Tuesday, September 30, 2008

POETRY: Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

by John Keats

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unweari├Ęd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar,
O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Friday, September 26, 2008

READING: Apache Wedding Blessing

Now we feel no rain,
for each of us will be shelter to the other.
Now we feel no cold,
for each of us will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness,
for each of us will be a companion to the other.
We are two bodies,
but there is one life before us and one home.
When evening falls,
I'll look up and there you will be.
I'll take your hand;
you'll take mine and we'll turn together
To look at the road we traveled to reach this - the hour of our happiness.
It stretches behind us,
even as the future lies ahead.
A long and winding road,
whose every turn means discovery.
Old hopes, new laughter, shared fears.The adventure has just begun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Memorial Services: Remember and Reflect the Deceased

i feel a memorial service should remember a life that has been lived, and honour the deceased in a respectful, if not slightly irreverent, way, much like Bruce Weber, obituary writer for the New York Times, describes here:

"The general outlook of the obituary department is that our articles are about lives that have been lived, not deaths that have occurred. The idea is to appreciate the character of the subject to the degree that that’s possible, usually based on what we know that person has accomplished and on what we can glean from interviews with family members and others. You never want to make fun of anyone, but you do want to appreciate eccentricities, record unusual events and relay humorous incidents or comments. In that way, a good obituary can be like a good eulogy."

Courtesy of the New York Times, where you should go for the rest of this fascinating and enlightening interview.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WEDDING: GLBT Beach Ceremony near the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, CA


These New Yorkers decided to be married on a beautiful California beach. With the help of their dear friend Neil, their dream came true on the beach in front of the exclusive Montage Resort in Laguna Beach.

It was a small, private ceremony with just a few members of each family attending...they did, after all, have to travel across the country!

We began by drawing a sacred circle in the sand, which Scott and John stood inside with me, and with the guests just inside the outside edge. As a soundtrack played of Brian Eno's music, the ceremony proceeded, with the participation of family members who read separate excerpts. They concluded by erasing the sacred circle, and with a celebratory dinner at the Loft Restaurant inside the Montage.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

WEDDING: Home Ceremony in Valley Village, CA


It was an unforgettable evening in this expansive Valley Village backyard! The ceremony began with a small processional that was to have included the bride's hearing service dog, who encountered doggie stage fright at the last minute. As an officiant, it is my priority to perform a ceremony the couple's way, which this time meant my back was to face the audience:
(from ceremony text)
"They have chosen to face you, their honored guests, as a show of their
respect towards you, and their desire to fully share their joy with everyone
here today. They have chosen this date, on the cusp of fall, for their
wedding, to celebrate the transition to their favorite season with the start of
their wedded lives."

During the ceremony, the bride's dear friend, Susan Heartlight, sang a lovely version of "What a Wonderful World" accompanied by Robert Korda and his string quartet.

i love to experience new things, especially at wedding receptions. The reception was fantastic, with dancing and dining al fresco! We danced the hora in celebration of the newly wedded couple. Il Fornaio provided the catering, and Mike Brandt was a perfect host from Lionel Ames Events.

Event planning, by Andrea of A Wynning Event, was seamless and handled to the last detail, including portable, air-conditioned toilets for the guests. Photography by John at Snapmyphoto.com.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

WEDDING: Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, CA


I met these two audio engineers and learned how much we had in common through our mutual love of music. In fact, each table at the reception, instead of having a name or a number, was identified by an album cover!

This gorgeous ceremony took place at the Ranch House area of CALAMIGOS RANCH in Malibu off Kanan Road. You would never imagine such verdant grounds in the middle of the seemingly dry and brown canyons of Malibu. Shannon and Brad were married in front of a waterfall surrounded by trees and grass. The surroundings gave off a hushed, calm atmosphere, which i overheard many people comment about. Purplish and kermit-coloured mums, lilies and other flowers [dear florists: can you teach me more about all the different species?] were everywhere.

The couple enlisted a friend to play the guitar for the processional: "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles. During the ceremony, a sister-in-law recited an excerpt from the VELVETEEN RABBIT and a friend gave the APACHE WEDDING BLESSING.

Many thanks to Mon-Li, banquet manager, for her onsite energy and wisdom. Excellent DJ services provided by Tony of RED SHOE LA, with whom i have worked with several times before. These guys really know their music, and are not the typical cheesy wedding DJs, with a huge collection of chilly downtempo music as well as the hits.

Photography provided by a very busy team headed by TARA ROCHELLE.


Monday, September 15, 2008

WEDDING: Howard Johnson Resort, near Disneyland, in Anaheim, CA

CONGRATULATIONS: Stephanie and Jason!
These two came all the way from Edmonton, Alberta Canada!

Quite often, couples decide to have their own little destination wedding in conjunction with a vacation trip to California. In some ways, i like these ceremonies the best because it is just the couple and the officiant, with no extravagant reception and no relatives dragging the bride and groom from place to place.

In these long-distance cases, i'm usually unable to meet with a couple in person before the wedding. Trust is a majour issue, and i do my very best to assure the couple i will meet their every need. Sometimes, a phone call or two is involved, although in this particular case, the first time i ever met or spoke to either the bride and groom, was 30 minutes before the ceremony! i work closely with each couple via email to make sure their ceremony is a true reflection of themselves and of their love. For example:
"We are here near Disneyland, which is a significant place, because it was a family trip to the Magical Kingdom, that helped shape Stephanie into the person she is today. When Jason brought her flowers that day in the grocery store, it was the beginning of a very special story of love and friendship that has endured. It has taken some time and work to return to California, but here they are on their trip of a lifetime. What better place to publicly declare their love and commitment to each other?"

Go here for PHOTOS.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

WEDDING: Same Sex Ceremony at Home in Cerritos

It was an absolute thrill and honour to officiate at the wedding of two very good friends. i have never officiated at a ceremony with so much crying! :) Luckily, i did all my choking up during the rehearsal and managed to keep my composure.

To end the ceremony, i read from the following quote by Richard Bach, about soulmates:
“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.”


Sunday, September 7, 2008

PHOTOS: from Disneyland Rose Court Garden wedding

These photos are from Emily and Jeff's wedding at the Disneyland Rose Court Garden on 23 August 2008.

Many thanks to Emily's niece, PrincessBOCA for supplying these images!