Thursday, July 31, 2014

YAY! Joe took the bribe

I offered Joe a bribe to write a post for us again, and after much thought, he caved.  May he write many more for us. 

And now a word from one of our Friday Marriage Commissioners, Joe Mallon. 

I'm No Dummy

Weddings are a time for joy and laughter, but not all laughter is created equal.  Some jokes are funnier than others, even when the humor is unintended.  A recent groom was bald, save for what appeared at first glance to be an  unsightly pink rash.  One look at his wife's lips and a second glance at his head revealed the "rash" to be a perfect set of lip-prints, earned no doubt during preparations for the final part of the ceremony.

I've never been a fan of ventriloquism.  It's a skill, certainly, but not one whose practice I find amusing.  Imagine my reaction then as I returned from performing a wedding to see someone in the lobby dressed up nicely and balancing a dummy on his knee.  The dummy had a plastic head with painted-on red hair, looking like a creepy toddler.  I hoped against hope that the gentleman in question was not a groom who would want the dummy to recite his vows.

As luck would have it, he was a witness for a couple who, it seemed, found his interest quirky and charming and not distracting or attention-hogging.  I called the couple's names and the party came forward, the witness with the dummy cradled in his arm.  I was steadfast in my resolve; I would not engage it at all - not talk to it or even acknowledge its presence.  A cry for attention requires an ear.  That ear would not be mine.

The wedding went smoothly, with no contributions from any inanimate objects.

When a ceremony is complete, the witnesses must sign the license.  Janet's mentioned plenty of signature shenanigans - misspelled names, misplaced signatures, leaky pens - and I've had my share.  Never before have I had a witness turn to the babylike toy in his arms and say "Why don't you hold this for me while I sign?", and then place a tiny plastic hand on the top of the certificate to secure it while he signed.

When I dropped off the finished paperwork with the couple, the dummy was in a carrying bag.  Thus ever so, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yes, I need to post about weddings. And so does Joe!

I am always complaining about bloggers who don't post regularly.  Today I realized that would also be me.  Sorry I fell down on the job.  I want to blame it all on Joe, our guest blogger.  I heard he had such a day last Friday and hoped he would write about it.  So far no luck on a post from him.  Not his responsibility to keep my blog going.  But I wish he would write more often for us.  Please Joe, write another post sometime soon

I have all kinds of notes on weddings so I can write a blog today, and maybe later this week get another one in. I write about confidential licenses often.  How only the couple has access to the license, and how it takes a court order for anyone else to see the license. 

I had a couple with a confidential license last week.  And they had no idea what it was.  They had just marked the box on the form and that is what they were sold.  Before I married them I gave them the pros and the cons of their license.  After I was sure they understood what it meant, then I did the ceremony.

The next couple also had a confidential license.   They totally understood what it meant, and it was what they needed.  They were a same sex couple from Texas, which is not a same sex friendly state.

And then there was the bride in the long turquoise dress and the groom in a suit.  All of the guests were dressed up. Little girls were  in frilly dresses.  It was a large group and when I asked the necessary question, is everyone here, I expected a yes.  Nope. Some of the guests had a fussy baby and decided to walk him outside.  They told the couple they would be back in 30 minutes.  Who does that do a couple?  I had to tell the couple if they wanted the others there for the ceremony, they couldn't go up to the Wedding Room.  I had other couples waiting.  They were unhappy, it was their turn.  They wanted to wait upstairs.  Sorry, but it is a Wedding Room, not a waiting room.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Testing another recipe

The recipe we tested this time was pulled chicken.  This was so much better than that awful pork tenderloin dish a couple of weeks ago.

Here are the ingredients, all ready to go.  This is another low fat, crock pot recipe for Cook's Illustrated.  

I am putting together most of the spices with chopped onions for the sauce.  It was then microwaved.

Here I am skinning the chicken breast and removing all fat and ribs.  Safety first, thus the rubber gloves.

Spice mixture added to crock pot.  Also molasses and tomato paste added in.

Seasoned breast ready for the pot.  I called this the pterodactyl breast, it was huge.  Big enough for 3 or 4 people.

The breast is cooling just a little before the meat is pulled apart with forks.  Look at that great mahogany color.  All from the spices.  At this point Dijon mustard and cider vinegar was added to the sauce.

The chicken is pulled and was then added back into the crock pot and stirred into the sauce.

A little salad to go with the sandwiches.  Sliced heirloom tomatoes on romaine lettuce, torn basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Some times I grate pecorino romano cheese over it.  But this time it was a simpler dish.

And now for the finished product:

All I need are dill pickles and this is ready to eat.  I used Smart Balance to butter the hamburger buns. All in all a healthy tasty meal.  This recipe I would make over and over.  The sauce is wonderful.  I can see it in baked beans, over pork, shrimp, on a cracker.  Loved the sauce.

Usually we have liked the recipes we test.  Rarely do we get a really bad recipe.  And even if the recipe is yucky, we know we have helped keep it away from the public.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

YARD SALES! hate, hate, putting one on

Several weeks ago we got a flyer from a neighbor.  They were organizing the block yard sale. (it was yesterday)  They would do the publicity, get a dumpster and a charity's truck there for leftovers.  All we had to do was put out our treasures.  I wanted nothing to do with it.

You price hundreds of things, carry out heavy tables and stuff.  People show up two hours before the sale and want you to cut prices before you even get set up.  It is a Saturday and we would have to be up way before a decent hour.  Long hours on our feet, hot sun, and I could list lots more.  I hate yard sales.

But Marty thought we should clean out more stuff from the storage shed.  After a year and a half we have discovered we don't need everything stored in the shed.  Hell, we don't need most that is in that shed, but I want it.  Thus the storage shed.

I said no, no, still having flashbacks to getting rid of treasures when we sold the house and downsized.  Too much work for too little money.  We dithered around and never got out to the shed until Friday night.  Our downstairs neighbor asked if we would be joining her at 6:30 to set up for the 8:00 sale.  I said no, Marty said maybe.  I knew I was doomed.  We were going to do the yard sale. 

We picked items we could give up, found tables to set up, and did not put stickers on everything.  We just grouped stuff, and eyeballed it when we put it out.  That cut out a lot of prep time.

Yes some people were there by 7, an hour before everything started.  Some bought, and we did not cut prices for them.  It was perfect weather for being outside with no shade.  It was foggy and cool.  Well it was until about 11:00, and the fog burned off.  We had wind which helped, but when it stopped it wasn't very pleasant being outside.  Then the wind really kicked up, and things were flying, even boxed items.  Lots of exercise chasing stuff.  Also we both have interesting sun and wind burns.

We did make money, we sold a lot of Marty's glass.  We had fun, our downstairs' neighbor is entertaining.  But we were exhausted.  Too much standing and walking.  Too much toting heavy things up and down stairs, carrying stuff from the storage shed.  Lots of bending over,  too much fighting fierce winds.  And no nap for the drama queen. 

I took a shower as soon as all was back to normal, and put on my night shirt.  This was at 4:00.  I was ready for bed.  Marty was going to the gym to use the spa facilities and soak the soreness out of his body.  He said we would go out to eat when he got back.  And I said, no thanks.

Why you ask?  I was too tired to put on make up and to get dressed.  I did not want to move.  I barely could move.  So sweet Marty hit our favorite Chinese restaurant on the way home and brought lots of goodies for supper. 

Today we both feel better, but I still hate yard sales.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weddings: reasons to marry

People get married for many reasons.  We always hope that love is the main reason. Today society accepts living together and lots of people feel no need to marry.  They love each other, so why do they need a legal paper to prove that love?  Well other issues factor in:  medical insurance, hospital rights, just felt like the time to marry, visa running out, pressure from family, tax benefits, and on and on. 

One couple came in to get a birth certificate and said we might as well get married while we are here.  They had been together for several years.  Monday just felt like the right time to marry.

Two women came to be married.  Their 2 sons were with them.  The couple had been together for 14 years.  You could feel the family love, the happiness these four people had built together.  They told me they said to each other, "We can now, so why don't we?  Let's get married."  They also told me how scary and at the same time wonderful to be able to walk in and buy a marriage license.  They felt real for the first time. 

There were other weddings.  And I will post about them later. 

When I married it was for love, it was because I adored (and still do) Marty Appel), and I did not want to think about a life without him.  And in 1967 marriage was the only acceptable way of life. 

Why did you marry, or have you married?  Living together is no big deal in today's world.  Children do not have to be born to a married couple, so there are very few shot gun weddings, although I have done one or two.  Is marriage now just a contract to have legal rights?  Is marriage more than that?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cincinnati Chili killed a wedding gift

Tuesday Lisa Kay, my niece, posted on Facebook a picture of Papa Jack, Yolanda, and Lisa's daughters eating  Cincinnati Chili.   They were at a Skyline Chili parlor.  Marty and I looked at the picture and drooled just a little bit.  We love Cincinnati Chili.  Marty has a great recipe he makes, but that is hours of cooking.  I have secret seasoning packets that family sends me periodically.  I add meat and sauce and I have chili.  My chili is quick only about an hour and a half of cooking.  So I made chili!

After everything is dumped into a pot, the directions say to beat the ground beef with a fork.  That is to break the meat into tiny pieces.  Big problem when I beat the ground beef, this is what happened.

My cooking fork broke apart.  This was part of some kitchen wedding gifts in 1967.  The fork had given its all, and died on the job.  Poor poor fork.

This is the evil Cincinnati Chili that killed the fork.  If you look closely, you can see large hunks of ground beef that deserves to be beaten.

That said, the chili was so very yummy.  Marty and I like ours served up differently.

Marty likes the three way: pasta, chili, and cheese.

I like the four way chili: pasta, chili, cheese, and chopped onions.  Some people like the five way and add beans on top of the chili.  Neither of us like that.

But back to my poor fork.

Marty is doing a Redneck fix with duct tape.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

All fixed and ready to use again.

Well maybe not.

Good bye hard working cooking fork.  Go and be recycled into something wonderful.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Weddings 0 A-Fib 1

Monday I was to be at the Marriage Factory.  I was looking forward to it.  I love doing weddings. But it was not to be.  Sunday evening and all through the night I was in A-Fib.  The alarm went off and I thought I can do this. I can go in and do weddings. Wrong.

The doctors have called A-Fib a nuisance disease, it won't kill me, just mess up plans.  And it did again.  I got up with the alarm and felt a little lightheaded.  I took a shower and totally ran out of energy.  I barely had the energy to dry off, let alone dress and go marry couples.    So I texted in sick.

I hate not showing up.  I feel guilty because staff counts on me to take the load off them.  I count on having an interesting day, meeting people, and performing ceremonies.  I did  not have an interesting day. 

I stretched out in the recliner, read, and slept most of the day.  I received a text from the Marriage Desk Clerk that they did 20 weddings yesterday.  It was one of those magic numbers' days 7/7/14. 

Damn I missed all the craziness. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Weddings Part 2

As I mentioned before, Monday was a little busier than usual.  Some of the weddings stand out.  One for a not great reason. 

The couple was just silly and insincere, constantly kissing (dipping the bride or she had one foot up) and hugging, then checking the witness was taking pictures of them. I got no feeling of love or caring.  I have seen better acting by Paris Hilton.   I just wanted to smack them.

On to a better couple.  The groom wore a blue suit with a crisp white shirt and blue tie.  The bride's white dress had a gathered chiffon bodice and a lace over chiffon skirt. Their sincere feelings made up for the couple above.  Oh I forgot to tell you we had to wait on the groom before going up to the Wedding Room.  He was busy throwing up because of nerves.  He calmed down as I started the ceremony and was fine after the ceremony.  Now I feel like Gordon Ramsay as I yell  . . . For the first time ever on I Have No Endings, the volunteer witness was found on Reddit.  

The above couple had posted on Reddit asking for a witness.  Getting married on a work day, they didn't think any of their friends could come.  The witness responded and told them how great Alameda County handled weddings.  She had been married at the Marriage Factory 3 months ago.  She met them at the county building, hand held them through the paper work, and was fabulous to them.  I thought they were long time friends until they told me the story. 

I can't wait to see what  next Monday will bring.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sirens! Fear! and a huge error

Yesterday I was reading a book,  nice and relaxed, thinking I might just take a nap.  Then all HELL broke loose.  Sirens going off, sirens in my stairwell!  The burglar alarm was going off!  Wait a minute, it isn't set, how can it be going off?  And then the front door opened and Marty was home.  What is going on?

He shuts the alarm off and tries to figure why it went off.  I am saying we have to call and stop the company from calling the police.  Then he realizes in pulling his keys out, he hit the panic button.  Oh crap, we will have a SWAT team here any second. 

We start trying to reach the company.  The number we called was closed for the day.  Really the alarm company doesn't take calls 24 hours a day?  This is the number on the sign.  Who to call?  Then I realized the alarm company is to call us before they call the police.  Why isn't the alarm company calling to check on us?  Something is seriously wrong.

Marty went on line and finds the monitoring number and calls.  He identified himself and gave the safe word. The voice on the other end says there was no record of the alarm/panic button going off.  I really was upset then. They aren't monitoring us?  We are paying money and nothing is protecting us except a very loud noise?

This morning Marty talked to the main office and they don't understand why we were told no alarm reported.  They have a record of the alarm going off.  They will be tracking down who took our call and what went wrong with the plan. 

I hope heads will roll!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monday Weddings

Each day of the work week has a pattern at the Marriage Factory.  As Joe has told us often, Fridays are insanely busy, and he loves it.  I used to do Wednesday and Monday afternoons.  Wednesdays were slow but not dull.  Monday afternoons were busy.  Now I work Monday mornings from 8:30 to 12:30.  Usually nothing much happens until 10:00 or 10:30.

Not this week.  People were waiting to get in when I arrived.  I had my first wedding at 9:00 and had done 3 others by 10:15.  I left at 12:20 and I had performed 8 ceremonies.  One of the clerks did a couple of Spanish weddings.  Not a huge rush, but constant.   When I left the next volunteer had a license in her hand, another dropped on the desk, and 4 were in the queue.  She was really going to have a busy day.

Some of us wondered if we were so busy because it was the last day of June.  Were they all rushing to have a June wedding?  So I thought I would ask.  Lawyers have a saying, never ask a question you don't already know the answer.  I asked a couple if they just wanted to have a June wedding, and the bride said, " I wish.  I have to have an operation and I have to be married to be on his insurance."  I felt really pushy then and hated I had asked.  She later told me they already had deposits paid for an October wedding and were still going to have the "party" then. 

Two men from Maryland were my 9:00 wedding.  Both were very dapper in matching grey suits.  I asked if they had come because of last week's Gay Pride celebrations.  They laughed and said they had arrived last night, and didn't know about Gay Pride week.  They had just decided since they had to fly somewhere to be legal to marry, they would come to Oakland and visit a friend.  I asked what all they were doing during the visit.  One of them said getting married and then we fly out at 2:00 this afternoon.  I was a little surprised, big expense to fly here for less than 24 hours.  There are much closer states to marry in.  They said no expense, they worked for Southwest airlines.  So fly to Oakland, visit a friend, get married with no wait time or appointments needed, fly home and go to work Tuesday.  Love is amazing.

More later this week about some of the other weddings.