Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Wedding Party (Emphasis on "Party")

Weddings are happy events, of course, but there can be the undercurrent of the whole process itself that in some weddings can produce tensions, worries, and other negative forces negating the whole fun of the affair. Not so the wedding of Rachael Snow and John Matthew Floyd on July 12, 2008 in Nevada City, California. Not even the California Fires of '08 could encroach on this one!
(Here I will give a lot of credit to my "hyper-organized" daughter in law, and I say that in a most complimentary manner. Her "wedding book" was a ring binder of every detail, and saved the day on more than one occasion. Want to know the address of the tux store in Roseville, CA? Right here it is, complete with MapQuest instructions, under the tab for tuxedos in "The Book.")
Barbara and I had met Rachael's mother Maddy and her brother Jake in Colorado, and Barbara had met more family members at a shower this past spring. Still there was the usual apprehension of being thrown in with a large, extended family. Not to worry! The Hutters, Snows, Pitts etc opened their homes (literally) and their hearts graciously and generously. Simply said, we liked them all.
The wedding was a success because of so many people, and the lack of pictures and comments on each and every one of them is not a sleight. In this post, I have just a few representative pictures, culled from over 600 pictures from just my little pocket camera alone. It is an abbreviated diary of my experience, not a complete document of all the events and people. I dare not guess how many thousands of pictures and how many videos of the multi-day event were actually recorded in all. There will undoubtedly be many posted on picasa, kodakgallery, etc, and when I have the links I will place them here.

(As usual, left click to enlarge most pictures)
First you start with a beautiful bride, of course. The wedding was to be at Rachael's mother's home in Nevada City, CA. Mother Maddy had worked on her garden all spring and the entire garden and flowers were beautifully prepared for the wedding.

Next you add some friends and family. Here having dinner in an Italian restaurant a few nights before the wedding are Bill, Elaine, Tom, Dana, and yours truly.

A number of us stayed at the Deer Creek Inn B&B in Nevada City. Here for the 3-course Breakfast on the deck: ( from top, left to right) Anne, Ken (Innkeeper), Bill, Dana, Ann, Dale, Barbara, Brian, and RC.

Anne waves "Good Morning" from an upper balcony at the B&B.

Barbara and Dana stuff the welcome bags for all the out of town guest in Kathy Snow's living room. Later the bags were taken to all the places people were staying. Lots of neat stuff in those bags!

Kathy, in her kitchen, cooking cowboy cookies for the welcome bags. So many people and happenings in Kathy's and Maddy's homes I don't know how they stayed sane.

A brief melodrama, starring mothers Maddy, Kathy, and Barbara; fathers Cecil and Papa John; Grandparents Dean and Sharon; and assisted by various other family conspirators, had been written ahead of time for performance at the rehearsal dinner. We had a chance to practice it on location the morning before John and Rachael arrived in town. Here Dean (white hat), Cecil (red dress), and Maddy work on their lines and spots.

John and Rachael stand at the front of the line at the local recorder's office and prepare to pay the State of California for the privilege of letting them get married. Right behind them were Maddy and myself (now referred to as "Papa John" to avoid confusion), prepared to pay the same state for the privilege of being licensed to perform the ceremony. "Let's check out these forms. . . who is party "A" and who is party "B"?" (this was California; no "bride" and "groom.")

After the afternoon rehearsal, everyone (in the rehearsal or not) gathers at the Nevada Traction Company Depot for drinks and conversation prior to a train ride to History Hill. Barbara had arranged this whole shindig, some of it in secret. In order to get a drink at this point in the evening, one had to "sweet talk" a gold nugget from one of the saloon girls circulating around.

RC and co-best man Colin discuss the evening. Unfortunately, the next day RC came down with an acute GI flu and ended up being taken to the local ER by Barbara's brothers where he was rehydrated with a pressure forced IV. He made it to the ceremony thanks to Martin and Chip, but the brothers missed it (but made the party afterwards!)

Paul, the other co-best man. The wedding rings, which were to be a large part of the ceremony, were taken from his room that evening. After a few hours of panic, police, and more panic, they were recovered; made the police blotter in the paper a couple of days later. It was indeed a near disaster, but all is well, etc.

Just look at father and daughter. . .I have nothing to add.
After the initial "mixer" at the depot all 75 or so of us load the train for the trip to "History Hill" for the dinner.

A surprise robbery was announced with blazing guns half-way up. 6 bandits came and stole the heart gifts many people had brought to the dinner. They then went to the car with the bride and announced "We can't steal your heart. It's already been stolen!"
A little later there was a shoot out with the law (the sheriff was shot, and a bandit shot the train engineer and took over the locomotive).

After the ride up, Barbara talks with the (very ugly) bandit whom she had in advance arranged to rob the train.

Before dinner, everyone has a guided tour of the historic Chinese cemetery.

Brian, Karen, John and Rachael enjoy talking and sampling the buffet under the tall pine trees. Barbara had arranged an informal evening so people could continue to meet and mix, but the outdoor setting was complimented with a formal table setting. Since I had absolutely nothing to do with these arrangements, I can freely say that it was a great night, and Barbara deserved the compliments she received.

The next day the weather and the fires cooperated with cooler temperatures and a blue sky, setting the stage for a nice event. The platform Cecil built rest at the front, with the chairs arranged in Maddy's garden, all awaiting the ceremony.

A number of the family and guest came from far and wide. Rachael's uncle Louis arrives from Estonia for the wedding in his English "Sporting" jacket.

Karen and Brian with a sip of champagne waiting for the ceremony to get underway

Ann, Dale, Elaine, Tom, Sherry, Wilson, Kate, and Jay. We were SO happy and privileged to have these great friends make the long trip for John's marriage.

Maddy and I (aka Papa John) had the unique privilege of performing the marriage of our children. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Rachael and John, what made you ask us to do this I don't know, but I will forever be thankful for having this day to remember.

John/Matt walking his mother down the aisle.

Rachael is escorted by her father Cecil and step-mother Kathy.

Maddy, John, Rachael, Jake, and Jason as well as myself, all pretty sure of ourselves at the rehearsal, each had moments where the words were difficult to come. Happiness is a strong emotion!

After the ceremony some pictures. Here the wedding party.

The bride's family tries to all squeeze into the picture. The groom's family had lots of elbow room for their picture.

The reception was at the Stone House, an 1882 brewery now a wonderful restaurant. It was a great venue for the evening. The four horsemen quickly found the bar while they waited for the bride and groom to arrive.
The first dance. John pursued this woman by (among other things I presume) signing up for tango lessons, providing added poignancy to this moment.

John's dance with his mother . . . yes it really was to "Mother's don't let your sons grow up to be cowboys". Actually it was quite nice.

As the evening progressed, things became a little more informal. In the foreground Stephanie (John's/Matt's friend from high school and poetry reader at the ceremony) and Rachael lead the dance line.

The next morning at 0445 (yawn!!!) I picked up Stephanie to take her for an early plane flight departing Sacramento. Later, many of us gathered at Cecil and Kathy's house for brunch and opening of the wedding presents. It was a week of fun, good emotions, and memories, and those are all important.

Here are a couple of links; I may add more later.

Rachaels' website with a wedding section: http://web.mac.com/erachael/Site_2/Welcome.html

Website of the photographer (username jplusr and password 18237 ): http://collages.net/

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I won?

Last year, I received a check for $1.00 from ATT. This was my share of a legal settlement for overcharges somewhere in the past. I'm sure it cost them a lot more than a dollar just to get the check to me.

More recently I received a letter from Edward Jones letting me know that, as compensation for their misdeeds, I would receive my share of a class action settlement. All authorized current customers (my account, inherited from my late sister, is inactive) "are entitled to receive three credit vouchers. The first credit voucher for $6.74 is valid Aug. 1, 2008- July 31, 2009. . ." Two more vouchers valid in subsequent years, redeemable only in those years, would follow.

I researched the terms of this settlement (http://www.secinfo.com/d1zJxf.u1E3.d.htm)
and it seems that of the $55,000,000 award, $28,000,000 was assigned to the plaintiff's lawyers, and that $6,000,000 was assigned back to Edward Jones itself for its cost. Of the remaining $21,000,000 the cost of escrow and administration would be deducted.

Well, you get the idea. My award is laughable, and since my account is inactive it will never be used. I suspect this is the case for most of the individual investors in this settlement.

As usual, the American sense of justice has been hijacked by the lawyers, courts, and Judges. There is probably a place for these class action suites, but there should be a way for the injured (if there are actually "injured" parties at stake) to be the focus of the award and not the lawyers.

My solution: the plaintiff lawyers should never receive more than some percent (10%?) of the total award, and in any such settlement with vouchers, the lawyers get paid with the same vouchers as the plaintiffs.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

William Smith Confirmed

In a previous post last December about a trip to see maps at the Newberry Museum in Chicago, I noted the huge "Map that changed the world," created by William Smith, arguably the world's first geologist. He was the first not only to describe the concept of strata, but also the "uplifting" of these strata, explaining the way in which each of these strata could appear in different places, and at different altitudes.

Looking down, and forward, 50 million years in time

On our way to California for Matt's (aka John) wedding, we spent the night in Green River, UT. As one continues west on I-70 out of Green River, the road winds upward for 7 or 8 miles, gaining over 1000' in altitude. Despite that gain in altitude, you are traveling over progressively older and older earth, until at the top of the climb, you have gone back 50,000,000 years geologically, having traveled from the Cretaceous, through the Jurassic and Triassic layers, and to the Permian strata. Geologic time explained here (with apologies to my good friends who consider the earth not 4.5 Billion years old, but more like 6 Thousand years old.) The roadside graphic below illustrates the strata and uplift; I was taking the above picture from about the "You Are Here" point:

Roadside Graphic

Two days after this stop, Barbara and I spent a day in Zion National Park. I will not even try to post pictures of that place; it's just too big and overwhelming. What a wonderful place it must be for someone with at least a basic foundation in geology.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner!

(click on picture to enlarge)
Put out the food and stand back; there are all sorts of creatures waiting coming for food in the neighborhood. Finches and humming birds are beautiful, but having a turkey wander up for food makes for a good show.

Our neighbors have done a great job of making the local birds feel at home with multiple feeders. Since our kitchen and living room windows look out on the feeding area, we get the benefit as well. There is more information on eating habits of the wild turkey than you ever wanted to know on Wikipedia here.

There are actually a lot of wild turkeys around here, sometimes a dozen or more wander through the yard. The same morning we were watching this turkey, we saw our local ground hog come out from the bushes for some sun, a few squirrels and a rabbit run through the plants, 5 deer at the edge of the woods below us, a flight of Canadian geese go by, and a hawk gliding on the currents waiting for the rabbit or squirrel to wander too far from cover. Haven't seen our red foxes for a couple of days, but they're there. It's nice to be a part of this urban co-habitation.