Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

I looked up Memorial Day (MD) on Google.  I wanted to see when it started, why, and how it ended up as a national cookout day.  Well as they say, you can't believe everything you read on the internet. 

MD was started by President Grant to bring the country together after the Civil War.  MD was a day to honor both sides.  MD was a day started by freed slaves and or black freeman  in the deep South to honor fallen Union soldiers.  MD was a day to commemorate the opening of a military cemetery.  Memorial Day was started . . .      The general consensus is Memorial Day is a day to honor our military who have given their lives for our nation.  Google it yourself and see what you can learn.

We all know of someone who died in a war.  From WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm to today in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have all been touched, hurt, devastated by a military death. And then there are all the battles that don't get called wars.  The battles we send in our young military people to handle.  Memorial Day is the time to honor the ones we lost. 

But how did MD become a cookout holiday and a vacation starter?  Google wasn't much help with that question.  So I will propose some theories and you may discuss.

Americans are getting a day off work, that always calls for a party. 
School is out or close to out.  Families factor in the paid holiday and take off on a trip.
Stores put on promotions for "cookout" foods and related items. You know hamburger, beer, cars, towels. We all jump on the bandwagon.
June is in a few days, that means summer fun.  What is more fun than a cookout?
Cookouts are more fun that a memorial service in a church or cemetery.
Big Business jumps on every holiday and destroys the true meaning.
Getting together is a way to remember our military.  Americans always use food as a reason to gather.

None or all of these may be why Memorial Day is now a cookout day and the beginning to summer trips .  The reason we gather doesn't matter, as long as we remember our military heroes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weddings and things

I just realized I haven't posted for a week.  It was a busy week, plus I have had an icky bug.  But I am back now.

I had one wedding with the tall people.  The groom was at least 6' 5".  His father was even taller.  He was ducking going through doorways and getting into the elevator.  I am sure he was 7'.  The bride was tall also, probably 5'10".  The bride was lovely in a black cross tied halter dress with a handkerchief hemline. She had a large red silk rose on the dress and wore red heels.  She had that fresh farm girl rosy cheeks look.  She was so excited that she was bouncing on her toes throughout the ceremony.

One couple's witness was his great grandmother.  Grandmother was 93, walked in under her own steam, with only a cane. 

Two weddings really stand out this week.  Let's first discuss the one that made me uncomfortable.  The couple came in with a license.  They wanted to record their marriage.  But no witness or officiate had signed it.  They had done a cultural wedding.  They didn't see why we wouldn't record the license.  The clerk explained it had to be signed.  So they decided to do the civil marriage.  When we got upstairs the groom tried to get me to just sign it and get it recorded.   He was from India.  She was born in Tennessee and grew up in Mississippi.   The bride was pregnant and had two other children.  She wore a different type head covering than I have seen before.  It tightly covered her head and dropped to almost her waist.  She kept her arms up under the cape part. She walked behind the men. Her eyes were down and the groom and the witness did the talking as if she was not there. I told them where to stand, he stood at the arch, she was 3 feet away.  I asked her to stand next to him.  They wouldn't look at each other, they didn't want to hold hands, and there was a feel of anger in the room. As soon as I pronounced them married she walked away.  I just felt this was a very unhappy couple.

The last wedding made me sad in a different way.  It also was a really happy wedding. There were 20 guests at the wedding.  Everyone was happy and having a great time. The bride was dressed in a one shoulder dress.  The top was white satin with a black silk rose and the skirt was black with ruching. The groom wore his dress Air Force uniform.  The bride and groom laughed throughout the ceremony.  They were so happy and so in love.  The groom's brother wore his dress Army uniform with medals.  The groom and his brother were Korean, born in Korea.  The brother is home on R&R from Iraq.  He will be going back soon.  The groom is being deployed to Iraq. 

What an incredible gift these two young men have given to their adopted country.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Update on the paper mache

Last month just before spring break I posted about my first graders making paper mache globes. After drying for a week, the children painted them blue.  I had great pictures of the globes.  But after my phone went swimming while we were in San Diego, I lost the pictures.  They were the only thing I had not transferred to my computer.  But now I have pictures of the globes with the oceans and continents on them.  I really wanted to take pictures of the children working.  But not cool to post pictures of children without the parents' permission.

Tuesday the class as a group colored the continents (which were on a worksheet) and then cut them out.  Ms. H had her own blank globe and a real globe to show the children.  She then walked them through each step.  Besides me helping, we had two mothers helping. 

Ms. H held up her globe by the tied end, that was the North Pole.  They had already marked the equator.  They looked at the real globe, decided where the equator cut South America and began to glue. And then on to the next continent.  The adults walked around to slide continents up or down.  We also wiped up glue from the desk, their hair, and the globes.

After the continents were glued on, the names of oceans were added.  The really amazing thing was they did this together.  And they finished together.  The children who never keep up with the group were on this.  They colored, they cut, they glued, they kept up.  Yay for the first graders.

This is how we started out.  Balloons with torn newspaper and a glue flour paste smeared on.

Here they are painted with the continents and ocean names glued on.

Look at each picture and each globe.  The coloring skills and cutting skills vary greatly.

More for comparison. 

Here are all the globes.  One student was absent, so one globe has to be finished later.

Using scissors for many first graders is really hard.   It is a muscle development and experience thing.  Again I go back to the "old days".  Girls cut out paper dolls and their clothes, little boys cut out decorations for their balsa wood airplanes.  We cut out snowflakes and connected paper dolls.  We had no TV, no video games.  We used our hands differently than do children today.  Neither one is better or worse.  Skills are developed today by young children that are different from the skills I learned as child. No way can I use my thumbs on a video game or to type on a phone.  They can.

That said, paper mache has been around for centuries.  Little children use it to create as well as do artists.  Some things don't change.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three days of weddings

Now don't get all excited about lots of wedding stuff.  The reason three days are in one post, I only had 10 couples all together.  And there are no really stand out problems or weirdness. There were a few little quirks, some interesting fashions statements.  I am having more and more normal couples.

Most of these 10 couples giggled, laughed from nervousness.  Just to add to the tension, it is allergy season and my voice comes and goes. 

Not that I am judging, but one couple I felt were there a little soon.  Her divorce was final less than 2 weeks ago.  I know, I know.  She could have been separated for years.  It just made us all wonder.

One couple was a little older, in their 40s.  He was very dapper, she was in a lovely dress.  The fun part, he, not the bride posed for the pictures through most of the ceremony.  He never took his eyes off the camera person until he said his vows.  Then the feeling in the room became very intense.

One bride was nervous, and she wasn't sure if she was ready to begin the ceremony.  It wasn't she didn't want to marry him, she was just so shaky and close to hyperventilating.  I wasn't sure if she would make it.  She did.  The groom was in his army fatigues.  The bride in jeans and a frilly white top.  Her jewelry was a replica of his dog tags.  He is stationed in Korea and she will join him soon.

I had a series of weddings that the couples did not consider the "real" wedding.  Many couples told me they were getting married this summer.  I keep telling them this is the wedding, they are having a lovely party later. 

I made an awful error before one wedding.  The witness had very short close cut hair, baggy jeans, a striped golf shirt, no bust.  I said,  "HE can take pictures."  Then I saw the name of the witness, Mary Ann.  Not he but she.  I immediately apologized, and they all three laughed.  They thought it was hilarious.  Thank goodness I didn't really offend her.  But people, you would have made the same error.

One bride and her witness win earrings of the year award.  The witness had chandelier earrings that were below her shoulders.  They were silver hoops with pearls and strings of pearls.  The bride's earrings were below her shoulders also.  They were strings of pearls and pink feathers.  Just so much fun to look at.

Our last wedding was a couple in their late 30's.  They had a big group of friends and family with them.  Everyone was dressed up.  The men in suits, the women in party dresses.  All of the woman were in black and white, or in silver.  The bride wore a strapless white dress.  The top was satin and the skirt was a gorgeous heavy lace with a satin underskirt. NO thin white dress here.  And her shoes, you know how I love shoes:  white satin heels, on each toe was a satin four petaled flower with "jewels" inside.  Just beautiful!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Belated Mother's Day

We were out of town on Mother's Day.  So today we celebrated with Erik and his wife, Jennifer.  When we are with Erik it becomes the battle of the phones.  We take pictures of each other.  We then post them on facebook.  We take pictures of the food and post them on facebook.  And then I download all the pictures and post them on my blog.

There are no pictures this time.  As we were hugging them goodbye, I realized no pictures were taken, by any of us.  Bummer. 

We had a great visit.  They have recently moved to our side of the tunnel and this was our first visit to the new place.  Their condo is fabulous.  Great kitchen, large living space, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, two balconies and a view of San Francisco. 

Erik and Jennifer took us to Sea Salt for brunch.  This is a well known restaurant in Berkeley.  And it lived up to its reputation.  Erik had truffled eggs.  I had a breakfast sandwich which had creamy cheese, ham, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce,.  Jennifer had a scrambled egg sandwich which had some wonderful cheese in it.  Marty had scrambled eggs with cheese.  We were all very happy with our choices.

This was a very special Mother's Day for me.  Thank you Erik and Jennifer.  I love you both very much.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Road Trip!

sub title:  Get out of the fast lane, you are only going the speed limit and slowing me down.

We spent 6 days in San Diego visiting friends who live there.  It is a long drive to San Diego from Oakland. Long and boring.  We left home at 9:00 and arrived there at 5:30.  After you leave the Bay Area it is nothing but farmland and 18 wheelers. I took several pictures (remember to click on the pictures to enlarge them, click twice to get them really big)  for facebook as we went down I 5.  They all look the same.  Trucks, cars, grass.

Here we are in OUR fast lane.  Marty is driving so we are probably hitting about 85.  I drive much slower, only 80.  We averaged 72 miles per hour.  Stopping for gas and road hogs who won't get over ruins your average.

It was our host Richard's birthday, his little nephew's birthday, Cinco de Mayo, Derby Day, and Mother's day all in one weekend.  On Saturday there was a huge party, lots and lots of appetizers and a huge buffet of great Mexican food. Oh  beer and wine were served also.

 Just so we could post it on facebook, we had Richard get in the kids' jumper castle. 
Tables are set up all over the patio and around the pool. The theme was some game ,Special Ops or something like that.    There were at least 60 people at the party. Half of them were little children.

 Staying with Richard and Luis is like being in a fine resort.  The view is incredible. Our suite was 5 star with chocolates on the bed. We had champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries on Mother's Day. We did nothing but relax and enjoy being with our friends and their family. 
 The outdoor kitchen, where we spent a large amount of our time.
 Marty and Richard having coffee on the patio.
 This is the cross on top of Mt. Helix.   This is a privately owned park with an amphitheater, great views, and the cross.
 We are at Mt. Helix looking at Mexico. The international border is just over the hill you see.  It was a ugly day, rain and lots of clouds.  But the clouds did make interesting pictures.
 Here we are looking at downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.  I promise you, there is an ocean.
 On the road again heading to Oakland.  We are just trying to get out of the L.A area.  It takes forever to go through L.A.  It has to be the longest city in America.
Heading up The Grapevine. We climbed 4000 feet and then just dropped to the Valley.  And as you can see, trucks.  Lots and lots of trucks. 

We had a wonderful relaxing time with Richard and Luis.  We really miss them.  When they lived in San Francisco we saw them every week.  Now we see them if lucky once a year.  Thank goodness for Sykpe.  We do see them that way regularly.

Thanks Richard and Luis for the great vacation.  We love you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weddings from several days

This may be a long blog.  I haven't posted about weddings in a couple of weeks.  I will just write away and if it is too long you can quit reading.

The bride was 49 years old, the groom was 63.  She was stunningly beautiful.  Slim, black spiked hair, coal black eyes. She wore a black sheath that had an overall pattern of white flowers that were embroidered. The witness was a little scary in sort of a nice way.  She told me she was a "seer" for God and said to me, "You are the loveliest person I have ever met.  You are a really good person and you are kind." Goose bumps time.  She really gave me chills when she talked to me.

The bride wore a black sleeveless sheath with a high neck.  The neck was finished in overlaying circles of chiffon which made a necklace. The groom had been a widower for several years.  He was so moved by the ceremony, getting through the vows was tough for him.

The bride G wore grey chiffon, the groom wore grey shirt, grey tie, black slacks.  Their twin boys (10 to 12 years old) were dressed like Dad.  I asked if they had vows or wanted to say the traditional vows.  Traditional.  Her mother started yelling at G, "You have vows, you say them, you  . . ."  I had to tell Mom to be quiet, it wasn't her wedding, it was G's wedding.  G would do what she wanted.  Well G them wanted to say her own vows.  The groom R, deer in the headlights.  He told her he didn't have vows he wanted to do traditional.  This became an issue.  I took R aside and told him let her say her vows.  All he had to do was say I love you.  And no one has to hear what he says except G.  Well she says her vows and he clearly said some really lovely things.  So it worked out great.

A huge group, four elevators full.  They were from America Samoa.  This was one happy loud group.  This also was a group with a lot of screaming running children.  I made a new rule no children are allowed off the pew.  In the middle of the ceremony a toddler ran in front of me, I stopped and told the parents to come get their child.  Oh did I mention four of the rug rats screamed, not cried, screamed through the whole ceremony.  No one tried to hush them.  During the ceremony the bride and groom were tearful.  And the groom was so choked up he barely got the vows out.

The bride was pregnant, due in 7 weeks.  She was short and small except for the huge baby bump.  I can't believe I wrote that.  I am now ready to write for TMZ.  She wore a thin strapless white dress.  Oh yes, the thin white dress season is on us again.  She also wore blue bikini panties. 

The bride was 37, this was her 4th wedding.  Her last husband died 11 1/2  months ago.  She had a very young baby.  Not that I am judging, but it looks like she didn't grieve long. I will say they were very much in love.  I hope this one lasts for her.

Final report.  They had no witness, so grandmother from the previous wedding volunteered to be a witness.  The bride was a knockout.  She was slim and fairly tall.  She wore a strapless blue and white dress.  The bodice was smocked and it had a circle skirt.  There was an underskirt of blue tulle that was about 4 inches longer than the top skirt.   She wore silver sandal heels that had tiny blue flowers on the top of the straps.

Yes, this is long.  I will try to update the weddings more often.  Lots of short blogs are better than a long one.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mother's 94th birthday

My Mother had her 94th birthday April 20.  A friend of hers just emailed me some pictures of that day.  This does not mean this is the only celebrating Mother has done for her birthday.  The night before she went to a dinner party at a neighbor's.  The day of her birthday she had friends and family in for lunch.  Later that week she went to another dinner party in her honor.  Today she and Papa Jack were taken to lunch by friends to again celebrate her birthday.  Mother is so social my brother couldn't work in taking her to dinner until June 3.  Well, my brother travels a lot on business.  He will be out of town a large part of May.

Below are a few pictures of Mother, family, and some of her gifts.  The pictures were taken in Mother's kitchen.

Mother in red and white, Papa Jack almost showing in the middle holding Mother's walker, and my cousin Nancy.
Mother, Papa Jack, Nancy's daughter and granddaughter.
Mother and her birthday cake.

Flowers for the birthday girl.
 Happy Birthday, Mother.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Yesterday I gave you a blow by blow account of making sausage.  Today, we ate sausage.  For brunch we had scrambled eggs, coffee cake, and sausage patties.  Marty fried the sausages, keeping the three kinds carefully in order.  Then he cut each patty in half and we taste tested them.  As always pictures below.

 The three types of sausage are ready to be fried.  Marty has the name of each above the patty.  He put them in the pan in that order. Left  Polish Kielbasa, middle  fennel sausage, and right Sicilian Linguisa.
 Starting to fry.  Really, Really smells good.
 Flipping the patties.  Notice how little grease is in the skillet.  Marty had to add some.  We had worried they would be really greasy. When he ground the meat it had a lot of white (fat) showing.  
 They are ready to be taken up.   You may have noticed all the foil around the burners.  We hate cleaning the splatters of grease on the top of the stove and on the burners.  So we cover as much as we can with foil for ease of clean up.
Ready for the taste test. Marty plated the halves in the same order he had them in the skillet.   The sausages were really good. 

The seasonings were not as strong as the aroma.  We had worried there might be garlic over kill.  We did think there was too much salt.  We don't use a lot of salt, so it was too much for our taste.  Maybe not too much for salt users.  We put a bite of egg with each bite of sausage and that toned down the salt.  The seasonings were pre- packaged and we had used more meat than the seasonings called for.  So heaven help you if you used the correct amount of meat, I think it would have been inedible.

Now that we have made sausage several times, we are pretty sure of our abilities.  Next time we will make up our own seasonings and control the salt.  More fat and less salt next time.