Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two more of the wedding



Funny how the top one looks like the cover of my poetry book, huh?!
(photos by Rich Ressman)

AQLF

The AQLF has announced its very exciting initial slate of authors to appear in October! This is truly a great group, and I am honored to be part of it. Click on the names for information about each writer:

Keep an eye out on the AQLF blog and here for updates.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wedding pictures

Finally, some pictures, thanks to my sister Crystal! Our official photographer for the day was Rich Ressman, aka Photosurgeon; when we get some from him, I'll post a few more.

To read about the wedding, go to the entry below or click here.

This is what the Santa Cruz day looked like. How lucky were we?

We all hung out at the wharf before the boat pulled up. Here are my brother-in-law Howie with our niece Jenna and our nephew Evan, already decked out in the purple orchid lei (yes, "lei" is plural!) all the guests received.

Then we were on the boat, and it pulled away with the Boardwalk's roller coasters in the distance.

Our niece Hailey, my sister Ann and cousin Leslie enjoying the ride.
Mom and me.
Aunt Ruby and cousins Jeri Lynn, Leslie & Linda.

The boat stopped at the harbor, and Mary Beth performed the ceremony.
No, Mary Beth didn't sing; she was just feeling the moment!
Our nephew George, visiting from Veracruz, Mexico, played the guitar and sang with his father, Jim (Annie's brother).
Nieces Jenna and Hailey enjoyed the ride inside the boat for a little bit.
My sisters Crystal and Ann at the reception dinner...

...and their husbands, Bruce and Howie, getting their gay on in the spirit of the day.

The wedding cake--a massive carrot cake from The Buttery.

Niece Jenna, Laurie's daughter Molly, niece Hailey and nephew Evan enjoying dinner at the kids' table.
The kids ham it up. Jenna and Hailey loved finding a new friend in Molly.
The happy couple. Very, very happy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wedding Day: Aloha & Mahalo

To all who sent us messages via this blog and other ways, thank you will all our hearts for exuding love and support. Our wedding day was nothing short of amazing. The energy created by the love of those physically and psychically present had everything to do with the joy and perfection of the day. The weather was just right as we floated on the Monterey Bay in this little tour boat with our small group of family and close friends. It was an incredible feeling to see gathered together people who have known and loved us over the years in many different places and times. As everyone arrived, Annie and I placed a purple orchid lei around each person's neck in greeting. (We ordered the lei from Hawaii, a place that means a lot to us, and they were shipped to us. California Poet Laureate Al Young recently wrote a poem for us based on a picture we took in Hawaii.)

A few little kids who were passing by on the wharf shouted out, "Aloha!"--the greeting of love, symbiosis, grace and peace. There were a number of strangers we came into contact with us that day, and all of them beamed with happiness, wishing us "congratulations" in one way or another.

We boarded the boat to "Roller Coaster of Love" playing over the boat's loudspeaker--especially apropos since the roller coasters of the Boardwalk were in full swing in the distance as we pulled out to sea. That song segued into a whole set of songs Annie had burned onto a CD, including "our song":




When the boat came to a stop near the harbor, everyone gathered at the stern. Our friend Mary Beth, who was deputized for our ceremony, was truly inspirational as she called attention not only to our relationship but to the power of all love. Birds were singing and circling. As soon as Mary Beth talked about transitions in life--how we'd been through so many, how a healthy relationship grows through those transitions--Annie's brother and nephew played on their guitars and beautifully sang the Green Day song "Time of Your Life" (but changing the lyrics to "I hope you have the time of your life").

Afterward, Annie and I said our words to each other, our reasons for loving and marrying each other. Finally, a glint grew in Mary Beth's eyes and she said, "By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you married!" At that moment, we kissed and the captain blew the horn.

I hugged my mom, and we both sobbed.

When we got back to the wharf, everyone went to their cars to drive to the restaurant. Our friends Michele and Van chauffered us along West Cliff Drive up to Natural Bridges for a little downtime with nature. Everyone then gathered at our favorite Italian restaurant to eat on the outdoor patio. The air was so soft the heaters weren't needed.

Celebration swirled with food, wine, hilarious and poignant toasts by long-time friends Janelle and Brenda, clinking of glasses to signal us to kiss--and it all culminated in the cutting of the massive carrot cake. We hadn't planned to cut the cake and feed it to each other, but we decided to give the audience what they wanted!

Afterward, a group of about 10 of us met back at Annie's and my hotel suite overlooking the ocean. From the deck we watched the sparkling lights of the Boardwalk rides in the night. Four of our women friends stripped and jumped into the hot tub. The only man there, our friend Bobby (who's a very youthful 66), said, "No one will never believe this!"

People drifted off one by one, leaving us with our two dear friends, Carolyn and Mary Beth, who sat with us in the dark on the patio. We talked and listened to the lapping sea and barking sea lions until 1 a.m.

We didn't exchange rings that day. Instead, Annie and I both wore our wedding rings that we've had for years--and she also wore a ring that had belonged to her Mom, and I wore my dad's Chico State ring that he wore every day of his life. When I showed my cousin John I was wearing the ring, he kissed it, a gesture that took my breath away.

It is at times like these that the presence/absence of those who have gone before us becomes more immediate. My cousin Linda reminded me that 7 years ago at her son Randy's funeral, "Time of Your Life" was played. So he was present in spirit.

Also, My sister Ann tells me that my cousins Jeri Lynn and Leslie were thinking of their mother, Bonnie, that day--and that Jeri Lynn had said Bonnie would have loved the ceremony. (Annie never got to meet my Aunt Bonnie, since she died before Annie and I met, but I'm sure they would have loved each other.)

And then, at the wharf they saw this:

As Ann said, Aunt Bonnie had the best seat in the house.

I will be posting a bunch of pictures in the next few days. We are awash in love and gratitude. Aloha & Mahalo to all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Countdown & Goodreads

Tomorrow's the big day! We've both been a bit under the weather...go figure...but I predict tomorrow we will be in great shape.

Annie's brother Jim and his son George (who's 22) have been practicing in our living room the guitar music they'll be playing at the ceremony. The practice has been segueing into a fabulous jam. They always fill our lives with such great sounds when they're visiting from Mexico. (They live in Veracruz).

We have other friends set to chauffeur us around, others who are taking photos, others yet who are picking up the cake and planning toasts and checking off the list of guests, others who are bringing wine and glasses to the after-dinner party in our hotel suite, another who has written the ceremony she's going to perform. I am filled with gratitude; we are rich in the love of friends and family.

*

If you're not familiar with Goodreads, you should check it out. You can rate books you're reading and read others' ratings. And if you're an author, it's a great way to connect to other writers and readers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All dressed up and somewhere to go

Finally, today I found an outfit for the wedding, which happens this Sunday. Nothing like cutting it close. It kind of looks like this (modeled by a Jaclyn Smith lookalike; although I pride myself on my white trash qualities, I swear the outfit's not from KMart, it's from J. Jill).

However, the pants I'll be wearing are calf-length, flowy and eggplant color like the blouse, and I found a gorgeous, chunky necklace and cute, thick-soled sandally shoes. All good for a casual boat wedding.

Shopping is not my favorite pasttime. Far from it. So I was happy to find something relatively fast and not have to deal with agony of shopping day after day.



The first time I got married it was 1985, and I looked something like this but with bigger hair. There's a picture of me somewhere guzzling a whole bottle of champagne in the dress at the reception. I remember doing that because I was already feeling a *tad* trapped in the wife role. Wanted to subvert it after just an hour.

Annie and I don't call each other "wife." We tend toward "spouse" or "partner."

We've been together very happily for 14 years, so I'm not too worried that being official will change anything. It will be strange, though, because now when people ask me if I'm married I can say "yes." I used to say, "Depends on what you mean" or "I would be but I'm not legally allowed."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Something's coming . . .

Hey, look what's coming soon! More later . . .

*


Sunday is the big day ... and since we're getting married on a boat, we figured we should take a little ride on it first. We planned a day a couple of weeks ago, but the boat didn't show at the wharf. It had to be diverted because of a weird tide.

Ahem.

So we planned again a week later--and the boat trip was cancelled because of a big swell. The captain insisted a swell like that in July is "very unusual."

Ack!

So we planned again for this week. We went yesterday, and it was fantastic. A sweet little boat, the sun, the sea breeze, the turquoise water, the beautiful Monterey Bay, seagulls and otters and pelicans and sea lions . . .

Let's just hope we get a day like that on Sunday.

If not, we do have a Plan B that we'd really really really rather not have to resort to.

So ... think clear skies, calm seas and good tides.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

"You're a nerd and poetry is stupid."

I was going to write an entry about the new National Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan (who also, tah dah!, happens to be an out lesbian) ... but just go read Collin's because I couldn't say it any better.

Here's the main question, though: Would you rather be named Poet Laureate, or would you rather be quoted in the comic strip The Boondocks? Here's the experience Ryan had with the latter:



Carol and I were reading the paper on Sunday morning in bed, and Carol is reading the funnies, and she says in this stricken or awed or something tone, she says: "Kay, read this out loud" and she passes me the funnies. I start reading this cartoon and it is Boondocks and in it, the little brother, who wants to get his bit of the action now and is complaining is smacked down by his big brother, Huey, who uses my poem "Patience" in this cartoon. It was just astonishing. He says: "You know, a poet named Kay Ryan once said, 'Who would have guessed it possible that waiting is sustainable—a place with its own harvests. Or that in time's fullness the diamonds of patience couldn't be distinguished from the genuine in brilliance or hardness.' What do you think that means?" Huey asks Riley. Riley answers: "It means you're a nerd and poetry is stupid."


(quoted from here)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Poison & music

Look what just arrived in the mail!
These poems go for the cojones. The first poem in the collection, for instance, highlights the death of Ronald Reagan, about whom "You can't help but cry, the old bastard / finally dead, like a daddy who beat you / almost to death . . ."

The speaker in this poem reminds us that Reagan hated to have "to dirty his mouth with the word / AIDS, but gay would never pass his lips . . . He made it seven years without giving in/ to those bleeding heart homos, liberals and whiny doctors. . . He ended the Cold War while his own country turned to ice."

I liked this collection so much I blurbed it, calling it "CNN on truth serum."

Finishing Line Press does a really nice job with their chapbooks.

Congratulations Collin!
*
I'm on the laptop right now in the living room. Annie and her brother Jim are playing guitars, and our 22-year-old nephew George is playing the bass. They are jammin'. They're here from Veracruz Mexico for two weeks, and whenever they come, our house is filled with music.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

ps

Regarding my previous post, my cousin Joanna (who's from North Carolina) said, "Apparently, you can't get any shut-eye at Ann's house, or she'll bury ya."

Friday, July 11, 2008

She has risen


My sister Ann's tortoise had three babies. Even though she took great care of them, they are fragile creatures. Two months ago, she sadly buried the last one, Jag, in her yard.

Then today in her garden she saw a baby tortoise. She thought, "My God, my momma tortoise had another baby." When she went to pick it up she realized it was Jag! Apparently Jag had been only hibernating and is now ready to rejoin the living. Needless to say, Ann's overjoyed.

*

I've been working on my writing and wedding planning--plus we have a number of family visitors coming into town--so I'll be off the blog for a bit.

When I return, I'll post wedding pictures.

In the meantime, check out what I was writing about a year ago (in June, July and August 2007).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I don't know why I love this so much.

and I loved an earlier version of this that I wrote about last year. In fact, I like the music of the earlier version better, but I like all the people in the new version.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

It didn't rain on our parade

Apparently in the early 1900's, there used to be lots of rose parades along the Alameda, a main thoroughfare in our neighborhood. This 4th of July, our neighbors revived the tradition, going mostly along small streets and ending up at the Alameda for a festival.

There were dogs galore.
And a firetruck dressed up in honor of the San Jose Sharks.
My favorite float was a small one honoring world peace.
Our out gay supervisor Ken Yeager attended.
And there were lots of cool old cars and other vehicles.


Former mayor and local icon Susan Hammer rode by.
And various local groups participated: a bilingual school group, an Asian dance troupe, and more.

Afterward, Annie and I came home and finished painting our kitchen. Every summer we say we're going to tackle home projects, and we're actually doing it this year.

I revised a book review and submitted it to an editor. Now I'm reading a manuscript of a novel that I'll be blurbing; it's coming out with Plain View Press in the fall. The novel features Hungarian immigrants in America, serendipitous because my paternal grandmother was Hungarian.

She was born Anna Hadzima in Cleveland in 1911; her parents had just immigrated. When she was 2, her mother took her back to Hungary to visit family. They returned to Cleveland to discover that Anna's father had been killed in a streetcar accident on Cleveland streets. Anna's mother (who had epilepsy) remarried another Hungarian immigrant, John Straka.
When my grandmother was 16 years old, she had a nightmare one night and went to her mother's bed, who invited Anna to sleep with her. When my grandmother awoke the next morning, her mother was dead. A seizure had killed her in the middle of the night.

So there was my grandmother, only age 16, and both of her parents were gone. She had only made it through eighth grade. She was beautiful but poor. Her step-father remarried, and the new wife beat my grandmother.

No wonder she got pregnant at age 19, before she was married (of course she never admitted this to us, but records make it clear). That pregnancy was my father. Anna did marry him soon after--his name was "Evans" (also Hungarian; his family named had been changed at Ellis Island). He turned out to be an alcoholic who abandoned the family. She married 3 more times (one of the men died of cancer; the other two were also alcoholics who abandoned her) and had a total of 4 children.

All of this, and she never lost her Catholic faith. She loved watching the 700 Club--all those sweaty preachers begging for money. She also loved big-time wrestling.

She was also a wonderful cook. I loved her homemade noodles and saurkraut and rich soups and paprika chicken. And my grandmother used to make something we called "poppyseed roll." Reading the novel manuscript, I found a description of a woman making that thing. Now I know it's called kalacs.

Thinking about Grandma, reading this novel and watching the parade make me glad to be living in a community formed by immigrants.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"The fire is just a big raging animal right now," said Darby Marshall, spokesman for the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services

The fires continue raging--and now the town of Big Sur, which is about 70 miles from where I live in San Jose, has been evacuated. Yes, the whole town. 25 miles of one of the most beautiful coastal highways in the world have been shut down. Big Sur is one of nature's amazing beauties, with its old redwoods and stunning coastline.The fire was started by lightening. And although we've been dealing with more than 1,000 fires in California during the past couple of weeks, this one is the worst and most out of control right now.

Our skies in my neighborhood have cleared up significantly, though, so certainly progress is being made on many of the fires. I was able to go on a long walk today without my lungs tightening up. In fact, I'd walked for 90 minutes along the Los Gatos Creek Trail and was cooling off in the shade of Campbell Park with my dog Max, when my cell phone rang in my fanny pack. It was my friend Kelly asking me if we were going to walk today. I told her to come over to the park, and we walked another hour together.

Sometimes I feel like someone who was born to do a Walkabout. I feel like I could walk for hours, days, months...Maybe I should try it sometime. Maybe for my 50th birthday (five years hence) I'll walk 50 miles.

That's nothing, though, compared to what my friend Laura is doing for her 60th birthday. She and her husband are training right now to walk 100 miles: from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California (my hometown).

Another friend, Michele, hiked the Grand Canyon for her 50th birthday.

Annie's 50th birthday is coming up in January, and she's trying to decide what to do to commemorate it. She's leaning toward a winter cabin in the snow, drinking hot toddies--and preferably getting snowed in so we have to miss a few days of work.

Ah, but it feels strange to be talking about snow with all this heat we've had lately. On my walk today, I enjoyed the first Technicolor-blue (rather than brown) sky that I've seen in a while. Usually bluest of blue skies are daily summer fare here.

This blog entry is wandering ... apropos since I'm talking about walking, I suppose. Here's an update on my writing. I wrote a book review that was just accepted (with revisions I need to make by next week) by a journal that's actually paying me a little sumpthin. I have so many stories, essays and poems forthcoming in print and online journals and anthologies that I've kind of lost count. I used to be very meticulous and writing all this stuff down, but now I just enjoy the surprise when a curious package comes in the mail and I rip it open to find that, ah yes, that journal that accepted my X has come out.

On the writing-the-novel front, I've had a few days (okay, weeks) of being really stuck but had a kind of breakthrough this morning--a structural breakthrough. I think I now understand the novel's central thread that will weave through each part to hold it together. I think.

Now I need to find the damn voice. I've never had voice elude me quite this way. Kelly and I talked about this on our walk. I do think the fact that I'm telling the story in third person is making finding a lively voice more difficult. First person voice is usually a no-brainer for me. Third person voice is always more elusive. That--and the fact that the characters all lived more than 50 years ago. It all feels a little distant still.

I need to find some way into the intimate space of the characters' lives that will give me an "alive" voice. Kelly suggested I imagine a character telling the story. Even if I keep the novel in third person omniscient, I can imagine an-invisible-to-the-reader person who is speaking. A person always has a voice. I like the idea. Now I have to wrap my mind around who that speaker might be.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crowing about family


I haven't seen my cousin Joanna in more than 20 years, but I will get to soon--because next week, Joanna and her husband Mike are coming out to California from Boone, North Carolina for a family reunion.

Especially with the loss of my father last year and my mother's subsequent Alzheimer's diagnosis, it will be good to reconnect. My mom is very excited about seeing her niece. (Joanna's mom, who died in the early 1990s, was my mom's sister.)

Since the plans for them to come out have been solidified, Joanna, my sisters and I have been enjoying email talk and picture sharing. Recently, Joanna sent me some pictures of the chickens they raise. They take the beautiful, varied-colored eggs to the Farmer's Market, where they let kids pet the chickens. What a great way to educate kids about where eggs come from.
They will sell chickens, but only if people prove they have the set-up to give the chickens a quality life.

Soon, Joanna's getting a tiny kitchen trailer and will be selling baked goods and egg-type dishes. Here's an example of some of what she'll be selling through their business called Eggcetera. Makes my mouth water just reading it! How lucky am I to have a cousin who can cook like this--especially since she'll be bringing some of her home-cooked goods to the family reunion!

Broccoli, Potato, and Cheddar Frittata from the skillet
Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Herbs and Cheese
veggie Egg Roll
veggie Casserole
veggie Quiche
Egg Salad Sandwich
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Baked Peach French Toast
Grilled French Toast

Scoop of:
Potato Salad
Mac & Cheese - not out of a box
Cheese Nachos with mild Salsa
Squash/Zucchini/Red Onion
Garden Risotto

Sweetness:
Fruit Scoop with Vanilla Yogurt and Craisins
Cheesecake
Nutella Banana
Fresh Eggnog