Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nepal's First Gay Marriage

First public gay marriage in Nepal. Click on the link for the picture, and then scroll through because there are several photos.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I feel a need to elaborate on Wen's posting re: the Claremont. I still remain optomistic that we might be able to work something out with them on an affordable menu. Why do I think this? Because I've decided that everyone is going to eat grilled cheese.

Why you ask? Well, because once we collected our packet-o-catering-info from the Claremont staff, we decided to eat lunch on their patio which overlooks the city. There, I found a delicious! (as in light, fluffy texas toast bread) grilled cheese sandwich served with a baby greens salad and fresh tomato soup for $9. View - priceless. Now, being a bit of a grilled cheese (not to mention mac n' cheese) connosieur, I give it quite high praise... so, we'll find out what sort of arguement the hotel people make when I bring it up at our next meeting. Hee hee. They'll probably try to pass me off to some other hotel, I'm guessing.

Well, in my opinion, the best "venue search" experience we've had so far came last night. We have been e-mailing back and forth with Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz and wanted to make arrangments to see their ballroom. We went there yesterday, hoping that the manager would give us a tour and while that didn't quite work out, it left us at the Boardwalk with nothing else to do but partake of the amusement park. We went on the skyride, the "round and round" rollercoaster ride (I call it Yukon's Yahoo circa, my childhood), the Cave Train, THE BIG SCARY ROLLERCOASTER (Big Dipper), and the Haunted House. It was my first experience on the Dipper... wow. Built in 1924 and the 7th oldest coaster in the US, she is full of spunk. The kind that throws you to the side of the car and leaves bruises on your shins, spunk. I am not a big rollercoaster person. I don't mind coasters of the easy-Disney variety, but I don't care for: 1) dropping; 2) darkness. This one had both, plus we rode it at night. Wen had a blast... and thankfully instructed me on when to contract my stomach muscles. All said, it really was fun even though I shouted a lot of profanity at the time. We also enjoyed the cotton candy, chocolate dipped ice cream cone and the skee ball. We even won enough "tickets" in skee ball to get plastic yoyos, which I promptly unwrapped in order to display my amazing proficiency.

"Did you ever do Walk the Dog?" she asks. "Uh huh", I say.
"You know what the best yoyo ever made was?" she asks again. "Duncan Butterfly", I answer. Sometimes it's just comforting to speak the same language.

We skipped back to the car, counting the number of times we could make our 10-ticket yoyos retract and I felt about 10 years old, with a wild crush on my best friend. Only difference now is that I get to go home with her. And that, my friends, is an example of a GOOD wedding venue hunt!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Thank You Girl is in the House

Alas, Tara and I have to spend some quality time in the land of Thank You.

I'm glad we are on the same page (pun intended) with this task. I was taught you ALWAYS send a thank you note. I used to get ribbed for it in high school, and even in college, if I sent one to my peers. For some reason, in elementary school, it seemed fine. I think at age 8, you just like to get mail, any mail, and will not complain even if it's a goofy Snoopy thank you card from a kid in your class whose birthday party you attended under duress.

In my family, not sending a note of thanks= kiss of death and destruction. It is at same level of rudeness as receiving a gift while talking on a cell phone, and continuing to chat while opening it, glancing at it and saying to the person on the other end, "Hey, I just got this ugly sweater. Want to come with me when I exchange it?"

Plus, in my family, we worry. We would worry the gift didn't get there safely, that the neighbor was sporting those spiffy slippers, drinking that nice wine, wondering about his good fortune and who Auntie Mabel is.

My PARENTS write me thank you notes. My SISTER does, too. (Although we sometimes now send an electronic thank you.) Even (and especially) my 86 year old grandma does.

So, how crummy do I feel that my engagement party was 3 weeks ago and we have not yet fulfilled this obligation? Life intervenes sometimes. My dad ended up in the hospital. I had to travel for work. I got sick.

Tara and I each had notecards on hand, but not enough. I like a girl who can come up with 6 Thank You cards on short notice, though. (I can do the same, of course. We are like an Emily Post Convention.)

This weekend, we walked down to a cute little bookstore in the Laurel and bought some nice cards to send. Two big packs. Way more than we need. So, never fear, Thank You Girl is here.

Saturday at the Claremont

Saturday, we looked at another wedding venue--The Claremont. It's also expensive, but the fees are pretty straightforward, which I like. All you can flush, no "walking across the threshold" fee. Cake included.

Sounds good to me.

And it was gorgeous.

Bay and City Views. Historic venue. Parking.

They want a guarantee of 100 people and we don't have the budget for that many. We need a large venue because we are dancing fools, not because we have a huge guestlist. We haven't talked to the Claremont folks yet, but this concept seems hard for many wedding venue types to grasp, however.

"But you can have the SMALLER, CHEAPER ROOM for your SMALL WEDDING" they say loudly and slowly, like we are in Remedial Wedding Class and, being slow, hadn't quite understood that the LARGE ROOM is for LARGE WEDDINGS. Because you know, YOU CAN FIT 350 PEOPLE FOR DINNER in there! Sitting down! At tables! Uhm, no we can't. Not if we are trying to tango. It's all fun and games until someone gets a fork in the forearm on the way by.

We may change the Fabulously Formal Gala Ball to a Sunday afternoon tea dance because it's a less popular time. We figure this increases our chances that the Claremont will negotiate with us. Then again, we don't have any firstborns to trade, so we're not holding our breath.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Wedding Venue Search: Friday

T and I had one of those weekends during which you kind of do a lot and kind of do a lot of nothing.


I was still feeling pretty sick, and so we went to look at a wedding venue (The Berkeley City Club) rather than going out dancing. It was very nice although it was too expensive when you added up all the little charges: room for ceremony, room for reception, food, service, set up, clean up, booking fee, tax, parking. There was the walking through the door fee. The pulling out a chair fee. The sitting in the chair fee. Toilets: X dollars per flush. Food: X dollars per chew.

Also, the front porch smelled like pee both times we visited. (It must not be in a neighborhood with readily-available evening bathrooms. Ahem). Price aside, I'm not sure I want my wedding to be remembered as "the one with the porch that smelled like pee." The upside: any loitering after the event would be rare, thus saving us the loitering fee, and the photos would get done quickly, although everyone's face would have to be photoshopped to rid them of the "what's that smell?" look.

After the venue visit, we ate at a place called Simply Greek on Piedmont Ave in Oakland. It was under $11 for a full meal and drink, and the falafel and pita were really good. I'm a pita snob, preferring the flexible, thick, garlicy kind to the cracker-thin stale "available at the grocery for 89 cents a pack" variety. I am pleased to report that Simply Greek uses the former. Yum. And the falafel balls were soft, not like the kind that remind you of rocks kicked up by 18 wheelers on the 880.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Mushy Friday Quote

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to singit to them when they have forgotten. - Anonymous

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Vacations, Honeymoons and Us!

Greetings all. I think it's time for a quick update, else I risk disappointing my loyal readership of at least 2 persons.

In a nutshell, we're back from Vegas where we had a fun time, lost money, drank cocktails and generally just wandered about. I enjoy Vegas, but I have about a 3 day max time there before I'm ready to come home to the California trees. Because of this, I continue to find curiosity in all of the people who are relocating there. It's booming. Not like there aren't nice houses and sure, there's nightlife and the taxes are nill, but it just is not my cup of tea. Wen and I did manage to have a great time for our limited stay, however, which included show tickets to see "O" at the Bellagio. I'd highly recommend it!

The hard part about vacations - and even mini vacations - is that you're expected to snap out of them just as fast as you're lured in. And suddenly the realities of life hit... work, family, chores, home repairs, money. They're life's 84 problems. They'll always be there. One will resolve only to be replaced by another, so really, vacations are just a tool to help me cope with "the big 84". I guess the point I'm making is that vacations are not so much life altaring as they are enriching and delightful. It's hard sometimes to come back and it can feel pretty overwhelming when work is piled high, but vacation reminds me that I still have a sense of wonder.

Now that we are back home, Wen is sick, I'm training a new assistant, we don't have further information about Wen's dad yet (only that he's back home now and feeling better), we're both working way too hard and my house is still torn up (missing ceilings and walls). And still, it just doesn't seem so bad. The obstacles feel smaller.

This is why, amidst life, I am eager to plan our next vacation. My next salvation from the big 84... and what bigger vacation to plan than a honeymoon?! But where to start? There are sooooo many possibilities. Well, I began thinking about planning a trip that includes many of the things that Wen and I enjoy doing together (and things that would be important or memorable to each of us). What I narrowed it down to is this: Wen has been talking for nearly a year about wanting to go and see her grandma in New York. She hasn't seen her in awhile and as we know from recent happenings with her dad, sometimes life is unpredictable and it's really important to cease opportunities when they present. Add grandma to the list. Secondly, we both love to dance! - no secret. Other likes? Well, we are both fans of history... we both enjoy museums and things of a different era; fancy vintage clothing, old music and radio broadcasts, photos and historic homes (like mine! yes, it needs some TLC, but it's so cool to take a bath in an old cast iron tub surrounded by original 1930's tile floor) .

Other things that could inspire our honeymoon: Wen did her Master's degree in French and hasn't had an opportunity to speak it in quite some time. She's been talking of France and though we've found a couple of good French restaurants, I don't think it's quite the same. So... perhaps someplace French speaking would be good.

Another of our more recent discoveries is the absolute joy of taking a cruise. Well, the right cruise anyway. Repeat - "good cruise". We sailed to Alaska in 2005 and combined the pampering with long hikes, kayaking and whale watching. In 2006, we saw parts of the eastern carribean where we snorkeled, explored a remote island, learned the history of San Juan, Puerto Rico and walked through sugar cane fields in the Dominican Republic. Many of our explorations were off the beaten path and some were in areas we wouldn't normally travel were it not for the ease of a cruise ship. It's very cool to hike all day long, eat an amazing meal in the evening, dance the night away and then fall asleep so that you can wake up the next morning in another country. C'est romantique! (I think that means, "it is romantic". Either that or, "I find your pig romantic". Come to think of it, it could be either. Bear with me.)

Okay... so back to the honeymoon. I may have found the ideal trip. We fly to New York on a Friday afternoon, arriving late. We spend Saturday and part of the day on Sunday visiting with Wen's grandma before boarding the Queen Mary 2 for a 6 night transatlantic crossing. For those of you who aren't familiar with the QM2, it's described as the classic oceanliner experience for those who missed it the first time around. It has the biggest ballroom at sea and yes, people still do get all dressed up in tuxedos for dinner. Oh, and did I mention that they have "dance camp?"... hee hee. Yes, on the June 10th crossing you can take your choice of lessons, offered 5 hours per day by championship ballroom dancers. Okay, so it might be hosted by the geriadancers (as in geriatric), but I've checked in with the fiance and she doesn't seem to care anymore than I do. Anyway, the geriatric part is only speculation on my part. I hear that the QM2 attracts a rather affluent sort of crowd, and my guess, based on my own pocketbook, is that they most likely aren't all in my age category.

The ship would arrive in London the following Saturday where we would spend at least a couple of days before heading off to Paris where we would stay for as long as we can arrange time off of work!

Ahhh... yes, it does sound dreamy. Wen and I went to Logos lastnight and thumbed through all of the books on historic oceanliners. They're so beautiful (unless you stayed in steerage). And although the QM2 is new (christened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004), she is the first oceanliner built specifically for transatlantic voyages in nearly 40 years and is customed after her predecessors in the same British fleet (Cunard). Now sure... do we want to eat sheppard's pie for lunch? Maybe not. But would we enjoy taking afternoon tea in the main ballroom, learning all of the names for the finger sandwiches, appreciating the old patterns of china and dancing to a full orchestra everynight? You betcha. One person's nightmare is another girl's dream.

And in France, we could stroll the cobblestone streets, eat lots of cheese and baguettes, drink champagne and then make love (not in the cobblestone streets). We might buy a painting from a local artist and wander down the river... Wen would speak amazing French, communicating my heart's every desire to those who stop long enough to listen. They might think she is just a crazy woman with a strong accent, but I will know that she is speaking "Z internationale language ov love".

We could see 2 statues of liberty on the trip. One in NY on the way, and it's sister in Paris. Cool. Which is prettier?... IMHO, they are both beautiful in their own way. Nobody makes a big deal of seeing the statue in Paris like they do in NY and if you didn't know that it was a black statue (and much smaller in stature), you could mistake it for something else entirely. Still, I don't think I'd go to Paris without trying to see Lady Liberty.

So what's the downside to this grande plan? Well, cost, I suppose. We have been talking of planning our wedding and had decided that we would really love to have a formal dance reception... a jolly opportunity for some of our favourite folks to come out in their good clothes, toast a couple of glasses and kick up their heels with wild abandon. And while that sounds so lovely, the QM2 isn't cheap and neither is the additional dance camp, London or Paris. So folks, we are at a point of decision-making in this grande plan and we will need to sleep on it for a bit. We may actually need to "economize", albeit sad. Well, whatever we choose, it'll be a great time and it will be something that is forever in our hearts.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jump in

From the Hendricks' newsletter:

One of the enduring paradoxes of love is that you don't get genuinefreedom
unless you commit totally to the relationship. Many people try tokeep their
freedom in a relationship by holding back from totalcommitment. The result is
always disappointing. If you hold back, youaren't into the relationship deep
enough to discover the true freedom thatcomes from a heart-and-soul commitment.
The only path to real freedom isthrough deep commitment. Then, and only then,
can you know what it's liketo enjoy union and independence at the same

Saying "I do" is good for you...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


If your family members have generally been blessed with good health, you're never really ready for that phone call to say, "dad is in the hospital". I know this, because I wasn't ready when Deb's call came to say that she'd been diagnosed with cancer.

Yesterday morning, we heard that Wen's dad was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital on Sunday night. He was coughing up blood, had nausia, dizziness, etc. By yesterday, we'd heard that the bleeding was controlled and the doctors were planning an endoscopy to determine the cause. Today, unfortunately, the endoscopy was cancelled because he's hypovolemic (has low blood volume) and needs additional blood. We still don't know the source of his bleeding, nor the cause of it, but we're asking that love, thoughts and prayers be sent his way today.

I've been looking forward to meeting Wen's family for a long time now. We were in Florida in April prior to heading out to the Carribean and tried to coordinate a way to meet up with them for a day or two, but it was Easter time and spring break, and it would have involved driving clear across the state in a very short period of time. We talked instead of arranging a visit for her parents to come here later in the year - perhaps Fall? - but at this point, it's hard to say exactly when we will meet face to face. And while I don't know the family personally, I've heard all of the stories that make them feel just like an extra part of Wen. Today I'm holding them close in my heart.