Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Here's what's going on

Here it is Wednesday and I feel as if the weekend should be here.  This has been a week of feeling puny.  That is the word I use when I'm not sick, don't feel well, just don't feel right.  I don't feel puny every day, just sometimes.  Sunday sort of puny.  Sunday night was just bad and with little sleep. 

When the alarm went off Monday I started to the shower.  Half way there I knew I needed more rest.  Listen to your body they preached in the hospital.  After calling the Marriage Factory to say sorry, back to bed I went.  I spent the day feeling off.  Not scary, just not normal. 

Tuesday the alarm went off, I felt normal.  Off to school I went.  Lots of walking around the classroom to check work, be sure work being done, and to hear each child read to me.  The walking is good for me, and I count it as part of my daily exercise.  I enjoyed my 3 hours working with the first graders, received some hugs and came home.  I did feel  tired when I got home.  I ate lunch, read some and then I took a long nap. 

Funny thing, I forgot to turn my iPhone's ringer back on after leaving the classroom.  I woke up from the long nap at 4:18. I was going to check Facebook on my phone when I saw I had received a text from Marty.  It said he would arrive at the BART station at 4:29.  Lucky I woke up when I did.  Otherwise he would have arrived, called me and it wouldn't have rung, and I wouldn't have answered.  That would have either ticked him off or scared the liver out of him.  Luckily we are less than 5 minutes from the station, so I was on time. 

Some days are good, some a little harder.  But even puny days are better than a good day a month or so ago.  This eating healthy stuff seems to be working.  I have lost 31 pounds.  Only a ton to go.  Friends say I sound like their ole Janet.  So it is all good. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lots of driving on Tuesday

Tuesday was the first day the BART strike was over.  Getting to school should have been no problem.  People are back on the trains and off the highway.  Well, it did not go well.  Nearly every highway in The Bay Area had major wrecks.  Big rigs, motorcycles, cars, vans, you name it, it had crashed.  We are talking total gridlock. 

When we got to the ramp for 580 we could see traffic was stopped.  So we went to plan B, street roads.  Now usually our trip to Kaiser School is around 35 minutes.  On a bad day it takes 45 minutes. On the bad traffic days I am there by 8:45. We had built in extra time in case of slow traffic.  This is a trip of 12 miles.  Tuesday it took one hour and five minutes to get to school.  By the time I signed in, hit the restroom, and walked out to the Portable, it was 9:30.   Ms. H was glad to see me.  Another volunteer was out sick, and one called and said she just couldn't get there. 

Ms. H gave me several books to pick to read to the class. Some were fiction and some were science and social studies books.  I picked two books and had the class vote on which book they wanted to hear.  I explained they were not fiction.  I held up the books, one was about the life of bats and the other was about Mummies.  I told them to stand up if they wanted the bat book.  Not a child stood up.  The whole class wanted to hear Mummies by Joyce Milton and illustrated by Susan Swan. 

Mummies is pretty educational on a first grade level.  The book has photographs and illustrations.  It tells how the organs are removed and preserved separately from the body.  Lots of ewww when I read that.  It explains why pyramids were built. And it gives information about the funerals of the Kings.  Years ago I was a docent in a museum and gave tours on mummies (bats too).  I knew extra material I added to the discussion of the book.  Over all the class listened and liked the book.

Tuesday was one long day for me.  We left for school at 8:00, Marty picked me up at school, I dropped Marty back at work, then went to have my hair cut, picked up Marty, and then home.  I grabbed a bite to eat and then drove back to the neighborhood the school is in for my book group.  I got home around 9:30 P.M.  All these little trips added up to about 100 miles of driving.  I was tired and slept really well Tuesday night.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monday, it must be time for weddings

Monday the BART strike was still on, so traffic was a mess.  We left early for Oakland and stayed off the Interstate.  Surface roads all the way.  There was traffic, but we were moving.  Until school zones. The crossing guards are power crazy. There were no children in the cross walk, nor in sight. NONE.  The crossing guard lowered her stop sign and traffic started moving.  She went ballistic: up popped the stop sign, she is screaming at us, and then blowing her whistle.  We all slam to a stop and wait and wait.  Some children stroll to the corner and we wait for them to cross.  Finally we made it to the county building and Marty drops me off at 8:30.

Again I am waiting.  No one is in the lobby.  No trains running and gridlock on the roads, people are having trouble getting to us.  Finally just before 10:00 I get my first couple to marry.  Business picked up after that.  It was a day with couples from many places: The Philippines, Cambodia, Tonga, Oakland, Oregon. I did 6 weddings before I left at 12:15.

The toddler girls stole the show as far as fashion.  One little girl had on a waltz length dress.  The dress was dark blue with a lighter blue underskirt.  She wore glitter covered silver slippers that matched the glitter silver polka dots on her dress.  When Daddy picked her up and hugged her, he ended up with glitter on his face.

Another little girl was in a muted gold knee length dress.  It also was sparkly.  She wore gold Mary Janes, and had a white flower in her hair.  She was the ring bearer and had a little beaded shoulder purse that held the rings. 

My brides all looked nice, one was even in an evening gown.  The grooms were dressed nicely too. But no one looked as great as the two little girls.

Technology now plays a part in weddings. My Minister had to tell a couple at their rehearsal to stop texting and pay attention.  I am sure he worded it nicer than that.  I try to control the texting and phones ringing. But peoples are so connected to their phones, they sometimes don't listen.  The technology is good though in many ways.  Pictures /recordings are taken with smart phones or iPads.  Distant family is called and can listen to the ceremony.  And some couples SKYPE family in other countries. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Yes, I have to confess to my terrible addiction, lists.  I love to make lists and then cross out or check off items as they are completed.  I feel almost saintly when my list is marked out.  I also confess if it is a short list, I will add things I have already done.  That way the list looks more important.

I keep a grocery list that is added to daily.  Parties always have their own grocery list and a menu list with alternative foods.  Then you have the getting ready list for parties: clean silver, wash wine glasses, etc. 

Holiday dinners bring out the worst in me in list making. First on the list which china to use.  Or will we use stoneware,  rectangle glass plates, or not fancy dancy china.  Then we have which flatware, stainless, my silver or  mother's silver.  From there we move on to glasses, and that will just bore you I have so many choices.  When all of this is decided, we set the table, and every bowl and platter is labeled with what goes in or on it.  

Now all of the above is just a smidgen of my list making.  Right now I am in full control yourself mode.  My brother and his wife are coming Thanksgiving Week.  I sooo want to make a list now.  I am the travel guide and need to send them lists of links to fun things to do or see.  I have to plan  meals and one is the biggest holiday meal in our family. I have to make room for two house guests in our smallish apartment. They will not arrive for over month, but my mind is going bonkers thinking of all that needs to be done.

They came in July for a week and we know the blow up bed works well.  That is checked off in my head.  But there was not enough drawer space for them.  According to Little Brother if wife Ann would just bring 2 pairs of shoes, one pair of jeans, one pair of dress slacks, and 7 tops she would have had room.  He said it not me.  Bless his heart he just doesn't understand women must be ready for any event.  I am working on a plan for more drawer space and closet space.

There are lots of things to do before they get here.  But as I said I will control myself.   But in  a couple of weeks let the lists begin!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Joe talks fashion

Joe is getting really good at the fashion report.  

Another busy day at the factory.  In my last post, I advocated
legalizing same-sex marriage for the tourist windfall.  There's
another reason: male same-sex couples have good-looking weddings, no
matter their age.  The older couple I married early in the day had
found the same monogrammed shirt in different sizes, and were wearing
the same colored trousers and shoes, topped off with matching
boutonnieres.  Casual, but stylish.

I had to wait until my shift was almost over for the best-dressed
wedding.  The entire party were in black and white.  Two men and a
bunch of female guests, all in clever variations on the same theme.
It was clear that a guiding intelligence had put the party together.
One of the women wore a white lace dress.  I thought she was the bride
until the gentlemen in vests, one with a standard tie and one a bow
tie, stepped forward.  While the ceremony was nice, the fashion show
was better.

There was competition: a lovely purple wrap dress, a knee-length white
brocade, and a full-length standard bridal gown.  The latter was in my
last wedding of the day, which was also the largest.  The wedding room
was full, all the benches packed.  The crowd urged the bride and groom
through their vows, and when they were pronounced husband and wife,
the place erupted.  I hope their marriage is as happy as their guests


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkins, Math, Phonics, it must be Tuesday

It was Tuesday and another day at Kaiser School with the First Graders.  There were a lot of parents volunteering.  Some repeats from last week, and some new parents.  We had one adult for each work  station which was nice.

I was working with the group writing about their music class.  They had each pasted a picture on the paper and had to write three descriptive sentences.  Of course they wrote It was fun,  I liked it, or It was loud .  I asked the group what is It?  They thought I was clueless, "We are writing about  music class, you know that Ms. Appel."  Nope, can't tell that from the sentences.  And then I asked why "it" was fun.  Finally the light bulbs when on and some nice sentences were written.  I like music class because it is loud.  We had drums and we got to clap. I love loud clapping.   Now I know what it is and why they had fun.

While they were at recess I took some pictures of the classroom.

Some of you may recognize this, a blood pressure machine, mine.  While they are out of the room I check my BP and then take my meds.


I am sure when I was in First Grade I had no idea what alliterative meant.  Impressive teaching, she teaches up, not down.

                                  Heavy thought for a First Grader  Fair is not always equal. 

Phonics' books, decodable reading books, journals are on the desks.  Lots of learning going on.

After recess I read a book to them.  I do love to read to children.  Ms. H gave me 4 books and let me pick the one I wanted to read.  They all were Halloween/pumpkin related.  I picked the silliest one.

The Vanishing Pumpkin written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tomie dePaola.  Lots of repetition and silly magic.  The class loved it.

Again as I left sweet children gave me hugs and kisses.  It was a lovely morning.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Columbus Day Weddings

Columbus Day is a Federal Holiday, but not all businesses or government agencies close.  Alameda County was open for business.  But not many people showed up for weddings or other business done by the County Recorder's Office.  We decided people thought we were closed.

I had only 4 ceremonies all morning long.  Clerk Q who does the Spanish and also English ceremonies if we get backed up, had no weddings Monday morning.  It was slow, but for me that was a good thing.  Sunday had been a bad day for me and I was worried about doing much on Monday.  My ceremonies were spaced out nicely, so I got to rest between couples.

Three couples really stand out in my mind.  A Hispanic couple in their early forties.  He was so solemn and matter of fact.  UNTIL I said, "Do you take this woman as your wife?"  He looked at her and broke out in a huge loving smile. Love just poured out of him.  Goosebumps time.

The next couple were from South Carolina.  This was a destination wedding for two men.  They found us on YELP and were impressed with our reviews.  They weren't sure who should stand on which side during the ceremony.  I asked them when they walked down the street and held hands, who was on which side?  They laughed and said, " We are from South Carolina, we don't hold hands much in public."  Good they could laugh about it, but a sad statement too.  The men were so happy and so emotional.  They were so pleased with our Wedding Room, and the kindness of the staff. 

Now for my favorite couple of the day.  They were in their early thirties, and casually dressed.  This was a spur of the moment wedding.  The bride was on her way to work.  He was on his way to pick up their kids at school.  She was not worried about her outfit.  But he worried about he looked.  He took off his hat and his hair was prematurely gray.  It was beautiful.  Silver at the temples with flecks of silver throughout.   He kept saying if he had known they were getting married he would have gotten a haircut first.  Then he worried about having on a T-shirt and jeans.  He was a head taller then his bride.  She was leaning against his shoulder, and every few seconds he leaned down and kissed the top of her head, and then hugged her.  I wanted to cry because it was so touching.  This couple radiated love and devotion.

This last couple is the prime example of why I volunteer.  I was so touched and happy doing that ceremony.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weddings and TV?

Joe has sent us another  post from the Marriage Factory.  Thanks Joe.

I watch a lot of television.  A LOT of television.

My tastes run toward single-camera comedies on NBC, live sports, and
the odd crime drama, like BONES or THE BLACKLIST.  I don't watch
reality TV, not even competition shows.  Luckily, my encounter with a
contestant from one such show was very sweet.  She and her intended
were on vacation in California and decided to make a wedding of it.
She was not at all upset that I didn't recognize her.  I hope she has
all the success in the world.

They were not the only pair from out of town.  I had couples from
Utah, Colorado, and Texas.  All those tourist dollars floating into
California, just because we let people marry each other.  You'd think
in troubled economic times, most states would be smart enough to
recognize that source of revenue.  If not, hey, more for us.  Plus
we've got the Wine Country for honeymooning.  It's hard to beat that.

The cutest wedding of the day was a color-coordinated one: bride &
groom in red, black, gray, and white.  The ring bearers were three
children between 5 and 8, all in ties, pinstripe waistcoats, and
trousers.  They matched perfectly, like a set of formally-dressed
nesting dolls.  Rarely do I feel underdressed in my officiant's robe.

I was also lucky enough to marry a couple whose store I patronize.
It's great to join together two people who've formed both a life and a
thriving business, especially since I could probably get a discount

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Back with the First Graders and other stuff

Tuesday was a big day.  It was the first time I had driven since September 5.  I was more than a little nervous.  It was only 13 miles to the school, but rush hour traffic on a freeway can be exciting.  Was I ready?   The trip took 44 minutes, lots of idiots on the road, but I stayed cool.  No stress allowed.  I parked on campus with my new handicap placard.  That saved me the walk up and down hills, which I could not have done.

Once in the classroom, great joy by Ms. H.  Hugs all around.  She introduced me to the class and then we went to work.  She insisted I work at a table one on one with the students.  Not much walking around allowed.  I was to take it easy.  I helped the students correct and rewrite a story about Pajama Day.   They love to use upper case letter, even in the middle of a word.  We also worked on expanding sentences:  It was fun, became I had fun because we wore pajamas and slippers to school.  I asked them to tell what happened that day, and then they wrote it down.

Then I moved on to math.  Mostly they needed to finish pages, or show their work.  Finally I was allowed to walk around and check over the phonics workbooks.  She was right, I wasn't ready to do a lot of walking and bending over. 

I took my blood pressure and pulse during recess. And then I took my pills. I stretched out the time I usually do that so the class was out of the room.   As I was leaving Ms. H handed me flowers and a card.  Then a little girl came up, hugged me, and then kissed me.  Several children came up and hugged me.  That is why I volunteer, sweet little children.

I went home, had lunch and then had a nice long nap.  Tuesday night is my Book Group.  I had to be rested and strong for that.  I was driving myself and friend Kirsten to Book.

Book Group was great.  These are good friends who had prayed for me and sent me good wishes throughout my hospital stay.  We had a great discussion on a very difficult book.  The Wicked Girls is so well written and such a sad and upsetting story.   This is not a book for just anyone to read.  You have to understand it is tragic and the subject matter is gut wrenching. 

I was tired when I got home.  But I had done another normal day.  Even if I had to nap.  I had done it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yay, I made it back to the Marriage Factory!

Sunday night I worried about being ready to volunteer Monday and Tuesday.  Both doing weddings and working with the first graders require physical activity.  This post is about Monday.  Later this week I will tell you about Tuesday.

First I had to be up, dressed, and fed by 7:45.  I still move really slowly, maybe afraid to tire myself out.  Plus I am not a morning person.  Why I pushed for morning volunteering I don't know.  Anyway, we were on the road at 7:45.  When I walked into the building, the clerks were lovely and made over me.  Several throughout the morning kept checking that I wasn't tired, that I felt OK, did I need to rest.  It was if I had several Moms checking on me.  It was very sweet.

To the weddings:  I only did 5 ceremonies.  There were several Spanish and Mandarin ceremonies, so I could rest while those were done.  My first ceremony was a big test.  Remember I had not done a ceremony since August 26.  Could I still be charming even when worried, could I be patient dealing with problems from the public, could I pronounce the foreign names.  The first couple were from Mongolian.  Their language does not use a lot of vowels in names.  But people I nailed it!  First try both the bride's and the  groom's names were correct. 

The bride had on a gorgeous white brocade dress.  It hit just as her knees, the neckline was square cut, and the sleeves were stunning.  They were little cap sleeves that were square also with a couple of horizontal pleats.  They stood up just a little bit as if there were shoulder pads, but it was all about the tailoring.  Project Runway worthy.

Another bride had on a white pencil skirt, black top and a black shrug.  The bride was at most a size 2, tiny tiny woman.  Yet for her wedding day she bought a skirt that was one size too small, that showed her panty line, and looked as if the skirt was sprayed on.

The next couple was from India.  They  were in their early thirties and were so in love.  They both had been divorced.  This is one couple I made up a story about them and gave it an ending.  They both had done the wedding demanded by their culture, an arranged marriage.  They were not happy and each divorced.  They came to America and found out you are allowed to choose your own spouse.  They fell in love, I married them, and they lived happily ever after.

One couple was a little different.  They looked like brother and sister.  They were both redheads, with that freckled ivory skin.  There was family from both sides children, brothers, and sisters, who had that pale skin and some were redheads.

My favorite couple was two women from Oregon.  All of their guests were from Oregon.  This was a destination wedding.  One of the women was a judge and did weddings in her court room.  When she saw our wedding room with the arch covered in silk flowers she squealed with delight.  She said they wanted to dress up their wedding area, but it is a courtroom and can't.  They were so happy to be allowed to marry.  They loved how our staff treated them, our room, our kindness.

I was tired when I got home.  But no heart problems,  And after a 2 hour nap I was ready for the  next round of Normal.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dispatches From The Marriage Factory: Dudes and Dudes

Another post from Joe.  Thanks Joe.

Some dudes marry other dudes. Get over it.

So read the T-shirt of one witness for a same-sex male couple.  Indeed
they do, in California and a growing list of other states and
countries.  Some chicks marry other chicks, too.  And I help them get
it done.  This week's couples included a double wedding, two pairs of
women who'd been together almost 35 years and had all known each other
even longer.

When I told my mother I wanted to start doing weddings to help
same-sex couples get the same rights I had, she told me that I had
confirmed what a good mother she was (just like Miss Janet!).  After
all, if I cared so much about justice, she must have instilled that in
me.  She was right.

You can imagine how devastated she was when Proposition 8 passed in
2008.  One of the main reasons for my enrollment at the Hall was gone,
as was the image of the progressive nature of California.  She
monitored the frustratingly slow pace of the challenges to both Prop 8
and DOMA.  She called me in jubilant voice when the Supreme Court
issued its rulings overturning both, so happy about something that
didn't directly affect her.  That's my mom.

Some dudes marry other dudes.  I make sure that happens.  'Cause my
mama raised me right.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

And now a post from Joe

Dispatches From The Marriage Factory: Big party!

It's a little unsettling to look into a crowded lobby, see what looks
like at least 2 parties, and call a pair of names, only to see
everyone in sight move toward you.  The guests couldn't have been
nicer, even offering each other places on the first ride up.  Two
stuffed elevators later, the wedding room was full to bursting, and
everyone had a camera.  The couple finally moved into place, and we
had a lovely ceremony.  Luckily, the next couple didn't mind waiting a
bit as even more pictures were taken.

Later in the day, there was another big crowd, just as happy and just
as fotophilic (as opposed to photophilic - responding well to light -
not me in the morning!), flashing away before, during, and after the
ceremony.  The couple had been together for many years, and the guests
wanted to capture every moment of the big day.

And a child shall lead them.  Or at least watch.  For the first time,
both of the witnesses (and only guests) for a wedding were children.
They were about 8 and 10.  The state says that anyone who can sign his
name can witness a wedding, so everything was on the up-and-up.  The
kids were excited about seeing their parents marry after many years
together.  There were tears and hugs, a few signatures, and off they
went for a well-deserved round of ice cream.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Normal continues

This week I have worked on walking longer and faster.  Today, Thursday, I walked 40 minutes.  The last 10 minutes seemed like an hour.  But I did it.  And I walked faster, thus further than all week.  One way I keep my pace up is listening to good music on Pandora.  Some of the best music for me to walk fast: Areosmith, Abba, Def Leppard , Classic Rock, and Queen. 

I have cooked a little, but mostly I let Marty cook, and I wash dishes. I do make my own breakfast and lunch. But Marty is the Chef.  He is doing a great job integrating the Cardiac, Diabetic, and Warfarin diets.  So far so good.  I am losing weight, a good thing, and I don't feel too deprived.  The food is tasty.  I do miss cheese, sauces,  and Bourbon.  I plan to find some cheese that is low fat low sodium.  But there is no substitute for Bourbon. Sauces probably can be adapted.  We will see.

I did some light housekeeping, very light.  I make the bed each morning. This weekend I am planning to tackle laundry.  The hard part is going up and down the 26 steps so many times.  That scares me.  I was going to try it today.  But we decided to wait until Marty is home in case I have problems. 

Next week the plan is to go back to the Marriage Factory Monday and to school on Tuesday.  We will see just how strong I am.