Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving from Hell

Below is an email from my sister in law.  She and my brother have had the Thanksgiving from Hell.  Their son Tres and his family flew to Louisville from Davis, CA for Thanksgiving and to have their baby christened.  Before they arrived their 6 year old son, Hall, had been ill with a "bug".  They arrived Monday and then the bug went through the family.  By Thanksgiving, when we talked to them, everyone seemed to be well.  Seemed to be.  The California group spent the day with Casey's family. The "bug" was stronger than thought. Hall and Bella are children, Tres and Casey the parents.  Ann and Henry, my sister in law and my brother.  The event Ann is talking about is the baptism and party at her home afterwards.


Let's see, Tres and Casey arrived back home with both kids puking in the (er, MY) car at about 730P on Tgiving night. Hall finished the barfs about 9P and Bella's last episode was somewhere around 230A :) --shortly after, I began feeling like a sledgehammer has descended on me--aches, chills, headache, and a bit queasy  (never the barfs though)--then at 6A I began enjoying the rear end weight loss sessions which lasted till about 11A--took a bentyl--gutted through the rest of the food prep that the kids hadn't completed (bless their hearts) and the baptism. (Yes we DID miss you all!) I finally threw the towel in with about 40 in the house and went to bed with aches, etc. at 3P, followed by Bella (still gagging and fussy), and then joined by Henry around 430P--by 530P when I arose with Bella, Henry was driving the back toilet bus and continued off and on with chills and pukes till 930P. Until 3P or so today, he was totally wiped out--revived by lots of gingerale, gatorade, sprite, mashed potatoes, chicken soup and Zestas. Casey, Tres and Hall are fine as I am now and Henry and Bella recovering, although whenever she even hiccoughs, she thinks she will puke and immediate squeals and panics, bless her heart. This has been some week! Good thing I don't mind doing wash--dishes or linen--and cleaning bathrooms--and blessed be for four bathrooms!!!

Our dinner was pbj--good for me or I would never have gotten off the john with regular meal. Henry was not so lucky as he ate everything twice on the reception buffet we provided! LOL--I just drank tea and wine and had another pbj! I have actually lost 5 pounds.

The baptism was lovely and very sweet--Fr. Moran (Boston Irish) was very sweet but kept correcting himself--he called baby Anna Elizabeth ( my note the baby's name is AVA) 4 times!!! ALL the Duttons were there from 93 year old Grandmother Cordova to 5th generation gtgtgrandchild Molly May! Peggy, Sean, Amy, Mother and Jack and friends of ours made it--Later Frank and Linda (she and Tres took over the party clean up bless them), Jim, Nick, Laura and Tiffany were at the house."

So how did your Thanksgiving go?

Friday, November 26, 2010


If you read my blog on Tuesday, November 23, you will understand why I was nervous doing weddings on Wednesday.  Luckily nothing awful happened.  Very nice couples and fairly normal problems.

By the time I got upstairs with the first couple, I had figured out the bride spoke very little English. I had to go to the Marriage Desk Clerk and have her call several people to get a translator.  I wish the clerks would talk to both the bride and groom.  We have commissioners to do foreign language ceremonies.  I sometimes think some of the clerks just don't want to bother tracking down a bilingual commissioner.  They want me to take it to the Marriage Desk Clerk and let her do the work. 

I shook hands with the next bride and groom and their toddler walked up and stuck his hand out too.  So I shook hands with him.  This couple was young, each 22.  They had 2 children, the little boy and an infant. The bride wore a black and white satin dress and the groom wore a white dress shirt and white slacks.  They had close to 20 people with them and all were dressed for the occasion.  The groom was a nervous wreck.  I was worried he would pass out before we finished the ceremony.  He made it OK. The family was so thrilled with the marriage.  Lots of love in the room.

One more problem couple.  The couple and the witness were Iranian.  He was 68 and she was 56.  He was very debonair looking:  Silver hair, ascot, sport coat and dress slacks, major jewelry. His English was perfect.  The bride said hello and then was quiet.  I asked them if they had rings and the witness started translating to the bride.  I stopped her and asked if the bride spoke English.  They said just a little.  I explained I could not marry them if she didn't understand me.  Oh, they would translate, I said no you can't.  Why?  So I explained that women could be brought in from other countries and married and not know what was  happening.  I don't know what they are saying and brides don't know what I am saying.  So for their protection only our translators may speak for the bride.  We have to be sure they know why they are here.  The groom and the witness were floored.  Who knew there were evil people out there. I questioned the bride, why was she here, did she want to marry, could she understand what I said.  Turns out she could understand basic things.  So I did the ceremony.  Because vows are not a legal part I let the groom translate them and they said their vows in Farsi.

I hated being hard nosed about the translating.  But the rules are the rules.  Good thing the bride could answer my questions.  Because to my knowledge we have no Farsi translators.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nice lovely weddings, oh and a X rated one

Yesterday afternoon  was busy.  I did 7 ceremonies and took up a couple for a Spanish ceremony. And I did my first X rated wedding.  I have had R rated, but yesterday, OMW!

But first the nice weddings, or at least nice in comparison. 

My first ceremony the groom wore a tux and the bride wore a brown and white dress that had an all over small design.  Very striking.  They had their own vows and it was very intense. It was a really feel good ceremony.

The next ceremony could have been the bad one of the day.  But  they were out done by the X rated one.  The bride gave the clerks grief.  She kept asking when they would be called.  Mind you their witness wasn't there yet. They wouldn't be called until the witness showed up and we have no idea when ceremonies will take place.  It is first come first served. She wanted to change into her dress when they were called.  The clerk told if they aren't ready when called, we move to the next license.  So she changed and did her makeup.  She wore a heavy taffeta dress which had a cathedral train. It would have been lovely, but it had not been pressed.  He wore jeans, sport shirt, a leather jacket, and a very bored expression. 

During the ceremony their 2 children (3 and 4 year olds) ran screaming around the room and grabbing the vases of flowers.  I had to stop the ceremony and tell the children NO.  They were so stunned they sat down and were quiet for a couple of minutes. Oh the bride was only 21, do the math.  The witness started to sign in the wrong place on the souvenir certificate.  Three times I showed him where to sign and he got it wrong.  On the legal certificate I all but held his hand so he would sign correctly.

Another wedding was just lovely and fun.  All of the men were at least 6" 4".  The groom was 6' 6" and the bride was 6' tall.  All of the men had on Hawaiian shirts and the women had a Hawaiian theme going also.  Everyone was wearing a beautiful lei. Even the children. I asked if they were all from Hawaii.  No they just wished they were.

Now for the X rated one.  I saw the bride M sitting at the clerk's desk.  M was wearing a leopard silky print micro mini.  The back had a gold chain that hung from the halter neck to below her waist. The links were the size of a teacup.  The front was draped open  from the neck to below the waist. ( think Jennifer Lopez green dress) And the two sides of the drape were 6 inches apart.  She did not have the double sided tape Jennifer Lopez wore with hers.  All the clerks were stunned with how revealing the dress was.  The tiny tight skirt of the dress just covered her hips, but it rode up when she walked.  Her shoes?  Gladiator 6" heels. 

I called their names and they said we are taking pictures, wait.  I said, I'll take the next couple since you are not ready.  They became ready.  As M walked her dress rode up above all decency, and the drapes parted on top. Nipple flashes, I wanted to get her a safety pin.  During the ceremony a breast fell out, and she did nothing.  The men loved it and took pictures.  She finally pulled the dress over her breast. And it happened again, and again.  I couldn't believe it.  A breast falls out once could be a wardrobe malfunction.  Multiple times in a 6 minute ceremony, it is a show. I won't even go into the kiss off between the wedding couple and another couple.  Gross!

Bring back the thin white dresses.  I much prefer looking at underwear than naked body parts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It is that time again, Open Studios in Berkley.  From November 27 until December 19, every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 -5:00 you can watch artists at work.(the web site says until 6:00, but when it starts getting dark, most studios shut down ) Marty will be doing demos on Sundays at R.Strong Glass    1235 4th Street at Gilman in Berkley.  The last demo of the day starts around 4:00.  This is a great chance so see how hot glass art is made and a chance to do some Christmas shopping.

Below are pictures taken at different times during the last year or so.  Lots of fire, lots of smoke, lots of beauty.  I also have a link to the Open Studios web site below also.  That way you have to read my blog first.   :)

 Marty using the torch to smooth out the bottom of a piece before it goes into the annealing oven.
 Marty heating the glass.
 Marty using the marver (special table used in glass blowing) to begin shaping the glass.
 Wood blocks are also used to shape the hot glass.  Smoke and flames, excitement!
Marty assisting Randy Strong, master glass artist.

To get info about Open Studios, a map, a list of artists go here.  R. Strong Glass is #1 on the list and on the map.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Art project, Ms.H strikes again

Tuesday I walked into the classroom and it was organized chaos.  Children had their shoes off and were tracing their feet onto brown construction paper.  Well, some were.  Others were falling over, they had the paper on the desk instead of the floor and were trying to reach their feet.  You try it, put your foot above your waist and try tracing it. 

Ms. H had an art project.  There were three parents besides the two of us to help the children.  And we were all busy.  It was make a turkey day.  They cut out the traced feet. The feet butted up together and became the turkey body.  Then we traced and cut out hands on red, orange, and yellow construction paper. The hands were the tail feathers. These were to be glued to the back of the feet. Eyes, beaks and waddles were cut out free hand.  All of this then was glued together.

First graders and glue . . .  Oh how they love Elmer's glue. The kids think the more glue the better.  Projects end up glued to the desk, to other children's art project, small pieces on their clothes.  Glue is in globs on the desk and ends up on me, my clothes, in little girls' hair.  They recite the rule, "not a lot, just a dot."  Their dots are bigger than adult dots.

The project was fun. The kids enjoy it and the adults do too. The glue is not really an issue because it washes off people and washes out of clothing.  I didn't scrub real well when I left for the day.  My hands looked like they were peeling from the glue.  My slacks and shirt had glue on them.  I was going home, no big deal. 

Wrong.  Marty picked me up at school and said we needed to go to the bank and then he would take me to lunch.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Really, I am a good cook

Tonight's dinner was a mess.  I planned a Mexican chicken breast dish cooked in the oven at 400 degrees.  I would serve it over rice.  And I would serve sauteed two types of mushrooms, with onions, garlic, hot peppers, and snow peas.  Sounds great doesn't it?

I have made this chicken dish for years.  You skin the breast, pour the sauce over it and stick it in the oven.  In  20 to 25 minutes it is ready to serve.  While it cooks, the rice and veggies cook.  Well after 30 minutes the chicken is still raw.  Not just a little pink, it is raw, dead animal raw.  It is disgusting.  I took it off the bone, cut it into pieces and put it back into the oven.  15 minutes later it is done.  Great.

I plated the chicken over the rice and put the mushroom/snow pea dish on the side of the plate.  We sat down and began to eat. The mushroom dish was so salty Marty wouldn't eat it.  The only thing I can figure is I salted it twice.  We don't use a lot of salt.  But this dish was really bad.  What a waste of great mushrooms, wine, peppers, and snow peas. 

The chicken was good.  And the cookies I made a couple of night ago were great.  But the veggie, really bad. This just goes to show, no matter how much experience a cook has, you can have an off night.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Who turned on the burglar alarm?

I have mentioned our house is on the market.  It is a pain to be always ready to show the house. And I have been vocal about that.  I also have told you of the things people will do to belongings in a house for sell.  Friday we had something new, our Realtor had never heard of this one.

Friday Marty and I had an early afternoon appointment and then went to the grocery.  When we returned home I started putting up food.  Then I heard it.  The burglar alarm was doing its chime thing before it goes off.  I ran into the foyer and put in the code.  How the hell did the alarm get set?

When the house went on the market we taped paper over the alarm key pad.  That way we could not set the alarm by accident or habit.  You can set the alarm without the code.  There are buttons for away and for stay.  Some one had punched in the stay button.  Someone had been in the house while we were out.  But no Realtor's business card on the table.  The lock box sends our Realtor an email anytime someone gets the key out.  He had not received an email. 

Someone was in the house using a key, or they picked the lock.  This is the second time we thought some one had been in the house.  Nothing was stolen, nothing rearranged.  Why set the alarm?  Are they just messing with us? 

Had someone been in the house, or was it Casper the Friendly Ghost?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

SO MANY WEDDINGS: some lovely, some so much trouble

This week I married 12 couples and one couple I turned over to a translator.  That couple would not admit the groom didn't speak English.  I kept talking to him and all he could say was yes.  I did a practice run on the vows. I take you . . . he kept saying yes. Just yes.

It was a week for the United Nations.  Couples were from Nepal, Mongolia, Vietnam, China, Mexico, Hungary, India, Ethiopia, and the United States. When I have the United Nations of couples I also have the problem of correctly pronouncing their names.  After so many years of doing this I am getting better.  I have figured out the Mongolians. My bride's name was Gangantsetseg. I have learned you pronounce it just as it looks. Of course some names start with Khlg. . . .  Then I struggle.

The group from Nepal were in traditional dress.  The women wore heavily jeweled dresses or tunics and pants.  The jewel work was at the necks like a necklace and around the hemlines.  Really lovely. Most of the other brides were in white or black and white, which seems to be popular now.

There were many very much in love couples and their ceremonies were very nice.  But you know I always get the funny/strange couples.  And that is what I write about.

I was given the license and I checked it.  The couple had put the mother of the bride's birth name the same as the father's.  That happens sometimes, same last name.  I checked it before doing the ceremony.  Yep, it wasn't the mother's birth name. We reprinted and re signed.  I then gathered the couple and their guests.  There were 8 of them.  We are getting on the elevator and the groom says, "The rings are in the car. Should I go get them?"  I said, "If you want them as a part of the ceremony, go get them.  How far away are you parked?"  They were 5 minutes away.  That means 10 minutes total. The groom takes off, I go back to my desk.  Finally they knock on the door, they are ready.  I go out and there is no bride and none of her sisters are there.

They don't know where the bride is.  Why did they come get me?  They call her.  The ladies are in the restroom primping.  I told them they were like herding cats.  We should be all done with trouble now. No.  We get upstairs to the wedding room.  As always I tell them to mute their cell phones.  We begin the ceremony.  Half way through, a phone rings and rings.  I said, "Don't you dare answer that.  Turn it off now."  And then I completed the ceremony.

One more very strange one.The names have been changed to keep me out of trouble.  I am checking the license and see a problem.  The groom's name is El-Cid Jones, but he signed the license with a string of numbers, periods, hyphens and some letters.  Something like  G.G.M.-sqxrbbbb.2d3  Doesn't look anything like his name.  I took it to supervisor R and she said he can't do this.  R went out and talked to him.  Sacramento requires letters only and in English for a signature. He pitched a fit. A loud in your face fit. No one had ever questioned his signature before and it was on his driver's license and his passport.  If the federal government would accept it. . .  And then he pulled them out and son of a gun.  That was how he signed them.  R called Sacramento and they said he could sign that way since the Federal government accepted it.  Now as a little side note he and the bride changed their names from Jones and Smith to a name associated with a powerful criminal Oakland family. 

To end on a nicer note.  I did the ceremony for a sweet so in love couple.  He was Mexican, she was Chinese.  They told me this was their third ceremony.  They had done a cultural Chinese ceremony.  They had gone to Mexico and been married in the church there.  And my ceremony was for the state.  The beauty of this is they responded as if my ceremony was the first one.  They took it very seriously.  Isn't that nice?

Monday, November 8, 2010


Our house is on the market.  Yesterday we had an Open House. I've told you about locking everything up before we leave.  Well, yesterday nothing was stolen.  But it was just weird what happened.

First, when we got home the French Doors were not locked. That is a big no no.  Our electric blanket was turned on.  Not just on but cranked up to 7.  We don't set it higher that 3 on either side.  It was no accident, someone was messing with our stuff.  In the guest bedroom they rearranged all the throw pillows, moved a little stool (it is a high bed and short people need it to get in the bed) from under the bed.  They pulled the stool into the walk way.  They also moved the end table and placed the lamp in a different place.

This morning Marty went out to the green house. Beside the green house he has a three shelf steel rack for his cymbidiums.  He had the one with buds placed on the top rack.  Two pots had been taken down and set on the patio. 

I understand opening drawers, cabinets, closets.  You want to see storage.  But rearranging my stuff.  That is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Once again Marty and I tested a recipe.  This time it was for a honey mustard Bar B Que sauce on chicken breast.  There are a lot of ingredients and lots of steps.  Consequently lots of pictures.  I narrowed the pictures from 52 to 16.  We used a brine on the chicken first.  Then we made the sauce and grilled the chicken.  This recipe was for Cook's Illustrated.  Remember to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

 Always, first Marty studying the recipe he has taped to the cabinet.
 The ingredients lined up for the sauce.  These are mixed and then added to a simple syrup that was caramelized.
 Trimming the ribs off the chicken, then trimming extra fat, and extra skin.
 Starting the simple syrup.
 Spicy brown mustard.
 Lots of honey.
 Red pepper flakes.  Cider vinegar and fennel (which I really don't like) are also in there.
 Adding the mustard mixture to the simple syrup.
 Finished product.
 The automatic lighter didn't work.  Matches always work.
 We have fire!
 All burners are lit.  Almost ready for the chicken.
 Yes, one lonely chicken breast.  This was huge.  We are pretty sure it was cross bred with a pterodactyl.
 After browning on all sides, the chicken was covered with foil and cooked for 25 minutes.
 Slicing the chicken breast.
The finished product.  Look at the plates.  We have a lot of chicken, and it was one, yes one, chicken breast.  We had the extra Bar B Que sauce, southern green beans, and potato salad.  The sauce was good.  But I am not real fond of fennel.  I think if that were left out it would be a better sauce.  It also is a really sweet sauce.  I think I like my Marlboro Man sauce better.   The chicken was fabulous!  When you use a brine the meat is so moist.  I don't think we will make this again.  Too sweet for us.  Marty liked it better than I did.

Friday, November 5, 2010

More Weddings

Wednesday was very slow at the Alameda County Building.  Not just for marriage ceremonies, but for all areas of business at the Recorder's Office.  We figured that everyone was in San Francisco for the Giants' parade and celebration.   In case you have been living in the jungle somewhere, they won the World Series.

I did do three ceremonies.  Two were fun and happy and one was just strange.

Let's begin with strange.  If I had seen this couple walking down the street, I would have hung to my side of the sidewalk.  I would not have made eye contact.  They were scary and I am not sure why. He wore an ill fitting black suit, his hair was just a shade too long for a short haircut.  But not long enough for a long hair look.  And his eyes, just wild and staring.  And they babbled about everything. 

I would ask a question and they went on and on.  I asked if they had rings, and this was a little sad.  She said no one would sell them rings.  They had a costume jewelry cocktail ring, that was pretty, for her.  They told me it cost them $17.  For his ring they had a circular key ring that fit his finger.

After the ceremony I was reminding them about agencies to notify of her name change. That would be passport, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Social Security.  And she says,"And Welfare."

My last couple was just fun.  They were in casual clothes.  When they saw the Wedding Room they kept saying they should have dressed up.  She had sunglasses pushed up on her head.  He had sunglasses hanging from the neck of his shirt.  I told them I was going to play Mother and make them take the sunglasses off.  I said they would regret the look when they saw the pictures.  There was lots of laughter throughout the ceremony.  That is a good thing.  They were deeply in love and having a fun wedding. 

After the ceremony the groom threw out his arms and said, "You said you were playing Mother.  My Mom isn't here and I want a big hug from you."  I hugged him and then she wanted a hug too.  Even the witness wanted a hug from me.  A very fun wedding.

I have said the best thing about working with first graders is a child hugging me.  Well, hugs with the bridal couple is just as good. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weddings like ole times

As soon as I walked into the county building, the staff commissioner handed me a license.  I wasn't even at my desk yet.  She continued upstairs with the couple she had.  That was a sign of things to come.  A nicely paced busy afternoon.  I did six weddings.  Some were very normal, some stand out for different reasons.

We had some interesting things happen.  I picked up a license and started checking it.  The groom had put in his name and spelled  it Joeseph, yet he signed two documents Joseph.  The bride had put in her last name was Smith.  The next box says last name if different at birth.  She put Smith again.  Now notice I said they put in.  All of the license information, except the witness and officiant information, is put in the computer by the couple. They are told to check the clerk's computer screen before she prints.  They go yeah that's right.  No one reads it.  Luckily I read.  And usually I catch the errors.

My first wedding was so sweet and goose bumpy.  The bride had on a black pencil skirt with a white lace top.  Her daughter wore a full black skirt with a white ruffled top.  The ruffles were edged in black.  And the groom wore all black.  Guess what, I wore black and white also.  The daughter who was probably third grade was the witness.  Mom told me the little girl had been practicing all week signing her name.

The next wedding was memorable for a couple of reasons. Background for those not in the Bay Area:  yesterday was game 5 of the World Series, which the San Francisco Giants won. Their colors are orange and black.  Back to the wedding.  One of the male witnesses wore an Orange silk shirt and black slacks.  This was not a fashion statement, he is a fan.  Other interesting note.  The bride was 34 and this is her third marriage.  The bride wore an interesting black dress. I think it is called a cut ribbon dress.  There is an underskirt and the top part is strips hanging with gaps that show the underskirt.  Unfortunately the underskirt only went to the top of thighs.  The rest was see through.  Still it was better than the thin white dresses.

My favorite wedding was a Confidential marriage.  No witness required and it takes a court order to get any information about the license.  They were a good looking couple (K and L) and K had a four year old son.  This child was beautiful.  He had a big smile, blue eyes, and silky curly brown hair.  He was polite, sweet, and adored his Mother and Step father to be.  When we entered the Wedding Room the little boy asked, " Are we going to get married now?"  Mom held the little boy during the ceremony. I asked the bride and then the groom    do you take this . . .   and they both said I do.  I began the vows and the little boy asked, "What about me?  Don't I get to say I do?"  So I asked him,  "Do you take K and L as your parents?"  And he answered, "I do."  Then we had to halt the wedding for kisses, hugs, and tears.  It was so sweet and touching.

And that folks is why I do marriages ceremonies.  It doesn't get any more feel good than that.