Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Today my 15 minute drive home took over an hour. There is a fire at the Tunnel. I was stuck with the fire on one side, ramps closed, helicopters dropping water, fire trucks everywhere. It was flat out scary. I kept calling Marty just to keep from crying.

The pictures are not great. I was heading due west late afternoon. I could not see what the camera saw because of the sun. All the white swirly stuff is smoke. There are dots in the smoke that are helicopters and other planes.

I still can taste smoke and my hair I am sure reeks of smoke. It looks like they have it under control. This is too close to the last Oakland Hills Fire. Hell, it is too damn close to my home and to friends' homes.






I am always glad to get home. Today more so. This fire is still dangerous. We have high winds and very dry brush on the hill.

Monday, September 28, 2009


This weekend was real busy, and really hot. We spent a lot of time on the hot side of the tunnel. Saturday I had to be in Pleasant Hill for an appointment. Then I came home to the cooler side, upper 80s, and put on good clothes. Marty and I went back to the hot side, Walnut Creek. He took an application for a Reverse Mortgage. At this point it was 105 on that side of the tunnel. We left Walnut Creek and had dinner with friends in Benica. This little city in on the top of the Bay and should have been cool. Nope, it was 90.

Sunday we worked the street fair, Out and About, in Rockridge. It was a little cooler, but still pushing 90.

We had a table with lots of Marty's glass. A friend owns a store in Rockridge and carries Marty's glass. She let him set up close to her store. Remember to click on pix for larger images.

Something for everyone

Early as the crowds gather

Fashion show from a vintage shop

Our host's store

We set up at 10:30 and got home around 5:30. A long, hot day. I said, "Good morning, hello, hi, afternoon," and smiled until I thought my jaws would break. Everyone going by loved Marty's glass. They touched it, they asked how he made it, some took business cards, they told us about the glass they had. They are going to think about it. And then they walked on. He made one sale. Thank goodness we don't have to do this for a living. It is really hard and tiring.
We did enjoy people watching. A woman had on a great tee shirt: Meat is murder, tasty, tasty murder. Men in shorts and too tight tee shirts. Women in tight jeans and tops that did not cover the spare tire. The dress of choice was long, spaghetti straps, no bra, no panties. In fact the majority of the women, little and extra endowed, wore no bras.
Busy weekend. But fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Appletinis, oh so very dangerous. They are seductive, great, tasty, no taste of alcohol. You drink these lovely little drinks and things start to happen.

Let me say up front, I do not drink well. The Cherokee Indian blood can't handle it. That is a scientific fact. We can not drink. They call it fire water, well yes. Problems abound. Hard liquor, two drinks I have problems.

Last night we had appletinis. Several. They sneak up on you. I talked more than I should have. I cried, I laughed. I pointed out how hot I am. That one should go without saying. I enjoyed the taste, not the buzz. I will never be an alcoholic, I can't stand the feeling of loss of control, of the lightheadedness. I just like the taste of certain drinks. Appletinis, great taste. There should be a law.

Something as potent as an appletini should be against the law. They should be a controlled substance like Valium. They have the same effect.

I can't say I won't drink another appletini. But I hope I space them out better, or just drink fewer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Let's talk about friendship. Friendship, sometimes you just fall into it and it requires little work. Other times to keep it going you do all the work. Other times lots of work from both parties. And then it falls apart.

Tonight Marty and I met with an old friend. We have not spoken for 4 years. Marty and I left this friendship with a loss of trust and a lot of hurt. We never stopped loving our friend, we just didn't like what had hurt us. We missed this friend. We still loved him. Through the years he kept contact and we ignored him. About 6 weeks ago he contacted us with snail mail. This was serious. We read it and we decided what to do.

We read his thoughts. We saw a change in him and we said one more chance. Tonight we met him and we laid it out. What had hurt us, how did he feel, what did we think of that. We hugged; we drank, a lot; we cried; and we are all willing to try again.

Marty and I want this to work. We love the man. He needs us, we want to be there for him.

One day at a time. We will try again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Today I was looking forward to what little K would wear. She is the 6 year old upscale hippie: she wears peasant blouses, sateen flowy skirts, sparkly scarves around her head, and Wizard of Oz ruby slippers. As soon as I enter the classroom I look to her table. What will she have on today?

Today I arrive and look for K. All the children are sitting on the carpet. I can't find her. Maybe K is out today. They go to their tables and there she is, but no hippie today. She has on a blouse with a Peter Pan collar and a plaid skirt. K looks like a catholic school girl. In a way I am disappointed, yet loving it. She looked darling.

K is one I worked with one on one. Last week she held her pencil like a club and flat out refused to use the special grip on her pencil. She would not try to hold the pencil correctly. Today, again she wasn't using the special grip that forces her finger into the correct position. She was doing it all by herself. I congratulated her for working so hard to learn the pencil hold. And bless her heart, she asked me,"Will you tell my Mom and Dad?"

I love my first graders.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It was a very slow day at the county building. Only one Spanish this afternoon and one English one for me. I knew mine were waiting for their two witnesses. Clerk C brought me the license and said they only have one witness. I asked if they got tired of waiting for them to show up, no. The parents of the bride refused to come to the wedding. She was only 18 and he was almost 21.

How sad the parents would not come to the wedding. Whether they wanted them married or not, they have cut their child off. I agree with the parents, she is too young. But leave the door open for her. Don't just put her out of your life.

She was in white with flowers in her hair. She was happy, excited, and so in love. And he was so happy and in love. May this last. May they have what it takes to do the work for a good marriage.

Marriage is wonderful, but it is hard work many days of the week. May this young bride and groom have what it takes. Keep your fingers crossed for them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


We got up and went to early church at 9:00. We hung around and talked to friends and then drove back home. Marty wanted to finish a multi piece glass sculpture.He finished the sculpture by the hardest. Some days things just don't go right.

He wanted to make a Chinese dinner. The dinner was going to be simple, pot stickers, (from the freezer) and won ton soup. Well, that was the idea.

He went to the grocery, because we had nothing but won ton wrappers. And the pot stickers in the freezer, which were never used. He decided to make flower dumplings, lotus leaf wraps (we had no lotus leaves so he used banana leaves from the yard), and mushroom won ton and spinach noodle soup. Spinach hates me so he used baby bok choy leaves.

He began this "simple" meal around 5:00 and we ate at 8:45. It was lovely, tasted great, and dirtied every dish and kitchen tool we own. The pictures show our little, tiny kitchen. They don't show me washing dishes for ever.

The beginning: sitcky rice in the bamboo steamer.

OK, you have seen all our kitchen, little counter space, sink, stove, and the great work/kitchen table.

Oh yes, the wine was very good.

I am not kidding, what you see, is all we have. But it is pretty since the remodel.

Oyster sauce going into the meat mixture.

Doesn't Marty look serious?

He loves his bamboo steamers.

Finished product. On the left, flower dumpling, then the banana leaf wraps , which contain sticky rice and ground pork and ground chicken, and in the bowl, the won ton soup.

It was a lovely meal. But these little simple meals kill you. The prep time is hours. And the bowls and pans just keep piling up.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Most people can usually handle the big things in life. A death, an illness, job loss, accidents, we suck it up and handle life. But the little things drive us crazy. I have written about things that get me nuts. But this week more has happened

Today I was backing out of my parking garage space. No one in sight, no cars or walkers. Half way out of the space and there are two, count them, two women walking. From two directions. And they kept walking right behind my moving car. Being the nice person I am, I did not run over them. But I thought about it.

Yesterday I was backing out of a space and a woman next to me got out of her van. Bad enough. Her young child walked between our vehicles and then she started taking her baby out of the back. I sat and waited until she got everyone out and onto the sidewalk. Did she not see me moving before she popped out of her van?

Monday I was on the circular ramp in the parking garage. We are inching down to the pay booth. It is stop and go as cars up front pull up and pay then leave. We are on a one lane ramp and a car is honking. Where the hell are we supposed to go?

Someone sleeps on top of the covers and someone else can't pull the cover over them. Just saying.

People crossing the street against the light, sauntering and talking on the phone. They become targets in my mind.

Idiots with twenty items in the 12 or less line.

The neighbor's new dog who howls and cries all day and a good part of the night. Why get a dog if you don't let it come inside?

AC Transit buses straddling two lanes. Pick a lane and get out of mine!

Running into the contractor from hell, and he thought we were glad to see him. He asked us to call him for any work we needed done on our house. Some of you didn't go through our remodel nightmares. Let me just say this man and his crew flooded our home twice. I had 17 pages of notes on our troubles that I gave the legal department of our insurance company. Legal loved me.

And the number one thing that drives me crazy, bicyclists. Let me count the ways: blowing through stop lights/signs; riding several abreast on blind curves; interestingly speeding in traffic; riding on the streets and then upon the sidewalks to beat lights; their attitude. And I could go on and on. But I won't.

What drove you crazy this week? Write about it on the comments.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Tuesday I worked with my first graders. This seems to be a sweet, gentle class. I don't see any divas, as we had last year. No future gang members are obvious. Of course the year is young. We will see how it progresses.

I worked one on one with some of the children having trouble with sight words. They would say the word and then they had to use it in a sentence. Even if they didn't know the word, they had to use it in a sentence. Some of the sentences were amazingly complex. Yet they didn't know the word. It seems verbal skills are high this year.

I read them a story which I love doing. I really get into the tones of the characters. And I am very good at letting everyone see the pix for a long time. That is what the children really want, to see the pictures and to comment.

And today the wedding. Yes only one. BACKGROUND: Clerk M has a running silly joke with me. He will come to me, lean over the cubicle and ask,"You don't speak Vietnamese do you?" I always say,"No M, I don't." Monday I gave him a hard time about that and as I left I told him, "M, I still don't speak Vietnamese."

Today he came in and said, " You don't speak Cambodian, do you." I nearly choked. I did do the wedding, the bride understood English, but was leery of speaking it. The bride did fine with English, and it was a sweet wedding.

I can't wait to see what language M will want from me on Monday.

Monday, September 14, 2009


First, a heads up. Blogger has changed all the tools: spell check gone, fonts, colors, formatting. So I am sure there is stuff wrong. I will figure it out. Bear with me.

Today I was called at home by clerk C and told, "Don't eat lunch." And she hung up. I figured they were having a pot luck and I was invited. They have done that before. Well, it was better than that. I arrived and my desk was decorated with crepe paper, there was a bouquet of sunflowers, and a lovely card from all at Vitals. The card and flowers made me cry. They thanked me for the long hours and hard work of 09-09-09. And then we had pizza. It was a sweet, loving gesture. And I hugged them and thanked them for caring.

If you have ever volunteered you know it doesn't usually work this way. You don't feel part of the team, you just do your thing and stay out of the way. Not at the County Recorder's office. They love the volunteers, and they make us feel so important and cared for.

Now to the weddings. Slow paced day, only four for me to do. Two really stand out. I checked a license and it had one divorce marked for the bride ( final in 2001) with a married name, yet no different name for her birth name. That had to be changed. Reprint, re sign. At the elevator the bride and one of the witnesses said the divorce isn't final yet. They said we can do an amendment when the papers come through. WHAT??? They handed me papers to show it was in court. I don't do the paper work, I just marry. Back to the clerk. C said, it is final, but she doesn't remember the date and it has all been checked out. OK.

In the elevator the bride says, "These papers are for my first marriage. I am waiting on my second divorce papers." WTH?? "The divorce isn't final yet." I said, "I can't marry you if you are still married." I take her into the marriage desk. And explain what is going on. Then the bride tells M, " I was divorced in 2003." I did finally marry them. Why did she bring papers for her first marriage, and only mark one marriage on the license? Even after we talked about the second marriage, she kept saying she would come back and amend the license. The groom we figured was paid to marry her. He thought long and hard before saying yes. And a very polite kiss at the end.

It seems she has problems with immigration. We have to take the word of the couple. Immigration doesn't. They will insist on clear paper work. I think she will be on a boat back to the Philippines shortly. The groom maybe will be in jail.

Last wedding was lovely. Both of them well over 6 feet tall. A good looking couple, and they just glowed with love. She had on a long black sheath with spaghetti straps. The dress draped low in the back. The dress was lined in red, so the drape and the edges of the dress were red, lovely. They were so happy, so in love. It took the bad taste of the previous marriage out of my mouth.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Today the Montclair Village, which is close to us, had their Jazz and Wine Festival. Most of the streets were closed for the event, so parking was impossible. Even when the streets are open, it is close to impossible to park. Marty's parking karma was not working today. We gave up and went to the parking garage and paid the $5.

Lots of good food booths. Marty picked a place that had catfish. Unfortunately I picked a place with pulled pork and cole slaw. Not pulled very well, large pieces too big for the sandwich, no Bar B Q sauce on it, and it was cold. Cole slaw tasted pretty good, but needed to be drained. Some day I will remember you can not get good pulled pork in California.

There were craft and art booths also. And lots of health related vendors.

Thousands of people. And 1/4 of them had dogs. Dogs that did not like the other dogs.

More booths. The number one tacky item being sold was aprons. Tacky tacky aprons. Lots of booths were selling them. They were styled after 1950's aprons, but the material was very busy reversible prints. Awful.

The stage for the jazz bands. We sat and ate our lunch and listened. Did I mention I hate jazz? Marty loves it, so I get points for not bitching. We sat until he was ready to go.

It was a nice Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

09-09-09 OH MY part 2

There were some standout couples yesterday, and not always in a good way. Some were funny, some not.

One bride had on a beautiful poofy long white dress. It had a tight bodice and then ballooned. Her daughter, around 3 years old, had on a matching dress. The bride had a bouquet of silk white roses, which her daughter was carrying. Mom was using both hands holding up her dress so the bottom wouldn't get dirty while walking. We got ready to begin the ceremony and the daughter would not give up the bouquet. Rather than have a crying child, I retrieved a silk flower bouquet from the office. We were going to trade the daughter. Didn't work. Mom carried our flowers and the daughter had the big bouquet. Then the daughter held both during the ring ceremony, As they were leaving I tried to take our bouquet back. Then the crying started. I kept ours and they went home with a crying child. I felt mean.

One couple had their 3 year old son bring their rings up. Do you see this one coming??? He walked up with the box open and then screamed when they took the rings out. And he was still screaming as they left the building. He was trying to pull the rings off their fingers. Never give anything to a toddler you will want back.

And we had white dresses. As I have mentioned most were lovely. But two, OMW! I told K, one of the bosses, I wanted a sign at the door, All women in dresses must wear a slip, especially if sheer white dresses. I told him none us know where to look when women come in with a malfunction. He thought I was joking, nope.

One dress was very sheer, can you say bikini pants and bellybutton? One dress was a heavy satin sheath, it was very pretty. It also was very, very tight. We had a size 10 packed into a size 8. Visible panty line and belly button.

And there was the family from hell. As I was doing the poofy dress wedding there was loud talking and laughter in the waiting room. We had beating on the glass doors, and they were pushing them open. Two toddlers were beating and pushing away while the parents watched. I stopped the wedding, went out to the parents and told them to control their children. And to please whisper. Then I went in and began again on my wedding. Guess who I married next?

Yep, the parents of the door beaters. All during the ceremony the two kids ran through the room screaming, knocking things over, pulling on the vertical blinds, climbing the support beam, and none of the adults did squat. I picked them off the beam, and kept going. I did a fast ceremony. Anything to get them out of there before they destroyed the building. And yes, I still did a nice ceremony.

As I said yesterday, it was a lovely day. Even with the trouble, malfunctions, rudeness, most people were nice. They gave me hugs, thanked me and thanked me, and even tried to tip me. I kept the hugs and nice compliments and suggested they use the money for champagne.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09-09-09 OH MY

Today was a big day to marry. The Chinese and many other Asian countries consider 9 a lucky number, and the rest of world thought they could remember the date easier. I agreed to come in at 8:30 a.m. to marry couples. I DO NOT DO MORNINGS. Yet there I was. It was well worth being up and out so early.

I walked in and the deputy and the information clerk said they will be so happy you are here today. (people were lined up at 7:30, we open at 8:30) I walked into the back lobby and there was a loud chorus of "JANET IS HERE". I went to my desk and the clerks left their desks and gathered round and starting doing cheers for me and ended by spelling my name. Talk about feeling loved. Within 5 minutes I had my first license to begin the day. By 9:30 I had done four weddings. I did not return to my desk until noon, when I took a break and grabbed some lunch.

We had a staff person helping me with English weddings, and two translators doing Chinese and Spanish weddings. Another volunteer was there for a couple of hours. At one point we were still 2 hours from a couple's check in time. That is just awful. We also only had one room to use for a couple of hours. That really slowed us down, But we ended the day only running over to 4:30. We did catch up, and were only 20 minutes or so between couples.

There were some outstanding weddings and some are just a blur. We sold 79 licenses the clerks fingers were bloody stumps, (Many couples had bought their licenses last week. Many couples went elsewhere for the ceremony), and did 40 ceremonies. I think I did something between 20 and infinity.

We had lovely Chinese brides in bright red. The loveliest had on a red sheath that looked like she was wearing rose petals. The dress was and is absolutely gorgeous. There were several brides in long poofy white dresses, long white sheaths, men in morning suits, black suits, lots of lovely dressy dresses. It was a fashion show.

I had a bride stop me and demand to know why they were having to wait. People were taken ahead of them. When would I take them? I checked, they were next. I explained that couples needing a translator went out of sequence, we took the translators when we could get them. I checked the license, went out and called them, and guess what? They didn't have all of their party there yet. So why the hell did she give me grief?

One couple just filled the room with love. They were in jeans and tee shirts. She was so sweet and moved, she was crying. He pulled out a tissue and wiped her tears. So very lovingly. One couple whispered their vows to each other.

And there was the couple who were fighting. He was just a total a**hole. I told the bride to just hit him up the side of the head and tell God he died. His Mother agreed with me. He was just rude. I asked her if she wanted to go through with the wedding. She said yes, she was going to make him pay. I think they may kill each other.

The majority were lovely. In love and fun. Crying couples, the couple who got the giggles. It was a fantastic day. I am worn out, my feet hurt, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Watch out for 10-10-10.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


School began last week. I began helping Ms. H today. It was hard dragging myself out so early in the morning. You all know I don't do mornings. But I was there at 8:55 as promised. Kaiser School has a really cool thing this year. I've always signed in and out in a notebook. Not any more. They have a computer dedicated to school visitors. You point and click as to why you are there. They had my name in there already as a classroom aid. (I have been there longer than most of the teachers. They just know I will be there.) After I clicked, it printed out a stick on yellow badge with my name , when I entered the building, and why I was there. And when I left, I checked out on the computer. Is that not a cool, safe system? If you don't have a yellow badge, you will be asked why you are there.

Ms. H has 24 students this year, up from last year. This class is "younger" than last year. They are not as advanced. They are just about at the normal first grade entry level. This means a lot of one on one at first. And a lot of hand holding.

I worked with them on their handwriting, and did one on one with sight words. And I got to read a great ABC book to them. It was about large animals and some of the animals I had them act out: elephants trumpeting and spraying water, penguins marching, hippos yawning, baby lion cubs napping. We didn't do kangaroos kicking, I didn't want to damage a child.

Even though I hate being up and out so early, I love my first graders.

One little girl was so cute and so fun. K had to stay in at recess with me in order to finish her handwriting assignment. She got it done in time to go out for a little while. As K left, she said,"You know, I believe everything is magic. I have seen a unicorn and fairies." And I believe her. She looks like a pixie. This will be interesting to watch all year.

First graders pretty much believe that teachers, school staff, and volunteers have no life off the school campus. They are sure we live in the building. Children have been stunned to see me in a grocery store. I don't belong there. As I was leaving today, I let the class cross in front of me to go into lunch. One of the little boys stopped and said, "WHERE are YOU going?" I felt like defending myself for leaving the building.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Remember, click on the pictures for a larger image. Starting at 12:00 Karl, Frank, Kirsten, Janet A, Janet R, Marty

Sunday we had 2 couples over for a cookout. Some of them kept calling it a barbecue. Well, I am from the South. Barbecue is slow cooking, dry rubs, sauces, and smoking is involved. We had a cookout, grilled hamburgers.
Appetizers: Kirsten brought veggies and two dips, I made deviled eggs.
Main course: Marty ground the beef and grilled hamburgers. He also made the baked beans, with molasses and bacon. I made an antipasto pasta salad, potato salad, and fried corn.
Dessert: Janet R brought a three berry pie and vanilla ice cream
This was a very serious adult party, as you can tell from the next pictures.

Sitting on our mailbox, Eeyore greeted everyone.

Eeyore looked lonely on the mailbox, so we moved him later to the courtyard.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Marty and Randy Strong making a glass sculptured flame. Randy is torching it while Marty helps turn it. The flame is equivalent to 60 or 70 pounds. It is like carrying a bowling ball on the end of a 6 foot pipe.

Below Randy is using cork blocks to shape the flame. Marty turns the glass as it is shaped.

The Bay Area has had a little heat wave, and there was humidity. We don't do heat and humidity on the west side of the tunnel. And when it happens we all think we are dying.
It has been in the upper 90's on our side and few have AC. We do and we used it. But there are times you can't have AC. As at a glass studio.

Thursday Marty assisted Randy for a tour group. I worked the gallery. This was an afternoon tour and we were getting late sun right into the studio. And there was very little breeze. Two furnaces running at 2100 degrees, annealing oven going, torches going, it was hot. The makeup just slid right off my face, and my lovely hair wasn't.

Huge crowd pleaser: flames and smoke as the cork blocks touch the 2100 degree glass.

Thanks to Susan, Randy's wife for the pictures.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Today I was at the marriage factory by 12:45. I work until 4:00 and I will stay until everyone is married if they are punched in by 4:00. Today I was there, but no one wanted to be married today. I sat and read, talked to clerks, and read, and read. Finally 300 pages later a license was brought to me.

It was 3:50. I checked the license over and there was a mistake. Again the same clerk (last week a groom had been married 6 times yet marked NA) had not noticed the couple had written in the end of a marriage date, but marked NA under reason for end of marriage. So it had to be reprinted and re signed. I finally got the license at 4:15. The couple? Very nice, and we did the wedding with their year and a half old clinging to their legs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Last night we had a wonderful dinner: lightly breaded pork tenderloin cutlets with a caper gravy; baked apples; rice; zucchini with Parmesan, tomatoes, and pickled onions. It tasted wonderful and it looked beautiful. Where did we eat you ask? In our kitchen.

Marty cut and pounded out the cutlets. We had lots of them. We had unknowingly frozen two tenderloins together. The apples were from our tree. The tomatoes were from our garden and I had made the pickled onions. We planned to use all the leftover pork for sandwiches this week.

Marty cleaned up the kitchen. It was garbage night and I collected the trash and took up the first can. He took the green waste and recyclables up to the street. And then we watched TV.

This morning when I got out the OJ, I didn't see the pork in the frig. I then checked the freezer, not there. I went out to the garage to check the big freezer, no cooked pork cutlets. Where the hell did they go? Well, I found them, still sitting in the oven. We had put them in there to keep warm while he made the caper gravy. We left the extra cutlets in there while we ate. And then we both forgot them. They sat there overnight at room temperature. Growing bacteria.

I threw them out this morning when I found them. I took all that lovely meat up to the green waste can and dumped them. I threw out one and one half tenderloins. Not cheap to throw away that much meat. They looked so good, golden brown crust. They screamed eat me.

Those cutlets we ate last night were probably the most expensive ones we have ever cooked. But they were damn good.