The Wedding Dress Afield: LP Version

Katherine and IsabelThe dress I wore when Tim and I celebrated our marriage in 1988 originally belonged to Katherine Hinman Schultz, the mother of my grandfather, Charles. While I know that it was her dress, I don’t know whether she wore it when she married Emil Schultz, or whether it was simply one of her pretty dresses. She was the family artist–a music school graduate, organist for the Congregational Church for forty-one years, enthusiastic photographer, writer of humorous verses to adorn collaged place cards for festive dinners. Here she is, standing with her third and youngest child, Isabelle (who later clipped the last two letters from her first name in a burst of modernity), and the doll and buggy which appear to be aimed toward the Fox River that bordered their back garden in Menasha, Wisconsin. Kate, as she was known, was born on March 20, 1879. Her daughter, Isabelle, was born November 20, 1915, when Kate was thirty-six. My guess is that this photo was taken about 1919.

Below is the earliest picture I have of the dress, about the time I was born, decades after it was made. It is worn by Isabel, then a college graduate (first attending Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, then University of Wisconsin at Madison) and the girls physical education teacher at Menasha High School. As Grandma Kate’s journal confirms, Isabel graduated from college on June 17, 1940, just forty-nine days after her father’s pharmacy closed its doors forever. Living at home ever after, Grand-aunt Isabel began her teaching career on September 3, 1940 when she was twenty-five years old. It wasn’t easy for elderly parents to pay for college during the Great Depression–in the 1930s, you were elderly in your sixties–and I’ve heard that a neighbor who was impressed by Isabel’s quick mind helped to finance her college education.  She had red hair and, like her mother, a love of theater. This photograph was taken in Menasha, at a local history pagent, in about 1960.

Isabel Wearing Dress circa 1960

And here is the dress on the day of its reconstituted glory on August 6, 1988. Our niece, Nicole, wore a flower girl dress made of the same fabric as the brand-new under-dress I wore. (One of my early quilting efforts can be spotted in the background.) When the dress came to me, it was yellowed with age, ripped in a number of places, stained, and the lining was completely tattered. This Phoenix-dress shined anew after a seamstress had made a completely new under-dress of peach cotton lined with silk and replaced all the edging with bias tape made from the same fabric as the under-dress.

Leslie Tim and Nicole 1988

Actually the theme of twin dresses chimed in twin ways: not only did this old dress transform from a lined confection  to a lacy frosting over the newly fashioned sleeveless peach dress lined with silk, it was the second dress I wore for our wedding.

Tim and I were legally married on August 4, 1988, by a justice of the peace in Hastings, Minnesota. The ceremony for friends and family was celebrated two days later at the home of Sally and David Tellekson in Kenwood, Minnesota. Our dear friend, LaNelle Olson, officiated. Below is a photo Tim took of me (with witness Jim Herzog in the background) after the legal ceremony. That August was a record-breaker for high temperatures, but I felt cool in this new-but-retro-styled sundress. Ah, the days of daring to wear bold horizontal stripes!

Leslie's Justice of the Peace Dress

Fast-forward to 2010. As regular readers know from my post a few weeks back, this was the year I faced facts regarding the “glory rag” stored in my basement. Even in 1988, refurbished, it was too fragile for another wearing. Like many a nonagenarian, its fibers didn’t have any give. And twenty-two years in storage hadn’t helped. The silk netting upon which the heavy crocheted string was appliqued was rotting, rips and tears abounding. It was time. The dress travelled with me in my neighborhood, to the headwaters of the Mississippi, to Little Sand Bay in Lake Superior (where Tim and I plan to have our ashes scattered someday), even as far as Jamestown, Virginia.

Under the August full moon, we travelled to New Ulm, Minnesota and took the dress to the highest point above the Minnesota River Valley, climbing the stairs of the “Herman the German” monument, allowing the dress to bell out over the tops of the trees.

At Red Oaks Farm, his boyhood home, Tim and I set up a tent for ourselves, a tripod for my camera,  and a funeral pyre for the dress. Tim created a support of apple wood pruned from trees he had planted when Julia was a toddler. The fire ring was made from the foundation stones of the old barn, demolished decades ago. I decorated the dress with fresh roses. We offered toasts–to ties that bind, to old friends and new beginnings, to love, to letting go. When the moment felt right, we lit a match.

Today, I have vivid memories of this beautiful carapace of a dress as well as about 1,000 photos of it. It stands apart from our wedding day with a life of its own. And one day, when the time is right, I know it will enter into a poem.  Meanwhile, the peach-colored under-dress (The under-study? The daughter? The Cinderella?) is now a stand-alone diva of a gown safely packed away in case Julia ever wants to wear it.


Below is a (believe me) small selection of the wedding dress adventure photos that are now in my hands. If you scroll through quickly, perhaps you can make a flip book!

Dress with Scilla

Dress with Apple Blossoms

Dress with Canoes

Dress Sleeve with Twigs

Dress on the Way to Big Bog

Dress with Pool B & W

Dress with Pool Color

Dress and Portage

Julia Taking the Dress Swimming

Dress with Frayed Couch

Dress at Itasca

Dress at Pothole Park

Dress by Big Bay Color

Dress by Big Bay

Dress with Sheep

Dress at Crossings II

Dress at Crossings I

Dress at Crossings III

Dress at Little Sand Bay

Dress in New Ulm

Dress in Old Granary

Dress in Old Granary Color

Dress and More Flame

Dress and Champagne

Moon Flame

Dress with Pink Rose

Dress with Julia's Hands

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Summer Pleasures: Seeing New Things in Familiar Places


This gallery contains 18 photos.

This summer has been a time of short jaunts to familiar places. Like revising a poem or story, revisiting a place offers an opportunity to “re-see” a place I think I know. This certainly happened on each of my trips … Continue reading

Summer Pleasures: From Small Farms to Table & “Cruciferous” Poem

Big Woods Vegetables

Summers mean local produce is in abundance here. Our family been part of the Community Supported Agricultural movement (CSA) for the better part of two decades–since before we ever heard that recent dictionary entry: locavore. In a CSA, consumers buy a share of the harvest prior to the planting season, then share in the abundance of the just-picked harvest and the drama of the weather’s impact on the crops. Depending on the week and the year, we will be surprised by a mix of vegetables, greens, herbs, and even sometimes flowers or fruits. Part of the pleasure is discovering the flavors of new varieties of old favorites (tomatoes) or learning about entirely new delicacies to cook (Celeriac? Tomatillo? What do I do with these?)

Above is a photograph I snapped by chance as I went to pick up this week’s share at  Big Woods Farm CSA. Right now, our refrigerator is full of the freshest and most flavorful cucumbers, zucchinis, carrots, beets,  and greens, as well as a just-blended dressing of cilantro and lime juice. And the kitchen counter holds an enormous bowl of various types and colors of tomatoes. This year, thanks to a new cookbook from the Duluth Grill, I am experimenting with making my own ketchup.

Making Our First Batch of Ketchup with Three Varieties of Tomatoes

Making Our First Batch of Ketchup with Three Varieties of Tomatoes

If you don’t already lean toward the delicious and healthful and environmentally sound choice of organic food, you might be interested in the resources on the Local Harvest website, everything from farmers’ markets to CSAs in your own area. By supporting local growers, you also help to keep small producers–the new family farms–in the business of serving their neighbors and supporting their families. In addition, you reduce carbon emissions and prevent genetically modified organisms from entering the food chain, all while enhancing your own well-being and pleasing your palate. For us, this is a bargain no matter what angle we look at.

The one challenge we’ve found is making good use of all this abundance. Some of the fresh pickings that we can’t eat during the week, we give away to our friends and neighbors. We also preserve food by blanching and freezing it. It is time-consuming, but very satisfying to see the freezer fill up with grated zucchini and partially baked winter squashes (for breads, muffins, and stews), and with bell  peppers, beans, onions, carrots, tomatoes, corn, and herbs (for soups, stir fries, and casseroles).

From Field to Doorstep: Beans from Big Woods Farm CSA

From Field to Doorstep: Beans from Big Woods Farm CSA

This year, we are also freezing blueberries, peaches, and apples–these last from trees planted by Tim and his siblings on the farm they grew up on.

First Step: Freezing and Stewing 20 lbs of Michigan Blueberries

First Step: Freezing and Stewing 20 lbs of Michigan Blueberries

We also seek out other local growers when we can. One favorite example is just down the road: Lorence’s Berry Farm. We depend upon their strawberries, raspberries, and asparagus in season, and also enjoy their frozen berries, jams, and syrups.  Lorrences Sign

Julia's Gluten-free Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, and Rice Cheese

Julia’s Gluten-free Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, and Rice Cheese

Julia, a dedicated environmentalist (who has recently instituted a composting program for our kitchen) proved that we can take good, fresh food on the road. There will be more on our trip to Duluth in an upcoming post, but here is a photo of the ready-to-bake pizza she created in a hotel room with only a microwave oven–gluten-free and dairy-free, no less–using basil and cherry tomatoes from our first vegetable delivery from Big Woods Farm.

Using local produce from small farms and gardens grows on us each year a bit more. We continue to learn of new options and also to become better (more imaginative and healthful) cooks. And we’re curious about your discoveries! Please let us know your favorite sources, your plans for next season.

As for us, we have a scheme for growing hard-to-find Yellow Indian Woman soup beans at a well-cared-for garden we know about–stay tuned!

Now, for more on the poetry of the garden:


Silvered cabbages sparkle with dew,
appear like treasure in the field rows.

Peas twine along the chicken wire,
studded with fat purple blooms.
Sweet onions pulse toward the surface,
Their fragrant tops the green of park benches.

At the corner of my vision, lies a thin, black hose –
No, it’s a snake weaving through the baby beets.
Raspberries glitter, cherries dance.
Asparagus has gone to seed, red berries bejeweling
those tops like fluffy Christmas trees, while corn silk
drapes wet, sweet, unripe.   A blush
of yellow-orange begins to gild the pumpkins
under the dragonfly-blue haze of August.

I think how this garden feeds my eye,
all of me, passes through me in many ways – death,
rot, renewal, and new fruit.  I pick a nasturtium,
tuck it behind my ear, head up the hill, then pause—

there is a small rattling in the bluebird house.
Suddenly,  the surprise of a rounded blue head, and
a rosy breast, flushed
like an embarrassed cheek or ripe peach:
duet tints of happiness.

Leslie Schultz

Thank you for reading this! If you think of someone else who might enjoy it, please forward it to them. And, if you are not already a subscriber, I invite you to subscribe to the Wednesday posts I am sending out each week–it’s easy, it’s free, and I won’t share your address with anyone.



 White MailboxOther News:

I was thrilled to learn that my sonnet, “Tintern Church of England School for Girls”, was named one of three “Top Choice” selections for the 2013 Great River Shakespeare Festival/Maria W. Faust Sonnet competition. I am interested that this news came soon after my post on not “pre-rejecting myself or my work”, because I wrote this sonnet thirty years ago. Although I have sent it out a number of times, it had not yet found its audience–until now!  Click HERE to read all the winning sonnets.

And remember the Mars Haiku contest? The winners are in! Thank you to those who voted for my entry; although it was not one of the top choices those selected from 12,530 valid entries, I believe it will still keep those winners company on the DVD that will orbit the Red Planet. Thank you!


Anniversary Poem and Wedding Dress Adventures

Roses in front of the beautiful Northfield Public Library

Roses in front of the beautiful Northfield Public Library

This August, Tim and I celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary: the silver one. It is true that we each have a few silver hairs, but, honestly, it simply doesn’t seem that long to us, despite documentary proof:

Leslie and Tim in 1988

24th Anniversary

We’ve shared a number of adventures thus far, including getting to know the surprise party planner pictured above between us. (That surprise party for our last anniversary was the most delightful party ever–wonderful company, delicious food, and a perfect setting. Thank you, Julia! Thank you, Ellen!) Even the dress I wore (my great-grandmother’s gown, brought back from the brink with refurbishment in 1988) had some adventures in its last year of 2010. After decades in a dark box, it got a chance to see the world before leaving it:

Wedding Dress in Snow

Wedding Dress with Tulips

Wedding Dress Country Road

The Dress and I on Last Day

Although the dress is gone–the netting rotted beyond repair before its Viking funeral send-off on our twenty-second anniversary–our adventures continue. I couldn’t bear to throw it out, but it didn’t make sense to keep it in a box when it could no longer be worn. Our ceremony to celebrate and honor the dress gave us a sense of new possibilities and a tangible metaphor for the necessity of submitting to those changes life insists upon.

Wedding Dress and Full Moon

(Photo note: what appears to be the sun setting is actually the full moon rising!)

Later this month, Tim and I are planning an urban adventure together. We’re staying a short time at a luxurious hotel and giving ourselves the rare luxury of unplanned time–many ideas for things to see and do but nothing actually scheduled!  (Julia and Peanut will sojourn in the country with friends.)

Wedding Suitcase

And we look forward to all the new discoveries on the road together toward our golden celebration in 2038. Here is a poem I wrote in honor of our twentieth anniversary.


The champagne cork lifts off, sails toward a night
sky littered with stars. Probably it lands
on the grass, perhaps on the roof of the shed.
No longer bottled up, sharp smoke disperses.

We bring our bubbling glasses together,
raise them in honor of each other, our friends,
our cherished place on Earth, cheering, “Here, here!”

The beautiful silver flight of the knife
ends with a thud, sunders a crisp melon
under the sweet rising moon of August.

We’re surrounded by intergalactic cold,
an uncertain economic climate,
political tumult.  Yesterday, hail
strafed this peaceful town and its lush gardens,

yet we are calmed in all this whirling by knowing
in our universe there is no down or up.
Just this one central moment,
this warm hand, this sweet breath, this sip of home.

Wedding Champagne Glasses

Thank you for reading this! If you think of someone else who might enjoy it, please forward it to them. And, if you are not already a subscriber, I invite you to subscribe to the Wednesday posts I am sending out each week–it’s easy, it’s free, and I won’t share your address with anyone.


Other News

White MailboxWe are beginning to make plans for Julia’s freshman year of high school. One highlight–among many–is the chance to study again with a master teacher. Julia Denne is offering an online course on master works of short fiction from 19th century Russian writers. After studying Tolstoy’s War and Peace in depth last year with Julia Denne, our Julia is interested in the wide variety offered by this new syllabus: writers from Pushkin to Chekhov are represented. Online discussions are sure to be lively. Take a look at