Thursday, January 30, 2014

Everyone here, Lost Grooms, Rude guests

Place: Marriage Factory lobby
Question:  Is everyone here?
Answer: Yes

Place: Elevator
Question:  What floor are we going to? I need to let my friend know where to join us.
Answer (in my head):  You dumb $#*+, what part of everyone did you not understand?

The above turned out OK.  We went back downstairs and they apologized.  One of the brides said that was their rehearsal, a practice run.  The marriage ceremony was fun and the brides were sweet and so in love.

I called for the next couple, no answer.  I called for them in both lobbies, couldn't find them.  Later a clerk located them sitting in a room off the lobby.  Where they were it was impossible to hear me. These two men were probably the most stressed out couple I have married.  They could not believe it was really happening.  They were finally being allowed to marry.  They told me it just didn't seem real that they were finally recognized as equal to the rest of the human race.  They were in tears and so appreciative of how kind everyone had been. 

First off I am not a bigot, nor am I racist.  But this next group was of a cultural group that looks down on women and is very controlling of women. That means since I am a woman any directions/rules I gave for the ceremony did not count.

Now to the stinkers.  This time the guests were soooo rude and would not back off.  I started the ceremony and it became all about the pictures.  I give them time before and after the ceremony for posed shots.  During the ceremony you would think the picture taking would be candid.  Not this group, and one person stands out for king of rudeness, aka KOR.

He talked over me telling a woman to fix the bride's hair. And a woman walked up and started fussing with the hair.  Then KOR kept telling the couple how to turn.  I told him no talking and nothing but candid shots.  Did not faze him, he kept talking and getting in front of me.  During the ring ceremony the groom dropped to his knees to slide the ring on his bride's finger.  How sweet.   KOR walks up to the groom, yelling instructions, stopped him, and started to pose him.  All the while I am yelling as if at a 2 years old, "NO! NO! candid only, be quiet."  The groom dropped back to his knees but the moment was shattered.  Again KOR tells them how to pose.  Again I am yelling at a 2 year old, no talking.  It was all I could do not to back hand KOR. 

I can't end on such a sour note.  My last wedding was so fun and so sweet.  He was born in 1944 she was born in 1957.  Her mother had made a lei of orchids for her and an orchid boutonniere for him. This was an older couple who were like a couple of giggly teenagers.  They laughed and smiled, they oozed love.  Her mother welcomed him to the family and laughed saying, "Now you aren't just the gardener."   He looked at me and said, "Long story and it isn't what you think."  They all laughed and wouldn't explain.  All I could think of was Desperate Housewives.

Again dammit, I have no endings.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two Months later, Japanese Gardens

Thanksgiving Week we went to the Hayward Japanese Gardens.  I wrote a blog about our trip, read it here.  We were blown away with the beauty of the gardens and promised ourselves that we would return every couple of month to see the seasonal changes.  In November we had bright fall leaves.  Yesterday we returned and the leaves were brown or had fallen.  Also with the crazy hot weather we have had, spring has sprung.  Trees and bushes have started to bloom.  They are about a month early.

At the Koi pond turtles were sunning on rocks and the pagoda. 
The waterfall and more turtles swimming and sunning.  Notice the brown leaves toward top right.  In November these were red.
The Koi swimming from shade into the sun.  The smallest are at least a foot long.  I was terrified I would drop my phone in the pond as I hung over the railing to take pictures.  I didn't.
Little vinca were peeping through the grasses.
This reflection just blows me away.  Gorgeous.
More turtles.
Camellias starting to bloom.

More camellias.  Both of these groups of bushes were too far off the path to get close ups.
Marty enjoying our walk through the gardens.
An apple tree blooming weeks too early.

The beauty and serenity of the gardens are awesome.   It is a lovely place to spend an hour or two.  We plan to return in a couple of months and see what is blooming then. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Monday we walked through the second hall of the show.  This time there was less meat, cheese,  and more sweets and treats.  There were cakes, cookies, pies, candy, flavored popcorn, and lots of different chips.  In other words, little I could sample.  There were things I could taste, and ingenious displays were enjoyable. Also remember not just foods are in the show.  There are products to bag it, tag it, count it, order it, cook it, etc.  Very high tech stuff for waiters and chefs., which wasn't really fun, so not many pictures were taken of it. 

Being a Southern girl, Bar B Q sauce draws me in every time. 
Another display of vanilla beans.  Each bowl had a single bean highlighted.
I so want this coffee pot, and I don't even drink coffee.
This one would make me happy too.  I heard a man telling the vendor he thought it would work if vodka was placed in the top vessel and fruit in the  next one.  And I thought, oh my he is a genius.
Hodgson Mill, one of the best for flours and meals.  Loved their play on Kentucky Colonel.
They have micro greens and flowers which are either fresh or crystals.
This booth was beautiful.
Suggestions for use of their flowers.  They had herbs and micro greens, but the flowers screamed at me, put us in the blog.
These glasses have little headlights on them. They are good for around 100 hours and run off a watch battery.  I thought they were a little strange and posted this picture on Facebook.  What chef has to work in the dark?  A chef friend posted a picture of her daughter, also a chef, with a small flashlight taped to her glasses during a power failure.  So then I thought, OK maybe they do have a real use. 

The two pictures above are posted for friend Kirsten and her family.  At Christmas they make gingerbread houses.  I thought these would spur them on to more complex structures.
Now to my world, veggies and lite dressings.  No gingerbread tasting for me.
We are always looking for no salt seasonings.

Back to Marty's world.  Chocolate pecan pie sold in a jar.  He said it was delicious.  I think you just have to add a pie crust.  Of course for us a little Bourbon would be added too.

At a show like this, you have to just not think about how many people touched or double dipped the food.  One vendor had some great signs by his food.  Humor always helps.

I thought these were fun.  The sauces were pretty good too. 
Samples we picked up over two days.  We have coffee, vanilla beans, pizza cutter, popcorn, candy, coasters, applesauce, knife sharpener, nuts, chips, olive oil, and much more.  Most of this I can't eat, but some such as olive oil I can use.  Just the samples are well worth the price of attending. 



Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The Fancy Food Show was one of my goals after the hospital drama in September.  I had to get healthy to be able to walk for hours for two days.  There are literally miles of booths.   Marty and I love this show:  the new foods, the tastings, the samples, the beauty/fun of the displays..  If you want to read past blogs on the show, go to the archives and look at January.  I have narrowed down the  first day pictures from 80 to 15.  That was hard to do.  I want you all to see all the good stuff.  Oh well.

I want the gallon jug of Bloody Mary mix on the right.  It was tasty.
A new product, Bacon Hot Sauce.  You can really taste the bacon.  They gave me a regular size bottle, not just a sample.  
Marty tasting cheese, and then telling me how good it is.  I was so good and rarely tasted the cheese.
I was not good any time they were putting out PIG,  This is le jambon (French aged salt cured ham).  He is slicing it paper thin. Delicious.
This is what I mostly ate beautiful veggies and low fat/sodium dressings.
I loved loved this booth.  Duck liver pate and duck liver rillettes.  Forget that low fat stuff.  This was heaven.  And they gave generous samples, and more than one. 
Love the meat part of the show. 
Half a wheel of cheese.  Some vendors were serving pasta dishes in the carved out wheel.  Again, Marty said it was really good.
One of many vanilla vendors.  Their booths smell wonderful.
Did I mention the cheese?
The perfect vendor, pig and cheese.
Booth after booth with great cured meats. 
More wonderful ham, this time I think it was from Italy.
These gentlemen hammed it up for the picture as I ate their great ham.
Chef Russell Jackson cooking wonderful New Zealand lamb.  It was soooo good.  Yes, he looks familiar, you have seen him on TV.  He was a finalist on Next Food Network Star, and has been on Iron Chef.  He was a chef in San Francisco, then moved on to New York City.  I think he might be back in San Francisco now.  He was fun and interesting to talk to.  Chef Russell has goals for his style of cooking and on marketing himself. 
Marty and I were really tired after walking 6-7 hours. We sat down a couple of times by electric plugs to charge our phones.  A lovely day. 
Stayed tuned for part 2.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

If it's yellow . . .

If it's yellow, let it mellow.
If it's brown, flush it down.
This is California's returning  motto.  I first read this little poem in a Herb Caen column. California was in the  middle of an awful drought and we had just  moved here.  Coming from Kentucky I couldn't wrap my head around a lack of rain or low rivers.  But I was brought up to speed when I learned about water rationing.  1977 was our first drought.  Through the last 30+ years we have had several others.
Yesterday Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency.  He asked for voluntary water rationing of 20%.  Mandatory rationing can't be far behind.
I now know what grey water is and how to use it.  I can compost, take Navy showers, catch the warm up water for a shower.  We will use more paper towels and paper plates, wear clothes a little longer before laundering them.  That poem may be posted in our bathroom. 
My big worry is we already are pretty conservative with water.  We have lived in California long enough to understand the water problems.  Cutting back when we are fairly frugal will be hard.  We can do this, we have done it before.
Pray for rain.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Tuesday was busy.  I left home at 8:00 A.M. to work at Kaiser School in Oakland, then drove to Pleasant Hill for a hair appointment, then to Walnut Creek to Kaiser Permanente for a retinal screening.  At this point the plan was I would then drive back to San Leandro, eat supper, drive back to Oakland for Book Group and finally drive back to San Leandro and get home around 10:00 P.M.

After my retinal screening (every thing is fine) I thought, I am crazy.  I am backtracking, burning gas, I have several more hours before I will get home, I am tired.  Marty was at a church meeting in Concord, close to Walnut Creek. He had done his bus/ BART/bus thing.  I met him there, sat through his meeting, let him take me out to supper and do all the driving.  Sometimes you have to listen to your body and just not do all you want to do. 

School was good.  One sweet thing happened and I wasn't even with the first graders.  There is a change of librarians, the past one is gone and the new one hasn't started yet.  Volunteers are running the library until the change over is done.  Ms. H asked me to take the children's checked out book to the library and have them teach me how to scan in/out books in order for the class to get new books.  No volunteer in the library, so I went to the office to see if someone there could help me.

A kindergartener was in the office and heard me say I needed to learn how to check out books.  He became all helpful.  The conversation went something like this.

Him:  My teacher knows how, she will teach you.
Me: But she has to take care of her class.
Him:  She will be glad to show you, she knows all about checking in books.
Me: She can't leave her class to help me.
Him:  Yes she can.  She'll teach you.
Me:  I don't think they want her to leave the class alone and come help me.
Him: You should stay after school and she can show you then.
Me:  She probably needs to go home after school.
Him: Go Home???

Little children do not realize teachers ever leave the building.  It stuns them if they run into their teacher in a store. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

As promised, Star Wars

Monday was not very busy at the Marriage Factory.  I did several weddings, most of them very ordinary.  But one wedding really stands out.

Two brides had been friends for 30 years.  They wanted back to back ceremonies with mutual friends there for both weddings.  No problem.  I took both couples, their friends, and their families up to the Wedding Room.  The first couple wanted a very traditional ceremony.  After they were married I asked the second couple if they wanted the same ceremony or a different one.

The bride asked if I had anything not so traditional, something fun.  I flippantly said there is a Star Wars ceremony.  The room went crazy.  That was what they wanted.

I wasn't sure I was allowed to do the ceremony.  It contains the legal points.  But the county had had some weird ones wanting the  ceremony, and I think the press even made fun the ceremony.  I asked and was given permission to use the Star Wars ceremony.  I also was told to try not to offer it again.

So I began.    We are here in a galaxy far far away to form an alliance   . . .   remember to stay away from the dark side   . . .   I then asked permission from the Jedi  Knight and the Princess to marry them   . . .   the force of love is strong in you   . . .   the force will be with you always.  The ceremony ended with my power to marry them coming from the Alliance of Planets and the state of California, Planet Earth. 

The laughter and the fun of this ceremony was great.  The couple was serious during the vows, but laughed through the Stars Wars points.  They were really happy with the ceremony.  And I had just as much fun as everyone else. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Phone Calls

I am not a huge fan of phone calls and the older I get the crankier I am about them.  I have rules in my head for proper phone etiquette.
No calls before 9 A.M. and none after 9 P.M.
Don't call me and ask who is this, you called me.  You may ask if you are speaking to Janet.
Don't call me and then put me on hold, I will hang up.
Do not call me while you are in the bathroom.
Do not call me while chewing food or gum.
If we are talking on the phone, do not also carry on a conversation with people on your end.
Telemarketers on the East Coast, figure out the time zone differences, 8:00 for you is 5:00 in the morning here.  etc., etc., etc.

I have more, but you get the idea.  Not a fan of talking on the phone.  I love email, texting, SKYPING, voicemail.  I hate calling businesses and being on hold for 45 minutes.  Yet there are times I love the phone.

I have a friend I call every month or so and we talk for over an hour.  I have not seen her in person in years.  But I love talking to her.  Family is good for long phone calls, SKYPE is better. Then there are the surprise phone calls.

This week a friend sent a text to find a time she could call me.  She no longer lives in California and I miss her.  We used to go to lunch every week.  And then she moved away.  We emailed every now and then.  We are both on Facebook, but she reads more than posting.  So we set up a time for her to call.  We talked for over two hours.  We only hung up because with the time difference, she needed to go to bed.  We caught up on each of our families, we laughed, we may have cried a little.  We picked up right where we left off years ago.  Friends can reconnect immediately, acquaintances not so much.

I miss you Donna.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Reading, not marrying

Over the holidays the Marriage Factory was crazy.  We broke records for one day of weddings, licenses sold, total weddings for the week.  And remember we are talking 4 day weeks. We joked were there any couples left for us to marry.  Well, Monday we decided not many left.

I did 2 ceremonies and there was one Spanish ceremony.  Mighty slow Monday.  I read nearly a whole book waiting for couples to come in.  The book was great fun, Janet Evanovich's Takedown Twenty. 

My first couple told me they came last Monday, the day we did 56 ceremonies.  When they saw the crowds, they turned around and went back home.  The bride was carrying a gorgeous bouquet of peachy and cream roses.  I wondered if this was from last week or she bought another bouquet.  I am betting a new bouquet.

The other ceremony was for two women from Nevada, a destination wedding.  They had been together for over 10 years and the wedding was very emotional for all of us.  Such love and tenderness expressed.  As we say in the business, there was love in the room.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A year in review, yuck

2013 was not nice to us.  We were very glad to see the end of it.  2014 we welcome with open arms.

This time in 2013 we were in the hell of moving into our lovely apartment.  Very little went right if you remember.  I am not going to put links for the move.  If you want to suffer through our hell just go to the archives and read again our troubles.  Satellite internet that didn't work, refrigerator that wouldn't fit through the door and had to be taken apart to be moved in.  And the list goes on and on.  Finally we were in our lovely apartment. 

Things were fairly normal until June.  I had a lump and in July surgery.  Yes it was benign, but another type of hell.  But I was ok, it could only be smooth sailing from there on out.  Wrong.

September the great drama of a 8 days in the hospital and 4 trips to the ER. (One trip to ER even in the ambulance. I was disappointed they just drove fast and didn't use the siren ) Triple diagnosis, heart, blood clots in the lungs, and diabetes.  I was really really sick.  I survived and I am getting healthy.

Three and a half  months later I am nearly 60 pounds lighter.  I walk every day for at least 30 minutes.  I eat healthy, which is hard for a Southern Belle.  We do love our fried food and gravy.

There were some good moments in 2013.  Being so ill I found out what great friends we had.  I found out people in the church I really didn't know well were praying for me.  My Facebook friends sent love and prayers, even people I have never met in real life, such as authors I follow.  I love my Facebook friends.  I realized I had a second chance to live.

2014 I am ready.  You have to be better than the last couple of years.  Welcome 2014.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Weddings, weddings, weddings

First Happy New Year to All!  May 2014 be a great year for you.   I know we are hoping it is much better than 2013 was for us.

Now why am I a week from the last post?  I have no idea.  But I  have lots of weddings to write about. 

Monday was my normal volunteer day at the Marriage Factory.  Tuesday was New Year's Eve and I went in to help.  They were very worried about huge crowds. 

Monday I have no idea how many weddings I did.  The couples were lined up before we opened the doors at 8:30.  By 10:00 I had a runner bringing up couples to me.  Staff opened another room and decorated it so we could push through the licenses.  When there are 9 licenses on the desk and only one room, couples would have to wait at least 2 hours.  I left at 12:30 and the crowd grew.  Staff called in another volunteer to help the regular volunteer.  By end of business combined we had done 56 weddings. 

Tuesday we had three volunteers and staff available also with two rooms open.  We were like a well oiled machine doing the weddings. I arrived at 9:30 and left about 2:45.  I think we had done 40 weddings and the crowd was growing.  I don't have final numbers on Tuesday's weddings.

Some highlights of the two days.
The clerk brought the license and said they were "cuties". Everyone in the group had on something purple: shoes, shirt, dress,  jacket, flowers in their hair.  They were so sweet and for some reason thrilled my name is Appel.

I  married a Vietnamese couple in their early fifties.  Life has been good to them.  I am talking major jewelry.  When I first looked at the bride I thought nice pendant necklace.  Then I really looked at it,  baguette diamonds surrounding a huge oval ruby.  How huge, probably close to 3/4 inch long.  Stunning.  And she had diamonds rings, yes plural, to go with it.

I asked if everyone is here.  You see this one coming don't you?  Yes, we are all here.  In the room, they tell me someone (who is on the license as a signing witness) is feeding the meter. With couples waiting to get into the wedding room, I have to get them out of the room.  They are not happy, but I couldn't hold up the line of licenses.  Finally the witness shows up and we have a wedding.  The bride was lovely in a long silk burgundy dress.  She  has a chiffon matching stole.  Very elegant, but she was chewing gum.

We had the obligatory "thin" white dress with a black thong.  Next I had a bride in a chiffon column dress.  It was very thin, with slits up to mid hip.  Thankfully she had on white hot pants under it.  Still a little tacky.  Next up tight sweat pants with camel toe. MY EYES!   We then had a bride who was 8 months pregnant in a very tight thin white dress. Her underwear was blue.

Best dressed bride for both days wore a dress from Target and heels from Forever 21.  Her dress was strapless and knee length.  The skirt was stiff and a full circle.  It was black lace over ecru.  Her shoes were black lace over ecru.  She looked like a million dollars. 

Very busy two days.  But having extra volunteers and two rooms helped us to move couples in and out in a timely manner.  And thanks to the great staff for all their hard work.