Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Favorite Places

We all have favorite places, places that make us feel happy, safe, contented, at peace, makes us smile . . .     Lots of reasons are out there for some place to become a favorite place. Today is about one of my very favorite places, The San Leandro Main Library.   The link is for the whole library system.  And I am happy in any library, San Diego, Concord, Walnut Creek, Rockridge, any library makes me happy.

A little background about me, books, and libraries.  I had my own library card before I was in second grade.  When I was in second grade I was old enough walk alone to the Corbin Library.  I had to cross the streets and roads (Major HWY US 25 ran through town) to get to the library. Once there I could check out any book I wanted. And if it wasn't finished by bedtime,  I would read it under the covers with a flashlight.  I hated not having a book available to replace the one I was reading.  I still am that way, panic attack if no books are waiting to be read.  Really, panic attacks.

Today was my stock up on books day.  Usually I get 99% mysteries.  But today I have biographies, non fictions, novels, and a couple of mysteries.  A smorgasbord of books.

My library is fairly new and homey.  Lots of chairs, art exhibits, huge selection of books, and it is open 7 days a weeks, and many nights.  I love my library.

Walking up to the front door

These two pictures show the main floor.  On the left are DVDs, 90% of them are free. Look up and on the floor are fiction stacks, study tables, a museum, and magazine room.

The entrance to the Children's Library.  Children love to use their little entrances.  And the statue of the woman reading to children is wonderful  Every time I first see it, I think it is real.  Behind the statue is a wall of new books. 

As you come out the door, this is a partial view of the free parking lot.  One of the prettiest lots around.  Lot of trees to shade your car during the hot part of the day.  

Yes, I do love this library.  It is big, open, friendly staff, and thousands of books.  What more could a book lover want? 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another recipe to test

Last night we tested another recipe from Cook's Illustrated.    If you are interested in testing recipes scroll down the home page and on the left is information.  This recipe was a low fat healthy recipe, Country beef and vegetable stew.

We did not have high hopes for it:  the veggies and the beef went in the crock pot at the same time; the cooking time was really long for cut up chuck roast 6 to 8 hours on high and 9 to 11 hours on low.  I cook whole chucks (3 to 4 lbs ) all the time in the crock pot and never for longer than 8 hours on low.  We figured we would have mushy veggies and the meat would be done mid afternoon.  Well, we were mostly wrong.  Not a bad recipe.

Most of the ingredients.  Frozen peas still in the freezer. 

Marty trimming fat and cutting the roast into 2 inch pieces.  Interestingly, we were not to brown the meat before putting it in the crockpot.  I always brown meat first. 

Mushrooms and minced onions browned.  Later tomato paste, flour, and spices were added.

Fresh thyme ready to be pulled off the stems and chopped.

Red potatoes quartered ready for the pot.  I don't like potato peel, Marty does.  The peels were a small problem.  Some came off during cooking and were yucky.  It was if there were pieces of paper floating in the stew.  If I make this again, the potatoes will be peeled.  

Everything is in the pot and ready to cook for 8 hours.  


When the stew is ready to be served, frozen peas and chopped parsley were stirred  in.

Ready to be plated.  The sugar in the tomato sauce made the pot crusty.  Thank goodness I was the cook, so Marty had to wash up the dishes.  It took a little elbow grease to get it clean.

There isn't that much rice in the bowl.  It is just a ring around the stew.

After we stirred the stew and rice, you can see the peas, carrots, parsley, and other veggies.

Would we make this recipe again???   Maybe.  There is a lot of time spent prepping meat and veggies, a lot of time.  The stew was rich tasting and healthy.  There was very little fat to drain off before serving.  I used a salt substitute, and no salt or butter in the rice, so even healthier.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

JEALOUS! I am so jealous.

I have told you all about silly weddings, sad weddings, costume weddings, touching weddings.  I thought I had done every type out there.  No, I haven't.  The best wedding story this week is not mine.  I am going to tell you about a wedding done on Friday by Patricia.  And yes, I am very very jealous she got to do this wedding.  I can never top this.

Patricia volunteers on Friday afternoons, our busiest day.  She and our Marriage Desk Clerk posted pictures on Facebook of the Elvis wedding.  Yes, downtown Oakland not Vegas.

Elvis and Dolly Parton tie the knot.  The witness you see is the Easter Bunny.

Much happiness.

Santa, Dolly, Elvis, The Easter Bunny, and Patricia

Patricia said said she sang a few bars of Love Me Tender.  She felt that was more appropriate than Hound Dog.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Gotta love California weather

Yesterday I posted how awful awful  hot it was.  Record breaking heat and the fog was stalled off the coast. Well, the fog is in!

Last night I woke up cold and pulled up the down comforter.  What a lovely thing to be cold.  Today, no shorts, sandals, and Tee shirts.  I have on jeans, real shoes, and a long sleeved knit top.  And being still cold, I put on my North Face jacket.  Marty and I had hot soup for lunch instead of popcorn and ice cream. 

I love today's weather, cool, breezy, and blue skies, 30 degrees cooler than yesterday!   No AC and fans burning electricity, just windows open and nature's own AC. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


In the Bay area we do not do heat well.  Even when it gets up in the 80's, it cools down at night. We are used to wearing sweaters and coats in the summertime.  BUT every now and then we have a heat advisory.  We are living through record breaking heat this week, and it is miserable. We have hit 100 more than one day this week.  And it looks like today we will again.

Our second story apartment does not have AC.  Hell, we don't even have central heat.  This is a Victorian.  Last year Marty and I bought a portable AC, which has saved our lives.  It vents outside, and should keep one room around 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

Usually these record breaking heat days last 3 days and the fog rolls in.  The weather people said the fog was rolling in yesterday around supper time.  Still no fog, it is stalled off the coast.  Today at 1:40 it is 91 degrees, and 92 degrees in the apartment.  The living room, where the AC is, is 83. Pretty nice in there.  We eat in the Living Room, sleep in there, watch TV there, if we could only get the bathroom set up in there.

I told a friend to bring her work and come sit in front of our AC.  She sent back the saddest reply. She is college professor and this is graduation week.  So she has to wear big girl clothes and meet and greet alumni, parents, students.  She said, "  lunch and dinner receptions . . .  no AC  . . .   stockings . . .   pray for me".  For all you male readers, wearing stockings in a heat wave is just like being wrapped in Saran Wrap.  Let us pray.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fences and a few trees

As I walk I see lots of things: trees, flowers, abandoned houses, regular walkers, and fences. There are all kinds of fences.  San Leandro has a lot of wrought iron fences, railings, screen doors, and trim on houses. No where have I seen wrought iron used like it is here.  Some salesman 50 + years ago made a ton of money.

The houses in our area were built anytime from the late 1800's up to the 1940's.  The fences are of all types, not necessary fitting the period of the house.

This is a very large orange tree with a traditional picket fence.

This a a grapefruit tree behind a rusty chain link fence with ugly slats.

This is a Eureka lemon tree with a chain link fence.

A lemon tree netted to keep birds from eating the blooms.  Citrus trees have blooms, green fruit, and ripe fruit all at the same time.

Wrought iron that is decorative.  It is too low to keep out intruders.  And a small dog could go through the bars.  

Some wrought iron is very old and very rusty.

A lovely front porch.

This fence is on a corner and goes all the way around. It is too low to be anything but pretty.

I love the grapes on this fence.  And I love that the house is trimmed in this weird blue.

A really pretty fence that is beginning to rust.

This is a wooden fence with stained glass caps on the posts.

Close up of the cap.

I always smile when I get to this wrought iron fence.  Lions and grapes, what isn't to love.

Now I have shown you the fruit trees and different types of fences.  What to show you next time?Maybe I'll take pictures of the businesses I walk by.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kaiser, not that one, the school

Tuesdays for 13 years I have volunteered at Kaiser Elementary School.  This year I have rarely been there with all the drama of my health issues.  That is a really bad thing.  Young children need consistency in their life.  If I say I will be there Tuesday at 9:00, I better be there.  This year I have had no consistency.  And when there, my energy level has been low and I haven't been myself.

After a lot of thought, talking to Marty and friends, I decided not to go back this the year.  I have missed months and that is just not good for the children.  I will miss them.  But they need someone who shows up and can keep up with their energy level. 

I hope to be able to go back in August for the new school year.  I really do like working with first graders.  Those hugs are awesome. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WEDDINGS!!! Really, weddings

Monday for the first time in a little over 2 months, I was back at the Marriage Factory.  I wasn't sure if I would be strong, peppy, energetic enough to last 3 or 4 hours.  But unless I tried, I would never know.  I arrived before they opened at 8:30 and left at noon.  Thankfully it was a slow day and I could rest between ceremonies.

It was great to be welcomed back and to receive the hugs from staff.  They are a great group of people to work with.  They checked on me, my staff back up kept saying,  " ... just let me know if it is too much.  I'm here if you need to rest."

The timing of ceremonies has changed.  People used to arrive when we opened and that would be the rush of the day.  Now they are arriving around 10:30 and it builds through the day.  So, I didn't have a lot of ceremonies, only 3. When I left at noon, the lobby was packed.

The first bride wore a white dress with black polka dots.  Her shoes were gold matte finish heels with little satin roses on the toe. The groom was from Virginia and very preppy.  He wore an oxford cloth button down collar shirt that was nicely tucked into khaki Bermuda shorts.  But the things that really struck me were his face and hair.  His hair was shoulder length and he had a mustache and small goatee. I kept thinking I recognized him.  Who was he, was he famous?  And then it hit me, King Charles.  Look at these pictures.  The first picture in the first row and the second picture in the second row are this young man to a tee. 

The second couple were Chinese.  I called the first name and the bride ran up and said yes we are here.  I introduced myself, asked the standard questions, and did the ceremony.  We found an error when I took the license in to be recorded and had to resign the new copy.  That is when I found out I had been calling the bride and groom by each other's name.  They laughed and said Chinese names are always mixed up.  I then had to think was the ceremony legal?  Yes, they had given consent at the right time, and thinking back had used their correct names in doing so.  I was soooo embarrassed.  Names are really important and I messed up.  Thankfully they were not upset.  But also why did she answer for him when I called for them in the lobby?  Oh, well.

My last one is embarrassing in a different way.  One witness was a well dressed man wearing a gray on gray double breasted suit and a crisp white shirt.  Very striking man.  We got in the elevator and I look over and his fly was down.  I then looked everywhere but at him.  What are you to do when you see someone with their fly open?  I took the coward's way out and acted like everything is hunky dory.  Later I noticed he had zipped up, thank goodness.