Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not so much fun doing the weddings.

Monday I only performed 3 wedding ceremonies, and Wednesday none.  Where have all the loving couples gone?

Monday I had one sweet loving couple.  They had several friends with them and her daughter was the ring bearer.  This one wedding kept me from losing all faith in marriage is a loving wonderful thing.

Wedding number 1:
Background, bride was an American citizen, groom was not.  A third party was doing all the talking, another witness is taking lots and lots of pictures. 

The clerk handed me the license and said this is an immigration wedding.  Oh crap!  I hate, hate these.  They don't tell us that the purpose of the wedding is to get someone a green card.  But it is so very obvious. 
I start asking questions, lots of questions. One witness is taking pictures fast and furiously for proof. And the organizer is trying to answer the questions before the bride can.  I looked at the organizer and said, " If they can't understand me and can't respond to my questions, I can not legally marry them."  She backed off.  I asked if they had their own vows or did they want to use the traditional vows.  The bride said, "Oh, I'm not ready to say vows to him yet."  That right there tells you a lot.

I did a down and dirty ceremony.  Do  you . . ., Do you . . ., and then By the power vested in me . . .

I hate doing the three legal sentence ceremony.  No romance, no feeling, no happiness.  It is a business deal.

Wedding number 2:
I am back at my desk waiting for the next license.  The clerks had told me two were in the works.  I am reading, the clerks in the back are working away on their computers.  Power failure.  We are in an area that has no windows, it is as dark as the inside of a cow's stomach.  I don't do dark.  Let's say dark makes me panic.  Luckily I have a flashlight app on my phone.  No dark, YAY!  Then the generator kicked in.  Not dark, but sort of like half power.  The clerk brings me the license.

The couple is dressed up for their wedding.  The guests are pretty spiffy too. I ask if everyone is healthy, they are going to climb stairs.  No elevators when the generators is running.  We have to use the stairs to the second floor.  But this is like a third floor climb.  The lobby has really really high ceilings, so lot of steps.  We go upstairs, me carrying my trusty phone in case the lights fail again.

The bride asks me if their friend, who is an ordained minister, may do the ceremony.  I tell her no, this is a civil ceremony in a government building.  He may say some words but I have to do the ceremony.  When we turn the corner the bride sees our nice wedding room.  She freaked out.  She was not going into that room.  If they were in there it would look like a chapel. She then refused to have any vows in the wedding.  She wanted me to just sign the license and say they were married.  Why the big freak out you say.  They were having a large wedding in July.  Therefore they couldn't do anything that was like a wedding.  So I told her no, I couldn't just sign the license.  I would take them back to the clerk. They could see if they could get their money back for the ceremony. 

No, she had to get married today.  So standing in the little lobby, I again did the three sentence ceremony. The bride would not allow any pictures taken.  Why they bothered to dress up and bring guests I have no clue. What did they think a civil ceremony was?   It was very weird.

It was a bad day.  I had to do two three sentence weddings.  The first one I understand why the bride didn't want anything romantic.  But the second couple, no clue what the problem was.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Wednesday, October 20, 2010, in the Asian community was a lucky day to marry.  If you were married before noon.  I don't start until 1:00, so I missed all the fun.  Staff was run off their legs.  Me, not so much.

My first couple was cute.  We got on the elevator and the bride grabbed the groom's arm and joked she was afraid he was going to run.  I joked that's why we have the deputy with the big gun in the lobby, to catch the runners.  There were two men in the elevator with us.  They told the groom they were back up to the deputy.

One couple was very typical.  They did not check the license when told to.  When the witness was signing after the ceremony, she said her name was spelled wrong.  And whose fault is that?  Not ours.  We do not print until the couple says everything is correct. The clerk types exactly what she is told.  The couple then looks at the computer screen and say yes, that is correct.  So, we had to reprint and everyone had to re sign the license.  This couple was so in love.  They had been together for 20 years.  Both the bride and the groom cried throughout the ceremony.

I only had one couple dressed "for a wedding".  The bride wore a creamy, street length, chiffon sheath.  The groom wore a tux. Their witness was all about the cameras.  She had a video camera on a tripod to run throughout the ceremony.  And she had a huge Nikon with a big flash on top of it.  She took at least a hundred pictures during the ceremony.  I offered to take a picture of everyone.  She handed me the camera with the special attachments.  I nearly dropped it, this thing weighed a ton.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Recipe to Test

Last night Marty and I cooked a thank you lobster dinner for friends Karl and his wife, Kirsten.  Karl, who is a contractor, was a huge help replacing 8 windows before we put the house on the market.  And Kirsten helped me pack up stuff so that closets and cabinets would look bigger. 

For the dessert course we cooked Pineapple Upside Down Cake (PUDC). We were testing another recipe for America's Test Kitchen.  We were excited about baking this cake.  We both love PUDC, but never make it.  This is a cake from the 50's and 60's that went out of style.  PUDC was the go to cake in that period of time. Now PUDC is showing up on restaurant menus again.

There are lots of pictures of the process.  Many more than I usually post.  It just seemed like there were more elements to show for this recipe.

 We used frozen pineapple, added brown sugar and butter and caramelized it.  We had never used frozen pineapple before.  We always have used canned or fresh.
 Marty doing his flip the ingredients thing.
 Butter and fat free sour cream mixed together.  Not sure why fat free if you are using butter.

 Marty mixing up good stuff.
 He cooked the cake in a cast iron skillet.  And he really buttered the skillet as you can see.
 The caramalized pineapple goes in first, even though that is the top of the cake.  Remember, upside down.
 All the other ingredients are being mixed in together.
 The batter is poured over the pineapple. No pictures showing this, but after this part we licked the bowl.
 Using the cake tester to check if done.  It came out clean, so ready to cool the cake.
 The cake cooling on top of the stove.
 Ready to plate.  Place the cake plate on top and get ready to flip the skillet.
 It is flipped.  Now will the cake come out of the pan???
 YES!  The pineapple is now on top and looks great.
                                                                           TA DA!
 Kirsten with her slice of cake.
 Karl with his cake.  And my slice waiting for me.
And Marty enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Digging with the First Graders

Tuesday I went to help with the first graders.  Usually I help with reading, math, read the class a story, assemble the homework packets and go home.  Not this week.  I also helped dig up potatoes.

The school has garden plots for each classroom.  Adults do most of the work and the children help and learn.  They grow corn, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, and different types of potatoes.  The class had already dug up some potatoes.  Ms. H brought an electric skillet, knives, and bowls.  She was going to cook the potatoes that afternoon. 

Ms. H with a wicked smile asked me to take 4 children to the garden and dig for more potatoes.  This is why I never wear good clothes to school. We went out and the kids had a ball digging. (I did some digging too.) Number one they were out of class, two they were playing in dirt.  We found several more potatoes and took them back to class.

The children took turns washing the potatoes, which were muddy.  This was more fun than digging, water water everywhere.  Then I cut the potatoes in thin strips and turned them over to the children.  They took turns dicing the potatoes with fairly dull knives.  I threw the potatoes into a bowl of water and they were ready for cooking.

That was a fun project.  I worked with every child in the class. Usually I only work with a few children each week.  This was a special day.  And I really didn't have much mud on me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Monday was really busy before I got there.  And then it ground to a halt.  After an hour I had a wedding and then I sat for nearly another hour.  Around 3:00 the lobby filled up.  We had license buyers and we had couples wanting to get married right then.  A few are worth writing about.

Even though the Clerk From Hell (CFH) did not work Monday, she managed to screw up things.  The license was sold in July and would expire in a week.  Clerk M typed in the information for the witness and noticed CFH had not signed the license. (from the receipt you can tell who did the transaction).  M signed it and brought me the license.  I checked for errors and down at the bottom was a mess.  If a bride or groom are changing their name or hyphenating it, the info must be filled out: first, middle, and last name. All CFH had put in were the first names.  Nothing else.

So back out to M, she calls them over and asks if they are changing their names.  The bride can't decide, they dither and finally she wants to take his last name and keep her middle name.  We reprint, give it to them to re sign.  The bride changes her mind, she wants her maiden name as her middle name. We reprint again, and sign again.  Finally I can take them upstairs and do the ceremony.

Another couple I can't tell you anything about them.  But the guests, oh yeah.  I remember them.  We had the running screaming children.  We had the grandmother in a scooter which she let the children drive.  We had the constantly talking guests while I tried to do the ceremony.  The children were running  around and sliding the background screens during the ceremony. I got through the ceremony, took the couple into the Marriage Clerk's office to get the certified copy.  I had the guests exit the room and wait in the small lobby. 

And then I went down to get the next couple.  I took them upstairs and the whole damn previous group was back in the wedding room like they owned it.  I didn't think I would ever get them out of the room.  RUDE  RUDE RUDE!

I had one confidential ceremony.  (Remember that license doesn't require a witness and it takes a court order to get information about the license.) I called the couple's names and said let's go upstairs.  They called out to a friend  L, they brought with them, and she ignored them.  They called again. No response.  The bride went over to L and she still didn't join us.   I said if you all aren't ready, I will come back.  The groom was furious.  He told his bride to forget about L.  It was their wedding, it wasn't about L. They were going now.  They didn't need her to get married.  As the elevator doors were shutting, L ran in the elevator.  She was really sulky.  I was afraid we were going to have a scene.  But it went fairly well.  The groom ignored her.  I told L she could take pictures from the sides and in back of me.  Guess where she kept standing.  Right in front of me.  I kept telling her to move, and took her arm and moved her once.  She was a piece of work.  I totally agreed with the groom.

The room was alive with love. The groom was so intense.  He locked his eyes on his bride. I don't think he saw anything except her. The vows really touched them both. He and his bride had tears in their eyes at the end of the ceremony.  It was a good ending to my day.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Marty and I have no grandchildren.  But we have several pretend grandchildren.  And that is pretty wonderful.  You have children who love you and you love them back.  You get hugs and kisses, and sometimes temper tantrums.  You get to go to school on Grandparents' Day and share that special day with them.

Yesterday we drove up to Davis so we could go to school today with Hall, our nephew.  Hall is a first grader and asked us to come since his real grandparents all live in Ky.  We were honored to be asked.  Below are lots of pictures of our time with Hall, and his sisters Annabella and Ava.  I took nearly 40 pictures.  Don't worry, I can self edit and you will only have 10 to look at.

 Marty and 2 month old Ava.  She loves to be held.  We are all thrilled to hold her.
 As soon as we arrived, Bella was waiting for us to come play with her.  She was so excited we were having a sleep over together.  She is waiting here for me to read to her.
 Colonel Daddy.  I didn't get any pictures of Tres the last time we visited.  This time Mom was left out.  I guess we will have to keep going up until I get pictures of everyone.
 The program at school began with a Mass.  Yes a Catholic School.  Marty and I are protestant.  We sat in the back row so we could fake our way through the service.  Man, Catholics get up and down a lot.  And their service is really really long.  We go to an early service that is 45 minutes or less.  Not used to that much ceremony.  It was a nice service.  The children were very involved in the service.
                      This is Hall in his classroom.  The children are singing a song with hand motions.
                                    Hall and Uncle Marty working on an art project together.
   Hall and Aunt Janet with the art project.  Notice my ID badge, Hall's picture.
 Here Hall is writing a note to Marty and me that will go into the decorated bag. 
                                                      This is a life size self portrait of Hall.
During the concert which closed the day's activities, Bella was bored.  She had had all the fun a three year could stand.  So Bella took pictures of me taking pictures of her.  She was so careful with the camera.  She wrapped the strap around her arm so if the camera dropped, it wouldn't hit the floor.

We had a great time Thursday night and Friday morning. The adults talked and drank wine.  The children played and made us feel happy. It was so very special for Hall to ask us to go to school with him.  He hugged us and even kissed us in front of his friends.  A lot of little boys won't do that.  He almost made me cry.  We have already been asked to go next year, if they are still at Travis.  I hope they are here.  This was fun.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weddings, yes, yes, yes!

Last week I did only one wedding.  One total for the two days I worked.  One normal, nothing strange or weird wedding, nothing to write about.  Yesterday I did three times that many.  Yes, I did three wedding ceremonies.

Two of the weddings were not very romantic.  They were mainly concerned with fear of getting a parking ticket.  Could I do it quickly, they only had a few minutes on the meter.  Could I please hurry through the ceremony?  We were not busy Monday.  There were no lines to see a clerk.  And these people had meters running out?  What did they do, put in 30 minutes?  They have to input their info into the computer, then the clerk checks it and adds the witness' info, takes their money, prints the license out, and I get the license.  We do the ceremony and then the license is recorded.  Things take time even with no lines.

The first couple was Muslim and had done a cultural wedding.  They wanted a quick ceremony because they were already married.  No, they weren't.  If they were married, they wouldn't need me.  They wanted the shortest ceremony we do.  The meter was running out.  So I did the three legal sentences.  I hate doing that, it is so very cold and unromantic.  I asked the groom do you take this woman . . .     I asked the bride do you take this man . . .    And then I said by the power vested in me I pronounce you . . .    That is just cold.

The next couple told me that they only had 15 minutes left on the meter.  Could I speed up the ceremony.  I didn't feel secure with the groom's English.  But I began, he had answered a couple of questions OK.  But when we got to the vows, nothing.  And the bride says he doesn't speak English.  I stopped the ceremony, and explained if he can't understand me, I can't marry them.  So I talked to him some more.  I asked him why he was there.  And he indignantly said, "to get married!"  He understood just fine.  He just couldn't speak English. So we skipped the vows, they are just nice words and not a legal issue.

Next couple made my day, even if they too had a meter running out.  They were each 25 years old.  They had a 5 year old and a toddler.  They were so in love, so emotional, so tender with each other.  But the best part is their story.  They have known each other since grade school.  They were in school together through Jr. High.  And then her family moved to Sacramento.  A few years later she was on the Light Rail System and saw him across from her.  And they have been together ever since.  Oh the 5 year old, he goes to their elementary school and has their teacher.  Isn't that a great story? 

Sunday, October 10, 2010


It is Fleet Week.  And all week the Blue Angels have been flying all over the Bay Area.  They are fast, they are loud, they are incredible. Marty and I went into the city today to watch them perform.  Usually we watch them from our side of the Bay, but today we wanted to get the experience of the noise and the crowds.

I took 92 pictures of the air show.  Don't worry, I am only posting a few of them.  You will have to click on each picture to enlarge them.  Otherwise you will just see specks.  These planes were so fast and so quickly out of sight that my iPhone was working overtime.

  The crowd on the pier.  The show is beginning with a vintage plane.
 All the planes coming up over the hill, low at first and then high and gone.  I was told they fly only 18 inches apart.
      The smoke helped us spot them.  It was very exciting to watch.
                             All of them straight up and then down on a curve.
                                                                   And it continues
           A small child beside us said this (when completed) looked like Mickey's ears.
                                                                       Just amazing.
And then we took BART home.  It was packed.  And hot, the AC wasn't working.  The car was full when we got on.  We were standing and two lovely young men got up and gave us their seats.  They even rearranged people so we could sit together.  Then one of the young men became our new best friend.  He was intrigued by my Southern accent.  We talked, and then he saw me on facebook on my IPhone.  He said he had to be my friend.  He took my phone, put his name in, and is now my new friend.

This is how we spent the time while our Open House was going on.  We had fun in the City.  Loved the Blue Angels as always.  And made a new friend.  Not a bad day.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Marty and I have bought and sold many homes in the last 43 years. We haved lived in at least 10 places around the country. We have bought and sold 6 houses.  We know how to get ready for the sale.  We know how to run through the house and make it perfect when a Realtor is on the way.  Yes, we know.  But things don't always work out the way we know how to do.

When it gets dark, we pull out stuff that the buyers/Realtors shouldn't see: paper towel racks, waste baskets, soap dishes, shampoo bottles, scatter rugs, pillows and blankets on the easy chairs, hampers, etc.  We wrap up in the blankets, we live as if we still live in this house.  Not a good thing.  We no longer live here, we are caretakers.

This morning I got a call from an agent who missed the Broker's Tour and wanted to come by " in a few minutes".  You can never tell an agent no.  I said come on by.  And then I realized I had a lot to do.  I had so much stuff to put in closets, under shelves, in drawers.  How the hell did so much stuff get out of the closets over night?

I was flying around putting stuff back in the closets, in the pantry, turning on lights, opening drapes.  I wasn't going to make it.  And thank goodness, Marty came home before leaving for a closing in San Francisco.  He walked in the door and I yelled at him, " I need help, agent on the way, take the upstairs!"  Poor Baby did not even get a hello kiss.  He dropped his briefcase, and took off.  We put everything in its hiding place.  And the house looked lovely when the agent arrived.

We learned our lesson.  Tonight when we finished watching TV in the living room, pillows and blankets went back into the closet.  Tomorrow the hamper and other extra things in our bedroom will be in the closet by 9:00.  Kitchen items will be hidden as soon as breakfast is over.  We will be ready.

The hardest part of having the house on the market?  Being up and dressed by 9:00a.m.  I am always up, but I may not be dressed until 11:00 or 12:00.  I see no point in being dressed early and then cleaning house, doing laundry, whatever.  Get the work done, then clean yourself up.  No more.  I will be ready to receive buyers by 9:00. 

I hate having a house on the market.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why I didn't volunteer for a couple of weeks.

I told you all a couple of weeks ago that Marty and I were really really busy.  So I wasn't volunteering or doing much blogging.  Well now it can be told.  Our house is on the market and we were getting it ready to sell.  We are downsizing.

Selling a house is nothing like it was 40 years ago.  Then you took down the pictures from the "I love me wall", cleaned the windows and carpet, and boom you were ready.  Today it is a major project.  We have depersonalized the house.  No personal pictures allowed, most books packed up, art collections packed up, Marty's inventory of blown glass pieces off the shelves, furniture moved into the garage, nothing on the kitchen counters, anything that will fit in a pocket or purse packed up. 

You have to lock up TV remotes, medicine, jewelry, laptops, anything valuable.  I used to push things into the back of a drawer and cover it up.  No more.  People go through the drawers, steal everything not nailed down. So we have bicycle locks on an armoire and another chest.  Also we have a locking desk, a locking file cabinet, and a safe. Times have changed.

We have packed up everything we do not absolutely have to have. Well, I guess I don't really need 5 sets of dishes in the cabinets.  But I was good, I packed up 4 sets of china and all my silver.  Do you see my weakness here?   We have also cleaned out and donated  a huge amount of household items and a couple of hundred cookbooks.

Marty and I have packed up at least 60 boxes. Many of those we had great help from Cecelia, Kirsten, and our Realtor, Michael. We have moved half the furniture into the garage.  And thanks to son Erik and our friend Hubert for their strong young backs.  They moved furniture and boxes all one Sunday morning.

Friend Paul had the hardest job  of packing.  He packed up our art glass collection.  He is a packing machine.

Marty has painted, cleaned the outside windows (I don't do ladders), power washed the house, and put in 8 new windows.  Our house is over 70 years old.  And to sell we had to replace windows.  So Marty and our lovely contractor friend, Karl, did those 8 windows.  I have steamed cleaned carpet, cleaned cabinets, sealed and polished the granite, washed windows.  We have done a million other little things.

Marty and I have worked so hard and are so tired.  I keep looking for those packers that showed up when we were corporate gypsies. Why don't they show up anymore? 

If you know someone who is looking for a lovely home, send them our way.  The listing is here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

School Daze

After missing a last week, today I was back working with the first graders.  These are lovely sweet children.  But as I said before, they are not as advanced as students we've had before.  The pencils are held wrong; many don't know their letters/sounds or numbers; many tune out all directions.  We have some big time work ahead of us this year.

I worked with them on math.  They were to color in blocks to show an equation.  For example, they were to color 4 blocks red, then 2 blocks green.  And the equation would be 4 + 2 = 6. Then you switched the addends and had 2 + 4 = 6.   Well, that was our dream.  We had  3+3 = 6, 4+3=9 and it was downhill from there. Some became so wrapped up in coloring that the equations never were filled in. 

One thing I do with the children is listen to them read.  Good, bad, indifferent readers, all children need the chance to read to an adult.  They like to have the one on one attention.  This went better than the math did.

My favorite thing to do with the children is to read a story to them.  Ms. H picks the storybook to go with the time of year, units they are doing, or just plain fun reads.  Today I read Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. (I would link Carpenter, but I can't find a good website for her.)  This story is based on fact, and is funny.  A pioneer family brings fruit tree seedlings to Oregon, we have all the trials and tribulations of keeping the plants alive.  I do all the voices and explain words they might not understand (prairie schooner, Gravenstein). 

This volunteer job is very tiring physcially.  Lots of bending over very short desks, lots of walking from student to student, even sitting in the very low chairs is a challenge at my age.  But I do it and I love it.  First Graders are the best.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Today I was finally back to the marriage factory after nearly 2 weeks off. (that will be a blog later this week) The clerks were thrilled I was there to take up the duties of the marriage commissioner so the staff could do their real work.  I arrived early because I had missed doing wedding ceremonies.

And I sat for 3 1/2 hours.  No one was even buying licenses let alone getting married today. At 3:55 the lobby was suddenly full.  People wanted to buy marriage licenses.  But did they want to get married today?  I waited another 20 minutes as they worked through the customers. 

Nope, no one wanted to marry today.  So I gathered all my belongings and came home.  And this must be the most boring blog I have written.