Friday, January 28, 2011

Life is a Bitch

Our son Erik is a very good geologist.  I know this because at a dinner party the owner of the company he worked for told me.  Yet yesterday they laid him off.  Yes, the very good geologist, and several other people have been laid off.  The company lost a major contract, thus no need for the very good geologist.

Erik is taking it much better than Mom is.  I hurt for him, I worry about him and Jennifer. Erik is very confident of his skills, of his work experience, of his superb education.  He says he has great contacts and he will be in a new position soon.  Pray that he is right.

Anyone out there need a very good geologist?  Contact me and I will connect you with Erik. Or on the side of my blog is his blog, Elemental Home.  Click on that and comment on his blog to connect with him.  Spread the word, a very good geologist is available.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesdays at school I love children, at Monday weddings, not so much

Monday when I arrived at the County Building, it was packed.  Packed mainly with screaming children; children running through both lobbies with no adults near them. Children I wanted to just smack up the side of the head. 

It was a fairly busy afternoon.  I did 6 wedding ceremonies and there were 2 Spanish ones.  Some of the weddings stand out for one main reason: children that have never heard the word NO. What is so hard about telling a two year old no, stop that, knock it off?  But I digress.

I had a gorgeous Hispanic couple.  She was stunning, he was movie star handsome.  She wore a white cocktail dress with an orange shawl, it worked.  He was in a black slacks and a mint green shirt.  Lots of family and their toddler son. The Child From Hell!!!!! Turns out he was one running and screaming through the lobbies.  He started screaming as we got on the elevator, and continued, not a tear in his eyes.  He wanted to take the pictures of the wedding.  That right, take the pictures with the only decent camera in the room.  He screamed and screamed until I thought my ears would bleed.  The bride and groom just ignored him until finally they gave in and took the camera from the adult and gave it to the child. When they tried to take it away in order to take pictures later, he started up again.  He won.  They probably have crappy pictures and they deserve them.  He continued to scream about something else as the paper work was done and until they left the building.

Next couple, a clone of the child above.  Screaming and screaming, and screaming.  No reason to scream, no adult saying no, adults giving in to the child.  Two children who should be on the poster for Birth Control.

I had some weddings with no children which were nice and quiet, and dignified.  And then the last wedding, they had two little girls.  Oh no, please don't be screamers.  And they weren't. This was a fun wedding and a well dressed group too.  The bride had on  gray slacks and a lavender blouse with deep shades of lavender jewelry.  The groom had on  grey slacks and shirt with a lavender tie.  But the little girls, oh they were just darling.  The toddler had on a pinkish burgundy organza dress.  She had a pink flower in her hair and silver Mary Janes on her feet.  The older sister (maybe 4 years old) had on a burgundy organza dress with a headband and flower to match.  On her feet silver little girl heels.   A very stylish family.  I told them they won the well behaved children award.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wedding, and stuff

Monday was a legal holiday, Martin Luther King Day, so the county building was closed.  That is how I got to go to the Fancy Food show with no guilt.  Anyway, Wednesday I went in ready to do lots marriage of ceremonies .  Almost as soon as I sat down they brought me a license.

It was for a very nice couple originally from India.  Their mothers were their witnesses.  And that is as exciting as my day was.  Not another couple came in.  I don't think we even sold a license after that.  I read, I talked to clerks on break.  I checked my email and facebook. I took a walk.  It was a long slow afternoon.

Thursday a friend and I went to lunch.  We both had things going on in our lives that have ticked us off and we needed some girl time to vent. I cheered her up so much that she let out a shriek that turned heads in the restaurant.  She got even, she told me something so funny I nearly spit tea everywhere. Thank goodness for cloth napkins. A successful cheer up session.

Update on the mess with Social Security:  last week after I talked to the Assistant District Manager they agreed to cut us an emergency check.  (Remember they sent our checks for December to a closed bank account.)  The emergency checks were only a percentage of the whole amount.  The rest would be deposited in our bank account in 5 business days.  Right.  Yesterday Marty received the rest of his money in the mail.  Not a deposit, a check.  My check, nothing.  Not in the mail, not in the bank. Guess who gets to start fighting with the idiots at Social Security again.  On a Monday.  That seems appropriate.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fancy Food Show Day 2

We were back Monday morning for another day of the Food Show.  This time we checked out the South Hall.  We ate some really good food, some bad, and saw some TV stars.  Our feet really did not want to have shoes on them today.  The feet kept saying yesterday nearly ruined them.  But we pushed on shoes, caught the train, and began a new day at the Fancy Food Show.

Today was the day of Food Network stars.  Yesterday we were at Guy Fieri's booth.  He wasn't there. You would think someone bringing out a new product line would be working his booth.  Today we saw the Barefoot Contessa and Duff of Ace of Cakes.  Both were great working the crowd.  Duff really takes good care of his fans.

 The Barefoot Contessa on the right.  She was taking pictures with fans.  We didn't get in line for that.
 This is the chef for a new line of Filipino food.  This was the best food we tasted all day.
 The chicken and the veggies are all part of the dish that is sold in the frozen food section.
 The product just was introduced yesterday.  It should be in the frozen food section of Whole Foods.   It was really yummy.
 This is the booth where we had lunch, Stubb's.  They bring in a Bar B Que trailer.  They cook brisket, sausage, and ribs.  All of this is to showcase their sauces, which are fabulous. 
 They are not stingy with the meat.  They provided luncheon size plates and let you help yourself to the meat and sauce.  This was mighty fine eating.
 The star of the show, Duff of Ace of Cakes.  His staff was decorating a cake that was a seal balancing cakes with scenes of the city.
 Duff is the scruffy guy in the middle.
 Here Duff is talking to staff about the cakes.
 More consulting on the San Francisco cakes.
 Marty getting Duff's autograph.  We honestly didn't care about the autograph or picture.  But we had been to the booth twice and figured we were there, why not a picture.
 Please notice I got Marty and Duff, Duff on TV, and Duff's logo.  Am I good or not????
To recover from hours of hard work of eating and sampling the great foods of the world, we stopped at a bar on the way to BART.  Marty is ordering Bloody Marys, which make the feet stop hurting.

Today was another fun day of food, martinis, wine.  We enjoyed talking to the vendors.  One booth was mushrooms and truffles from Washington state.  They let us hold a black and a white truffle. The aroma was so wonderful.  People may think only Europe grows truffles, wrong.  Washington state produces wonderful truffles, and for a fraction of cost of the European truffles.

The recurring food today was popcorn. Every way you can think of it:  buttered, cheese, chocolate, caramel, salt, vinegar, and truffles.  The best, of course was the truffles.  Oh my word, how wonderful that was. The Food Show is so much fun, so tiring, so wonderful.  A great 3 days, and tomorrow we probably will go back.

Fancy Food Show Part 1

Today Marty and I went to the Fancy Food Show.  This is an incredible display of food from all around the world.  There were at least 1500 vendors from 50 countries and 17000 attendees.  Wonderful foods to taste, look at, some not so wonderful, some to laugh at, some to spit out.

 We arrive at the show.  No idea who these people are, it is all about the sign.
Each booth is different, some are really elaborate as above, some just a table with samples.  There are wonderful cheeses, hams, sausages, truffles, pastas, chocolates, pates, pickles, and any other kind of food product you can think of.
 Ready to enter the rest of the world.  There were great hams, cheese, olives oils, olives, tomatoes, wines, beers.  Interestingly, whenever Marty and I approached a wine booth we became invisible.  We have noticed this for years.  Really strange.
 Then on to Italy.  Again great cheese, wine, olive, olive oils, tomatoes.
 You will never guess what this copy of the Mono Lisa is made of.  Give up, Jelly Bellys. 
 Click on this to see the info on making the "paintings". 
 Starry Night out of Jelly Bellys.
Marty and I took 16 pictures of this machine and never got the picture we wanted.  Rice dough went into the the machine, it was cooked like a waffle, and then it was kicked out.  I mean really kicked out it would fly across the bin, hit the glass and drop in.  Seriously fun to watch, impossible to to catch on camera.

We spent 5 hours at the show in the South Hall. Our feet gave out and we went home.  Tomorrow the North Hall and and another 5 hours of sampling foods.  If our feet hold out, Tuesday we will finish the tour of food.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monday Weddings, TUESDAY WEDDINGS, Wednesday weddings

I worked at the Marriage Factory three days this week. Monday and Wednesday are my regular days.  But Tuesday was a special, once in a lifetime day:  1-11-11.  All total this week, working three afternoons, I did 17 weddings.  Eleven of them were from 1:00 to 4:20 on Tuesday.  I thought 11 on 1-11-11 was a nice number.

Monday was all about the brides.  The first wedding the couple were in their late 40's.  The bride was interesting.  She had on a leopard print top that almost made it to her waist, jeans that were skin tight, and high heeled boots.  There is no nice way to say this, she was a tiny taut woman with humongous boobs.  She almost made Dolly Parton look flat chested.  And guess what, she looked great.

One bride wore a long white Grecian style dress with a sheer stole.  They were so excited and happy.  After the ring ceremony they kissed, and then realized the ceremony wasn't over yet.  I thought that was sweet.  If you can't kiss in the middle of your wedding, when can you?

Tuesday there were some very pretty outfits, and some awful ones.  But first a couple of weddings with problems.  The first one I was the problem.  My 8 hour anti cough pill wasn't working and I had an awful coughing attack in the middle of the ceremony.  I could hardly talk.  I felt so bad doing that to the couple.  But there was nothing I could do.

Another problem wedding was all about communication. Did the bride speak English?  The groom and the witness kept talking for her, she would mutter something and look to them for help. I was not comfortable with the groom to begin with.  He was nearly 30 years older than she was.  I started the wedding and the bride is vacant looking.  I didn't think she understood what is going on.  I went to her first for the Do you take . . . question.  Nothing.  Then the witness and the groom said, "Say yes."  I stopped the wedding right there.  I explained I can not legally let someone marry who does not know what is going on.  The groom and the witness started talking fast and furious: She is just nervous, she understands most English, she can . . .

I told them to stop talking and just hush.  They were stunned.  I told them they are doing all the talking.  I had to be sure the bride knew why she was there. A little anger from the two of them.  I explained women are brought over from other countries and don't know they are being married.  We have to protect them the best we can.  They calmed down and I took the bride into the Marriage Desk office.  We both questioned the bride and finally decided she did understand enough English for me to do the ceremony.  Why the bride didn't answer my questions, why she constantly looked to the other two for answers, I don't know.

Now to some clothes.  There were some pretty white silk suits.  There were some pretty dresses.  One lovely dress stood out, as did the groom's suit.  This was such a good looking couple.  He was close to 7 feet tall, and yes he had played basketball for the military and played semipro ball.  His suit was gray with a lighter gray wide stitched thread edging the coat.  And his bride.  Oh what a gorgeous young woman.  Long white dress with a beaded empire waistline.  She carried red roses.   They read their own vows that were so tender and so funny.  She said, "I know we agreed to have 3 children, but I think I'll give you a basketball team."

And the worst outfit of the week, drum roll please, the black suit with a mini skirt.  The bride wore a white coat that covered her suit.  All I could look at were her shoes.  Sandals, 5 inch heels with "rhinestones" on the straps.  And the straps continued up her legs  in circles separated by two to three inches of more "rhinestones".  This was almost blinding.  Then she took her coat off.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing.  Black suit, the lapels were covered in square "rhinestones",the edges were covered in "rhinestones", she wore a "rhinestone" dog collar, and then the mini skirt.  The skirt was 4 tiers and the tiers were covered in ostrich feathers.  She just looked tacky.  But looks are not everything.  The groom's fourth grade daughter was the witness.  The bride was so sweet to her, complimentary of the pictures the girl took.  Outfits do not a mother make.

Wednesday.  I know you all are getting tired of this.  Just one short story.  The wedding had lots of guests.  Everyone was dressed to the teeth.  They were fun, the couple was sweet, and we had a good time.  As they were getting on the elevator to leave I heard them talking.  All were surprised what a nice room we had, they were surprised that the ceremony was not just a quick legal thing.  They loved the beauty of the words in the ceremony.  And as the doors were closing on them I heard a woman say, "This was way nicer than I thought it would be.  It was much better than when Tom and Susan got married in Vegas."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm Baaaack

I have declared myself well.  I don't cough all day, just a few times, and the head cold is nearly gone.  So Monday afternoon I was at the marriage factory, and Tuesday afternoon.  Tuesday morning I worked at school with the first graders.  Today, back to the marriage factory.  The weddings will take a lot of time and space to tell about.  So I will try to post about them tomorrow.  Now to school . . .

Yesterday I opened the door to the classroom and it was dark.  I first thought they were on a field trip and forgot to tell me.  Then I saw them all on the floor in front of a screen.  A representative from The Museum of Craft and Folk Art was doing a slide show on quilts.  I know, who knew there were still slide projectors around.  It was an interesting presentation on quilts in African American  history. Then they children did an art project creating a "quilt square" from paper and cardboard.  The rep then taped the squares together to make a "quilt" they could hang in the room.  Pretty cool.

While this was going on I worked on making packets of the children's work, separating packets of math worksheets, and putting together other packets to go home.  After recess we were back on schedule and I worked one on one with several students on reading. They worked on a word list and short vowel sounds in the short book they read. Then we worked on the Dolch List sight words, and finished with word families flash cards. The cards on front had an ending such as ut and the word but.  Then they turned the card over and there were four word they had to read: rut, cut, hut, strut.  Notice strut, a three letter blend.  Very difficult.  Most of the children got it with no problem. Interestingly, none of the children I worked with knew what strut means.  No, I did not get up and show them.

It was great to be back with the children. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011


The nasty respiratory stuff that Marty and I have still hangs on.  He is too manly man to lie down and rest.  So off to work he went all week.  I made the bed most days so I couldn't get back into it.  But I did "rest" a lot in the recliner.  I am doing some of the domestic requirements for continued civilized living: clean sheets and towels, doing the laundry, ironing (I thought about putting Vicks in the steam iron), some cooking.  No cleaning of course, I am much too sick for that.  I have been fighting this for 12 days, and have yet to be up a full day.

We have had the TV repaired.  It was less than we thought, still expensive.  But if we had to replace the TV it would have cost $$$$.  It was the lamp that went, they are good for 2-3 years.  Ours lasted about 5. So in one way we have been lucky.  As the repairman was leaving he told me the color wheel will go next.  Thanks Mr. Repairman.

Our Kitchen Aid stand mixer will also be repaired.  Again outrageous cost.  But to replace it would be almost three times as much.  We use it for so many things, not just to mix with.  The most use is grinding things up. When we find chuck roast on sale it becomes ground meat.  Much less fat and we know it is safer than store bought ground beef.

The Social Security checks should be deposited on Monday.  Keep your fingers crossed.

I hope to be well enough to do weddings this week and to help with the first graders. The weddings could be busy Tuesday. That is not my day but I plan to go in.  It is 1.11.11, this could be huge.  People love to marry on days with rare number combinations.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Another turkey recipe to test

Last Sunday Marty tested another recipe for Cook's Illustrated.  I took one picture and needed to "rest" in the recliner.  As noted in a previous blog, I have been sick.  I rested for 2 to 3 hours, decided I might live, and got up.  Marty had taken lots of pictures while he cooked and I slept. 

The point of this recipe was to make a killer broth for gravy.  The way the turkey was cooked kept it from browning as the traditional way of cooking turkey.  Cook's Illustrated wanted a moist turkey, white and dark meat, that would cook quickly and easily.  So no golden brown like magazine cover turkeys.

Below are the pictures with short notes.  Marty did a good job of cooking and taking pictures.

 Marty is making the brine for the turkey.  He cut the turkey into parts, put in the container, and brined it for several hours. That's when I left to rest.
 This is the goodness the turkey sat on as it cooked:  porcini mushrooms, onions, carrots, garlic, thyme, parsley, celery, butter, bay leaves,
 All ready for the turkey parts to be placed on it.
 Ready to go into a very hot oven for 20 minutes. Then it will be covered and cooked in a slower oven.
 Wine and broth added to the pan and then the turkey cooked another couple of hours.
 The breast and leg have been sliced and the giblet gravy made.
 Lovely rich rich gravy. Really yummy.
The turkey was very moist and really good.  We have lots left over for sandwiches.  Marty vacuumed sealed some and froze it for later.  And we have some in the frig that we are eating on this week.

Marty said the hardest part of this recipe was finding fresh turkey after Christmas.  He went to 4 groceries before he found a turkey.  And then he struck gold.  The turkey was close to $22.00.  But it was half off.  Then because of a program we use on the Internet with Safeway, we had a special coupon that just showed up when he swiped our Safeway Card.  Grand total for the turkey, $5.00.  If we only had had room in the freezer, Marty would have bought a couple more turkeys.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why do they call it going Postal? It should be going all Social Security.

Back story:  We changed banks in early November.  We notified agencies that send us money, and agencies that we have automatic withdrawals.  Yet Social Security (SS) can't get it right.  Our November checks went to the old bank.  Marty went back to the SS office redid the paper work and the checks were sent to the correct bank a few days later.  December's checks didn't show up.  Marty went back down to SS last Thursday.  They had again sent the checks to the old bank and the checks had been returned.  (that last sentence is important, remember it) They said don't worry we will cut you emergency checks.  Oops the woman with power to do that has left for the day.  Come back on Monday. The checks are now 13 days late.

Today is Monday.  I drug myself out of my sick bed.  (I have a really bad cold and a serious cough.  So serious I cough until I throw up.  I have 8 hour pills that work for about 4 hours.  I have not been out of the house for a week.)  SS told Marty to bring his wife so she could get her emergency check.  The wife is there and checks in.  The clerk listens to the story, last week no one had put anything in the computer.  She is typing away. Well, she says this is irregular, but go sit down and we will cut your check.  Finally another clerk calls us and we have to tell the story again.  She is typing away.  She can't cut a check, no one can cut a check.  They don't do that. WTH?????  She tells us to sit down someone else will help us. 

Third clerk calls us up.  "What is the problem?" What the hell are they typing into the computer while we sit there?  Are they played Jewel Quest?  We tell the story again.  They have no record of the check being returned, so they can not give us an emergency check.  Marty told him he had seen the paper showing the checks were returned.  No, no such item.  So sorry and other BS.  In three to five business days the checks will be deposited in your account. Good bye.

I suggested they do a little training and get their stories the same.  Some would give us checks, some say it is against regulations. I have the last clerk's name and phone extension.  At least when they screw it up again we have someone to start with.