The Wedding: Amanda Mellor and Eric O’Connell


wedding--amanda and eric in pink lightThe Wedding

wedding pic--amanda and eric8-year-old ring-bearer (one of two), in sweet gesture, bending his child’s knee when offering his future uncle and groom the ring…his 5-year-old little brother holding a sign, in the processional, reading “Here Comes the Bride”…the mariachi band processing up the main path to greet the newly-weds, erupting in music…All this, against a backwash of fuscia lighting that bathed everyone in warmth (Click on any pic throughout post to make it larger. Then use your back button, way up on top left-hand side, to bring you back to the post, itself. Try this on the pink one, here….)

This wedding was splendiferous.

I gotta admit:  I had my misgivings.  The Save-the-Date postcard, coming out months earlier, showed my daughter and her fiancée getting tattoos (they faked it for the cameras.) Then, there was the official wedding invite confirming “Day of the Dead” as the wedding date. Here are the cloth skull boutonnieres the groomsmen wore on their lapels, along with a cookie favor each guest took home…boutonnieres

We had the Bride’s Shower at our home, in Warwick, hosted by her sister Maid of Honor (I hate the term “Matron”), with an Ocean State (Rhode Island) motif, accomplished by nautical staples of chowdah and lobster rolls.   We washed that down with flutes of champagne (I had Martinelli’s) , topped off with a glorious multi-tiered chocolate cake from Gregg’s.

I feared my younger daughter had been indoctrinated into a Spanish-speaking weird biker cult, one firmly into body graffiti… tough on a mother who’d raised her kids with a traditional Catholic background. I mean:  It all definitely confused me.  She’s a high-powered, successful employee of a top-rated tech company, by day.  I feared her alter-ego reigned supreme, in the after-hours. 

But my fears proved unfounded.

The wedding venue? Roger Williams Arboretum….the land of the giant plants and leafy palms, where some 120 wedding  guests meandered along stone walkways that wove about white-clothed tables set up with desserts… candies… a huge piñata.

Following a splendid, in-your-face mariachi serenade, after the vows, the D-J spun discs and many of us worked out, for hours, on the dance floor, while a frenzied photographer bobbed and wove, taking extraordinary shots.

The food was great (Morin’s Caterers—and I strongly recommend—especially the flank steak); properly-suited waitstaff passed interesting hors d’oeuvres earlier, accompanied by a wine/beer bar that kicked off the celebration.

During dinner, we gave verbal tributes. I did my Mother’s Toast, mentioning “Amanda the Adventurer”…the world traveler…the one who’s not afraid to do things differently. I spoke about our Mother/Daughter trips…the 5-country backpacking expedition that her sister, she and I did when she was only 6 (and she carried her own backpack)…our round-England trip of 3000 miles, when she was a high school junior…our Slovenia journey a few years ago.

I noted that now she’ll have a new travel partner in a much bigger journey, as she travels through life.

Her sister focused on her sense of commitment, the type-A personality we all kid about—the same one that gets things done and allows the rest of us to function smoothly (because we can count on her.)

What I didn’t mention is the inordinate struggle she’s had earlier in life as she witnessed her Dad’s long and unsuccessful battle against cancer for two years.  He died on New Year’s Day of 1988. She experienced the death of my fiancée, two years later (she was close to him, too.) From the age of 3, she’s never known traditional family life. Throughout it all, she persevered…No, she did more than that–She graduated at the top of her class in high school and went on to get an Ivy League education, in Canada. 

Success followed success, but I didn’t trust myself to say that part.

So, I kept it light and frothy. But I believe she’s got a good and caring partner for the real important journey, a young man who’s had his own very difficult journey of loss. The two of them will now embark upon much happier times.

But I still want to know:  How does a girl whom I raised Irish/English, one who Irish step-danced her way through years of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (all through the month of March), settle on the Mexican Day of the Dead, as her wedding theme?cropped amanda irish step-dancer

Then again, her older sister gave birth to those same twins mentioned above on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th.) 8 years ago….

Maybe my girls know something about our heritage I don’t…

Everyone does agree on one thing, however: Amanda Mellor and Eric OConnell’s wedding was “the funnest one ever.” Non-stop dancing (and no one needed a partner, for it was a group thing), a gorgeous venue, marvelous food, unique candy table, party masks….. and terrific, interesting people…

Stands to reason…The bride and groom are pretty unique in their own right.

P.S. I told them they should hire out as Wedding Planners because from all accounts, everyone thought it SPECTACULAR! Now, stay tuned for next week’s Biddy when I discuss the one word by a guest that brought down the house…

***Enjoy the photos (including worrisome Save-the-Date postcard, fearsome mask, little Fin with his placard, and crazy husband, gyrating to the beat).save the date photo--amanda and eric And do feel free to “Share” to Facebook, Twitter, etc. via buttons below my post….

mask of weddingfinn just marriedpaul acting crazy on dancefloor

Posted in Family Life, Inspirational, Just-Plain-Fun, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Asheville and Surrounds: Land of Contradictions


IMG_6575Gunrunners pic of AK-47 on one end of this multi-purpose building vies with “Jesus Is Lord” on the other. Seeming contradiction? This building’s in Tenn., a short distance from the NC border and Asheville, where we live 5 months of the year.

Asheville’s a friendly little place….A sweet haven in an eclectic pot.

Interesting boutiques and bistros….  But a short ways out of Asheville, one sees gun emporiums and Confederate flags.  And those flags aren’t “Flying Second,” as they’re supposed to do, deferring to the higher American flag on the pole. (see pic of one, on way to Saluda.) confederate flag on way to saluda

No, that Southern flag’s often flying alone, designating the fact that particular person is in oppositional mode to the government or still rooted in a Civil War mentality. In any case, one does notice.

I’ve often said Asheville’s “the Land of Older Hippies.”  In response to my own question, some years back “Who settles here?” I note:  Hippies with a little (or a lot of) money or their progeny…the next generation of “Concerned with the Environment”…”Anti-War.”..”Anti Corporate America.”

Even if some of us made our lifetime money in those very industries we slammed.  You see, we had to raise our families. We got married and then, to support our families, we went into businesses we often criticized. We sidelined our societal concerns.  We had to.

Little League, scouting, sports events, and dance lessons took our focus. We were ever-more-involved in our kids’ activities.

But now, when that phase is over, those of us who are lucky to have health and enough financial stability to make choices, find ourselves strangely drawn (is it serendipity?) to a unique enclave of the world…Asheville.

And Asheville is ‘unique.’

When people ask:  “What’s it like?” I tell them honestly, “Like nothing or nowhere you’ve ever been before.” I mean, “How many times do you go food shopping and hear minstrels strumming guitars, right outside the doors?” (See pic of Country Bear Jamboree-type minstrels who set up right outside Greenlife Grocery.) “Or therapists giving folks on-the-spot neck massages, while shoppers walk about?”country bear jamboree outside greenlife grocery

It’s not for everyone.

But it’s got its oddities, too. I can’t tell you how many times husband and I have gone for  ride in outlying countryside, only to discover “Dead End” after going down the road for 15 miles! (My GPS isn’t always reliable.)  And forget cell phone use–No towers in outlying regions.

And never be misled by the suffix “Cove” on road signs, such as Tunnel Cove Rd. My first year, (homesick as I was for the ocean), I went barreling down such a road, hoping to find water. That never happened. “Cove” in western North Carolina allegedly means “safe harbor”….metaphorically. Or more specifically, “between the mountains.”

What about the “liberal” label? Well, that depends on who’s asking…Folks here are liberal about what they’re liberal about.  For instance, there’s probably a heavy contingent that’s anti-gun (they’re the former Peacenik activists or children of same.) But they’re probably not averse to using violence to enforce their pacifist position.

Strangely enough, and because Asheville’s “All About Rights,” the Pacifists live shoulder-to-shoulder with guardians of their Second Amendment Rights, the Gun People. In short, that means:  The latter group loudly and openly  defend their right to have (and carry) guns.

Then, there are the super-religious types, spouting Christ’s message. Crosses appear (some vying with the Christ statue’s size, in Brazil) on hillsides reminding all that blood was spilled, and it was Jesus’s…for redemption of mankind. That message is often spelled out–graphically.

Vegans are another no-nonsense, sectarian group. Pretty carnivorous when it comes to their feeling about meat-eaters, tho’ and if folks sport fur, watch out! The fur flies.

Mostly, Asheville’s just waaayyy different from almost anywhere you’ve been. I don’t know exact numbers, but there are many older Americans here (like husband and me).  We’re unique in the fact we embrace our years as a badge of honor. “How so?” you ask…Answer? ” We’re not dying or bleaching our hair but allowing it to “go natural.” Many of us launch second or third careers, too, for we’ve still got that entrepreneurial spirit.

Yep, we’re knowledgeable about current issues and vocal as to what we support/reject…

But we’re still wearing our Birkenstocks..

Here’s the view of the “Gentle Mountains,” from the Blue Ridge Parkway, a few miles away from our second home…gentle mountains blue ridge parkwayWe hike a lot, while there, but I do miss the bike paths of New England (too hilly for me, in NC) where we live 7 months of the year.

For we can’t seem to give up Rhode Island,  our permanent home.

***Want some personal feedback about life in Asheville (because you’re considering a move,) but don’t want your question public?  Drop me an e-mail at

Next Monday’s post and lots of pictures:  “The Wedding”!!!! It’ll be fun and wildly different, I assure you.

Posted in Specifically North Carolinan, Travel, Uniquely Rhode Island, whimsy | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Want to Change Your Body Image Fast?


Question #1:  Can you squeeze a size 12 into a size 8, in a flash?  I guess so if you resort to industrial-strength undergarments?  Question #2:  Why would you ever want to? (On related note, but for the opposite effect, pic to right is what I call the Panty Plumper…It’s made by Spanx, too.) My guess?  These products are for people who suffer body dysmorphic disorder.

In our Faux Society, where everything is truly NOT as it appears, we all need be careful. OK, spoiler alert:  Women are on the covers of major magazines, but usually for all the wrong reasons. I cannot tell you how many of these tabloids shout out the American obsession with diets, tho’ we seem ever more prone to tip the scales, weighing in at a too-heavy amount,

I just wish the latest Billionaire Mama weren’t Spanx Lady, Sarah Blakely.  I mean, she made all that money because she invented a girdle, a squeeze-a-cizor for the abdomen that promises women everywhere they’ll fit back into that little dress, two sizes too small, with the help of this gadget that acts like a shoe-horn, designed to get the bulges to dissipate over a wide (OK, ‘wide’ is offensive) expanse.

Yes, she’s savvy…Hell, she even looks good on the magazine cover.  Doesn’t even look like she needs the very product she invented, for she appears svelte and confident (and who can effect that attitude squeezed into a nylon tube strangling one’s mid-section, cutting off her air supply?)

Don’t think that happens?  Well, Brit. singer Adele  fainted recently while attempting to sing, due to Spanx compression.  Then again, she donned 4 and layered them. Methinks the Brit. warbler has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Worn as it’s meant to be, Spanx is allegedly a miracle product.

And it’s not enough Sara did this for countless women everywhere who want to go that wedding, their Class Reunion, the long-distance family gathering, slightly resembling the person they were in their younger years .

Her product is everywhere, and it’s not just for women. Now, men can stuff their adipose tissue of extra fat…those superfluous pounds into a tight, wizard-of-a-garment that makes them appear youthful, too (Think “Opposite of Botox.”)

Here’s the problem:  In promising more (or less) than one can deliver, what happens when the lights go down and your significant other discovers the “Real You?”  It’s like those padded bras of our Baby Boomer years…I never wanted to go that route for fear I’d note too much disappointment, in the eyes of my beholder.

So, let me ask:  How do you feel about these product? 

Check out the below pic that shows padded butt girdle.  That’s right–two round, padded orbs–extra curves for those lacking in the derriere or bum…If you don’t want to order any of these products from the website, you can try them on, first, at stores like Kohl’s.

Now, I can’t think butt-plumpers are a big market, but what do I know? I’m not Sarah Blakely of Spanx fame…I only wish I were.

butt pad garmentWhat’s your take on the minimizer/maximizer? Is a minimizer more acceptable than a maximizer and why?

And, finally–Does all this merely signal our society’s too-obvious-obsession with body image, to the detriment of all else? Your thoughts?

Posted in Just-Plain-Fun, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment