Sunday, August 31, 2008

One Little Word: Married

It was a banquet.
It was a wiffle ball tournament
It was a musical
It was a wedding!

My body is so sore and my heart is so full that I don't even know where to begin this entry because I know there is no way to do the day justice. If I had to describe it in only one word it would be: perfect. It was exactly the wedding Jeri and Phil wanted and it went off so well that even the few minor glitches didn't seem like glitches at the end of the day. We even lucked out with weather. It was sunny, but cool, which meant that the area was not packed with Labor Day picnickers. There were other people around, but it really felt like we had the place almost to ourselves.

I didn't take nearly as many photos as usual because the place was lousy with photographers and I figured others would get better ones. But I still took my fair share (which are posted in Flickr). There will eventually be video, but I have lots of work to prepare that, so don't hold your breath.

The day started at 6:30, for me, finishing off the cakes. I had done the tiered cake, but I wanted to add roses to the sheet cake, which I did. Then I made a vat of clam dip and got out of the way so Joe could start the prep work on the tri tips. Across town, Tom was doing the same thing on the tri tips HE brought home.

Eventually we loaded up the truck and the cars and headed off on our errands. Mine was to pick up the bride and drive to the beach to set up the cake, which I did. Now, the cake may need explaining. There is a very funny Saturday Night Live skit called "Cowbell" with the punch line "I gotta have more cowbell." Phil thus played the cowbell at a Preoccupied Pipers show one time and last Christmas I bought him a t-shirt that said "more cowbell" on it.

So, when I was designing the cake, I thought about what would be representative of both Phil and Jeri and decided on musical notes (Jeri) and cowbells (Phil). I even found decorator cowbells on line. I concocted this cake:

The middle tier has notes, both lower tiers have cowbells, and the top has interlocking rings and the initials "HMB" (hey--my buddy!) which are inscribed inside each of their rings.

So we get to the park and I get the cake out of the car and Phil comes up to me wearing this...

Completely serendipitous! I couldn't have planned it that good.

We got things set up, checked out how progress was going, and then I took Jeri over to her grandmother's to get dressed. Alice Nan got all choked up when she saw Jeri looking into what had been her grandmother's antique silver mirror.

Since I was helping Jeri get dressed, I missed my mother's introduction to her great granddaughter, but Laurel caught the moment beautifully.

The ceremony took place under the big tree pictured in the Photo of the Day yesterday. Marta did a beautiful job and with so many photographers, I elected to just videotape it and get photos from other people, but it was just perfect and tailor-made for both Jeri and Phil. At one point Marta, the minister, bursts into the song "Married" (from Cabaret) like you would find during a musical.

When it was all over, Jeri and Phil kissed, then held hands and ran across the grass, down onto the beach and into the water, with the whole 130 guests in hot pursuit (except for me because I couldn't keep up with them!)

Afterwards there was that fabulous barbeque Tom and Joe prepared

...and of course pictures of everybody. The bride's family...

...(some of) the groom's family...

...the Pinata family...

...and my personal favorite group photo, a picture of all of us who have been married wearing the "fertility veil."

Pat (left, in the veil picture) made sure there was a pinata for the party and it was a highlight. She couldn't have planned it better. It held together long enough for every kid at the party (and there were lots) to hit it, Jeri and Phil each had a whack at it, and Ned finished it off, sending showers of candies, fortune cookies, balls, and bottles of bubble soap down on the delighted kids.

Toasts were given by best man, Jon Lee, and Matron of Honor, Alice Nan:

The cake was cut and served...

...and the wiffle ball game was on. Yes, Jeri did play wiffle ball in her wedding dress!

I didn't play wiffle ball. Not only would it have probably killed me, I had more important things to do.

I even shared the wealth...

(I told my friends Jeri and Char that this reminded
me of a scene from MacBeth!)

There were emotional times when we remembered people who were not there, Paul and David, of course, Michele, who would have just loved the whole day (and how happy we were that her husband came with their son Eric and his wife Nan), and Jeri's husband Bill, who died a couple of years ago. Jeri and Bill had gone to Boston shortly after Phil moved in with our Jeri and had to check out this young man and make sure he was OK. Bill said at the time that he thought they would be going to a wedding eventually. It was very emotional thinking of his not being there today. But Jeri was and his sons were and I'm sure that somewhere Paul, Dave, Michele and Bill were there too.

So it's all over and tomorrow we have yet another party, to celebrate Walt's mother's 95th birthday.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Move Over, Harold Hill

I consider that the hours I spent
With a cue in my hand were golden.

In my misspent youth, I was introduced to the game of pool in the basement of the Newman Center at Berkeley. I actually got fairly decent at the game. I learned how to put a backspin on a ball, how to angle shots, how to get the ball to go where I wanted it to at least a good percentage of the time.

But I hadn't picked up a pool cue in years.

The house Phil's mother has rented has a pool room. With a pool table. And balls. And cues. And even chalk.

Tonight we had a rehearsal of sorts on the beach followed by a huge pizza party at the house. Some 30-40 people roaming around munching pizza. And in the pool room I spied Nancy's "god-sister," Kathy racking up pool balls. I grabbed a cue.

We discovered that we both had played in college and that neither of us had touched a cue since then. So we were about at the same level. It took us an hour to get through a game of stripes and solids, but by God we did it. And I wasn't horrible. I wasn't good by any stretch of the imagination, but there were times when I hit a ball and it actually went where I wanted it to--or reasonably close. We both did stupid things, we both had shots that went nowhere, but we were evenly matched and I had such an incredibly good time.

We had such a good time that we hope to get in another game before we go back to Davis and she returns home to Idaho.

* * *

The day went well. I got most of the cake decorated, but decided to finish it with the top layer after we get to the beach, it being easier to transport a 2-tiered cake than a 3-tiered one. I suspect it would easily qualify for the cake wrecks web site but it "teems with hidden meaning" and is just exactly what I wanted. More or less.

I took pictures, of course, but I can't show you yet.

We realized, standing on the beach for the rehearsal, that if I put the cake out, like you normally do at a wedding, it will very quickly become a seagull buffet, so now we are looking for a box or something to put over the cake to protect it from the birds.

In the middle of putting the cake together, Jeri stopped by with her two friends, for a "dress fitting." They were all very cute, but of course I can't show you those pictures either!

I can, however, show you this photo from the rehearsal dinner:

This is Phil's sister, Vicki, who was there with her two kids, Carson and Connor. We realized that if it were not for Vicki deciding to audition for a fledgling children's theatre company back in the late 1970s, we would not today be having this wedding.

It is because of Vicki that Phil got involved with the theatre and his friendship with Jeri began. I looked at all the people at the party who had been involved in one way or another with the Veterans Memorial Theatre in Davis and realized that Ned's best friend's kids were teaching Vicki's kids, age 6 and 3, how to play pool. It was just one of those verklempt moments for me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shopping and Texting

"Where you at?" texted Jeri, in a message that made me cringe with its grammatically incorrect colloquialism. At least Jeri knows better. I know that.

"Snack food aisles," I texted back.

We were doing our "big shopping" at Costco.

Nine of us: Alice and Joe, Walt and I, Jeri and Phil, Tom, and Jeri's friends Meghan and Cris, who had just arrived from Boston and Wisconsin, respectively. We all had cell phones and we were all keeping track of our locations.

Jeri sent a photo to pinpoint her location:

Walt, Tom and Joe were picking up about 25 tri tip roasts while I was off looking for crackers and chips.

"NO CLAMS!" I texted to Jeri, when I realized I could find cream cheese, but no canned clams for the mandatory clam dip. You can't have a wedding without clam dip, for heavens sake!

I decided I was probably missing all the fun by wandering around searching for clams, so I headed to the meat department to join the others.

Of all nights for me to have forgotten my camera! Fortunately Jeri and I both had cell phones with cameras, so we did our best to record the often hilarious tour through Costco.

There was the discussion about vegetarians vs. the meat eaters and how to make sure the vegetarians got enough to eat. Joe suggested we have red wrist bands for the carnivores and green bands for the vegetarians and you could only have a cherry tomato if you wore a green band.

But we decided that everybody liked tomatoes, so we got three big containers of cherry tomatoes and Tom tried to guesstimate by eyeballing the height of the container and the number of tomatoes he could see on top, how many were in each container. I think we decided there were about 210 tomatoes, so everybody could have two. We figured we'd have a tomato czar to monitor that nobody hogged the cherry tomatoes.

I added a couple of containers of golden tomatoes and Tom pounced on them, holding golden tomatoes and red tomatoes and stating that this was now officially a 49er wedding.

The amount of food began to grow.

There are roasts on the bottom and bags of veggies on the top. I had the snack cart (note the tomatoes at right).

"Where you at?" came the message from Jeri again. I was in the middle of texting her that I was looking for a large serving bowl and could she get some potato chips when she came up with some champagne to add to the basket. I sent her off in search of potato chips.

"Where are you?" I texted to Walt (by now I had figured out how to make that a "quick text" message so I didn't have to keep typing it over and over). I was at the front of the store. His reply came: "Paper plates." At the back of the store, of course, so I headed back there to meet up with them, passing Phil, who was on the phone to his mother who had called to ask him to bring some grated cheese home.

The others by now had two pallets, not one. It was easy to keep track of them because the wheel on one of the pallets made a sound that reminded us of a barking seal. Joe, who had the quiet pallet, started barking as he wheeled it around, just to keep the other one company.

We were just about finished when Joe remembered that we had all these tri tips to barbeque on the beach and maybe we should get some charcoal.

As we approached the checkout stand, all three pallets, Joe guessed the total would be $850. Cris guessed $750. The actual total?

Jeri was feeling guilty that we spent so much and Walt reassured her that it cost less than Tom's rehearsal dinner. We are still missing the 4 Bs that have to be purchased tomorrow: Bread, big bowls, big mushrooms, and something else I've forgotten.

So the Big Shopping has been done and we caravaned out the door of Costco with all our pallets. Tom and Joe took off on a race to the cars, looking for all the world like a couple of 13 year olds...especially when Joe lost control of his pallet and spilled everything all over the parking lot! We laughed a lot.

Now it's the end of Thursday as I write this. I have spent the entire day making cakes and starting to put the frosting on them. Tomorrow will be spent in more serious decorating. I have no plan. These things with me kind of "flow" however the spirit moves me. I have ideas, but those never turn out the way I originally plan them, so the end result will be as much a surprise to me as it will to everyone else.

I am so sore right now I can barely move. It's been a long day. But a good one.

(And wasn't it great to watch history in the making as Barak Obama made his acceptance speech? I can't even begin to imagine what it must feel like for an African American who can remember segregated lunch counters to be sitting there watching Obama accept the nomination of the Democratic party for president of the United States. If only Rosa Parks had lived just a little longer! I can only hope and pray that those same people will soon be watching him be sworn in as President.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Snacks, Wedding, Day at the Beach

"I think you just wrote the title for tomorrow's entry, Jeri," laughed Tom.

We were sitting around the big pool having a "planning meeting" at the amazing house Phil's mother had rented in the Hope Ranch Luxury Estates area of Santa Barbara. (I told her I felt like I should go home and change into fancier clothes before going into the house, or at the very least enter by the servants' door!).

We were trying to figure out the structure of how Saturday is going to go. Jeri said something like, "So have we decided? It's Snacks. Wedding. Day at the Beach." Pretty much we decided that things will fall into place without a lot of pre-planning. Once we figured out how much food we were going to buy, there wasn't much more to really plan. It would be just what Jeri and Phil want: snacks, wedding, and a party on the beach.

Things began to kick into, if not "high" gear, at least medium high gear today. I went to Michael's craft store to get some cake supplies. I had misplaced my sheet cake pan at home and brought my next biggest one, but was worried we would not have enough cake, but they had a sheet cake pan there, so I now have a new one. I also finally have new green food coloring, which I keep forgetting to buy.

I had spoken to Tom earlier in the day about picking up his big mixer, since Alice Nan doesn't have the heavy duty one I need. He had let me know that if I came by in the morning, I could just pick it up off the porch because they were having severe "sleep issues" with Bri and he didn't want to disturb that. But if I came at 2:30 she should be awake and in good spirits.

After I finished at Michael's, I had a couple of hours to kill, so I met Jeri and we got supplies for the guest gift she wants to give at the wedding. Then I still had an hour and a half to kill, so I went down to the beach and had lunch.

Remember Sambo's restaurants? It was a well known pancake chain, but they all (we thought) disappeared many years ago when people decided that a restaurant based on the children's story of "Little Black Sambo" was not politically correct. However, the "Orginal" Sambo's is here in Santa Barbara, right across from the beach and there was a parking spot right in front of it. I decided I was meant to go there!

The first thing I noticed was that Sambo apparently isn't black any more, which is, I guess, how they get away with keeping the name and logo.

I ordered eggs benedict and was pleasantly surprised in that they were the best I've had in a long time. You could actually taste the lemon in the hollandaise, the English muffin wasn't soggy, and the Canadian bacon was a nice thick-ish piece.

When I finished lunch, I still had time to kill, so drove around by Mission Santa Barbara and up into the hills. Finally at 2:30 on the dot, I arrived at Tom's house, just as he was arriving. But Bri wasn't there. Apparently the nanny had taken her out for a walk, so I didn't get to see her. Again. "Too bad, Ma," Tom said. "Guess you'll have to wait for tonight."

I knew what that would mean -- Bri would be fussy, because it was her fussy time. And she was. But I did get to hold her for a couple of minutes anyway, before she went back home for her bottle and sleep.

I was sad to realize that my favorite baby age--about 3 months, when they stare at you and give you big smiles--is now gone. She's too old. When I was here and she was that age, I never got to see her. I'm feeling like the unknown grandparent. I think I need to go watch Father's Little Dividend again. I can identify with Spencer Tracy.

I am such a stranger to this little girl I've waited for for so long that the second she sees me she starts to cry. Walt has had the opportunity to spend more time with her because he's spent so much time here with his mother. I have never yet had the experience of looking Bri in the face and having her smile at me. Not once. She's nearly five months old, and at the age when strangers scare her. I looked at her tonight, she looked away and immediately the lip came out and she started to cry. The only reason I was able to hold her was because it took her a couple of minutes to realize it was not her Dad who was holding her.

Maybe things will be different when/if they have their second baby.

But anyway, Laurel took Bri home to get her ready for bed and Tom stayed to help with the wedding plans. Jeri drew a chart to help explain what they thought would happen on Saturday.

It's all going to be fine, and funny (someone suggested all 100+ guests play "Here Comes the Bride" on the kazoo) and loving and we'll all have a great time.

We had a lovely dinner at the mansion with Phil's mom and her god-sister Kathy (who made a fabulous dinner!) and then stopped at the store for cake supplies I'd forgotten when I was there earlier.

Now I just need to make the cake. I bought 8 cake mixes, 16 lbs of powdered sugar, 4 lbs of Crisco and about $45 worth of cake supplies and I'm all set for the bake-a-thon tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We Have Some RINGS!

Several months ago I sent out the happy news of Phil and Jeri's upcoming wedding. I got a lot of happy messages of congratulations, but did not hear from one friend. After some time passed, I finally called her about some unrelated matter and during the course of our conversation, I asked her if she was going to be coming to the wedding.

"I don't think so," came the clipped reply.

When I asked why, she said she felt that Jeri and Phil were not taking this whole thing seriously enough. I was, not surprisingly, very hurt...and angry, but not surprised.

This friend is a born again Christian, a loyal Catholic, and her religion is the center of her life. Her conversation is sprinkled with "thank the Lord" and other expressions of her faith. She felt, she told me, that Jeri and Phil were just planning "a big party on the beach" and that the whole marriage thing was just some sort of a lark, without much serious thought.

I should add that she has never met Phil, hasn't seen Jeri in years and has absolutely NO information on which to base her opinion. We had several passionate e-mail exchanges and then decided to agree to disagree. She will not be attending the wedding, nor do I want her here any more.

But I wish she could see how Jeri and Phil glow when they look at each other. I wish she could see the thought that is going into this "lark." I wish she could hear the story of the rings.

The story of the rings begins in Provincetown, MA. Jeri and Phil took a ferry ride from Boston to Provincetown several weeks ago. While there they visited an antique shop and found their rings. They are lovely, plain, but with a bit of a design (not matching), but perfect for the two of them. They bought them.

Then they decided that in case there was some bad karma attached to buying second hand rings, Phil had a friend who is a shaman. They invited her to come and bless the rings, which she did.

She suggested that they now build a nest with all sorts of good/positive things and keep the rings in this nest until time for the wedding.

They found a small box and added herbs from their landlady's garden to start the nest. They then added sage from their friend KC's garden, some flower petals from my mother's garden and a feather they found on the sidewalk in front of the county courthouse the day we went to get their wedding license.

Jeri took a bike ride along the American River and picked up another feather to add to the nest.

They visited the cemetery where Dave and Paul are buried, placed the rings on the grave marker, and gathered grass from around the edges of the grave itself.

Then they wanted us to add something from around our house before they left for Santa Barbara, so we added leaves from the apple tree from which I cooked apples for an apple pie for them, petals from rose bushes I bought for Tom and Dave to celebrate the 49ers winning their first World Series, and part of a leaf from an iris plant that had come from my favorite aunt's garden after she died, some 20 years ago.

They are working to include everyone and make it so meaningful.

This is no frivolous wedding. Everything is being done with love, with the intent to include everybody in the planning, and to make it as close to nature as possible.

How much closer to "God" can you get than making everything as in tune with nature as possible?

People are flying in from all over the country for this wedding. My friend lives a short drive from here.

I think she's going to miss one hell of a party...and perhaps one of the most "meaningful" weddings in a long time. I think even Jesus would enjoy it.

Even if the bride will be playing whiffle ball afterwards.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mid-Night Terrors, Part 2

It wasn't a pain in my side that woke me at 4 a.m. this morning, it was suddenly realizing that in just a few days we have to be feeding 120 or so people. I've entered my normal panic phase that it's all going to go badly. That there won't be enough food. That I should have brought the leftovers home from Ned and Marta's the other night.

I tried to go back to sleep, but I kept thinking of vats of clam dip and oceans of potato salad and people standing there with empty plates. I finally got up to check the spreadsheet I had of people who had volunteered to bring food. Most of the people I contacted didn't answer. The few who did were generous with their offers to share food, but it won't be enough, of course. Thank goodness Costco is practically in Alice Nan's back yard.

Tom's doing most of the work on the main course and I'm organizing the side dishes. It will go OK. I know it will go OK. But I just need to panic a bit first. I'll feel better once I get down there.

I had put off going to the cake store for the few things I need to decorate the wedding cake. I wanted to get the shower behind us before I started thinking about the wedding itself. So this morning I was going to drive down to get all the stuff I need.

Before I left the house, I checked the web site to double-check on their hours of operation and learned that they are closed on Monday. problem. There is a big cake store where I used to shop all the time when I was doing cake decorating more often. I didn't want to drive that far, but owell, it's not that far--only to Sacramento.

But...they are closed on Mondays too! Doh!

I did some internet searching and found a place in Santa Barbara that sounds like it has what I wanted to get, so I've bookmarked that and will go there on Wednesday morning. I hope they are open on Wednesdays.

I also started worrying about Jeri's flowers. In a flush of "oh wouldn't that be sweet" a couple of weeks ago, I asked my mother if she would like to make a bouquet for Jeri to carry, since my mother is the flower person. Only at 4 a.m., I realized that she is driving down on Friday, and won't get there till Friday night and the wedding is Saturday around noon. Will there be time to find flowers and make a bouquet? I don't want to put pressure on her. I just thought she might like to do it, but now I'm concerned that it will be too much of a hassle. What to do? What to do?

There was also the gift that Jeri and Phil wanted to give the guests. It would take some searching on Jeri's part and some fiddling on my part and would there be enough time to do it all? Then I remembered that it was something that could be done in Santa Barbara and didn't have to be finished before we leave Davis.

Finally there is the issue of the dogs.

Our next door neighbor is having his fence replaced. We are paying for half of our side of his yard and were upset to learn that the plan was for it to be done while we were in Santa Barbara. We weren't sure what we were going to do, since Ashley will be here, but we didn't want to saddle her with the problem of the dogs and workmen and a missing fence!

Then Walt talked with the workmen and they decided to do the fence on the other side of our neighbors' house first, and do our fence after we get home. But the fence will be completely gone and there will be jackhammers involved, so obviously the dogs need to go somewhere.

No problem. I'd just call our Davis dogsitters, Kathy and Miguel, who took care of them two weeks ago. The dogs love being there, they seem to love having them, and the cost is reasonable.

But Ashley said she heard a rumor that Kathy and Miguel had moved out of Davis. No! They couldn't do that, could they? Kathy had just given me her new cell phone number not two weeks ago. But when I called the number, it had been disconnected, as had their house number.

Well...that was a disappointment, but I could always take the dogs to the kennel where we've had them boarded before. I checked their web site to get the phone number and learned that they are closed because they are moving and won't be open until late 2008.

Swell. Now what? I called our vet, who gave me a recommendation of a place out in the country somewhere. I called and left a message, but so far nobody has called me back. Ashley also says she may know some people. But at the moment, the question about where the dogs are going to go is up in the air.

Something to wake me up at 4 a.m. tomorrow, I guess.

Monday, August 25, 2008

King of the Hill

Mealtime.jpg (38191 bytes)First of all, after all these weeks/months, Scooby (the one in front here) has finally found a forever home. We were so pleased to come home from Ned's last night and get the message from Megan. I've been so concerned about him because he really needed somebody special who wouldn't rush him, who would help him learn to trust, as he had only just begun to do with me (and it always took a step backwards whenever I took him to Petco and left him for a day--it would take a few more days to get that trust back again).

But Megan describes his family this way:

Mom, dad, 2 kids (13 and 15) and a 3 year old 25 lb mix breed female dog. Mom works from home so she is with the dogs all the time. Scooby loved their other dog. Their other dog was very scared when they rescued her (she came from Katrina) so they hired a dog trainer to work with her and she is now very social and doing great. They brought along their trainer
today and helped them introduce themselves and their other dog to Scooby so he felt comfortable. Scooby seemed to really like them and was even
hanging out with the husband. They understand that he will need time to come out of his shell and they are willing to give him all the time he needs. I think it will be great for him having a work at home mom and the trainer will come over 3 times a week to help them out and make sure he adjusts well and is happy! He will be in the house all the time, but does have access to a fenced yard and will sleep with mom and dad at night (unless the kids get their way and he will sleep in one of their rooms). The family lives right by a lake and he will get to go on many hikes and walks.

Scooby was such a special dog to me that it brought tears to my eyes to read what an absolutely seemingly perfect home he has found. I wanted my little boy to be happy, and I'm sure now that he will.

That leaves only Freddie.

Fredsolo.jpg (54425 bytes)In truth, I am very much looking forward to Freddie's departure. He's a very sweet, very loving little puppy who obviously worships me -- and that's the problem.

He has become very territorial. He loves Walt and runs to the front door to greet him, wagging his tail, jumping up and begging to be petted.

But if he's in my lap and Walt comes to pet him, he growls, snarls, and tries to bite him.

I don't remember when he started being the "King of the Hill." As the smallest of the four dogs, he was always looking up to all of the other dogs, even Scooby.

But one day a week or so ago, he was sitting in my lap when the other three dogs were around and it must have suddenly occurred to him that he was now BIGGER than the other dogs. At least he towered above them. That was the start of what we called "King of the Hill," and which I thought of at first as kind of cute. Whenever any of the other dogs came near him he would suddenly turn into Freddie the Ferocious, and bark and bark and bark.

But then it got serious and he started a fight with Sheila, who could easly eat him in a couple of bites. I tried to get Freddie on his back, in a submissive position and teach him that this was not permitted. That ended that particular fight, but since then, Freddie has been in full challenge mode. He's either in my lap or on my chair and he threatens any of the other dogs that come near him.

Last night, I was sleeping in the recliner, Freddie was sleeping on me and he chased Lizzie out of the family room twice (she usually comes in and joins us, sleeping on the other recliner, but not last night; he wouldn't let her.

So it's time for Freddie to move on to a forever home, and Megan tells me that will probably happen on Monday. This means that both foster dogs will have been adopted before we leave for Santa Barbara, which is great because Ashley, who will be living here, will only have to deal with Sheila and Lizzie and her own dog(s).

Photos from yesterday's party--all 86 of them, mostly karaoke photos, are available in slide show format here ... and be sure to check the video excerpts (both the "video of the day" and the second video on YouTube, which is much longer)


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sing Us a Song, You're the Piano Man

The "shower" (which was really more of a party than a shower, strictly speaking) was a rousing success, and the center of attention was the karaoke stage that Ned had built. He and Marta had borrowed their neighbors' karaoke machine, Ned got discs from someone at the radio station where he works and we had ourselves a first class karaoke bar in full swing.

Ned started things off with a song. He had a coatrack of hats and costume pieces on stage to get people in the mood.

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But people were still into eating and visiting and not much happened for awhile.

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(Young Jack is auditioning to be Brianna's prom date 16 yrs from now)

Eventually, after people had finished eating (leaving enough food leftover to feed an army), things started revving up again.

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But things were quickly interrupted for a special message from Walt and from Uncle Mike, Phil's father's brother (Phil's father died several years ago). Each told a story about Jeri or Phil (or, in Mike's case, Jeri and Phil) and Walt presented Jeri with a gift...

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Then Mike, remembering the days when he used to toss a ball for Phil to catch, tossed him a ball and chain.

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Eventually, since this was a movie-themed party, Jeri and Phil were presented with an award as "best couple."

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Jeri took the opportunity to get better acquainted with Uncle Mike.

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And then there was more karaoke. Lots more Karaoke.

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Including a group who sang "When I'm 64," some of whom looked suspiciously close to that actual age.

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Jeri even got Walt up there to sing "My Way" with her.

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We would have stayed later (and I might actually have gotten up myself...but probably not) but I was feeling the need to come home and take my pill so we left around 10 p.m. But it was a memorable party and the absolute perfect way to kick off Wedding Week!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mid-Night Terrors

I left something out of my report about Cousins Day. I left it out because I didn't want to get all sorts of advice, because I'm a lot like my mother when it comes to health issues and because I was just fine now.

I'd been having some intermittent intestinal problems for a couple of days. Mild cramps that would come and go, but which were uncomfortable enough that I would have to go sit down for a few minutes until they passed. But it was one of those "I can deal with it" sorts of things.

I noticed that starting three days ago, I seemed to be having to go to the bathroom a lot more often than usual. I've always joked that I had an "iron bladder," and I'm the person who could fly from London to San Francisco without ever using the airplane's facilities. As we sat playing 65, I found I was getting up more and more frequently, but having less and less of an output.

So Thursday morning, we had just sat down for our first morning game of "65" when I had a pain in my side that practically doubled me over. I thought this was maybe a "pancake" issue, especially since I'd just finished a breakfast of French Toast with syrup and maybe that had the same effect that pancakes and syrup do on me. I went off to the bathroom to take care of business. Only as I sat there, producing nothing, I had this terrible wave of chills and nausea. An overwhelming feeling. I leaned over the bathroom sink and waited to lose my French toast, but the wave of nausea passed.

My side still hurt, though, so I went out to the living room and told everyone I needed to lie down for a bit. In about five minutes, the pain subsided and I went back to playing cards.

I was fine all afternoon except for an escalating sense of urgency. I would go to the bathroom and five minutes later it would feel like my bladder was bursting, so I'd go back in again and get just a little trickle. This went on all evening. I've never had a bladder infection or any kidney problem in my entire life, so other than trying to remember from my transcription days, I didn't know what the symptoms where.

I finally decided to ignore the feeling that I was going to pee all over myself and just try to get to sleep, but I finally did get up and as I got up, I had the double-you-over pain again. I tried lying down, hoping it would go away, as it had that morning, but it didn't. I tried aspirin and, remembering that the appendix is on the right side and that if you're having an appendix attack, you should put ice on it, I fixed myself an ice pack, but that didn't seem to help either.

It's amazing how much more terrifying things are in the middle of the night. Should I wake Walt up to take me to the emergency room (which is a 30-40 minute drive)? Should I call the advice nurse? Should I continue to hope it would go away? My biggest fear was that I didn't want anything to happen that would in any way ruin Jeri's wedding.

My first course of action was to continue hoping it would all go away (as well as some heavy duty praying and reminding God that Jeri's wedding has been a long time coming and it just wouldn't be fair to have anything ruin her special day!) but the pain didn't get better at all. I considered calling Walt on my cell phone, because I sure couldn't walk upstairs to wake him up if I had to go to the hospital. Finally I decided I needed to talk to someone, so I called the advice nurse. She at least calmed me down to where I didn't feel I needed to rush off to emergency right then and there. She did say I should make an appointment with my doctor any time after 6 a.m this morning.

After I talked with her, the pain continued to get worse and I ended up losing my dinner. But after that, the pain, miraculously did start to subside enough that I was able to sleep and slept until 6:30.

I immediately called the doctor's office when I got up and they gave me the first appointment of the day.

It can't be just straightforward. There's blood in the urine, which indicates a urinary tract infection, but it's negative for leukocytes which would indicate that it might not be a UTI. So she's treating me for a UTI, but warns that I might possibly be passing a small kidney stone. And isn't that the very thing you want to be doing while trying to plan two big wedding parties!

At least I've been examined and have a diagnosis of sorts, even if it's not definitive.

Folding Wonton

Friday, August 22, 2008

"I Love You"

I'm really glad that, despite all the bitching I do here about how things are going to hell in a handbasket, that we live in the times that we do.

One thing we discussed at cousins day was our relationships with our fathers--all four of us, including my mother.

The one thing that I have said has been very difficult for me is watching all the talk about the beauty of the daughter-father relationship. Then Tim Russert came out with his books about his Dad and had a flood of mail from folks who wrote to him about the beautiful relationship they had with their fathers.

I have often (and expressed this here) felt jealous of Jeri because she and Walt have a truly beautiful relationship.

As we compared notes, we realized that each of our daughers have beautiful relationships with their fathers. In fact, while we were slugging down lemondrop martinis, Kathy's daughter, Peach's daughter, and Jeri had all made arrangements to spend the time with their fathers. I joked that I couldn't in my wildest dreams imagine setting aside time to have a special father-daughter time. In fact, there would be nothing I would dread more.

Now, Ned takes me to task when I write negative things about my father. He reminds me that back in the first year of this journal, I wrote a Father's Day entry in which as a Father's Day gift (he had been dead for many years at this time), I forgave him for all the negative things that I remember from my childhood. "Let it go, Mom," he will say to me when I bring things up again.

In truth, I have forgiven my father for the negative things of my childhood -- but "forgiving" doesn't erase a lifetime of memories, and those memories are part of who I am. Sometimes I can learn valuable lessons from thinking back about what happened during those years and how it has contributed to the person I am today....and what can I do about that? (If we didn't relive the events of our childhood, positive and negative, millions of therapists all over the world would be out of business!)

And so it was very, very therapeutic to sit around with three women I love and respect and compare notes about our upbringing, and our relationships with our fathers and what sort of impact those relationships have had upon the adults that we are today.

One complaint that I have always had, and have expressed many times, whether here or to other people, is that I don't ever remember hearing my father tell me he loved me. Oh he said the words, but they were never in the "you're the most special child in the world to me and I love you so much" sort of way but in a "this is a terrible thing about yourself that you need to hear and I'm only telling you this because I love you" sort of way. Big difference.

I expressed that thought yesterday as we were realizing that our adult daughters had all made arrangements to stay home and take care of their fathers just because they knew we were going to be having a good time and they thought someone should have a good time with Dad too.

[Aside: We have often suggested to the men in our lives that since they seem jealous of the good times we have on Cousins Day that they all get together and Do Something while we are off partying, but none of them has any desire whatsoever to do that. Don't say we didn't try!]

So I taked about how sad I was that I have no memories of my father ever saying I love you. As it turned out, neither did anybody else. My mother, the elder stateswomen of the group, pointed out that saying those words was just not "done" when she was growing up, or, for that matter, when we were growing up. Men were expected to work and bring home a salary to take care of their family, but it was unusual for a man to actually say "I love you" to his kids. (In comparison to today, where it's very common. Not hearing their father say "I love you" is never going to be a memory that our own kids have! -- how's that for a convoluted sentence?)

We compared notes about our memories of our father. One of us said there were only three times in her life when she could remember having fun with her father. Whenever I think about having fun with my father, one incident immediately comes to mind. It's another of those "moments frozen in time" that I wrote about last month. I'm 4 years old and my father and I had gone to a kind of a park where there was like a little cave sort of structure--it may have been a playhouse, but that's not how it appears to me in my memory. Anyway, I suggested we play house and I would be the Mommy, and I remember pretending to cook something for him. That's all I remember, then the memory fades. But I remember being so happy being there with him.

I wondered if I could come up with three memories, and, with work, I could. That's not to say that life with my father was all dour. Far from it. My mother has said, rightly so, that she never laughed as much as when she was with my father...and she is always quick to point out that she never cried as much either. My father was a fun guy. Had a fabulous sense of humor, was always doing crazy things to make people laugh. But when I remember those times, I can't help remembering how most of those fun times ended -- with him getting angry about something, stalking off, and then not speaking to us for days at a time. If he did fun things with other people, he would come home tired, and get angry with us because he had to do something for someone else. I remember when he spent a day giving a tour of San Francisco to a bunch of visiting nuns. They absolutely LOVED him and had a great time, but he came home, slammed things around the house and yelled about how they had used his good nature. They, of course, had no idea he had done that, but we suffered...and we weren't even there and he had met the nuns and volunteered his services himself.

So life with my father could be a barrel of laughs, but you always laughed cautiously because you never knew when maybe you laughed a little bit too long and he'd get angry with you for laughing.

But the big thing was never feeling that he loved me. Never hearing those words without something negative attached to them -- like the memories that I can't enjoy because I remember the negative attached to them.

And that's the therapeutic thing about Cousins Day. You bring up something like this that has been festering inside for a long time, that you only bring out cautiously because people might not understand, and yet there I was with three people who understood exactly because they shared many of the same experiences with their own fathers. This included my own mother, who talked about which one of her seven sisters was her father's father's favorite and how she herself always felt ignored by him.

I don't know that we actually solved any long-standing problem, but it very definitely deepened the bond that we have been developing over the past year and a half.

I love these women...and I'm not uncomfortable to say so!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cousins Day - August

We're in the middle of the second year of Cousins Day and at the start, when we'd all settled ourselves in soft seats, one of us brought up something her therapist had said -- that the therapist was so excited about the concept of Cousins Day and thought we ought to let the whole world know about it (apparently my journal readership isn't large enough!). The therapist felt we should try to get on Oprah or Uncle Dr. Phil or something.

We discussed it and agreed that this was a very private thing and that to try to "market" it would cheapen it. I said that I felt that (a) it was almost impossible to get onto Oprah and wasn't really eager to do so, and (b) that if the therapist was so excited about this thing we've discovered she should market it to Oprah or Phil for us and then we'd discuss if we wanted to take it further. (I figured that got us off the hook!)

This was my "bye" month, so I didn't have to bring drinks or dinner (though we've decided starting next month to add "hors d'oeuvres" so there will be no more "bye" months.

Kathy brought lemon drop martinis and, since our last time together, discovered something absolute wonderful ... flavored sugar for drinks. Something to decorate the rim of the glasses.

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The lemon drop martinis are yummy to begin with, but add lemon flavored, cruncy sugar and they are...really, really good!

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We played "65" all afternoon and had our usual emotional catharsises (always more personal after the first round of drinks!). Last month, I didn't win a single hand in two days and this time around it was a bit more evenly spread...well, except for Peach, who didn't win anything. And she took the many losses so graciously. Not.

CDfoil.jpg (38704 bytes)But it was Peach's turn to make dinner and she fixed a delicious casserole, but...uh...had a bit of trouble managing the aluminum foil that she need to cover it up. (It may have been funnier after 2-3 martinis, I admit!)

My mother was supposed to go and get her car, which was in for servicing before she takes it on the long trip to Santa Barbara for the wedding, but we convinced her that after two martinis, she would not be safe on the road, especially during rush hour. I called the car place to ask them NOT to send the driver to pick her up. I think she was relieved.

So we just drank and played and ate and played and then decided we were all exhausted around 10 p.m. Peach and my mother went to bed, Kathy started working a puzzle, and I sat and read for about 5 minutes before I went to sleep too. I'd only had 4 hours sleep the night before because I'd been up writing the review for Hairspray.

I got up several times during the night for trips to the bathroom, but otherwise slept soundly all night long. We were all awake before 7 a.m. this morning and, as soon as the breakfast plates had been cleared away, the cards came out again.

I'm not sure of it's the cards that we enjoy so much, or if it's the fact that it's something to do while we're chatting about other things in our lives. The nice thing is that not only can we talk about our day-to-day lives, but since we share a lifelong history, we have a lifetime of memories to talk about. We all grew up with the same cast of characters in our lives and, whether we were close at the time or not, we understand when someone talks about the peculiarities of Aunt Betsy or the frustrations dealing with Cousin Ken, or the weird things Shirley used to do. There's no need to explain anything to anyone because we start on the same level. That's very special.

It's why I am reluctant to answer Oprah's call, should she want to discuss Cousins Day. Cousins Day works for us because we have history, chemistry and it came about because of circumstances. It was serendipitous. I'm not sure this is something you can write down a formula for so that others can follow it. Others have to find their own circumstances and their own chemistry.

Besides, how successful would a program be that starts with "find an elderly relative and convince her to break her ankle...."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Party Central

I lost count of the number of lists we had going this morning.

Marta called about the shower for Jeri and Phil this coming Saturday. This isn't exactly a "shower," in the traditional sense, but a party for them--a movie night. We expect about 50-60 people to come. Marta let me know that we were in charge of food. I'd already volunteered to coordinate food for the wedding next Saturday and had sent out messages to people asking if they wanted to contribute anything.

In truth, I feel very...uncomfortable about that. Traditionally, the bride's family covers the wedding expenses, but this isn't a traditional wedding. It's a beach barbeque with a wedding thrown in at some point, and Jeri had been talking to people about making it a pot luck. Several had offered to bring food. So I sent out this message asking people that if they were going to bring food to let me know so I could coordinate buying food with what I knew was going to be there. I will, of course, be doing the cake(s).

So I set up a spreadsheet of all the people who are responding, whether they will or won't bring food and then will coordinate with Tom about what else we need to get.

Now there's the shower to plan. We talked about going to Costco, but then Jeri and Phil decided it would be nice to have non-traditional food that we make ourselves and they have a whole list of foods they are going to make. I've already planned to cook several dishes for the shower (which is an appetizer-dinner party, since it starts at 6 p.m.). Then Marta called to ask if I could make a cake for the shower too, so I have another cake to decorate as well.

Then there's the rehearsal dinner and where it's going to be and who is supposed to be coming and I don't know if we've even thought about what food is going to be served there, but Jeri has another spreadsheet for that decision too, trying to figure out if there was anyway to get all the people they wanted there along with all the people that had to be there, and ultimately deciding that Jeri had too many relatives.

I'm lovin' it all, but at this very moment in time it is starting to feel just a tad overwhelming. But I am leaving at the crack of dawn to go to Cousins Day and can put all thought of the nuts 'n' bolts part of the wedding aside until I get back, and that will be nice (and who knows? maybe I can con Peach and Kathy into bringing some finger food to the shower as well!)

In the meantime, Jeri has her own spreadsheets of who is probably going to come to the wedding, the 60 people who have said yes and all the people who haven't responded yet. We decided that there will be about 130 people, when it all comes together.

But after we discussed food and other plans, then we had some fun. First, we went off to the post office. I had a 41 lb package to mail to Australia and, while Walt had volunteered to carry it for me, how nice to have this almost-son-in-law, who happens to carry heavy objects for a living, to do it so the nearly 70 year old man didn't have to. We got the package mailed and then headed for the county courthouse in Woodland.

Last time I was there, Ellen and Shelly were getting married. And, in fact, there were a couple of women carrying flowers, dressed in white and grinning from ear to ear who were leaving the wedding room when we arrived. I don't know if they saw me smile at them, but I did.

It was time to get the license.

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It's all so automated now. The first thing you do is to put all your information into the computer.

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Then the nice lady takes all your information and puts data into HER computer.

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Then they swear all the information is correct, give the nice lady some money, get all the instructions for how to file the paperwork after the wedding takes place, and voila! You're all set to go. They even add a handy dandy little booklet to help you in your life together. The clerk explained that she was required to hand it out, that she thought it had been put together in the 1950s, and that if nothing else, it would make a nice coloring book.

We left the courthouse and went to Dos Coyotes for lunch to celebrate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And So It Begins

It was a dark and stormy night.

No, that's not just Snoopy's standard novel opening, it really was a "dark and stormy" night. "Dark and Stormy" is the name of a drink Jeri and Phil love, made with beer and rum. But not just any beer or just any rum--A.J. Stephans Jamaican Style ginger ale (made in Boston) and Captain Morgan brand Puerto Rican rum. You blend these two together in a tall glass over ice and enjoy.

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Being an only occasional drinker, and a light one at that, a Dark and Stormy is more booze than I want, and I had to participate in an on-line conference anyway, so I left the three with their drinks and I sat at my comoputer for 40 minutes or so before I made dinner.

Hey, you guys! Jeri and Phil are here! The bride and groom!...and you know what that means? It's time to get serious about wedding plans, which seems only logical since the wedding is next weekend.

I don't know why all weddings aren't planned like this. Of course it might all fall apart, but since this is a casual wedding there isn't much to fret about. I was actually going to go out and buy something to wear until they told me that it is evolving into a Hawaiian themed wedding and that (some) women are wearing muu muus. Well, I have a perfectly good muu muu that fits and looks less horrible than a lot of things I wear, so I've just saved myself the price of an outfit and will wear the muu muu. The father of the bride is wearing an aloha shirt.

They arranged music with the Preoccupied Pipers group after the gig Saturday night. My mother is going to fix Jeri a bouquet of flowers. Several people have volunteered to bring food and/or drink to share at the picnic. Tom, Alice Nan and I are going to do a huge shopping at Costco for food later next week. I'll be making the cake at Alice Nan's house.

And Jeri got to try on the "fertility veil" that she'll be wearing. Char wore it for her wedding, Pat wore it for hers, I wore it for mine (and we had 5, 4, and 5 children, respectfully) and then Char's daughter wore it for hers. So now it's been passed down to Jeri...or rather loaned to Jeri.

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It seems like somebody should be panicking about something. Isn't that what you do the week before a wedding? But it just all feels very calm and organized.

Tomorrow I'm taking Phil and Jeri to the Yolo County Courthouse to get their marriage license (hopefully from recorder Freddie Oakley, who married Ellen and Shelly). There's a shower planned for Saturday at Ned & Marta's house and then we all take off for Santa Barbara for the final phase of this happy, happy event!

Monday, August 18, 2008

God DID Make Little Green Apples

When we first moved in to this house in 1973, David was 18 months old and Jeri was 7. We had the house built, so everything here was chosen or designed by us, including the still-nonexistent landscaped yard. However, I did go through a period of "earth-motherhood," when we planted a garden, put in some trees and made a stab at a lawn (which is now only a distant memory, thanks in great part to all the dogs who have chased each other around here).

I loved our home grown tomatoes, but hated the icky tomato horn worms that came with them, so that didn't last all that long. We only grew corn one year, but I still remember the flavor of freshly picked corn when you brought it directly into the house and cooked it immediately.

My favorite threat to the kids occurred during our "zucchini phase" when I discovered that those little bitty things you get in the grocery store are mutants, and the real zucchini, unnchecked, grows to watermelon size. And the kids didn't like zucchini at all. I did my best to disguise it by hiding it in soups or spaghetti sauce, but they were too smart for me, so I got them to eat their zucchini by reminding them that the longer it took them to get through the current zucchinizilla the bigger the one growing in the garden would be. It was a successful threat. Some times.

We planted fruit trees because I loved the idea of going out and plucking fruit off of a tree in my own yard. The peach tree did great. Somewhere there is a picture of David, sitting on the floor of the kitchen surrounded by buckets of peaches. (I canned in those days too, and made jam and ice cream and all sorts of wonderful things out of the fruits of our garden.)

We also planted a plum tree, a nectarine tree, and an apple tree. An apricot tree was already growing on the property when we bought it, but it had been here so long that the apricots were 30' up in the air and we could never get to them.

The year after our bumper crop of peaches, the tree developed severe leaf curl and died. It was like that one big year was its last gasp. Gradually the other trees died too, or Walt eventually cut them down.

But the apple tree continues to thrive. That it thrives is entirely due to the ministrations of God, because other than taking pictures of apple blossoms when they first come out, I pretty much ignore the tree until I realize that it is heavily laden with little green apples that are between golf ball and tennis ball size. Kind of the size of very large plums, actually.

Some years they all fall off, the dogs chase them around the yard or bring them into the house and leave them lying all over the place.

This year, Walt actually harvested a huge pot full of little green apples. I tasted one and it seemed to be not quite ripe, so I let them sit in the pot. And of course around here, once a thing gets put on a flat surface, it disappears. Today, several weeks later, I noticed that the apples which used to be green were now (many of them) turning yellow. I just couldn't justify throwing that many apples out.

I had recorded the Obama/McCain town hall meeting last night while we were in San Francisco, and wanted to watch it. I knew that it was 2 hrs long and I couldn't justify just sitting there for 2 hours during the afternoon, so I decided to process the apples.

I sat myself at the kitchen table with the pot of apples, a cutting board, a pot to put the cut apples in, and a cup for garbage and set to work.

Since we don't tend to the tree, there are a lot of problems with these apples, but almost all of them had parts that were salvageable. As I watched first Obama and then McCain answer questions, I just kept slogging away at my apples, and by the time the program was over, I had a surprisingly full pot full of apple chunks.

I hadn't decided whether I was going to make applesauce or a pie, but since I'd just picked up four HUGE jars of applesauce at Costco, I decided to go for the pie (which was my first choice anyway).

I made my favorite Julia Child food processor crust, which is the flakiest ever (and I'm a crust aficionado) and piled it HIGH with the apple chunks. In about an hour the house smelled of apple pie and I was happy.

I sent a text message to Jeri to ask if she and Phil would be here for dinner tomorrow night, and told her that we had homemade apple pie. "Pie?" she asked, and said they would definitely be here.

Walt and I had pie for dessert tonight and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. So I'm grateful to God, Comcast, Obama and McCain, and Julia Child tonight. I'm also grateful that the big pot of apples is finally empty!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We're Too Old for This

I remember a New Year's Eve, before we were married, when Walt and I drove to Los Angeles for a party, stayed up late, slept a few hours, got back in the car first thing in the morning, and drove back home again. (For those fuzzy on California geography, that's an 8 hour trip each way.) We did that sort of crazy stuff then.

When Lawsuit was going hot and heavy, we frequently drove all over the state for shows, staying up late, and driving home again from wherever it was.

Last night we did two shows in San Francisco and got home at 2:30 a.m. First of all, it took us three hours to get there. Traffic was horrendous, and even taking the short cut that Walt knows, which cuts off at least half an hour of traffic, we didn't have time to have dinner. We picked up a yogurt smoothie at a stand while we were walking from the parking lot through the Metreon on our way to the theatre.

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The first show was The Lamplighters Mikado. Mikado is one of my very favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. It was the one which first enamored me to Gilbert & Sullivan, The Lamplighters, and Gilbert. It was generally recognized that Gilbert's KoKo was one of his best (the other being Jack Point in the less well known Yeomen of the Guard). The Lamplighters once ran Mikado for six months back in the 1960s because it was always a big seller and they needed money.

This current production is opulent and there is lots of good about it, but I have to admit I hated it. Well, maybe "hate" is too strong a word, but I did not like at all a lot of the things the director did with it. Lots of "business" that just distracted from what should have been the focus on stage to elicit cheap laughs, when the real laughs weren't there. And while I may not have hated the show (great performers, great costumes, fabulous set, great orchesetra), I did hate what the director did with KoKo, who minced onto the stage like a drag queen (and the actor himself is not gay, I was told) and had none of the charm that I associate with KoKo. Much of the best about him was gone. I didn't even applaud for most of his numbers because I just hated what the director had done to the character.

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(this photo of YumYum and Koko was taken by Rhys Chung, of The Lamplighters
You can see all of her excellent photos of the show on Flickr)

So it was a disappointment. For me. The audience loved it and I was very glad I didn't have to review it because my personal prejudices would have gotten in the way, I fear.

The show ended at about 10 minutes to 11 and Preoccupied Pipers was due to perform across town at 11. This is the group of Lawsuit alumni who get together once a year to perform music that they've been writing, often in e-mail collaboration, all year. Jeri and Phil had flown in, arriving (thanks to Jet Blue canceling their original flight) that morning for the evening's show!. We raced through the streets of San Francisco and, thanks to the fact that IPO shows never run on time, we actually did get there on time.

I hadn't seen the guys up on stage in a long time and it was fun, of course, to watch them.

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Ned in costume on the drum

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Jeri on flute

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Jeri on sax, Marta on trombone

They played until about 12:30 or so. I forget what time it was, but all I know was that it was after 2 a.m. when Walt and I finally rolled in here. The dogs couldn't believe it. I think it will be awhile before we try that little stunt again! (But it sure was a fun night!)

Today's video contains snippets from the concert.