Thursday, July 30, 2009


I went out for the mail late this afternoon. And I checked my gardenia plant. There should have been a bloom to pick. NOOOOOOO! Once again the crappy person stole a bloom. I am ticked, pissed and mad.

Marty suggested we put a sign by the plant, $25 a bloom. Of course that will do nothing but make us feel a little better. No way a thief would bother to pay.


I just realized I have not updated my blog since Sunday. That really isn't like me. I tend to want to write something every day if not twice a day. So let me give you an idea of my week, why I think I just forgot about writing.

First the weddings. So normal as to be boring. Nothing fun to write. No crazy brides or rude parents, just nice people.

Friends, all hell has broken loose in the last week or so. One friend's brother is fighting a very aggressive form of skin cancer, and it does not look good for him. Another friend's mother is also fighting skin cancer. A dear friend just had a biopsy Tuesday and diagnosed with breast cancer. We are waiting to see what her treatment will be. This woman has had lung cancer and several other types of cancer. This is scary.

Family, extended and close. That seems to be going better. All sides are trying harder. My Mother has a hip issue going on for a couple of weeks and is in pain. Papa Jack is having surgery in a couple of weeks.

The economy, well we all are hurting, so this one doesn't count.

And it goes on and on. No more than most people deal with. I just took a week off and didn't know it. I realized to feel better I am cooking good comfort food, not good for you. But food will get you through whatever is going on...

I will try to post on a regular basis in the future. I know how maddening it is to go to a site and there is nothing new.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Let me say up front I hate gardening. I don't like to get my hands dirty, I don't like to sweat, I don't like to pick off snails, I hurt when I bend over for long periods of time. I do like the flowers, herbs, and veggies we get from gardening. That was the royal we. The only gardening I do is to dead head roses every now and then and to try to pull out the fern overtaking the gardenia. But then there is Marty.

I told a friend once that when Marty died I am sure he will come back as an earth worm. The man loves to dig in the dirt. He loves to garden, to dig, fertilize, prune, play with the irrigation system, to start seeds. He loves everything about growing plants and he is so good at it.

We don't have lots of sun in our yard. Lots of trees in surrounding yards create too much shade. But we do have little pools of sunlight and Marty has planted those areas within an inch of their lives. We have tomatoes, radishes, peppers, chard, carrots, basil, cilantro, chives, artichokes, thyme, sage, and on and on. And we have the greenhouse. Oh how he loves that greenhouse. He starts plants from seed in the winter and he has orchids. Lots and lots of orchids. We have cattleyas, dendrobiums, cymbidums, phalaenopsis, and some I don't know what species they are. Our house is full of blooming orchids.

All are beautiful, and some also have a wonderful aroma. Orchids have many different aromas: we have some that smell like chocolate, pepper, or are sweet smelling. They also produce a nectar like substance that taste good. It will drip off the plants. They are wonderful plants that are forgiving. They will live a long time while you learn how to grow them.

Marty spent most of today watering, pruning, fertilizing, re-potting, and just taking care of his orchids. Every plant came out of the greenhouse and was checked and taken care of. He was a happy happy camper. I was very helpful and served him beer. This was his idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon. I had my perfect afternoon in the recliner reading a mystery.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Wednesday I did 7 weddings, they were all nice, and they all were happy weddings. One or two things stand out. One wedding the bride was thrilled I was marrying them, because she had seen me marry her best friend last summer. And there was the couple who were 18, babies. She was 18 and 21 one days, I did the math to be sure she was old enough. I had married their two witnesses 2 years ago. But the best part: I asked if they had rings to exchange, no they had duplicate tattoos done on their arms, from the elbow down.

I promised to tell you about the lovely wedding on Monday. The bride had on a white strapless satin floor length dress. The bodice had seed pearls on it. She carried a round bouquet of silvery white flowers. The groom had on a gorgeous three piece suit. She was around 6 foot tall and curvy, he was about 6 foot 3 inches tall and built like a brick s*** house. A very handsome couple.

I was told by one of their friends that neither of them spoke English. They were from Bosnia as were all the guests. An older male friend M would translate for them. M was a very suave and debonair gentleman. The type of man who makes all women feel pretty. I thought I just might take my time with this wedding.

I explained the ceremony and we worked out how he would translate. I told him to tell them they could say their vows in their native language. We began, everything is going as planned. The groom says his vows and then it is the bride's turn. She said them all in English, with a huge gotcha smile on her face. Everyone applauded when she finished. The groom grabbed her and kissed the daylights out of her. We all just roared with laughter.

I finally calmed us down and finished the ceremony. The bride was so tickled with herself. She didn't really know English, but had tried hard to do that part of the ceremony. And she is a recent American citizen so maybe she felt the need to be American for the wedding.

It was such a feel good wedding. The whole family was stunned by her surprise. And me, I loved it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I love gardenias, they are my all time favorite flower. The purity of the white petals with just a touch of pale green when they first open; the incredible scent; the design of the petals overlapping; and I love the memories of past corsages and bouquets.

I had my tonsils out as a child and nearly bled out. When I finally arrived home I had a pillow corsage of gardenias to help me heal. Other illness my grandmother bought me pillow corsages. And of course gardenias were the flower of choice for the big dances. And the major gift was my wedding bouquet with out of season gardenias. I can only imagine what that cost Marty.

Through the years Marty has grown gardenias for me if the climate allowed. He even grew them in our greenhouse when we lived in Louisville, KY. It is such a joy to pick them and have them around the house. The beauty and the scent are wonderful.

We have one gardenia left on the hill. (It is at the top of the steps by the street. This factors into the story. ) Nasty hairballs took out the others. And we have an invasive fern that tries to choke out everything. But this little plant is a fighter. In spite of Marty feeding it, praying over it, this is a sickly plant. It is scraggly, leaves have a yellow cast, and the fern keeps stealing the sunlight. Yet this little plant is full of buds and flowers. Every year it blooms its heart out. Heaven in our yard.

Every day I note which buds are close to picking. I check on them when I get the paper and again when I get the mail. I pull out the nasty fern. And I love to come in with two or three flowers for the breakfast table.

Late yesterday afternoon I saw several buds nearly open. I knew this morning I could pick lots of them for the table. Well, that didn't work out. This morning they weren't there. Some low life person walking by picked them. I am sorry, that is just stealing. If you really want one of my precious gardenia blooms, come ring the door bell. I will share, and I have shared.

I know tomorrow there will be more blooms, but this ticked me off.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Yesterday C brought me a marriage license. It had been sold several days earlier. C just had to add the witness info. I checked it and went out to get the couple. It had not been 2 minutes since they left the counter. I called their names over and over. I checked outside. Many couples stand outside and smoke. No one even in sight. I went back to C and she went to look for them. She knew what they looked like and thought she might spot them up the street. Nothing. She went upstairs to look, in case they headed up without me. Nothing. We spent 15 minutes looking for them. We were afraid they thought they were married. She told the deputy and the information clerk what the groom looked like: yellow corduroy suit. We asked them to watch for the couple. She then gave me the groom's cell number to call.

I called the number, it went into voice mail. I explained they were not married and to please come back. I waited. About 10 minutes later the info clerk came running to me, they were back. I went out to get them. I know I have two licenses almost ready to hit my desk. So I want to get this couple married and on their way.

In the elevator one of the guests asked what floor we were going to. He needs to call one of the guests. It seems a woman and child are in the restroom and will come up later. Can I wait. I nearly lost it. They hide for 30 minutes, come back say they are ready, and they aren't. I said second floor, but I can not wait any longer, we will begin when we get there. So I ask my questions, rings, vows, camera. Guess who had the camera. Bathroom lady.

I could not marry them and they not have pictures. So we waited, and waited. Finally the woman and child arrived and the wedding was done. Now these were nice people, they just were not considerate. They acted as if they were the only wedding we were doing. And I then had trouble getting them out of the room.

But the next wedding lovely. But that is for another day.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Forty years ago today the USA had the first man on the moon. The world watched in wonder. Everyone gathered around a TV. For you young things, there was no Internet to watch. People stood in front of TV stores and watched the sets in the windows. Anywhere they could find a TV people gathered. Again young things not everyone had a TV, and not every bar had a TV. Nearly everyone was glued to a TV set. This was history. Mind boggling history.

I missed it. I have seen all the rerun footage. I was told how wonderful it was to see it live, but I was busy. I was in a delivery room in Covington, KY. I had been there all Saturday night and into late Sunday afternoon. Since I was taking so long and not much was happening, Marty and my doctor went into the physician's lounge and watched the walk. After the walk was over my doctor told Marty, "Let's go deliver that baby." After a shot to speed things up, I delivered the perfect baby boy. He was the first baby born in Northern KY after the moonwalk.

So today is important for many reasons, national and personal.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ERIK. We love you very much.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Today Marty and I worked the San Francisco AIDS WALK. We worked in the SF AIDS Foundatiion Booth. He has worked 9 years of walks (some years he has walked and not just worked the booth), I have done 8 years. This is an incredible event, wonderful and sad at the same time. After so many years, we are still having to do this fundraiser to help people with this awful disease.

This is close to the beginnning of the walk.
A picture of the stage and audience where entertainment and political people performed. Yes politicians perform.

These are the walkers from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation team.

The stage.

Marty in the booth.

Me in the booth.

More me.

Our Booth. Click on this and you can see lovely me working the booth.

Out of order picture. This is early before many arrived.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


The world lost a great journalist yesterday. Walter Cronkite was THE anchorman for America. Every major event for so many years he guided us through. If it was awful, he kept us calm, it it was good he celebrated with us. He was like a loved member of the family. Our trusted uncle who explained options, problems, told it like it was, yet didn't try to scare us to death. He made us feel/understand the truth. When he retired I never felt anyone could replace him, and in my opinion they haven't. Although I will say Tom Brokaw came close.

Today most anchor people are talking heads. They don't seem sincere. They don't seem to care how the news effects us. There are some good ones out there, but the majority seem pretty shallow. They make the news a game: laugh, joke, and so many time go into the fake sadness. They just don't have a realness.

Walter Cronkite you will be sorely missed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Yesterday was busy at the marriage factory. The morning volunteer is on a cruise, so staff was spread thin. Great happiness when I arrived early.

I did four weddings and then others did 2 Spanish and one Mandarin. Well, I did a Mandarin also, but the bride did the translating for the groom. That is like doing two weddings time wise. He had enough English to know he shouldn't do the ceremony in English. The bride did a great job translating for him, well she could have just been saying keep nodding and look happy. Who knows? They both were in their 40s and each had been married twice. So I have my fingers crossed on this one. Not great odds with their history.

I took a couple up to the clerk who was going to do the wedding in Spanish. As I got on the elevator a man ran up to me and wanted to know, "Are we on your list?" (there is no list ) Then he said, "We want to get married now, why haven't you called for us?" This was said with great attitude. I don't take attitude well. I am not paid, so I don't have to take attitude. But I also am a lovely charming Southern Belle, ( No laughing from friends and family. I am too charming.) and I explained when I had the license I would come get them. I knew their license had just been placed on my desk. But I had to get the Spanish couple upstairs, sometimes we bump couples if translators are needed. We take those clerks when we can get them.

The clerks had told me the bride belonging to the attitude groom had caused a scene by weeping and wailing. They thought it was an act. Usually they are right, but not this time. A big strapping woman, she shouldn't be scared. The bride was at least 6 foot two inches tall and about 250 pounds. She looked fine, except she was gritting her teeth and not remembering how to breathe. She was really really scared. I talked to her, I did my you have 90 days to do this or the rest of your life, we don't start until you are ready. Then the groom or I would tell her to breathe. She was finally ready. They wanted to do their own vows but shy, I told them to whisper to each other. No one had to hear them and so they did. Attitude guy dropped it during the ceremony, he was just concerned about her. And maybe that is why he jumped me. It worked out. Lots of family at this one, lots of pictures, and after the ceremony lots of smiles from the bride.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Monday was a slow day for weddings, only three for me to do. Still I ended up staying late because the last couple checked in at 3:55.

Let's begin with the last couple. A sweet Latino couple. Everyone was dressed up, groom in black and white, and the bride in a long creamy beige satin dress. The best dressed person at this wedding was their toddler daughter. She had on pink Mary Jane slippers, pink socks, and a gorgeous pink satin long dress. This child was beautiful, and very good during the wedding. Sometimes toddlers are trouble during ceremonies. The bride spoke some English and the groom translated for her during the ceremony. Watching her I felt she understood way more than she thought. She just wasn't comfortable to speak English yet. And that was fine, we want our couples to not feel stressed. This was a sweet meaningful ceremony. They were touched and very happy. I am glad that was my last one of the day for a good feeling instead of the one before it.

The couple was in their early 30's,. They had no interest in what I said, they didn't want pictures, they just wanted it all over. They seemed successful and intelligent. Seemed intelligent maybe, but they were just stupid. They told me about their big destination wedding in Mexico. Lots of friends and all the family were there. They took hundreds of pictures, had a great time at the wedding and the reception. I asked why are you getting married again, we recognize out of country marriages. They didn't really know why it wasn't recognized. They had trouble with HR, and other agencies trying to prove they were married.

I asked them if they had a license in Mexico and had they registered the marriage there. NO! They just did a ceremony and no legalities. Stupid.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Today we had a very special church service. Every year our youth and some dedicated adults go to Tijuana, Mexico to build a house for a family. This year because of drug war violence and the H1N1 virus they could not go to Mexico. Our church is very mission oriented. What would they do?

They came to Oakland. The town where Marty and I live. Oakland is about 20 minutes from our church in Concord. They came to the First Christian Church in Oakland and made that their home base. Then they worked in the city to help the poor, the needy, and the homeless. They did repairs and clean up at the church. They went to St. Vincent de Paul and served close to 1000 meals a day. They planted trees in the inner city to combat pollution. These young people talked to the poorest of the poor and listened and learned that you can work hard and still be poor and/or homeless.

As we listened to these young people talk about their journey to help at an area so close to home; I could tell they were really moved by the experience. One young woman had realized she goes to school with friends who live in the poorest area of Oakland. She was so upset to learn that area has a 15 year shorter life expectancy. The area has no major grocery stores. They pay more for food and it is harder to get than for Marty and me. They all were stunned to realize poverty, bad water, bad air, and a really bad life was so close to their safe suburban homes.

And after seeing all this up close and personal . . . They plan to go back and plant more trees. They plan to do this mission trip and hopefully go to Mexico also next summer.

I can not begin to tell you how proud I am of these young people and the adults who gave so much to Oakland. Thank you to them and the people who supported them and made the week long trip possible.

Friday, July 10, 2009


None of the pictures from the Winchester House came out. This was a digital camera, we looked at them. Home, no pictures. I guess the spirits didn't want us to have pictures.

We do have some from a few other places. It seems we had so much fun, we forgot to take many pictures. So maybe that is a good thing, not so many as the trip to Kentucky.

Remember to see a larger picture, just click on the picture.

Little Brother and me. Someone asked if we were twins. There is a family resemblance. We are in the Tower at the top of the de Young Museum.

Ann, me, and Marty in the tower. Sounds like we have been confined to the Tower of London.

Ann and me in the tower. Behind us all is a map of the parts of San Francisco you can see from the tower.
View of Academy of Sciences, part of Golden Gate park, and part of San Francisco from the tower.
Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Remember, it was closed when we went.

Marty and me at the fountain at the Embarcadero in San Francisco. We all walked through the fountain.

It was wet and slippery on the walkway. We walked through the part in the back against the wall, which was wet. You have huge stepping squares to walk on. There was just enough space between them to make me nervous. Some met at an angle, which was hard for those of us with short legs. But no one fell in.

This is part of a bicycle race through Oakland on Sunday. We just lucked into a spot to see it.

We had such a fun week with Hank and Ann. Lots of laughing, lots of wine, and really a lot of great food. I told them I wished we all lived closer to each other. And they said something profound. If we lived in the same city, we wouldn't spend as much concentrated time together. We would be so busy with our lives we would just see each other at a dinner every now and then. They are probably correct. It is hard to be apart, but the time together is golden.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Today I did 5 weddings. They were spaced out so no feeling of being rushed.

One couple was so cute and so in love. They wanted a very traditional wedding. Would I say "for better for worse, for richer for poorer" and that is what I did. Now they were just a little different. He was from California and she was sort of. She was born in Mongolia. (Oakland has a large Mongolian population.) His name was Michael and hers was Enkhtsetseg. Trust me, I did not call her name, I didn't want to butcher it. I just called his full name. As it turned out, I did guess the right pronunciation. Not my first Mongolian bride. It is pronounced as Ing su seg, emphasis on Ing. Just in case you run into that name, you are now ready.

And then we had the not really a license. The clerk brought me the license, she had only filled in the witness. The license had been sold several days earlier. I looked at, felt it, turned it over (nothing on the back and there should be). The print was too dark, and just a little smeary. And the paper felt wrong. I was sure it was a copy, not legal. I had the supervisor check it, as soon as she touched it she said,"This isn't our paper." I took it back to the clerk and she talked to the couple. It turned out the groom had copied it just in case. Sorry not legal. But he had brought the original. So the wedding went on as planned.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


On Sunday we had brunch at the Terrace Room on Lake Merritt. Really a great place, very gracious and affordable. Then we went to see the new Cathedral just a couple of blocks away. Very impressive. And from there, 99 Ranch Market. This is a Chinese grocery chain and they have all kinds of live fish and shellfish. We bought live lobsters, took them home and had a feast.

Monday we were up early so we could use the carpool lane over the bridge. This was a day of true tourist fun. Coffee at the ferry building, and window shopped in all the great food shops. Then we walked through a huge fountain on the Embarcadero. Maybe soon Marty will get pictures to me. Then up to Polk to meet an artist we like. He wasn't open yet, so we went to lunch. A hole in the wall that absolutely glistened with cleanliness. Great meal of comfort food.

We went from there to Fort Point, one of my favorites spots. You are under the Golden Gate Bridge in a Civil War Fort. This is one of the coldest spots you can be and it still be 50 degrees. The rangers always have on heavy coats and gloves. Lots of wind here.

Then back to meet the artist, Douglas Brett. His work is wonderful.

Then to Golden Gate Park. We went to the Conservatory of Flowers, and guess what. Not open on Mondays. Ann and I napped in the car and the Marty and Hank took a hike through the gardens. Then we went to the de Young Museum to go up to the top of its tower. From there are incredible views of the park and the city. Then we walked through the Botanical Gardens, my legs are killing me by now. From there to Ocean beach to watch kite surfers. I don't know the real name. But they are on boogie boards attached to huge kites. Fun to watch. Drinks at the Cliff House and then Chinatown for dinner.

It was a fun tiring day. We packed in a lot of places in a short period of time. And we still have so much more to show them.

Next trip. They flew home today.


Remember the potluck with the fire fighters? Check yesterday's blog. Sunday morning I am curling my hair. I have on a robe and nothing else. Hank and Ann are dressed, Marty is getting ready to shower. And I hear a firetruck coming up the hill. It is a motor sound you can not mistake. Then it stopped, on our parking pad. Out my bedroom window a big shiny red firetruck!

Marty yells at me to get dressed, forget the hair. Is it Lt. Stewart come to see us? I threw on clothes and we went outside. There are four firemen ( correct usage, no women this time) and we know a couple of them. But no James Stewart. As we talked to them we found out they were there to check compliance.

Oakland requires residents, especially in the hills, to meet strict regulations on fire breaks. No trees/bushes touching the roof, no dead weeds, no wood piled against the house, etc. If you don't fix the problem they will. And the bill goes on your tax bill. Anyway they were checking the other side of the street. ( our side was done last week)

So no James Stewart. They were going to tell him hello for us. And I went in and tried to salvage my hair.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Saturday we slept in, had a lazy day, went to the Fourth of July cookout up in the hills, and saw fireworks. Now for the back story.

For the cookout I was bringing deviled eggs. Everyone knows older eggs peel easier. I had planned the eggs and had bought eggs a week or more back. I simmered them, I put them in an ice bath and then time to peel. I had 15 eggs, they all looked like hell. At least the ones that didn't just tear apart. The whites were very thin and when you touched them they tore. Many nasty filthy words later I had 7 eggs that held together. Since I was only taking half of what I had planned, I had to throw a cheese plate together. You don't take 4 people to a potluck and only have food for 3. You make food for 8 to 10.

The party is at the home of an Oakland Hills fire survivor. Also look here. There were around 70 people there and the guests of honors as usual were our local station firefighters. They come in full rig with the truck, ready to leave in an instant. This year we had the honor of them asking to sit with us during dinner. Hill residents consider our fire fighter near gods. I really enjoyed talking to these young men and young woman. Lt. James Stewart (he is usually assigned to our neighborhood) asked for my address, he said he might come see us. We all laughed and and didn't think anything about it. Remember this part, it will be on the test tomorrow.

Fireworks: they happened in near 40 degree (wind chill 40) foggy weather. We had on Northface jackets and nearly froze. Since it was so cold and the fog prevened us seeing anything, we left the party and headed home. We dropped out of the fog half way home and could see the fireworks in several cities. Marty parked, we sat 30 minutes in the warm car and watched the fireworks. Great ones all over the Bay, but as always the illegals in the flats were almost more impressive.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Friday we went to the Winchester Mystery House as planned. We hadn't been there in over 20 years. It was a whole new adventure. They now have a huge grab the tourist gift shop, a wonderful garden/outbuildings free tour, and the main tour. Oh my word, the gardens are beautiful! Low Boxwood hedges perfectly trimmed, grass cut with manicure scissors, lovely fountains, and a cool day to enjoy the beauty. The inside paid tour was fun, informative, and long. Sixty five minutes, up and down and around.

When we went before the kitchens were not on the tour, nor the barn and hayloft, the servants quarters and the only shower in the mansion weren't available either. Much more was open to the public and much more information was shared. It was a fascinating look at a mentally ill woman's life.

After the tour we were hot and sweaty. No AC in the house. So we needed food and drink. Hank took us to lunch in Santana Row to a great Mexican restaurant. Margaritas restored us and the food gave us strength to carry on to the next event.

And the next event, Costco. Ann and Hank had never been to a Costco. Louisville just got one and it is a little far (they think) from their house. Californians would be thrilled to have something as close to them. But we are used to driving forever for anything. Hank and Ann were almost shell shocked: the crowds the day before the 4Th, and just all the products available for purchase. The low prices were impressive as were the quality brands. I think we have converts.

Tonight our old neighborhood cookout and fireworks over San Francisco Bay. Please no fog until after the fireworks.

Friday, July 3, 2009


My brother and his wife landed on time yesterday. We picked them up at 11:30, had lunch, and came home. And the four of us laughed the rest of the day. Well except when they took naps. But that meant they stayed up until 11:30PM Pacific time.

Today we are off to see the Winchester House, friends laugh when I say that. Most think it is hokey and touristy. Well yes it is. And we are tourists. And it will be fun.

There will be posts and maybe pictures through the week.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Today I had a few weddings. Two stand out. One was with a large group and one with one witness.

The large group had a cute couple around 25 years old. They had lots of family, pushy family. When the couple was filling out the application, the bride's mother and others kept butting in. And the mother did not like the bride's choice on her name change. Finally I got the license and took them upstairs. A loud group, a pushy group. When I asked the couple questions, Momma answered, or someone else shouted an answer. The bride looked shell shocked. I finally used my school teaching voice and told everyone, "I am the only one who gets to talk now." They did sort of hush up. I asked if the couple wanted anyone to stand with them. The MOTHER immediately decided she would stand with the couple. I knew the bride didn't want that, and told the bride it was her wedding, who did she want. She finally told her Mother no (Yeah little girl becoming an adult) and picked two friends. I hope this couple lives a good distance from Momma. She is going to try to control them.

And then we have the cute couple with one witness. The witness was so excited to be there, so honored to be included in such an important event. And then there was the couple. Man the love in the room, it just bounced off the walls. The groom was so happy and the bride just glowed. She just lite up the room. The woman was thrilled, happy, beside herself with joy.

Again, this is why I volunteer. Weddings are happy. Weddings are joy. Weddings are wonderful.