Monthly Archives: January 2022

Wordless Wednesday: Cactus Grouping

3 cacti

My Daughter’s Wedding

Beautiful hands and bouquet

Katie and Michael have been together for twelve years. Just before Christmas 2019, Michael asked Katie to marry him. They planned to get married in Fall 2020, but, you know. . .

Covid. No big indoor gatherings. No traveling.

When the number of infections dwindled, they began brainstorming—they could have a small, intimate, outdoor wedding. They even tried to contact a venue to get the ball rolling, but no one responded to their inquiry. As infections spiked again, they put everything on hold. No wedding in 2020. But I thought, surely the pandemic wouldn’t last much longer.

Ha. On and on it dragged. Finally, they said, “We’ve waited long enough. We’re getting married before the end of 2021.”

Katie discovered the gorgeous outdoor wedding portraits of Cassy Arch Photography on Instagram, and contacted her about her availability. She was free on December 28, and Katie booked her for an “elopement” session.


Cassy recommended several locations, and Katie invited me to scout them out with her. One with incredible mountain views would have been hard for my disabled husband to navigate in his wheelchair. But at Usery Mountain Regional Park where Katie and Michael often hike, we discovered that near the Visitor’s Center is an amphitheater with a paved path that is wheelchair accessible. Katie and Michael reserved it, planning to have the ceremony in the late afternoon, just before “golden hour,” so they could have their outdoor portraits taken as the sun began to set.

One of the advantages of living in the desert around Phoenix is that it almost never rains. We average about 9 inches of rain per year. Other parts of the country regard an accumulation of less than an eighth of an inch as a “trace.” In Arizona, rain is measured by hundredths of inches. We were confident rain wouldn’t be an issue, though as the holidays approached, they brought with them clouds and winds.

It started raining on December 24. On Christmas Day, it rained a whole inch. The next day we had cloudy skies and showers. On the morning of December 27, Katie called me in tears. The weather forecast for the 28th predicted a 10% chance of rain at 10:00 AM, and a 50% chance at 3:00. Could we possibly host the wedding on our covered patio?

Now, for most people, this would not be such a big inconvenience. But years ago my husband converted the patio into his workshop. His woodworking and welding equipment were there, as well as work tables and heavy machinery and junk. So I said, sorry, no.

Long story short, I had a change of heart. Katie and Michael came over and we spent the next few hours clearing and cleaning and setting up Plan B.

The next morning, Katie and Michael met the photographer in Usery Park for their photoshoot in the desert.

See the ominous skies?

Meanwhile, I picked up cupcakes and flowers and did some last-minute housecleaning. In the afternoon, family and a few friends arrived. Counting the bride and groom and the photographer, our happy little wedding assembly included 15 people.

We settled into assorted lawn furniture and dining room and kitchen chairs arranged on the patio. I was beat, and prepared myself to listen to the standard “Dearly beloved” ceremony.

Dad and daughter
Greg accompanies his daughter to her groom.

I should have known better. Our middle daughter, Erin, got herself certified to perform weddings, and she and Katie and Michael crafted a service that was beautiful, personal, and included everything I would have wanted said at a wedding. Erin is a remarkable speaker, and her delivery was flawless. The couple exchanged vows that they wrote themselves.

Michael's vows

Katie and Michael had their vows written out on their phones, but they barely looked at the words; they knew them by heart. At one point, as Michael was telling Katie how much he loves her and wants to spend his life together with her, he broke down. There was not a dry eye on that patio, even though we were sheltered from the raindrops that periodically sprinkled down.

With this ring

When the ceremony was over, I had to admit it was the most beautiful wedding I’d ever attended. (Okay, maybe I am a little prejudiced.)

Katie and Michael kiss
Yay! Bubbles! (That’s Michael’s mom standing on the right.)
Huelsenbeck clan
Our sons Andrew and Matt, Michael and Katie, Greg and me and Erin.

Erin’s husband, Dave, was the man-behind-the-scenes who facilitated everything and made the ceremony go smoothly. He started the music when Michael came out to take his position; he held onto the rings; he even FaceTimed our other daughter, Carly, who lives in New York so she could see the ceremony.

Signing the papers
In our kitchen, signing the paperwork to make everything official.

Afterward, we all went out to dinner together. The best day of 2021.

All images by Cassy Arch Photography.

Monday Morning Wisdom #346

Monday Morning Wisdom #346

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
—St. Clement of Alexandra

From the Creator’s Heart #343

Psalm 23:1

The Ultimate Summer Day


I went for a walk the other day a little after noon. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, a light hoodie, and sandals. I live in the Phoenix area, and the temperature was in the mid-60s.

(But earlier in the morning, when I took the dog out, in my PJs and terry robe, the temperature was about 40 degrees. I know, I’m spoiled. I suffer when the temp dips down below 50.)

I came home from my walk, took a shower, and dressed in denim bermudas and a long-sleeve shirt.

I don’t like any weather that involves raking or shoveling. Winter is enjoyable here, but I really like summer better, even in the desert; though in the 100+ degree heat, I’d prefer to be in the pool if I have to be outside.

Sea and sky

My ideal summer day is based on the ones I experienced as a 15-year-old growing up in New Jersey. The sky would be blue, the sun warm, the temperature in the mid-to-upper 80s (though with the typical 85% humidity, it would be much less comfortable than Arizona dry heat), and I would be at the beach. I’d have a cooler with me, with cold soda and sandwiches and snacks. I’d have no responsibilities for the day—no job to go to, no meals to prepare, no appointments upcoming, no pressing deadlines to meet. And I’d have a friend with me, preferably one of the opposite sex.

When our kids were little and we still lived in New Jersey, but closer to the Pennsylvania border rather than near the Atlantic shore, we might drive half an hour to a lake to have a change of pace from the backyard pool. But my ideal day still included sun and water.

When we moved to Arizona, we bought another house with a pool, because we knew it would play a big part in our summers. A lot of people don’t like having pools, because they see the upkeep as tedious and expensive. But we had five kids. Going on a one-week vacation during the summer would cost us more than the price of a year’s worth of pool chemicals. And really, if you invest in a good pool vacuum, maintenance only takes maybe an hour or less a week. When the kids were young, we were in the pool every day. The kids’ birthday parties were always pool parties (except for Andy’s—he was born in December).

Now, with our kids all grown, we are not in the pool every day from April through October. Greg’s not been in the pool in years. I average about a dozen dips per summer, though every time I go in, I wonder why I don’t do it every day.

Only six more months till summer.

I can’t wait.

Creative Juice #278

Creative Juice #278

These articles held my interest this week:

Kammie’s Oddball Challenge: Signage

No parking
Speed humps

More Oddballs.

Video of the Week #341: Joni Mitchell Honored at Kennedy Center


Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Flower Border with Fallen Leaves

Flower border with fallen leaves

More FOTD.

Flower of the Day: Narcissus



More FOTD.