Milestone II

Two years ago I went to see my daughter and her sweetie performing at the Dickens Fair, where they have been part of the scum contingent for eight years. On Sunday mornings the Beau, in his character as the Reverend John Thomas Palmer, holds Cockney Church (the Lord’s Prayer is my favorite part. It starts out, “‘Ullo Dad, up there in good ol’ ‘eaven..” and goes on from there) with my daughter as his common law helpmeet, Fanny Palmer. So I was watching the Cockney Church Nativity (complete with Baby Jesus played by a very large man in a pink union suit) and then the end of the service… except there was an unexpected twist when the Beau dropped to one knee and proposed. For real. I was so stunned that I didn’t even recognize my younger daughter standing in front of me when I went up to congratulate her sister.

You have a kid, you know this is a possibility, but when life hands you a milestone, you don’t necessarily see it coming.

But eventually engagements end–it is to be hoped, in weddings. By the time you read this (I’m writing this on the 29th of December), if all goes well, Julie and Joe will be married. In keeping with their roles of poor but adorable performers, it’s to be a low-key wedding on New Year’s Eve in the front yard of some friends with a lovely house. It’s to be an outdoor wedding in Northern California, which means it will be a balmy 50 degrees or so. I’m wearing my thermal undergarments, and maybe a hoodie over my Mother-of-the-Bride garb (whatever that will be–I haven’t actually thought about it much). The bride’s dress is a gorgeous thing of embroidered tulle, low-cut and sleeveless; it is possible she will be wearing my old leather motorcycle jacket over it.

And I’m making a cake: three tiers (top: vegan lemon cake with lemon vegan buttercream frosting; middle: gluten-free chocolate cake with dairy-free vanilla frosting; bottom: spice cake with rum buttercream–and all the butter and eggs that were not used in the top two tiers). As always, the cake in my mind will never be the cake I produce, but it will taste good (all three layers) and be festive.

Some milestones–like the engagement–you don’t see coming. Others, by their nature, consume you with planning and expenses and, in my case, flour and sugar.

There will doubtless be pictures of the cake and the festivities at some point. In the meantime: happy 2019: may it bring you health and joy and good work!


Coda: Given the erratic presence of the Bookview Cafe blog, I’m hoping you will see this before their first anniversary. The wedding happened, and it was marvelously imperfect. It was freezing out (Northern California tends to forget that it’s in California, particularly in December) and seriously windy (like, fitfully table-moving windy). The bride wore a cardigan over her (sleeveless) dress. The groom was already in near-Victorian suit, hat, and gloves. And the audience wore coats, hats, and gloves. The minute “Man and Wife” was spoken, everyone repaired to the bar (quite literally: the basement of the house has a full bar and drinking began immediately after the ceremony–cause it was cold). Food was laid out in the yard, everyone fell upon it–and lo, it was good. And then, just as the sun was setting… the power went out in the entire neighborhood, and what had been pleasantly dim basement adjoining the yard was, suddenly, pitch dark, lit by cell-phones and a couple of emergency lanterns. The bride and groom had their first dance to music played on someone’s iPod.

It was wonderful, in the way that love and friendship and goodwill triumph over the chaos that affects all human endeavors. At my wedding, my husband had an allergic reaction that almost brought things to a standstill: fortunately, a little Benadryl took care of things and we’ve been dining out on the story for a few decades. I suspect my daughter and her husband will be dining out on the story of their wedding for at least as long.

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About Madeleine E. Robins

Madeleine Robins is the author of The Stone War, Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and The Sleeping Partner (the third Sarah Tolerance mystery, available from Plus One Press). Her Regency romances, Althea, My Dear Jenny, The Heiress Companion, Lady John, and The Spanish Marriage are now available from Book View Café. Sold for Endless Rue , an historical novel set in medieval Italy, was published in May 2013 by Forge Books


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