Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Highlights

This week the papers were full of lists. What is in, what is out; the good things of the year and the bad; and there were even lists of things they hope will go away in 2009.

My list is simple. It is the highlights of the year for me. Some are good, some are bad. The list doesn't amount to much in the scheme of life, but it is important to me.

In no particular order:
  • Regular dinners and plays with Erik and Jennifer
  • A cancer scare that wasn't
  • The support of friends during the scare
  • A new friend, Kirsten
  • Developing a deeper friendship with Janet R
  • Turning 65 with good friends and "little brother" Henry and his wife Ann
  • Performing the first same sex marriage in Alameda County
  • The election that took the right of marriage away from same sex couples
  • Marrying Hank and Thom
  • Marrying Sean and Rojan
  • Richard's and Luis' wonderful friendship and gift of the "guest house"
  • Seeing Karl and Debby after 2 1/2 years
  • Family(Lee and Phil, Karen, Keith and Kaus) coming for Christmas
  • The economy destroying our retirement funds
  • Friends
  • My wonderful husband, Marty

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday = Marrying

Yesterday I went in to marry couples. I wasn't there last week because of the house guests. I saw Angelina taking a couple up to marry as I walked in. I told her I would put my purse and coat up and I would do the wedding. Then I found out my badge no longer worked to open secure doors. Had I been laid off because I took off Christmas week? No, all badges had been changed and I was given a new one.

I got upstairs and and the clerk who had covered for me last week and had done the weddings yesterday was estactic I was there. She grabbed me, hugged me, and then did her Happy Dance. Last Monday she had done 21 weddings. Yesterday she was building to that. I took over and started marrying. I did one and then nothing for an hour. And then they started coming in. The lobby was packed and I didn't see daylight for the next 3 1/2 hours. I performed 10 more weddings. And not couple felt rushed out of the room.

One wedding was just lovely. The bride in long white chiffon, her hair in a French twist, and a rose bouquet. He had a black suit on and they had attendants dressed up. There were maybe 20 guests. I checked the license and her date of birth looked wrong, 1990. She looked 25, but it was correct. And a mature 18, she was running the show.

I married an older couple, he was 70 and she was in her 50's. The bride had on slacks and a nice top. Also she had a chenille boa and a tiara that said Bride with a veil. They had been married by a priest and now were doing a civil marriage with a license. The only request she had was that I would say, "You may now kiss your Bride." She had been very disappointed the priest left that out. I thought that was sweet.

And I had a military wedding. He was in the Navy, very, very polite. Yes Ma'am, no Ma'am. Very stiff and military. She was in white with flowers and they had friends with them. All through the ceremony he was serious and quiet. She was very happy and smiley. After I said you may kiss your Bride, he dipped her to the floor and kissed her big time. They looked like the picture from the end of WWII in Times Square, the sailor and the young woman dipped to the street. They made my day.

There were others: An older couple who said their vows privately in Spanish. The couple from India who wouldn't kiss in front of their families. The terrified bride who said, " Oh it will be Ok, she has on apple earrings and her name is Appel." It seems she collects apples and felt I was good luck for her.

All and all a lovely busy day. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. They told me sometimes it is as busy as Valentine's Day. That could be interesting.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Family and airplanes, and we are now alone. . .

Friday did not go as planned. We were at the Academy of Sciences by 10:30. Traffic was awful in the park. We parked several blocks away and hoofed it to the museum. LINES, LINES, LINES. Since we had done the line in September we could tell it was at least 2 hours to get in. Even our members' line was an hour. We went to the Conservatory of Flowers instead. It was wonderful as always. While there we heard (around noon) that the A of S had closed basically, no one else would be allowed in line. Too many people. Then we went to the Cliff House area. Lots of trails to walk and then into the Cliff House for drinks.

Saturday to SFO in the morning, stop at Costco for fixings for the family dinner, stop at the flower mart just because, and then home. We have sent two home to Texas and two were to join us for dinner. Erik called and said they were too sick to come, they caught something in Portland and didn't think we would want them to share. So nephew Lee didn't get to see Erik and Jennifer at all this trip.

We dropped Marty's sister at the Oakland airport this morning at 6:00. And we were home and back in the bed by 6:30. Lee and Phil left this morning for San Francisco and will fly out Tuesday. But we won't see them anymore this trip.

This Christmas was one of the best. I only had a minor meltdown. We kept it simpler and had the luxury of the "guest" house to use. That reduced the stress of being the perfect hostess. Lee and his partner wanted family history and info about Lee's mother. Marty and his sister and brother talked about their parents and family. We continued to tell tales. We continued to laugh until the drop off at the airport. Then we cried a little.

Marty and I are alone again. Except for the piles of towels and sheets to wash.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Christmas is almost over by the calendar. But the fun will continue. Today was wonderful. Food was on the table by 10:00 and new items continued until 7:00 tonight. This morning we opened stockings and laughed like idiots. We had nice gifts, silly gifts, candy, and Texas scratch offs. Most of us could not even figure out how to scratch off the cards. Mine is a Bingo card. I read the directions and decided I needed either more caffeine or a drink. Still haven't scratched it off.

Then we opened the presents. Lots and lots of presents. There were gifts for 9 people. Lots of presents. Fun gifts, silly gifts, incredibly lovely gifts. My nephew Lee always gets ceramic chickens, the uglier the better from his sister Lisa's family. Lisa and family laugh and laugh when he opens them. He doesn't know why they give them, nor why they laugh. I do and shared with all the house guests. Lee got lots of chickens this year. And we laughed and laughed. We won't tell him why we laughed.

Today good friends came by and had drinks and snacks with us. More laughter. After they left I put out the supper food for the "family". As we ate we talked about our families. We are one family, but we are partners, close buddies, husband, wife, sister, brothers, nephew, lots of sides to this one family. We told about family history from the 1700's, family members that are not liked very much, family members no longer with us, tales of our childhoods, family heirlooms that went to the wrong person in the family. Not that I am bitter. Then there was the fishing trip, wet pants, and Vaseline for a rash.

Today, Friday, we will go to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park and to the Conservatory of Flowers. We will continue the orgy of food and laughter.

May you laugh, may you be happy. Again Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Family and Airplanes part 2

Erik sent a test message to us last night. They are in Portland for Christmas. I was hoping the flight would be canceled and they would be with us. Now will they be home in time for the family dinner on Saturday?

Nephew Lee is the luckiest man in America. His planes were not late and he made our late crab feed dinner last night. The only planes this week that were on time.

Today we are rethinking our annual Christmas Eve walk in the city. We look at store windows with puppies and kittens , we have lunch, and then to the trains and gingerbread houses. And between looking and eating we stop for Bloody Marys and other Yuletide drinks. As long as you are walking you can hit a lot of bars. Problem today. Major rain and wind today. We will do some of it but it depends on the weather. We will have fun, two cars to the city, and then back home for Christmas Eve dinner.

I wish you a Merry Christmas. Tell someone you love them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family and airplanes

WARNING, spellcheck is not working tonight. I am a poor speller so bear with me.

Yesterday we spent the day waiting on planes. Rain and fog here, snow in the rest of the country. Marty's sister's plane was three hours late as was his brother's. Thank goodness for flight trackers on the net. They are here and safe. Today we did nothing but eat, wrap gifts and talk. Family is good. Tomorrow my nephew arrives, hopefully on time. Our son and his wife are to fly to her parents' tomorrow in Portland. For two days there have been not any flights there. Snow big time in Portland. So they may be here spending Christmas with us this year.

Tonight we had a big family dinner, prime rib for the meat eaters and sauteed portabellos for the vegetarians. Homemade cookies and lots of fine wine. We had the family prayer, the toast to family together, and took lots of pictures. For the first time in years our son pinned ornaments on the Advent tree. That almost made me cry. When he was little he picked what to pin on every night for 25 nights. Tonight was a lovely evening we laughed and told tall tales. We trashed people not there and talked of parents long gone.

It is Christmas and the family is together. We are laughing and having fun. It is Christmas. May you be as happy as we are. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Did you ever read a Mystery?

I bet everyone has read one mystery. We all read Poe in high school. As children we read Nancy Drew, Trixie Bell, The Hardy Boys, and even the oh so hard to believe Bobbsey (spell check hates this word, so I hope I am close to right) Twins. Mysteries are fun, they make killer movies and TV series, pun intended. Think of Dexter, Monk, The Bond movies, Die Hard, The Usual Suspects, Speed, The Bourne Identity. Most of these came from wonderful books, all fun and exciting. Some the books came later. But mysteries fun, scary, disturbing. Gotta love um.

I have a friend, Janet Rudolph, who makes her living from mysteries. And for fun she moderates our weekly mystery book group. You must read her recent blog and then read the interview she gives a link to. It is the December 20, 2008 posting.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lights and Memories of Lights

Tonight I really got the Christmas feeling. We had gone to dinner with friends in San Leandro, a lovely town 15 minutes from our house. As we were taking them back to their house we saw a house all lit up. The house was on a corner and was outlined in white lights on all four sides. The lights were perfectly placed, windows, gables, doors, every tree and bush with reindeer in the yard. Beautiful. Marty pulled over so we could look and look. And then he started driving up and down the side streets following the lights. Every house was better than the last one. We had a great time just looking. It was such a feel good time.

This experience made me remember my parents driving us around to look at lights. We would go all over the little town we lived in. The town water tower had a huge star that was lit up all of December. It was on the highest hill and could be seen for miles. (During WWII they didn't light it just in case the Axis powers used it as a navigational aid.) Then one night we would drive to the next town, 15 miles away on a two lane mountain road to see the Kern's Bakery nativity scene. It wasn't Christmas until we made that drive. And as a plus you could smell the bread baking.

The lights are usually beautiful and they brighten our lives. They sometimes make us smile and laugh. Some of the houses are so awful white trash looking that we love them. There is a house in Concord, CA that we checked out every year for 15 years. It was so awful and we loved it. There were things on the roof, yard, trees, driveway, eaves, everywhere. They moved, blinked, and there were tracer lights. You had Santa and Baby Jesus next to each other. The colors were bad and the lights were a little sloppy. It was our favorite house.

One Christmas we drove home from Maryland to Kentucky. As we left it began to snow, not a nice drive. But the landscape was great. We would see lights in the distance and then we would see it. A barn trimmed in lights, and the fence, and the huge satellite dish outlined. We laughed all the way home.

I love the lights. They are beautiful and the memories are so good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

At the Marriage Factory

This week I was sort of busy marrying couples. Monday I married 6 couples and Wednesday 5 couples. Steady but not too busy.

Monday the head marriage desk clerk told me an awful story. A woman ( let's call her Sue ) called her from New Mexico to find out if her husband had married someone else. Another woman ( we will call her Betty) had called Sue and said she was married to Sue's husband. She said he had declared Sue missing for X number of years and gotten a divorce 5 years ago in CA. But he is still living with Sue in New Mexico. She checked the names and dates and yes he had married a second wife, Betty, while still married to Sue in New Mexico. Bigamy. Sue thought he traveled for business and that was why he was gone so often. Betty knew about Sue all along, and could no longer put up with the situation. There are children and grandchildren with Sue.

I am thinking this man must make a hell of a lot of money to run two households in this economy.

The marriage desk does not have to report this to the police, which I find strange. It is up to the wives. I am waiting for the nightly news to report an ax murder in New Mexico this weekend when he gets home. This one I would really like to know the ending.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


How much pain and trouble do you allow your friends to give you? How much do you forgive? How much pain and trouble do you give out?

Friendship is so very important. You need friends to make life worth living. It takes both sides for it to work. It is like a marriage, except you don't have those fights at midnight and stay up all night until things are settled. With friendship fights you worry about being as rude as the one who hurt your feelings. So you say little. Friendship errors you forgive, but it is hard to forget. If you love the person, you will work on forgetting.

Friendship is vital to life. You love your friends in spite of what happens. You hope they will love you in spite of what you do. I am so thankful that we have friends who can understand and love us for what we are.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Christmas, so much to do. So much stress. Not enought sleep, we are tired. So much to do. Decorate the house. Parties and more parties. They conflict, which one to go to? Some we want to go to and some we only go to because we like the host. There are gifts to wrap,( see the blog 12-11-08 on wrapping). Meals to plan, vegetarian, vegan, no beef, only want rare beef, traditional meal or not. Then you have multiple trips to the airports. Yes, airports, the family is coming in on different days and at different airports. And we work Saturdays and Sundays during the four weekends of Open Studios in Berkeley. How will it all get done?

Well, you who read this regularly know about the decorating and gift wrapping. The meals will happen, we will decide sometime before the guests arrive, we always do. And the airport trips? I pulled the Mother card and our son Erik is making one run while we are working Sunday. Bless you Erik. One guest is getting a rental car with GPS and will bring himself. Santa will remember that. And the others will get picked up when we get there.

But what about the fun? What about the family celebrating being together again? What about laughing, telling tall tales, drinking, family traditions of yelling Christmas gift every phone call. How does that happen if all of the above work has to be done? How does it happen?

Well, it happens, always. Some years better than others. Every one jumps in. They cook, help clean, shop, calm me down during my annual meltdown. I want everything perfect, never gonna happen.

Last year one of the most fun family thing we did was grocery shopping. Really. One afternoon we planned our dinner for the next night. It was a long list, and I didn't want to spend an hour or more at the grocery. I made a plan. There were five of us. Every one was given a portion of the list and X number of minutes to shop, and then we were to meet at the checkout stand. We hit the doors on the run, everyone took off with their lists and scattered. We would pass each other in the aisles and yell where is . . . found it . . . and I've still got . . . We were in and out in 10 minutes. And it was a fun family project.

Tis the Season for happiness. Kiss someone and tell them you love them. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Sadistic First Grade Teacher

I help in a first grade class room every Monday morning. I am very fond of the teacher, Ms. H. This woman is a wonderful teacher, very warm, organized and just a little sadistic. I am convinced she and her family spend weekends thinking up craft projects. I do not do craft projects. I have no eye hand coordination, no patience, and no skills. When I do a craft project, it looks like a first grader did it. But she is sure I can do them and can help the children.

Last week I worked with paint, washable paint. ( only from your skin, doesn't really come out of clothing even after bleaching. ) I painted their hands blue and they pressed them down on mittens cut from construction paper. That wasn't too bad, until a little girl grabbed my sleeve/arm, blue on white. Still a little blue on the shirt. But I don't wear good clothes to work with first graders. So a minor deal.

Today the project was to show how uncrafty I am. She is sadistic. Stockings of felt. Two red pieces and two white pieces with holes punched along the side;, a long, long piece of white yarn; glue; and glitter. I saw a nervous breakdown coming on. The three adults started the stocking: made sure the red lined up with red and the white lined up with red and white; we taped the end of the yarn to make it firm, we knotted the yarn into the first hole of white felt, and then we gave them to the children. They were to push through the holes up and down and all the way around the stocking, sewing it shut on the side. Some finished in a flash, others sewed sideways or skipped holes or knotted the yarn. After the sewing we wrote their names on the white with glue and they put glitter on the name. And if they wanted they could draw a picture with glue and glitter that.

We worked with them and some got it. Some we took out the yarn and started them over, and then repeated. The motor skills just aren't there yet for some of the children. Two little girls finished quickly and saw their tables mates in trouble. They jumped right in and started fixing the problems. They were much better at this than I am.

And then there was Becky. I took hers apart 6 times. She would sew about three stitches and them start going sideways instead of straight up and down. She started to cry and I felt awful for her. That was me in first grade. I hated art projects. Coloring OK, anything else pure torture. After so many errors I couldn't let her be that upset and feel a failure. So I pulled up a chair and sat with her and we did every stitch together. We still had to take out a couple of stitches and restart. We got it done though. And Becky finished up happy. Her name and the girl she drew in glue were glittered within an inch of Liberace land. Glitter she can do.

Ms. H now has two weeks of Christmas vacation to think of projects for me to do. She is sadistic.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Saturday night our old neighborhood had their annual Christmas progressive dinner. We are so pleased that they still include us. There were about 30 people this year. The guests list varies each year. The organizers stay the same, but each year there are new neighbors. We are the only ones who live elsewhere.

We start at the appetizer house. We wander around from person to person to talk. There are lots of hugs and laughing. Champagne, wine, and a variety of great foods are brought. The table is full of deviled eggs, crab, cheeses, veggies and dips, nuts, and lots of other stuff I never got to. Our neighborhood does a party well.

The second house was the entrée course. Tables are set up for a sit down dinner. Fine china, linens, crystal, and silver are used. Candles all over provide a festive look to the setting. It is an incredibly beautiful setting. We had ham, turkey loaf, beef tenderloin, salad, mixed veggies, and a mushroom potato dish. And again champagne and wine were poured.

The third house was dessert and wines. Again we wander and eat and talk. We had cakes, pies, cookies, torts. Wonderful sweets were there. People stand around the piano and sing Christmas carols. And as at each house there were the neighbors to visit with.

Some of these old neighbors we see through the year and some this party is the only time we see them. It is so good to be with friends during the holidays. We laughed and gossiped, and talked serious stuff. It was a lovely evening. Except for . . .

One of the neighbors is a very famous actress who sometimes attends neighborhood parties. She and her husband wander in and wander out. You aren’t sure which course they will show up for, if at all. God forbid you should sit where someone has decided she might sit. And they say children are cruel.

We had a wonderful evening. We met new interesting people, renewed old friendships, and laughed and laughed. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Update 2 on blender jar

The blender jar and blades arrived yesterday. It is not a perfect fit, but works. We are good for another forty years.


There are traditions for Christmas and there are rules of marriage that make them work.

The house and tree must be decorated, both our jobs.
Gifts must be bought, my job.
Gifts must be wrapped, Marty's job.
Stocking stuffers must be bought and separated into bags for everyone in the house, my job.
The Christmas letter must be written, my job to write. Marty's job to tweak, format, and print.
Gifts must be mailed, both our jobs.
Meals must be cooked, both our jobs.
The ice maker must die. The gremlins' job.

I HATE wrapping presents. I am known for giving gifts in brown grocery bags. When gift bags were invented I was so happy. But everything will not fit in those bags. So I still must wrap some things. I don't do a very neat job wrapping, I can't judge how much paper is needed. I hate it, hate it, hate it. Marty wraps the gifts and they are beautiful. Usually he wraps, not this year.

The ice maker died. No ice, no attempt to make ice. It knew we have 5 house guests coming in a week, and 2 dinner guests tomorrow. It quit. We have had many brands of refrigerators over 41 years . They and or their ice makers all die before a party or overnight guests arrive. And always they die during the Christmas holidays, always. Today when he should have been wrapping presents while I cleaned house and did laundry, Marty worked on the ice maker. I wrapped presents all day long. Lots of them in gift bags which still takes time and effort. But many had to have paper and ribbon. And Marty was on the net trying to find out what was wrong with the ice maker. He would come back into the kitchen and punch and pull, and pry, and turn it off, then back on. Nothing. He got back on the net, ready to give up and call a $125 an hour repairman. When we heard it, that lovely sound of ice dropping into the bucket. It was working!!!!

Marty isn't real sure how he fixed it, but we don't care, it is fixed. He thinks a cube jammed and shut everything down. Doesn't matter, it works.

I wrapped everything except two gifts. I will let Marty do those tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Sleeping together, no not "sleeping" together, sleeping together. We sleep with our sisters, brothers, parents, friends, lovers, partners, spouses. We sleep but sometimes things don't work out.
When my sister and I shared a room, we marked off the bed, a line down the middle. If you crossed over all hell broke I made up only my side, an art form to do this. By doing this Mother knew I was the good child.

There are rules of the bed. Don't take the covers, don't steal pillows, don't get on the other side. And if someone gets up in the night, don't get in the middle and spread out. This is a common fault. You go to the bathroom, come back, and there is no way you can get back in the bed. A body is spread out in the middle and taking up the whole bed.

Ray Romona has a routine about picking your side of the bed. He says he blew it and forever is not on the side he wants. Women pick the side away from the door. That way the burglar gets your husband first and you can escape.

Young women usually are cold at night. They want to snuggle next to the person in bed with them. They put their icy feet on that poor soul and try to get warm. As women age they get warmer, and aging men get colder. The men want to snuggle close to their partner and get warm. Older women no longer want to snuggle for long. The hot touch of someone else is awful. More body heat, we can't handle more heat. We are in a lather at night. Can you say menopause?

Pillows are mobile. Sometimes your bed mate will take them. Sometimes the bed mate takes your side of the bed and throws the pillow over your head. Pillows are all on one side of the bed, or they end up in the floor. How do they travel?

And then there are the snorers. I know a couple who for 35 years dealt with bad, really bad snoring. She went to bed an hour a head of him so she would be asleep when he started snoring. But he woke her up, he sounds like a buzz saw. I have heard him. We had adjoining rooms in a motel. Our room vibrated from his snoring next door. He now has a C PAC machine. Many couple sleep in separate rooms because of snoring.

Sleeping together is hard. You want to sleep and get some rest. Maybe you will, maybe you won't.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


For background go to a couple of my blogs: November 9, 2008 First Major Purchase and November 24, 2008 Distance saved her life. These are about replacing our broken blender jar.

We still don't have the replacement jar. It was to have shipped Thanksgiving week. Last Friday I called again to see when it would be shipped. I got a machine telling me they closed at noon on Fridays. What kind of business doesn't work Friday afternoons? And one that deals with the West Coast? It was just noon here on the West Coast, so I was hours late calling. Monday I called at 8:00 a.m. PST, no answer, just ringing, and ringing. I kept trying and finally graduated to a busy tone. I had to leave and wouldn't be back until 6:00 that night. I asked Marty to please keep trying through the day. Success! we hope. He got a person, not sure if it was the nasty Yankee Lady, and they gave him a shipping number. Now it hasn't been shipped yet, but we have a number. Maybe it really will be shipped this time. They say third time charm.

Monday, December 8, 2008

No good deed goes unpunished

Today was marrying afternoon, and work with the first graders morning.

Let's talk about marriages. It was a busy afternoon, I got there around 1:30 and left at a little after 5:00. I did seven weddings in that time. Plus some spying for the second floor staff on the fourth floor Christmas decorations. There is a contest and there is some serious decorating going on. But to the weddings.

One wedding was just lovely. The bride in red satin, black heels with red straps, and a bouquet of red and pink roses. The groom and his attendants were in black. The matron of honor was in a patterned satin dress. Lots of family there, lots of love. It was a good feeling all around. Most of the weddings today were good, some dressed up, some not. And then there was the last wedding of the day.

The information clerk came in around 4:05 and asked if I could stay and do one more wedding. (A couple must be in the system by 4:00 to be married that day by a county commissioner.) I told her it wasn't up to me, the clerks made the call. If they said OK, I would stay. She said they already agreed to do the paper work. When I got the license, I took them upstairs, holding my breath the whole way. The bride had bathed in cheap perfume. Awful! The witnesses did not understand why they had to come up also. I explained they couldn't sign they witnessed the wedding if they didn't see it. One witness I am sure had dementia. She wandered through the wedding, the bride yelled at her to sit down during the ceremony, the grandson kept saying,"Grandma, sit down." After the ceremony I signed and had the witnesses sign. (Remember the couple had put in the information on the license, ID had been checked for witnesses, and the couple read the license before signing it.) As I was handing the license to the clerk to record, the bride said her son's name was wrong. We asked for his ID, and she said he has lost it. She wrote out his name and we started the reprinting process. ID isn't a legal requirement for the witness. So we could just take their word for it. Then everyone had to sign again. End of story right? No.

I talked to the clerks and they had not agreed to stay and do the paper work. The info clerk had told them I wanted them to stay and I had already agreed to do the wedding. We were worked just like kids work parents. Then I found out the clerk had copied the Id for the son from HIS ID. We had the name right. I guess mama didn't like the first husband's name on her wedding license and just made up a name for the son. That quick last minute wedding took almost an hour. As I said no good deed goes unpunished.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I blog and I can write pretty much anything I want. I try not to hurt feelings. But I can write about the government, my neighbor, taxes, stupid Yankees clerks. I can write, and no one will bother me. I am an American. We Americans are free, we don't fear writing our thoughts. We are so damn lucky to live here. Thank your lucky stars.

Please read today's post from our friend Hoang. It is titled Test for Vietnam government: free speech bloggers.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Ghost Took a Shower

Today was weird. It was one of my domestic days. I needed to be up and at um early today. But I didn't sleep well last night, I was restless, and up and down all night. The house felt strange. I gave up about 6:00 and got up. I checked email, brought the papers in, and decided to go back to bed. Since I was restless and didn't want to wake Marty, I got on the couch and went to sleep. I woke up a couple of times. I heard Marty come down stairs, he came into the living room once to check on me, just looked at me, and once time he patted me on the hip. I thought.

Now to fast forward. I finally got up and started cleaning. I was cleaning the bath room after Marty took his shower. As I was cleaning the tub I saw a long, very long black hair on the bottom of the tub. Marty has short blondish white hair, I have longish, LAYERED burgundy and white hair. This hair was at least 15 inches long, and really black. Neither of us has ever had black hair. Or hair that long. Any time the shower drain has been clogged up in the last 5 years, black hair has been pulled out. Whose hair is it? No one came in during the 15 minutes after Marty's shower and my cleaning spree.

Now to a flashback. I told Marty about the hair. Then I asked him if he patted me on the hip. NO, he didn't. He came in the living room and then went back to bed. I know when the hip patting happened, it wasn't he. Some one stood behind the couch and reached over and patted me. The couch almost touches the wall. There is no room for someone to stand there.

The house is 70 years old. Lots of people have lived here. Who pats sleeping me? I have heard voices since we moved in: talking, sometimes singing. Back in the days when I used the treadmill, "someone" was on the treadmill with me. Marty was dressing upstairs. This spirit, person, whatever is friendly. I knew ghosts/spirits looked after the living. But who knew ghosts took showers.


Marty and I are better, nearly all calmed down. We will make it through this hiccup in our life because we have friends who get mad with us. And we have friends who cover us with love.

I haven't killed or maimed the jerk yet. But have several people who will give me an alibi if needed. I have decided the jerk isn't worth killing and me going to Hell. So he will live to upset others.

I guess I am not really calmed down yet. I do tend to hold a grudge.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Today was a crappy day. It was awful in oh so many ways. I'm not saying what happened, just want you to know Marty and I did not like today. I called my brother in law and asked him to call tonight. And if anyone asked, I was on the speaker phone with him. I might need an alibi and he was it. He called, I wasn't there, but I let a jerk live. Trust me, you do not want to upset me by being crappy to my Marty.

I was really upset by events today. I met with friends for dinner and lost it and ended up crying. They listened to me vent and calmed me down. They also bought me a margarita which always helps. Then they were willing to let me hash over and over my bad day. Thank you Janet and Kirsten.

The day became much better about 9:30pm. Tonight there was a surprise when I got home after dinner with my friends.

We received an early Christmas present, two Vietnamese cookbooks. They are from Hoang. This is a young man in Vietnam who has become Marty's friend. They met through the wonders of the Internet and talk on line regularly. Marty helps Hoang with his English. Hoang connected Marty with a wonderful artist who did portraits of Marty and me. Hoang sent me a sun hat that I love, wide brimed but a loose weave so it is cool. Hoang also is a follower of this blog. If you click on his picture you can find the link to his blog. He posts pictures of things happening in Vietnam. Some are of floods, tortured children, whatever is happening that he cares about. So check out Hoang's blog. Most is in English for those of us who only speak one language.

Hoang, thank you for making an awful day better. I think Marty will be cooking Goi Guon and Pho Bo soon.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Today was slow, at first. I married 2 couples from 1:00 to 2:45. Then the 3:00 rush happened. I married 5 couples from 3:00 to 4:45. Some I don't remember, and some I do.

I had a couple who were from India. He had a name, she didn't. That is right, this woman had only a last name. No first or middle name, only a last name. The clerk had to call legal to see how to fill out the license. When I married them it was if I said Joe, do you take Smith as your wife? It was just strange. They were cute and obviously in love. She spoke little English, understood some. He and the witnesses translated for her. They were dressed in jeans, not very traditional Indian. Except she had the wedding bracelets almost to her elbows.

I started one wedding ceremony, (I had talked to the couple about vows, rings etc ). They were Mexican and after a couple of minutes I realized the groom didn't speak much English. They forgot to tell me. We started over and the mother of the bride translated the ceremony, as she took pictures of the wedding. They were sweet.

There were others, but not stand out couples, except for one. This is the couple who broke the stereotype of tough looking young black men and their women. He was in typical fall off your hips baggy pants, and she was huge breasted and frankly a little trashy looking. They were polite to me and fun. I asked if they wanted traditional vows or if they had their own. She said traditional and he said I have my own. She looked stunned, no idea he would say that. I began, we came to the vows and he said wonderful things to her: "I love you " over and over. He told her how important she was to him and then he said, "you may think this is the best our life can be, but this is only the beginning for you and me." " I love you." The witnesses are crying, I am just holding it together. I continued and then pronounced them married. The groom then asked if he could speak again, I told him of course, it is his wedding. He said," I have nearly been here several times, I am so glad I never got here until I was here with you. I love you." OK at this point I am crying also. I had goose bumps all through this wedding. This couple had such a deep love. I keep telling people you CAN feel the love. I just wanted to hug them both, so did, and take them home. I didn't.

After two days of Open Studios, volunteering at school, and then the marrying, I am tired. Tuesday Marty is taking a vacation day, YEAH. No alarm, we can sleep in. We haven't decided what we are going to do. We may go to a movie or we may finish the Christmas decorations. I will just be glad to sleep late. Please may no one call us early tomorrow.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


There are problems in writing a blog. I want to tell a story, and I go, "Oh s*#@ , your name here will see this." I can't write certain things because it will hurt feelings. Or it could get someone in trouble. I started this partly to vent, to tell tales, to let you know my feelings. Well it doesn't work that way.

People say things to me, my feelings get hurt. (I do have very tender feelings) How dare they say that. I WILL BLOG!!! Well, I am a nice polite southern girl. You don't deliberately hurt people. So if I write about them, I am ruder than they are. Or someone is careless and I get physically hurt. Not a big deal, but I did get a little hurt and I was in a little pain. If I blog, people could find out and then all hell could break loose. So I control my words.

Now you are thinking just how many people read this little blog. Well, nearly everyone I know has been invited to read it. So they might see me bashing them. Off the top of my head, I know for sure 8 people who read this regularly. But there could be lurkers. So I must be nice unless it is someone like the nasty Yankee on the phone earlier this week. She doesn't count.

The point of tonight's blog. . . My feelings got hurt and I had a small accident. A bad day in some ways. Marty gave me a couple of big hugs and Randy hugged me and that made most of the problems go away. But I really want to vent and write nasty stuff. But I can't write about it because I feel a need to protect the guilty. I am taking the high road. I would rather not.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The next few weeks. . .

The Christmas season officially begins for us on Friday after Thanksgiving. We love the season, and we decorate every room in the house and the outside as well. It is a busy time and we have lots of fun.

Today the tree is done. I hung ornaments most of the day. We put more ornaments on than most people. We hang about 10 dozen glass icicles and have several hundred other ornaments. This is a major project. I hate it and love it at the same time. Every ornament is a memory. There are three I love the most. Marty and I bought them shortly after we married: a crown, a treasure chest, and a silver elf. They cost us a fortune, in 1967 we paid close to $20 for the three. And I love them. I have a bell made of aluminum foil and a paper cup that Erik made for us in Kindergarten. We have some we bought on trips, some from past students, and some we bought every year as a family. It takes a full day to finish the tree. I now have the rest of the house to decorate. That will be done over the next week.

Saturday we begin Open Studios The artists in Berkeley and Oakland do demonstrations and have their art for sale. Marty is a hot glass artist and will work every Saturday and Sunday through December 21. I work in the gallery. We are number one on the list/map: R. Strong Glass at Fourth and Gilman. I hope you will drop by. Marty will assist on Saturdays and will do demos on Sundays.

Of course our normal life will continue, I will marry couples and work at school and Marty will do his day job. So we are a little busy doing all the above and the Christmas gatherings also. But we seem to get it all done.

I trust everything is spelled correctly in this post. For some reason the spell check isn't working. I have used the dictionary to check some things. But sometimes you can't proof read your own work.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today is Thanksgiving, but it feels like Friday. There is no smell of turkey and dressing. I am not running around like a chicken with its head cut off getting 14 dishes to come out at the same time. We are not cooking this year. We have no guests arriving any minute. It feels really strange.

We are going to our friends and bringing mashed potatoes and home made rolls. I know we will have a wonderful time with them and eat great food. But we always host. It feels strange.

So what did we do today you ask. We did the Friday stuff. We drug out all the Christmas boxes, rearranged the living room so the tree will fit, put up the tree, and Marty is hanging outside lights. It feels strange.

We have a new tree this year. It is a smidgen smaller and came with LED lights on it. We always have white lights, this tree has colored lights. It feels strange.

I don't think I like doing differently on a holiday. Who knew I was so set in my ways?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today was my day to marry couples. Many types of couples got married. For one couple I was checking the license and saw the bride's name was the same as the groom's middle name. They were Hispanic so his middle name also could be his last name, since they combine the father's and the mother's last name for their last name. I asked for her ID to be sure the clerk had written it down correctly. After that was confirmed, I read over the license. From the license I deduced they had been married before. They both were divorced on the same day in May.

Today I remarried them. He seemed calm and dedicated to her. She was agitated and crying through out the ceremony. I could feel the connection between them. There was a strong love, but something awful went wrong in the past. I really hope they make it this time. Again, I have no ending.

Thanksgiving. November. I grew up in Kentucky. November and Thanksgiving meant it was cold, dreary, maybe with sleet and flurries. It is a nasty time of the year. Now I live in California, not southern CA. But still much better weather than Kentucky.

Our yard is blooming. We have cymbidium orchids blooming in the yard. Tomatoes are still on the vine. Gardenias are in bud, camellias are in bud, basil and dill are waiting to be picked. My roses are blooming. , At least the the ones the gophers haven't killed. They just took out a 40 year old bush. One day it was there, the next laying on its side, roots gone. I totally understand Bill Murray and Caddy Shack. I hate those little hair balls. Breathing deeply to continue. . . I have butterfly iris blooming and lots of other plants blooming. My magnolia tulip tree is blooming a couple of months early because it is so warm this winter. But at the same time we have trees dropping their leaves. California does fall and summer at the same time. But we are never severely cold in the Bay Area.

Things I am thankful for this year: Marty, Erik and Jennifer. An election result that there was no doubt.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


My friend Janet Rudolph writes a blog called Mystery Fanfare. I have it on my Blog list to the left. Be sure to check it often. But especially today check it out. She has information about a wonderful convention Left Coast Crime:Say Aloha to Murder. If you like mysteries, this is the convention for you. She has links, so I won't put them in.

Check it out. There is a blog on the site that I contributed to last week. I sent an article on foods of Hawaii. There are contests, funnny pictures, and lots of info on the programing. Even if you don't make the convention the site has lots of information for mystery fans. The guest list has links to lots and lots of authors.

It is a great site. Feel free to pass on the information/site link.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I am ticked, peeved, and ready to kill. Not a good thing so early on Monday morning. Go to my November 9, 2008 posting, FIRST MAJOR PURCHASE. Just go down the left in the archives and find it and click. Read that for the back story.

OK, are you done reading?

The part has not come in. I received an email on the night of the ninth that it had been shipped. There was no tracking number included, so I called this morning to find out where it is. First let me say I am not a bigot. But the woman who answered was everything I dislike about the stereotypical Yankees: harsh nasal voice, unfriendly, and flat out rude. She can't help her voice. Not everyone is blessed with the lovely melodic Southeastern Kentucky twang I have. But just saying hello she told me I was bothering her. I gave my order number and she said,"It hasn't been shipped yet. The blades will be in this week." That pretty well set me off, but I stayed in my sweet Southern Belle mode. I explained I had an email saying it was shipped. She says, "I didn't send it, shipping shouldn't have sent it. We'll ship it when the part comes in." I started to ask her to notify a supervisor about the error of the email, ( if a company has a communication problem someone should know about it). I was quickly told not her problem. "I just answer the phone," she snapped.

It will be shipped this week, maybe.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Friday I continued being domestic. I ironed nine shirts and one blouse. I also went to the grocery that morning. I think those 2 things put me pretty close to saint hood. Lucky's the Friday before Thanksgiving is awful. The only thing worse than that is Costco the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Yeah, Marty and I did that today. I may hit Safeway on Wednesday just to really get that I hate crowds feeling.

Friday night we had play tickets. We met friends for dinner and visited with them. Then the four of us went to the play. It was a disappointment. Not well done, sound was poor, singing was off key, acting was not great. It just not up to what the Willows usually does.

Saturday we had the big A TEAM dinner in honor of the Gramms being in town for the week. We started with appetizers at one house and then the rest of the meal at another house. We had wonderful food and great fellowship. And we had party favors. Lovely Hank and Thom had pictures of each couple on a stand and the outline of us had been laser cut. Great party favors. We ate too much and drank too much. And we laughed and laughed and then we cried some too. Don't worry about us driving home liquored up. We slept on Nancy and Lew's couch for a while, and then slipped out about midnight and came home. We don't do the drinking and driving thing.
Today we had plans to start getting ready for the holidays. Marty was going to put up the outside lights, and drag out all the boxes of decorations. That didn't happen. We slept real late, loved that. We just weren't in the mood to start the Christmas stuff. We will regret that since we have no free weekends between now and Christmas. Oh, well. It will happen some way. Marty worked in the yard some, while I did even more laundry. We checked our friends' house in San Leandro and then did Costco.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Several friends have written me and said they like my Blog. Thank you, thank you very much. But they don't know how to make comments on the blog. They are Blog virgins. I have some directions that I think will work.

Basically you click until it tells you it works. After you post, the comment comes to me and I decide if it should be posted or not. I have not deleted anyone, yet. I want to protect the site from weirdos. Some strange people do come out of the wood work. I don't want filth on my site, I am protecting you, my readers from icky people. You are allowed to disagree with me. In fact one poster has. I just want to keep it clean.

To reply to the blog, click on comments, then write your note in the comment box, select a profile, most people just click name and fill in your name, ( some of the pull downs I have no idea what they are, I must ask Erik ) unless you have a Google account then click on the google, ignore the URL unless you have a website, if so put in the link, click on post, then type in the word verification and then finish. It is a little complicated, but really not that hard. The second and third time will be easier.

Also at the end of the post it says interesting, funny, cool. You just click on one and it ups the count. It really isn't hard. Just try it.

I do want comments. They help me know what to write. It also feeds my ego. I check about a hundred times a day to see if anyone commented or checked a box. I need the feedback to be sure you like me. So comment, agree or disagree, just read me and comment. Send the link to your friends, and tell them to comment. You all can tear the post apart. Just let me know you are there. Of course if you are harsh I will cry. But at least you are reading me.

Also, check out the Blogs I follow: drinks, comments on life, and mysteries; fun, interesting and all about mysteries.


Thursdays I usually stay home and act like a housewife. That word act is important to remember. I am not a very domestic animal. Well, I do like to cook. But someone must do certain things, such as clean toilets, wash and iron clothes, clean house. It seems that would be me. Marty could do most of that much better than I do. (I am much better at laundry. He doesn't understand hot water and colors.) But I don't want to hold down a paying job, so he does that for me and I take care of the inside of the home.

Today was a mixture of domestic bliss. I washed several loads of laundry, starched and sprinkled shirts to iron tomorrow, put up some laundry, did Christmas shopping, worked on our Christmas letter, made a huge pot of chili, and took out the recyclables.

The Christmas shopping was great. I love online shopping. No crowds, no driving there, just walk into my office and start clicking. I found the perfect gift for Marty, which I can not share. He reads this blog also. But trust me, even though we are doing the frugal Christmas, it is great. It took a while to comparison shop on line. You have to find the best price, then lowest shipping, tax or no tax, and then remember which site is best overall. He will love it and he doesn't even know he wants this. Well, maybe he does. : )

I love writing our Christmas letter. Every year it gets a little longer, which means it could be boring or worse bragging. We get those bragging letters sometimes, Sally Mae is prom queen, Johnny is president of the class. I won the lottery, you didn't. But that is OK. The worse are the letters that tell all the doom and destruction that has happened in a 500 mile radius. Every death down to fifth cousins will be listed. They will share the stories of the plague of locusts that wiped out their petunias, and that their fan belt broke after 100.000 miles. Those letters do sorta make us laugh.

We try to just list our year's happenings. Marty and I do a lot of things, we are active seniors. And I like to share our life with friends all over the country. Yes, sometimes we brag too. You have to toot your own horn sometimes. So forgive us. I write lots of stuff, put in beginning sentences about Marty then he adds details, and finally he formats and edits it. So maybe it isn't too long. This year he has a lot to edit. I have already filled the page and he still needs to flesh out his stuff. Maybe we will have two pages this year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Today was a slow day for marriages. I only performed 5 or 6 ceremonies. I always lose count after the first couple of weddings. I think I will know, but the licences start piling up at the 3:00 rush and I just do weddings.

Couples must be clocked in the computer by 4:00 in order for us to perform a ceremony. Most of them seem to show up about 3:00. We figure they work through lunch and then take off early and come get married. That's fine, but some days we have weddings to do until 5:00 or 5:30. The building closes at 4:30 and lots of staff go home then. Some days when I finish there is just me, the sheriff''s deputy and the marriage clerk left in the building. Once I came down and the lights were off where my belongings were.

But as I said, a slow day today. Only one really stands out. A couple who were from Afghanistan. She had lived here a while and was a citizen, and he had just arrived recently from Afghanistan. They were rushing to do a civil marriage for immigration purposes. They had done a cultural wedding in Afghanistan. They had lots of pictures taken, still and video, to prove the wedding. They were in love, but it just didn't have much joy. It was for legal purposes. I hope the wedding in Afghanistan was cheerier. California has an optional box to check bride or groom,( That was the result of a lawsuit. Don't even ask.) They were afraid to check it because Immigration might make something of it. I don't know what, but they were afraid. That seemed sad to me to be afraid of the government. Upset by, mad at it, but not afraid of them in my personal life. We natural born Americans have no idea how free we really are.


When I wrote about friends, I included my book group. We meet every Tuesday night for at least 2 hours and discuss a mystery book. We take breaks during the summer, around mystery conventions, and religious and other holidays. We only read mysteries, every kind you can think of. Spy, thrillers, cozies, classics, police procedural, capers, books that are classified as novels but are mysteries, and mysteries that really aren't. But only mysteries. Until last night.

I was over my Monday bug and went to book. It was our last meeting until after the holidays. And it was a pot luck. No way was I missing food. Yes, queasy is gone. But the book we read is not a mystery. Never said it was, never tried to be. It is just a lovely book. Some had read it already, we all had heard of it. It has had incredible reviews. We decided we wanted to read it and discuss together and we did.

Even if you only read a book a decade, or horrors of horrors never read a book, you MUST read this book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The is written as letters between people on Guernsey, Juliet an author and her friends just after WWII. Guernsey was occupied by the Germans for several years. The book tells of their surviving the war, hence potato peel pie. It is an amazing book. I knew it was fiction, but I kept reading it and feeling it as real letters. The writing is superb, the characters are true, time and space spot on. I laughed and cried.

In the San Francisco area the book is #2 on the Best Seller's list. And if you want to borrow it from the library, prepare to wait. The line is about 40 deep, at 3 weeks a person.

The web site for the book gives you flavor of the book. And the history of the authors. Ms. Shaffer did not live to see the success of her book.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Today is the long volunteer day. Except today was different. I got up, got dressed, read the two papers, I was close to leaving, and thought yuck. I didn't feel awful, I didn't feel good, I was queasy. So I called the school and the county office and said I won't be in. I felt so bad because I was letting them down. But it was the best thing to do.

By 8:30 I had removed my jewelery, changed clothes, and I was on the couch asleep. I woke up at 12:30 and my husband fixed me a bowl of soup. By 2:30 I was back on the couch and asleep. When I woke up, it was dark and I didn't know where I was at first. It was 5:30 and man does it get dark early now. My Mother says she could always tell when I was sick, I would curl up and sleep. I felt better after my all day nap. I fixed supper and I have watched TV. I am now officially worn out. Shortly I will be off to bed for another 6 or 7 hours of sleep.

I love the word queasy. When I wrote that down, you all knew exactly how I felt. If I had said I didn't feel good, you would have wondered what's up. Queasy, you know. It is a great word, you feel exactly like it sounds. I checked my Webster's Dictionary and found lots of good definitions.

hangover ( not this time); affected with nausea ( oh yeah); squeamish ( not this time); uncomfortable ( yes); difficult to please ( always); hazardous ( you have to ask Marty on that one).

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Sunday afternoon we had a potluck lunch at a friend's house. It was in honor of the missing A TEAM members from New Orleans. The A TEAM and some of the neighbors got together to welcome them home, if just for the week. There were seventeen of us gathered together. Neighbors still on the hill, Marty and I who have moved down the hill, and the guests of honor, the Gramms. A good group who always has a good time together.

Lots of great food, boy can that neighborhood cook. Every time we get together I tell them we need to do a cookbook. Dave and Nancy brought guacamole, we all make guacamole. But theirs had a crisper/fresher taste. Maybe it was the lime juice and lime zest. Most people just use lemon juice and no zest. It was soooo good. Then Lorraine brought a curry rice salad. And the base of this great dish you ask, lowly Rice a Roni. It was fantastic. We stole the bowl and put it on our table. Everyone brought great food. And the wine was great. We cried, we laughed, we made plans for future events in New Orleans.

It was a lovely day. And we were home by 6:00. It felt like midnight. Dark, dark, dark. I really hate the short winter days. I know it is still technically autumn, but dark at 5:20 makes it winter to me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The wind: do you like it, hate it, are you scared of it?

I am sometimes just a little afraid of the wind. We live in the Oakland Hills, wind is not our friend. Especially when it is the Diablo winds coming from inland and not from the sea. This wind is strong, hot, and dry. You can feel your skin drying out, your mouth is dry, and you feel anxious. And this is when we get the raging fires. So we are all a little nervous with the winds. The last two nights I have often waked up from the noise of the wind and from the sounds of the house. Things pop that don't usually, branches hit the house, and the security light keeps coming on. Is someone on the driveway, is it an animal, or did the wind blow things in front of the security beam?

Sometimes the wind is great. At night when the house is warm and we have the windows open, a gentle breeze will fill the house with cool fresh air. Even though it is summer time, we sleep under a down comforter, the breeze blowing over the bed.

The wind blowing long grass on a hillside looks like the sea. Petals blowing from fruit trees in a gentle wind looks like a snow storm. But it is spring in California.

The wind blowing leaves in the fall is good. The sounds of the dry leaves, the leaves swirling in the air, the color of the leaves piled against the fence, that is fall.

My favorite wind, Randy Strong's glass art. Check out the gallery and look at the Wind series and the Sonoma Breeze art.

Wind is usually good. Wind is scary right now. We are the lucky ones this time in Northern California, no fires, yet. Southern California has the fires this time. Our crews are there fighting fires.

The wind is calm right now. Hopefully the front has moved through and we will go back to off shore breezes. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Tonight we met our son, Erik, for dinner. As we were talking he asked why was the garage full on Wednesday. And then he said I had to tell you, my readers why. There are some readers out there I hope.

I was told there was a huge meeting in our building with lots of outside people. They filled up the MY garage.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I had a lovely lunch with Kirsten today. She is a college professor. She also is a lovely young wife/mother, highly intelligent, and funny as hell. I am old enough to be her mother. But we are friends in the truest way.

I thought about friendship as I was cleaning windows this afternoon. Hey, I do domestic stuff sometimes. I have waited for the window washing fairy to show for months. She is so lazy she skipped our house. So I cleaned windows in two rooms ( that would be the back of the house, all big windows ) and thought deep thoughts as I worked.

Friends not acquaintances but friends, why do you click? They say if you have one true friend in your life you are lucky. Why does this young woman like me? Why do I like her? She is so highly educated, knows stuff I will never know, nor have the vocabulary to understand. I love her energy; I love to hear her passion for her field of literature; and I love hearing about her everyday life. The first time we met, we knew we needed to get to know each other. A blessing.

I have been blessed with many friends. These are not talk on the phone everyday, go to lunch every week, these are caring, be there when needed friends. I may not see them often, some live thousands of miles away, but they are friends.

One dear friend gave me such a wonderful gift years ago. It was an awful time in our life. We were downsizing, leaving the perfect dream house, before we had to. We saw the stock market tanking and knew it was downsize or die at 65. That wasn't an option. My friend Janet brought wine and sat and cried with me for an afternoon. That is a friend.

Our special group of eight friends began as a cooking group. We now are as close as family. We call ourselves THE A TEAM. We are obnoxious when we are together. We are loud, loud, and louder. We cook, eat, drink, and laugh. And wonderful Thom takes hundreds of pictures for memories. We live less than 10 minutes apart.(except for the couple who accepted a transfer and left us) But we remaining six see each other maybe once a quarter. We are all busy and email to keep in touch. The eight of us have been through death, loss of income, job changes, scary health issues, a transfer out of state, and I married the deeply in love Hank and Thom. These are friends who we love and they are open with their love for us. We are there when needed. We are there to have food with. We are there. The couple who moved away is sorely missed. And we keep in touch with phone calls and emails. And blessings of all blessings they will be here Sunday to visit us and other friends. The A TEAM can hardly wait for them.

Why do we do things for some people that we would refuse others? We used to drive from Oakland to San Francisco to feed and walk our friends' dog. They didn't trust anyone else to care for him. I would sit in the car and go why are we doing this? Are we nuts? We left our dog alone to go take care of their dog. Of course we did that, they are our friends. I loved my dog, I totally understood them not trusting others to care for Benito. But on the balance scale of friendship they win. When we did our remodel from hell, they offered their second home( 15 minutes from our home) rent free. We lived there for nearly 6 months. We could not have paid rent and our mortgage for that long. That was a gift.

Sometimes group friends are the best. I belong to a book club. We bicker, we totally disagree sometimes on whether the book is good or not, we offer reasons for the book being boring to me exciting to someone else. But it is just discussion. We are a tight group. If there is trouble, we are there for each other. I have had some health issues over the years and they were a support group. Last winter I was sent to a surgeon with a cancer scare. The group was on the phone with me planning who would be taking me to the doctor, giving me advice, who would be there to hold my hand if my husband couldn't go with me. Thankfully, I didn't need the help, it was a false alarm. But they were there.

These are some of my friends. I am so lucky. Friends, a gift from God. Friends, what makes life worth living. Friends, so many types, so many wonderful people. Thank you dear friends, mentioned and unmentioned.


I just checked my spam. There I was again, two notes from me. ( I was checking that some stuff would be sent) and a couple of more important email newsletter in spam. All of these addresses are in my address book. Yahoo is going nuts again.

Oh and the exclamation marks I use. My son said something to the effect that he understood that crazy people used lots of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Santa will remember that crack.

I heard it was immature blond cheerleaders that liked !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am not crazy, nor blond at this time, or a cheerleader. I am immature.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Today was my day to marry couples. I got to the parking garage, window down, blinker on and the orange sign was out, GARAGE IS FULL. The security guard was standing in the lane so you couldn't sneak in. What was going on? It is never full at that time of day. So I begin driving and looking for a parking place. I lucked out, a pull in spot, no meter, and only a block and a half away from the county building. Not bad. Of course I could only park there for two hours and then would need to move the car.

I go in and wait for the licenses to start piling up. Nothing. I read, a boring book, for nearly two hours. Time to move my car. I grab the key and my wallet, leaving my purse, phone, belongings in the desk. I drive around to the garage. OH NO, still an ugly orange sign out with the security guard standing there. What is going on? I start driving, nothing for blocks. There are other lots but they are raping the public. Double my garage costs. So I think I will just call the office tell them there is no parking and go home. Oops, I left my purse and belongings in the desk. I have to park in order to get them.

Finally an open spot, but I have to parallel park on the left side of the street. I have parallel parked maybe 5 times since my driving test in 1959. That is what parking garages, head in spaces, and husbands are for. I did it, I parked that big SUV on the first try. And there was 28 minutes on the meter. I am one lucky gal.

Back to the marrying. I did 5 weddings in the next hour and 25 minutes. They were all love matches. You could just feel the love.

One couple just radiated love. Adoring looks and tenderness. But they didn't have a witness. They lucked out with a woman in the lobby, she would be their witness. They had no idea how lucky they were. We got upstairs and I asked if they had a camera or a camera phone. No camera, but they had the phone. Cristine, the witness says,"I have a camera." And she goes into her backpack and pulls out an expensive digital camera. She took all kinds of pictures, from all angles. She really looked like a pro. And the pictures will be emailed to the couple tonight. What a good Samaritan.

One wedding couple were babies, he was 18, she was 19. I hate those. So young, they should be dating, going to college, having fun, not suddenly becoming grown ups. It was a beautiful wedding. The bride had on a white wedding dress with a full train. The dress had seed pearls all over it, lovely. Her little sister was in a long white dress and stood up with her. The groom had on a black suit and his brother in a black suit stood up with him. There were corsages, bouquets, boutonnieres, lots of family, cameras everywhere. This was a happy occasion.

And I guess that is all anyone can wish for, a happy love filled room.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Mondays always seem long. I volunteer with my first graders, rush home at noon to eat and change clothes, and then off to the county building to marry couples. I leave at 8:40 and get home any time between 4:30,and 6:00. I know other people have as long or longer days, but they are getting paid. I am Volunteering. That means every Monday I go into the hole $7:00 just for parking.

Today was hard. My lovely teacher Amy was out today and we had a sub. She is a good sub, she follows what the teacher puts down, she tries to keep discipline, and she is teaching, not just showing up. But this class is hard, they have problems, they are immature, they are trouble. Even Amy somtimes has a hard time keeping control. There was talking out, chairs falling over with children in them ( that became a game), and there was the howler.

We had a child who was upset his Mother didn't hug and kiss him goodbye this morning. So he cried, whined, howled, tried to throw up, sobbed, carried on loudly for the entire morning. I longed for the days when you could hit students and give them a reason to cry. He was sent back to the room from Music class, they couldn't sing if he howled. The principal took him to the office to try to calm him down. He liked that too much and wanted to spend the day there. So he howled and carried on some more, no tears just disruption of the class. I took him back to the office and they refused him. We sat him in the hall and left him. He came back sniffling and acting put up on, again I just wanted to smack him up the side of the head. He finally calmed down but he had pretty much ruined the morning for me, the sub, and the rest of the class.

Then I went to marry couples. This is my happy volunteer job. I love to marry couples. But as I said, I have no endings. Lots of stories today, who knows how they turn out. My first couple were gigglers. They were so nervous, the bride giggled, then started laughing out loud, then the groom lost it, and then the witnesses were laughing. After they were married, the bride cried.

I took the license into the marriage desk to have it recorded. The clerk was on the phone. She was trying to find out when a couple was married. Their license said they were married on 11-11-08 which would be tomorrow. The bride said they were married on 10-11-08, (the license was not sold to them until 10-30-08) then she said on 11-05-08. Can you say doesn't make sense? The couple later came in and it still didn't make sense, the minister had put tomorrow as the wedding date. They couldn't speak much English and we couldn't get a straight story out of them. So a license amendment was mailed to the minister asking when the wedding was. This one I might get an ending.

I did a Hispanic wedding and the groom's first name was Williams, not a Hispanic name. I called the name and 2 men answered. I then went to the brides name and eliminated one couple. Two wedding later I get the license and there is the name Williams again. A Hispanic couple, but not a Hispanic name. Neither of these men were born in the USA, but had very American names. Why?

The last wedding of the day was fun. The groom had on a tee shirt that said The Groom, Dead man walking. The Bride's tee shirt said The Bride aka the executioner. There were four men with them. They were very polite and called me mam. I am 90% sure they were military, the military are always so polite and say mam. But I didn't ask, not my right. This was a joyous wedding, The guests were thrilled as was the couple. It was a nice way to end the day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


In 1967 we were married. We lived in Kentucky across the river from Cincinnati. I was a teacher making a smidgen over $3000 and Marty was a CHEVRON sales rep making around $5000. Even back then, that was not a whole lot of money. I was very frugal, some might say tight. Marty wasn't. He knew what we could afford, or could save up for. He would not accept junk, only good brands. If it wasn't what he wanted, we did without until we had the money. Usually.

He came home one night with a 10 speed blender, an Osterizer. This was the Cadillac of blenders. It was maybe even a Mercedes. The blender cost $50.00. I had a melt down. That was a huge amount of money to spend without discussing it. Plus why did we need a blender? Where would we put it? Our apartment kitchen was so tiny we kept dishes and pots in another room.

We still have that blender. All we have done to it is replace the gasket every 10 years or so. I made daiquiris in it, sauces, baby food, crushed ice, all kinds of things. It was a great investment: metal parts, glass jar, made to last. But alas today tragedy. While getting a crock pot out of the closet, the blender jar was bumped and it fell! It broke.

This blender is so old that the model number is only three digits. Everything today is four digits or more. I found a place online that sells replacement kits. The cost is $24.99 for jar, blades, lid, gasket. A very reasonable price. We figured the blades might be a little dull after 41 years, so let's go for the kit. The replacement jar should fit most Osterizers. We shall see.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I just checked my spam box on Yahoo. I often find something there that is not spam. I had done a test email to myself and there was my note to me. I am spam. It was bad enough when beloved husband, Marty (by accident he said) blocked my email and it went into spam. But I now have refused myself.

How are you cutting back on spending?

The economy is in the toilet. Retirees are running scared. You have worked all your life to get to a comfortable life style level and it is now gone. Banks are failing. Homes are being lost. Sounds like a report on the 1930s. But it is now.

So, what are you doing to cut spending? Christmas is coming and we all go a little nuts then. We all need ideas. No matter how much or how little you have, your life style has been effected. Well maybe really rich people haven't noticed the problem. Although P. Diddy gave up his private plane.

I have listed some of the things we are doing to cut back. I have gone back to ironing shirts and blouses instead of taking them to the cleaners. We don't eat out as much as we did before. (hate that one) Car trips are planned. After I come back from the marrying couples in downtown Oakland, I go to the grocery and the library on the way home. I shop more at Ross and much, much less at my favorite Boutique. I am looking at the 2 for one items at the grocery. And I think much harder before buying anything. No impulse shopping allowed.

We are putting on our North Face shirts and keeping the temperature low in the house. We would turn out more lights, but we use fluorescent bulbs. If you are coming back within 2o minutes it is cheaper to leave them on. We watch more TV and go to fewer movies. I use the Senior Citizen discount everywhere I can. I now shop at Ross only on Tuesdays, senior discount day. I am giving more time and unfortunately less money to non profit organizations. We cut back on the number of plays we will see, We only bought tickets for two instead of the usual four seats. We are not renewing subscriptions to some newspaper and magazines. We can read them on line. None of these is a huge item, but they will add up. The huge money leak is Christmas.

Christmas we have several guest from out of state coming. In the past there has been an orgy of gifts. Not this year. We told them to be creative to find items that are inexpensive. We all want to unwrap lots of goodies, so this has been a challenge. To help we have a 9 page survey we all filled out. Some of my guests have never met, and I haven't met one of them.

This survey helped us get to know each other and see what we wanted for Christmas. We listed colors in our home; needs for our cars; favorite movies/TV shows; hobbies; vegan, vegetarian, or meat eaters, and one of us is all of these. There were lots of silly answers and that too told us who people are.

I took my seven surveys and I spent a good part of yesterday organizing the list, and deciding what to look for. Then I went shopping online. is my best friend. I paid only $1.00 shipping and had six items shipped. I found things on the lists, they are not tacky, and I saved money. I did not have to burn gas and I could do my laundry at the same time. I have more to buy and will do most of it online also.

So what are you doing to spend less? Leave a comment and share your ideas.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Last week we took our trip to San Diego. We left on Thursday and came home on Monday. If you check ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!! you will find out about the trip down. It was a very relaxing vacation.

We stayed with friends Richard and Luis. They own a lovely home on the top of a mountain in Mt. Helix. We ate out a couple of times, Richard cooked, I cooked once, and there were a couple of meals with Luis' family. One family meal at his Mother's and one cookout at his home.

We ate one killer meal at Inn at the Park

When the four of us eat together, it is like family. We taste food from each other's plates. We share and discuss the food. Not that night. If you keep clicking on the menu you will see the food we had. I had the gazpacho and the lobster and peach tower, which was drizzled with a bourbon vinaigrette. The others had mussels, lamb stew, fish, short ribs, scallops. They shared tastes. I told them I would stab them with my fork if they came near my plate. The donut peaches with the vinaigrette were like eating candy. The lobster was good, but oh my word the peaches. The plate was beautiful, tasted like heaven, and I have no regrets for hogging it all.

We ate lunch out the next day and it was on the water. Lovely view and nice food. Nothing to stand out though.

Halloween we went to Luis' Mother to see all the grandchildren dressed up. But the dogs were dressed up too, and Moms and Dads. Wonderful costumes. After they trick or treated we had supper there. Luis' Dad cooked an Aztec dish ( they are of Aztec ancestry). The main ingredient is a grain called Huizontles also called Quelites. This is a stalk of a wheat like grain. Several stalks are tied together, dipped in a batter with cheese and steamed in a sauce used for chile rellenos. To eat this is a feat in itself. You pick up a stalk and either pull the grain off with your fingers or teeth. A fork won't do it, trust me I tried. I thought eating ribs was messy, this is way messier. I went through at least a dozen napkins. I had stuff on my face, on my hands, and down my arms. No way can you be neat and eat this. But truly worth the drip. A great meal.

Sunday was the family get together. There were about 30 of us. It was your basic hamburger cookout with Mexican touches. Luis made a shrimp cerviche, I made potato salad. Early on we had Bloody Marys and a lovely Mexican drink, Micheletos. Micheletos are basically Bloody Marys made with beer. And they are very nice. I can't wait to go to a Mexican restaurant and order one. Of course I will have to take my sheet with the name written down in order to pronounce it.

We had such a relaxing time. We slept late, ate well, and enjoyed being with our good friends. We had a great time.


Damn! The most liberal state in the country just took a civil right away from a minority. And the lawsuits have begun. Damn.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We have a new President elect. Who ever you voted for and however you feel, at least the 2 years of campaigning is over. No more robo calls or 100's of ads in the mail and on TV. I was very impressed with the grace and class of McCain's concession speech. It was the first time I could see what his followers saw in him. We have a new leader and now can move forward together as both Obama and McCain asked.

But we still are waiting on Prop 8. It is too close to call. So we wait.

As a side note: The computer is fixed. Lovely Marty kept on it and suddenly I had wireless again. I am really happy and have quit muttering curse words at the machine. We don't know why the modem wouldn't recognize my computer nor why it now does. But I am out of the foyer and can work in any room of the house.

Election Day 3:58PM

The polls are still open all over the country. They will start closing in the next few minutes. And then the news people will start driving me crazy. The experts will tell us who is winning or has won; but we are still voting on the West Coast, in Alaska, and in Hawaii. Will people still vote if there is a called winner? They didn't when Reagan won so early. We have so many propositions in the Bay Area that needed to be voted on by all. San Francisco has 22 to vote on. In Oakland we had 17 to vote on plus all the people. Please, please may people continue to vote. Ignore the news and take care of the local issues.

I am still worried. I said I wasn't political, I find I am.

Monday, November 3, 2008


There will be two themes for this post tonight. First I must vent. We arrived home safely from our trip. (That will be another post. ) I wanted to write about my thoughts on the election. I turned on my laptop and the dumb thing didn't and still doesn't recognize our wireless system. Every time we travel and change settings to pick up wireless elsewhere, my computer goes wacko. My husband has worked over an hour trying to reset all those numbers and letters, and passwords. Nothing. So I am hardwired into the modem in the foyer, two extension cords are connected to get me power from the kitchen, the computer is on a card table and I am sitting on a kitchen chair. Foul nasty words!!! I hate it when this machine gets me so ticked off. I have stomped around saying really ugly words. And I am still mad. I truly hate machines that don't behave. Oh my husband's laptop you ask? As soon as he turned it on it switched back to our wireless. Not Fair!

Now to the important stuff.

Tuesday is election day. Whatever your beliefs go vote. You can't keep a democracy by sitting home. And if you don't vote, don't complain about the country and politicians in front of me. Yes, as an American you have the right to free speech, but just not in front of me. I have the right to not want to hear you.

I am extremely worried about one issue Tuesday. Will the civil rights of Gays be taken away from them? Will the bigots win? If this California constitutional issue passes, when does it take effect? Will it erase the same sex marriages already done? Will Tuesday be the last time I can marry same sex couples? If someone has a license that is valid for the next 90 days, can we still marry them after Tuesday if Prop 8 wins? We have heard a lot of opinions on these questions, but no one seems to have the legal answers. I keep hoping these questions won't come up because Prop 8 will be defeated. I am hoping.

Friday, October 31, 2008

ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love road trips for many reasons: I hate to fly, I am alone with Marty (no TV,we have to talk, and we laugh) , great music, and adventures.

We left Thursday morning to visit friends in San Diego. AND for all you cat burglars monitoring my actions, we have nosey neighbors, a house sitter, a killer dog, and a burglar alarm. Our road trips have rules and tradition. One major rule, the driver controls the radio, temperature, and speed. Tradition: whatever side I sit on the sun will hit; I will yell Marty Dammit! about 10 times every 2 hours , now that could be because he has grabbed a body part, or it could be what I consider bad driving ; and Mother Nature freaks out and other bad things will happen when I drive. I drive and we have miles of construction. Or major squalls and we have to sit under overpasses for protection, Tulle fog, snow, sleet, and hail love me to drive also. Yesterday a new adventure.

We are making great time and then it is my time to drive. We switch after lunch and I start out, Marty gets his pillow just right and is asleep. I keep looking at the sky, all yellow and weird. I have cranked it up to about 85 and sailing along., And then I have awful winds and no visibility. We are in The Valley on I 5, Sand Storm. I had just passed a sign that said sand storm area the next 40 miles. No lie. Imagine the worst fog you have ever seen, double it with gale force winds. I dropped to a crawl, then worried some fool would keep their speed up and run over me. And then it would clear and I would speed up and then boom, again no visibility. Forty miles of that.

I am looking at the gas gauge, 1/4 of a tank, below my comfort level in a part of the world that stations are 30 miles apart. We get into Bakersfield and I wake Marty up. He had said he would tell me which station to stop at there. He looks at the sand storm and say we are not stopping, keep driving. Lots of 18 wheelers are pulled over with hoods up, I guess sand in the air filter. At this point my hands are blood red from gripping the wheel and my shoulders were aching. We finally stop and get gas, just high winds no sand. And then Marty gets to drive, clear blue skies.

His drive was not nice either. When we drop down off the Grapevine, we have the beginning of LA area traffic. Not rush hour, but rush hour traffic . It is stop and go for miles and miles. And then the HAZ MAT truck passes us on the emergency lane, sirens blaring and flashing lights. We figure we will never get out of LA. Luckily HAZ MAT turned off. But traffic did not clear up, now we are in San Diego rush hour. Traffic did clear up when we pulled onto Richard's and Luis' street.

Still I love Road Trips. How many people do you know who have experienced dust storms and HAZ MAT all on the same afternoon?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin carving contest

These are some pictures of the pumpkin carving contest, as requested. There were prizes in three categories. And yes to those of you wh0 haven't seen me in a few years, the hair is burgundy. Marty and I won a DVD of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for campiest Jack o Lantern.

Grape Nehi thoughts and a recipe

When I was a little girl one special treat was Grape Nehi. If I had been a very good girl (which didn't happen often) I was allowed to have pop instead of milk to drink. And Grape Nehi was my favorite. It smelled like a vineyard,(of course I didn't know that then) it was fizzy, and it tasted like heaven. One of my best Christmas presents in recent years was from our son Erik. He gave me several bottles of Grape Nehi. I keep saying Grape because they had orange and other flavors. At one time Nehi outsold Coke and Pepsi. This was a fabulous grown up drink for a little girl. And then it sorta went away. I miss it. It is out there, but trouble to find.

Today, Debbie, the world's greatest manicurist, told me how to get the Grape Nehi fix. She had had a horrific day at work. She went home and was out of Vodka. She needed her martini, so off to the store she went. She picked up her Skyy Vodka and then saw Vodka infused flavors. There were bottles of infused orange, chocolate, cherry, and grape vodka. She bought several because at that point she said there wasn't enough vodka in the store to make her feel better. At home she opened the grape and flashed back to Grape Nehi. It was the exact same aroma, and taste. Her recipe for a nostalgic drink : one glass, some Club Soda, a little ice, and grape infused Skyy vodka. Heaven.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I think I need to explain the name of my blog. I marry couples at the Alameda County Recorder's building. I have the beginnings of their stories, I marry them. And then they walk out the door. I never will know if they are happy, if the ones who have been married 8 times will make it. I don't know if the marry for immigration couples get caught and someone gets deported. I have beginnings, no endings.

Today from 1:20 until 4:40 I performed 10 weddings. For the day 37 weddings were performed. Most of the weddings were same sex marriages. In one week we will have an election that will decide again if same sex marriage is legal. Because of this, couples are rushing to marry in case this civil right is taken away from them.

This blog will be about what is going on in my life. It may be about cooking supper, going to the grocery, or working with my first graders. I may share recipes, vent about the rude people in line at the store, or tell you about some weird TV show. This is a senior citizen's life. Some days are great, some not so great.

To close, one story. Yesterday my husband, Marty, and I attended a brunch. This brunch lasted 9 hours. We may be senior citizens but we still know how to party. Three couples, each bringing wine and part of the meal. The food was spectacular, the wines were outstanding, and the company great. But the best part of this brunch, we carved pumpkins. We had battery operated knives, little knives, and wine. AND did I mention there were prizes. This group is like family. But we cheated, bad mouthed each other, there were prizes involved. Bribes were offered to the judge, we sweet talked the judges, and we bad mouthed the judges. Did I mention there were prizes? This was fun. Good clean childish fun. And it made a perfect Sunday afternoon. Oh, Marty and I won Campiest Jack O Lantern. We got a prize.