Saturday, November 30, 2013


Tuesday night we drove into the City to have dinner.  Ann and Hank took us to one of our favorite restaurants, Hyde Street Seafood House and Raw Bar.  Yes that is a mouthful.  The food is great, service incredible, parking a bitch.  The drive into the City was spectacular.

I told you the drive was spectacular.  We are on the new span and on the left is the old bridge they will be tearing down.

Again, reading menus.  Through the years Marty and I have had nearly everything they have.  You can't go wrong.  

I am now the official designated driver.  Stupid medicine really limits my alcohol intake.  I got off the bridge at Treasure Island and we took pictures of the lights of the bridge and of San Francisco. 

Marty took over driving and went to the backside of Treasure Island.  We were below the new span.  It was incredible to see the bridge at this angle. 

Thanksgiving Day lots of cooking went on.  We had dishes that we always have and dishes that Hank and Ann have.  Lots of good eats.

Making country ham puffs for an appetizers.  So good and awful to make.  Very sticky dough. 

We have no dining room, but our bedroom is huge.  It became the dining room.

Shrimp salad

Marty taking up his home made rolls.

Serving table 

Let the eating begin

Hank having cherry pie with lots of whipped cream.

After a busy day cooking and cleaning up, time to watch a movie.

This morning we took Ann and Hank to the airport at 4:30!  Thank goodness we are only 10 minutes away from the Oakland Airport.  We were back in bed before 5:00.  It has been a wonderful fun week.  When they come to visit we do have fun.  Hank and I drive Ann and Marty bonkers talking about our strange childhood.  We then talk about their grandchildren, our pretend grandchildren.  We eat great food, and some people got to drink lots of great wines.  I did have some champagne and a couple of glasses of wine through out the week.  

I am so blessed Hank (always Henry Hall to me) and Ann like to come visit us. Love you both. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Who Knew?

Tuesday we went to the Hayward Japanese Gardens.  We had heard they were lovely.  The gardens are close to home and free, sounded good to us.  The gardens are in the middle of a residential area, originally a high school was there.  When it was torn down the Japanese Gardens were born. 


I took 85 pictures, don’t worry I am not posting that many.  I just want to give a feel of the beauty of this hidden gem.  We plan to go on a regular basis to see the seasonal changes. 



The red and yellow are leaves showing their Fall colors.



Walking through the garden is so peaceful. 


This pool of water had huge Koi, they were well over a foot  long.


Lots of little “Tea Houses”.   Weddings are held in them often.


Little bridges that reflect over the water. 



So calm and peaceful.



We just felt happy walking through the garden.


Marty and Ann


Even with no leaves (tree on the right) trees have a lovely look.  Marty and Hank looking.



More Fall Colors

This is such a hidden gem.  If you live anywhere in the Bay Area, well worth the drive.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wine Train

Today we rode the Wine Train.   I thought it would be fun, but it was way more than that.  It was a delightful, lovely, gracious day.  I want to go back tomorrow.  Please, please . . .

WARNING: Lots and lots of pictures.  Some pictures are good, some almost so.  Lots of sun coming through the dome (yes we were in the Dome Car ) and washed out colors, also trains rock and roll. 

Hank, Ann, and Marty at the entrance of the train station
We are waiting to board the train.  Bottomless coffee for all except me.
Oh no!  The Wine Train crashed through the window.  What to do?
Our hero stopped the Wine Train with one hand!
 Studying the menu.  We ordered and after devouring the appetizers we realized no one took any pictures. 
Apple salad with endive, gorgonzola cheese, Hazelnuts, and mustard vinaigrette
Ann and Marty had swordfish with shrimp.  The sauce was fabulous.  I loved the taste Marty shared with me.
 Henry and I had Beef Tenderloin, carrots, spinach, and grits with truffles.  YUMMY!
Yes, we licked the platter clean.
We ordered 3 different desserts and shared.
 Cheese cake
Crème Brulee
Chocolate Pot Pie, served warm.  This was the winner three to one.  Ann loved her cheesecake best.
Our server, Gerald, the best ever.  He told us history of the  Napa Valley, what wineries we were passing.  And the service was perfect, gracious, outstanding.  When you make your reservations for the Dome car, ask to be in Gerald's section.
Don't we look happy?  We had a great time.  Thank you Little Brother and Ann.

For the worry warts, no I did not eat that much food.  No bread, just a little of the sauces, none of the cheese, and only one glass of wine.  I did eat every bite of the grits with truffles.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


In about two hours my brother and his wife arrive from Kentucky.  They will be here all week, so normal posts, whatever that means, won't happen.  We have one plan set in stone and the rest of the week will be what feels like fun or is most relaxing.

Tomorrow Little Brother is treating us to lunch on the Wine Train.  Tuesday we may visit a Japanese Garden and have supper at the food trucks in San Leandro.  We hope to go to San Francisco once, also to stop at Treasure Island and watch the light show on the new Bay Bridge.  Some days we may just sit, read, and sip good wine. ( I received permission from the Anti-coagulant Clinic to have one glass of wine a day this week!) And of course one night we will cook some Dungeness Crab.

As I have time I will post what we are doing, and probably bore you with lots of pictures.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  I truly feel thankful.  I lived, I am doing really well, and I have excellent health insurance. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is it school or is it traffic reports?

It seems as if lately here and on Facebook I am reporting on traffic more and more.  Tuesday I made good time  to Kaiser School.  For the first time in years and years HWY 13 was not backed up getting onto HWY 24. That was because the new bore for the Caldecott Tunnel was finally open, two tunnels both ways.  Great joy!  Then I arrived at school. 

I drive around the circle and turn in the staff lot driveway where the handicap parking is.  A parent has pulled in blocking the spot and is letting her child out.  A huge no no.  She should be in the drop off lane in the circle.  The child gets out, hits the car with his lunch box and his food spills out.  He picks it up, then drops his backpack. Finally he has everything and walks down the no child zone and gets on the walkway. 

And dumb sh*t Mama, she starts backing up.  I am going to let her hit me rather than me backing out of the way where there are other cars and children in a crosswalk.  She sees me before she hits and pulls up and tries to turn around.  Why isn't she driving to the staff lot and turning around?  I squeeze into the handicap spot and am out of her way.  She realizes there isn't room to turn around, so she backs out the driveway where children and parents are crossing.  Can you say idiot?

I talked to the school secretary about this.  She said it was perfect timing.  That morning Oakland police were coming to look at safety issues on campus.  She added backing out of the driveway to the list. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weddings, we have weddings

I had several weddings Monday morning.  Some stand out, some were a blur.

My first couple were two men. They were dressed in shades of blue.  Their ties were of the same material, one bow tie one regular tie.  They were so thrilled and overwhelmed at being allowed to marry.  We had tears and laughter.  When they  asked me to stand between them for pictures I could feel one groom's heart pounding.  He was very emotional.

The next couple were interesting.  The groom was changing clothes and took forever.  While we waited I talked to the bride.  She was originally from Green County, Kentucky. She talked about helping to set tobacco when only 7 years old. Then as she watched her brother cut tobacco she dreaded being old enough to do such hard labor.   It was nice talking to someone whose accent was thicker than mine.  I wish her luck with this marriage.  She is 33 years old has an 18 year od son and this is her fourth marriage.

Another couple also had Kentucky ties.  It was like old home week.  The groom's father was from Owensboro, Kentucky and the witness was from Lexington, Kentucky.  We all agreed the weather is so much better in the Bay Area.  We also like earthquakes better than tornadoes. 

I had two same sex couples who were witnessing for each other.  They were friends, the women from Colorado and the men from The Bay Area.  They were all older in their fifties and sixties.  And so much fun.  The men were terrible flirts and I loved it.  Safe flirting is always fun.  They declared me hot and wanted to take me home.  That perked up my day.

Now for the wedding that was the talk of the day.  Clerks kept coming to my desk and telling me about the bride.  They were all horrified.  I thought they have to be over reacting.  NOPE, she was something.  She almost had on bright blue hot pants.  I have underpants that cover more than her hot pants.  Camel toe in the front and butt cheeks hanging out.  Her socks were blue and white "Where's Waldo socks" that were above the knees.  She had on a headband that was a giant gold bow with sequins on it. She finished the look with a Tee Shirt and a heavy multicolored cardigan.   And the bride made sure all could enjoy her body.  She sat on the bench with her legs pulled to her chest.  Butt cheeks everywhere.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

No Ms. H

Tuesday, yes I am a little slow getting to this, Ms. H was out for a meeting.  So we had a sub.  I really didn't want to get up early Tuesday, but I had promised to show up.  Ms. H had asked me to check all the homework packets and to help out the sub.  So I went.

I hadn't met this sub before and she was new to Ms. H.  I watched her closely (to report back to Ms. H).  The sub was pretty good.  She gave clear instructions, had control of the class, and kept them busy. 

The class had library for the first time on Tuesday.  I stayed in the library to help control the kids, and to help them find books.  The sub did do something that tickled me  just a little.  While the librarian was explaining how to use the library, the sub took the only chair  (in that part of the library) and sat down.  The twenty something sat and the 70 year old stood. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

And the doorbell rang

Marty  and I have been waiting all week for the doorbell to ring.  We were waiting for a special ring, then a quick knock on the door.  That is the signal that UPS has dropped a package.  And just what was that package you ask.

Our order from Broadbent's.

Such wonderful things inside the box.  Country sausage, ham hocks, ground country ham, seasoning pieces, country bacon . . .

 and cooked sliced country ham!
Of course we had to have some quality control.  What if it wasn't good?  How could I serve this over the holidays without checking first? 
Marty beginning the inspection process.
He carefully selects slices for us to inspect.
Of course the test would involve hot homemade biscuits.
Let quality control begin.
The ham passed all our tests.  Great aroma, incredible taste, great satisfaction.  You just can't beat Broadbent's hams.  The other products will have to be inspected soon.
Now for those of you thinking, but she can't eat this type of food anymore.  The doctor said every now and then I could have bacon and other non heart healthy food. Also I did not go crazy eating hot biscuits.  I had two small ones and ate most of my ham with a fork.  Well, there was some just picking it up and gobbling it down.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I was brave today

Many who know me are aware I am the coward of the county.  I am afraid of more things than you can shake a stick at.  But I try to hide fear and go on with life.  I am a diagnosed agoraphobic.  That means I fear I will have a panic attack. And I have panic attacks over things that are new, flying, driving someplace the first time, the dark, storms, and on and on.  I have had group counseling and handle things better and understand I am not the only crazy person out there.  They told me they might not be able to cure me, but they could teach me how to handle my fears. (Living with me is another reason Marty is up for sainthood.) 

Many things are still very hard to do.  One reason I volunteer is I have to leave the house.  I am not going to be housebound.  I have responsibilities so I have to show up. And I do even on days I can't find that safe spot in my head.

The new health issues ( diabetes, A-Fib, blood clots) created a whole new set of fears.  What if, is the big thing a phobic does.  We write scenes in our heads of what can go wrong.  I say we are prepared, others say we are borrowing  trouble. So I have worried what if my blood pressure goes shy high ,that one happened, call 911 and ride in the ambulance.  What if my prescription refill doesn't come in the mail?  That one I handled yesterday. What if I start feeling dizzy?   What if I am alone and pass out? What if I can't find healthy food in the restaurant?  What if my pulse is too low to take my medicine, that happens a couple times a week. What if I crack and sneak a piece of candy?  And on and on. I am a walking fear machine.

To get/stay healthy I must walk every day.  I have walked in the apartment ever since I came home from the hospital.  I have gone from zero to 30 minutes of quick walking and doing the stairs several times.  BUT I would not walk outside of the apartment.  I am terrified something would go wrong.  I could be out in the neighborhood and I wouldn't be able to get home.  A couple of friends, one a doctor, asked me if I carried my phone.  Yes, of course.  The doctor said if you are in trouble at home you would call 911. If you are out, they will still come find you sitting on the curb.

So today I faced the fear and walked outside.  Marty was still home, so he would know when to start worrying.  I set my timer for 15 minutes, so I would know I was halfway and should turn around.  I put Pandora on shuffle and took off.  I did it!  Nothing bad happened, no panic attack, I was brave!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Last Monday's Weddings

I just realized I never posted about the weddings last week.  Sorry about that.  It was a slow day, which I sort of liked.  With the weddings spaced out, I didn't get so tired.

There were some good looking clothes on the men and the women:
One bride wore a cream colored crocheted sheath with little cap sleeves.  It was very simple yet elegant at the same time.  The dress had rows of design that were about 4 inches tall.  Each row met up perfectly at every seam. That dress cost big bucks.

Another bride wore a sleeveless sheath dress that was heavy brocade with a black trim at the hemline and black mesh from the top of the bust to her neck.  The brocade design was tiny silver and gold squares.   Her groom wore a blue shirt and tie with a grey vest and grey slacks. He wore grey lizard pointy toe shoes.  They were stunning.

One couple each wore black slacks  and white shirts.  At first I thought very casual, and then I looked again.  She wore a black shrug over her shirt.  When she turned the back was lace.  His plain white shirt had a surprise too.  The buttons down the front, on the cuffs, and on the pockets had tiny tiny brilliants around the edge.  Not gaudy, you had to look twice to realize they were there.

My favorite wedding of the day was for two men.  This was a destination wedding.  They were from Florida and had wanted to be married in San Francisco City Hall.  Now that is a fabulous venue, but it  is almost impossible to get an appointment.  There is often a 6 weeks waiting period or more, and then you wait a month or more to get your certified copy of the license.  They called all over the Bay Area and studied options on the Internet.  They picked us for the services we offer.

When they saw our lovely wedding room they were blown away.  It is a pretty room.

Double Wedding Ring quilt pattern art

 Rich wood paneling and pews
The men asked if they could use their own vows, and I of course said yes.  One man's vows were very sweet and personal.  But the other man had me in tears.  He said he couldn't sing, but he had written a song.  Then he sang it and the words were so loving.  These men were so amazed at how nice, how caring, how special people at Alameda County made their wedding.  They hugged me over and over before they left.  They kept thanking me for giving them such a wonderful wedding.
I am proud of our clerks for their caring and kindness to our two grooms.  I'm so glad we all made a special day for a couple who could not marry in their home state.  And I  am so glad that in doing this special wedding, we did our routine jobs.  We care about all who want a special wedding.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I am an idiot.

Now I can say I'm an idiot, but no one else can or I will cry.  Today Marty is working a convention in San Francisco.  He rode BART into the city and glory glory, I have the car.  This is a big deal.  We have one car and I rarely get it because he works and I don't.  I don't need a car that often, but I miss having the freedom to just go when I want to. 

I dropped him at BART and went to the library.  No rush to get the car back to him as usual.  Then I remembered we needed milk and a couple of other things.  I decided to go to the grocery.  We didn't need much and I would be able to carry it up our 26 steps.  Marty does 95% of our grocery shopping, again he has the car.  Plus he likes to shop and I hate it.  So I am being lovely and nice to him by buying milk.

I get to the strip mall where our Safeway is.  No handicap parking is available.  I can walk pretty good now, so I just start looking for any parking.  After three trips around the lot and down pretty far from the store, no empty spaces.   I decide to go to another store not far from us.  As I pull out of the lot, I see an empty space across the street.  It isn't too far to carry the milk, so I park and head back to Safeway.  Saying in my head, Milk, Milk, Milk. . .

I head to the dairy section and they are moving displays around and I can't easily get to the milk.  So I check out the clearance in the meat section.  Yay, scored 50% off on ground beef.  Then I found some low fat low sodium cheese.  I am such a happy girl.  I walked through out the store reading labels and putting food back.  Low fat is easy, try finding low sodium anything.  I check out and walk back to the car.  I get  home and put up the little I bought and realize . . .

I forgot to buy milk! 



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wounded by Dem Bones

Tuesday we  made it to Kaiser School by the hardest.  Bay Area traffic is becoming a nightmare.  Everyday we have huge back ups. usually because a truck has jack knifed, hit something, or spilled their load. I have a thought, no trucks during rush-hours. Sounds good, well that really wouldn't work.  Rush hour is from 4 A.M. to maybe 9:30 and starts again at 3 P.M. to 7.  That doesn't leave much time for the trucks.  I guess the traffic is the cost of living in such a wonderful area.

Now to what happened at school.  I walked myself into the ground.  Lots of going from desk to desk, and then back again.  Hands went up for help and I was there.  This time I went to the children instead of them coming to me.  After recess we did a math assessment test.

I put up dividers on each 4 student desk.  Then I put pencils and erasers out.   We began the test and the real walking began.  While Ms. H read problems and gave directions, I walked from child to child to be sure they were on the correct page, on the correct problem, not working  ahead, seeing that they were doing the problems, making sure they weren't copying answers.   Lots of walking.  This was way over my 30 minutes exercise per day.  I was tired but didn't have any health issues.

After the test I read to the children.  Again an informational book, yet fun.  The book was Dem Bones by Bob Barner.  Do check out Barner's link.  It is a great website. The book teaches about the human skeleton.  As I was reading to the children the book attacked me.  They will do that sometimes, the pages stick together and when you slide them apart, PAPER CUT!  Wounded by a wonderful book.  Proof of the wound . . .

Is this not the greatest Band Aid?  Never again plan brown or flesh colored Band Aids for me.  I want polka dots, flowers, Disney characters.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Yesterday was Halloween.  In the last 12 or so years we have not had many Trick or Treaters.  Some years the boys next door would come, but usually they were at a party.  Last night we had no idea how many children to expect.  There are lots of children in the neighborhood, but would they be out?  Since we have so many steps Marty decided to just sit on the inside steps and not run up and down the stairs.  That changed to sitting in a chair (balmy California night) on the porch with our new downstairs' neighbor.  I took the chair, Claire had a chair, and Marty sat on the porch railing.

Claire used to live in the same apartment several years ago and said lots and lots of kids would come by.  For us, there were a lot of children, but not as many as she said in years past.  It was fun talking to our new neighbor, and fun handing out candy to children.  Although some Moms had a sack for candy too.  The costumes were fancy and many were very imaginative.  The biggest surprise of the night was how polite the children were.  Thank you said by most of them, no grabbing, waiting for their turn at the candy bowls.  We have had some really greedy rude brats over the years. 

Below I have a few pictures of the children.  I asked the parents if I could take pictures, and promised no faces would be shown unless the child had a mask or had  on makeup. Remember it was nighttime and I had to work on the pictures to allow for shadows.  Some are bright because the children are under the porch lights.

And it begins.  Little cute ones and then tall scary ones. 
An adorable Ladybug
There were several of these, in varying heights
A lovely butterfly next to her is her sister who did not go for cute or beauty. . .
The Butterfly's sister. 
 A scary trio
This was the best costume of the night.  Not a child, this was Dad watching over his children.
We enjoyed all the costumes and the fun of Halloween.  Next year Marty and I might have to dress up.