The main reason John had to get me back to the B&B during the pumpkin hour was because the B&B only served breakfast around 9 a.m.. And in order to get even close to eight hours of sleep, I had to be back early enough to actually get enough sleep. The two of us have, in the last few months, experienced, pretty clearly what happens when I don't get enough sleep, so he was good about getting me back in time.
He also didn't wake me up too early, which was very much appreciated. He went out to get coffee and stayed out for a bit before coming back in with his bag! The courier service had, indeed, dropped it off this morning. Hoorah! So John spent some time quietly putting all his formal wear away. He was most joyous at the reunion with his bag and felt, properly, that Frontier had made up for the snafu quite handsomely, even if their lost luggage line was busy all the time.
Breakfast was really good. They served Belgium waffles with fresh, local fruit, creme freche and lots of raspberry and maple syrup. The waffles were hot and crisp on the edges and tender in the middle and we enjoyed them enough to ask for more when we were done. There were three other couples in the B&B, an older black couple from Redwood City, just south of the airport; a very young, obviously technically employed couple from the San Jose area; and an Asian couple that stared a little at me before settling quietly to their breakfast. The two Bay Area couples sat at the four person table and had an animated conversation, while the others were each at a couples-each table and I mostly just ate and listened.
It was overcast outside, cool and grey with mist over the water. The B&B owner said that it would clear out by about 11, and until then we might want a coat. John dressed in his usual shorts and a T-shirt and I, foolishly, followed suite. It really was cold out. I was actually fairly uncomfortable by the time we were out on the public wharf in Santa Cruz, in the midst of the mist, under crying seagulls, over grey waves, and amid all the little shops out on the public pier.
Cold enough that I was hopping into every gift store and peering hopefully at all the sweatshirts to see if anything was really something I'd like. Unhappily, I hate tourist wear, i.e. stuff that has really stupid icons and just the name of the place they're coming from. There wasn't anything really beautiful or eye-catching. Just a lot of the same old, same old stuff with "Santa Cruz" where I've seen "San Francisco" or "San Diego" or "Los Angeles" with the same, tired sharks, same golden suns, and same line-drawing palm trees. After half a dozen tourist shops that looked depressingly similar, we stumbled into the sound-blasted cave of a real surf shop, with clothing prices about half that of any of the other shops and up on one wall was a shirt that riveted my attention.
It was very simple in front, looked like any button-up black shirt. The back, however had this gorgeous painting of a mermaid, underwater, petting a fish, blowing bubbles, and curled up on the sand. She not only had blonde hair, the usual endowments, and an iridescent tail, she also had a pair of wings! An Angel mermaid! Okay, it was probably a bit over the top, but she was really pretty and more beautiful and striking than anything else I'd seen. So I bought her. John found a really nice Hawaiian shirt to add to his collection, so the two of us happily bought remembrances of our little trip to Santa Cruz. I put mine on over my T-shirt and just the extra layer was good against the chill of the misty day. Also, as we'd been walking and seeing things, the mist had been burning off, so there was gradually more sunshine.
We wandered all the way to the end of the pier, which was where all the fishermen work, catching fingerlings out on the end. I heard the roar of sea lions and peered down one of the square, railed holes cut in the middle of the wharf, and saw four sea lions resting on the pier's supports. They were sleeping up where it was high and mostly dry while others of their ilk swam about and stole the fishermen's fish from their very lines. All around the pier were clouds of seagulls and pelicans, diving deep into the water for the very same fish the fishermen were trying to catch as well. The huge billed pelicans would dive from so far up they would disappear completely under water for a moment when they hit the water and come up with wiggling pouches, filled with tiny fish. That was so cool to watch.
The meter was running out at the car, so we went back. There were other things we wanted to see and do. One of those was just to wander around Santa Cruz's water front areas and look at property and the types and cost of the houses in the area. We took the tiny, winding, busy road along the sea shore, hopped out here and there to peer at flyers for million dollar waterfront properties that were like three bedroom, two bath houses. I know that the cost is mostly because it's waterfront, but it was an interesting checkpoint. The little coastal road was just beautiful, though, with the gradually burning off mist, the ocean right *there*, the coastal birds, the walking paths, and a small park with a restroom. I'm gradually getting more pressure on my bladder as time goes on. It was nice to have the mid-way break.
We did wander through some of the off-water neighborhoods, and the prices were in the half-million frame, which wasn't nearly as bad, but still richer than our blood. It's well within our present reach, but if we were to retired to go out there, it's a lot more house money than we'd have to spend to just buy our house here. It'd be nice to not have to make any mortgage payments; but maybe not necessary.
On the way back to the B&B we were on the street that Richard Donnelly's Chocolates had their kitchen. So we stopped there. Gretchen had given us a chocolate champagne bottle for the New Year, filled with Donnelly's chocolates, so it seemed appropriate to buy a nice box of 'em as a wedding present and get ourselves a treat. We hadn't been all that super impressed by the filled, small chocolates, as we had a Bernard C. outlet near our house, and I'll admit that I'm more into the richer, more familiar flavors that they have than the mildly esoteric and leaner flavors that Donnelly's has. But the dark chocolate bars they have were really nice and since we were there, and we no longer have any access to Bernard C, we bought a good number of their chocolate bars. With flavors like saffron and cardamom, it's kinda hard to resist.
It was also really cool to find out that they buy their spices from Penzey's Spices, which is my favorite place to get spices from. They had a shipping container from Penzey's and it amused me greatly. My foodie desires intersecting in interesting ways.
The man there was likely Richard Donnelly himself as he gave us a small lecture while hand packing all our chocolates and choosing an assortment from the trays that were there today, of the freshest chocolates he had. Fun to watch him putter about doing that. He even offered us a cold pack if we were going to be in the car long; but since our B&B was just a few blocks away and I wanted to go there before going off to the rehearsal in order to change into my skirt and my Xilinx Hawaiian shirt. John put lunch off as long as possible, so that I wouldn't get hungry in the middle of the rehearsal and before the rehearsal dinner, which was pretty wise.
We went back to the pier, and I'd always been intrigued by the Ideal Grill and Bar just at the opening of the pier, so we went there. It wasn't quite as good as I'd been hoping from the outdoor sandwich boards; but, then again, it looked like their specialty was lunch, not brunch. Nothing really seafood intensive for brunch, other than a 'seafood melt', which was crab and shrimp in a salad melt sandwich. So I got that while John got just a soup, as breakfast was still filling him up and there would be plenty to eat tonight as well as tomorrow. I noticed that the only bad thing about coming for a weekend for a wedding was that nearly all our dinners were spoken for so we wouldn't be able to do the kind of food exploration we usually do.
One of the things John realized as we were trying to get his bag back was that he really wanted a new pair of dress pants before the rehearsal dinner tonight. While we were at the B&B, he'd found a mall near where we'd picked up the tux last night, so we went there. There was a Mervyns's right at the turn-in point and they do a lot of casual dress things, the next step up over shorts and a T-shirt. So we hopped in there and in less than a half an hour came out with a nice pair of pants for John! That was very quick and easy.
And we made it back to Pasatiempo in plenty of time. We were out in the garden, contemplating the chairs that were up that had been up for a wedding of nearly twice the size as ours. The coordinator and the legal minister of the wedding were no where to be found, but everyone else gathered in the garden. Eventually, Brad thought to look in the lobby of the hotel and found both the coordinator and the minister, a little late, but still with plenty of time to go through things. We had family in the front row, and when I started reading things, we put John in the very last row to tell me when he couldn't hear me. Unluckily, the previous wedding's reception was going on and the music was so loud it was interfering with our rehearsal. Ugh. Also, the small music stand Chris (the 'real' minister) was using was set a bit too low for me to read things without bending down; so the volume of my voice really sucked when it was pointed at the ground. She said it would be adjusted for the next day.
We went through everything. From the coordination of Chris and I at the start, through the message, then into the various pieces of symbolism and ceremony. Chris, very conscientiously, cut all the invocations, vows, and rituals short before completion, so none of them were whole for the rehearsal. They'd only be whole tomorrow, for the real thing. But even with just the beginnings, there was a stir of the emotional power the whole would be. It was very interesting and exciting that it really felt right. We had to practice the rather complex gift-giving ceremony a bit, and Gretchen and Brad decided they'd have to practice the actual manipulation of objects afterwards, in detail; but while we had the garden and Chris and the coordinator, we just ran through the skeletons of everything. And it all went fairly smoothly.
Eventually, it was done. The only surprise was that Chris had me do the introduction of the wedded couple. Nothing hard or particularly bad, just unexpected. It was fun, though, so I had no objections whatsoever.
It was good to work through all the kinks now. I was mildly worried about all the reading I was going to have to do and the volume of my voice as that's what everyone kept commenting about. And even after just the rehearsal I could feel my throat being a little tired. I guess I just don't talk all that much usually, and to do so much outloud stuff was a little bit unusual for me.
Gretchen was sweet after the rehearsal and thanked me, profusely, for doing public speaking for them. I wasn't sure how to say that it wasn't speaking publically that was a problem anymore, after six years of getting up in front of a congregation and saying what I could say, saying things to a bunch of people wasn't hard anymore without sounding just weird. So I just said that they were very welcome to what I could do, and that seemed good enough. I was still worried, a little, that what I had written wasn't really that inspirational, just prosaic; but only a little. I really couldn't change it now, as Chris had had it beautifully printed on a very neat little booklet, and would simply go with what I had. Still, part of me wondered.
After we were shepherded out of the garden everyone went their separate ways. I went with Carl and John, Gretchen and Brad. Gretchen, Brad and I practiced the handing off of the rings, as well as the techniques necessary for the exchange of gifts. All of the props were available, but for the bread and the water for the goblet. Carl noted that these were things that would have to be gotten. Gretchen gave John complete details on what kind of bread to get, with a choice between various local, Santa Cruz bakeries and the old Caltech favorite Hawaiian bread. I don't have any idea if that's still popular at that school, but Gretchen seemed to find a very tight tie there, so she thought it would be okay.
Carl was good and refrained from being too evil.
Once done with all that they swept off to wherever they were going before the rehearsal dinner. John and I stayed a while, as the candles didn't quite fit their lanterns, so John borrowed my Benchmade from my key chain and reshaped the bottoms of the candles to make them fit correctly, which involved both cutting wax off and then rebuilding some portions to get them to fit snug. While he did that I washed off all the glass and dried it all off, first with the hotel towels and then with a lint-free cloth that Carl provided so handily. When that was done, Carl didn't really have much else for us to do.
John and I decided to try and find long matches, bottled water, good bread, and whatever else we needed. We even found a fireplace store in the phone book to try out. The store, sadly, was closed on the weekend, so we ended up trying out an Albertson's, but they didn't have any local bread, only major chainstore bread. Across the street was a very local grocery store, and when we went in it was more like a Trader Joe's than a normal grocery store, which was very nice, indeed. They not only had all three bakeries that Gretchen recommended but also quite the selection of Scharffen Berger bars! I can only get those mail order, at the moment, and they're one of the very few American roasted and blended chocolates that are really of fine quality. So I bought a few of their smaller bars just for emergency rations in case I didn't get food when I needed it either for the rest of today or for tomorrow.
I probably should have bought more of them. I really loved just the dark chocolate bar and haven't broken into the bittersweet one, yet.
The store also had a some really pretty silver and gold tubes of fireplace matches. We bought three of them, knowing we needed two for the two mothers, and possibly one for the couple. They were pretty, though, so I was pretty sure someone would want them afterwards.
We got back just in time to leave with everyone else for the dinner. Jo Hart was bringing Earl's sweetie, so Earl needed a ride there, but would likely have a ride back. So we took him with us. The dinner was at the Bittersweet Bistro, the same restaurant that Carl, Gretchen and I had dinner on the M3 adventure weekend. A really yummy restaurant with really great food and good service. They had reserved the entire back room for us, behind the bar, and Jon Hart even got a seat at a table, once the mothers realized that he had helped out. The bunch of us sat down and Gretchen and Brad decided to sit with us instead of all the relatives. Turned out half the tables were mostly for all the relatives that were in town. That was a very large and impressive number of people. The other half was for all of us Techers and MUSH folks that were in the wedding party.
It was interesting to suddenly realize that this was probably the first wedding where I knew pretty much all but one of the wedding party. All the groomsmen, all the bridesmen, the bride and groom, were all people I knew. The one bridesmaid was Gretchen's sister, Kirsten, and I didn't know her until now; but the majority of the folks and their connected folks were people I did know. It was startling to realize that I hadn't witnessed or been involved in a wedding where I knew that many people other than my own. And it was so very cool to be able to just be with these folks and just talk and talk and listen and listen and always be interested and to know, for once, that I really did fit, that I really was liked and that I really liked everyone around me.
Sometimes, at such gatherings, one wonders, really. But here there was no doubt.
There were drinks, appetizers and then the main courses that everyone had ordered in advance. The service was good for that large a group, and there were always the full wine glasses all around me. The waiter was cool and kept my cranberry juice cup full as well. Dinner itself was delicious, a tender hunk of sea bass in a portabella reduction with crisp-tender vegetables and savory garlic mashed. I only wished that I had room for more of it, but Brad and Gretchen said to save room for dessert. They were very much correct.
Each table got huge platters of dessert. Each platter had eight different desserts on it and a centerpiece of sorbet and decorations that could be eaten. Chocolate mousse, cheese cake, a spooned creme brulee with sugar glass tilted on top, chocolate bread pudding, a layered puff creation, fruit tart, and two other things I don't know if I got a taste of were all spread out in a wheel. There were two big spoons for everyone to help themselves to what they were interested in and I think everyone got to taste whatever they really wanted to taste. That was really good.
As we desserted, Gretchen and Brad told us about the wedding favors, which were bags and bags of toys to be spread out among all the tables for everyone to play with and take as they liked. A very unique thing, something that people could actually use after the wedding and keep for their own sake rather than just as a momento! Pretty cool. So the whole gang of us decided to go to their house after dinner in order to help them with pulling price tags off and sorting through all the toys to put them in the right bags. It was an opportunity for me to see their house, too, so I was eager to go.
They did need bags to start, however, so we went over to a local grocery store and John kindly begged a dozen brown paper bags from them. They laughed and handed them over instantly, which was very nice, and we then drove over to Brad and Gretchen's place.
It's a huge old, purple Victorian with the lights blazing from the windows. All the younger folks were there, laughing, playing a bit with the toys, and getting the work done but enjoying each other as well. Brad and Gretchen, freed from having to do the toys, happily led us around on a tour of the bottom floor of the house, showing us all the nooks and crannies and the sheer personality of the place. It's old, beautifully made, and there's a huge extra building in the back that would make a wonderful studio. They just got a gorgeous diningroom set from Gretchen's mother, and the kitchen is huge, spacious and filled with storage room. The upstairs they've rented out to some very nice renters, and it's more house than they need at the moment; but plenty for what they want. The gaming room/living room was large, roomy, and very impressive with hundreds of toys spread all over it.
I loved it.
And when the tour was done, Brad and Gretchen said, "Well, we wanted to give you something that was just for you and we really hope you like them." Them? Them. All *three* of the PowerPuff Girls in toy splendor! With tummies that could be pushed to make them speak in their distinctive styles and their outfits from the show! I was ecstatic, very giggly, and it was really keen!
John laughed a lot on seeing them, and Carl brightened up as well. It was very cool. It was really cool that I didn't have to choose! As I like them all. Though, as Gretchen pointed out, it usually says something about someone if they do pick a favorite. It's funny, as my actual favorite seems to be Bubbles. Blossom has the brains, but I know what it's like to have brains and I'm not usually impressed by just brains. Buttercup has the attitude, which I think can be very cool against folks that don't think girls ought to have attitudes; but I've been in too many fights to really *like* that. Bubbles is silly and afraid and not at all assertive, and feels things. Deeply. Even if other people laugh at her for feeling. That may well be what I respect the most.
Anyway. It was a very, very neat gift and one that I really, really enjoyed receiving as it was very much something I'd love and they'd gone to the trouble to do that. I was impressed and grateful.
John had fun helping get all the sorting done, and being his usual, effective self, got everyone a bit organized and we all got it done very quickly. Slinkies, toy cars, PlayDoh, wind-up toys, and little critters all went into bags. Even down to the chest of dinosaurs. All done. We then said our good byes, and all the bags went into Carl's trunk to be distributed at Just The Right Time tomorrow. The guys all talked about gaming some more, but John noted that I could do that after the wedding if I wanted, but rest would be important before. So I did the wise thing and went back to the B&B with John.
I happy poked PowerPuff Girl tummies while getting ready for bed and finally curled up with John and went to happy sleep.