Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 5

If you aren't a Facebook friend you missed the joy of Thursday and Friday with the little darlings.  Things were just too crazy to write a blog.  Throw up girl was better, but she suffered from severe crankiness. Toddler Ava was teething and became more cranky than her sister.  Poor Hall didn't have a chance.  It was all about his little sisters.  Ann and I were run ragged. 

Both girls only wanted Grandma and screamed bloody murder if Ann touched the other one.  They didn't want Aunt Janet unless Ann was away running errands.  Teething child, the perfect eater, gave up food.  The only thing she wanted was grapes that give her diarrhea.  She knew they were in the refrigerator and stood and cried for grapes.  Sorry sugar, those diapers are too awful.  Throwup girl had projects for us and was still playing the I am sick card. 

The wine was flowing.  When the precious darlings were down for the night, we were pulling corks. Friday night was getting closer, Daddy Colonel was coming home.  Late Friday afternoon the phone rang.  His flight had been canceled, he didn't know if he would get home before Saturday.  Pour the wine, we don't get to retire Friday night. 

Friday night is family movie night.  We had rented a movie for the kids and extended their bed time. The two oldest were fighting, yelling, and on our last nerve.  Time outs with threats of no movie and being put to bed early.  Another time out and I am on my last nerve.  Where is my wine?  They did get to watch the movie.  But it was a close thing.

After several texts we find out United finally brought in another plane and Colonel Daddy will be home sometime in the middle of the night.  He arrived at 1:30 in the morning.  Great joy for his mother and me.

We let Colonel Daddy sleep in this morning.  But as of now he is up and they are his children.  His house rules are back in effect.  Ann and I do not even know these three children.  Marty is on the way to pick me and take me home.  Love these children, but as I said, this is just hard.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

This is just hard work

The Colonel and his lady, Dr. Colonel, are at Command School.  This is a week long  event.  The three children need someone to take care of them.  I tried to get out of it.  I volunteer, I am old, Please Mr. Custer I don't wanna go.  Ann and Hank the real grandparents tried to get out of it.  We work full time, we have meetings, we are old. we will be coming in April can't afford two trips.  Ann caved and said she would come.  Then she begged me to join her.  I tried but I couldn't refuse her.  So she arrived Friday and I came up to Davis on Tuesday.  These are three sweet children that I love dearly.  But  there is a reason God gives children to young people.  Ann is on Day 7 and I am on Day 3.  She is a brave woman.  The wine is helping us both to be brave.

Two kids go to different schools.  So pick up one and race to another school.  Then we have choices of Karate or baseball, sometimes both at the same time.  The toddler is with us.  She has the attention span of a gnat and does not like sitting.  Our jobs this week, Ann is to drive, I am to cook.  We share reading books, discipline, and diaper duty.  I made it through the first day.

Day 2 Ann is off to school with Hall and then to the grocery.  The girls get up, I make breakfast.  Bella wants to make muffins.  We start and realize no flour in the house.  Ann and Bella are off to the grocery again.  Muffins made, they taste icky.  Bella tells us her head hurts, but she wants to go to preschool.  Ann takes off and I have Ava.  Hall and Bella have Karate and baseball after school.  They come home, change into their respective uniforms and Bella says I don't feel good.  She is running a fever.  Ann goes off with Hall and Ava.  I have Bella.  I read to her until she falls asleep.  Then I start supper.  Bella will not eat or drink, she is nauseated.  Later she proves that point.  During supper Ava pitches a fit and throws her plate across the room.  She does not like being told NO.  And that is why you use plastic with toddlers.

Now I am not saying we are doing anything more that any mother in the world.   But we are not these children's mothers, we are grand relatives.  We are way into our senior years.  We did all this a long long time ago.   After a night of checking on Bella through the night, we are even more tired. 

Day three, Ann is off to school with Hall.  Again to the grocery, and then home to the sick.  While she was gone, Dexter the dog threw up.  I am good and got him outside before he upchucked.  Ava presented a new problem.  She resents Bella getting Grandma's attention.  Huge crying and screaming every time Grandma gives attention to Bella.  Ava will not let me hold her.  Ann is wearing down.

And it is only 1:00 on Day 3. We have 1 1/2 days to go.  Please may the wine hold out until the Colonel gets home.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sex in the Classroom

Tuesday was my day at Kaiser School.  It was windy and rainy, and the kids were hyper.  We did the usual phonics, math, and creative writing workshops.  Then I worked one on one with several children.  This is the group I help with reading.  Most of them are really improving.  One little girl still sounds out most of the words instead of smooth reading.

The rain stopped long enough to have outside recess.  That really helps since they can run off all that energy.

When they came in  I read a book to them.  This time it wasn’t a storybook, it was a science lesson.  The book is The Reasons for Seasons by Gail Gibbons.  I couldn’t find a decent website.  They sell it, but you can’t see any of the pictures.  In a nutshell, the book is about the earth’s travels around the sun and how the tilt of our axis makes the different seasons. The kids seemed to take all that in and asked good questions.

Our big science lessons came from another teacher, Mr. R.  Every year he brings an incubator to the classroom.  He also provides fertile duck eggs and if all goes well, we hatch ducklings in 28 days. 

He gave a lesson on all that must be done to be sure the eggs hatch.  He has done this enough that he was prepared for the questions.  How do the ducks get inside the egg? What is a fertile egg?  How did it get fertile? What does the Daddy duck do?  How do the eggs get inside the Mommy duck?  He told them enough to satisfy them, and didn’t go technical on them.

One important thing he told them, sometimes all the ducks don’t make it.  If there is a power failure, none will make it.  He even used the die word.  There have been years when no ducks hatched.  You have to prepare the kids for real life.

Monday, March 26, 2012

She said that?!!

There were several weddings today.  I am just going to tell you about one.  Later this week I will share the others.  But the goat herders were really different.  Yes, goat herders.

Clerk K brought me the license and said, "They smell like they have been around a campfire.  Or wearing old clothes."  She told me they were dressed in a retro style.  The bride had dreadlocks, yet was Caucasian.  I don't understand white people who have dreadlocks.  It is just dirty hair twisted into knots. Or as my grandmother would have said, "their dirty hair is full of rats' nests."

The couple was dressed in a mixture of clothes of the 60s and just weird.  She had on a dirty beige dress that had a matching apron, torn opaque stockings, and ankle boots that were almost muddy.  The groom wore a grayish suit, shirt, and tie.  His neck matched the shirt.  He wore a fedora.  His shoes were muddy.  The smell was like a petting zoo.

The witnesses were dressed matching the bride and groom.  One witness had missing teeth, they at least did not smell. 

I was thankful my allergies were acting up.  I could smell the bridal couple, but I wasn't totally nauseated as the clerks were.  The couple told me they were goat herders.  They raise goats for the milk and for the goats to eat under brush in order to prevent forest fires.  The couple lives way far up in the mountains toward Oregon.  These were really sweet people, but weird on so many levels.

I asked the bride if they had their own vows or if they wanted traditional vows.  She said the witnesses would provide the vows.  The witnesses both said, "What, us  . . . . . . OK, we will think of something."' And the ceremony began.  We came to the vows, and first witness said, " Both of you say that you won't make the other clean up the goats' poop."  Oh this is going well.  Then the other witness said something about as dumb.  They added a couple more stupid vows and the bride looked at me and said, "You give us one from your book".  So I went for the the hard hitting one.  I said repeat after me, "I love you and will foresake all others."  The bride said, "Oh, I can't do that."  Then the groom said, "I can't either."  WHAT THE HELL?????   They decided they could say, "I love you, as I am able." 

I can't even thing of anything to add to that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Finishing up the week

Wednesday there were only 2 weddings and not worth a whole blog.  They may show up next week. Thursday I did what I call a lick and a promise house cleaning.  I pretended I was a Molly Maid and hit the middle, because we know they don't bend over and they won't get on a step stool.   Friday I did do something a little interesting, to me anyway.

I kept clicking Next Blog at the top of the blogs.  There are some really awful blogs out there, folks.  Now I understand mine is average at best, but oh my word.  I had ended up in the Mommy Blogs.  There was the perfectly staged shot of the 3 beautiful children and dog with Mommy and Daddy. The perfect day, the cute sayings.  I tried to read them.  I just couldn't. The blogs were so syrupy about the cute fun things everyone did.  Every minute of the day was wonderful.  Only sunshine and light.  I do not believe the Mommys, I can't believe it.

I taught elementary school for years and still volunteer in a school. I know children. I have a son who I let live only because I love him so much. Once he and the neighbor kid walked on my couch in muddy shoes.  That is what little boys do.  I locked him out of the house so I wouldn't kill him. That same couch had chocolate rubbed into it by my nephew the Colonel. This wasn't recent, the Colonel was 5 when this happened.  I became the queen of spot removal.

Children are holy terrors.  They rip holes in their clothes.  Children do embarrassing things.  They get dirty.  They throw up on you.  They break your heart.  And they run in the house, grab you and say I love you, Mom.  That is why it is all worth it.

There is one blog that I have been reading for several weeks,  It has a Mommy and it has children.  But it is different. This woman is fun as is her family.  She writes about a real life.  She loves her children and shows it.  She also shares problems.  Give German Village Mom a try.   She is addictive.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

Tuesday night Marty and I went into San Francisco for  dinner and a concert with friends.  Dinner was at Dobb’s Ferry  and the concert was the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

First dinner, we did small plates.  Marty and I shared crab cakes, mussels and clams, and a lettuce wedge.  Others had chicken, fried pumpkin cake, eggplant, and sturgeon.  A very tasty meal. I want to go back and try the pizza, it looked and smelled great going to other tables.

The concert featured songs by Stephen Schwartz and he was there to sing also.  I will be truthful, I did not recognize his name.  But I recognized his music.  He had also written an incredible song just for this show, Testimony.  Thursday the CD will be released.  This song will break your heart.  It tells the stories of gay men hiding being gay, being bullied, attempting suicide. I cried.

Stephen Schwartz has also written an opera.  An incredible young woman from San Francisco had sung in it in New York.  She sang two arias for us last night.  I am not a fan of opera but Melody Moore could convert me.


This is the program for the concert. 


Part of the stage of Davies Symphony Hall.  I love the acoustical rectangles that hang down.  They reflect what’s in the spotlight during concerts and pick up the lighting.


Full disclosure this is a bad picture.  It was taken during the concert, no flash, by my IPhone.  I wanted you all to see how huge the Chorus is. You see the men on the upper right, there are that many not shown on the upper left.  There are 306 men singing.  The sound is a clear one voice, you can understand every single word they sing.  It is an amazing sound.  You can hear them sing on the link above.

I hope you read their history on the link above.  Marty and I have gone to their concerts for several years.  The music is wonderful and the work they do in the community is outstanding.

If you are in the Bay Area, check out the concert in June.  Tickets go on sale soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Come on people, don't you own a mirror?

Most of the couples who come to the county building to be married are serious.  They realize that marriage is a big step and they are serious, excited, nervous, anxious, all of the above during the ceremony.  But some couples think the ceremony is a photo session.  Brides pose all through the ceremony, hiking up skirts, turning this way and that, pulling tops down for cleavage or sometimes until boobs pop out.  Grooms pose  making gang signs, turning toward the cameras, looking at cameras and not at the bride, they put on and take off sunglasses.  And now we have the Angelina leg pose.  Heaven help me, I am too old and this just makes me tired.

Monday the dresses were too short, too tight, and one too thin.  As Marty pulled in front of the county building we saw a couple walking in.  A tiny young woman in a really short white dress. The groom was in a black suit with a black shirt and tie.  Marty and I commented on how very short the dress was, it just covered the curve of her hips.  Front side, when she walked, lady parts might flash. This girl was a size zero, beautiful face and body.  The knit dress looked like it was sprayed painted on her. Why so tight?  Why so trashy short?  She did the Angelina leg all through the wedding, posing and not even looking at her groom.

The next couple were each 18, and seemed very immature. She wore pink tighter than paint jeans. She and many of the guests wore at least 5 inch heels.  None could walk in heels, wobbling, and clomping around like horses.  During the ceremony, both groom and bride kept posing, and then the bride's leg popped to the side and she pulled her draped top down to show cleavage!  I had trouble getting this group out of the room.  I gave the 2 minute and the 1 minute warnings.  Nothing.  I told them I was going for the next couple, they had to leave.  I went down the hall for some water and then headed to the elevator.  I could hear them still in the wedding room.  I went back in and they were still taking pictures.  Some of the women were posing under the wedding arch with our silk flower bouquet.  I used my school teaching voice and got them to leave.  As I stood there a woman walked out with OUR bouquet.  I told her she couldn't take it.  She just looked at me.  So I took it our of her hands. 

The next bride with no mirror at home wore the tightest outfit. She wore a strapless dress with a beige bra with straps. The front of the dress looked as if she had on a Wonder Woman breastplate.  The seams were straining, the zipper in danger.  The dress pulled across the hips and rode up.  And I could see pink skin and white bikini panties through the dress.  But this couple was very serious about marriage.  She was crying and he held her during their vows.  I forgave her the dress.

My last couple had a confidential license (a license that requires no witness, the license is basically sealed and no one but the couple can see it, it takes a court order for anyone else to see the license).  They had met on the Internet through a common interest in photography. One thing led to another and they were in love. They told me they had tried 4 times to marry.  Since her divorce was only 5 weeks old they had to show the final papers.  One time they forgot the papers.  Other times other paper work was wrong.  But they are now married, and were deeply moved by the ceremony.  That ended the day on a good note.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shepherd’s Pie

When Marty was in elementary school, the lunch room ladies really cooked.  Marty’s favorite lunch dish was Shepherd’s Pie.  The same ladies were still cooking when I taught there many years later.  I can testify that their Shepherd’s pie was really good.  For years Marty has tried to recapture that taste.

Cook’s Illustrated sent us a recipe to test, Shepherd’s Pie. Excitement at our house. I have documented Marty’s hard work from grinding the meat to the finished product.  I did very little, I helped mash the potatoes, took pictures, drank wine, and washed a sh*t load of dishes.  I have documented the dishwashing for you. 

I took 40 pictures and narrowed them down to 16.  Remember to click on them for a larger image.


The beginning of the instructions.  You will notice they want 93%  fat free ground beef.  That you don’t find at Safeway.  That leads to  . . .


Marty cut up chuck roast (which great shopper he is, found on sale for 50% off) and put it through our meat grinder.  He knows how to figure the percentage of fat.  It has to do with weight of lean and fat.


Lots of good things go into the pie.


Marty put the potatoes through the potato cutter, that made inch wide sticks.  Then he diced the sticks.  They cooked, were mashed, and goodness added to them.


More things to chop.


Potatoes mashed, green onions and cream added to them.


Onions and mushrooms browning and building layers of flavor.


It takes a lot of dishes to make a one dish meal.  This is the second drainer full, with a large pot drying on the stove.


More added to the layers of food and flavor.  Tomato paste one addition.


Marty is adding the ground meat via an ice cream scoop.  The meat is placed on top and then after it cooks awhile, you stir it in.  Oh, that strange white block on the right, a floor to ceiling cabinet.


Almost done piping the potatoes on top of the dish.


Marty used a Ziploc bag to pipe the potatoes.  Fill it, seal, cut a corner off, and squeeze.  One less thing to wash.


Looks like the same pots and bowls.  Well, it is.  This is the fourth drainer full we washed.  Again, one dish meal.  Not really.


The dish is under the broiler.


Finished product.


Dinner is ready.

Would we make this dish again?  Yes, this time Cook’s sent us a keeper.  This was really tasty and not hard to make (because Marty made it).  The recipe says it serves four, we think it will serve six.  Next time Marty thinks he will make it in individual ramekins.

As to comparison to the school’s Shepherd’s Pie this was a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.  This dish has more flavor that the school lunch.  But going down memory lane, not there.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Once upon a time, in a land far far away . . .

Sometime around 1968 CHEVRON transferred Gary from Florida to Northern Kentucky. (Northern Kentucky is a large region of many little towns, across the river from Cincinnati.)  Marty also worked for CHEVRON. Gary asked me to help his wife, Susan, learn the area while house hunting. Happily they bought just a couple of blocks from our home.  From that time on we became close friends.

They had a son, Doug, who was around 2 years old. I had a son the next year and then they had another son.  Our three boys grew up together.  We were transferred to the same places a couple of times.  When in different towns we would vacation together.  When apart we have used instant messaging, email and long long phone calls to stay in touch.  We are now trying to teach Gary and Susan how to SKYPE for really fun phone calls.

Anyway, we have kept up.  When Doug and Andrea married in Dallas, we went to the wedding.  I must say the most fun wedding I have ever attended.  Food, food, parties, live bands, wine, food, dancing, bubbles. When our son married in 2000 Susan, Gary, and Doug and his wife came to California for our event.  We later found out Andrea was then pregnant with triplets. 

Last night we met the triplets.  The family is in the Bay Area for spring break. (Remember the storms I told you about?  Still raining)  They invited us to dinner last night.  Doug asked us to pick a place, and we met at Tian Sing in San Francisco.  The food is as good as it looks on the web site. We had a slowly paced meal with lots of dishes to choose from.

The triplets are 11 and in the 5th grade.  They are charming, fun, and well behaved enough to let the adults catch up.  They joined in the conversation some, but mostly listened.  We had such fun talking about past happenings and finding out where we all are in our lives now.  I was pleased to find out Doug reads my blog.

Some of the stories we told are worth a blog alone. And some we ran out of time and couldn't relive. Doug and another CHEVRON kid in our hot tub and then their race to catch a plane.  The two families' trips to Disney World.  The world famous Canasta parties, grass sledding on cardboard, Doug's dog snatching cookies from Erik's hand, the famous picking pears trip.  We have had over 40 years of friendship and love between two clans.  It was great to meet the third generation.  With Facebook we are able to watch them grow up too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We never know how many will marry

Monday, if you remember,  I did no weddings.  Wednesday I wasn't even to my desk when I was told a couple had been waiting for 30 minutes. That afternoon the Marriage Desk Clerk D and I did 11 weddings.  Yesterday I wrote about the storm on Tuesday, Wednesday was worse.  Why were these people out in that awful weather?

The first couple to marry were older, he was 65 and she was 54.  He said his vows with strength and determination, never taking his eyes off his bride.  Their witness was a worker at the Deli.  She is young, self supporting, and in her third year of college.  The groom handed her a large tip and said a young person in college needed all the help they could get. 

The next bride was tiny, maybe a size 4 or 6.  When she took her coat off, her blouse pulled up.  This tiny thing was wearing Spanx.  And I figured out she had on lower body Spanx too.  She kept pulling at the legs of her jeans.  Why, why would such a little person think she needed Spanx?

An Asian couple was dressed very properly for a wedding, sort of.  He wore a gorgeous blue suit with a grey tie.  She wore a Grecian style long white dress.  It had a deep decolletage that was filled in with a red bra.  It gets better.  She was cold so under her wedding dress, she wore black leggings.  Thankfully they did not show.  Her shoes you ask.  Spring grass green suede wedge booties.  Now I loved the booties.  She told me her grandmother bought them for her.  This couple was very quiet and serious during the ceremony.  When I pronounced them married he kissed her and she picked up her bouquet and held it above her head like a triumphant conqueror.  The room erupted into laughter.

The next couple had a little boy around 3.  He was playing with their camera and dropped it.  Daddy fussed at him and took it away from him.  Huge huge screaming temper tantrum.  We aren't in the wedding room yet.  I am worried.  He calms down but is sulking.  The parents want him to stand with them during the ceremony.  He said, "No, I want to sit here and cry."  And he did, very quietly.

There were some problems with licenses, most the customers' fault.  One a clerk's.  We had two brothers wanting to marry in a double ceremony. One groom just turned 18 the other groom was 20.  Two clerks were doing their licenses and it did not go well.  The couples could not make decisions.  They kept asking for help from parents.  The big hang up was the brides taking the grooms' last name, or to hyphenate.  They made a decision the licenses were printed and signed.  No, we changed our minds.  So both licenses are changed, printed again, and signed again.  Everybody is happy.  The clerks gave me the licenses and asked me to take the group up to D, they wanted the ceremony in Spanish.  I call the 4 names and all hell breaks loose.  They say there are mistakes on the licenses.  They speak little English and I speak no Spanish.  I take them to a bilingual clerk.  They have changed their minds again!  She handles it, reprints, and I finally get them upstairs.  A simple 10 minute at the clerks' windows took 30.

I took the last couple (I thought) of the day into D's office to record their license.  D said there is another couple downstairs ready to marry, will I stay?  They are older and one is in a wheelchair. It is only 4:15, plenty of time to do a wedding and leave at 4:30 when Marty comes to get me.  I go down to my desk, no license.  I look in the lobby, the couple is still at the clerk's window.  Someone told D a big fat fib.  They are not ready.  I said something about it being so late and the license not done yet to a lead clerk.  She was not happy.  She had told the clerk no ceremony, it was 15 minutes after we cut off the ceremonies.  The clerk ignored that and told the couple we would do a ceremony. 

Now I was ticked.  I don't mind staying if the couple are punched in on time.  I don't mind staying if the clerks ask me would I please stay late.  But to tell us that the license is ready to go, to ignore a Superior's ruling, to just lie about it to the Marriage Desk Clerk,  that was just wrong.  I came close to just gathering my stuff and leaving, Marty was sitting out front.  But I stayed and did the ceremony.  Which meant I was 20 minutes late leaving. 

Clerks do not abuse the goodness of the volunteer!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rain, School, and no lovely lunch

Tuesday the storm door opened with a vengeance.  There were wrecks everywhere, blocked tunnels, flooded roads, and high wind warnings on the bridge.  Luckily Marty and I know how to get places without using the major highways.  He got me to Kaiser on time, but many parents weren't able to do that.  The school secretary told me there were about 10 students per classroom.  Kids drug in for nearly an hour.

As every parent knows, rain sets off children.  Children go bonkers.  Now multiply that by 25 children and you have a classroom.  Teachers really really hate rain.  And guess what, it was a day we had to do a standardized math test.  Plus class pictures.  It was a loud day.  Children forgot rules.  Even when I read to them, they could not settle down.  If you know a teacher, hug her/him, send her/him a sorry it is raining note.  Fill a thermos with Margaritas and take it to her/him.

I was to go to lunch after my time at school.  A rep from my school, Eastern Kentucky University, had called a few weeks ago and set up a lunch.  I knew she was going to ask for money.  I knew I wasn't going to give her any.  She asked me to pick the restaurant and I suggested Chu.  I really love this place and wanted to go on her money. 

The rep was staying in the city.  She is from a small town and had commented on how driving in California is a challenge.  She would have to be on the bridge with the high winds, dodge wrecks, flooded areas.  I couldn't do that to her.  I called and canceled.  I told her I wouldn't be giving any money and I just didn't feel right putting her at risk just for a nice lunch.  The poor girl thanked me and thanked me.  She had been really worried about the trip across the Bay.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quiet afternoon on the wedding front

Today was Marriage Factory Day.  I did my hair and make up, dressed in my Big Girl clothes, I was ready to do marriage ceremonies.  I arrived and several clerks said they were so glad I was there.  The morning had been busy.

Well, for me, not so much. Not a wedding all afternoon.  I sat and read.  It was a good book but I am there for the weddings.  I even dozed off a couple of times, the time change hit me hard this year.  Anyway I was told all about the seven weddings that morning.  Then Clerk D told me the Occupiers had been there.

The Occupiers were going to all county Clerk Recoders' offices to protest the "theft of homes" by banks. Ours turned out to be a non event.  Three people showed up, put crime scene tape around poles and stood there for an hour.  A reporter, maybe Jimmy Olsen, rode up on his bike, asked a couple of questions, and left.  The Occupiers then left also.

This was a day you could say was wasted for me.  But I don't.  I was there to help.  The staff was glad I was there.  They knew if people showed up, I would handle it.   They hate the days volunteers aren't there. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

An Evening in San Francisco

Friends asked us to join them for dinner Friday night.  They were picking up a friend at the airport and wanted us to meet her.  We were to be at Ideale in North Beach at 8:30.

Now to park in North Beach you have two choices, expensive parking garages or not to park.  We chose not to park.  We rode BART and then took Muni to within a few blocks of the restaurant.

Our friends picked the restaurant after seeing it discussed on Check Please.  Spaghetti alla carbonara was the dish to order according to the program.  Ideale is in a high tourist area where there is very expensive average food.  But Ideale is more of a neighborhood place.  People having birthday parties and other celebrations.  The food is very affordable and more importantly, delicious.  The carbonara, to die for.

After dinner we walked toward the bus stop and parking garage.  We decided after dinner drinks were in order.  We went to Tosco, known for their wonderful after dinner drinks.   Everyone, except me, had the House Cappuccino.  I don’t drink coffee so I had a shot of Maker’s Mark. 

We then walked up to the bus stop.  The next bus was in 7 minutes.  Perfect timing.  We catch the bus, ride downtown to a BART station.  As we go through the gates at BART, Marty said, “Hurry there is a train at 12:02.  We might catch it.”  As we got to the platform the train doors closed, it sat there just long enough we thought they would reopen.  No, it then pulled out.  22 minutes to the next train.  That’s OK, we sat down and played on our IPhones.

We got on the next train and headed under the Bay.  At the transfer station the driver announced, “This is the last train tonight.”  What, that has to be wrong.  On weekends if you’re in the system by 1:00 a.m. you are safe to catch a train.  Well we were so wrong.  At our stop we looked at the schedule.  We were on the last train.  Then a guard came up and told us to move on, the station was closing. The system starts shutting down at midnight.

We were so lucky we got in the gates by midnight.  So much was stacked like dominos.  If we had had a second drink we would have missed the bus. If we hadn’t caught the bus, we wouldn’t have made the gates.  Not in by midnight, no way  home.  We would have had to take a taxi home major $$$$.  Or call and wake up our son or a friend and beg them to come get us.

I really agree with a friend who said, “ public transportation should run until after the bars close.”  If they don’t want us to drink and drive, give us an option to be safe.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Thin white dress, Speak slowly, No witness

This week there were not a lot of weddings.  But we did have variety.  

Monday’s first couple was originally from Mongolia.  They were so tickled that I could pronounce their names without help.  Practice makes perfect.  The bride had on a white lace mini dress.  The hemline was scalloped and made a V front and back.  Very pretty dress, except the lace was only lined at the bikini pants line and over part of her breasts.  A lot of bare skin hanging out.

The next couple were both dressed in white.  They had asked a woman in the lobby to be their volunteer witness.  I called their names and then asked where was their witness.  They then told me the witness had left.  SOOOOO  we had to find someone else, and no one would.  I shanghaied the Deli manager, had the license reprinted and signed again, and then we did the ceremony.   This was a couple in their late 40s.  They were very emotional and very happy.

As I was starting the next ceremony, I told the bride to scoot closer to the groom.  She did and he backed away.  Huge laugh from the family and friends.

We had a very stone faced child in one wedding. Let’s call her Jean.  She was around 4 or 5.  Jean stood next to her Mother during the ceremony, with never a smile.  After the ceremony her mother told me Jean was mad at her.  When they told Jean they were getting married today, Jean wanted to know why her mother wasn’t wearing a long white dress.  And she wanted a fancy dress to wear and be the flower girl.  Jean knew what a wedding should look like.  Can you imagine her wedding in 20 years?

Last story, I came down from a ceremony and there is a license on my desk.  It has a yellow post-it with a note written on it.  It said, “Speak slowly.  The groom has little English.”  Did you hear me screaming Wednesday afternoon?  I knew this would not go well.  I asked the clerk how little English.  She didn’t really know, the bride did the talking.  He just said getting married. 

I go to the couple and explain, I can’t marry someone who can not understand what I am saying.  I will have to question the groom, no one else can talk.  I asked why are you here?  happy.   No, why are you here today?  What do you want me to do for you?  no answer.  After repeating the question several ways he finally says getting married.  I am not convinced.  There are several little children with the couple.  I asked him whose children are these? no answer.  I said are these your children or his (pointing to a man holding one of the children)?  He said, five.  That was the deal breaker. I gave them options of how and where they could marry.  The clerk refunded the money for the ceremony and we sent them on their way. 

I sometimes think the clerks don’t want to upset couples by saying you can’t get married today.  They hope since my last time there I have learned Tongan, Mongolian, Hungarian, insert language of choice.  Or they know I will pull up all my Southern Belle charm and nicely tell the couple no.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

School without Ms. H

A story about what happened in the office before I went to the classroom.  I sign in on a computer when I volunteer and it prints out a badge for me to wear.  Children who are tardy sign in on the same computer.  They click on their name, teacher, reason for being late, and it prints out a note to the teacher.

One of the children from our classroom came in with her mother.  Mom was trying to sign her in, thinking I am sure that an adult would do it faster.  Nothing was happening because she was using the screen as a touch screen, and it wasn’t.  The little girl in a very weary voice says, “ You have to use the mouse on the side.”

Over the weekend Ms. H sent me an email that said she would be at a conference Monday and Tuesday.  She hoped I would still be at school Tuesday to help the substitute, Ms. V.  I said I would be there.

Ms. V has subbed at Kaiser for years.  She works to follow the lesson plans the teacher has left for her.

Ms. H  had left lots of work/activities for them.  Better too much than not enough.  We went through all kinds of work: math, phonics, reading, creating sentences from rhyming words. 

I worked one on one with around 10 students.  They each read a little booklet to me.  I hadn’t  done this in 2 or 3 weeks.  I was pleasantly surprised by the progress of some of the children.  They were really finally reading, not just sounding out words.  Some even laughed at the story.  They got it. 

That is real excitement folks, seeing a child reading and enjoying it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Meat Loaf

Last night Marty tested another recipe for Cook’s Illustrated.  This time is was for meat loaf. 


Every recipe has a goal.  This one was for a meatier tastier loaf.


This recipe had a huge amount of ingredients.  The meat loaf had 17 ingredients and the glaze had 8 ingredients.  That is just ingredient overload.


Here he is rendering the fat out of the pancetta and browning the onions.  Lots more stuff went into this.


Marty is filling his “homemade” aluminum foil pan.  Now we have about a dozen loaf pans of various sizes, but the directions said make your own.  OK, did that.


This is the glaze simmering while the meat loaf cooks in the oven.


The meat loaf is out of the oven.  As you can see, the homemade pan leaks, mainly because you punch holes in it.  I am sure that is to let the grease run off.  But it makes a mess for the dishwashing queen, moi. 


The meal loaf has been brushed with the concentrated glaze.  Now it goes back into the oven to cook under the broiler.


As the meat loaf cooks we have appetizers.  Marty had nasty oysters, I had luscious shrimp.  I made the cocktail sauce and picked the lemons from our tree.


All glazed and ready to slice.


A huge thick slice of meat loaf.  They met their goal, it is meatier, didn’t fall apart.  BUT it was heavy, dense, and not a lot of flavor. 

We did not think this was worth the 17 ingredients plus 8 for the glaze.  It really truly was dense.  You almost needed a knife to cut it. 

We have two recipes that are so much better.  One is Dolly Parton’s family recipe.  The other is from our nephew Chris N.  Chris’ recipe is by far the best ever.  And the funny thing is he has never tasted it.  He is vegetarian yet cooks meat for his family.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Leap Day 2-29-12 Weddings???

We were all wondering if there would be many weddings on Leap Day.  In years past it had been busy.  But after the slow Valentine’s Day, we didn’t know what would happen.

When I arrived at 12:45, the morning volunteer had only had 2 weddings.  Less than her average. I thought, good thing I brought a book. 

I was wrong.  I did 6 weddings and Clerk D did 1 Spanish wedding.  Not real real busy, but busy enough to feel useful. 

I had one wedding the bride really surprised me.  She had on a ordinary long coat that covered her dress.  The coat came off and I went wow, she looks absolutely stunning.  Her dress was an above the knee white chiffony material.  It was one shouldered, there was a knife pleated over dress that flowed over a sheath.  It was gorgeous.  She wore strappy sliver heels with a butterfly tattooed ankle.

The next couple were a little odd to look at.  She was very tall, he was very short.  They were the same age, yet he looked 10 years younger.  She was a typical white woman,  he was Mayan.  They were very demonstrative, but not in an embarrassing way.  During the ceremony the bride was teary eyed, he was just a little.  All during the ceremony he would reach up and give her a little kiss on the cheek, hug her, kiss her on the lips.  She would give him a little kiss.  After the ceremony I took them into Clerk D to get their certified copy of the license.  She later told me he was in the USA as an asylum refugee.  As soon as he is safe with citizenship, they will go back to Guatemala for a Mayan wedding.    I don’t see how citizenship will protect him.  Just my thought.

The couple was older, in their 50s.  His twin brother and his parents were with them.  The parents were 91.  The bride wore a silver lace dress.  This was not a delicate lace.  It was large and heavy lace.  Beautiful lace work.  The couple and everyone else were so happy and excited.  One guest was so excited she drove me a little nuts.  She was to bring up the rings and she also was taking pictures.  I told her I would ask for the rings.  But she kept bringing them up all through the ceremony.  While taking the pictures she was everywhere.  She flitted from one side to the other; crossing in front of me, a huge no no; getting behind the couple; running to the other side and then back.  I was ready to kill her.  I didn’t, I let her live. 

The last couple were something else.  She was a tiny woman who was 7 months pregnant.  Her bump was huge.  Her top did not cover the baby bump and her jeans didn’t pull up to the baby bump.  She wasn’t able to get off the bench without his help.  She said she was having awful back pain.  He was twitchy, he could not be still.  He also smelled like alcohol.  He wasn’t drunk, or I couldn’t have married them. We had his constant twitching, turning his head, moving and rocking.  She wasn’t able to stand for the ceremony and they sat on the bench. 

In my humble opinion he was on meth.  He had all the signs.   I questioned her about her pain.  It had started the night before, it came and went.  I told her it could be back labor, she didn’t know about that.  I asked her if she called her doctor.  No.  I told her any pain should be reported to her doctor.  It could be labor, false labor, the baby could be sitting on a nerve.  Whatever, the doctor needed to know.  I don’t think that soaked in.  As they left they were talking about going out for a celebration dinner.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Monday, a busy day for love

Monday afternoon from 1:00 until 4:30 Clerk D and I performed 11 weddings. She did 4 Spanish and I did 7 in English.

My first wedding the groom told me he was in the Navy.  He is assigned to the USS Enterprise.  They were having a quick wedding before he goes to sea this month.  After I pronounced them married, he kissed her and then said, "You are now officially a Navy wife!".

I was checking the next license and saw either a couple of interesting clues or major errors.  The groom and the bride had the same last name.  That happens every now and then.  But they both also had the same date of divorce, 3 months ago.  I checked with the couple, no errors.  We had a do over wedding. Can you imagine going through the hell of a divorce and then 3 months later making up and remarrying?  Man, I really wanted to get the back story on this one.  But I didn't.  So not just no endings, but no real beginnings either.

One couple was acting a little strange.  They held hands, they laughed and smiled at each other.  Yet every time he tried to put an arm around him, she'd jerk away and give him the death stare. This happened several times.  Just weird.  After I pronounced them married they laughed and kissed.  Go figure.

The couple had been together 17 years.  Their children were with them as witnesses and guests.  The groom was a wreck.  He was so grim faced and nervous.  The bride and the groom both felt a little strange marrying after being together so many years.  As soon as I pronounced them married, he broke into the most beautiful smile and relaxed.  The children cheered, laughed, and rushed to hug their parents.  What a fun cool moment.  Oh the bride was smiling too.

Last story.  The couple was so cute and fun.  They said they were going to have a "real" wedding later.  I, as always, said no you are going to have a party.  A big gorgeous party.  They laughed and agreed.  This was the real wedding.  They then practiced saying, "Party, we are having a big Party.  Party."

Monday was like old times.  A busy afternoon, weddings spaced out with no big over lap or rush.  A lovely afternoon.