LA Bound

The ad said weddings, graduations, reunions, so we went to take a look.

The LA Café in Adrian wasn’t a very happening spot, but we didn’t know that.

We did know it would hold over the 150 guests we expected, and would allow us to bring in our own catering and decorations.

It also turned out to be a little dicey when, two weeks before our wedding, a fight broke out one evening and arrests were  made.

We chose not to share that with our parents, mostly because we were getting married in the afternoon, had the place to ourselves, knew every person who was going to be there, and were pretty sure there wasn’t going to be any fighting which would escalate into arrests.

We mainly chose not to share because there wasn’t another venue, and we feared there might be an insistence to delay our wedding for a more appropriate place.

Because LA Cafe was primarily a bar, that service would have to be utilized, required. That made sense – especially since one of their regular bartenders would be in charge of the bar.  The fee for the room was reasonable. The fee for the bartender was reasonable. The recommended DJ’s fee was also reasonable, and all were available for the date we preferred. That clenched it.

It was determined the caterer would bring plain white place settings, silverware, cups, and glasses. Jeff and I shopped the dollar store for gold and black napkins, cake plates and streamers. We happened across 16 black, metal, 5-armed, scrolled candle holders perfect for center-pieces, and an amazingly large number of candle sticks in white and gold. Table décor – check!

Music? A friend gifted me 2 CD’s of background instrumental wedding music for dinner ambiance. I suggested a Colin Raye song lyric for our plain and simple entwined heart invitation. Jeff loved the idea.

The wording of the song lyric brought a protest from my mother, who felt we should substitute “was” with “am.” I felt strongly we should keep it as it was written, never imagining how that one word would make such a big difference. I’m very glad I did it my way for many reasons.

It was a beautiful song for the beginning of our married lives together, but it wasn’t quite right for our first dance.  We kept our ears open for current songs, scoured our CD and tape collections, tossed ideas back and forth. Coming up with a “set list” for all of the obligatory dances – Mother/Son, Father/Daughter, Parents, Wedding Party was easy. We filled that with songs we loved, but weren’t quite “the song” we were looking for.

Sweet favors were our next goal. We thought about the regular sort-of-boring little boxes or tulle bags of Jordan Almonds, and considered the (at the time) rather expensive option of custom black and gold M&M’s.

Poking around for something special on internet paid off when Jeff determined he had found the perfect thing.

Quote for the Week:

2016 05 31 in this life jakorte

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In this Life, I was Loved by You:

Custom M&M’s:  (there’s a 20% off sale going on!)

Bulk Ordering:


The Smokin’ Solution

Back to June of 2001.

Unfortunately for my die-hard Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Junior fan, in June 2001, Jeff Gordon won the Michigan International Speedway  NASCAR Sprint Cup race. This was an especially low-blow for my Jeff, as he was still saddened by the February 2001 crash that took Earnhardt Sr.’s life.

The race was on TV, and pretty much called as a triple play for Earnhardt, Junior and Waltrip. Jeff was beside himself, grinning and happy. I was in the kitchen making dinner and enjoying Jeff’s boisterous and boy-ish hero-worship mood, when I heard him gasp. Half-standing with his hands on the coffee, Jeff leaned forward chanting, “no, no… no.”

Earnhardt had crashed. Disappointment turned to devastation. As the #3 car was draped and rolled away, Jeff explained what that meant. Our phone began to ring, and amongst men, tears were shed.

Jeff’s hero was gone and his enthusiasm for NASCAR never was the same. I’m not saying he was unenthusiastic ; he continued to be. We continued to attend races, and Jeff had to choose a new driver. Junior was the logical choice, but he also cheered others. Except Jeff Gordon, at first.

The off-track vendor pit at MIS used to not be so glamorous. Slick trailers and elaborate displays hadn’t taken the field, yet. Sellers set up folding tables within flapped and heat-retaining rain tents and stacked them with boxes.

Die cast cars, t-shirts, used race tires, plaques, posters, cups, mugs, lighters, watches, bedding, cake pans, figurines, clocks, socks, snacks, curtains, bolts of fabric and in June 2001 we noticed for the first time, a BBQ truck.

The whole area smelled fantastic. We didn’t actually see the truck before we smelled it. For a while, we wandered around with watering mouths., until we found the unassuming modestly small smoker and attendant.

Cash was king in those days. Very few accepted credit cards. What cash we had was allocated to finding that one special yearly track-purchased souvenir. With that in mind, we bought one $6.00 pulled pork sandwich to share and it was fantastic.

Walking and munching, a few tents down, Jeff suddenly stopped. With a light bulb look, he turned to me and said, “I wonder if he caters?”

A great conversation later, because Jeff could talk to anyone about anything, we left with a business card, and a few small samples of each item offered. The plan was to contact him in August or early September when we had more of an idea of the number of wedding guests we were expecting.

 I was concerned that whatever venue we ended up at might not let us bring in food.

Not for the first time, and not for the last, Jeff said earnestly, “It will all work out. You’ll see…”

Quote for the Week:

20165 05 24 I never truly believed jakorte

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Exactly Like This:




Sort of Shaping Up

Nannee was disappointed for about 10 seconds.  Jeff and I had no feelings one way or the other.

Jeff’s mom, Sally, came up with an attractive alternative.

One of the many things I adored about Sally was her usual state of enthusiasm. I am for sure Jeff inherited that from her. With sparkling eyes Sally declared that “The Mayor of Tecumseh” could marry us.

That was absolutely true, and he probably would have. Unfortunately, he was booked.

We contacted a reform Jewish female rabbi via email.  She replied, due to the fact that Jeff and I were different religions the cost would be $150.00 more than the website had shown.

So, we kept up our search, not only for an officiate, but for a place to get married, too.

Here’s something I’ve learned. Most wedding halls like to keep a monopoly on all aspects of a wedding. They want to determine the caterer (most often them), the want to determine, who you will use for a DJ, for bar service and imposed minimums on how much you must spend.

The ones we visited, we didn’t like. The ones we didn’t visit were the ones we knew we could not afford. Jeff and I ditched the stale reception hall idea, and decided to attend a bridal show to see what we could find.

Saturday morning, I had an eye examination appointment scheduled at a retail store. Ridiculously, Jeff dragged me around the event describing details and flyers that my dilated eyes could not make out

We were steered toward one of the cake bakers, so after a sample, we decided to use Sweet Baker in Adrian.

Jeff introduced me to a photographer he knew from high school.  The display picture was large enough for me to see, and was exactly what I had envisioned for our fall wedding. Precious Portraits by Connie became our official photographer.

I’ll also mention that we had been given a choice of wedding or elopement – same dollar amount for each. Any wedding would cost more than that. We half-heartedly debated the pro’s and con’s of elopement. We were both on the same side. We decided wedding.

I took the limited budget as a challenge. The only thing that threw us out of budget was the photographer. Jeff and I both wanted a professional photographer. That was not on the list of things my father was willing to contribute to, so we paid for it ourselves.

Using the limited year 2000 version of internet, searches were slow and difficult. With persistence and luck, we finally found a Universalist Minister who would marry us at a reasonable price.

The first time we met was at Bob Evan’s for coffee and pie. He apologized for being late, because his wife usually came with him, but she was feeling poorly.

Conversation was easy as we leafed through many examples of wedding ceremonies.  We choose the one that was lacking “Jesus” but had enough “God” to make everyone happy, and went home with the assignment of writing our personal vows.

The second time we met, the minister arrived alone, again, because his wife was meeting with another couple who had the same issue we did. We planned the order of the ceremony, provided the vows and a poem, and paid our deposit.

By May 2001, we had a photographer, a wedding cake, a groom’s cake and, thankfully, someone who could sign our marriage certificate.

What we didn’t have was a place to get married, any idea where we’d hold a reception, or a clue about a caterer.

One of those problems was solved at Michigan International Speedway, during June 2001 NASCAR race weekend.

Quote for the Week:

2016 05 17 no pre-conceived notions jakorte

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Not Even Close: Tecumseh Wedding Spends

Yep, That’s How:

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The Search is On

For some reason, even though I never actually pictured myself marrying, I wanted very badly to get married in October. We had a good three months to make it happen October 2000. I was ready to hit the ground running.

My mother was not. She was rather appalled and said that couldn’t possibly happen. There’d be too much planning: ordering invitations, finding a dress, choosing a venue  and a baker and a caterer and a band and decorations, giving people adequate notice to make travel plans and…

It was a long list, and I was disappointed. I still had that sudden-rush bug pushed along by my father’s illness, but I knew nothing about weddings, so we planned for October 2001, and chose Saturday, the 6th.

In some ways, that extra year plus some turned out to be a good thing, because Jeff and I were having trouble finding someone to marry us. I expected to use a Justice of the Peace. Michigan doesn’t have any of those

Nannee suggested we speak with the minister at Tecumseh United Methodist Church. As the oldest living member of that church she was sure that’s where we should be married.

If it hadn’t been for that one sticky point, the one thing my father insisted on, it probably would have.

It was important to honor his request, as he struggled to understand why we could not have an evening wedding. That was mainly because the cows had to be milked, and Jeff felt attendance would be awkward and low if we did not work our wedding in between.

So, that’s how we found ourselves sitting across from a pastor and disagreeing that you needed to be a member of and to attend church to be considered religious. That wasn’t a breaking point. That came when I laid down my dad’s request.

I grew up in a Jewish home of tradition in the same way some Christians only make it to Easter and Christmas services. We celebrated Hannukah, Yom Kippur and Passover, but mostly not religiously. Just a gathering of family and food.

All 5 members of my immediate made bar or bat mitzvah, much like a First Communion or re-dedication. That’s pretty much where it stopped, and how I ended up uttering these words.

“He isn’t opposed to GOD,” I said. “My father just doesn’t want to hear the word ‘Jesus.’ At all.”

The pastor quietly looked down at his clasped hands, raised them to chin level, and tapped his fingertips together in the form of a triangle most often used when people are thinking very seriously.

After  a moment, he looked up and politely replied, “I have to decline.”

Quote for the Week:

2016 05 10 I never cease to be amazed retrospective jakorte

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Sort of helpful:

Detailed help:

None of this applied to us:


2016 05 10 j and j east kilbuck March 2000 jakorte







With Jeff, for the first time, forever became the most comfortable place I ever knew. I easily banished the future.  I stopped looking beyond and stopped looking forward in favor of our wonderful right now.

There were two times in our shared life when I can say I was truly clueless.  There might have been a few others, but if there were, I’m still clueless about them.

I really can’t explain what bug bit me in July of 2000. I pretty much went from zero to 110, from status quo to let’s rock this boat.

I started hinting that I’d really like to be engaged. Not so much for relationship security, as a logical progression, at least in my mind.

I might have asked at least once a day for a few weeks. “Can we be engaged?”

And Jeff would smile and either say, “I’ll think about it…” or answer, “Eventually.”

I’d laugh and say, “Think faster!” or “When’s eventually?”

Not being engaged wasn’t breaking my heart.  We were ‘we,’, and that was that.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t give up. I continued sneaking in my request as odd times when he might just be caught off guard; in the morning, in the evening, commuting, at home, grocery shopping.

Like that Friday night in July. Jeff was laid out on the living room floor, head on a pillow, asking of I’d roll over his cramping calves with a heavy wooden pin.

After 20 loving minutes of trundling, I threw my wild pitch. “Are you sure we can’t get engaged?”

To which, Jeff languidly replied, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, I’ll do anything you want.”

“Really?” I asked.

He took a long breath.”Yeah, OK.” he responded.

I pressed, “So… we’re engaged?”

“Yes,” Jeff sighed, sitting up. “But… I was going to ask you tomorrow… at the airport when we picked up your mom.”

I sat there open-mouthed and silent, holding the rolling pin. Jeff was very hard to disappoint, and I had tremendously succeeded in disappointing us both.

“Well,” I said, “You can still…”

“Nah,” he interrupted. “That would be silly,” and then mentioned something about talking to my Dad.

I wasn’t really listening, because  I was fighting tears. Jeff took my hands, and told me, “Don’t cry. It doesn’t matter. We’re engaged, now.”

I nodded in silent agreement, then Jeff suddenly and loudly war-whooped, pumped his arm into the air and shouted, “I’m ENGAGED!”

Of course he was right. I laughed and snuggled up and was happy.

If you’re wondering why my mother decided to visit at that particular time, I can assure you – I wasn’t.

I don’t remember going to the airport or coming home, but I do remember Jeff was on the couch and I was standing up and Mom was standing by the front window when we phoned my father.

“Dad!” I told him, “Jeff engaged me!”

A few years after Jeff passed, I was telling the story of how I coerced him with a rolling pin, and pointing out how I’d never been proposed to when my dimmer switch suddenly cranked to high. I finally put two-and-two together, as the saying goes.

Honestly.  Until that moment, it has never occurred to me that was the reason my mother had decided to come visit. I asked her about it and right after she exclaimed, “Really? You didn’t figure that out?”

She went on to explain that Jeff had called my Dad , not so much asked for permission but to explain why he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.

It breaks my  heart now, that I was so caught up in my happiness, that I didn’t realize my Dad didn’t come because he couldn’t. I didn’t realize the full impact of him saying, “I wish I could be there,” or how sad that must have made him.

It breaks my heart now that I took that special celebratory opportunity away from both of us.

I leave out these sad parts when people ask how Jeff proposed.

I usually manage a smile and say, “He didn’t… I convinced him with a rolling pin.”

Quote for the Week:

rolling pin 05 03 2016 jakorte


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