Our Hands

Hello!  It’s been awhile. :)

Steve and I are planning our Fifth Wedding Anniversary Celebration which will take place in the Merrie Month of May.

A Facebook friend of mine has recently asked me about our Soul Wedding in 2010, as she is helping her friends plan their wedding and wanted some inspiration.  My big advice is for the couple to do what is meaningful to them and to put a lot of care and thought into everything that they do.  I would also add, get a really good photographer.  Photos from well meaning friends are great too, but the beautifully captured photos of our day are so well cherished by us.  We had Emma Solley who is based in Exeter capture our wedding days.  Unfortunately, she will not be available for our 5th year celebration, but I am sure that we will find the perfect person.

Back to now, our invitations for our May Celebration are going to the printer today.  We’ve chosen one of Emma’s B & W photographs of our hands for the card.

our hands001

The same photo, in colour.

our hands002

We had two wedding ceremonies – a Registry Office Wedding, followed by a Soul Wedding Ceremony and Handfasting the next day.  Another photo of our hands from our Registry Office Wedding.

our hands003

Receive my pledge, accept my troth, take my hands in yours.

The love that endures a lifetime


A part of every woman and every man resists knowing that in all love relationships Death must have her share.
We pretend we can love without our illusions about love dying,
pretend we can go on without our superficial expectations dying,
pretend we can progress and that out favorite flushes and rushes will never die. . .

If lovers cannot stand these Life/Death/Life processes,
they cannot love one another over and beyond hormonal aspirations. . .
As woman is keeper of the cycles, the Life/Death/Life cycles are at the center of her concern.
Since there can be little life without a decline in that which has gone previously,
lovers who insist on attempting to keep everything at a psyche-scintillating peak will spend their days in a increasingly ossified relationship. . .

When lovers are able to tolerate the Life/Death/Life nature,
when they are able to understand it as a continuum
—as a night between two days—and as the force that creates a love that endures a lifetime. . .
Then together they are strengthened, and both are called to deeper understanding of the two worlds they live in,
one the mundane world, the other the one of spirit.

– Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Fly Me to the Moon

We went to the South of France in May to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and flew into Nice especially to visit the Musée National Marc Chagall.

The Bay of Angels, 1962

This was a once in a lifetime experience for me as Chagall is one of my favourite artists.  One room was filled with huge canvases illustrating the Song of Songs, paintings that he dedicated to his second wife Vava.

Le Cantique des Cantiques III, 1960

We stayed for about a week in Arles at the elegant Grand Hotel Nord-Pinus, decorated with terracotta tiles, carved furniture, vintage bullfighting posters, wrought iron, beautiful textiles and photos of the luminaries who’ve stayed there over the years:  Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso and scores of famous toreros.

Charlotte Rampling, 1973 by Helmut Newton

Grand Hotel Nord-Pinus, staircase

My best souvenir of the entire trip was found at a flea market in Aix-en-Provence.  Aix is a supposedly gracious city filled with fountains.  It was a bit touristy and traffic-filled so we walked around town, visited the flea market and went onto Marseilles.

One of the “thousand fountains” of Aix

My prize was a pair of Luna Moths in a frame.  The price was €20 and I was offered to take them for €15.  So I did.

Actias luna is found in North America. When the adult Luna Moth leaves its coccoon, it is not ready to fly.  It usually hatches in mid-morning and climbs a tree trunk to hang its wings, so they can fill with blood. Once the wings are inflated, the adult moth will wait until nightfall to fly off to find a mate. Adult Luna Moths don’t eat; in fact, they don’t even have a mouth. They only live for about a week, and their only purpose is to mate.  They are lime green when alive and dry to a beautiful cream colour when they have died.  I think that if any creature could fly to the moon, it has to be a Luna Moth.

Male luna moth and coccoon

Female luna moth and coccoon

I cleaned the glass, re-gilt the frame and wrote a letter in French to Steve about my experience of our trip, which I collaged onto the sides of the box.


Spiral in the heart of love

Steve gave me this beautiful red rose for St. Valentine’s Day.  I love the spiral in the centre which radiates outwards.  This reminds me of some words by John O’Donohue in his book Anam Cara.

“A person should always offer a prayer of graciousness for the love that has awakened in them.  When you feel love for your beloved and his or her for you, now and again you should offer the warmth of your love as a blessing for those who are damaged and unloved.  Send that love out into the world to people who are desperate; to those who are starving; to those who are trapped in prison; in hospitals and all the terrrains of bleak and tormented lives.  When you send that love out from the bountifulness of your own love, it reaches other people.  This love is the deepest power of prayer.”

Since Steve and I met, along with the family and friends who belong in our circle and who delight in our togetherness, we are each aware of jealous friends or bitter  former partners who cannot share in our happiness together.

I’ve been troubled by the loss of a dear friend that I have had for over 20 years, who just isn’t able to have me in his life now that I am married and deeply committed to Steve.  I can understand his feelings and I also feel the loss of our friendship.  I can recall times in my life when my jealousy has kept me from truly embracing a friend’s new found love and this has caused me to withdraw my friendship and good feelings.   Underneath is all, there can be unpleasant feelings of hurt, rejection and envy.   It’s so much easier to become angry at the other person, or cut them from my life than to face these feelings.

So I offer each of these people whom I know a blessing and a hope that they will find their way to the warmth of love.

This Marriage

This Marriage

May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.

– Rumi

Photograph by Steve Chamberlain, taken on an iPhone with a Lomo app.

Our wackiest wedding present

Sarah hails from San Francisco and owns Otto Retro on Fore Street in Exeter.  I wrote about it here a couple of years ago.    I’ve been one of her steadiest customers and went through a spate of first aid kits for a while.   Quite a lot of the furniture in our living room is from Otto Retro.  Like me, Sarah is a West Coast refugee and she came to our house for our very first Thanksgiving dinner last year.

Sarah came to our wedding party towards the end of the day (as Saturdays are one of her busiest days of the week) and brought a beautifully wrapped gift with mysterious picture hanging hooks poking through the paper.  She also organized a couple of other guests to schlep all of our wedding presents over to our flat for us, as we were knackered and starting to say good-byes to people who were leaving.  What a sweetie!

Sarah’s gift is a Paragon first aid case

filled with American candy and an invitation to acquaint Steve, now by virtue of our marriage, an honorary American with our AMERICAN SNACK HERITAGE!!

The case now resides in our tea & coffee cosy corner and houses herbal teabags.

Here’s one of the first photos in our album from Emma Solley celebrating our cross-cultural marriage.

West Coast meets West Midlands

Picturing love

My friends Jenny and Simon came down from Scotland to attend both of our wedding ceremonies.

Jenny Rose is a very talented artist with a background in clothing and textiles and has fabulous seamstress and millinery skills.  (Hmmmmm  .  .  .  .  .  what exactly is her background? (Note to self:  Interview Jenny and post her amazing artwork on my other blog Inspiraculum)). She sent us a card with this lovely drawing inside – click on it to see a larger view.

” It was wonderful to be among such loving
and interesting arty folk for your weddings.

The Humanist service and your vows were beautiful and moving –
such potent energy speaking from the heart and soul
and the labyrinth was an engaging fitting finale.”

Simon Robinson is an ace photographer and had at least one of his (non-digital) cameras with him. We’re looking forward to seeing some of his photographs from the two days when he has finished gearing up for his upcoming exhibitions.

Photograph by Emma Solley

Wanderers return

Two wanderers flying side by side

After the wedding, which we’ll share with you here very soon, we went on our honeymoon to the Amalfi Coast. We wandered there along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, savoured fine food, tasted history and took wing towards the rest of our marriage. This picture of two gulls flying side by side was taken from the Philosopher’s Belvedere on the island of Capri.

Our marriage begins . . . .

After two days of celebrations, we’re off to the Amalfi Coast for a week’s honeymoon.  I didn’t pick up a camera once over the past two days, but here are a couple of snaps.  We’ll be writing all about the final run-up to the two ceremonies, the ceremonies themselves and our romantic Italian honeymoon on our return.

After the civil ceremony

Post-wedding bliss

The journey will continue  .  .  .  .  .  .


Our wedding days are coming up at the end of the week.  The energy is very intense.  We still have some aesthetic, creative things to do for our soul ceremony.  We will have about 16 friends and family members over for supper on the night of our civil wedding ceremony and the eve of our soul wedding. I am finishing the quilting on Cleaved and then can tidy up our living room, which has been transformed into a fibre art studio.  We have yet to pack for our honeymoon to the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  plus, I’ve been suffering from pre-wedding dementia – just forgetting people’s names and words and doing things like looking at my keys and saying ‘Where are my keys?’

But it feels really good, these final days before our wedding.  The time feels full and ripe and ready to be plucked.  I was in the apple orchard near my bus stop last week and envisioned our wedding as a beautiful apple blossom slowly and gently coming into flower.

I love orchards and the idea of marriage as an orchard, orderly and fruitful.  After the wedding, our marriage will continue to ripen and bear the fruits of our life together.

In full flower