Thursday we had the complementary breakfast at the hotel, and established the pattern for the rest of the week. Then we headed over to EJ's house, and Erin & I just jumped right in among the sisters (4 of the 5 were present!) making decorations and other delights for the wedding. A shelter had been reserved at a nearby park, which we would decorate, and there would be an arbor for the altar. The bride and the oldest sister, Cindy, had picked up a half ton of peacock colored craft supplies and all the hot glue and other fastenings needed to make the setting lovely. Melodee, Cindy, EJ, Laura, Erin & I just crammed ourselves into the smaller living room (the house is divvied between "public" areas such as the main living room & kitchen, Laura's bed & bathroom, and the happy couples' bed, bath, and living room) and worked on crafty stuff and told stories. So much talk! Such a bunch of cackling hens! It was terrific, so much fun. I just feel so much at home with the sisters, just another one of the bunch. After a while, Danny (the prospective groom) announced that the grill was fired up and burgers & dogs & brats! (This is Chicago-area, ya gotta have brats at a cookout) would be ready soon. So the ladies shifted out to the kitchen, some to cook up sides, and some just to occupy the seats at the kitchen table and kibbutz about the cooking and world peace (somewhere in all that talk, I'm sure!). We weren't sure whether sister #5, Karen, would show up or not. Turns out she had other plans that night, but she pretty much hung in there with us the rest of the weekend. We all ate, cut up and carried on for a while, then the Plaid Patrol was excused on the basis of my near-exhaustion. We left for the hotel with a couple of stops at nearby stores to look for dress shoes for me & the Plaidman. I think we hit the WalMart first; I looked for black sandals but the best I could find were some OP leather flip-flops with crocheted tops in a color that matched some of the flowers on my dress. I also found a small crossbody purse, just big enough to hold the phone & ID. Terry struck out there -- no wide sizes. I think we found a menswear store too, but still no wide shoes. So, on to the hotel. We were unable to reserve a room with handicapped accessibility, so I was finding the bathroom to be a trial. The toilet was quite low, but I managed. The bathtub was awful, with a rounded narrow floor, and sides that were only just this side of possible for me to get my feet over. I was very glad to have the old walker, which I used to get in & out of the tub. There was a handicap access public toilet on the first floor; I made a habit of stopping there before going up to the room or on my way out of the hotel. The bed was so tall that we brought in the little step stool from the car. I had to figure out how to get into & out of the bed without falling, but I did get the hang of it. Friday came, and the Plaidman was still without shoes. EJ had asked her big brother to walk her to the altar, I was so pleased for both of them! But the man's gotta have shoes. So we spent some hours over at the house, having another terrific time. At one point, Karen & I were shooting the breeze at the kitchen table, and she looked out the window. She asks me, "Why is Danny yelling at those two old guys?" and immediately answered her own question: "OMG, it's Mike and Terry!" And we both just about fell out of our seats laughing. Both old guys are pretty deaf. Terry is the firstborn, then Mike, then Cindy, and after that I can't keep them straight. So Mike comes inside, and I was flabbergasted. He's gained 40 lbs since the last time we saw him. We all go outside for pictures in various configurations (all the sibs! just the ladies, with Erin & Ann! just the old guys!) until I got tired of standing on concrete. I went back inside, Karen had beaten me to the best seat at the kitchen table. Now, just an hour or so before Mike showed up, Cindy had been regaling the sisterhood with the tale of her springtime auto accident, and decided a visual presentation was in order. She took her phone back to a bathroom, disrobed her torso, and took a picture of her massively bruised chest. She got dressed, and brought that pic out to her sisters (except Laura -- I don't know where she went). We all groaned and gasped in sympathy. Jump forward, Karen & I sitting at the table, we can hear Cindy talking to her brothers about pictures. Karen asks what I want to bet that she's showing them "that" picture; we crack up. Cindy comes in and takes the third seat, all bubbly about seeing Mike (she & Melodee flew up from Florida). So, straight faced as I can, I ask if the gents liked the photo. Cindy says, "Oh yes!" but before she can get another word out, Karen & I are ROFL. We stayed for just a bit longer, then went out hunting for the elusive wide shoes. We wound up in a really big mall, with about 6 or 7 possible locations of men's footwear. Terry ran around the mall, hitting at least 5 stores, the last being SEARS -- and they had his size! And they were handsome shoes, too! I stayed in the first store we stopped at, Macy's, and found a great sale on ladies shoes. There was a pair of black strappy Naturalizer sandals on sale...and I'm wearing them now. The shoe hunt was officially over.
And just in time.
Saturday in the park -- we went by the shelter at 9 am to help decorate, then back to the hotel to change clothes. Some pics:
Oldest sib Terry walks Ellen Jean to the altar
I just love how kids and other "photographers" feel free to jump up in front of the wedding party, don't you?!? That lovely gal off to the left in the green & white is Cindy. I'm pretty sure the very tall person wearing black to a wedding is related to the groom. I guess we can't pick our families....
I have wrestled with Picasa vs Picasa 3 all motherf'ing afternoon, trying to get only the edited pictures on here and I give up. This next lousy pic is an unedited version of what I would have liked to show you, with 4 of the 5 sisters plus one brother.
Oh hey, look at that: it gave me the edited version too! From the left is Plaidman, then Cindy, the unknown kid, Melodee, an unknown relative of Danny, bride Ellen & groom Danny, some chick's head right over Laura, Danny's brother Roger Miller (he doesn't sing), an unknown gent, and our niece Beverly. Note the arbor that Erin helped put up. The sign says "It was always you" -- the story is that Danny & EJ have known each other since they were little kids, and he's always had a crush on for her. So sweet!
Well, we had a terrific party with food & soft drinks (public park, no alcohol allowed). Mike showed up after the ceremony, but Karen had been with her sis since the set up of the arbor & decorating the shelter. Mike brought his wife Atha, her health is poor so she was riding a very nice scooter. Everyone had a blast, and then we cleaned up our shelter & took down the arbor & went home. There's more material from this trip, but I'm worn out. Stay tuned.