Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weddings? Oh we had weddings!

The last week of December is one of the busiest of the year at the Marriage Factory.  Wednesday from 9:00 to 4:45 there were 22 weddings.  I arrived at 1:00 and married couples until 4:20.  I performed  9 weddings in that time.  Staff and another volunteer did the rest of the marriages.

Now just to make the afternoon even crazier the computers went down all over the building.  For about 45 minutes we couldn’t do anything.  There were 3 licenses waiting to print and come to me.  There were 5 couples waiting to buy a license and be married and several others waiting to just buy a license.  Plus we had other customers that were there to get birth certificates, death certificates, business licences, and other business in the building.  People were good.  No one got angry, no one got upset.  They were antsy, but OK.  The computer came back on line and like a well oiled machine, everything was back to normal.

One of my couples was worried about the computer problem.  The groom thought it was a bad sign and maybe they shouldn’t marry that day.  She convinced him it would be fine.  They were an interesting couple and group.

He had a huge gelled Mohawk (he was in his 30’s old enough to not wear a Mohawk) She was  very traditional looking.  His mother drove me crazy.  She was taking pictures with his camera.  A digital point and click.  Well she couldn’t.  The whole ceremony she talked, “I can’t take pictures with this.  There is something wrong.  I don’t like your camera.”  Very intrusive to the ceremony.  I called for the witnesses.  His brother and Mother signed. 

Then the groom said Dad was to sign why did his brother sign.  I was worried at first.  But it was OK.  Father and son had the same name and same address. 

One more wedding.  The couple and their family and guests were from Mongolia.  They were surprised and pleased I nailed both their names.  I was too.  These names were much harder than the couple last week. 

The groom wore a tux  and had a boutonnière.  The bride wore a tiered white satin sheath with a square neck.  She carried a huge bouquet of mixed flowers.  Their baby son was in a suit and tie.  Their little girl wore a burgundy sparkly waltz length dress. 

This group was great.  Everyone dressed for the occasion. Some of the women guests wore corsages.  Lots of fun and love in the room. I love doing weddings when everyone is all dressed up.

That’s two out of my nine.  I’ll post another day about some of the other weddings.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas with the Family

Christmas Eve we drove to Davis to spend Christmas with our nephew Tres and his family.  If you remember we had taken his parents to Davis on Wednesday. 

Everyone but Marty and me are Catholic. Christmas Eve Mass is their tradition.  We stayed home and made sure food would be ready for the feast planned for dinner.

We had shrimp salad, a 5 layer salad, broccoli casserole, lobster mac, spoon bread, and salt crusted prime rib.  For dessert, Marty’s crème brulee as requested by the children.


Casey set beautiful tables for the  adults and children.  Each plate held a Christmas cracker.


Hank and Ann with the grandchildren as they were leaving for Mass.

IMG_1249Tres and Ava ready for Mass.


Tres carving the prime rib.  His mother Ann watches.


Maryann, an Airman nurse, who works with Casey.  As you can see we had all kinds of cookies, fudge, and other goodies.


We have pulled the Christmas Crackers and are all wearing our crowns.


We turned out the lights to get the full effect of Marty torching the crème brulee.


More fire.  Hall really was amazed by the torch.  I think he wanted one for Christmas.


Annabella helping Uncle Marty.


The children are in bed and the elves are putting together toys.  Not easy after lots of wine.


Hall and Annabella disc0vering what Santa brought.


Ava playing with one of her gifts.


Ava carrying her baby doll, headed for Annabella’s doll.  She decided she liked hers best.

As you can see, Christmas is great with little children and family.  We laughed, took gobs of pictures, eat way too much food, drank just the right amount of great wines, and had a lovely time.

Now we are home where it is very quiet and peaceful.  That is a good thing, also a bad thing.  Miss the family. 

Tres and his family will probably be in Turkey next year.  He has been told they will be transferred in early summer to Turkey.  Things change in the Air Force and they could end up somewhere else.  But is is pretty certain they will not be at Travis much longer.  Really will miss our family being so close.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bourbon Balls' Contest

This is the final Bourbon Balls' blog for Christmas 2011.  I have posted two blogs about making Bourbon Balls.  One with the recipe and pictures of starting the process of making them and another of dipping the balls.  I told you about the contest for the best Bourbon Balls, Marty against Tres and Casey.  Two very different recipes, again they did not share the real recipe.  Only that they had butter in the filling.  We have shared the recipe here and on Janet Rudolph's chocolate blog.  The tasting contest was held Christmas Day.

A little back story of this year's contest.  My brother and his wife Ann stayed with us several days before going to their son Tres' home for Christmas.  We let them taste, many many times, our wonderful Bourbon Balls.  It seemed only fair, since last year they had sampled Tres' candy for several days.  Then yesterday afternoon, we brought out our candy.  Tres brought out his candy.  The tasting began. Ours were very very heavy in Bourbon. You saw the pictures, the nuts soaked for days.  Tres' were lighter with less Bourbon.  Drum roll, please.

Marty won!  We won!  We are the King and Queen of Bourbon Balls.  No votes for the other side, we buried them.  Even Tres and Casey voted for us.  We Won!  Not that I 'm bragging or anything.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Playing Tourist in San Francisco

My brother Hank and his wife are here from Louisville, Kentucky and spent 5 days with us.  Wednesday night we took then to Davis to their son’s home. 

We took them to a fabulous party the night they arrived.  We stayed home a couple of days, visited, ate good food, and drank good wine. We drove around and looked at Christmas lights.  And then we spent a glorious day in San Francisco.

It was shirt sleeves weather, December and 65 degrees.  It is good to live in California.  Our first stop was Grace Cathedral.


The doors of the cathedral.


One stained glass window after another.  They were setting up for a Christmas concert.


From the cathedral to Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world.


We headed to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park next.  Marty is in front of a huge cactus.


Ann and Hank looking at tropical plants and orchids.  There were hundreds of orchids blooming.  Just lovely.


More orchids and blooming plants.


These orchids looked like peppermint candy.


One wing always has seasonal exhibits.  This time it was poinsettias and a miniature of Playland.  They also had model trains running through it. 


Some of the games from Playland were on exhibit too.  This is Zoltar, one of the few originals left in the world.  Zoltar was a “star” in the movie Big.

From there we drove through scenic areas of the city. Then it was time for drinks.  Marty took us to a bar where he used to watch Billiards, Cinch.  Very fun and we all made friends.


Dinner was at the delicious, wonderful, delicious, outstanding House of Prime Rib. Did I say delicious? The chef rolls this huge silver cart around to each table.  He carves the cut of prime rib you request.  Then he adds the vegetables you want.  Very old style and very gracious dining.

They serve one fish dish and several cuts of Prime Rib.  That’s it for protein. Then you have wonderful sides. They have been open for at least 50 years. If you have time watch the video on the link above. You might just lick the screen.

After that huge meal, we went home and sat around and groaned.

It was a fun tourist day in the city.  It was even more fun because Ann and Hank were with us.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Weddings Last Week

Last week an older couple was marrying. He was in his fifties, she in her forties.  He had a ring for her, but she hadn’t bought one for him yet.  She really wanted a double ring ceremony, so he pulled a ring off his other hand to use. He warned her it wouldn’t fit on his left hand.  He was right.  She tried to slide the ring on, pushed and pushed.  It hung up on his knuckle. They left it there, I finished the ceremony and he replaced it onto his right hand. 

Their witness, her teenage daughter, had a surprise for all of us.  She pulled out a bag of rice and started throwing it at the couple and all over the room.  As soon as I could, I stopped her.  No rice is allowed in the building or the sidewalk out front.  The room was a dangerous mess.

The clerks were having a bad day.  I took a couple up to D for a Spanish wedding.  Since it wasn’t my couple I didn’t check the license.  I handed it to D, and curse words.  The clerk had not filled it out.  It had the couple’s personal information.  Nothing else: no dates, witness info, where the ceremony was taking place, no info on where the license was sold, and on and on.  Let us say D was ticked big time.

One of my licenses was really messed up.  The day’s date was wrong, for city she had put Alameda instead of Oakland, for county she put Oakland, for officiate was the street address of the county building .

Instead of the bride wearing the dreaded thin white dress, the witness wore a thin black dress.  Let’s just say I know she wears bikini pants and no bra.

Several couples just seemed too light hearted to be marrying.  There didn’t seem to be the respect for the event that would change their lives.  Laughter is good, but not making fun of the vows, acting bored, standing with arms crossed,  or striking stupid poses during the ceremony.  All of these couples are going to have a “wedding” later.  If they don’t consider the civil ceremony a wedding, why bother going through it?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Last week was the last week of school before the Christmas break.  Can you say wild children.  They were really on a tear.  I became the cross ole lady and Ms H was loud.  This woman rarely raises her voice.  Tuesday, she yelled. 

We continued working on the wreath of contractions.  I spent most of the time peeling off words that they just glued on in order to be done.  I worked with reading, phonics, and an art/math project.  Again with the gluing. 

The project was the Twelve Days of Christmas.  They had two sheets with the 12 items of the song.  They were to find the one with the word first, write 1st, cut it out, and glue to a long strip of paper.  Then find second, write 2nd, and continue.  Well, this didn't go well for about a third of the class. They found anything, wrote 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc, cut out and glued.  Again, I was peeling off boxes, helping them to correct what they wrote, and re-glued.  I was one sticky mess.

I read a great book to them, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.  Being protestant, I can't pronounce some of the words correctly.  I had asked the 3 Jewish boys to help me with pronounciation.  They loved telling an adult how to read a word.  This book tell how Hershel the Trickster fools the goblins into allowing Hanukkah to be celebrated. There are great illustrations in the books, scary golblins with lots of details.   Sorry, none of the websites show anything except the cover, or really bad videos. 

The class (really Ms H)  gave me a lovely card and a pair of silver earrings.  It was very nice to be appreiciated for my help.  I get as much out of working with the children as they do.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Busy, busy holidays

The holidays are hectic.  Fun, but hectic.  My brother and his wife arrived today from Kentucky.  They weren’t here two hours before we left for San Francisco to all go to a party.  We still have museums to visit, gardens to visit, and restaurant reservations in the city.  Plus good food and wine in my kitchen.

Wednesday  we will take them to Davis to visit their son and his family.  We will spend Christmas with them in Davis.  The Bourbon Ball tasting contest will happen there.  I will post an update when we win.  Today we started bribing Little Brother and his wife.  They like our Bourbon Balls.

I will post as I have time.  I still have weddings to share with you.  I have first graders to tell about.  Bear with me.  I may not post as often as I usually do.  But I bet some of you will not have time to read me the next week or so.  I will try to post.  And I hope you will try to read me.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jack Fredrickson Author

Jack Fredrickson has become one of my favorite authors.  He also is an email buddy.  I wish now I had saved those emails, they are funny, clever, and rather sweet. 

I have read three of Jack’s books.:  A Safe Place for Dying,  Honestly Dearest, you are Dead, and his newest book  Hunting for Sweetie Rose.  I have written a blog about one of them.  The books stand alone.  But I suggest, if you haven’t read them that you read them in order to better understand on-going feuds and friendships.  So get out there and buy those first two books.

The latest book comes out February 12, 2012.  Jack graciously sent me an advance copy in October.  I loved reading Hunting Sweetie Rose. 

Hunting Sweetie Rose begins with the death of a clown, a clown who was dancing on the edge of a building. Was it an accident, suicide, or murder? Our protagonist, Dek Elstrom, is hired to find out. From this one incident the story grows into many victims, several villains, and a mysterious client. Who is Sweetie Rose? Why does she care about a clown she doesn’t know.  Is that Velveeta on her dining room table?

Dek’s everyday life is interesting. He is rebuilding his grandfather’s turret and battling with the city for permits. Dek is divorced but friendly with his ex. He meets a TV reporter, Jennifer Gale, who seems interested in him, his life, and his investigation.  Dek and Jennifer work together on the clown’s death.

In the middle of this investigation, you have town clerk Elvis and the town awash in scandal.  Parking issues that will make you laugh out loud.  Then there is the friendship of Dek and Leo.  Closer than brothers, lots of one upmanship between them.  Leo’s mother and friends add a lot of humor and horror to the book.  Imagine old old ladies, porn, and stripper poles.

This book peels like an onion.  You have deaths, you have a missing socialite.  And then more deaths, backgrounds are not what you believed. Some of the victims are innocent.  Some, as we say in the South, needed killing.  Multiple candidates to be the killer.  How can so many people be so cruel and evil?

The plot is well done. You can follow it, believe it, and not guess ahead of the story.  Characters are really well drawn.  I can see them, hear them.  I like some really a lot dislike others.  I also can picture everywhere in this book.  Trailers, turret, apartments, basement, and graveyard, I can see them clearly.

Go to your favorite bookstore and get on the list to buy this book when it comes out February 12, 2012.  It is dark with comic relief thrown in to give you a release.  It builds, it peels, it has a very satisfying ending.  Read it and enjoy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 on 12/12

Monday was 12/12/11.  People like to marry on days with interesting number combinations.  We, meaning staff and myself, did 12 marriage ceremonies on Monday.  Marriage Desk Clerk D said she thought that I should include that fact in my blog.  Thank you D. 

My first ceremony was really interesting.  And regular readers know that means somewhere someone screwed up. 

The couple had had a lovely wedding in Mendocino. Lots of guests. The couple had asked a friend to do the ceremony, and paid for him to be a one day marriage commissioner.  The county sent the friend the packet that contained information he would need to do a legal ceremony and how to do the paper work.  There was also an application form that had to be notarized.

The clerk who sends out the temporary commission packets keeps track of when the marriage is in this type of wedding.  If she does not receive the notarized application by the date of the wedding, she lets D know the marriage is not valid and not to record the license.

And folks that is what happened to this couple.  Their friend did not fill out the application, did not get the paperwork notarized, totally screwed up.

The license could not be recorded, they had to buy another license. They had to have another ceremony by a legal commissioner, me.  But the ceremony fee was waived since it was the same price as the temporary deputization. 

Like I always told my students, read all the directions.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bourbon Balls part 2

As promised this post will show the completion of the making Bourbon balls.  For those who did not read part 1, go here.  Now I will tell you how Marty and I made his Mother’s recipe our own.

Dolly was not much on drinking.  Every now and then she had a cocktail and sometimes a little wine.  Marty and I love Kentucky Bourbons, so we soak the pecans longer than her recipe calls for.  Ours soaked nearly a week. 
What little Bourbon that was left over he poured into the filling. Marty does not use water to soften the mixture, just Bourbon. Do not eat these and then drive. 
He mixed the ingredients up, spread them on wax paper, and used a small cookie scooper to make the balls.
He drops the balls onto wax paper on a cookie sheet.
The cookie sheet then goes into the freezer.
Chocolate my sister-in-law sent us.
Chocolate dippers.  Dolly used fingers, toothpicks, spoons.
Deluxe Chocolate Melter.
Dolly used a double boiler.
Just a little paraffin is added to help the chocolate not to melt in your hands.  It still will.  We don’t add that much.
Dipping the balls in chocolate.
More dipping.
Marty dipped in small batches.  The filling would thaw if out long.

After dipped, into the refrigerator they go.  When good and cold again, the Bourbon Balls are placed in sealed containers and kept in the refrigerator. 

Now we are ready for the Christmas Eve Bourbon Ball contest.  We are so going to win.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas in the city

Friday afternoon Marty and I rode BART into San Francisco.  We walked around Union Square and through some of the stores to see the Christmas decorations.  The city was beautiful and alive.

Remember to click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Crowds of people were thick and they were carrying lots of packages.  Bands and Carolers were on every corner.  You had to feel Christmassy with all the music in the air.

We then went up to the Hotel where Marty’s barber works.  We had a fun visit with her, and Marty got a great haircut.  Then we went to dinner.

Well we tried to go to dinner.  The city was so busy we couldn’t get into any of our favorite restaurants.  We couldn’t get a signal on our phones (thank you so much AT&T) to make reservations.  So we walked for ever from restaurant to restaurant.  Finally we got a signal and made reservations at La Central.

We hadn’t eaten there before.  Very nice and very good.  Then we went back to Union Square to see the lights at night.

This is the trombone section of the Cal Band playing Christmas music at Union Square.
Macy’s main store on Union Square. 
Macy’s gift to the city of San Francisco, a gorgeous Christmas tree.
As we were leaving, we saw this tall glittery being.  It was The Christmas Fairy.  We stopped to take pictures.
The Christmas Fairy pulled us out of the crowd and handed Marty’s camera to a man to take our picture.  The man messed up the picture, so his little girl said she could do it.  And a good job she did.

We had a lovely evening. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lots of weddings and then hardly any

As I have said, December is as busy for weddings as June.  Monday I was busy.  Wednesday I did one wedding. That morning they only had one wedding.  No one could figure out where the couples were.

The way one couple and their witness were dressed was in your face.  The bride had on a long black sweater that hit at mid thigh. Right, a sweater no pants, tights, or leggings.  She wore hooker boots that were high heeled and came almost to the bottom of the sweater.  The groom wore a baseball cap backwards and droopy on the floor jeans.  The witness had dreadlocks, backwards baseball cap, droopy on the floor jeans.  The crotch was below the knees.  The witness was texting, texting, texting.   The couple had a toddler who the witness was really good with. The witness was helping with letters and colors as we did the final legal work on the license.  I commented on how the child was lucky and had three parents.  The bride commented, "Yes, my sister is really good with him."  Sister, sister, OMW, I thought she was a man.

The next couple I asked is everyone here.  Are we ready to go upstairs?  Yes we are ready.  We get to the elevator and guess what.  They had to go outside and round up people.  We get upstairs, and I realize the groom speaks no English.  She only speaks English and no Spanish.  They speak the language of love.  I gave the license to D and she did a bilingual ceremony.

Indian groom and Russian bride. Thankfully they both spoke perfect English. He had on lovely black suit and a crisp white shirt with French cuffs.  She was a red head with a porcelain complexion. She wore a very simple cream colored sheath with a draped neck line. She carried coral colored roses. One of their guests had a serious Nikon camera.  He was snapping pictures right and left.  He was flirty and fun.  He kept taking pictures of me.  I told him no one takes pictures of me, just of the bride and groom.  He said but you are so beautiful and snapped away.  Who could argue with that?  He wanted pictures of me, snap away.

The next bride was so terribly nervous.  She looked so scared.  During the ceremony she was visibly shaking.  You have heard the the expression their knees were knocking?  That was the bride, her whole body was trembling.  He held her, patted her on the back, she was a wreck. I really thought she was going to pass out.  She made it through the ceremony without hitting the floor.  By the time we recorded the license she had become somewhat calmer.

I had a license on my desk for over an hour.  It had a post it that said waiting for witness.  The clerk saw it sitting there and said she would ask them the status of the witness.  She came back and said they are gone.  She then said she would call them and see what was going on.  She found them and brought them to the wedding room as I was finishing up on my fifth wedding of the day.  Except the bride is missing again.   Finally the bride shows up and I got them married.

Wednesday one wedding.  We only did two all day.  The license was out of county.  So no point in checking it.  We are not allowed to reprint another county's license.  The couple is laughing, not taking the ceremony seriously. They both grab one of our silk flower bouquets.  They laugh, it's all fun. And I then begin the ceremony.  The bride gets really nervous.  Tears start threatening to fall.  I hand her a tissue.  He held her and and they couldn't let go.  After the ceremony she is no calmer.  They have been together for years.  But they realize, this is a life changing event.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Soft voice, my voice

When I arrived at school Tuesday, Ms H had almost lost her voice.  She was speaking very softly and not speaking unless necessary.  I remember trying to teach without much of a voice, it is really hard.  Teachers are constantly talking.

She would whisper directions, information, correct a child , and if things needed to be repeated, I tried to help her.  By the time I left at noon, even the whisper was gone.

We began the workshop groups.  I was working with the children who were doing a worksheet on contractions.  It showed a wreath of holly leaves and berries.  There was a leaf with a word, a berry that was blank, and another leaf with not.  This continued to complete the wreath.

A leaf would have a word such as will, a blank berry, a leaf with not on it.  They had to find a berry with the contraction, in this case won’t, cut it out and glue in the blank spot.  Sounds easy, maybe for some.  Others cut out all the berries at once, then the berries fell in the floor.  They just glued any word, because they wanted to finish and do the art project.  I spent time pulling glued down berries and helping them find the correct words that went between. 

To the art project:  the school secretary asked them to help decorate the office.  The children were to make snowflakes and snowpersons.  (too politically correct for old fashioned me.) 

To make the snowflakes they put a bucket on a piece of paper and traced around it.  The bucket hit the floor several times.  Next they cut out the circles.  The circle was then folded in half, then folded twice more into a cone.  They could begin to cut.  Some just slashed the folds, which didn’t change the look of the circles.  I kept showing them to make cuts that left holes.  Part of them got it, others didn’t. 

We have snowflakes and they are worthy of being in the office.  It isn't the look, it is that children made them.

I worked again with the two boys on their handwriting.  They wrote in their phonics’ workbooks.  I must have erased letters 50 times.  They do not hold pencils correctly.  I kept telling them, keep your fingers on the paint, not on the bare wood, don’t hold it so tightly. 

The biggest problem with their writing is they do not begin letters at the top line, they don’t take letters to the bottom line.  The letters float and aren’t uniform in size.  They finished the two pages finally and I could see a huge improvement. 

I made sure they knew they had done better. We turned back to Monday’s work and compared it to Tuesday’s.  They were really excited to see how better their writing is becoming.  Now if they will remember what we did when they work on their own.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Bourbon Balls are a Southern taste treat.  Chocolate and Bourbon, what’s not to love. In Kentucky you always serve them during Kentucky Derby parties and during the Christmas holidays.  The Bourbon is not cooked out, so you have to warn children and alcoholics these are not for just anyone.

My mother in law made wonderful Bourbon Balls and shared the recipe with my husband, Marty.  He makes them every year.  But last year he was challenged as the maker of the best Bourbon Balls. 
My nephew, Tres, and his wife, Casey, have a different recipe, that is mighty tasty.  Last Christmas Eve we had a taste test.  Marty lost.  But we knew the contest was rigged.  The judges were Tres’ parents.  How fair is that?

This year we will have another taste test.  Tres’ mother mailed all of us chocolate to make Bourbon Balls.  She said for another contest.  I said for her to have a large supply of Bourbon Balls for the holidays.

I am going to share the recipe from the Appel side of the family.  The Tripletts have not shared their secret recipe.


1 ½ pounds pecans
8 oz of Maker’s Mark Bourbon
2 oz water
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
3 pounds semisweet chocolate
3 oz paraffin

Break and combine pecans with bourbon, cover and set aside for 4 hours or more. Sift confectioners’ sugar and add pecans, adding sugar gradually to a working consistency until a small ball can be made ½ to ¾ inch in diameter. Water is to be used only to bring mixture to desired consistency. Add water only to prevent ball from falling apart. Mixture should be semi-dry. Prepare balls and place on a waxed papered cookie sheet. Place in freezer to cool. (Approx. 2 hours)

Melt chocolate and paraffin and mix well. Chocolate should not be too hot, just warm enough to work up. The warmer the mix, the thinner coating the bourbon balls will have.

Remove formed balls from the freezer when ready to coat with chocolate. With fingers dip each ball to cover half of ball and return to cookie sheet. After this step return to refrigerator to harden chocolate. (Approx. 1 hour)

To coat top half of ball when ready insert toothpick in the bottom that has already been coated and dip top in chocolate. Remove toothpick and return ball to cookie sheet. Refrigerate again to harden chocolate.

Store bourbon balls in refrigerator.

Notes: This recipe is at least 70 years old. It was Marty’s mother’s recipe. She loved to make chocolate candies. Fingers were used for a lot of mixing, holding, stirring. Today there are fine chocolate tools to dip with, and electric pots to melt the chocolate. Paraffin is needed no matter how good your chocolate.

The recipe tells you to break pecans and then soak in Bourbon.  We fill the container half way up with pecans and them cover them with Bourbon.  Use good Bourbon, if you won’t drink it don’t cook with it.  We were out of Maker’s Mark and used Woodford Reserve, a mighty fine Bourbon.

The pecans have been soaking for 48 hours.  You can see the line of the Bourbon.  About half has soaked in.  I stir the pecans regularly to make sure they all are full of the Bourbon.  We will make the filling and dip them this weekend.  I know the recipe says soak 4 hours.  We like to really let the Bourbon soak in.  That is why small children should not eat these candies.

When we finish them, I will post some more pictures.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Many weddings, many things to remember

This week there were lots of weddings.  There were weird, funny, interesting things that happened.  Some were fun, and some ticked me off.

Monday when I arrived I checked for licenses waiting for a commissioner.  As I picked it up I was handed another license.  I checked the first one and the witnesses had already signed, and then I saw some one had signed as the wedding officiator.  I then realized the license had been put on the shelf and not in the inbox for D.

My first wedding was a couple with a toddler in the bride’s arm.  This child had the most incredible eyes (the clerks commented on his eyes also).They were a piercing grey while green at the same time.  Before I began the ceremony I asked if they were ready.  The little boy answered, “yes”.  We began with a laugh.

Then I had a Korean couple.  As I am talking I realize he isn’t saying anything, she is doing all the talking.  He spoke no English.  The clerk should have figured that out.  I took them downstairs and they refunded the couple the money for the ceremony.  They reprinted the license and told them how to find a translator or someone who could marry them with the bride translating.  We are not allowed to do that.

Two more weddings and this time the bride speaks no English.  We do have a Cantonese translator who can do the wedding ceremony.  Again, clerks please figure out if they both speak English.  The couples get really upset when I have to bring them back downstairs and find a translator.

Wedding of the week, the groom is from Trinidad, she is from Ethiopia.  They have one guest and the three of them are chatting in English, perfect English.  I start asking questions and the bride keeps turning to the groom and asking what I said.  I don’t understand, I know she speaks perfect English.

I ask what is wrong.  She says I am speaking too fast.  Me, too fast????  I am laughed at for being Southern.  Southerners  talk slowly.  Very slowly.  I have been told to hurry up and spit it out.  The groom (and he has that lovely Trinidad accent) said she has trouble with accents.  When they went to Trinidad she couldn’t understand anyone.  So I did the ceremony slowly, really really slowly.

I love days that are busy with weddings.  December is as busy as June for weddings.  I enjoy doing the weddings and meeting the couples.  The couples are interesting, irritating, fun.  Volunteering is a great way to spend your days.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

X marks the spot

 Clerk R put the license on my desk and said, “The couple is interesting.”  I asked just what she meant.  They were acting all lovey dovey, but aren’t.  Also they were dropping the immigration word a lot.  The bride was 26 years older than the groom.  Now I don’t worry about age differences but usually it is a warning sign.

The couple was from Afghanistan, as was the witness, the bride’s aunt.  The couple were friendly but didn’t seem “in love”.  No rules you have to love each other to marry.  I did the ceremony.  I signed the license and the souvenir certificate.  I called the witness up and she said by rote, “I don’t speak English”.  I said, “That’s OK.”  I show her where to sign on the souvenir certificate.  She has trouble holding the pen and then marks an X. 

Holy s#*t! She can’t read or write.  This is a woman of least 70 who grew up in a village somewhere in Afghanistan.  To make an X is legal.  But you have to have a witness and sometimes notarize the mark.  I don’t know what to do.  I tell them it is legal to use an X but we aren’t signing the legal license until I know exactly what we need to do.

Clerk D to the rescue.  She thinks she knows what to do, but is going to check with her supervisor B.  B tells her to witness the X and then to type the woman’s name and put in witnessed by D.  Also we had to see a picture ID.  The Aunt makes her X on the license and D does all of the above. 

The whole time the couple is asking us questions about whether Immigration will accept this.  We tell them this is the legal way to sign an X.  So they should be fine.  They ask other questions and we give them our stock answer,  You need to talk to an Immigration lawyer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If there is school, there must be a test

Today I was a little late getting to school.  Traffic was awful.  So I missed what the directions were for the workshop groups.  Luckily I work with first graders and I could figure out what they were doing.

We had groups writing a story about the picture of them in their Halloween costume.  Another group was sorting words by beginning sounds, another one was doing a math paper.  The last group was writing words from the Dolch list and then writing sentences. 

When the groups finished, Ms. H  gave an evil grin.  She asked one of the mother volunteers to put up the testing screening boards and for me to put a test on each desk.

The children were going to do a state mandatory math test.  The nightmare began.  The children do not listen to directions.  They look over the boards to check their neighbour's work.  They drop pencils.  They are on the wrong page.  They try to work ahead of the directions.  This is normal for little ones.  First graders take a lot of hand holding.

Ready for the children to begin the test.
This is Ms. H’s copy of the math test.
The last page of the test. 

Later I read them a story.  The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett is wonderfully illustrated.  There are so many things on the page to look at.  The children love books by Brett.

It was a busy hard working day.  We all felt we accomplished a lot.  The children were tired and so were the adults. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Future wedding, a phone call, and weddings

I don’t just do marriage ceremonies.  Sometimes I become the bridal consultant.

Monday after I finished a wedding, I saw a couple go into the wedding room.  I asked if I could help them.  They told me they were planning a wedding for next week and just checking out the room.  It was the groom and his mother.  The bride couldn't take off work to do the research.  Mom was taking copious notes for the bride.  She made notes on how many the room would hold, the type of ceremonies we offer, the best time of day to come, parking, style of dress.

We talked and I hope I gave them all the info they needed.  The plan is for them to marry on this Wednesday afternoon.  So I should get to do the ceremony this week.

I picked up a wedding party.  There was a large group and they were having a great time.  The bride and groom had a little girl dressed in a black dress with sparkles across the front yoke.  They also had a baby around 6 months old dressed in a tux.  How cute is that, a baby in a tux?  The groom was high fiving  everyone.  In the elevator I said something and he yelled HIGH FIVE!  So for the first time in my life, I high fived.  As they said their vows, they high fived.  After I pronounced them married everyone high fived them.

It seemed strange to me but it seemed to be the couple’s thing.

The groom wore a black suit and a red rose boutonniere. The bride looked like a schoolgirl.  She wore black leggings with matching shorts.  She had on a red plaid ruffled top that came down on her hips with a red sweater.  The sweater had a bow on the back at the waist that was red plaid. She carried a red roses bouquet and wore a red rose corsage.  She looked darling.  A very young look and yet at the same time very fashion forward.

Last Sunday a phone call was left on the marriage desk’s voice mail.  A woman said, “ I have a question.  This guy and I came in and bought a license . . . “  (  D and I loved it  this guy.  Not boy friend, not fiancé. Just this guy) She rambled on and asked to be called back.  D called her back Monday.  The woman said the license is for 90 days and about to expire, is she married?  What should she do?  D asked if she had had a ceremony.  She said no, they broke up.  D told her she isn’t married,  to do nothing, just let the license expire.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Weddings

Earlier this week I posted about some weddings.  Monday was a fairly busy day.  I did seven ceremonies.  Wednesday I did nine weddings.  I am going to give you some of the highlights of the week.

One couple was so sweet, they just oozed love.  I started asking what they wanted in the ceremony.  They told me they just wanted to say I do.  I could do all the rest.

We had the dreaded thin white dress problem.  The bride wore a Grecian style knee length dress.  She had on gorgeous jeweled sandals, had to be four inch heels.  And she had on underpants that had a blue Grecian Key design.  Really didn't need to see that.

One bride surprised me.  She was Indian and stunning.  Her look and carriage screamed sophistication. She was wearing an elegant black coat.  The coat was open and I could see her dress.  It was a sheath of black lace over a nude lining.  Beautiful.  She took the coat off.  The dress was one armed and the bare arm had a full sleeve tattoo.   Wasn't expecting that.

A couple in their forties were very emotional.  His two daughters were the witnesses.  The bride was crying before we got to the wedding room.  During the vows she started giggling. Then she moved on to full blown laughter.  By then we all were laughing.  After the ceremony she was back to crying.  She said they had talked at home on how she would react emotionally.  And she cried and laughed just like she said she would.   They were really a nice couple.  Very appreciative of me and of the staff.  As they left they thanked us again for "joining them together as a family."

The weddings were dress up affairs and jeans.  We had large groups and a couple who had to find a witness in the lobby.  Lots of love at each wedding.  But one wedding really stood out.

The couple was around twenty.  His mother was the witness.  I started asking my questions and the bride said, " I just want him to be my husband.  What ever you want to do is fine."  I was getting such good vibes off the two of them, I picked out the fluffiest sweetest ceremony I have.  Mama was snapping away taking pictures.  I began.  This couple just looked at each other and held hands.  It is hard to describe how tender the looks between them were.  I had goose bumps from the feel of love in the room.  I also had tears in my eyes.  This was how love should be.  After the ceremony I hugged them and told them how they had touched me. 

After doing thousands of weddings over 6 years, this reminded me why I volunteer at the Marriage Factory.  It is all about the love.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Last night I made a great pumpkin pie.  Marty and I both worked on a cranberry salad that my family has been making since the 1920's. Marty roasted the giblets to be ready to go into the gravy. Marty got up at 6:00 this morning and put the turkey out to come up to room temperature. Back to bed.  At 7:00 he got back up to  preheat the oven. Then back to bed. I got up at 7:00 and got dressed.  At 8:00 Marty put the turkey in the oven.  Todays' good smells began.

I made the dressing, hard and soft.  I made corn pudding and the mashed potatoes and plated the country ham.  I also boiled eggs for the giblet gravy.  Later I plated the salad. Marty made the rolls and the gravy. The house smells like heaven.

Our friends, Nancy and Lew, arrived with their appetizer, a deconstructed Cesar salad on endive, and a bottle of J sparkling wine.  She also cooked peas and pearl onions, an apple crisp for dessert and brought two other wines.  We contributed a Proseco wine.  Lots of good eats.

This is my pumpkin pie.  I don't really like pumpkin pie, but this was really good.  You couldn't taste the pumpkin.
Putting the oranges and the cranberries through the meat grinder for the cranberry salad.  There also are pecans in this, all held together by lemon jello.

This is the oranges and cranberries after going through the meat grinder.  Pecans and sugar under this.  I love, love this salad.  My son and his wife don't like it.  We have friends who don't like it.  We tell them that's OK we love it, serve it, and tell them it does not hurt our feeling if they don't eat it.
Top shelf of the fridge has boiled eggs, hard dressing, soft dressing.  Next shelf down giblets, neck meat, turkey broth and cranberry salad that you can barely see.  It is the white peeping out in the middle. Third shelf down large measuring cup and beaters chilling for the heavy cream to be whipped.  Corning ware holds the corn pudding.  On the left side second shelf, turkey broth.  Crisper drawer on right holds butter lettuce for salad.  Meat drawer on the bottom right holds the country ham.
The table is set.  All ready for the food to fill the bowls and platters.  Glasses are ready for wine.
This is the perfect bird.  It is golden brown, tender, ready to be carved.  Marty does good work.
The food is filling up the dishes.  Almost ready to sit down.  Let the feast begin.

Pumpkin pie and apple crisp for dessert.  Really, really, really good.  We all but licked the plate clean.  We had a lovely Rose ( can't put the accent on the e) with dessert.
Clean up time.  Silver cooling after drying, then it can be put in its silver chest.  The glasses in the back were Marty's Mother. They are very thin and fragile.  There is a matching pitcher.  I do not use them very often.  I am so afraid they will break.  I love them.  And when I use them I think of Marty's wonderful Mother.  She was the best mother in law ever!

After the meal is over you have a turkey carcass to do something with.  Marty makes turkey stock by slowly simmering the carcass with vegetables and seasonings,.  This will be used for soup, curry, many different dishes.

We had a great Thanksgiving.  I hope your Thanksgiving was great. Happy Holidays!