Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cocoa-nutty links

Here are some links to Cocoanut Grove, which, by the way, also fulfills the "historic" requirement. (We preferred something old, rather than a new hotel kind of place. CG counts because it's having its centennial this year. Woo! I loved seeing the poster of all the old bands and singers in the Cocoanut Grove Hall of Fame on the wall.)

Here we go! A shot from the beach side.

The room we are thinking about using: The Sun Room

This is looking back from the cliffs down near the lighthouse towards the wharf and boardwalk. CG is up top on the far left of the salmon-colored building.

A snapshot of the entrance, complete with palm trees and retro lettering. And it's pink. Here is is at twilight. (Or perhaps just without a flash) And even bigger and pinker. And at night. In green.

Just because every "here's where we are getting married" post needs a photo of a couple of rico suave guys at the bar. (Note: this bar is part of the larger ballroom not the sunroom).

It also needs a Guy and His Truck, after a storm.

Of course, we were going to see if we could get Laffing Sal to usher. (She's scarier in color. )

Ariel view.

Good things about Getting Married @ Cocoanut Grove

1. Cocoanut has an "a", like in "cocoa." What's better than a retro, alternative spelling at your venue? Not much, I say. Unless, of course, you are getting married at Ye Olde Candle Shoppe or something, in which case, we need to talk.

2. Great views. The day we toured, the beach and boardwalk were pretty empty, giving things a serene feel. It may be a bit different when sticky children and loud teens from San Jose are wandering around, but when we saw it--perfect!

3. The ceiling opens. Need I say more? Except perhaps "The ceiling slowly opened up to allow for a smashing pyrotechnics display."

4. The floor is not carpeted. It's tile, and the tile has grooves, but it's not carpet. Did I mention: no carpet? We want to have a grand ball. Grand balls have antique buffed hardwood floors. Or tile. They do not have carpet.

5. They make you use their caterer, which is usually not a plus, but their choices are managable, and I think we could choose food that would suit everyone. The two people who weighed in about Cocoanut Grove (keri and one of T's patients) both liked the venue a lot and didn't really remember the food much. That's fine. Better that then a lingering memory of it smelling like pee at the entrance. (See earlier post on Berkeley City Club).

6. It's not usually appropriate to serve cotton candy at the reception.

7. Ditto about asking if they can bring up some Ms. Pacman and skeeball.

8. Guests who are bored with the wedding can go ride the roller coaster or play mini-golf for a while and then come back for dinner.

9. "A Formal Ball at the Boardwalk" could mean just about anything. And it will be fun to see who shows up in formal dress, who goes for the snappy sarong-over-bikini look and who does a hybrid of "bathingsuit top with long satin skirt and sequined flip flops." It'll be interesting to see what the girls wear, too. (Ha, yes, that was a drag queen joke.)

10. Where else can the brides and her close friends ride the Cave Train in full wedding attire?

11. Ditto with the sky ride.

12. Possible drawback: loosing the veil on the Great Dipper or getting a bit wet on the Log Flume before the ceremony.

13. We can walk to the wedding, from my house, thus making it a green wedding. And really, who doesn't want to walk across a railroad trestle over the San Lorenzo River on route to their wedding? No one, I tell you.

Seriously, though, this venue works for a lot of reasons. It's not cheap, but with some saving and planning, it's doable. It's in a location we love. It appeals to my sense of fun (Boardwalk), my outdoorsy nature girl (beach) and my love of dance (big room, no carpet). I believe the same is true for Tara.

I'll post some links soon...

The Garden State

Alas, blogger also chowed down on my post yesterday. It was wittier than I can reproduce here right now, but went something like this:

Sure I have heard the jokes about New Jersey being the Garbage State. Yes, there are petrochemical plants nestled in amongst the "fragrance and flavor" factories spewing toxic-looking chemicals. There are jokes about Turnpike exits. But Jersey also has gorgeous green spaces, ocean & sand, good public elementary schools (mostly), and my favorite aunt.

And now, coming soon to a state not-so-near me, is legal rights for same-sex couples in the form of supercharged domestic rights, or maybe even MARRIAGE!

The last post included an entire treatise on Mc.Donald's strawberry shake flavoring (and how it is a bunch of chemicals that give a "nose feel" (right-o) that tricks your mouth into thinking it tastes strawberries). So perhaps it's good Blogger ate it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Coming to a Supreme Court Near You

The Blogger That Ate My Blog

I wrote a fabulous post earlier and Blogger ate it. Something about scheduled maintenance, blah, blah, blah.

Well, it seems they've got the site up and running again, so here's my second attempt at lettin' ya'll know that we found a wedding venue!!! Woohoo! Sometimes it's funny how things just fall into place. As you remember from my last post, our heroine was feeling distraught and sad over the fact that little progress had been made in the wedding planning dept...

Yesterday, Wendy and I went to see Cocoanut Grove. Yes, the Cocoanut Grove that is housed on top of the Boardwalk. We'd gone there a few times before and each time, whomever had the keys had already left for the day, was sick, baking break, washing socks or any manner of things that prevented us from viewing the facility. We were supposed to schedule an actual appointment, but never got around to it.

When I arrived in SC yesterday, it was around 4:00 and we decided to take one more chance that maybe the "guy with the keys" was there. Sure enough, Michael had the keys and was happy to show us the space. Initially I'd not been overly excited about the Cocoanut Grove because I had visions of a "carnival wedding" and a certain essence of tackiness. Things that might be great for the boardwalk but bad for my wedding.

It turns out, however, that my trepidation was needless. The space is really beautiful. There are two spaces available for rent. One is called the "sunroom" because the ceiling is made of glass and can be opened up. Both have amazing views of the water and plenty of space for dancing.

As we walked away, we both knew that it would be the right place for us. It just seems fitting. Wen and I have had some great afternoons at the boardwalk... playing pinball and skeeball, eating ice cream, praying for veggie corn dogs, riding the Cave Train and watching the sun set. It seems appropriate to have our wedding in the community she has called home for the past 10+ years.

I know that it will be hard for her to leave SC. It truly is a special place and because we've shared so much time there, a wedding at Cocoanut Grove will hold happy memories for both of us. The next step is meeting with their wedding coordinator, determining the available dates and simply picking one!

It's great when things fall into place. I'm going to leave open the possibility for that to happen more often!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Giving Thanks on Water

It's been a little while since I've contributed to the blog, so here's a quick update to A Day in the Life of the Wallkoffs:

Wendy and I have been pretty busy lately. During the past couple of months, we have only looked at a couple of wedding venues and we haven't made any significant progress in getting closer to setting a date. I know that we're not in a major hurry, but still, it's a little disappointing when things feel stagnant. Wen has been traveling on business and keeping to a crazy schedule and I've been hiring/training new staff and remodelling the house in preparation for Wen's parents to come visit at Xmas (sewer lines are going in this week!). Unfortunately, there's been little time for much else. Life has felt fast and we're both ready for things to slow down.

I had a seminar to attend on Fri and half of Sat, but we purposely made an effort to leave the rest of this weekend free so that we could spend some quality time together. The weather was ideal on Sat. in Santa Cruz and Capitola. We went to Capitola village and had a late lunch on the water just before the sun set. It was gorgeous! We were supposed to go out for a nice dinner that night (partially because i realize that Wen hasn't seen me dressed up and looking nice in a long time. When I'm not at work, I'm in jeans/cap or something comparable which is not so exciting, so i figure that i should take her out someplace nice every so often and then she won't forget that i can look pretty when i want to ;) lol. Anyway, we accidentally ate so much at our lunch in Capitola that we had to call off the dinner and postpone for another time. We went to go see "Open Season" at the movies instead. It's a kid's animated flick which I generally like, and so it turned out to be an hour and a half of mindless entertainment, cuddles, and sugary snacking goodness.

Today we did some antique shopping in SC before I headed back home to Oakland. I bought an early 1940's wall-phone(it has a cloth cord and one of those trumpet-shaped ear pieces and only 6 different buttons to push) and an old 1940's black metal typewriter. They will both go in my house nicely:)

I'm getting excited about going to Mexico next month. Wen and I booked a cruise to the Mexican Riviera so we can spend a whole week doing nothing. As I mentioned, life has been so hectic lately, that we decided it was wise to book some time away from the "have-to" list, so we are headed south at Thanksgiving. We've taken cruises to Alaska and to the Carribean in the past year and a half... she didn't think she'd like it much, but now she's hooked. She, for the sake of teasing, teases me about being some suburban, golf-playing, pottery-barn shopping, cruise-taking chick and I tease her about being a hippie, scent-free, hemp-wearing, hairy co-op chick from the communes of SC. In a way, we're both right (sort of)... except we both often fit into eachother's categories. I like green living and she thoroughly appreciates the evil empire of pottery barn.

For the perfect cruise, we purposely try to book on a ship that has the oldest travelers aboard so that it's quiet, the dance floor is sizeable and the music is good (by our standards). Lol. Okay, well maybe not quite the *oldest* travelers we can find. Middle of the road is good. For balance, we also look for the ships that use alternate turbine engines that burn less and cleaner fuel:) It's funny, because the last trip we took on Celebrity cruise line, this woman in her 40's approached us one night and said that "we all (including herself)"seemed to be the youngest passengers on-board and weren't we sick of the hideous old-fart music? uhhhh.... NO. If she was looking for the party ship, she obviously missed the boat. As for us, we do just fine dancing to the old music until the wee hours of the morning. And I have to tell you that by day 3, something really wierd happens... Day 1): People stop and stare a little. What are these two girls doing holding hands? We're from Nebraska and have never seen this. Day 2): Are you sisters? Day 3): Oh my God, you are the dancers. Where can we learn to do that? We went to the club lastnight just to watch you. Where are you going to be dancing tonight? It's really funny that by day 3, they forget that they used to be homophobic (like last week). People stop staring and they wave. As far as I can tell, we're usually one of the only really visibily gay couples on-board these things and people act like we're right out of queer eye for the straight guy and they compliment Wen's dress shirts and want to know how they could possibly move their hips with cuban motion. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen but I'm convinced that it's the dancing that brings people together. It spans gaps you'd never imagine could be bridged. For example, last trip, a couple of older gentlemen (in their 70s) who were there with their wives, told us that they thought we were the nicest dressed, classiest looking couple on the ship. What are the chances of that? Now, granted that one of the gentlemen was actually wearing an ascot which prompted me to consider what they might be doing later that evening when their wives had gone to bed. Hard to say. (If any of you own a real ascot I apologize for the presumption, but am curious to know what occasion might prompt you to actually wear it?) Anyway, as a result of the good experiences we've had, we actually gravitate toward booking the "regular Joe" vacations as opposed to something on Olivia (gay cruiseline), for example. On Olivia, there'd be lots of girl-drama and too much "cruising" for our taste (and we've sworn that off:-). So off to Mexico we go... just us, the token "California gay ambassadors and dancers extraordinnaire" and not a care else in the world. It should be a glorious Thanksgiving.

Sorry family. Rob and Chris always cook the BEST Thanksgiving meal, but I assume they'll forgive us this year for being absent and hopefully will invite us again next year. I'll miss the pumpkin pie. We're likely to pick up again on our wedding planning when the holidays have passed and life has settled a bit - and don't you worry, we'll keep ya'll posted!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Why I love this girl, reasons #346, 347, 348...

Alas, I'm here at work, technically on lunch, but sick (doctor's at 3:30) and needing to go get a cell phone to replace mine, which died a sad death last night. It serves as my home phone and my cell phone and I'm leaving for a conference early next week and will not be able to do my job without it and wow isn't this a run-on sentence, I wonder what it would have been like if I'd taken the FULL amount of the OTC sinus and cold meds...

But I digresss...

I decided to see how the marriage blog was going, and alas, there was a post from T. that was both inspiring and sweet and funny.

She has hope, which is so necessary in this day, age and political climate. She has compassion and kindness, not to mention she actually figured out how to get a quintessential SF wedding cake together in, oh, an hour. Me, I would have probably broken about 20 of the little figurines trying to separate them to get two brides...I can see it now--little plastic limbs littering the area, one bride with part of a groom attached like a conjoined twin, followed by my giving up and deliving a Pokemon-topped cake...

And you think she's kidding about the fish, but she's not. Gavie was her betta baby. She named him after Gavin Newsom, and did indeed write Mr. Newsom a letter to tell him so. (I didn't initially want to believe this part, either. ;) Gavie (the fish, not the mayor) really loved her, and would even let her pet him. Here's hoping she's not held "for observation" when stopped for a routine traffic violation!

Anyway, I wanted to put a wee post up here saying that T's right: the book she mentions is inspiring, as are all the stories of those 4,000 couples.

Victory will be just that much sweeter when it arrives, which it will.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

In the news...

The Great Marriage Debate

The California marriage debate continues:

The news today is not so favourable, but none of it ultimately matters all that much when you really love someone. I may not be equal in eyes of the state but it's okay because I believe that my day WILL come - truly it will. If you'd like to see a more uplifting account of gay marriage, look for We Do, A Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Marriage, forward by Gavin Newsom, edited by Amy Rennert. We recently picked up a copy of this book at Sistahs Steppin' in Pride, the predominantly African-American gay celebration in Oakland. The photos are beautiful, and I especially like the one of the two gay dads with twin babies in front-loaded harness packs, exchanging nuptuals at city hall. It's so "normal". Well, not necessarily normal in my sense of don't-forget-to-feed-the-fish and don't-forget-we-have-a-kid normal, but they look so happy:)

I took time off to witness the first marriages in SF. I wasn't looking to get married at the time, but that was insignificant. It was one of the most moving experiences you can imagine. People stood in lines that wrapped around buildings and blocks and slept in rain-soaked folding chairs. The cheers for each couple who emerged with a marriage certificate in tow never turned monotonous... to the crowd, it was as if each couple was a unique spectacle, unlike riding a rollercoaster time and again when adrenalin fails to peak as high as it ever did on the first run. I saw couples who'd been together for decades. Families with multiple children and more hope than is often realized in a lifetime.

I met a couple of women who came to SF from Visalia. They'd lived in the central valley for most of their lives and had never paid a visit to SF!! As bizarre as that may sound, they were the nicest women you'd meet. They'd been partners for 30+ years and had always hoped that someday they would be spouses. One of them suffered physical problems so sleeping in the rain was especially uncomfortable.

I left City Hall that day and wanted to do something for these women to help commemorate their union. It was only day 2 of the fun but I figured that if they managed to stay until morning, they'd be at the front of the line on the 3rd day. What to do in a situation like this? Emily Post has all sorts of advice on gift registries and other dos and don'ts - and I'm good with color coordination- but what do you get for a couple who threw themselves into their car with about 10 minutes notice, drove from Visalia to Baghdad by the Bay, and has been sleeping on the sidewalk for 2 days?

In short, Chinatown has something for everyone. Rain tarps and interesting wedding cakes. I don't know why the Chinese bakeries often have *actual* wedding cakes in their store windows (who ordinarily goes to a bakery on a whim and orders a wedding cake to-go?), but in Chinatown, it is possible! The only thing that wasn't possible was getting a bride and bride for the topper. In Chinatown, the toppers are make of plastic that can not be separated by any means known to God and so you either end up with one girl in drag (not good for this particular circumstance) or you can opt instead to top the cake with an anime character made of brightly coloured sugary goodness.

I fear I insulted the baker when I left without exercising either option and stopped into the $.99 store across the way in search of a cable car. I found one of those "tourist" collectibles in isle 4 next to the paper-plates-for-any-occasion, but once I put it on top of the cake, it looked rather amazing if I don't say so myself. It was quintessential "SF wedding".

After delivering the cake and going about the rest of my business for the day, I drove by City Hall again around midnight. The women appeared to be sleeping in their chairs on the street and they were damn close to the front of the line. I'm sure they had an unforgettable morning. The thought of it made my heart take a leap from Grinch capacity to a full-on wading pool.

It broke my heart to see those 4,000 marriages reversed. Disposed of. Unrecognized for what actually took place during those days. I didn't marry, but it changed my life.

Still, I was so impressed with mayor Newsom that I named my betta fish after him. Gavie was a great fish (recently passed), and sure, I probably scared the mayor when I sent him a letter explaining that I had this fish and all... but it's not as if I'm a complete loon. (If I'm ever held for 2 days on a routine SF traffic violation though, you'll know the truth.) Ha ha.

What I wanted was something to wake up to each day that reminded me of what is possible in my life and Gavin was that fish. And today is merely a chapter in Greater Things to Come. It's ALL possible.

(On a side note, my folks fly back from their 3 week vacation in Europe tomorrow, so please wish for their safe return!)

13 Bad Reasons to Get Married

I thought Baggage's Thursday Thirteen was hilarious.

Here it is.