of this post.)

The history of June weddings goes back several thousand years to the early Romans. On the first day in June each year, Romans celebrated a festival to honor their deity Juno, the wife of Jupiter and the goddess of marriage and childbirth. So it would seem natural that Roman brides would want to marry in June in hopes of receiving special blessings from Juno. However, there were more practical reasons to pick June for tying the marital knot.

After a long winter, the communities of the 1400-1500’s would come out in May and take their cleansing bath (for some it was their only bath for the year). So it stands to reason that couples would want to marry in June while everyone still smelled good.  Also, flowers were blooming and their fragrance helped make June weddings sweeter aromatic celebrations. After all, these were pre-Fabreze times.

Another sensible reason for choosing to be a June bride is that couples who married in June often gave birth to their first child the following spring, which increased the child’s chances of survival. This also gave the new mothers time to recover so they could help with the fall harvest.

Until modern times, weddings were more often than not a business contract between the father of the bride and the groom’s family. Neither the groom nor the bride had much to say in the matter. Remember that in times past, a young woman was considered to be her fathers’ property and he “gave away the bride” to the groom’s family. Thank goodness this is only a symbolic gesture today.

Reading about the history of the June bride makes me happy that I was born in the twentieth century in a country where women have made great strides in autonomy and independence, although we still have miles to travel. Brides getting married in June or any other month are certainly more fortunate than their predecessors of olden days in that today’s brides have the freedom to pick their own road and their own husband.

Thanks for stopping by,

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG

Deborah

Deborah Epperson

Deborah Epperson

 

Montana Memories — a guest post by Janet Fisher

Here at Montana Women Writers, we love celebrating new books by old friends! This book is particularly special, as it explores an unusual historical event — a homestead farm in Oregon, settled by a woman in the 1860s and still run by a woman, the homesteader’s great-great-granddaughter and a dear friend of ours.   

MONTANA MEMORIES

Janet Fisher  Author Photo-croppedby Janet Fisher

Montana seems to nurture writers, whether from the spectacular landscapes or the long winters or the ruggedness of nature that challenges people to go deep inside themselves, then reach out to each other, ready to help.

I understand the link Montanans feel for their beautiful homeland, from roots that may be long grown or just started. For several years I lived in Kalispell, Montana, and shared the wonder of Montana’s beauty and the friendliness of its people. But Oregon ultimately called me back. That’s my own place of roots, which gave me my first published book, A Place of Her Own: The Legacy of Oregon Pioneer Martha Poindexter Maupin. The book just came out (published by Globe Pequot Press/TwoDot imprint, and available now – links here).

Book cover - A Place of Her OwnWhen I moved to Kalispell in the late 1990s, I didn’t consider myself a novice as a writer. I had a master’s in journalism, had been writing novels for several years, and had honed the skills enough to attract a few agents. But no publishers.

Then I started attending meetings of the Authors of the Flathead. I had never met so many dedicated writers who were so willing to help other struggling authors. The group met every week, offering open mike several times a month (great experience for doing readings at later book signings). Before long, I got into two critique groups, which also met weekly.

I recall many an evening, three nights a week, driving through snowy streets to meetings. I lived and breathed writing there. My prose became tighter, smoother, crisper. I learned how to write a battle scene after the men in one group threw up their hands upon reading my first attempt. So many people helped me improve the work.

And when I finally a got a book published, I named names. I had to acknowledge those in my critique groups who had cheerfully offered both criticism and encouragement. That’s what I took away from Montana, and I will always have a warm spot for that beautiful place with all its beautiful people. Several kept helping, even after I left.

When I returned to the family farm in Oregon, I began thinking about the woman who came before me on that property. It turns out I had the winning combination for a publishable book in my own family. A Place of Her Own is the story of my great-great-grandmother Martha, who came west over the Oregon Trail in 1850, lost her husband, and had to care for their many children alone. She made a daring choice to set down roots in this wilderness and bought the piece of land I own and operate today—now one of the few Century Farms in Oregon named for a woman.

Janet in cathedralThis photo shows me in one of my favorite spots on the farm, a patch of woods we call “the cathedral.” Some of you Montanans may remember the photographer, my son-in-law Robin Loznak, who used to be the photographer for the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell. He also lives on the farm now with my daughter Carisa and their son, Alex. The book contains several of his pictures taken on the property.

They’re why I made that move to Montana, in fact. My grandson, Alex, was very young when they lived in Kalispell, and I wanted to be close to him during his early years. I didn’t realize my time there would offer the added advantage of enriching my writing.

Thank you, Montana, for all you taught me.

Photos of Janet by Robin Loznak. Read more about Janet and follow her blog on her website

Thank you, Janet, for all you taught us!

Leslie, for the MT WW crew

A Grandfather Love from Marie F Martin’s Memior

By Marie F Martin

Grandpa Yeats, Norma and me.

Grandpa Yeats, Norma and me.

Grandpa Yeats, a tall straight man, looked exactly what a farmer should in his bibbed overalls and straw work hat. His chest barreled under wide shoulders, and his hair was white with a bald top. He smiled the kindest smile I ever saw. His patience with farm animals and grandchildren was eternal.
As my sister Norma and I roamed all over the two-hundred acre farm with Charmall, his daughter from a second marriage, we knew he was always there tending the animals or fields or buildings. We just gave a yell and his answering call guided us to where he worked. We played by ourselves for hours on end, but never felt alone.
Grandpa set very few limits on us as we traveled between the creek and the farm buildings seeking to entertain ourselves. His only real no-no was not to ride the calves. This bugged Norma as all forbidden things did.
We were at the farm one evening for milking and were instructed to feed the calves. We filled the galvanized nursing buckets with foamy warm milk and carried them through the barn to the slat and wire gate of the calf pen.
“I’m gonna ride one of the calves,” Norma whispered to me.
“No,” I whispered back, “You hadn’t better. Grandpa told us never to do that.”
“Oh, you sissy. You never want to do anything, besides he’ll never know unless you squeal on me.” Her eyes dared me to try and tell anything on her. “You can hold it’s head while I get on.”
We set our buckets down carefully because we knew better to get dirt on the rubber nipple or to spill any milk. Norma slid back the handle and opened the gate.
I dipped my fingers into the milk and held them toward the nearest calf. His perfectly white face leaned to the smell of milk and he came nearer. Quickly I grabbed him around the neck and held on for dear life while Norma straddled his back.
I let go.
The calf’s eyes glazed in panic, his body quivered and his sturdy legs trembled. Norma kicked him in the ribs and held one hand high in the air. The calf jumped straight up arching it’s back, then fish-tailed coming down at full speed. He tore around the pen. Norma landed seat first on the mucky ground.
“What are you girls doing?” asked Grandpa’s stern voice. Instantaneously we jumped, then held down our heads. “Both of you go home right now!”
“I’m sorry, Grandpa,” I said as we passed by.
“Sorry doesn’t help that calf one bit.” He picked up the bucket and came into the pen holding the gate open for us to leave. And we did. We scurried through the barn yard, down the lane, across LaSalle Highway and onto our gravel road.
The two-mile walk home stretched ahead, but neither of us felt in any hurry to get there. I for sure didn’t want Norma to tell Mom what we did.
“Are you going to tell Mom?” I asked.
“Are you nuts, of course not?”
“What if Grandpa tells her?”
“He won’t.”
I wasn’t so sure. He seemed awfully mad. We followed the road around a bend, up a short hill, past Westry’s farm, then by the Catholic cemetery and to the back part of our ten acres. The sun sank below Dollar Hill as we ran the length of our property through clump grass and alfalfa and into the house. Mom was setting the table when we arrived.
“I thought you were spending the night with Charmall in the barn,” she said.
“Naw,” answered Norma, “we decided not to.”
“I see,” said Mom.
The next day Grandpa’s old farm truck pulled into our yard and I knew we were dead, but he only wanted to know if we were going to ride into Whitefish with him for the weekly cream delivery. Norma and I climbed into the back of his old truck joining, Charmall and her sister. The ten miles of asphalt sped by as we hung on tight with wind blowing in our faces. We were going to town.
The creamery, a clean white place, smelled like cream or ice cream I should say. Grandpa always bought us kids an ice cream bar. And he did that day too even after our crime, never once mentioning it. The ice cream tasted even more wonderful.
When we got home, I found Mom in the garden hoeing the carrots.
“Mom,” I said, “Norma rode one of Grandpa’s calves yesterday and I helped her.”
“What did Grandpa say?” Mom straightened and looked at me.
“He just told us to go home, but I could tell he was really mad.”
“Did you tell him you were sorry?”
“Yes, but he said sorry didn’t do the calf any good.”
“Did it?”
I shook my head. “I couldn’t believe he came for us. He even bought us an ice cream bar just like always.”
“Honey,” said Mom, “you know your grandfather loves you kids. When someone loves you, they don’t stay mad.”