Monday, May 21, 2007

On This, Our Wedding Day

We lived through it.

Oh, that's not the most ringing sound that comes to my mind when I remember yesterday. But it was a thought that lingered into the night. There were a few events to link together, and while everything did not go perfectly, it went well enough. We were happy. Our friends seemed to enjoy themselves. And at the end, the rabbis declared us married.

Maryann was absolutely wonderful to show up a couple of hours early to our house, and help me with my tie. She, too, got dressed right along with us. Between the two of them, the tie morphed into something beautiful: the perfect knot, the correct length. And then she drove us to the synagogue. A good thing, too, as my hands were beginning to shake.

When we got to the side entrance of Temple Sinai -- a trifle early, I must admit -- the entrance wasn't open. But Paul Geduldig had given me the cell phone of the janitor inside. I called him, and he very nicely opened the door. Soon afterwards, guests began streaming through the cocked door. I had the fleeting belief that we should have been hidden, and then figured, what the hell (a theme that would be used several times that day), smiled, greeted them all with hugs, and posed for photos.

Rabbi Mates-Muchin came in and immediately took charge. At that point, I began to understand the progression of events. Rabbi Chester then came in, and we waited in his office, which was adjacent to Harpham Chapel, waiting for guests to go into the chapel and the ceremony to start.

Rabbi Chester grabbed friends Mark Snyder and Dawn Kepler and, according to our wishes, asked them to be our witnesses in signing the ketubah (and then keeping it for us).

So we were ready to go. Except for one thing: one son was late. Could it be that he was reluctant to take part in a religious ceremony? Could it be that he's always late? We decided the latter, and heard that Jamie and Mark were standing by the entrance to make sure he and his date were ushered in immediately. When we finally heard that they had arrived 10 minutes later, we heaved a sigh of relief, jointly. We were ready.

We inched into the chapel, and then slowly walked toward the rabbis. Val smiled at the guests located on each side, while I kept my eyes on the target and felt gratified to find that my legs could and did take me there. Rabbi Mates-Muchin spoke a bunch of Hebrew and then pointed to the ketubah, which lay there on the table in its colorful, arborant glory. Val signed her legal name in Hebrew as well as English. When it was my turn, I took out my trusty piece of paper, and laboriously copied the Hebrew, Chava bat Abraham v' Sarah (Eve, daughter of Abraham and Sarah). It looked longer than it should have been. I then signed my usual signature down below. Then, Mark stepped up while whispering to Val, do I sign it in Hebrew? She replied in the affirmative, he wrote quickly, and then Dawn followed. The rabbis then stepped up and wrote their names as well.

After the completion of the contract, we then stepped forward and walked around each other three-and-a-half times. Then we stepped under the chuppah with the rabbis, and James and Rick were invited up. They shared the space with us as I spoke the vows. Val repeated them to me, and we placed the gleaming white gold rings on each other's hands.

This ring is the symbol
Of All that I am
And all that I have.
I bring them to this partnership with you.
Ours is a union of equal partners,
Partners in love, in mercy, and in kindness,
Partners through good times and bad.
I pledge to you my goodwill
And my whole heart in the maintenance of this partnership,
In full knowledge
That life brings sorrows as well as joy,
And that at its end are the hardships of aging and death.
Our tradition commands us: "Choose Life."
Ours is a partnership for life.
Here before these witnesses and this congregation today,
I give you this ring in partnership and love.

The rabbis explained how the four posts of the chuppah represent the home we will build.

We stepped on the glasses successfully with our heels, and everyone exclaimed "Mazel Tov!"

We smiled from ears-to-ears and walked down the aisle. Our friends joined us, congratulated us, and took hundreds of photos with their itsy-bitsy digital cameras.

We then walked across the street to the reception, while whispering to each other, "We did it!"

I never thought I'd reach this day. I never thought I'd be so happy. If you asked me why it took so long in my life to reach this stage in my life, I'd answer, it just does.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Our Color Scheme: Green & Gold?

She must've been in her eighties. Her white hair was piled majestically atop her head, and I had the feeling that even a five force hurricane wouldn't have budged it. She smiled at me.

Don't you just love these A's luncheons? she asked me, rhetorically, because she was about to answer her own question. Everybody's always smiling, she added.

After a few minutes of watching me, she pointed to my phone. You sure are spending a lot of time on your phone, she said.

Yeah, I answered. You know, the wedding's in two days.

I had just gotten a phone call from Mehdi, the proprietor of Z Cafe, the place we're going to for the reception. He wanted to know what our color scheme was, so he could use it on the menu. This was a quick answer, and if you've been following this blog at all, you know what the answer was.

Six people were flying in, and a few had called me already. I couldn't answer all my calls at the luncheon because Marty Lurie was busy explaining to us how the A's should get their wins now rather than wait until September.

I had spent an hour that morning with my practice tie, trying to tie the Windsor knot. Whoever Windsor was, I'd like to strangle the English bugger. I decided that his brother, Half Windsor, was much easier to wrangle, but I hadn't even mastered that when I had to go to the luncheon.

With all the running around over the next two days, I don't know when I'll get back to those very helpful online videos of how to tie a tie. Well, very helpful except for the fact that it's like looking in a mirror.

I am so glad Maryann is coming over Sunday morning to help me and get us to the synagogue on time. And, if all else fails, I won't wear the tie. We'll see how it goes!

We had a simcha at services last night after dinner with friends. It was wonderful. More wonderfulness today with the barbecue, courtesy of Chef Jamie.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tie a Pink Ribbon 'round the Old Oak Tree

I asked Jim to do me a favor this week: Teach me how to tie a Windsor knot.

Actually, in the beginning, I asked him to tie this gorgeous silk tie into a knot for me, and I'll adjust it on Sunday when I put it over my head. He refused. Who is he, Hugh Hefner?? He said he didn't want the tie to crease while it waited in my closet, a week away from the wedding. Yeah, yeah.

But we practiced this afternoon. I can't quite remember the sequence. As I told him that for the third time, he suggested I go watch the tie-tying video on the Men's Wearhouse web site.

I don't have an old tie lying about, so we gingerly used our new pink ties to practice. When I tried mine on and tied a sloppy Windsor, I thought to myself, that new tie goes really well with this gray A's polo shirt.

Who knew I'd ever have to learn to do this? So, just add this stressor to the many others we're doing this week, the week of The Wedding. (Oops, I almost typed Weeding. That's pretty funny.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Things to Come

I opened the FedEx package with trembling fingers. I looked inside. I couldn't see anything, but it was pretty dark in there.

I threw my hand inside, and felt around. I felt something sharp. I pulled out two slips of paper, stared at them. And sighed.

Yankees tickets. To Yankee Stadium on June 10th. Playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, but who cares about an interleague game.

I'm going to The Show. No, no, sorry....I'm going to the Temple of Baseball. Babe Ruth may not have built it, but he starred there. So much history.

And that's just the beginning of the honeymoon. It's very exciting. It's hard to believe I could be any happier.

Back to Wilkes Bashford

We went back to the scene of the fashion crime. Well, there are no longer any fashion faux pas going on there.

We came, we saw, we put it on. Jamie took one dressing room and I took the other. Our suits were hanging in each, waiting for us. It's like wearing something created only for you...oh, wait. It was. They are.

Everyone in the shop who recognized me from last time said hello, nodded, and whispered, "You look sooo good."

Joe, our friendly Wilkes Bashford sales associate, took two Polaroids of us together. One he gave to me; the other he kept for himself. Jamie was still strutting around when I announced I was going back to the grubby street clothes. Reluctantly, he followed suit.

It was a split-second later when I entered the dressing room again that I found that my fly was open. Well, gosh. Hopefully I won't repeat that mistake in another week in front of three rabbis!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Top 10 Concerts....Ever

This is my opinion of the greatest concerts I’ve ever
attended. You won’t hear me say that the Beatles
concert at Shea Stadium was the best, or the Stones
really rock, because I’ve never seen them live. And
“circa” means that I really can’t remember when I saw
them. But just the fact that I still remember details
of these concerts…well, that tells you how awesome
they were.

1. The Jefferson Airplane, c. 1967. First rock
concert I ever attended, in San Diego (downtown).
Quite spectacular even though I was wayyyy in the
back. White Rabbit brought the house down, and the
smoke up.

2. The Mamas and the Papas, c. 1967, also in downtown
San Diego. They connected with the audience, they
brought visiting musicians with them (like Papa John
Creach on electric violin). I was California Dreamin’
after that.

3. Simon & Garfunkel, c. 1968, at the San Diego Sports
Arena. This was really half a concert, as they shared
the bill with The Lovin’ Spoonful. I will never
forget when Paul Simon changed his E string right
there on stage while keeping up a conversation.

4. Neil Diamond, c. 1970, at the San Diego Sports
Arena. (Are you getting the clue that I grew up in
San Diego?) This was when Neil was at the height of
his song-writing and top 10 power. He told the story
of how he auditioned for the title role in “Lenny.” I
am not kidding.

5. Linda Ronstadt, c. 1985, at the Universal
Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. This is before What’s
New and Canciones, and all rock ‘n roll covers and
originals. How I wish I had had the money to see her
in 1975 in Norfolk when she performed to promote her
Heart Like a Wheel concert. But I was only making
$250 a week then, and couldn’t pay for a $25 ticket.

6. Tina Turner, c. 1992, at the Concord Pavilion.
I’ve seen Tina three times now, including her last
tour a few years ago. The first time I saw her, she
still had all the energy in the world to perform her
famous dance moves while singing at the same time.
Again, I wished I had seen Ike and Tina Turner at San
Diego State in the late ‘60’s, but I was too much of a
rock purist at the time.

7. Dan Fogelberg, c. 1992, at the Concord Pavilion.
Folk/rock singer/songwriter, his The Wild Places album
is the complete album.

8. Elton John, c. 2005, at Caesar’s Palace in Las
Vegas. I wound up with the ticket hours before the
concert, and was just steps from his red piano. He
didn’t talk much, just sang as huge videos
complementing the music played in the background.

9. Tom Petty, c. 2006, at the Greek Theatre, Berkeley.
Hate the venue, love the performer. He went through
all of his tunes with high intensity, and the crowd
loved him. And that smoke permeated the stadium.

10. Johnny Mathis, c. 1964, at the downtown San Diego
Civic Theatre. My first concert. My brother took me,
begrudgingly. Chances are I still remember his
signature tunes, and will until the Twelfth of Never.

Honorable Mention:
11. Mary Chapin Carpenter, c. 1995, at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland. I walked out of there humming her songs.

12. Celine Dion, c. 1998, at the Oakland Arena. I had a great seat, and her huge voice catapulted her off the stage. I especially enjoyed the Japanese violinist who performed with feeling on stage with her that night; he had performed on one of her albums, on my favorite of her songs.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Obsessions about Nuptials

It’s three weeks before the wedding, and I am obsessing about wedding rings.

This is a delightful event for someone with OCD. I am not obsessive compulsive, or at least I haven’t been diagnosed. I don’t rub out spots for 10 hours, or wash my hands incessantly. But I have….tendencies. Doesn’t everyone?

So I’ve been looking at everyone’s ring finger. Seeing what they have. What do they sport. People who are married who don’t wear rings get a raised eyebrow, sort of Spock-like.

But I’ve been doing less of that lately. I don’t have to obsess about rings. There are so many other things to obsess about!

Today it was wedding cakes. I have already ordered the cake. It’s two different flavors with yummy icing. But, still, I wonder… So when I was at the San Francisco Ferry Building today, I looked at some shop’s mini cakes. I was tempted to go right into Taste Test right then and there, but my travel mate might have reminded me that we hadn’t walked enough to go that route. I’m not sure if the Boston Marathon would’ve qualified us. But they were soo cute!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's a Bit of a Stretch

I posted a goal on 43things about three weeks ago that I'd lose 10 pounds by April 15th. I didn't make it, but I blame it all on my back.

I was doing well intake-wise, but I couldn't exercise. Every time I moved one leg in front of the other, the muscles in my lower back would scream. So I rested it for three weeks. I cancelled the walk yesterday with George, but today I found myself with two hours before lunch with the boys. So I hit Lake Merritt.

My back didn't hurt at all as I started down the trail. Well, other back muscles hurt, the usual suspects, but not the ones that bothered me in recent past. So I was quite pleased with that.

Oh, how I miss the gains I made when I first started walking every day right after I retired! I joined a weight-loss group, watched my caloric intake, and walked either Lake Merritt or the San Leandro Marina, depending on the weather. (If it was warm, I would shun the lake's heat and go for the cooling breezes of the marina.) In those days, I was listening to a lot of audiotapes to kill the monotony of the hour-long walk. Jack London, Memoirs of a Geisha, tales of a veterinarian in England. But that was before my iPod. Now, I listen with glee to podcasts.

And today I was catching up on Battlestar Galactica. Today's podcast was a bit longer than the walk itself, a fan-attended meeting where Ron Moore meets his fans and his detractors. I was just getting to the part where I found out which characters were part of the Final Four (Cylons), when my achilles tendons started thumping like mad.

I had to stop and do some stretches with the bench along the lakeshore. It eased up a little, but not a lot. And that reminded me of a friend who asked recently, why do something that hurts? If you've ever done leg stretches, you know they hurt. But the idea is that they'll hurt less when you've stretched and warmed up those muscles.

I recently got a rope (through the internet) that allows me to stretch my leg muscles before I leave the house. I used to do it every day, and it really helped with work, but lost the rope in the 2000 move. Now that I've got that rope, I hope to keep up the stretches of calf muscles, hamstrings, and Achilles. These are my nemeses, the obstacles to walking regularly.

I have two charitable walks, both 5Ks, this weekend, the one for the March of Dimes on Saturday, and the one in support of Darfur on Sunday. I had better stretch before I go.

As it turned out, I was in constant pain for the first third of my walk today, but as the muscles eased up, warmed up, and stretched out, the pain went away. The last third was sheer pleasure. As I was listening to Ron Moore tell us about the 4th season, the walk, and the pain, was over.