Saturday, March 30, 2013

A couple of weddings

Wednesday was really slow at the Marriage Factory.  No one to marry until 10 minutes before the cut off time.  Yep, 3:50 and I was handed 2 marriage licenses.  Now usually I would be pleased to do the ceremonies.  But that day I was having an eye problem.  Or maybe a head problem.

I have silent/painless migraines. (Usually I have no pain)   I just get an aura and can't really see much except swirling prism lights for 30 minutes to an hour. The older I get the longer they last. Afterwards I am exhausted and feel weird for the rest of the day.  The aura starts as a tiny circle and spreads throughout my total vision blocking everything   At half way through it begins to diminish and the circle opens gradually.   I can see some things as the aura wears off.  I was just past half way through the aura when I was handed the licenses.  I knew as it diminished I would have a wider circle of normal vision.

I could see just enough to check the licenses.  I could see to walk, and I have several ceremonies close to memorized.  Although I don't trust my memory and always have my book open.

I went out for the first couple.  She was 45 and this was her third marriage.  He was 40 and this was his second marriage.  That is a lot of baggage between them.  They were bubbly and happy as any couple should be.  I married them and  by the end of the ceremony my vision was almost normal. He was gorgeous to look at and charming.   I looked at her and thought what a good looking blond.  Her hair was pulled back in a loose bun with tendrils hanging down.  She wore a tailored silver grey pant suit, just one long look of Grace Kelly.  And  then I really looked at her:  her hands were scarred and discolored, her face had a lopsided smile, that smile caused by a two inch puckered scar on her cheek, and her face was discolored in places.  This woman had been in an awful accident and was scarred.  But she came across as a lovely classic blond princess.  I think her personality was so charming that you saw her inner beauty that was covering her scars.

The next couple were Chinese.  They were very Americanized and traditional at the same time.  He was sedate and she was giggly and bouncy.  After the ceremony, no kiss or hug  Just a thank you to me.  They were dressed causally, jeans and Tee shirts.  She kept on her down vest during the pictures.  When I said I would take pictures of the couple and their 2 guests, the guests both took off their coats and started primping for the pictures.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Doorbell Rang

Tuesday afternoon the doorbell rang.  Well almost rang, our doorbell is a wimp.  I went downstairs, opened the door, and there was a great surprise.


There on the porch was a nearly three foot long box with my name on it.  And it was a ProFlowers’ box.  YAY!  Our son, Erik, and his wife, Jennifer, had sent me flowers.  No reason.  It isn’t my birthday, our anniversary, Christmas. They just sent Mom/Janet flowers.  How sweet and wonderful is that?

Inside the box were dozens of alstroemeria in tight bud.  I trimmed the ends as instructed, put the food in the vase and put the flowers in.   They were very thirsty and drank deeply for a couple of hours.


The flowers are just starting to open.


That evening I had to take them off the mantle and put them on the kitchen table.  They were so wide they were mashing against the wall.  There were still a lot of buds to open.


Thursday morning the flowers are about 90% open.  They just get wider and wider.  They are so gorgeous!


The doorbell rang Thursday mid morning. A FEDEX driver hands me another ProFlowers’ box with my name on.  This box is a foot shorter than Tuesday’s box.  But still damn impressive.  What a great week I am having!

Inside the box

IMG_3448 IMG_3449

more flowers, but no card.   More directions on the care of this time, tulips.


Trimmed, fed, in their protective shell.


An overhead shot of the inside of that shell.


Four hours later the shell is off and the tulips are showing off their colors.

Now the question is who sent them?  The vase in the first shipment was chipped and Jennifer called and told ProFlowers.  They were shipping a new vase immediately.  So they could be building good will and threw in a dozen and a half stems of tulips.  Maybe. 

But I think it is much more likely that I have a secret admirer.  Wonder what he will send me next?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

We do love our orchids.

Marty and I discovered orchid plants in the early 1970’s.  Depending on where we have lived and whether there was water rationing. we continued to have orchids.  When we sold the house with our greenhouse in 2012, we were afraid that was the end of growing orchids.  What apartment would be bright enough or have outdoor space for when the orchids weren’t blooming?  We sold and gave away some of the orchids.  Friends took our cymbidiums, just to babysit them they said. 

We thought we would never have room for the cymbidiums, they are huge plants.  Richard and Luis had us bring our other orchids and when we left there to apartment hunt, they tended to them.   Well, now we have windows 8 feet tall.  We have a back porch and lots of steps.  We have collected our orchids and are enjoying them muchly!  Our friends are great babysitters of orchids.  I have pictures to show you the glory of blooming orchids all through our home.

Be sure to click on the pictures to see the detail.  Orchids come in all sizes and colors.  Some have wonderful aromas.  Some just look pretty and have no aroma.  And pretty they are.

IMG_3417     IMG_3422

We have the tiny white bloom.   In contrast, here is this yellow and red lovely cymbidium bloom, much bigger, almost saucer size.  The bloom spikes on this one are three feet tall.


Another cymbidium blooming its heart out.  Who knew brown could be so rich?


This is sitting on the freezer.  The buds are just starting to swell.

IMG_3424   IMG_3425

Here we have a cymbidium. pinkish white with touches of purples.  The next picture is an Iwanagaara (Apple Blossom) which is a cross of a cattleya.  Another white and purple but very different.  Notice that the Iwanagaara’s two bloom spikes have different colored flowers.  Yet it is the same plant.  Weird.  This smells incredible.


As I said, they come in all colors, Halloween Orange.


Pure white with just  a touch of purple.  You have to look inside the bloom to see the purple.


This is on Marty’s desk.  It is white with a touch of purple and a yellow throat.


The ones setting buds, or bloomed out will live here on the back porch.  It is covered and has windows all around it. There is room for plants to sit on the back steps too.  Marty is a happy boy.  He doesn’t have a green house any more, but our make do is going to work.  He can continue to garden.  Maybe some time I will write about his herb garden.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another different week

Last Thursday I started cleaning and cooking for a party on Saturday.  We were giving a Thank You Party for the people in the Bay Area who helped us with our move.  They packed us up, they moved stuff to the storage unit, they helped with the yard sales.  We were loaned the famous Big Blue truck.  Friends cared for our orchids for months. They fed us emotionally and physically.  My blog continued to have wedding news while I was in San Diego. And then we came back and they did all this in reverse.

A friend let us stay with her for over a month as we found a place and then moved in.  Boxes were moved out of the unit to our apartment.  Again we were helped, fed, nurtured, loved.  No amount of wine and great appetizers can begin to thank them for all they have done.  But that and our love is the best we can do. 

Sunday we went to church, a congregational meeting, and then to pick up our orchids.  Marty placed then on the back steps and they look great.  Then we rested. 

When we went to bed I told Marty my stomach felt weird.  And weird it was, I woke up at 4:00 very ill.  I won't give the awful details.  But I was sick, really sick.  Monday and Tuesday I slept all day and night other than trips down the hall.  Today I have managed to stay awake most of the day.  I was in the recliner and I dozed off some.  But I am feeling better.

I had chicken broth with a little rice for lunch.  Marty has made soup for supper.  We will see.

Please may the next week be normal!  Oh wait, it won't be, it's Spring Break.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Busy Week

There has been nothing normal about this week.  Tuesday I didn't get to volunteer at Kaiser School.  Marty trumped my need for the car with a doctor's appointment. Tuesday afternoon Comcast was here, more on that later.  Wednesday I didn't go in to the Marriage Factory because of lack of sleep.  Today I was to spend the afternoon with a good friend doing nothing but girl talk.  Her child is home from school sick so that fell through.  So I have washed clothes, cleaned part of the house and done some cooking.

Now to Comcast.  As everyone knows we have had trouble on trouble with our satellite Internet.  It is slow, it goes down sometimes for days, it isn't compatible with Direct TV.  Even though I am not real fond of the Comcast company dating back to rudeness and lack of service 8  years ago, they are our only option for Internet.  AT&T told us that don't have the speed we need in our neighborhood. 

Comcast sent two technicians who were professional, who told me every step that they were doing, and who couldn't get anything to work. The little 1 hour job took 4 1/2 hours to complete. The  first modem (or could be a router it is all magic to me) they installed just didn't work.  They installed another one, better with built in WIFI.  They had some issues but it worked.  They told me to write down the security key, they turned the box over to get it, and the manufacturer had left it off.  Box 3 was installed. They called their support guy, told him to delete number 2 and activate number 3.  Guess which one he deleted, yep number 3. After much muttering number three finally worked, for the Internet, not On Demand for Direct TV.

That next night I called Direct TV.  Told our long sad tale of satellite Internet not working, On Demand not working, and I want it fixed, I want money off our bill because I am not getting the services I am paying for.  I told them we have a new Internet company, and still no On Demand.  Marty or I have made these calls almost weekly for over 2 months.  I finally talked to someone intelligent. Well two someones, a tech rep and her supervisor. 

Both of these women listened to me, and told me what is going on.  There is a computer glitch with our model of the DVR box  Engineering is working hard to correct the problem.  They have known about this for two weeks, funny we have had the problem for two months.  And we have talked to other techs in the last week and they didn't tell us this.  The supervisor also said we should never been hooked up to satellite Internet.  The Federal guidelines say only use satellite if there are no other options.  In other words, you live in the middle of the wilderness in Alaska.  They are knocking $10 off our bill for the next 6 months.  That isn't a lot, but it is only one channel that is messed up.

We will see if this is finally cleared up.  Stay tuned.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weddings from last Wednesday

Today I am writing the blog post I should have written Friday.  We had a busy weekend.  Marty and a friend brought most of what was left in the storage unit to our storage shed.  So Saturday and Sunday we were unpacking again, putting up things, repacking what doesn't work, and taking the boxes back to the shed.  We are still going through things.  And there is more to bring to our shed.  Not much, but some.  Now to the weddings.

Wednesday was again a slow day for weddings. The first wedding the groom asked me, " Do you know my friend, Joe, who works here.  I thought of our Joe who guest blogs, and is the only Joe who volunteers.  I said yes, he and his wife are my friends.  Oh, groom's Joe is not married and doesn't do weddings.  He works for a County Supervisor.  Not in this building and not our Joe.

The bride wore a black suit with a pencil skirt, short jacket, and the under blouse was black.  She wore a wrist corsage of white roses and carried white roses.  The groom wore a black suit, white shirt, and no tie  He had a white rose boutonniere.  The witness pulled out a beautiful pearl tiara for the bride's something borrowed. The bride wasn't sure, was it too much?  I told her it was one of the few times in her life she could wear a tiara and she should wear it.  She looked beautiful wearing it.

It was sad to be with the next couple.  He (64 looked 100) was legally blind (some sight) dragging an oxygen tank. The canister was not even on wheels  She (59 looked 79) was totally blind and could barely walk.  Their caregiver was with them and the brides' daughter and two grand daughters.  He would bend double trying to breath after walking.  I suggested they do the ceremony sitting on the bench.  No, they wanted to stand under the arch (the daughter had told them about it).  They held hands tightly during the ceremony.  When we went back downstairs, the daughter reminded him that he had a doctor's appointment later Wednesday.  He said I am too sick to go to the doctor.

When I returned to my desk, the lead clerk asked me to help train clerk K who is new to Vitals.  K and  I went over the license. It was a reprint, and it and the souvenir certificate couldn't be completed because of mechanical problems. Wedding Desk Clerk C was going to finish the paper work.  K joined me to observe this ceremony.  The couple was from Ethiopia.  She was gorgeous and he was very handsome.  He wore a black suit with a crisp white shirt.  She wore a long blue wrapped dress which had long sleeves.  The couple looked very elegant.  I noticed she wasn't talking and that he was translating.  I asked if English was going to be a problem, and he said that he thought she might be OK.  Might be?  Great.  I questioned her and she was able to answer me in very short sentences.  I was sure she could understand what was going on.  I did a ceremony that the couple did not have many vows to say to take the pressure off the bride.

The last wedding was a good one for K to observe.  I had told her that you never know what is going to happen, and this wedding proved the rule   We had license problems,  the couple had to sign again, a dead typewriter, and had to prove the bride understood English.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

First Graders make me laugh

Tuesday was a busy day at school.  Things were just a little different.  Miss R, the student teacher, was doing nearly all the teaching this week.  Ms. H and I were to be her aids.  That was fine, I always am the aid in the classroom.  The big thing was the Math Assessment Test.  These are developed by the Oakland School District.  Hold that thought.  The curriculum is set by the same school district.  Hold that thought.

The test is over material Ms. H doesn’t teach or is just now beginning to teach.  Same people set material to teach and when to teach it, same people wrote the test.  Ms.H knows the students will be upset because some won’t be able to do the problems, or will feel unsure because what they know is so new.  She explained the booklets had new things, old things,  and unknown things.  They were to do their best, not to worry about it. 

And we began.  Testing First Graders is a riot.  The so you can’t cheat shields (3 sided cardboard in front of each child) fall off the desks, children are on the wrong page/problem, they want help, their pencils break, they finish the page before the questions are asked, they fall out of their chairs, and on and on.

I am walking up and down checking what is being done while Ms. H is reading the problems.  One of the problems had a number chart laid out in sections of ten.  They were to find 63 and then find a number two less using the chart.  Then they were to find a number three more using the chart.  One little boy yelled out, “There’s a mistake!”  Can you find it?

41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

61 62 63 64 65 66 77 68 69 70

Yes, 77 does not belong there.  Then this child said he didn’t think we should have to do tests that have mistakes.  We should send it back to them and have them fix it.   All the adults nearly died laughing.

Ms. H continued reading problems, “Kim wants to know what number fact is left out the fact family in the box.   Kim wants to know how many tens in 72. Tell Kim how you know.  Kim wants to know how many ones in 27.   Tell Kim how you know.”  Kim wanted to know a lot. The hard part of this section is writing how you know.  That is a really hard concept for little ones.  Plus what they know, they can’t spell.

We finally finished.  Ms. R reads a story to the class to let them relax.  Ms. H and I are checking the tests.  I hear her laughing.  She hands me one of the test booklets.  A wonderful brilliant sassy little girl has written, “If Kim wants to know, have her call me.”  Ms. H gave her full credit.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

7 1/2 Hours Later

I have mentioned here, on Facebook, and to everyone who will listen, we have stuff.  We have stuff that will not fit in the apartment, but we will need once or twice a year.  Stuff like suitcases, Christmas stuff, tools, good china and silver, we have stuff.  We are renting a storage unit that is way too expensive and in the next town.  So we bought a storage shed.  The landlord will rent a place on the property for us to put our shed.  Yay, our stuff will have a home.

After researching brands, Marty ordered a shed from  Free shipping, other companies wanted up to $300 to ship/deliver a shed to us.  Yesterday the shed arrived, in two boxes weighing about 250 pounds each.  The truck driver only drops the package on the property and leaves.  We need it on the back of the property, about a block away.  Marty tipped the driver and it was dropped where we needed it.

Marty came in and asked me if I wanted to come see the parts and pieces.  Sure, I’ll go look.  7 1/2 hours later I went back inside. 

I looked at all those parts, and knew Marty couldn’t put it together alone.  It was a two or three man job.  We skipped lunch, I brought out some Pepsi and slices of cheese.  We worked until after dark, using my phone app for a flashlight.  It is done, ready to be stuffed with our treasures.


Marty is reading, make that looking at the directions.  There were no written directions, just pictures with parts’ numbers to be used.  Not easy.


This is the floor.  It is on top of plywood which is on top of cinder blocks.  There are three panels here.  They snap together similar to Legos. See next picture.  Then we screwed the floor to the plywood.  Oh, did I mention the first bag of screws to do this WERE not in the box? Luckily Marty had what we needed in his tool box.


This is a wall panel snapping into the floor.  Except it didn’t.  As I said similar to Legos.  You snap a Lego, it stays snapped until you pull it apart.  I used a crowbar to push up on the floor and Marty would push down.  There are four snaps, we would push one in and the next one would pop out.  I broke a nail into the quick.  But I am a trooper and kept working. When a new panel finally snapped in, it would be screwed to the next one.


Progress, the back and one side snapped in.  This corner panel took forever to snap in.  I popped that crowbar between the plywood and the floor over and over.  Muttered sounds of someone saying really bad words.


It is beginning to look like a building.


Putting on the roof.  We assembled the metal rafters, and then put on the roof panels.  Everything snaps in, slides into the rafter, and then has about 10 screws.  Labor and time intensive.


This was one of my jobs.  I hung from the roof (I needed to be about 2 inches taller.  This was on my tiptoes.)  while Marty attached it to the rafters and the wall.  Sometimes Marty hung from the roof and I got to use the drill to put the screws in.


Marty doing a super job of attaching the rafter to the roof panel.

                              IMG_3404                                     IMG_3398

The job is finished.  Everything is cleaned up.  Two very tired and hungry people are ready to rest.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

More Reading than Weddings

As soon as I arrived at the Marriage Factory Wednesday, I had three weddings back to back.  I thought, yes finally Wednesday is back to being busy.  No, just the three as soon as I got there, and then I read and played games on my phone.  I miss those busy busy afternoons.  As always I enjoyed doing the ceremonies.

Wedding 1 was for a very Americanized Vietnamese couple.  The bride wore a creamy white chiffon sheath, a black belt, a black shrug, and black heels.  He wore a white shirt and black pants.  They were both grinning, great smiles.  Their parents were with them.  I realized the parents had very limited English.  I asked the couple if one of them wanted to translate during the ceremony.  They said, “No need.  This ceremony is for us.  They get what they want at the cultural ceremony.”  It wasn’t mean spirited.  It was a compromise.

The next couple the bride was 10 years older than the groom.  She was mid forties, he mid thirties.  The groom looked 10 years older than the bride.  He had graying hair and a lined face.  It was his third marriage and her first.  They were so solemn.  There were no smiles, no jokes, no reaction to anything.   Then as he started saying his vows it was as if the sun came out.  They smiled, relaxed, and just beamed.

The last couple the groom was Iranian and 61.  The bride was Chinese and 47.    He was dapper, in a light grey suit with half glasses on his nose.  She was exquisite in her bright red sheath.  The dress was knee length with an A line skirt, a square neck, and cap sleeves.  Her jewelry looked antique.  The necklace was silver filigree with a dark patina through the design.  Garnets were set though out the necklace.  Her hair was up and had two clips in it.  Both clips were silver and black metal bows.  And the groom gave her a huge diamond ring.  For the first time I saw a groom receive a circle of diamonds for his ring. 

This couple was having such a good time at their wedding.  During the vows the bride got a bad case of giggles because she could not say the R sound.  The harder she tried, the worse it became, and the more she giggled.  Before the ceremony I had barely noted her accent, but nerves did her in.

It was a quiet day, but three more couples have begun a new level in their relationship.  They had a civil marriage ceremony that was not cold and impersonal.  They were congratulated in the elevator and the hall by staff, people in the lobby called out good wishes.  We may be a government office, but our couples feel the good wishes from all.