Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Dominic and Elizabeth Johnson! On last Saturday, May 29, Elizabeth Palmer and Dominic Johnson were married at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in York, Pennsylvania. The wedding was beautiful, the reception was a blast, and we all had a wonderful time with family and new friends. Though both Andy and I were in the wedding party, Miriam was certainly much more the star of the show.
On the Wednesday before the wedding my sister Frances flew to North Carolina in order to spend the day with Miriam. The four of us then drove to York on Thursday which took two hours more than it should have due to impenetrable traffic around Washington, DC. Miriam was excellent on the trip as she slept from home to northern Virginia and then was more or less content until the last hour or so. Andy, however, after having driven most of the way got fed up with the traffic and had us swap places while sitting on the I-295 parking lot and then proceeded to navigate me along country highways through central Maryland in order to bypass northern DC and Baltimore congestion. Miriam was happy to finally arrive as it meant she got to see her Nonna and grandpa Jim as well as run up and down the hotel hallway and surf in the elevator. Her favorite part of the hotel was the low bathtubs which she could climb in and out of herself. We ate dinner with my parents and Miriam took her food into the bathtub to play.
On Friday we welcomed Frances’ fiancé, Jon, and my sister, Anita, who both flew in from California, as well as scores of other relatives all staying at the Hampton Inn. Earlier in the day, when we had gone to pick up Andy’s tux, it turned out that it had been sent not to York as he had instructed but instead to the Philadelphia location where Dominic and several of the other groomsmen’s tuxedos were being picked up. Fortunately we were able to catch Dominic in time for him to pick up Andy’s tuxedo. However, as Dominic was pulling into York he started having car trouble which he attributed to the clutch but which we now know was due to Dominic running out of gas. My dad then had to go pick up Dominic, the groomsmen with him, and the tuxedo. In the rush of things Andy didn’t have time to try on his tux although the rush providentially meant we also managed to leave Miriam’s diaper bag behind and so had to circle back and collect that between the rehearsal and the dinner thus giving Andy enough time to discover he’d been sent the wrong pants which were a mere sixteen inches too small around and nearly ten too short! After one more trip to the tuxedo shop that was fortunately open late and with some quick measurements we were finally off to our excellent dinner at Pomodoro’s. Andy is calling this our Old Bay trip since the crab dip appetizer at the rehearsal was the first of three meals that included excellent dishes made with Old Bay spices which he is now trying to use on everything at our house having found a container of unknown age in our pantry. Our dinner was accompanied by wine from Cellar 8 which operates out of the same winery as the Italian Swiss Colony, the winery in Cloverdale, California for which my grandfather was a taster for decades. Since my dad was going to have his opportunity to speak the next day he relinquished his father-of-the-groom toast customary at the rehearsal dinner to me, Frances, Anita and my mom. Anita told about a “Just Married” prank she pulled when Dominic and Liz had only started dating. I shared with everyone both the joy I found in watching Dominic and Andy interact like long-lost geeky friends over their mutual enthusiasm for Science Olympiad’s bottle rockets the first time Andy came to my family’s home as well as my memories of Dominic’s misery and longing for Liz when he was visiting with us in North Carolina at a time he and Liz had (blessedly temporarily) called it quits both as moments of certainty that are evidence of a path for happiness that has been laid before each of us. Frances summed up our remarks with stories of first learning of their engagement. And my mom told some embarassing stories to give Liz one last chance to change her mind. As we wrapped up the rehearsal dinner Liz gave me and each of the other bridesmaids a nice purse and shawl which we were happy to have for the wedding. Dominic rather appropriately gave each of his groomsmen a shinny bar tools kit now resting on our countertop and already christened with Disaronno.
Although the wedding was not until the afternoon on Saturday, 2:00 came up quick with my morning appointment for hair, finally picking up Andy’s properly altered tuxedo, and visiting with family before the wedding. The liturgy itself was done very well. Andy and I both remarked several times on the familiarity of the layout of Saint Joseph, designed by Liz’s brother-in-law’s grandfather, given its similarity to our own parish of Saint Thomas More, such that both churches lend themselves to participation in the celebration of the sacraments. Liz and Dominic were blessed to have their respective godparents as the lectors and, although the Capuchin pastor presided at the Liturgy of the Eucharist, to have my dad proclaim the Gospel, preach the homily, and preside at the Rite of Marriage. After the wedding Miriam rejoined us for some formal photography before we left the church and headed over to the rustic Stone Mill Inn for some additional photographs and the reception. During the cocktail hour which included mushrooms stuffed with a reprise of Old Bay spiced crab meat we took off Miriam’s dress and let her run around in a bib and the bloomers my mom had made to match my and the other bridesmaids’ dresses so that while devouring eating strawberries and cheese as quick as the rest of us she wouldn’t end up ruining her dress. As the matron-of-honor and the best man gave eloquent toasts that sufficiently ribbed and extolled Liz and Dominic, Miriam managed to fall asleep on my cousins’ shoulders and rested during dinner. She woke up just in time for the dancing and, boy, does she like to dance! She giggled, bobbed her head, and kicked her legs in better rhythm than her dad. Although we’ll have to wait either for the professional pictures or for Sharon’s to be passed along to us there should be some excellent snapshots coming our way of Miriam tearing up the dance floor (or at least the boutonnières of everyone with whom she danced). Miriam’s love of dance is such that not only is
dance one of the new words she picked up over the weekend but also such that now anytime she hears music she starts be-bopping (something she’s done for some time) while looking at us saying
dance, dance. She’ll even come up to us say
dance and not stop repeating doing so until we turn on some music and waltz around with her. Miriam also learned from Liz’s sister, Erin, to say
rose which Miriam applies to all flowers—even though sniffing flowers was a skill we failed to impart as she still blows on all flowers the same way she does hot pancakes. Although Dominic and Liz had some car trouble of a very different kind in their escape after the reception Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are now safely in Cancun on their honeymoon.
After noon Mass on Sunday we headed back to the hotel where Miriam and Andy swam for a while, and then over to the Palmer’s for an afternoon cookout. Since Jon and Frances were flying out from BWI Monday afternoon the five of us drove to Baltimore where we spent the night in the creepy Biltmore Inn. Everything about arriving at the historic Shirley House after 11:00 at night felt like we were stepping into a black and white horror flick. Having survived the ghosts and the looming gothic church out our window we set about enjoying our Memorial Day with Jon and Frances in Clipper City. We started out at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which was the first Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States and remains the pro-cathedral of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. As the mother church of Yankee Catholicism (as Andy insists it be called in order to be distinguished from the much earlier Spanish and French Catholicism that both had been planted centuries earlier in lands that would only much later be conquered by the US), the Baltimore Basilica was designed in a neo-classical design in order not to evoke connotations of European and medieval churches and so be be fit for a new, enlightened nation. Although Monday was the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Roman Catholic calendar, the basilica closed in observance of Memorial Day only shortly after we arrived. After being turned out by the woman tasked with closing the church we made our way to the Inner Harbor. The highlight of the Inner Harbor was a fountain in which Miriam delighted to play, dance, and splash. We had crab cakes (again covered in the same Old Bay) and Clipper City/Heavy Seas Märzen at Tír Na Nóg overlooking the harbor. On our drive home and after dropping off Jon and Frances off at the airport Andy insisted we make a drive-through pilgrimage appropriate to Memorial Day as we got off the freeway to gaze on the new World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. Unfortunately we could not stop as an impending parade had all parking already full or inaccessible and also because Miriam was asleep and remained so nearly until we reached the North Carolina state line.
It was an excellent weekend and we’re grateful for all the helping hands we had in tending to Miriam. We’re also especially thankful to Anne and her sidekick Julia for taking care of our menagerie in our absence. Home for only one more week we set off on Wednesday to California for Anita’s graduation from UCSD and time with Andy’s family as well. Again, congratulations to Dominic and Liz. May the Lord be with them and bless them!