Thursday, January 31, 2008

The MOB and Me

I'm currently reading Beth Webb Hart's The Wedding Machine, a novel about a group of Southern women who have inherited from their mothers the task of organizing every wedding that comes to one sleepy little lowland town. I'd tell you more, but you'll have to wait until my review of the book is posted on next week.

I chose to review this particular book because I love Hart's writing. Her Grace at Low Tide and Adelaide Piper were among my favorite novels in recent years. I gave little thought to the title of the new release. A dozen or so pages into the book, though, it hit me: I'm living out my own version of the Wedding Machine.

Yes, I've taken on the role of the MOB: the Mother of the Bride. One of my daughters got engaged at Christmas, and suddenly I'm immersed in wedding plans. This has made me, a certified misfit, something of a schizophrenic. I'm socially paralyzed by day and a social planner by night. Or the other way around, but you get the point.

Finding myself in the position of having to help plan a real, live wedding gives me the willies. I didn't even do this for myself; my two weddings (yes, I had two) were as casual as they come and not exactly traditional. Thankfully, my daughter is keeping it small and also a bit untraditional. But still. There's the MOB, and then there's me, two people in one. I'm a mess already.

So I'm issuing this plea: if anyone knows of a really cool, beautiful, easily accessible, won't-break-the-budget, lodge-type place in the foothills or mountains in or around Colorado Springs or northward, where a couple of Floridians could get married in November or December and where 50 or so guests could stay, let me know, okay? Google is getting tired of me pestering him (or is Google a her?) all the time about this. I'd be ever so grateful.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

Longtime readers of this blog, which means me, will remember my fascination with Iceland. It's the number one place in the world that I would like to visit, and as it turns out, it's also the happiest place on earth,* according to former NPR foreign correspondent and self-described grump Eric Weiner. After spending years traveling from one miserable place to another to report on mostly miserable events, he figured it was time to search for something radically different—happiness—and now has a book to show for it.

Weiner managed to score a spot on tonight's Colbert Report, which means his book, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, will benefit from the Colbert Bump and hit a high spot on the major bestseller lists. I haven't read the book (hey, give me a break—I just heard about it an hour ago), but it did garner a solid four stars on Amazon. Since I tend to trust customer reviews, taking the most negative and the most positive reviews with a grain of salt, and since Weiner was booked on Colbert, I'm pretty sure it's worth checking out.

But back to Iceland. Call me crazy, but I love traveling to cold places. Give me Canada or Alaska any day over the heat and humidity of the tropics. Weiner's research tells me I'm no so crazy after all:

All things considered, colder is happier. Maybe we should all be vacationing in Iceland, not the Caribbean. And global warming takes on added significance…it's also likely to seriously bum us out. This might be the most inconvenient truth of all.

So there. Cold makes people happy. So does this, I suppose:

I want to stay in that house, somewhere on the frozen tundra outside of Reykjavik. Even though I'm living my bliss in Colorado, I wouldn't mind a week or two in another geographically blissful, glacially beautiful area.


* Okay, so it's one of the happiest places on earth, but I have no emotional tie with the others. Iceland it is.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The DMV and Me

Here's a thought. What if..?

But first, an update on my attempt at getting a Colorado driver's license. We've decided to make an outing of it. Instead of heading for the city and waiting in line for about four hours (I'm not exaggerating one bit), we've decided to spend that time driving through the scenic wonder of the mountains and go to a rural DMV office about an hour away. I mean, how busy can the office be with just a few thousand drivers to accommodate? I guess we'll find out.

But back to my thought. I know that DMVs across the land fall under the states' jurisdictions, but...what if we had a presidential candidate who would promise, under penalty of impeachment, to fix the DMV mess in all 50 states? No question about it: he/she would get my vote. Now that president would be a miracle worker indeed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In Praise of (Readable) Church Signs

So there's this church that shall remain nameless. Said church sits on a rise in a semi-rural area that has seen a whole lot of growth in the past decade. Before then, all the area needed was a two-lane, 45 mph highway. And all the church needed was a weathered, barely readable sign. Shoot, it hardly needed that. Anyone who cared knew the name of the church and the time of the service, because there was only one church of its kind and only one service.

Alas, times change. The two-lane, 45 mph highway became a four-lane plus turn-lane, 55 mph highway, which we all know means it's really a 65 mph highway. But the unreadable-at-any-speed, weathered sign remained in place, forcing someone who was new to the area to search the Internet and the local newspaper and ask everyone she encountered trying to find out when the heck the Sunday service was held. No one seemed to know. So this someone got in her car, drove to the church, turned around after overshooting it because 1) the sign was unreadable and 2) she mistook the church for a doublewide, and pulled in the driveway, magnifying glass in hand, determined to find out the service time. Mission accomplished, but really, it shouldn't have become a mission in the first place.

Unbeknownst to her, since she hadn't been able to attend the church previously, a bitter dispute had been brewing over the very sign that had caused her and other would-be worshippers such anguish. We need a new sign! one faction insisted. But we've always had that sign! another faction protested. This went on for months, as disputes of that nature are wont to do in churches across the land.

And then, the breakthrough. The one incident that settled the argument forever. What was the situation that broke the nearly year-long stalemate? The denomination's regional bishop had been invited to speak at the church, and the bishop could not find the church. Like someone, he overshot it.

Within two weeks, the church sported a wonderfully readable sign.

Someone simply must thank the bishop.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Let's Go Shopping"

Those are the three little words I never expected to hear my husband say. I am absolutely certain that he has not put those words together, in that order or any other, at any time in his 50-some years on earth. Frankly, I'm not sure I've said those words very often. But one day last week, he was driven to utter them, and I was driven to comply.

"Driven" is most appropriate in the context of that day. We had driven 28.62 miles, according to Mapquest, from our cozy home in the mountains to the strip mall in the city that is home to the closest DMV facility that so beneficently grants Colorado licenses to recent transplants.

The situation didn't look very good from the parking lot, but maybe all those people standing outside in the frigid weather were just smoking.

Not so. They were in line. We peeked around them, saw countless people sitting and waiting, countless people standing and waiting, and then counted 10 people in line outside. And that's when my husband said it: "Let's go shopping."

So we did. All was not lost. I managed to score a three-piece Columbia Sportswear ski outfit in perfect condition for $15 at the thrift store several doors from the DMV.

A Colorado driver's license won't be so easy to score, I fear. What is it about the DMV? Why is that one agency such a joke in just about every state? Why in the heck can't they get it together?

Answers, anyone?