Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monday and Wednesday Weddings

The total of weddings for the two days was a big whopping three.  Well, three couples wanted to marry, two got married.  One became my "why do I always get the crazies and the problems" couple.

Two couples were young, sweet, and in love.  Nothing outstanding to write about.  Just people that came to get married and left happy.

Couple three was from Morocco.  He was in a good looking suit.  She had on a tight slinky goldish mini dress with strappy gold heels.  She was carrying a huge bouquet of flowers.  The flowers looked more like a beauty queen than a bride.  I was not sure how to the pronounce their names.  I asked their names and the bride did the talking.  Great blank stare from the groom.  I asked him if I was saying his name correctly, nobody home.  She answered.  Do you see where this is going.  He does not speak English.

I told the bride and the witness (who it seems they brought to translate) to not talk for the groom and NO body language allowed.  I asked the groom a detailed question, no answer.  He looked to the women for help.  I told them I can not legally marry someone who can't understand me and I can't use their translator.  We will refund their money for the ceremony.  She wanted to know if we had a translator who spoke Arabic or French.  I checked, no.  They will need to find a minister, priest, shaman, judge, someone outside our building.  They might accept the translator.  She says she is a "divorced woman and can not marry in a religious ceremony".

The bride begins yelling that we are discriminating against them because they are Arabic.  If we translate Chinese or Spanish we have to translate for them. Everyone should be able to get married. I told her yes, but they have to be able understand me and I have to understand them.  She can get married, just not at the County Building.

She is still yelling, the boss of Vitals, M comes over to try to calm things down.  M sees I am handling it OK and goes back to the desk.  Then the woman who can only be married in a civil ceremony says,"This is just for immigration.  We are going to do a religious ceremony with our families later."  Did you hear what you said lady?  You talked out of the other side of your mouth.

The bride is still upset and yelling.  They have to get married today for immigration. That brings up lots of issues to me.  Such as, they knew when his visa ran out, why wait until the day before to marry.

While the bride is yelling the translator is on the phone tracking down someone to marry the couple.  I got the bride calmed down, the groom just sits there.  He has a limited idea of what is going on.  I walk them back to the clerk, N.  N reprints the license, credits their credit card, gives them instructions for whomever marries them, and sends them out the door.

I think they finally understood why we couldn't do the ceremony.  I can understand why they were upset.  But do not yell at me like a banshee and tell me I am discriminating against you.  I can only follow the rules for a legal civil marriage performed in a government building.

Edit to This and That

On March 23, 2011 I posted a blog about school.  I made an error and I have corrected it. 

I put the children could use the number tiles twice.  I meant to put once.

No matter how many times you read something, you don't always catch the mistakes.

Monday, March 28, 2011


OK, we were not going to watch Dancing With The Stars (DWTS).  We had no idea who most of the "stars" were.  Then our DVR recorded it from last year's season pass.  So we watched it.  And of course we are hooked. 

One problem, there are very few real stars.  Who are these people?  Kirstie Alley, Sugar Ray Leonard we know.  But DWTS seems to not worry about who is really a star.  They have a DJ, a wrestler, some Disney actress, and other minor celebrities.  Maybe younger people know who they are. 

Marty and I love to watch people dance. Therefore we will be watching this show that is our guilty pleasure. Some of these people are trainable.  Some are just sad.  They clunk around worse than I would.  Interestingly, one of the better one is the wrestler.  He is impressive.

Now I need to learn names so I can tell you who we are rooting for. 

Friday, March 25, 2011


It has been raining forever.  It started early this rainy season, way back in October.  We were told that the computers said it would be a dry season.  We might have to conserve water.  WELL,  that was wrong.  Oakland is at something like 136% of average rainfall total. 

Yesterday was hell. It was scary how hard and fast the rain came down. The wind was powerful.  One weather man this morning said, "I have been in this business a long time, and yesterday was pretty impressive. Yesterday was as bad as it can get in the Bay Area."   

I took some pictures yesterday during one of the ''cloudbursts".  I didn't get the hail, or the trees bending to the ground.  I was fascinated by the amount of water running through our property.

 Here I am looking at the sheet of water coming over the top of the gutter.  Then at the end of the brick step is white water from the downspout. 
 Here it shows the force of the water coming out of the downspout.  Again, white water in my courtyard.
 The rain is letting up a little bit here, but still white water pouring out.
 This is not a great shot, I took it through the window.  I wasn't about to go out in that downpour.  This looks like a waterfall.  No, it is the steps down to the lower yard.
 This is where all the water is going.  It came off the roof and down the driveway, down the back steps and hits that brick wall.  It then pours around the end and drops about 6 inches into our little vegetable garden area.  Then the water goes through the deer fence into our down hill neighbor's yard.
 I wish I had video to show the water pouring over the edge here.  It was something to see.
 Check out the stepping stones.  They are totally covered.

And it rained all night and more rain is expected through the next couple of days.  Oh, did I tell you the water is coming through the wall in our lower level?

Where is the sun?  Please bring back the sun!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This and That

There will be no wedding posts this week.  Monday I didn't go in to do ceremonies.  I had only 3 hours sleep Sunday night because someone I love dearly is a bed hog.  Today Marty needed the car for a couple of appointments, so I am not going in today either.  Strange week.

Yesterday I did volunteer with my first graders.  When the class broke into groups I listened to some of them read.  But mainly I worked with a group doing math.  They were counting by twos, fives, and tens.  Easy right?

Well if you are just counting.  But we know Ms. H, she will make those little ones think.  Each child had a Ziploc bag with one inch square tiles.  Each tile had a number on it from 0 to 9.  They had a work sheet with three lines of squares with numbers in them . Each line was counting by a different group.  Oh and all the numbers weren't filled in.  They had to put a tile on a blank square and they could only use the number once(edit:  for some reason I had the word twice.  Sorry about that) First they had to figure what they are counting by and then put the missing number in.  After the page was filled in with tiles, they then could lift a tile and write the missing number in.

The page looked something like this: (I don't know how to make squares so imagine them instead of lines.)

_0   _0   80    _0    100

25   _0   3_   4_  45

__  20   _2    2_   26

I also worked with the children on their sight words. Most of them are doing well with them.  But some are still struggling.  All are improving, just some not as well as other.

I also read them a story.  It is one of my favorite books.  I have posted several times about this book.  The point of it is no one should be forced to be like everyone else.  We can make choices and live together with different points of view.  And this wonderful book is  Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon.  The book talks about the dragons loving to eat Princesses and knights in their crunchy armor.  One little boy said they should just eat the Princesses and leave the Knights alone.  At 7 girls have cooties.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kiel Turpin, I told you to remember that name!

Exactly one year ago, I wrote a blog about our nephew Kiel Turpin.  He had just won MVP at the NJCAA national basketball tournament.  His college team won the final game and were national champs.  A once in a lifetime event. 

Not for our nephew!  Last night he won the MVP again and his team, The Lincoln Lynx, won the nationals again.  How about that folks!  The whole family down to 3rd and 4th cousins are bursting with pride.  This from a young man who barely could walk and chew gum 3 years ago.  He grew over 6 inches in a year and just couldn't control his body.  Well, now he can.

Kiel has 4 siblings, one older brother and three younger sisters.  One of his little sisters just had her 10th birthday.  He asked her what she wanted for her birthday.  Riley said she wanted another National Basketball title.  And what Riley wants Riley gets.

Next year we will watch Kiel play for Florida State.  Join us.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Not Many Weddings this week

Monday I had one wedding to do.  One, it was almost not worth going in, except even one is wonderful to perform.  This one wedding had it all:  lots of people, loud people, flowers, and they managed to tick me off.

I  heard this group in the lobby.  There was so much noise I thought several couples were waiting.  Wrong.  I called the couples name, asked IS EVERYONE HERE, and told them we would be going upstairs.  Every person in the lobby went with us.  I said my thing: cameras, rings, own vows, mute your phones.  Let us begin.  And two people walked out.  I quickly checked that the legal witness was still in the room and then asked what was going on.  Oh, two people weren't there yet and the others had gone to look for them.  I told them they had 3 minutes and then I was doing the ceremony.  Once in the room we can not just sit and wait for the rest of the party.  They found the missing ones in time and we did the ceremony.

The couple's two little boys had big red heart pillows with the rings on them. The bride wore a chiffony dress and a matching stole, she had a huge fresh water pearls necklace with matching pearls in her hair.  She carried a bouquet of tight white roses. 

This was a mixed race couple and some times the two families are just barely polite to each other.  Not this group:  happy, loud, hugging, laughing.  The groom's mother told me she didn't think she would live to see this day, they had been together 8 years.  She was thrilled with the marriage.

Wednesday there were two weddings.  The first bride was so nervous.  The groom was really worried about her.  He said she won't eat, she needs to eat.  She was shaky and he all but held her up during the ceremony They both cried during the vows.  As soon as we were back in the lobby, she went over to the Deli and bought a sandwich. 

The second couple had a cranky toddler.  He wanted to stand with the parents, only after they told him to sit with his grandmother.  Screaming, crying, (no tears of course) grabbing Mom's dress and  pulling it up.  He needed a swat.  I told them to let him stand with them and it would be fine.  It was, as soon as they said OK to him, he walked over to the pew and sat down.  But he wasn't done.  During pictures he refused to join them, screaming again, some one picked him up and put him in front the couple . He did that limp thing toddler's do, a noodle that can't stand on its own.  He was a brat.  I was taking pictures and took one of the temper tantrum.  I told them you want one real picture.  Then I kept talking to him ad he finally calmed down and actually smiled. 

I am the child whisperer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reading, really reading

Volunteering with the first graders is great.  Great for them and great for me. I work with all the first graders. Maybe not every Tuesday, but through out the weeks, I help all of them.  It is important for a child to have one on one time with an adult.  The children need to read aloud, have some hand holding, to show off how much they have improved.  Also if I work with every child, being with me is not seen as punishment or as needing extra help to catch up .  With that said, I do work more with one group who are struggling with reading. 

This group works on phonics with me and then reads a little book to me.  We work on word families such as ew, oon, oat.  Then we do the sight words.  Today they went through the sight words which were on index cards.  If they did OK, I had them try the next group.  The sight word list was not on the cards yet.  The children were to read from a laminated sheet of paper.

One little boy blazed through the cards.  I handed him the laminated list and said, "Are you ready to try these words?"  He looked at the list and said,  "I don't know what this is, but I can do it."  Don't you just love his confidence?  And he nailed them!

I love it when children suddenly have something click in their brain and reading comes all together. They can really read.  They understand the sentences, they don't have to sound out every letter, they see the words as a whole item ,they use expression, they stop struggling.  Reading becomes fun for them.

And fun is what reading should be.  Today's breakthrough was lovely.  Almost gave me goose bumps.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

TSUNAMI: fascinating, educational, gripping

Yesterday began when my sister in law in Kentucky called to check on us at 5:45 A.M.  She had seen news reports about California under a tsunami warning.  She was so upset she didn't even think about the time difference.  She also called her husband, my brother, who was in L.A. on business and her son who is lives in Davis, CA.  Now I could understand checking on my brother and on Marty and me.  We are on the coast.  But her son. . . he lives at least 60 miles inland.  

The earthquake that hit Japan was thousands of miles away. The waves began to travel at 500 miles an hour. At sea you don't know there are huge waves under you.  The only thing to stop the waves going across the ocean is land.  And North America, after a few Pacific Islands, is the block to the waves. The first wave hit San Francisco Bay around 8:10 A.M. I watched live TV feed as the tide was reversed, low tide was coming in, not flowing out.  Areas that should have been quiet pools of water had a rushing current.  It was fascinating and scary at the same time.

And that is when my education began. I learned San Francisco Bay has the type topography to protect it somewhat from tsunamis.  A narrow entrance, deeper water, decrease the size of the waves.  Bays such as Monterey Bay are wide open, and allow larger waves in.

I thought during a tsunami the ocean pulled back and then came roaring back in as a huge wall of water. And then it would be all over. No.  It does pull back, and then it comes back in at maybe 40 or 50 miles an hour.  It also does that every 15 to 20 minutes for the next 12 hours or so.  Just because the first wave is small doesn't mean the next waves will be.  The size can build or decrease.  Even the small 3 and 4 foot waves do huge damage. They are moving so fast that boats are flipped, docks are ripped apart.  When the water recedes the boats ground and tilt over.  The water comes back in and floods the boats before they can become upright.  Then they sink, or rip loose and crash into other boats. 

Santa Cruz is on the Monterey Bay and had millions of dollars of damage.  Crescent City to the north had lots of damage also, and is just starting to recover from a tsunami that happened a couple of years ago.  Even as bad as the damage was, there were few lives lost on the West Coast.  Click here and here to see pictures, video, and text about yesterday's tsunami.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Last week at school we worked on telling time. I wrote about the two hardest concepts for first graders: time and money.

Today one group had money worksheets.  This is so hard for children today.  When I grew up I could walk down to the store, get a Brown Cow (Eskimo Pie in some parts of the land), give them a nickle, and walk home.  I was doing that as young as 4 or 5.  I also was given money to go buy bread or something else needed. I had an allowance for doing chores.  I would take my money, walk to the Dime Store, and buy a comic book. I handled money regularly at a young age.  Children today don't.  They know about credit cards. They rarely hand money to a clerk and pay for something.  They can't walk to the store at 4 or 5 years old.  There are no sidewalks, there are perverts lurking, CPS would arrest their parents.

Money is hard for little ones to learn with no hands on experience.  A nickle is big, it must be worth more that a dime.  Pennies are bigger than a dime and a fancier color, therefore pennies have to be worth more than a dime.  And that is how my morning went.  They were working with real money.  We counted the money, they filled in graphs, they added up the amounts, and they wrote sentences about the graphs.  Some of the group understood the concept, some had to have a lot of hand holding.

We also had a standardized test on math skills today.  This is when Ms. H and I walk miles.  During the test you walk and look at every child, over and over, and over.  Are they looking at their neighbor's booklet, are they on the right page, on the right problem?  Are they bubbling in or circling.  Oh crap, they are circling.  The answers won't count.  Go back and have them bubble in.  When you finish the test, the kids are shot for the rest of the morning.  Ms. H did a couple of movement songs with them.

Then I read them a story, Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr, Seuss.  When you click on the link, on the left by the cover of the book is another link to the inside of the book.  There are only a few pages but you get the feel of the book.  This book won awards in 1950.  And it is still holding children spellbound today.  You can't beat the classics.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lots of stuff

Last week must have been busy.  I blogged about Wednesday's weddings and then nothing.  I don't remember being that busy except on Friday.  We had a friend to dinner Friday and I was busy cooking all day.  But what was I doing the rest of the time?

Thursday I cleaned house, did laundry, and made potato salad

Friday I set the table and made the rest of the meal.

Saturday did more laundry, and saw Rango.

Sunday a lazy day.  I talked to different member of family in Kentucky for a long long time.  I read and cooked.

Nothing adds up to being too busy to blog.  But it does look like nothing there to blog about.

Below are a couple of pictures from the dinner party Friday.

This is the wonderful cooker that the brisket is cooked in.  It was made for a couple of years and then they stopped making it.  It is a little dangerous.  When you open it to baste the meat, the steam pours out and burns you.  No way can you open this safely.  We don't care, it cooks meat to perfection.

Our table ready for the food to fill the bowls and platters.  I was going to take the pictures of the food, and I forgot.  Oh well.

So as I said not much to blog about.  But this is how a normal life goes.  Laundry, housecleaning, cooking.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weddings on Wednesday

Yesterday I did 4 ceremonies.  I thought I was going to do another one, but in the elevator the bride asked in perfect English, " You will be doing the wedding in Spanish, won't you?"  And I said, "No."  Why don't they tell the clerks they want something besides English?  I turned them over to Clerk M and went back downstairs. 

It was a day of impatient rude couples and a couple not ready when called. They greatly irritated me, so much so, I had to work at being civil.  Two couples complained to a clerk that they were having to wait too long.  One had been in the building 35 minutes, the other couple had been there 25 minutes.  The first couple I checked the license and immediately called their names. The second couple I was waiting for the Spanish speaking couple to exit the wedding room.  Both of these couples had done a cultural wedding and now were just wanting the legal parts done.

One of these couples had brought a large framed picture of their cultural wedding.  They looked lovely.  The bride and groom kept talking about the wedding they had done.  The bride looked at me and said, We don't want a ceremony, just sign the papers so we can leave."  I explained that isn't how it works. 

But the couple that really ticked me, floored me, and even upset our volunteer witness was the family with three children.  I called their names, nothing, called again and the groom came up and said the bride was feeding the baby.  I understand babies have to be fed, no choice.  But tell the clerk you need 20 minutes or so before being called.  I went back to my desk.  They finally knocked on the door, they were ready.  I waved at them and gathered up my things.  Their two oldest children continued to beat on the door until I opened it.  Their parents just watched them.  I called to our witness M to join us and we went upstairs. 

I am ready to begin, and the groom says he left the camera in the car.  I had another couple after them, so did not want to delay the next group.  I said you can use your cell phone, we have already had to wait on you.  He said no, and walked out of the room.   M looked at me and rolled her eyes.  About that time the mother put the toddler down who then ran screaming around the room.  Before I can stop her from running, she fell and hit her head on a pew.  The clerk in the next room heard the crack of her head against wood.

I expected blood and gore, maybe even a concussion.  You just can't believe how loud the hit was. No blood. The child is now screaming in pain. We offered to go to the deli and get a cold soft drink (no ice) to put on the child's head.  The mother said she'll be fine.  And Mom didn't even run her hands over her head to see if there was a cut or bump.  M and I both rolled our eyes.  The mother later did check the child's head.

Finally the ceremony is over. Usually I go downstairs while the couple is getting their certified copy of the license.  I ended up riding down in the elevator with them.  I should have waited until they were gone. The baby had a dirty diaper that nearly gagged me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Weddings, lots of weddings

Monday was really busy at the  Marriage Factory.  I did 8 weddings in 3 hours, and C did a Spanish one during that time.  Most were very sweet, intense, and normal.  BUT of course I always have weird, different, or stand out from a crowd weddings. 

First the normal stuff:

 One couple were each over 6 foot tall.  Everyone in the room was at least 6 foot tall, except shorty me.  Very striking families.  The bride wore a cream sheath with an empire waist.  The waist was jeweled.  The groom was in black.  They plan to do a "real" wedding later.  This one was a hurry up.  He is being deployed to Afghanistan. 

Another couple was originally from Turkey.  She was lovely and exotic.  Her dress was strapless, cut on the bias, and came to just above the knees. Her shoes were goldish jeweled high heel sandals.  She wore a gorgeous finger tip veil that also had the face veil. The veil was tulle with lace flowers edging it.

One couple was older, each had been born in 1939.  This was their first marriage.  So love can hit any age.  They were so cute and so in love.

I took pictures of one couple and their witnesses.  Everyone was the same height except the groom, who was much taller.  I cut his head off in one picture.  I told them to delete it, and they laughed and said no.  They thought they would send it out to their friends as an announcement and say, "Guess who I married?"

Now to just a little different:

I did the ceremony for a policeman and a nurse.  The big brave policeman cried throughout the ceremony.  She tenderly wiped his eyes.  They told us they met when she fell asleep at the wheel and wrecked.  He was the responding officer.  Now I really would love the rest of the story.  Did she contact him later, did he take her to the hospital and then home?  How did they get together?

The most upsetting wedding was the first one of the day.  Clerk S told me they are a young couple.  They were very young.  He had just turned 18, she was 18 1/2.  Babies, I hate marrying babies.  It gets worse.  I checked the license, she was just divorced, three freaking weeks ago!  Oh, did I mention that that they were marrying because they had a two week old baby. 

I don't make this stuff up people.  They walk in and there you go, a story to be retold.