Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keely Scores!

I Do Countdown: 32 Days
Keely & Derek, not sitting in a tree
By Keely Grasser

The play was worth 47 points.
The gesture was a double bingo.
This past Christmas morning, in front of my mother, father and two brothers, my boyfriend of 6 years proposed to me via a Scrabble board. I unassumingly unwrapped a travel Scrabble set, in which he had laid out the words ‘Keely will u marry me Love u Dere(blank tile).’ There’s only one K in a tile set.
A pretty creative way to propose to a geeky word nerd (and Scrabble buff).
That’s what I like about Derek. He’s full of surprises. 
At first glance, he’s a man’s man. Built like a lumberjack. Was Athlete of the Year in high school. Plays sports. Watches sports. Loves poker.
But Derek has a streak. He has a great eye, has a great imagination and is great at crafts. Planning for the wedding has brought out this creative, crafty side like nothing else.
And, in true Derek and Keely style, the planning process has produced some pretty hilarious situations. Here’s just one example.
On fake trees and robot cupcakes
Derek and I recently sat down with his aunt, a minister who will be marrying us. We spoke about the nitty-gritty details of the ceremony. But she also, as part of a condensed pre-marriage counselling session, asked us some broader questions about our relationships. One was ‘How do you fight?’ 
Pre-engagement, the answer would have been rarely. But lately we’ve had some humdingers over Derek’s wedding “projects”…
Flashback to late spring. Derek and I decided that instead of a guest book, we would have a wish tree. Basically you provide guests with pretty little pieces of paper with a ribbon attached. They write their best wishes for the couple on the paper and tie the wish to a decorative tree. It’s difficult to describe, but looks very pretty.
So one afternoon, Derek and I went on a tree-searching expedition. Never mind the fact that I come from (and most of my friends and family live in) the Great North where the tree to person ratio is 100,000 to 1. We decided we’d find our tree right then and there on the bike path system in Newmarket.
With wire snips in hand, we meandered down the path, eyes peeled for a good tree. It had to have good shape. Be a good height. Have curvy, well-shaped branches.
We found some good specimens, cut them down (likely illegally) and brought them up into our apartment.
There were some lovely trees and branches.
But not lovely enough for Derek. Instead of using a real, live tree, my beloved darling decided that he could create a better wish tree. That’s right – he felt as if he could build a more beautiful tree than Mother Nature herself.
Out of wire coat hangers and hockey tape.
I’m a bit high-strung. I realize this. But I think most of you can understand my concerns about the end product. 
So for days Derek sat in our living room, cutting, bending and shaping coat hanger upon coat hanger. Then he spent days wrapping roll upon roll of hockey tape over the hangers.
He was about half done taping when I started to realize that the contraption was, in fact, beginning to look like a tree.
He finished it up and painted it black.
I kid you not – it looks like a tree. A very nice tree with a good height, nice frame and well positioned branches. Since it’s made of cost hangers, you can also pose it, kind of like an artificial Christmas tree.
So I had to eat a bit of humble pie (while Derek gloated) for my doubts about his tree-building skill.
He proved himself once again when he built (with power saws, in our spare, carpeted bedroom) a wooden room divider for another wedding-related project), much to my initial distress.
But then came the cupcake stand.
Derek doesn’t want a boring cupcake stand. He won’t purchase one from Michaels or anywhere else. He wants our cupcake stand to be a Derek original. It’s not a matter of cost. It’s a matter of pride.
I got out of bed two Saturdays ago and turned on the coffee maker. I hadn’t even had a cup when Derek called and said he was sending me a sketch he created of a cupcake stand he intended to build. That sketch accompanies this blog post.
I was perturbed. Derek was also perturbed at my lack of belief in his idea. It was more than I could deal with first thing in the morning.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
That afternoon, Derek met up with me, his best man Urban and his girlfriend Susie at Urban’s house for dinner. I had consumed a number of beverages that afternoon so the ability to bite my tongue pretty much was non-existent at that point.
Derek had visited Home Depot and purchased the frame for his cupcake stand. It was made out of $50 worth of gas pipes and connector things. It had knobs and notches all over it. It looked like a deformed candelabra. Or a reject robot. 
Derek, of course, was as pleased as punch at it. He promised he would smooth out its homely, bumpy appearance. With clay. Or Plasticine.
Our discussion on the way home was not pleasant (not helped by my altered state of mind, albeit). 
I’m writing about this jokingly, but we still couldn’t even speak about the cupcake stand without shouting for weeks.
Derek eventually returned the robot cupcake holder back to Home Depot. In its place, He purchased the supplies to create another cupcake stand. We got the instructions from a blog written by a crafty bride and her handy husband.
Derek's sketch for a robot cupcake holder. 
This one is made of pipes, plywood and wrapping paper.
I get the feeling he’s still not pleased he won’t be able to bring his five-pronged gas pipe cupcake holder into fruition. But the compromise cupcake stand turned out great. (He now tells me he’s going to sell or rent it on Kijiji. I don’t know if he’s joking or not).
Derek’s DIY wedding accessories (and many aspects of the wedding in general) may be causing us to tiff and fight more than usual.
But maybe it is also teaching us some valuable lessons about nurturing a relationship:
The importance of having patience: I had to be patient with Derek as he attempted to build a tree with coat hangers. And he had to be patient with me until he could show me that he could, indeed, create a wire –and-tape tree that actually looked good.
Faith and trust: After the tree turned out, I trusted (after an initial fight over the gigantic size of the proposed project) Derek to create a visually-appealing and sturdy room divider. Which he did.
Forgiveness: I’ll forgive Derek for thinking that we should display our wedding cake and cupcakes on a sculpture made of gas pipes and Plasticine if he forgives me for questioning his mental abilities (while I was inebriated). 
Compromise: I really just wanted to buy a tiered cupcake tree from Michaels. For like $50. Derek wants to create a one-of-a-kind showpiece with his own hands. So in the end, we’ll display our wedding cupcakes on a Derek-created three-tier cupcake stand with a bit of flair. A balance of both worlds.
Unconditional love: I love Derek even though he’s a groomzilla that obviously has some untapped weird artistic streak that he should really explore in a non-wedding decoration related way. And I hope he still loves me, even though I’m a naysayer that sometimes (rudely) doubts his artistic and building abilities and cries (while drunk) over robot cupcake stands ruining her wedding and marriage. 
The almost finished cupcake holder. Not bad, eh?
Keely Grasser is one of those people who, once you meet, you never forget.
She is a fireball of energy, a thin line of electricity. Always moving. Always thinking. Always, always funny, but never at the expense of anyone else.
We both worked at the Almaguin Forester, where she was an award-winning feature writer and reporter and I did lay-out. She moved south a few years ago to work in the big city (something every small town girl and boy want to do and who can blame them). I gotta say I miss her around the joint. Hasn't been the same since she left.
Her wedding is less than three weeks away. On Saturday she posted this on Facebook, just one word: Eeep.
There may be longer words. Or maybe even better words. But a Scrabble player well knows there's no better word to describe the butterflies in a bride's stomach when the big day is only weeks away.
Best of luck to you Keely & Derek. 
May all your scores be high ones.
I do think this is the perfect song for people who like to spell ~
Up next: either Alan Davidson or Anthony Venutolo - both members of my 'A' team. As to who gets picked next, well, why don't you help me decide? Both good writers. Both kinda ok-looking in their own way... hmmmmmm.....


  1. I do love these posts. I think the robo-cupcake holder looked pretty awesome. I think he should have made it just to keep at home... to entertain guests, of course ;-)


  2. I'm thinking that Derek has a little artist inside shouting to get out. Maybe he should wait until after the wedding to let him out...

    The robot cupcake holder looks a bit like a stylized menorah (follow link):


    Best wishes to Keely & Derek on their wedding day. Thanks for sharing the story (and lesson learned)~ Alan

    PS- Cathy...I'm suffering stage fright and pick Ant to be the next story...

  3. It does look remarkably like a menorah... I didn't realize the Jewish faith held cupcakes in such high esteem.

  4. Tomara, you're just kissing butt up there.

  5. Derek The robot makerAugust 24, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    I would just like to make a comment on this matter, Keely has not actually shown the stand to anyone because she doesnt want to admit it took life from the original sketch. I should build the stand and auction it off to the highest bidder. It would become a classic piece of art, please follow the link to our wedding page to see the original creation a mere 5 hours after the sketch was thought up. Please also be advised I have never done this before, genius really, lol, enjoy



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