Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finally, Back to School

Tuesday I was back at school, the first time since May.  I was thrilled to be there, and Ms. H was happy I was back.  Lots of hugs, a few tears as we caught up.  Mostly though it was a happy morning.

IMG_3244  IMG_3245

The classroom.  Lots of work of the children.  Lots of work from Ms. H.

We did some regular work, reading, phonics. writing sentences.  Then the fun part began. A Ranger from the East Bay Parks was there to teach the children about amphibians and reptiles.  IMG_3208

Ranger James is showing pictures of the life cycle of a frog, or the big word he taught the children, metamorphosis. 


This is Freddy the frog and his friend the snake.  Freddy taught the children about the eggs, tadpoles, developing legs, and then a real frog.


The clear plastic are “frog eggs”, the front green animal is the tadpole with legs, behind that the light green is a tadpole, and then Freddy Frog.


Ranger James is showing us a snake skin.  It was then passed around to touch.


Ms. H is taking a picture of the snake skin.  She took lots of picture.  Later the children will pick a picture and write about this lesson.


Ranger James has a large live frog in his hand.  Children were allowed to touch if they wanted to.  The frog was not happy.

Then Ranger James said we were going to play a game.  A person would be blindfolded and handed objects to identify.  We could only answer yes or no to her questions.


Ms. H was the guesser.  She was handed frog eggs (real), a turtle shell, a snake skin.  Then he said the next item would be alive, and wiggly.  She is the bravest woman I know.  She sat there, making faces but let the tiny newt crawl over her hands and arms.  I would have run screaming from the room.


After the blindfold came off, she walked around to show the children the newt.

As the children left the room, Ranger James had another live critter, a snake.


This is a type of milk snake. For protection its markings are very much like the deadly coral snake.

This was a great lesson, lots of fun, laughing, and awe.  Ranger James rocks.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wedding Couples From Around The World

Wednesday was again a slow day, only 3 weddings all afternoon.  But they were all three stand outs.  All the couples were tall and very good looking.  All the brides were dressed beautifully.  And one or both of the couples had been born outside the United States. 

The first couple was from Nigeria.  I looked at the names, and I could pronounce one for sure, the groom, Nosa.  The bride’s name I just knew I would get it wrong, and I did.  It was spelled Ojochide and pronounced  O-jo-chee-day, all long vowels.  I called the name Nosa and a gorgeous man in a traditional Nigerian outfit stood up and said here.  The bride stood up beside him.  I commented on how gorgeous the two of them looked and another man walked up and said, “I am the husband.”  Oops.  We all laughed and went upstairs for the ceremony.  The bride was in a black cap sleeve dress that hit just above the knees.  Her shoes were platform heels in red suede.  Her hair was in braids that were pulled into an updo.   Stunning woman.  The husband was casually dressed in black and red also.  They were a fun group.  Lots of laughter and good feeling in the room.

I was standing at the Deli counter talking to the manager and a man comes up to buy.  I step out of the way and notice he is carrying a marriage license. I asked if they were marrying today and he said yes.  I told him I would see him in a few minutes.  The bride wore a sliver knit dress.  The top had almost puff sleeves and was loose to the waist.  The skirt was straight.  On her feet, Christian Louboutin high heeled booties in silver and black.  She was so excited and emotional, she kept saying we are married, I am Mrs. ________. She called a friend as we were going back downstairs and said, “You are talking to Mrs. _______.  He was very warm and loving to her, and to her frail grandmother.  He was Greek and she was from Bosnia. 

Our last couple was from Uganda.  She wore  a strapless red and black patterned chiffon dress.  Over it she wore a little white statin jacket, more like a shrug.  He was all in black.  This woman was beautiful.  When they faced each other during their vows I almost stopped in surprise.  Her profile looked so much like the classic bust of Nefertiti.

A slow day, but a nice day.  Loving gentle people.  People who were serious about their vows, and understood the importance of marriage.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Yesterday I gave you highlights of Sunday.  I forgot one really fun product. 


Do you know what you are looking at?  


Stacked glasses of wine.  Four connected glasses that contain the equivalent of a bottle of wine.  All plastic, each glass snaps off, the lid peels off, and it is ready to drink.   Great for picnics, tailgating, pool parties.  The wine was average, but the concept is great.

Now on to Monday.  This was the day for the really wonderful exotic, expensive foods, and for great pizza, chocolate, teas, bar b que sauces.  First we went to a small hall that was for new products. 


This young man told us about his product: frozen pastry wrapped brie.  It can be frozen for up to a year.  You pop it into the oven and presto, a fancy dancy appetizer.


Aren’t these good looking purses?  Wrong, they are lunch boxes for the working woman.

Now to the huge hall where the International Foods were.  I wait for this all year ham, salamis, bacons, pates, foie gras.  Now they have lots of other wonderful foods and drinks, but the meat, heaven.


I found this wonderful meat case.  Prosciutto, speck, jambon, serrano,  I see it in the case.  What!!! They weren’t cutting any. Tightwads.


This is what I was looking for.  So very good.  There were lots and lots of people carving meat.  Very few had the knife skills of this man.  Most were using a commercial slicer.


Now this is a booth!  This trailer has a kitchen and serving windows on either side.  They were serving pizza.  Really really good pizza.

Sometimes food is not for eating.  It has other uses.


This man was carving animals, fish, flowers, birds etc. out of food.  He has a shrimp in his hands that he is attaching to the large arrangement.  Check out the watermelon.


This just might be my favorite booth, Hudson Valley Foie Gras.   I love foei gras  They produce their foie gras humanely.  Yes, the ducks die, but they are not forced fed.  The vendor is very generous with his samples.  In California it is illegal to sell foie gras.  But you can give it away.  Some restaurants serve it without charge.  Trust me, they make the cost up somewhere.

Next up Japan.                                                                                                  IMG_3183

The chef spoke no English.  He talked as he demoed a couple of dishes.  She translated.  First he made a roasted onion appetizer.  It was to be marinated in a special soy sauce made from the bubbles as it fermented.  You can see the onion in the bowl reflected in the mirror.  He then made a yellowtail sushi dish.  It was so good.  And that is coming from a woman who doesn’t eat fish.  But I ate this raw dish.  Fabulous.  

Eating all this rich food was thirsty work.


We went to a German wine tasting.  We tasted 5 wines that were excellent.


Big signs at this booth, CAVIAR.  I like caviar, but never buy it because it is so expensive.  This booth is doing tastings.  Well, it was not real caviar.  Again with the fishy icky roe of lumpfish and other non sturgeon eggs. 


Marty loves the hams just as much as I do.  He is going for prosciutto here.


We are in the Mexican pavilion.  We were drawn to the beautiful bottles.  We tried some of this tequila.   Beautiful bottles do not equal good tequila.  A direct quote from Marty, “It taste like liniment.”  Several booths later we found some good tequila. 


Pate.  All made by this man’s wife.  The pates were displayed beautifully.


And speaking of beautiful displays. I had a wonderful chocolate mousse cake thing.  Marty had a cheesecake.  While we were eating, a woman came up to me and asked how they tasted, do they taste homemade, I answered they were worth the calories.  I then told her she should have won.


And this is the lovely woman, Penny Davidi.  For those of you not addicted to food shows:  Penny was on The Next Food Network Star and Chopped.  She was at the Food Show representing the Food Network.  She talked a little bit about having a show coming up soon.  I would watch her.  She was shown as the villain on  The Next . . . Star.  We loved and hated her on the show.  In person, she is a charming lovely woman.  Much prettier in person, not as hard as they they showed her on the show. 

We then walked another two hours tasting and grazing.  


As you come up the escalator, this sign notifies you of the next show.  We already have it on our calendars.

This was a great show as always. I did not begin to tell/show you all we experienced.  I hope I did give you a great snapshot of the show. 

Monday, January 21, 2013


Sunday Marty and I went to the first day of the Fancy Food Show.  There were close to 2000 vendors from around the world.  There was everything you can think of connected to food.  From lunch boxes to foie gras.  We tasted, drank, touched, smelled food products and we walked miles.  I took 45 pictures on Sunday.  I have edited them down to less than 20.  I wish you could taste the foods.  Some I loved, some I spit into my napkins.  Marty liked foods I hated.  He disliked some I liked.  Food is very personal. 


We arrive.


This company has a really good Bar B Q sauce. They have other good sauces.

 IMG_3120We really love these knives.  We bought three a couple of years ago.


Just to show the rows and rows of vendors. And this is just one hall.  There are two more that we did today, Monday.

IMG_3127      IMG_3128

Salt was a huge item this year:  truffle salt, beer salt, salt from Alaska’s seas, from the Himalayas, sea salt from the Pacific and the Atlantic.  They are cooking veggies on blocks of salt set on an electric griddle.  They pour olive oil on it and then put the veggies on to grill.  I want my own block of salt. My brother said it sounded like a cattle salt lick.  That takes the glamour out of it.


I got excited, they were doing tasting of caviar.  Well, it was fish roe, lumpfish etc. not real caviar.  Bummer.


She was cooking tiny chocolate pancakes and chive pancakes.  The chocolate ones were dusted with confectionary sugar.  The chive ones had crème fraiche.  They were the size of silver dollars.


Some booths were really pretty.                                                               


A huge area was just California products.  Olive oils, wines, cheeses, breads, and much more.


Pretty teapots and mugs.  They also had white ramekins.


We loved this company.  The cola taste is as good as Coke or Pepsi, and I am picky on colas. The fruit drinks were very tasty.

Now at this point it is past noon, we have walked our legs off.  We need something potent.


And he came to our rescue.  Wine, lovely wine.  We perked up and pushed on for several more hours.

That is just a little bit of what we saw and tasted.  It was fun, tiring, loud, hot, and wonderful. 

Stay tuned for day 2.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dispatch From the Marriage Factory

Thank goodness we have guest blogger, Joe.  Without him we might not have wedding posts. My days have been slow. Fridays are always our busiest time at the  Marriage Factory.  And from his post, it was even busier than usual.  Thanks Joe for again sending us news from the Wedding Room.

Unlike Miss Janet, I barely had time to sit and read the paper today. The Hall is closed on Monday.  Perhaps that is why so many couples chose today to get married - 15 in all, and 3 more to be done after I left!  To top it all off, the clerks were shorthanded thanks to the megaflu, yet they still managed to keep bringing me ceremonies.  My desk was like the room in The Sorcerer's Apprentice - I'd have 5 weddings to do, get done one, and still had 5 weddings left.  They were multiplying!

There were examples of just about every kind of wedding: "just doing the paperwork", "we came in to get the license and thought what the heck and have the coffee stand attendant as a witness", several "we're having a baby", and a couple all-out shows.

Standouts include the couple who had been dating 2 weeks (the groom  made it clear they had been close friends for a long time – wonder what flipped the switch?), the bride who held the couple's sleeping daughter throughout the ceremony (I normally ask the couple to join hands - the groom gently took hers without my prompting) the little girl woke up in time for the pictures, the bride who smiled and cheered and did a little dance after the pronouncement ( I love a happy bride), and the pregnant bride who chewed gum all the way through the wedding.  I'd be cross except I bet it's to fight nausea, so she has my sympathies.

For some reason, at least 4 brides had turquoise necklaces.  As far as I can tell, garnet is January's stone, so go figure.  Beautiful dresses all day long, including a few standard wedding-type dresses in shades of white and off-white, with and without adornment.  A few noteworthy ones: a lilac full-length prom-type dress with a lacy corset, a red & black Japanese-patterned maternity wrap, and a gorgeous black and white sheath with ruching on the front.

I hope some of this bounty of brides spills over to Janet's next shift, and I also hope all the sick little clerks are feeling better when I get back next week!

Joe Mallon

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My turn to blog about weddings

Wednesday was a slow day at the Marriage Factory, but not as slow as last week.  Last Wednesday, zero weddings.  The clerks were very apologetic that I had come in and there was nothing for me to do.  I told them it was so nice not to be unpacking boxes.   It was nice to rest.  Yesterday there were three couples needing my marriage commissioner services.

The first couple was a young Chinese couple.  His English was perfect.  He was doing all the talking, so I had to check if she really spoke English.  He explained she had gone to high school here and spoke English, but she was nervous.  I talked to her, she clearly understood English.  She asked me to do a ceremony where she didn’t have to speak much, so I did.  We were worried about her nerves, but the groom is the one who was emotional.  He cried during the ceremony.  They were casually dressed, he in jeans and she in a skirt and sweater.  Six months ago they had had a huge cultural wedding.  This was for legalities. 

Couple 2 was older, he was born in 1944 and she in 1946.  This was a do over marriage.  They divorced in 1980.  Some time later they got back together and now wanted to be legal again.  Being older you would thing they would be dressed up, because that is what my generations does for weddings.  Not them.  They had their own look.  She had on a black shirt and black jeans.  The jeans were fabulous:  the back pockets had a sparkly design that continued down the sides.  The groom wore a long black leather trench coat.  I sooo wanted that coat.  They looked great.

The last couple was in their late twenties.  Both were extremely good looking.  He wore a white shirt with a narrow striped knit tie. He had on grey jeans and a grey blazer.  Very preppy looking. He held their 7 month old daughter.  The baby was dressed in a layered pale green tulle dress.  And then we come to the bride.

A little backstory is called for. Marty and I walked through department stores over Christmas.  We saw some really awful dresses.  One ugly cocktail dress in particular stuck in our minds.  It was shades of mottled purple flowers, uneven hem line, Grecian bodice, and a full skirt with a crinoline.  There were several hanging together, they were a hot mess.  I asked Marty who would wear something like that.

Have you guessed who would wear it?  You are correct, our last bride. Have you ever tried on a dress and it looked better on the hanger?  Well this time, the dress looked better on the woman.  The bride was stunning.  She carried lavender roses and it all just tied together.  I would have never dreamed that ugly dress could look so beautiful. 

It felt so good to be back doing weddings.  I am doing a service, but I am also having such a good time.  The best volunteer job ever.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Will we ever be done?

We have wireless Internet, we have our Direct TV, we have the big honking refrigerator, we even have garbage cans now.   We can sit down and watch TV at night and not feel we should be unpacking.  The unpacking left is mostly art work, some of Marty’s office stuff, and then we have pictures to hang.  We are slowing down.  I have lost all momentum and desire to arrange one more thing.  I am tired, cranky, and want to sit and do nothing all day. 

Yesterday I was making soup for a friend who is having oral surgery today.  I realized I didn’t like the way I set up the kitchen drawers.  I stopped cooking and rethought what I had done. I had put things I need more too far away from the table and the stove.  I moved stuff, combined stuff, did over a lot of what I did last week.  Will we ever be done? 

Marty has his closet unpacked and clothes hung up.  And we know it will all have to come out because the rod is bending.  A little bracing has to be done. 

Marty's going to the storage unit for art glass, and our silver flatware.  He has the RED BOOK that lists what is in nearly every box.  I really want my silver flatware.  Unfortunately it is in a box with Christmas China.  So he will bring that box, we will unpack it, pull what we want now, repack the box, and take it back to the storage unit.   That is one box of many packed that way.  Many will be carried in, and some will be repacked and stored. 

We are liking the place more each day.  The flat (I am trying out what to call it flat, apartment, duplex) feels homey, comfortable, ours.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Last night was wonderful . . .

Get your mind out of the gutter.  I WATCHED TV last night!  Finally the installation of the satellite dish happened.  It did not go well, as I again dealt with idiots at customer service.  But we will forget that badness and focus on the good.

The Direct TV installer was in the second window they gave me, yes a little mix up again. He made the window by 10 minutes.  He called 25 minutes out, as requested, so Landlord Joe would be here.  He worked for over three hours pulling old wires, putting the dish up, putting in all new wires, and then showing me how to work all the new equipment.  A very nice young man. 

I taught the installer something about channels offered that he didn't know.  We have East Coast feed for the 4 major networks.  I can watch everything 3 hours before programs are shown in PST.  I also have Southern California feed, so if there is a ballgame etc. preempting a show, it might be on in LA.  He said in 6 years of installation, he had never seen that offered.  I told him we were grandfathered in by Congress in the 90's.  (a long story in the history of airwaves in America)

I have On Demand now.  We watched one of the Top Chefs we had missed. Tonight we will watch one more, and then we are caught up on Top Chef. We can record 5 shows at one time.  If we want to watch a real time show, we can record 4 and watch one live.  Last night and this morning I set up my season passes to record.  And the boxes are so tiny now for the extra TVs.  They aren't much bigger than a slice of bread.  The main box is about the same as before.

This TV addict is a happy happy girl.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Update on the installation of the dish

This morning I explained about the satellite dish installation  appointment craziness.  It just got better.  Marty called me at noon to tell me the latest on our appointment.  He went into our account on the Direct TV web site.  Guess what, an appointment for a Thursday installation was listed.  I told you I made an appointment for Thursday.  Nothing was listed for Monday.  He called to confirm Thursday and they did not understand how the appointment got there.  Our installation is Monday. They have no openings until Monday.  They do not have an appointment with us on Thursday.  Monday, Monday, Monday is when they are coming.

And then, miraculously a cancelation on Friday popped up as he talked to them.  Now the installation is Friday.  We can't wait to see:
  1. If someone shows up on Thursday
  2. If anyone shows up on Friday
  3. If someone shows up on Monday
  4. No one shows up any of the above days, because they are as confused as we are.
  5. If someone shows up all three days.

And we are back to complaining

Yesterday we got the clearance from the Historical Society to put up the Direct TV dish.  I immediately called for an appointment.  Talked to two people, both very helpful.  I was given an appointment for Thurs, January 10 with a window of 12 -4.  I was doing my happy dance.  We were finally going to have TV.  We could watch what we wanted when we wanted.  I sent Marty a text that we had an appointment.

Marty came home and popped my happiness balloon.  He was called at 4:00 by the robot telling him his appointment is MONDAY, January 14 window 8-12.  What the Hell?   Where did my Thursday appointment go? 

I called the direct line they gave Marty, they lied.  It was not direct, I had to talk to the robot and punch buttons.  Finally a human, Jessica, I ended up liking the robot better.  Jessica kept repeating my appointment info on Monday.  Anytime I tried to tell her I had a Thursday appointment, she said no I didn't, they have no record of me talking to the appointment people, I only talked to someone who would have the robot call.  I asked to speak to the supervisor, no.  She would relay my questions and then she put me on hold.  We all know she counted to 100, and then made up her story.  She never would let me finish a sentence. 

I was at stroke level.  I love Direct TV, we have been customers since 1996.  Never have we had this kind of grief.  Now I want to ruin the company, but I still want my dish.  We get East Coast feed, we were grandfathered in by Congress years and years ago.  I do not want to have that end.

I thought about the trouble we had getting the installer to show up last week, he didn't. They never called he was running late.  We kept calling and they said they would have the installer call us. Did not happen.  They sent another tech, 4 hours later.  Then the Historical Society mess.  Now they canceled my appointment and made one for later.  And told me to take it or leave it.  Basically she called me a liar by saying I never called yesterday.  I do have a witness, I was on speaker phone when I talked to them.  Not nice, not good customer service.

So I went on the website, found the Vice President of Customer Care, and sent a long detailed message to her.  We will see if anything comes of that.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Joe's Dispatch from the Marriage Factory

Our guest blogger, Joe, is back.  Not only does Joe write about the marriages to help me, he has  become our TV Buddy.  Regular readers know we are having issues with installing our satellite dish, so no TV at our place.  Last night was the premiere of Downton Abbey and Joe and Sue had us over to watch it with them.  Good caring friends.

My apologies to Miss Janet. The holidays have been a period of much
activity, not least at the Marriage Factory. Here's a rundown of the
last three weeks.

The day before the weekend before Christmas Eve was surprisingly busy,
with almost 10 weddings (that means 9), a couple of whom even
mentioned the predicted end of the world. Several of the couples had
kids, none cuter than the little one who held her mother's bouquet in
front of her and said, "I'm a bush!" One of the grooms, taking me for
a judge, asked me how I came to marry people. I explained how to
become a deputy marriage commissioner, and he seemed interested. Even
with Miss J back, we still need all the help we can get.

The cutest couple were a pair of "hipsters" - piercings, ear gauging,
the whole lot. She wore a short ecru dress with a blue petticoat that
matched his tie.

New Year's Eve Eve Eve Eve Day was slower. Images: a babe-in-arms,
slowly pulling petals out of her mother's bouquet, examining them, and
dropping them on the floor. A bride in a raincoat and boots who
removed the coat to reveal a beautiful red wedding dress with a
tutu-like skirt. A wad of gum on the underside of the podium. (Gross)
Incidents like that reassure me that I'm not getting baselessly
crankier as I'm getting older. Sometimes, that crankiness is

This Friday started with a kerfuffle over foreign language ceremonies.
I'm qualified to do weddings in Spanish & English. We have staff who
can do weddings in Cantonese, Lao, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. A couple
had a Mandarin wedding scheduled, but the person who does them had
work to attend to, so I took up another couple for an English

As I was talking to the upstairs clerk about the first
couple, my couple overhears and decides they want a Mandarin ceremony
too. 2 problems: 1) I'd already printed my name on the license;
normally, the clerk could just reprint it, but 2) the license is from
San Francisco. Solution from the HoR geniuses: I did the absolute
necessities (what I call "Do you/Do you/Power vested in me"), thus
marrying the couple, and the Mandarin-speaking clerk did the full
ceremony. Everyone was happy, and no reprinting was necessary.

The rest of the day was busy but less complicated. Lots of beautiful
dresses, including a floor-length white gown, a tea-length white dress
with lace side panels, a mini with snow boots, and a "little black
dress" in orange. The snow boots couple had recently lost their dog,
and so had his/her tags wrapped around the stems of the bouquet. They
are forever awesome for doing that.

Most season-appropriate apparel: the bride & groom in matching 49ers
jerseys. Go Niners!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What else can go wrong? Or do I want to know?

Remember the Internet installer that didn't show up?  They sent someone else, and the job was finished 11 hours after they said they it would be done.  Today was Direct TV's turn.  They blew it also.  Window was 12-4.  No calls, no installer.  Marty called around 3:30 to see what was going on.  Oh yes, the installer will call you.

At 4:05 Marty calls to see why no one called or showed up.  They didn't know what had happened.  they would have the installer call us.  Well, they sent some one else who was not scheduled to do our install.  He showed up around 5:00.  Not bad considering he wasn't supposed to do our job. Landlord Joe met with him and HE DECIDED they couldn't put up a dish.  There are three freaking dishes on our back porch roof.  That is where we need to put the dish.  Joe wants to check with the Historical Society before letting us put the dish up.

Why the hell didn't he check when we gave him the time of the appointment a week and a half ago????

Now we have to wait for a decision.  Then we have to  reschedule our appointment for an appointment IF they let us put up the dish. I have missed TOP CHEF my favorite, Jeopardy,  and other shows.  We will miss Downton Abbey Sunday and that really ticks me off. 

If I have to use Comcast I will sh*t little green ice cream balls.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Are you as tired of this move as I am?

It seems nothing about our moving in goes as planned.  But some things at least are over.  And some nice things are happening. 


The truck is returned.


My big honking refrigerator is finally in and running.


Many boxes are unpacked.


Essential items were found.


Pretty things that make me happy were found.

But some things just made us mad. The satellite internet installers were almost 9 hours late.  That made it very dark when they arrived.  They were on the roof with lights on a headband.

As we waited we kept working.  Marty and I put down our Oriental rug in front of the bed.  It had about 6 inches to go under the bed’s legs.  Did I say it is an iron four poster bed?  It weighs a ton and we had another 100 pounds of boxes on it.  I can’t lift it and neither can Marty.  But nobody there but us chickens.  Marty got a lever, the ironing board, and lifted the bed.  I pushed the rug under the each leg.  We then repeated the process under the armoire.  The ironing board ???


Do you like the bend in the legs and the top?  Sweet Marty promised to quickly buy me a brand spanking new ironing board.  Be still my heart.

It is coming together.  The boxes are dwindling down.  Furniture and rugs are in place, well almost.  If all goes well by Wednesday night we will be sleeping at our new home.  Please may I have a working kitchen sink by then.