Category Archives: Marriage & Wedding

My Unplanned Wedding: Part Two


[Image Credit:  Father of the Bride film]

Dear Readers,

Click here, to read My Unplanned Wedding: Part One . . .

“They told me that it could not be done!”

I always did like that kind of challenge and, in the end, we proved them wrong.

This is the story of how My Professor and I planned our Wedding & Reception in just 30 days and for merely $500:

The Ring:

After the Unplanned Proposal, the first order of business, of course, was to select an Engagement Ring — and it was done — in a heartbeat!

Directly across the hallway from Morrison’s Cafeteria,  was Carlisle’s Jewelers.  

I told my newly-minted fiance that I wanted a simple setting, similar to my grandmother’s engagement ring, circa 1918:



[Image Credit:  Orange Blossom]

And, lo and behold!  The very first ring that I saw, as I peered into the glass display case, was an engagement ring, which appeared to be inspired by my grandmother’s ring:


[Image Credit:  Orange Blossom]

The jeweler asked us if we wanted to inspect the diamond, using the “loupe”  and the criteria of the “Five C’s”* of diamond selection.

We declined.  We were too embarrassed to admit that we had never heard of either the loupe or the Five C’s.


But what did we know?   And what did we care?

We were buying an enduring symbol — not an investment!  The ring would be an emblem of our life-long commitment to each other.

We were horrified when the jeweler assured us:   “Not to worry!  You can  purchase of a larger diamond ring, in the future, when you can better afford it.”

How dare he suggest that my diamond was small!  Would I ever part with the ring that my True Love bestowed upon me?!   Perish the thought!

The Theme:

If there was a theme to the planning our wedding, it would have been “Little Women.”  I was only eight years old when I first read the book, by Louisa May Alcott, but I have read it many times since.  The book’s philosophy of life, themes, ideals, and virtues have continued to give shape and form to my mind and life.

I could imagine no more perfect Wedding Theme than that of the simplicity and sincerity of the marriage of Meg March and John Brooke.  I perused no books or magazines on “How to Plan a Wedding.”  The book, “Little Women,” provided all the instruction and guidance that I would ever need:  Not merely for the Wedding Day but, more importantly, for the serious business of nurturing and forging a life together.


[Image Credit:  Little Women film, 1994.]

Pre-Marital Counseling, a Minister, and a Church: 

Rev. George E. Nickels, our good friend, was also a minister and counselor and he graciously agreed to provide both pre-marital counseling and to officiate at the wedding.

He was the Director of Faith Counseling Center, located at Faith Presbyterian Church, where he arranged for us to have our Wedding Ceremony, in the Sanctuary, and the Reception in the Parlor.

The church was available on Sunday, September 2, 1973 and we decided that an Evening Candlelight Ceremony would be perfect.  We planned the wedding for “Half-past Seven O’clock.”

Budget:  $500

Like my sister and her husband, who were married in 1970, Stephen & I decided that we would pay for almost all of the expenses of the Wedding and Reception.  The two exceptions would be the fee for the photographer and the expense of the Rehearsal Supper.

At the time, my sister and I considered the planning of a low-budget wedding to be perfectly normal.  In retrospect, my sister and I could have co-written a book, “How to Have a Simple Wedding for Under One Thousand Dollars,”  if only we had known that we represented the last vestiges of an “odd normality.”

Wedding Attire:    

Dress:  Stephen & I went shopping at a little boutique and I quickly chose a dress:  It was on sale for $25 and fit perfectly!  It looked exactly like what Meg March might have chosen for her Wedding.

[On the day of the Wedding, I “did” my own make-up and hair — in the style of any regular day — as Meg might have done.  Simple.]

Suit:  Stephen wore the one suit that he owned.


I asked my college friend to be my one attendant and she chose a dress from her closet.  Stephen asked his friend to be his one attendant and he wore a suit from his closet.  Sadly, we have lost contact with both friends.

[NEWS UPDATE:  My college friend and attendant just found me, through this blog!]

Guest List & Invitations:  

Stephen & I composed the text of the invitation.  A friend and I hand-wrote — not only the addresses — but also the text of each invitation, on sheets of plain ivory stationery.  We invited 50 people and 35 of them were able to attend the Ceremony and Reception.

Rehearsal Supper:  

In those days, invitations to the Rehearsal Supper included only the Bridal Party and the Immediate Family Members.  We chose Garcia’s Restaurant [now Cypress Restaurant], made reservations, and just “showed up.”  There were no decorations, no program, and no “toasts” [that I can remember].  After supper, three family members each insisted upon paying the bill:  Stephen’s mother, my father, and Stephen’s grandfather.  I do not know how they resolved it.


The Faith Presbyterian Church Flower Guild agreed to leave the floral arrangements from the Sunday Morning Worship in the Sanctuary; we needed no other decoration.  The Sanctuary, with pipe organ, stained-glass windows, and vaulted ceiling, provided all the beauty and grandeur that one could imagine or desire.

From Elinor Doyle Florals, I ordered seasonal floral bouquets, a wreath for my hair, and a centerpiece for the Reception Cake & Punch Table.


My parents brought from their home a brass candlestick holder, which held three candles.

By now, you have perhaps witnessed so many “Unity Candle Ceremonies”  that you have grown weary of them.  However, we were one of the very first couples to introduce this enduring ritual.

Ceremony Liturgy & Music

The Liturgy was straight from the Book of Common Prayer and the Order of Worship for a Wedding, which provided suggestions for Scripture Lessons, Prayers, and Hymns.

George delivered a Wedding Sermon.  If he were still alive, that dear man, I would ask him for a copy of that Sermon.

My friend, Karen Jackson, played beautiful harp music for the Prelude, Procession, Recession, and Postlude.  She chose classical sacred music selections for the harp [Bach] and the congregation sang hymns from the Hymnal:  “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”  is one that I remember.

Reception Catering & Cake:

A friend recommended “Mrs. Roberts,” who suggested a menu of cake, punch, nuts, and mints.  As a luxury item, I also agreed to the suggestion of sandwiches, cut into quarters and served without crusts:  chicken salad, egg salad, and pimento cheese.  I ordered a Publix  cake, specifying cream [not white] icing.


Richard Parks Photography:  My father paid for this luxury item and the photographs were lovely.  However, sadly, Stephen & I could not afford to buy any of the prints!  [I should not have to point out that, in 1973, all cameras used film and photographers retained the rights to all images.]

Fortunately, my father was an excellent photographer and I cherish the images that he captured on our Wedding Day.  These are the ones that I will soon share with you!

. . . To Be Continued:  The Un-Planned Honeymoon and the First Apartment . . . . 


*”To establish a diamond’s quality, you must examine each of the Five C’s:

  1. Carat Weight
  2. Cut
  3. Color
  4. Clarity
  5. Certification

It is the overall combination of these that determines the value and beauty of a particular diamond.”  [International Diamond Center]



Filed under Engagement, Marriage & Wedding

A Marriage Meditation


[Image Credit:  the]

Dear Readers,

Weddings . . .  it is a joy for me to attend and witness these occasions.   I must confess, however, that I find it difficult to find inspiration within the confines of the Gift Registry.  My ardent desire is to offer the Bride and Groom a deep and meaningful gift — one that will encourage and strengthen them through the years ahead, in remaining faithful to the Covenant of Marriage and to their Marriage Vows.

Herewith is the Marriage Meditation that I bestow upon the Bride and Groom.  Along with the Meditation, I also offer two tangible gifts:  One represents the “Sacred” and one represents the “Mundane.”

The Vocation of Marriage is both Sacred and Eternal.  However, in practical terms, we live out our Vocation of Marriage in the Daily and Mundane.

May we who enter the Covenant of Marriage faithfully live into the Vocation of Marriage:  “a long obedience in the same direction.”

Coram Deo,



To the Bride & Groom,

In Joyous Anticipation of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony


[Image Credit:]

A Marriage Blessing, 

by Margot Blair Payne, 2012

May your covenant with each other be a reflection of God’s covenant with us.

May your life together be a pleasing, fragrant offering to God.

May you be surrounded by the encouragement and support of the Body of Christ, your family, and your friends.

May God bless your shared hopes and dreams, as you seek to honor God in your common life.

May God bless your house and home, as you offer shelter and hospitality to others.

May God grant you long life, health, and many rich memories of your life together.

May God strengthen you, as you enter into the vocation and sacred bond of marriage.

May these meditations and prayers sustain you, through the years:

Prayers for a Marriage,

from The Book of Common Prayer [1979 Version]


“Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace: 

Look with favor upon the world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life, and especially upon this man and this woman, whom you made one flesh in Holy Matrimony.  Amen.  

Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.  Amen. 

Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.  Amen. 

Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault, and to seek each other’s forgiveness and yours.  Amen. 

Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.  Amen.  

Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others.  Amen.  

Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, O Father, with your Son and Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and for ever.   Amen.”

The Sacred

Excerpts from A Wedding Sermon,

from Letters & Papers from Prison, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  Touchstone, 1971 Edition.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, was a Christian theologian, Lutheran pastor, martyr, and one of the most significant witnesses of the 20th  century.


” . . .The desire for earthly bliss, which you want to find in one another, and in which, to quote the medieval song, one is the comfort of the other in body and in soul — that desire is justified before God and man . . . .

. . . .Marriage is more than your love for each other: 

It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race, until the end of time. 

In your love, you see only your two selves in the world but, in marriage, you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. 

In your love, you see only the heaven of your happiness but, in marriage, you are placed at a post of responsibility toward the world and mankind. 

Your love is your own private possession but marriage is more than something personal – it is a status, an office. 

Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

As you first gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God.

As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love.  

 It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”


 A Hymn: By Gracious Powers:

text by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, music composed by R. Shulz-Widmar

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered, and confidently waiting, come what may,

We know that God is with us night and morning, and  never fails to greet us each new day.

Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented, still evil days bring burdens hard to bear:

O give our frightened souls the sure salvation for which, O Lord, you taught us to prepare.  

And when this cup you give is filled to brimming with bitter suffering, hard to understand,

We take it thankfully and without trembling, out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world you give us the joy we had, the brightness of your Sun, 

We shall remember all the days we lived through, and our whole life shall then be yours alone.


The Mundane:

An excerpt from the book, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Brazos Press, 2009.


“For all its joys, any intense friendship or marriage has aspects that can seem burdensome.  

There is not only an investment of time, but also an investment of self that is required for a relationship to exist and grow and flourish.

Even more difficult than the physical accommodations are the accommodations of identity:  from the perspective of individual “freedom,” to be in a relationship of love will change us and cost us.  

It will require us to restructure our priorities.  

It may compromise our plans.  

It will demand sacrifice.  

It will alter the pattern of our thoughts and desires and may transform our vision of the world.  

It’s not just ‘your life’ or ‘my life’ anymore — it’s ‘ours.’  

Seen in this light, it can seem that staying at arm’s length and not engaging or investing would seem easier and safer — even if ultimately unhappier — than risking openness to love’s transforming power and answering its claims on us.

Sometimes marriage or other friendships feel euphoric and energizing:  other times, they are tedious, empty, wearying routines, or just plain work.  

The point is that being committed to any love relationship takes daily nurturing, daily effort, and daily practices that build it up.  

Neglecting these will slowly break the relationship down.  

Nurturing grudges or selfish claims instead will erode it and make us resentful of a relationship that now feels like a suffocating trap.  

Kathleen Norris once said that married love is “eternal, but it’s also daily, about as daily and unromantic as housekeeping.”  

It is through daily practices and disciplines, whether we feel like doing them or not, that the decision to love is renewed and refreshed, and the commitment of love is kept alive.”


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Filed under A Marriage Meditation, Marriage & Wedding

A Valentine from “Victor”

French Valentine Postcard2

Dear Readers,

Last year, I posted a series of “Valentines” from British authors.  This year, I am reading the masterpiece, Les Miserables, and I share these quotes from the book:

You may read about Victor Hugo, by clicking the link below.

Coram Deo,



Victor Hugo biography: Wikipedia

  • “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.  The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness.  We pardon to the extent that we love.  Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again and great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.  Loved for ourselves and even loved in spite of ourselves.” 


  • “To love or have loved is all-sufficing. We must not ask for more.  No other pearl is to be found in the shadow folds of  life.  To love is an accomplishment.” 


  • “He said to himself that he really had not suffered enough to deserve such radiant happiness, and he thanked God, in the depths of his soul, for having permitted that he, a miserable man, should be so loved by this innocent being.”  [Jean Valjean about Cossette]


  • “Love partakes of the soul itself.  It is of the same nature. Like it, it is a divine spark.  Like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable; it is the point of fire which is within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can limit and nothing can extinguish.” 


  • “What a grand thing it is to be loved!  What a far grander thing it is to love!  The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion.” 


  • “The soul falls into contemplation before this sanctuary, where the celebration of love is held.”


  • “I encountered in the street a penniless young man who was in love.  His hat was old and his jacket worn, with holes at the elbows; water soaked through his shoes, but starlight flooded through his soul.”


  • “You look at a star for two reasons, because it is luminous, and because it is impenetrable. You have beside you a sweeter radiance and a greater mystery, woman.” 




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Filed under Marriage & Wedding, St. Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day

The Sacred and the Mundane

September 2, 1973 – September 2, 2012

Dear Readers,

Tomorrow, My Professor and I will celebrate thirty-nine years of marriage.  Every year, on our wedding anniversary, I share with my readers an essential quote or a story about Courtship, Engagement, Love, or Marriage.

Click here to read the most important quote you will ever read on Love and Marriage, representing the sacramental aspect of marriage.

My story, It Began With Roses, highlights the romance of love and courtship.

In Not a Word, I share with my readers the humor within a marriage.

Sometimes marriage is a serious, solemn commitment, which I describe in  Unsung Heroes.

Marriage is sacred but it is also mundane:

“For all its joys, any intense friendship or marriage has aspects that can seem burdensome.  

There is not only an investment of time, but an investment of self that is required for a relationship to exist and grow and flourish.  

Even more difficult than the physical accommodations are the accommodations of identity:  from the perspective of individual “freedom,” to be in a relationship of love will change us and cost us.  

It will require us to restructure our priorities.  

It may compromise our plans.  

It will demand sacrifice.  

It will alter the pattern of our thoughts and desires and may transform our vision of the world.  

It’s not just ‘your life’ or ‘my life’ anymore — it’s ‘ours.’  

Seen in this light, it can seem that staying at arm’s length and not engaging or investing would seem easier and safer — even if ultimately unhappier — than risking openness to love’s transforming power and answering its claims on us.

Sometimes marriage or other friendships feel euphoric and energizing:  other times, they are tedious, empty, wearying routines, or just plain work.  

The point is that being committed to any love relationship takes daily nurturing, daily effort, and daily practices that build it up.  

Neglecting these will slowly break the relationship down.  

Nurturing grudges or selfish claims instead will erode it and make us resentful of a relationship that now feels like a suffocating trap.  

Kathleen Norris once said that married love is “eternal, but it’s also daily, about as daily and unromantic as housekeeping.”  

It is through daily practices and disciplines, whether we feel like doing them or not, that the decision to love is renewed and refreshed, and the commitment of love is kept alive.”

[From the book, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Brazos Press, 2009.]

The vocation of Marriage is both sacred and eternal.

But in practical terms, we live out our vocation of Marriage in the daily and mundane.

May we be faithful in living out the vocation of marriage:  “a long obedience in the same direction.”  

Coram Deo,


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A Midsummer Night’s Scheme: Part Two

A Midsummer’s Night Scheme:  Part Two

 January 1, 2012

To Our Most Gracious Queen, Tatiana:

We, your Faithful Attendants, are elated to learn that you, Most Gracious Queen, are pleased with the successful orchestration of the conjoining of Jay and Kathryn, in the State of Honorable Marriage, on the Eve of the New Year.

Indeed, we covertly assisted in making great preparation for the Nuptials:

A week before the Wedding, we Fairies attended upon the Beauteous Bride, Kathryn:  We traveled to Italy, to fetch the delicate handcrafted Wedding Veil.

Returning to the Bride’s Fair City, we secured the Bible for her to carry down the aisle:  the same Bible that her beloved Grandmother Kathy carried, on her Wedding Day, almost sixty years ago.

Meanwhile, Robin Goodfellow traveled speedily to the Antipodes [China, in fact] to escort the Best Man [Casey Sapp, by name] to the Wedding Festivities.

We Fairies adorned the Chapel, within and without, with large glass lanterns and candles.  We also festooned the Chapel with flowers and greenery.

We fervently hoped that there would be “so much light in the night that dew on the grass will be shining like liquid pearls.”

And indeed, on the evening of the Candlelight Ceremony, the moon shone her benevolent light onto the Chapel By The Lake, as the Wedding Guests arrived.

The moon and the guests “beheld the night of the solemnities.”

We were delighted when you, Most Gracious Queen, and Most Excellent Oberon, arrived to take your places, hidden and veiled, to witness the Nuptials of the two Young Lovers.

You will agree with us that the wedding was “full of state and ancientry.”

When the Bride walked down the aisle, on the arm of her father, she appeared to “shine as gloriously as the Venus of the sky.”

When her father lifted her veil, we overheard the Groom whisper to the Best Man, “In mine eyes, she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked upon!”  And we heard the Best Man whisper, in reply: “In faith, I believe your blazon to be true!”

At the altar, Jay whispered to Kathryn, “Lady, as you are mine, I am yours.  I give away myself to you and dote upon the exchange.”

Then he entreated her:  “Give me your hand, before these holy Friars.”

With confirmed countenance, the Friars conducted the Holy Rites,in the Ancient Sacrament of Marriage.

They instructed the musicians:  “Now, divine air!” and sweet music filled the Chapel.

Next, the holy Friars offered prayers, Scripture, hymns, commendations, and officiated the exchange of vows and rings.

Jay whispered to the holy Friars, “Oh, let me kiss this princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!” 

Finally, when the holy Friars pronounced the couple “Husband and Wife,” they entreated the couple to seal their Union with a kiss.

After the kiss, the Wedding Guests cheered in glad exaltation and thus the couple was “eternally knit.”

The Chapel bells pealed and we joyfully observed that our Most Gracious Queen and Most Excellent Oberon joined the Mortals in the chorus of blessing and praise, before returning to the Fairy World.

After the Ceremony, the Groom and Bride invited the Wedding Guests to join them for a Winter Revelry, at The Odd Fellows Lodge.*

A noisome, brightly-painted horseless carriage, which the Mortals call a “Trolley,” transported the Wedding Party from the Chapel to the Lodge.

The Fairy Lights, with which we adorned the Town Square Ancient Oaks, illuminated the pathway for the Wedding Guests, as they walked to the Lodge, from their conveyances.

At the Lodge, we secretly assisted in making preparation for a “feast in great solemnity.”

For the Wedding Banquet, we prepared a great quantity of ale, wine, bread, fruit, vegetables, fowl, beef, and fish.  The guests enjoyed the refreshments with great enthusiasm.

The festivities continued, with “pomp, with triumph, and with reveling.”

The clock struck the hour for Toasts, in honor of the Groom and Bride, such as this, which we Fairies recorded:

“O most happy hour!  Gentle joy and fresh days of love accompany your hearts!”

And all the Guests said, “Amen” to the prayers!

After the Cutting of the Cake, Jay entreated the Wedding Guests:

“Let’s have a dance e’er we are married, that we may lighten our hearts and our heels!”  He instructed the musicians: “Therefore, play music!  Strike up, pipers!” 

The gifted cadre of musicians, whom the Mortals call a “Swing Band,” played merrily, offering the musical re-enactment of the evening, twenty years ago, for the Wedding Revelry for Lovely Linda, the aunt of the bride.

The clock struck twelve o’clock midnight and yet the Moonlight Revels continued, until the Groom and Bride made preparation to depart for their Honeymoon.  With fragrant flower petals, the Wedding Guests, from the balcony above, showered the newlyweds below.

As the Wedding Guests waved and bid them “Adieu,” the Groom and Bride departed in a small, bright, shiny red horseless carriage, owned by the Father of the Bride.

Brightly colored “works of fire” illuminated the night sky.

With the breaking of the dawn, we discharged our duty and disappeared into the mist of the morning of the New Day of the New Year.

Your gentle attendants,

 Peas-Blossom, Mustard Seed, Moth, and Cobweb

*Known to the mortals as “The Club of the Governor”

~Written by Margot Blair Payne, February, 2012

Text and Image Credits for Parts One and Two:

The author gratefully grateful acknowledges:

The Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, for the generous loan of the concepts and quotes from three of his great works of literature:

“Much Ado About Nothing,”  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

The artistic genius of Arthur Rackham and Thomas Williams, who provided book illustrations.

Other image and photo credits:

Ida Cason Memorial Chapel, Calloway Gardens.

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Not A Word


Dear Readers,

In my previous update, I mentioned the musical, “Funny Girl:”   The film version came out in 1968 and Stephen took me to go see it on one of our first dates.

When Barbra Streisand [as Fanny Brice] belted out her final, heart-breaking, plaintive song, “My Man,” at the end of the film, Stephen was transported, in his mind, to the stage musical, where he evidently thought he was a member of the audience at a live performance:  He broke into vigorous applaud, right there in the silence of the movie theatre.  This continued for several seconds, as I held my breath, watched him in amazement, and valiantly tried to conquer my giggles.  This was my first clue that I was dating a man who could be so “caught up in the moment” that he could forget everything else in the world around him.  In spite of my astonishment, I said not a word.

Pre-marriage, his mother told me this true story:  One summer day, Stephen was home from college and offered to shop for the week’s groceries for the family.  The routine at that particular grocery store involved  these Five Easy Steps:

1.  Pay for your groceries;

2.  Leave them in the shopping basket [in the care of a curbside clerk;]

3.  Find your vehicle;

4.  Drive to the curbside;

5.  Clerk will load up said groceries.

What could be easier?  

Well, when he arrived back home, his mother said, “Stephen, where are the groceries?!”  He evidently got distracted after Step Three.  So, he raced back to the store to reclaim his groceries.  If this incident was a warning,  I chose to ignore it and held my peace.

Ironically, several years elapsed before I realized that I had married the quintessential Absent-Minded Professor [AMP].  This explains why he is able to focus laser-sharp intensity and concentration on his work.  He is able, to an astonishing degree, to shut out superfluous distractions, like breakfast and lunch.

Some distractions, unfortunately, are less superfluous:  Although this has happened only once, he was working feverishly one morning, in his FSU office, when a student called from a nearby classroom and asked,  “Dr. Payne, are you going to show up to teach class today?”

And decades ago, when our children were small, Stephen was on car-pool duty when he became lost in thought, drove all the way to the university, parked, turned his head around, and found two confused preschoolers, peering back at him from the back seat.  He explained to them that he had taken a “short-cut”  to preschool and I think they even believed him.

While driving, in fact, he does some of his best thinking and he might divert the car toward his FSU office, on a Sunday morning, when we are supposed to be headed to church. However, I don’t say a word, reasoning that he doesn’t need a “front-seat/back-seat driver.”

There are, of course, several Sunday mornings that Stephen is able, quite on his own, to negotiate a straight trajectory toward church, a route that is less than two miles, from “door to door.”  Yet, he is, by no means, safe — even then — because his mind might begin to wander . . . at any minute . . .

For instance, there was the morning, during the Worship Service, when he mentally “checked out” during the Induction Ceremony of The Order of the Daughters of the Holy Cross. *

The ceremony continued for several minutes and concluded with an invitation for all the new Daughters of the Holy Cross to stand, come forward, and receive prayer, a blessing, and a Daughters of the Holy Cross sterling silver cross necklace.

At the familiar words, “We invite all those …. to stand,” Stephen came out of his stupor and his head popped up.  Perhaps he imagined that we were ALL being invited to stand, to witness a baptism or a marriage.

I said not a word but I surreptitiously and firmly grasped the elbow of his sleeve.  He struggled three times to free himself, so that he could rise to his feet.

Finally, on the third attempt, he surveyed his surroundings and decided, no doubt after some quick self-examination, that he would not volunteer to lead the procession that Sunday morning, with banner aloft, as the first [and only] male member of the St. Peter’s Anglican Church Order of the Daughters of the Holy Cross. 

Now, early in the morning on his FSU teaching days, we drive together to the FSU pool to swim laps.  After we park, I don’t say a word if he grabs his black professor attaché case instead of, say,  his black swim-gear bag, as he barrels toward the locker room.

And, only last week, I watched him race ahead of me toward the locker rooms, in preparation for swimming laps.  I was right behind him when I saw him reach for the door.  It was at that moment that I hissed, “Where are you going?!”  

Normally, you see, I don’t interfere with his circuitous wanderings but I was loath to read the headlines the next morning:  “Male University Professor Arrested for Entering Women’s Locker Room;  Wife Claims He Is Absent-Minded.”

However, if he rushes out the door in the morning to go to work and forgets his lunch, I just store it in the refrigerator and eat it at noon.   If he forgets his wallet, I pilfer some cash and go out to lunch.  If he forgets his cell phone, I ignore the insistent rings and let all the messages go to voice mail.

I come downstairs on a relaxed Saturday morning to join him for espresso.  We chat for a while and then I say, “I’m going back upstairs to get beautiful.” But he is already lost in his book and he is dull and slow to respond.  So, I repeat myself, a little louder, and he responds, perfunctorily:  “Uhh … yes … but … you already are beautiful!” or “Umm … oh … well … that won’t take very long!”

On other Saturday mornings, I watch, with veiled amusement, as roars out the door, to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, on a frantic quest for home improvement supplies.  I know he will be back soon, to retrieve his wallet.  Sure, I could call him, to save him embarrassment at the check-out station, but he has also roared off without his cell-phone.

You remember, perhaps, that I am currently a subject in a Research Study at FSU.  The routine includes these Six Easy Steps:

1.  Report to the Faculty Parking Lot Gate;

2. Wait for the FSU students to open the Gate with an electronic “Clicker;”

3.  Proceed through the Gate and pause;

4.  Open car window and receive a [one-day] “Faculty Parking Sticker;”

5.  Display “Sticker” on dashboard;

6.  Park.

Well, last month, I had my own “Clicker”  and “clicked” myself through the Gate.  I paused and showed the student helpers my own “Sticker.”

Incredulous, the helpers asked: “How did you get your own Faculty ‘Clicker’ and ‘Sticker?’ ”  

I shrugged my shoulders and blithely replied, “I sleep with a professor!” and drove on past them . . .

. . . Which proves that there are some perks to marrying a professor, even an absent-minded one.

Coram Deo,


[Written by Margot Blair Payne, April 2011]

 * “The Order provides a community in which you can fulfill a lifetime vow to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The Order’s four-fold vow consists of Prayer, Service, Study and Evangelism.”  [From the website.]


Filed under Absent-Minded Professor, Courtship & Engagement, Marriage & Wedding

It Began with Roses

For St. Valentine’s Day

Dear Readers,

My husband, Stephen, and I poke fun at each other a lot, which is one of the secrets to a long and happy marriage:  Be willing and able to make fun of yourself first and then learn to make fun, kindly, of each other.  But I digress . . .

I have previously mentioned, in My Funny Valentine,  that my husband is a professor, a Ph. D. in Statistics, a consultant, and an INTP, according to the Myers-Briggs Temperament Type Indicator.  When I make fun of him, I sometimes refer to him as, “Mr. Excitement,” or “Dr. Adventure,” or I might say, “ I Married Romance.”  Yes, I tease him but the truth is that, over 40 years ago, our relationship began with Romance:

At the high school [circa 1970] which Stephen & I both attended, it was opening night for “How to Succeed In Business,” the Spring Musical:  I was performing in the musical and was backstage, in the Women’s Dressing Room, applying stage make-up, when one of my girlfriends popped her head in the door, telling me that a male visitor was waiting outside in the hallway.

I know exactly how Fanny Brice felt, when she opened her dressing room door and saw the elegant Nicky Arnstein for the first time:  For I was absolutely mesmerized and speechless, when I opened the door and the very handsome and dignified Stephen Payne appeared, with a gift:  a vase, with a dozen American Beauty, long-stemmed, red roses — for me!

In one moment, the [painful] memory of my Previous Boyfriend [PB] was swept away and the tonic, the cure, the panacea for that previous troubled relationship was Stephen with those red roses.

I recognized in an instant, “Oh, yes, this is for me!  This is what I want!  This is how I want to be treated!”  

And, the next day, when PB stopped by my house, the roses were on prominent display in the living room.  I ignored the flowers yet I suspected that PB  was eager to negotiate a way to surreptitiously read the card attached to the floral arrangement.  If he had been successful, he would have read, “Dear Margot:  To me, you are already a star, so best of luck on your opening night.  SincerelyStephen.”


I suppose it is possible  to order up and personally deliver flowers and yet still be a cad.  However, Stephen was a gentleman and he knew how to treat a young woman as a lady.  He invited me to attend the Junior-Senior Prom, when the event was still a month away.  [I admit that it was with suppressed glee that I said “No, thanks; I already have a date,” when PB invited me to the same prom, only one week before the event.]

Stephen always arrived early for each of our dates and came inside to greet my parents.  He respected my curfew and insisted on returning me home early, to visit, once again, with my parents.

One day, he heard me speak unkindly to my mother and, privately, he took me aside and told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should never do that again.  I was filled with shame because, of course, he was correct.

He treated each member of my family [my grandfather, father, mother, and siblings] with respect and taught me to do the same.

Stephen invited me to his home for family dinners, holidays, and special occasions.  He was respectful toward all the members of his family.  He admired his hard-working mother, a single parent.

Stephen and his two sisters lived with their mother, their grandmother, and their step-grandfather.  I liked them all immensely.  His family — the positive dynamics and the mutual respect –was a huge draw for me.

After all, a young man who, without embarrassment, kisses his mother good-night, in front of his girlfriend, is a rare gem, indeed.

Before graduation from high school, Stephen told me that he intended to marry me one day.  But that fall, I went to Florida State University [FSU] and he went to the University of California at Berkeley [UCB].

For three years, we stayed busy with our respective classes and jobs and visited each other during the summer and winter breaks. We kept in touch almost daily with letters [paper, pen, envelopes, stamps] and I still remember the excitement of opening up my mailbox at the FSU Post Office, to find inside a letter from Stephen.



I jumped up whenever I heard the sound of the buzzer in my dorm room, alerting me that I had a telephone call waiting.  I ran like a shot, down the hall, to sit in the “booth” and talk on the hall telephone, which I shared with about 24 other young women [but not at the same time!].  Stephen told me recently that those once-a-week long-distance phone calls cost him about $100 a month.

Three years later, in April, 1973, Stephen left UCB and moved to Tallahassee.  On September 2, 1973 we were married and moved into an efficiency apartment.  He transferred to FSU and we each graduated during the years 1974-1975.

And now we have been married for almost 40 years.

I am friends with many young women, in college and in graduate school, and this is what I tell them:  Do not fall in love with a selfish man.  It will most certainly lead to sorrow.  And I will remind them of a quote from C. S. Lewis:  “Selfish people are so difficult to love — for so little love flows out of them.”

Since my husband rarely reads this blog, I can safely tell you this:  It began with roses, it flourished into friendship, and matured into married love.

My statistician husband — generous, unselfish, kind, hard-working, respectful, and wise — does not observe  St. Valentine’s Day; yet, now you know the truth:  I Married Romance.

Coram Deo,



Filed under Marriage & Wedding, St. Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day