Thursday, September 30, 2010

Garbage truck update

Yesterday I ended the blog with, One more truck to go.  That was the recycling truck. I had given the office info over the phone Monday.  She promised they would start the yard service the next day. This was the can we really have trouble getting up to the street.  We had so much stuff to pick up.  I was worried.  We had so much it would be awful if they skipped us. We had 200 pounds in the can, and beside it, 8 grocery bags full, tied up cardboard strips, and lots of other stuff. 

The truck came up the hill.  I was ready to run out and flag him down. No need to.  The truck stopped, the driver came down the steps, and carried everything up the steps.  The system worked the first time.

Stayed tuned for next week.  Will the 2 trucks I flagged down stop next Tuesday?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Today is garbage day. And I have a long tale to tell. 

I decided to take advantage of the senior/medical disability service of our garbage companies. We live in the Oakland Hills and are downhill from the street. Even young people have trouble getting cans to the street.  The first flat spot to store our cans is down 12 steps from the street.  That would be 12 steps to drag the cans up when the cans are full.  We are the king and queen of recycling.  That can is huge and always weighs at least 150 -200 pounds. Poor Marty is killing himself dragging that up to the street.  And then there is the green waste can and the "what won't go in the others" can.

I called for info and they told me to fill out the form, get the doctor to sign it, and fax it in. They would even set up things with the recycling company which is a separate company.  I questioned that and she said it  would be taken care of.  Sounds easy doesn't it? 

There are no forms online, so they mailed it nearly a week later.  I had emailed my doctor about the problem of getting older and some things just get harder to do.  In less than 24 hours I had picked up his letter.  Man, I love Kaiser!  When we finally got the form, I filled it out and Marty faxed it to the garbage company.  Nearly a week later no news on when the service starts.  I called Friday, they hadn't received the fax.  We sent it again, requesting they call us when received.   No call. 

On Monday they called, fax received.  The service would start Tuesday (today).  I made a remark about how heavy the recycling is and she said, "You have to contact them.  We have nothing to do with recycling."  I threw a hissy fit.  The one can we had real trouble getting up the hill, and I have to start over.  They lost the first fax, they didn't contact me about service starting, they gave me the wrong info, and now no service for the recycling this week.  The clerk was rude, nothing was their fault and tried to hang up on me.  I out yelled her and got the information on who to contact at the other company.

I called the recycling company, no problem.  She took the info over the phone and said if  I faxed the form and doctor's letter; they would pick up on our day this week.  That would be today.

I couldn't sleep because of the heat, so I was up early for me.  I heard the garbage trucks coming up the hill.  They picked up next door, skipped me (no cans on the street), and picked up the next house.  Damn, all cans are full and with the heat the green waste is really stinky and has ants. 

I went out to talk to the drivers.  I was a vision of loveliness:  bed head, no makeup, my 12 year old dress length T shirt, and flip flops.  I didn't get there in time.  So I waited, they turn around at the corner and come downhill.  I waved at the first driver, he got in the truck and started driving, I stood there.  He stopped, I explained they were to pull the cans up.  He hadn't received word, no problem.  He would do it now.  The next driver, same thing.  YAY.

At 7:45 the garbage company called.  How was my second week of yard service going? Second week?  She had received the first fax and set everything up.  I told her I had to chase down the trucks, and all the stuff vented above.  She will take care of it.  We will see. 

One more truck to go.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I am insanely busy right now.  Because of that, the wedding gig and the working with first graders has been put on hold.  I plan to skip the volunteering for one more week.  Then I hope things will settle down and be normal, whatever that will be.

If I have time this week, I might comment on some TV programs. Marty and I collapse each night in front of the TV with our Bourbon.  The new season has started, maybe something out there is worth watching.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We caved

Marty and I were not, repeat, were not going to watch Dancing With The Stars this season.  The people on it are just ridiculous.  Some of the stars are Bristol Palin, The Situation, David Hasselhoff, Audrina Patridge, Florence Henderson.  These are not stars, maybe Mrs. Brady was and sort of still is.  But this is a C-  list of stars, and then Bristol Palin.  Please, Bristol is famous for being an unwed mother.  A lot of the people we had never heard of including the sports stars. ( The only sports we do is college basketball, our nephew, Kiel Turpin.).  BUT the DVR recorded 3 hours because it was set up from last season.

Tonight we decided to watch the Monday and Tuesday shows.   We quickly went through the dancing and the result shows.  (We watched three hours of this show in one hour.  No commercials, no filler, no background.)  We thought after tonight we would delete the setting because it was going to be just awful.  We watched the dancing/judging, no rehearsals, no fluff, no background stories.  We were surprised. Damn, some of these people were good.  And if not really good they showed potential and were highly entertaining.

We will watch next week. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Monday was one of my days at the County Building to perform marriage ceremonies. (I know that my friends wonder why I always write as if no one knows I do weddings.  Marty says since I ever now and then get a new reader, they need to know clearly what I do. )  Back to the story.  It was really slow in all departments.  You could have fired off a shotgun and not hit a person. 

After about an hour finally a marriage license was brought to me.  It was a confidential marriage.  That means they need no witness, and no one can get info about the marriage.  It takes a court order to get information on this type of marriage, and it is rarely given.  People who are in the public eye or police are a couple of types of couples who get a confidential license.

The couple was dressed very casually. She had on Capri pants and a T shirt.  He had on a sport shirt and dockers.  Just looking at them, I was betting he's an undercover cop. He had an air of authority, somewhat military in bearing, and long beautiful black hair.  It hung to the middle of his back.  I am not a huge fan of men with long hair, but for this guy I make an exception.  They told me this ceremony was strictly a judicial thing(a cop word).  Well, it may have been judicial, but it became very emotional.  When they say vows and hear the vows, lots of couples get real serious.

The other couple was from India.  It was a traditional arranged marriage.  They had done the cultural wedding and I was to do the legal ceremony.  The bride had on the lovely sari and gold and diamond bracelets to both elbows.  Every time I asked the couple a question, her mother would answer.  They even looked to her to give them an answer.  I stopped that.  I nicely explained the couple was marrying, it was their wedding, and they should make the decisions.

And that is my Monday afternoon.  Very very slow.  But one good thing, with so few weddings I had time to get a book finished for my mystery book group.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

School and marriages

Last week I went back to school, first grade.  Yes, I am back volunteering at Kaiser School in Oakland.  This class is not as mature ( don't you just love talking about how mature 6 and 7 year olds are) as classes from the past.  They don't seem as developed as other classes. They seem to be a calmer class.  We don't seem to have any serious discipline problems as in the past. Thank you very much. Only one diva has put up her head, hand, loud voice, opinion. This class feels as if they will need much more one on one help.  Many can't hold pencils correctly and holding scissors is just not happening with them. And lots of them have the attention span of a gnat. They seem more like kindergartners than first grader.  That is OK.  That is why I am there, to help.

And then to the weddings. When I arrived today, I was talking to Vera the volunteer who does Wednesday mornings.  She handed me a piece of paper and told me to read it.  It was a yelp review written by someone she had married.  To read that review (you should read them all) scroll down to August 25, 2010.

I had 2 couples who I found out needed a commissioner who spoke Spanish.  Those I took upstairs to a translator.

Another couple was fun.  They were in their mid 40s.  He had been married once.  She hadn't ever been married.  The bride was as giddy as a teenager. Their witnesses were their childless neighbors who made them their pretend children. 

The witnesses were an excellent example of marriage for them.  They had been married 64 years.  They were a very frail looking couple.  Well, they were not frail.  Their voices were strong.  He took the pictures and was all over the room.  And she was walking with him  A fun, loving wedding

Another couple was Hispanic. They had twin girls around 5, a son about 10 or 11, another son and maybe a  baby.  I couldn't figure out quite who all the children in the room belonged to.  The bride's sister had at least one child.  I was confused and only worried about the older son, our photographer, and twins who were the ring bearers.  This was close to chaos.  So many children wandering around.  But I talked to them about using their inside voices and paying close attention for show and tell tomorrow.  The children listened and were great during the ceremony.  I got goose bumps doing this ceremony.  The couple had been together 11years and didn't seem real interested in what we did.  But then they got serious and a little weepy.  Trust me there was love in the room.

The last couple I took upstairs nearly gave me heart failure.  I was checking the license, the groom was born in 1992.  He was just old enough to marry; you must be 18 to marry.  Then I looked at the bride's birth date . . .  1998.  I'll wait, do the math.  What did you come up with?  The correct answer is 12.   I went out and said I could not do the wedding.  Would one of the clerks check this out.  She called the couple back to her desk.  And asked for the bride's ID.  It showed she was born in 1989.  They had transposed the numbers.. The couple had entered the numbers into the computer.  And the couple should have checked it over as told to by the clerk.  And the clerk should have read it over also.  Oh well, it is fixed now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Testing Boston Cream Pie

We have another recipe to test for Cook's Illustrated, Boston Cream Pie.  This is not a dessert we have ever made before.  And not one that is high on my list of cravings.  I just hadn't eaten it that often.  Marty loves it.  Who knew? 

Lots of eggs used, some in the cream filling.  And several in the cake itself.  Also lots of butter, cream, whole milk, and half and half.  Just a little bit rich.
Marty starting the cream filling.  It must be stirred constantly for 10 minutes while it thickens.
The master separating eggs.  Only Marty would do this with only two bowls.  I use one to put the whites in, one for the yolk, and separate over a third.  That way if you mess up and get yolk in the whites, you only lose one egg. 
Guess who got to whisk the cream filling for 10 minutes.  See I do help sometimes.
While I am whisking and having hand cramps, Marty is stirring the cake batter with the big KitchenAid. Doesn't he look like he is really working hard?  Bless his heart.
The recipe calls for the cream filling to be strained.  It gives it a really smooth texture.
Weighing out the bitter sweet chocolate for the topping.
Placing the second layer on top of the first cake layer.  The cream filling is between the layers.
Smoothing the cream filling.  Selfish Marty did not share licking the off set spatula.
Chocolate topping being poured over the cake, aka Boston Cream Pie.
This is delicious!  No way is it healthy, nor low cal.  I don't care.  YUM!
Marty cutting a piece for our dinner guest to take home.  Our guest was celebrating his birthday.  We had no idea that Boston Cream Pie is his absolutely favorite dessert.  We lucked out and became the perfect hosts.

I am sure we will be making this again.  It is now much higher on my list of rich food I want.  It is a little labor intensive, but well worth the time and trouble.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A United Nations of couples to marry

Wednesday afternoon I performed 6 marriage ceremonies.  It was a United Nations group of couples. I had a Turkish groom and his bride from the Czech Republic; the next couple were Korean; next up were the couple who were from El Salvador, a couple from Tracy CA;  a groom from Oakland and his bride from Paris, France; and the last couple were Mexican.  And everyone was strong in English except the Korean couple.

The Turkish groom was really concerned because his bride's visa was running out in a month. (This was a love match for sure, not an immigration wedding.)  They kept asking me legal questions about whom to contact, what steps to take, who do they notify that she is now married to an American citizen, how do they speed up the process.  Even if I knew the answers, I legally can not give legal advice.  I told them to call immigration and to get an attorney.  Really hope that all works out.

The Korean couple spoke some English and understand most I said.  We have no Korean translator, so it was just me and the witness.  I can not use a witness for the legal parts of the ceremony.  So I interviewed the couple and made the witness stay quiet.  The couple answered my questions.  The main question was, "Why are you here?"  They both told me to get married.  After talking with them for several minutes, I agreed to marry them.  I could have done the three legal sentences wedding.  I could have had them struggle through the vows in English, which they could have done.  But the bride was beautifully dressed and had a bouquet. She had come for a nice wedding.  I wanted her to have an event, not a short stressful ceremony.  I had the witness translate the fluff, they did vows in Korean, and I did the legal part in English.   They were most appreciative of my solution.

The couple from France and California were cute and funny.  First off the groom had on pink nail polish.  In the elevator he asked me, "Do you say by the power vested in me. . .?"  I said yes.  He then said, "I have waited a loooong time to hear that".  During the ring ceremony part of what I say is " . . . as a token of your love" . . .  He took out a huge pink "dimestore" ring  and said, "definitely a token".

Let us finish with a little humor.  The couple were Hispanic.  He had on the stereotypical baggy falling down pants, which he kept hitching up.  After the ceremony he took his infant son from the stroller and his pants started falling down.  His bride stuck her hands in his pockets and pulled the pants up, as if she had done it a thousand times.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Marty creates in the kitchen

Tonight Marty made Dim Sum.  I know, that is a Chinese lunch thing.  But we love it anytime we can get it.  I did some of the prep.  Of course, no pictures of me to prove I help.  And then Marty took over.

Flower Dumplings, two types, filled with shrimp and chicken.  They also have chopped carrots. minced ginger, lots of ginger, chopped green onions, sesame oil, soy, rice wine, and meat of choice.  Then they are wrapped in a won ton and cooked in a bamboo steamer.
Our chopper dopper.  I love whacking this thing and everything being chopped to perfection.  It also helps with feelings of aggression.
Marty dumping the chopped meat into a bowl. 

The first dumpling filled and ready to be folded.  We can't find our little scoop to fill the dumpling.  So we used a butter press.  It worked just fine.
Marty very very carefully doing the four folds on the dumpling.  I truly can't do this.  I just don't have the patience.
The first steamer is ready to cook.  The dumplings are on parchment paper. One more steamer to go.
Voila!  Dinner is ready.  Marty has soy, hot mustard, sweet and sour sauce ready to go.  This is the shrimp.
They smell like heaven.  This is the chicken layer.
Chef Show Off using his chop sticks.  I can't use them.  I have tried since 1977.  It is not going to happen.  I have a fork and knife.  This was a lovely meal.  And it was pretty close to being healthy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tell my son . . .

I only went to the marriage factory on Monday.  Wednesday my back was giving me fits so I stayed home and iced.  Monday was very slow, only three weddings to perform.

One wedding the couple was very sweet and very quiet.  The bride looked really nervous.  I was a little worried she might hit the floor.  So I was watching them closely throughout the ceremony.  And I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing.  The groom kept winking at the bride, over and over.  She relaxed and starting enjoying her wedding. 

I did the marriage ceremony for an Asian couple.  I checked the license and a red flag went up.  The bride's first and last names were the same.  I asked her to be sure there was no error.  No error, her name was "Zheng Zheng".  OK. She taught me how to correctly pronounce her name and the groom's name.  And upstairs we went.  As I started the ceremony, she said, "Could you call me Jane?"  I could do that, then the groom wanted to be called Tim.  Hey, that made my job easier.

The favorite wedding couple had been together 15 years.  He was 57 she was 40. They were so in love, and so emotional.  After the ceremony the groom grabbed his phone and stepped out of the room.  When we caught up with him he was talking away.  He handed me the phone and said, "Tell my son what we just did."  I said, "Hello, this is Janet.  I just married your father."  Dead silence.  And then I thought no, no, no, that doesn't sound right.  I quickly added, "I married him and Betty."  The son yelled,"That's wonderful!" 

This was a first for me.  No one of the hundreds and hundreds of wedding ceremonies I have done has asked me to tell someone that they just were married.  If this should ever come up again, I now know how not to word it,

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Today I drove up to Davis to visit with my sister in law, Dr. MOM, and the beautiful children.  I know it sounds like bragging, but oh my word, my family makes beautiful babies.  It is a fact, people.  You saw the pictures of just one little branch this week.

Anyway, I drove up today to have lunch with my SIL, Dr. MOM, Annabella, and baby Ava.  My drive up did not start well. My 5 minute drive to the tunnel took over 20 minutes.  HWY 24, HWY 13, and 2 frontage roads were stopped. Not just slow, but stopped. There are three tunnels, depending on the time of day two bores are open one way and only one going the other way.  In the morning two bores are open west, and going east (the way I was going) only one bore is open. Part of the slow traffic is everyone looking at the drilling of the fourth bore. Once I was out of the tunnel I flew to Davis.  NO, I do not drive the speed limit.  I go with the flow.  On I 80, everyone thinks that is the speed limit, not the Interstate number.  You drive slower then 80, you will get run over.

Big sister Annabella was in rare form this morning. She was wound up.  Baby Ava was cranky.  It was not a great beginning.  But things went well.  We went to lunch, Annabella colored, played in the fountain, and did manage to eat a huge amount of calamari.  She is three and eats calamari and satay. They are raising a gourmet.  Ava slept through lunch and allowed the adults to talk. We had a great Thai lunch.  And then home for Bella to take a nap.  SIL Ann and I went to pick up big brother Hall from school.  And then I had to leave the fun and drive back to Rockridge.

Guess what.  The tunnel was backed up going West this time.  A 5 minute drive was 25 minutes this time.  I hope I live to see the fourth bore finished.