Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Birth Day, of sorts...

The Gates of Heaven

This is a very historic building. It was originally a synagogue on Washington Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin, and it was where the Jews in the Capitol fled to mourn upon receiving the news that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated.

It was saved; I don't know its entire history but it was eventually moved (!) to a lovely park right on Lake Mendota and placed in the loving care of the Parks Department. Today it can be rented, and it sees every possible manner of merriment and festivities of a wide variety of faiths, causes, and celebrations.

It was in this building, twenty-two years ago today, the Mr Dearling and I were married! We had lived together for four years, during which time he proposed to me with some regularity. My thinking during those years went something like this:
"The commitment is clear and strong. We're bonded for life."
"We're a pair of old hippies, we don't need no steenkin' piece o' paper."
"We have everything we could possibly want, what difference would it make?"

That was what I thought...until some time before Valentine's Day 1986 when it suddenly hit me that he was EARNEST! In spite of being a free-thinking, liberal, aging hippie like myself, he had a real streak of traditional which certainly I, as a Jew, should have recognized. And I'd been laughing at his proposals, how embarrassing is that? (Try OY! EMBARRASSING!)

So on Valentine's Day I gave him a card with a fancy sportscar on the front - the license plate said, simply, "Yes". We went to Burnie's Rock Shop to get an engagement ring, and I found a very pretty sterling setting and picked out a wonderful triangular faceted garnet. (Garnets purify the thoughts, clarify the mind and warm the heart.) Unfortunately, though, Burnie couldn't put that stone into the setting I liked, so Mr Dearling chose a soft sea-green star sapphire which, might I add, is as clear today as it was 22 years ago. The planning of the wedding was simple. We decided on May, which was distant enough that his sweet parents could come, and we informally invited my sister and her husband and a few friends. We arranged for the use of the Gates of Heaven (May 10 was a Saturday that year too - AND the day before Mother's Day!). Mr Dearling's sisters and their husbands planned to come too, the one from St. Paul and the other lived here in town.

Now, Mr Dearling had been along for the ride during my children's teen years, and I don't mind telling you, there were times when *I* was ready to stomp out and leave them with him, but I cared too much for him to do that. Besides, I'm ever the optimist. (May I say, on the eve of Mother's Day, my faith was not misplaced; my children are admirable people, though I must give credit where due: Mr Dearling's influence was well-timed and effective.

Interestingly, I discovered that children are somewhat traditional too! MY youngest, #2 Son, literally breathed a sigh of relief and confided that he was really glad "because now I know what to call him." Hadn't occurred to me, but he'd struggled with references or introductions. "This is my mom's...." Now 43-year-old women don't have "boyfriends". Parents don't have "lovers". (Leastwise not where the kids know about it - young teenagers can be turned to granite by the suggestion that they are the result of their parents' know, done IT.) Oh, there were cute names..."MARS Man" was one of my favorites; it came out of California. Are you sitting down? OK: " Man Acting in Role of Spouse." Get it?

But now we were married, Mr Dearling became an honest "stepfather". The Lovely Daughter began calling him "Dad" with just the slightest hint of irony; in pretty short order the irony faded and she's called him "Dad" ever since.

NOTE: do not biggify these pictures; they were taken with a digital camera through the wrinkly plastic sheets covering the original pictures in a "magnetic album", which I think will guarantee their destruction - but hopefully not until we've croaked. My best friend Sue made our wedding cake, with lovely little roses made from flattened gumdrops; it was much more delicious than any other wedding cake I've ever had. In fact, friends took pictures, Lovely Daughter and I made cream-cheese-olive sandwiches cut in little triangles with the crusts off, and as I recall we drank lemonade. What did this extravaganza cost? Love, friendship, laughter and more love. A lot of it.

How young we looked! How...thin! How dark-haired! But let me see - Mr Dearling and his parents were a little late to the Gates of Heaven...because my mother-in-law-to-be (of blessed and cherished memory) went along to the floral-and-teddy-bear shop to get my floral wreath - and was delayed in picking out just the right teddy bear for me. Our officiant was a local character called "Rev Ted" who was a Universal Life Bishop (perfectly legitimate and legal, and he was an astrologer/free-thinker with an open heart and open hands and a good friend in the bargain.) My sister and her husband did NOT come; they had another obligation. But one of my dearest friends in the world was on his way back to New Hampshire from Iowa with HIS new bride, and they DID come! I had two of my three children there - #1 Son was doing a stint in the Navy at the time.

Don't we look cute? And you know, sort of normal? I had to admit, while there wasn't any big major change for any of us, it seemed that the kids especially seemed to relax into the security of a more traditional family.

Why a "birth day"? Because I'll say it here, as I've said it many and many a time over these last 26 years (remember, four together before the wedding) years: from the day Mr Dearling moved in and began sharing our lives, I have felt reborn. I have learned from my husband, and feel myself today to have a confidence, a security, an independence that I hadn't had before. We rarely argue, and we enjoy great discussions. For example, I wrote a story which takes place in Ancient Egypt, and in it I referred to the precious oil being "borne thence on a barque"....Mr Dearling took exception, saying that he believed barques were a form of boat foreign to Egypt, and that another word might be better. Later that day he got on line (whatever DID we do before the innerwebs?) and did some searching.........learning, thereby, that there WERE barques in ancient Egypt and some, specifically, were richly fitted out and used as conveyances for the gods. As we had originated this discussion at the Museum (to the vast entertainment of our college-aged colleagues) he made a distinct mention to them to apprise them of the accuracy (and position) of barques in Egypt.

I guess what all this boils down to is that I am saying "Thank You" to the man who, by making me his wife, gave me an independence, a confidence and security well beyond what I would have achieved on my own. I'm a better writer, a better reader, a better thinker, a better old lady, a better....well, ok, a more enthusiastic knitter. And I savor every moment of every day. It is such that we really enjoy our shared interests and mutual experiences - and relish our individual pursuits and solitary time as well. (We attribute much of our success to the fact that we joined our lives as adults, and didn't ever have to waste time with the game-playing, tense, scary ritual dance that is the Courtship of the Young.)

All's I can say, from my heart, is: Thanks, Mr Dearling. I love you!

And here begins the next wonderful fun of the next 22 years!


Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. Many congratulations to you and mr Dearling. Alida South Africa

Alison said...

Happy Anniversary DALE and PAUL!! What a lovely post. The love you both have for each other is mighty apparent to bystanders like me. I hope I can write about my Paul with equal eloquence on our 22nd! And those pictures are GREAT!! more please!!

Alison said...

PPS! I feel compelled to share a poem a high school teacher shared with me that I think captures the beauty of a long relationship perfectly. Hope you enjoy it!

Isle of Lesbos : Poetry : Historical : Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell (27k JPG image), American Imagist poet, was a woman of great accomplishment. She was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to a prominent family of high-achievers. Her environment was literary and sophisticated, and when she left private school at 17 to care for her elderly parents, she embarked on a program of self-education.

Her poetic career began in 1902 when she saw Eleonora Duse, a famous actress, perform on stage. Overcome with Eleonora's beauty and talent, she wrote her first poem addressed to the actress. They met only a couple times and never developed a relationship, but Eleonora inspired many poems from Amy and triggered her career.

Ada Russell, another actress, became the love of Amy's life. She met Ada in 1909 and they remained together until Amy's death in 1925. Amy wrote many, many poems about Ada. In the beginning, as with her previous poems about women, she wrote in such a way that only those who knew the inspiration for a poem would recognize its lesbian content. But as time went on, she censored her work less and less. By the time she wrote Pictures of the Floating World, her poems about Ada were much more blatantly erotic. The series "Planes of Personality: Two Speak Together" chronicles their relationship, including the intensely erotic poem "A Decade" that celebrates their tenth anniversary.

Amy's dedication to the art of poetry was consuming. She purchased her parent's estate upon her death and established it as a center of poetry, as well as a place to breed her beloved English sheepdogs. She promoted American poetry, acting as a patron to a number of poets. Amy also wrote many essays, translated the works of others, and wrote literary biographies. Her two-volume biography of Keats was well-received in the United States, though it was rejected in England as presumptous.

She is best known for bringing the Imagist movement to America. Her own work, full of lush imagery but slim on excess verbage, was similar to that of H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), an emerging Imagist poet in England. . When Amy saw the similarity, she travelled to England to research the movement and ended up bringing back volumes of poetry to introduce Imagist work to the United States. Ezra Pound, the "head" of the movement, was most offended by Amy's involvement. He threatened to sue her, something which delighted her no end, and finally he removed himself from the movement entirely. She argued that this was good; he would ruin it anyway. Pound took to calling the movement "Amygisme," and engaged in plenty of scathing attacks against her.

Beyond the nasty slurs hurled by Pound, Amy was criticized for many more things that did not actually reflect her skill as a poet. Critics were offended by her lesbianism, by the way she wore men's shirts and smoked cigars, and even by her obesity. They argued that she must not have experienced true passion, reflecting a common prejudice that women who are overweight cannot possibly be sexual beings. In the face of these barbs, her literary career suffered, and she did not achieve the status as a poet she so richly deserved.

Her admirers defended her, however, even after her death. One of the best rebuttals was written by Heywood Broun , in his obituary tribute to Amy. He wrote, "She was upon the surface of things a Lowell, a New Englander and a spinster. But inside everything was molten like the core of the earth... Given one more gram of emotion, Amy Lowell would have burst into flame and been consumed to cinders."

Amy's book, What's O'Clock, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1926, a year after her death.

Biography by Alix North

Top of page
Selected Works

* Aubade
* Decade
* Interlude
* The Garden by Moonlight
* Madonna of the Evening Flowers
* Autumn
* Taxi
* Carrefour
* Venus Transiens
* White Currants
* In Excelsis


As I would free the white almond from the green husk
So I would strip your trappings off,
And fingering the smooth and polished kernel
I should see that in my hands glittered a gem beyond counting.

By Amy Lowell

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.

Alison can't work a computer said...

I did not mean for that whole thing to get pasted and posted! Please delete all that unnecessary text and just leave that lovely short poem at the bottom!!

MollyBeees said...

Awww! I have tears in my eyes! Thanks for the wonderful post and Happy Happy Happy Anniversary! Mr. Dealing is a keeper and so are you!

kmkat said...

That post is lovely. You are both positively glowing in the photos. Happy *birth* day to both of you!

Amy said...

What a wonderful tribute! Thank you for sharing!

Elizabeth said...

What a wonderful post!

Happy anniversary.

Jules said...

What a beautiful story! Happy anniversary to you both, and many more!

Marsha said...

What a beautiful story! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. And happy anniversary to you both!

Iron Needles said...

Excellent excellent excellent! Happy day to both of you, Dale-Harriet and Mr. D!

cheesehead with sticks said...

Congratulations for the both of you!

Lee said...

Congratulations to you both! What a lovingly shared memory.

Yarnhog said...

I'm all teary-eyed and nostalgic now. Happy Anniversary!

Kitty Mommy said...

Awww...I loves me a good love story!

Happy (belated) Anniversary!!!

Jane said...

I'm a little late reading the blogs, but a very big congratulations to you both! Seems to me some of those same "we don't need no stinking marriage certificate" thoughts were rolling though my mind quite a few years ago. Wonderful pictures, too! Many, many happy returns of the day.

Anonymous said...


I could write much the same about you, but not with your grace and style. No husband is more proud of his bride than I am of mine. I count myself the luckiest of men. Thank you for saying "Yes."

Mr. Dearling

Anonymous said...

Congrats to you and Mr. Dearling!

I have been reading your comments on "Yarn Harlot," "The Panopticon" "A Gentleman's C" and other places, periodically thinking that I should send you a letter to say Hi, when it finally dawned on me that your name was a link! D'oh!

I'll be in Madison from Wed. to Tues. for WisCon (stopping at Norske Nook coming and going) and would love to see you and daughter and others. Let me know the best way to contact you.

Halla the Herald

MollyBeees said...

I heard there'd be blogging from the road. I see no blogging from the road. Where's the blogging from the road?

Missed you at Late Night Last Night!