Thursday, December 31, 2009


Yesterday around 45 weddings were done at the county building. Most were done by staff in the morning. I arrived around 1:00 and I did at least 12 weddings by 4:45. I lost count at some point.

I had one couple who were experienced at marriage. She had been married 4 times and was 45 years old. He had been married 3 times and was 52. Do we think number 8 is the winning combination? No, sadly the odds are against it.

One wedding group was large, close to 30 people. I called the couple's name and they came up to me. In the group were three young girls ( maybe 9, 10, and 12 ) and the youngest rudely (all about the tone) told me, "That isn't her name!" I asked the bride for the pronunciation and she said I was correct. Her spelling was Sharon, the child said it was pronounced Share roon. In the wedding room the group was yelling, the girls were running around screaming, I tried to get folks to sit down so I could do my job. No hope there. More loudness and ignoring me. I had three licenses waiting for me. I had to get the show on the road. I used my school teacher voice and said, "I am the only one who gets to talk now." And then we started the wedding. The couple acted like it was all a big joke, mugging, posing, no interest in the ceremony ( these people are in their 30's, old enough to know better). Every time I said the bride's name one of the girls would say, "That isn't her name." I even had trouble getting the witnesses to sign, they were too busy taking pictures. They told me to wait. I was so glad to get this rude group out of the building.

One couple sent such a mixed message. The bride was tattooed, across her chest, behind her ears, all over her arms, and on her legs. The groom was tattooed on his neck and his hands. There could have been more hidden by clothing. And the clothing, very very conservative. He had on a dark suit, white shirt, and tie; she had on a cocktail dress and black pumps. Very sweet couple.

One bride wore a funky black chiffon dress with raw edges with a grey underskirt hanging out. That dress was just weird. And the bride wore shoes like a nun from the 60's. You remember, when the nuns started wearing shorter skirts and you could see their heavy duty shoes? It really looked like a nun's habit/wedding dress.

Lots of others. A busy good day. And the best one:

I saw a young couple come into the building and join another couple. I knew when I saw them. I just knew. Clean cut, brisk in movements. And when I met them they called me Ma'am. I knew it in my bones, they were all military. There is an air of respect, a look, a politeness from our service people. This group was Coast Guard. They stand out as special because they are special.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Yes, the above is the shout that went up yesterday at the marriage factory. Before I arrived they had performed 20 ceremonies. And the staff person scheduled for that morning was on vacation. So everyone was doing weddings.

I did 12.4 weddings ( I made up that .4) I did 12 full weddings and almost another one. I had waited for three elevator runs of guests, seated guests, questioned the couple, placed the couple, lined up the camera people, and was ready to start. "Oh, we need the ceremony to be in Spanish so everybody will understand it." So I brought in another commissioner.

Most of the other weddings were sweet, no problems, and no weird people. One wedding the bride was really shaky. She was weak kneed and I was afraid she was going to hit the floor. The groom looked at her, made sure she wanted to go on with the ceremony, and literally held her up throughout the rest of the ceremony. It was so sweet to see him taking care of her.

And then we had the big stand out wedding. Yesterday the lobbies were packed. Many of the couples had 20+ guests. So it was crowded and loud. As I was headed to the elevator with a couple we heard a huge loud, drawn out burp. This was so loud it drowned out the loudspeaker and all the people talking. Totally gross and it sounded planned. And I thought OK, rude child somewhere. The next license brought to me was slammed down and the clerk said she was glad to get the groom away from her counter. She wanted them married and out of the building. During the paper work the groom was laughing and burping, loudly. He was not the loud burp I heard, that was his brother the witness. Joy, I get to spend some quality time with serial burpers. I told her my school teaching hat was about to come out.

We get in the elevator (a man who is staff also was on the elevator) and the groom says, "I think I will burp again." I looked at him like he was 6 years old and said, "Don't you dare, that is totally inappropriate. And you, (meaning the brother) better not either. What we heard was gross and inappropriate, and I don't want to hear it." The staff person is looking at me like he is terrified I will start on him next. The bride thanked me for stopping them.

If people are 18 years old or older we have to let them buy a marriage license. But that does not mean all are old enough to marry.

Friday, December 25, 2009


We have had such a lovely day. At one point we didn't think we would get our clothes on and the food on the table for our friends who were coming at 1:00. We called family, and family and friends called us. This took way more time than we remembered.

We talked to Mother and Papa Jack after opening our gifts. Then I decided to get ready early, I thought. As I was getting out of the shower Marty came in with the phone on speaker. As I dried off and put on make up we talked to Richard in San Diego. Every few minutes Marty would run outside and tend to the tri tip on the grill. Next our son, Erik, called us from Las Vegas. At that point I was drying my hair. I couldn't do that and talk, so the hair air dried. I finally was at my natural beautiful state and started putting food out.

Then my brother in Louisville and his family called and we talked to them. I looked at the clock, we could have guests in 30 minutes. Marty is still in his pajamas. I sent him to the shower, and continued slicing cheese and putting food out. The phone rings, it is Kaus in Dallas. Marty's brother and sister were having dinner with Kaus and her parents. Marty and I talked to all of them while he was shaving.

Were we ready when the first guests arrived? NO. But we were close. They are good friends and understood. We finally got everything out and could enjoy visiting with our friends. Friends came and went through the afternoon. We laughed, we talked, we had a fun afternoon.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday. It is deeply important in our religion. It is very important for family and friends to gather together, whatever their beliefs. And the gifts, really important. The value of the gift isn't important. Just unwrapping something and knowing someone put thought into a surprise for you, that is the fun.

Christmas=religion, love, friends, family, fun, a season not just a day. Keep the Christmas feeling all year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Today the pace of weddings was some slower, but I still did several. Things were going along, nice and normal. Pretty white dresses, lots of guests, great happiness. AND then I knew something was wrong. The clerks were in huddles whispering, a California ID was being checked by a supervisor. Every clerk was coming to the back. They were all upset. What was going on?

Then clerk C brought me the license. And I understood what was going on. She was totally disgusted, upset, mad. She wanted me to see how I felt about the couple, and to stop the wedding if I was uneasy. The problem you ask? The bride A was born in 1912, yes she is 97. The groom was born in 1958, yes 51 years old. He was not the same ethnic group as this woman. Neither were the two witnesses. The bride was in a wheelchair, she seemed frail, and had a dowager hump so she had trouble holding up her head. She just looked feeble. I started to question her and the groom answered for her. I told him I was not talking to him. I needed to talk to A. I asked if she wanted to get married today? Did she understand what we were doing? She was clear headed, not drugged, not confused. She wanted to get married, today, on her birthday. So we went upstairs. Every question I have ever asked a couple, I asked her. She wanted to do this, she was clear headed not senile. But I still didn't feel good about it.

He knelt beside her during the ceremony. He was affectionate not gushy, she held his hand against her check at one point. She seemed to really care for him. The witnesses made a big deal over her. But it made me sick to my stomach. We all are afraid he and the others are conning A. There was no legal reason not to do this wedding. But it just felt wrong.

As I was leaving ( it was close to time to lock up the building) a couple stormed in. She is in a white pant suit, he in a black suit. Looks like a wedding couple to me. But it is past time to do marriages. I was willing to stay so I waited to see if they wanted to be married there or they were just buying a license. They are loudly bickering, she does not seem to want to be there. They came up to where I was talking to the deputy and the information clerk. The man wanted to "re consummate their marriage. We want to consummate it now." Several more times he said consummate and I am dying inside. The info clerk told them it was too late for them to be married today and to come back tomorrow. They stormed back out, still fussin'. I laughed and said to the deputy, I guess you wouldn't let them consummate their marriage. The the guard looked at me and said, "What does consummate mean?" And the clerk didn't know either. So I explained to them it was the act of sexual intercourse after a wedding ceremony.

I told you, I can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Fridays are always hugely busy. I received word from a friend who does the weddings on Friday mornings. He always is busier than I am on Mondays and Wednesday. Yet last Friday, it was so slow he read 300 pages of his book. I figured Monday I would have nothing. So I took a book I was 3/4 through and another one to read. I read two pages and ate one cookie.

I was there a smidgen over 3 hours and I was given 11 licenses. Most of the weddings were very routine. But a few stand out. The first wedding was a young couple, early 20's. He was like someone in shock. She was beside herself with joy, happiness, excitement. She told the clerk she hadn't slept all night because she was so excited. She laughed, smiled, bubbled. He was like a deer in the headlights. And then when I pronounced them, he was thrilled, laughing, as excited as she was. Cute, cute sweet couple.

One couple was in jeans and sweatshirts. They didn't seem bothered with their looks, until the cameras came out. The groom whipped off his glasses. And the glasses were not seen again until we left the room.

This will sound racist. But I did not say it, it was said to me. I married a couple who were Asian. They had 8 to 10 guests, all Asian. I took them upstairs and led the way to the wedding room. I turned around and no one was there. They are all out in the hall taking pictures by the WEDDING ROOM sign. One of the women said to me, "We're Asian, we take pictures." We all laughed.

I had one of the 11 canceled. So very sad. I called the names, nothing. I looked around and Clerk N was waving me over. While waiting, the bride had received a phone call telling her that her mother had died. I felt so sorry for the young woman.

There were many mistakes on the licenses. One was really funny. The date of birth for the groom was 1900. The bride's was 1984. I went to the clerk and asked her if he was walking or would they roll him in. Turns out he was born in 1982. If the couple do not put the birthday date in, the computer's default is 1900.

One couple wins the fashion award. The bride carried deep red roses. She wore a chocolate chiffon strapless dress. It had an empire waist, and fell loosely from there. The bottom of the bodice had brilliants across it, and she wore a matching headband. The dress was unusual at the hemline. The back was to the floor and as it went to the front it became shorter, just below the knees. And then there was the groom. He was huge. He was wide and tall. He was overweight but he wasn't fluffy, he looked solid as a rock. And he looked so handsome. He had on a silk suit that was a rich grey, that probably cost a fortune. A very good looking couple. And the wedding, goose bumps. The eyes, OMW! When they looked at each other, the love, the caring, it was a beautiful thing.

It was a lovely day. All of the weddings were fun and all the couples were in love. Can't wait to go back tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Last weekend was the last weekend of Open Studios. We have had steady crowds and a lot of people are buying this year. They are not buying the huge expensive pieces. But those many small sales add up to a nice hunk of change.

It is interesting watching and listening to people while they are there. We are part of their Christmas tradition. They come, they watch demos, they bring friends and family, they talk to all of us, they eat our cookies and candy, and maybe they will buy some small item. They think they have been to a party. We want them to enjoy the visit to the shop. When the economy is better maybe they will come back and buy.

Lots feel they are "closer" to us than our other customers. These folks come an hour or more before we open. They are just sure it is fine with us to have to stop cleaning the glass ( which takes me about an hour each morning), to stop opening the register for the day,to stop setting out new glass pieces and doing our pricing, to stop eating our breakfast on the run. We are to visit with them, to help them decide what to buy. They usually do buy, we treat them well, but it puts us behind on starting the business day. I will end up cleaning glass after we are really open, which is a no no. At that time I am supposed to be the sales clerk, the greeter, the information lady.

I enjoy Open Studios, I also dread it every year. It gives us a 7 day working week. Long hours on hard concrete. And I have to make nice to rude people. Those that know me well, know just how hard that is for me. I could never work retail much more that this one month of the Holidays. I would lose it one day and tell people to get their dirty sticky fingers off the glass I just cleaned.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Monday I did 4 weddings and Wednesday I did 5 weddings. Not a huge amount, but enough to feel I was helping out.

One on Monday was just weird. The clerk C gave me the license and said, "I don't get this couple. They just act weird and strange." She was right. They were from India. It was a long term relationship, they had been together several years. We should have felt and seen some affection. NO. He seemed concerned and caring about her. She was an Ice Princess, no evident feelings. She wouldn't hold hands with him, wouldn't even look at him. Very strange.

The last couple that day were older, in their sixties. The love in the room was wonderful. They adored each other. It was a great ending to the day. As I left them at the marriage desk to get their certified copy of the license, he asked if he could hug me. Of course I said yes. I am always up for hugs.

Wednesday I did two weddings that had senior citizens. Such love, such fun to do these weddings. The second one I called their names, nothing. I called them again and someone said they are outside. Yes they were, smoking like chimneys. The couple and about 10 guests were smoking away. Then we got on the elevator. You can not imagine the stench of all those smokers in such close quarters. And as an ex smoker, I am really offended by the smell. In spite of that they were a fun couple to be with. They had been engaged 9 years. When he told his Mother that they were marrying ( this woman had to be at least in her late 80's) she had said, "It's about time." They took a picture of the license to prove to her they really were finally married.

One of the weddings was a little different. The groom was in a gorgeous suit, the bride also in a beautiful high fashion suit. Hers was black with silver leather inserts. She was a tiny woman on 5 inch heels. He still was more than a foot taller that she was. And she had what men call a RACK! They were pushed up, pushed to the middle, and the blouse was unbuttoned down to there. Unbuttoned to the danger point. Dark shades were beginning to show. I did not know where to look. I just knew one of the girls would flop out any second. Luckily, that didn't happen. During the ceremony the groom gazed at her with adoration. And she looked like a cat licking cream off her lips. She looked like a woman who had won, not like a woman in love.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Like most Tuesday's I worked with the first graders. But today started differently. As I arrived all the classes were going into the all purpose room. The fifth graders were doing a musical for the holidays. We were seeing the dress rehearsal for the Thursday night performance. Most of the children in the play I had worked with 5 years ago. It was a fabulous show.

The play covered Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. The forest animals were explaining to a young moose the history of each holiday. And it was done in song and some dance. There were light costumes: capes, bushy tails, rabbit ears on headbands, antlers, turkey beaks . . . and cardboard props: Christmas trees, Rolex watch, menorah, stockings . . . The lines were clever, songs funny and traditional, and it was good enough the young audience was listening. Fun, fun way to begin the morning.

Then back to the classroom. I worked one on one with lots of children. Most are making progress in math and in reading skills. The little boy I told you about last week again read well and worked hard for me. He got his hugs, and again a check mark was taken off. His smile is beautiful, and we don't see it often enough during work periods.

Right before I was leaving for the day, Ms. H called me up front. She presented me with a couple of cards that were made by representatives of the class. And I was given a pair of lovely earrings. She asked me to tell the class some things I do for the holidays. I told them a couple and things our family does. Then I told them how we always go San Francisco and see the kittens and puppies in the Macy's window. They liked that part.

Then I told the children how much they mean to me. I told them a friend asked me why I worked with first graders, why as a non morning person do I show up bright and early every Tuesday. And my answer is first graders hug you and there is nothing better. And just to make me more emotional, Ms. H let every child come up and give me a hug to hold me until January.

Man this was a good day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Saturday night, Marty and I went to a progressive dinner. In order to protect the privacy and the security of some of the guests we will just say it was in the Oakland Hills. It was the annual Neighborhood Christmas dinner. We love to go to this dinner. We are never sure if we will be invited, and thrilled when we are. Why not sure, we haven't lived in that neighborhood for 6 years. But as one neighbor said last night, "Of course you are invited, you are alumni." Oh, that neighbor is Rita Moreno.

We ate oh so well. There was caviar on little tiny red and purple potatoes, pigs in a blankets, brisket, chicken divan, German desserts, homemade chocolate peppermint bark. And many more great foods. We had appetizers and wine at house one. Then the main course at house two, and then dessert at house three. The food as usual was fabulous. But the fun of laughing and talking with neighbors was the best part.
During dessert we sang Christmas Carols. And our choir director, Rita. Below talking as we picked our next song, Lew and Maria.
Rita Moreno and Lorraine
The fabulous Rita Moreno.
Lucky me with Rita Moreno
Hey we have two pictures, I am going to use them both.

The best part of Rita Moreno as a neighbor and fellow party guest. She is so normal, so fun, so real. When we first met her at a party, she walked up and said, "Hi, I'm Rita." Like we wouldn't know her. A lovely gracious woman.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Wednesday I did 7 weddings. And when I left there were others to do. I had to leave by 3;30 on Wednesday and of course it became very busy about the time I needed to leave. When I left there were 3 more couples to process. We knew one was to be married then. The other two I don't know. I left early to get ready for a business dinner.

None of the couples were dressed up. It was the day of jeans and sweat shirts. Several of the couples had new born babies with them. No one stands out except for the Muslim couple. They were very nice, it was a love match. But he would not shake hands with me. I guess as a woman I was not good enough.

I take it back, one couple stands out. And not in a good way. They were both 18, and he was so immature. It was all a joke to both of them. All through the ceremony he would whip around and pose for pictures. She did some, but he was just ridiculous. He did exaggerated poses, he stopped during his vows, he was just obnoxious.

Tomorrow Open Studios. I hope my feet hold up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Tonight we were testing a recipe for Cook's Illustrated, Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts. Basically Marty brined the breasts, cut a pocket and stuffed them with herb butter, cheese and prosciutto, and then grilled them. Yes, Marty usually does the main testing of these recipes. He does the shopping, he does the work, and I clean up behind him, and enjoy the fruits of his labors.

Here Marty is combining butter, shallots, tarragon. This will go in the pocket of the chicken breast.
Still working with the herb butter mixture.
Prosciutto will be wrapped around the cheese and go into the pocket.

The shallot, herb butter.
Chef Marty checking the recipe. You can see my computer. I was checking my comics and email.
The stuffed chicken ready to be tied up and grilled.

All tied up.

Grilled and resting before being sliced.
The Test Kitchen recipe.

Finished product; grilled chicken, fennel root, salad. I made the salad. :)

The recipe did not have us wash the brine off, so a little salty in parts of the breast. It cooked faster than they said, so the outer parts were a little dry. But if you like the chewiness of charred meat, it really was good. The cheese oozed out and landed in the bottom of the grill. So no cheese flavor. It still was a very good dish. We are trying to figure out how to keep the cheese in the pocket as it cooks. It may need to be trussed and not tied. We would fix this again. Very tasty, and most of the breast was moist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Sorry, sorry, sorry. I have been busy and just didn't get around to posting. I have been nudged to post. And this time it wasn't by Noemi. So . . .

Saturday and Sunday we worked Open Studios. Marty did the demos and I sold lovely pieces of art. Those of you who have come by, thanks for the support. And the rest of you, where are YOU??? Two days of standing on concrete for 8 hours does in this senior citizen's legs and feet. We do enjoy OP, lots of fun, exciting demos with fire and smoke. Last week we had one piece that shattered in the annealing oven right after Marty closed the doors. It became more exciting because they had to get the piece out before flying parts hit other pieces.

Monday only one wedding. Two 18 year olds, who mugged and posed for pictures through out the ceremony. They didn't get how serious a decision they made. After they were pronounced married, they said we should have brought a broom and jumped the broomstick. I got our decorated broom and redid the ceremony for them.

Tuesday I worked with the first graders. Some are just really having a hard time reading. One little boy keeps telling me."I can't read, so I can't do this. I can't read." I keep telling him that is why I am there, to help him read. I explained I couldn't read when I was his age, that everyone has to learn how. When I work with him he won't make eye contact, he chews on his clothes and arms, he cries, and he will just shut down and refuse to try. Very difficult to work with him and not yell in frustration ( both of us need to yell). Yesterday the first time I worked with him, it was the same, crying and chewing. The next time he came back to me, picked up the little book and read it perfectly! ( we have worked over and over on this little book) He tried, he read smoothly, he had expression, he SMILED, and he got hugs from Ms. H and from me. And Ms. H took off one of his check marks. (they have check marks by their names when they get in trouble) This was such a feel good moment. A child had success and was recognized by the adults as successful to the class. And that is why I love working with first graders.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I had high expectations for today. I had errands to run, Christmas shopping to do, and tonight dinner and a play.

Well, my car was keyed. I think it happened Wednesday in the parking garage. It was the front fender, driver's side. I didn't drive Thursday. When I approached the car from the front this afternoon I could see it, swirls and up and down strokes. Yes, I am mad. I baby my car. It is just shy of a year old, there was not a mark on it. Let me put the first scratch on it.

Nothing looked good to me while I was shopping. So still looking.

And then to dinner and the play. Food was good, but the play. So very bad. Hats the Musical. It is a tribute to the Red Hat Society. Not exactly what Marty was interested in or me. The play itself is sort of lame. The women in it were just bad. I have seen better high school productions. The dancing was sad, singing was OK if they stayed in the middle range. When they went for high notes, they didn't get there. We wanted to leave after the first 10 minutes. But we stuck it out until the intermission. That is an hour of our life we will never get back. Then we went home.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Monday was such a fun day. Seven weddings and most of the brides had on beautiful dresses. And the ones in jeans were oh so sweet.

One of the weddings I checked the license and saw they had been divorced on the the same date. Further reading showed they had the same last names. I read a lot of mysteries and I put the clues together. We had a remarriage. They had been divorced several years ago. And now they are trying it again. Lots of love in the room, such a sweet couple. I hope this time it works.

An older couple, still younger than I am, were dressed to the teeth. He was in a good looking suit; she in a cobalt blue cocktail dress, blue lizard (some reptile) heels, and a darling vintage cocktail hat. For you youngsters, many years ago after 5:00 you didn't wear hats, unless it was a cocktail hat. They are little tiny sexy hats with a whisper of a veil, and some type of decoration. This one was a matching blue, veil just to her eyes, and had a gorgeous blue crystal pin on it. Stunning outfit!

The last wedding the Bride was from Brazil and he was American. Lots of Brazilian friends there. She was lovely, she was dressed in a heavy satin floor length dress. And her headdress was a lovely band through her hair. The band had little flowers and crystals on it. A classy looking band. As I talked to them I realized she spoke little English, but did understand English. I said they could do their vows in Portuguese to make it easier for her (one of the guests was to translate if needed). The groom laughed and said he only spoke English. True love needs no common language. The wedding went fine, she repeated her vows with no trouble.

There were several other lovely traditional wedding dresses. But the best one was so original, so lovely, so like a princess dress yet not wide as the room. The couple was so lovely, deeply in love, the room radiated good feelings. She could have been in a flour sack ( yes youngsters, flour used to come in big sacks, and people used the sacks to make clothing) and she still would have been drop dead beautiful. The dress: strapless, A line, heavy taffeta, to the floor. Why was this such a different dress? The front had tulle on the bias, draped to the waist, held in place by incredible applique work. Then from the waist it softly draped to the floor. Oh and it was the palest pink you have ever seen. Just enough color to give the dress pizazz. Of course he had a pink rose boutonniere and she had a pinkish roses bouquet.

Now I must leave for the County Building. Time to go let happy people get married.