Tuesday, October 30, 2007


It just wouldn't have been the complete California experience if I didn't have an earthquake while I was home. The Bay Area had a magnitude 5.6 quake centered in Alum Rock on the Calaveras Fault a little after 8:00 pm. It was a gentle rolling motion that lasted about 15 seconds. We could see the lamp shade shaking at our house but there was no damage.

Michael Clayton

My mom and I went to see the movie Michael Clayton this afternoon. It stars George Clooney as a fixer in a law firm- basically his job is to clean up all the messes. The plot centers around how Clayton's law firm is helping an agrichemical company settle a multibillion-dollar suit. The story is very well written and although it is a bit confusing at first, the plot starts to make sense as time goes on. If you are after an intelligent movie, this is definitely one you will want to see.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

James and Simi's Wedding

Yesterday was the big wedding extravaganza for James and Simi. The day started very early at 7:00 am when the hair and make-up people arrived at our door. The bridesmaids and Simi got ready upstairs at our house while the groomsmen showed up dressed at the more respectable hour of 1:00 pm. As you would expect with a wedding, things got rushed the closer we got to the ceremony. It was slightly chaotic as the photographer andvideographer tried to get their shots of people getting ready. Originally there were going to be pictures of the wedding party before the ceremony but they ran out of time. We did get a nice family shot in the backyard though.

I left with the groomsmen in the limo to head off to church around 2:30 pm. My job was to make sure everything was set up correctly in the Mission. We put out the unity candle and programs and had some time to catch up with relatives outside. About 10 minutes before the scheduled start of mass everyone came in to find their seats in the pews. My brother was fairly calm as we waited for the bridal party to arrive. In the end it turned out that the hold up was my parents because they were trying to get the hair and make-up people out of the house.

The mass and ceremony went well. I was responsible for the first reading, from the Song of Songs, in which I got to utter the words "gazelle," "stag," and "lover" (4 times!). Both James andSimi became emotional when they were saying their vows and exchanging the rings. All in all it was a lovely ceremony and thankfully everyone fit into the Mission Chapel. After mass we did wedding party and family photos on the alter and then headed off to the reception while the wedding party had a little detour to B Street Tavern, where James andSimi first met three years ago.

The reception took place at Deer Park Villa in Fairfax. The cocktail hour was outside in the redwood grove, which was decorated with lights and pink lanterns. Everyone hit the bar and enjoyed the hothors d'oeuvres that were being circulated. We did lots of groups photos, including all the family shots- siblings, cousins, etc. During one of our pictures we smelled smoke. It turned out that my cousin's pashmina wrap had caught on fire from a candle on the table. We were disappointed that my brother didn't do his job and act to put it out first.

As it started to get dark we headed inside for the sit-down dinner. My mom, the unofficial wedding planner, did a great job making sure the tables were set up in an elegant way- right down to the napkin fold with name cards and menus inside. We started off with a spring mix salad and then people had a choice of chicken breast or prime rib for dinner. The best man, matron of honor and bride's father all gave toasts. We also got to watch a video of James andSimi's photos as they grew up and then pictures as a couple.

After the bride and groom's first dance and father/daughter dance everyone hit the floor. The DJ paced the music well and played all the greatest hits first. After the older attendees had worn themselves out on the dance floor he started playing more current hit music. The garter bouquet tosses and cake cutting went smoothly. The cake was really good and made locally. My brother was desperate for a piece of the banana/nut layer that was his choice and we finally found him one. It was a really fun reception and people had time to catch up with family members and/or dance and drink the night away (some more than others). Things started to wind down around 9:30 pm as the lights came up and people started to head for home. We stayed to clean up the tables and grab a few decorations and floral arrangements before leaving.

Today we had lunch for some of the out-of-town family members. James and Simi opened up wedding gifts and my brother's old room is currently full of boxes. They are going to have to move into a bigger place to fit in all these presents. It's hard to believe that my little brother is now married. Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wedding Rehearsal

Tonight was the wedding rehearsal for James and Simi's wedding. We all met at St. Raphael's Church at 6:00 pm and did a run through of the ceremony with the wedding party. Afterwards we headed to Ristorante La Toscana for the rehearsal dinner. It was a good night and I wasn't too brutal with my toast. Tomorrow is the big day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Liam Finn

I was a bit bummed that I was going to miss Liam Finn opening for Sarah Blasko in Melbourne since I am out of town. However, as luck would have it Liam booked a show in San Francisco on his way back from New York at the Make-Out Room in the Mission District. Lynne joined me for the evening, and we also got to see my friend Squid (who actually let me know this show was happening). It was a very entertaining 45 minutes of DIY music from Mr. Finn, who was accompanied by EJ Barnes on backing vocals. The set list (in no particular order):
- Fire In Your Belly
- Better To Be
- Second Chance
- Gather To The Chapel
- Remember When
- Wise Man
- Lead Balloon

There were various noise jams and some funny banter as well. Liam told us that he was travelling on an Irish passport and when going through customs in Abu Dhabi they asked him why he didn't speak Gaelic. His response? "Gaelic my balls." Such a funny boy. For your musical enjoyment here is Liam's video for the single "Second Chance"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fake Thanksgiving

One of my requests while I am home was to have Thanksgiving dinner since I will once again miss it at the end of November. Tonight we celebrated "Fake Thanksgiving" with my parents, James and Simi, and Lynne and Jeremy. We started off with appetizers and mulled cider and then headed to the dining room table for the main meal:
- Jello Salad
- Bread Rolls
- Turkey with gravy
- Cornbread Stuffing with Roasted Vegetables
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Pumpkin Pie

It was very delicious and just like a normal Thanksgiving dinner since we had the good china and silverware. I baked the pumpkin pie, which came out well. All in all it was a great night and I got to eat all my favorite dishes.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Driving the Bay Area

I have been all over the Bay Area the past few days. On Thursday my mom and I went down to Burlingame to have lunch with my mom's cousin. It was a fun trip as we got to look at some old photo albums from the 1940s that had pictures of my mom's side of the family. Debbie also cooked us a yummy lunch. On our way back up to Marin we stopped at The Village for a bit of shopping. I finally got a new laptop battery at the Apple Store (along with Danny's iPod) but I didn't see anything exciting in the clothing stores. That evening my mom and I headed out with Simi to Concord for her second wedding dress fitting. This was the first time that I had seen the dress and it is very pretty and perfect for her.

Since I was still not completely happy with my own dress for the wedding, Lynne and I headed into downtown San Francisco on Friday to find something for me to wear. I tried on about five dresses at Macy's in Union Square and thankfully found one that is perfect for the event. We also went down to Westfield Shopping Centre and encountered some strange activities in front of Bloomingdales. If you can figure out what they are selling in this picture, please let me know.

On Saturday I travelled north to Petaluma to meet Angie and the rest of her bridesmaids to get fitted for our dresses. Angie's wedding is in April 2008 and I am the maid of honor. Since I am out here we all got measured and worked out what sizes to order. The outfits are actually separates from Alfred Angelo, so we all have a tea-length skirt and then got to choose our own top. The outfits should take about four months to come in, and Angie plans to send it to me immediately so I can make any alterations if needed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Into The Wild

Tonight Lynne and I went to see Sean Penn's latest film "Into The Wild". It is based on Jon Krakauer's book about Christopher McCandless, a recent college graduate who travelled through the US in the early 1990's and ultimately ended up in the Alaska. The film starts when he goes into the wilderness but flashes back to his travels and the people he encountered along the way. The cinematography is gorgeous and Eddie Vedder's soundtrack really fits in with the story. It's a fantastic film that I highly recommend as it will make you think about your life and evaluate if you are happy with who you are and the path you are on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Favors, Friends and Food

I have spent the past few days catching up with people. On Sunday my brother and his fiance Simi came over to the house. We worked on assembling the wedding favors, which went fairly quickly. There are many little wedding details to complete, but everything seems to be coming together.

On Monday I finally got to see Lynne and Jeremy's new house in Kentfield. It is a nice and airy house with a fantastic view of Mt. Tam. Lynne and I headed to Fourth Street for some Starbucks and shopping. I found a cute jacket at Bella and Lynne bought some earrings. We grabbed burritos for dinner at High Tech Burrito and then settled in for some evening tv watching, including "The Bachelor." It was just like old times as we yelled insults at the desperate female contestants and bet on who wouldn't get a rose.

Today I ventured up to Angie's coffee shop for a visit and to catch up. We headed to Novato in the afternoon to hit the craft store and have lunch at Chevys- home of the best chips and salsa. I also went to Old Navy to return a couple of tops, and then I purchased two more shirts and a pair of pants for $24. Yay for sale prices!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

God Bless Air New Zealand

I have made it home in one piece and not too tired. I started my journey with a Starbucks chai tea latte at Melbourne Airport after exchanging most of my currency. May I just say that Air New Zealand has awesome planes? I have suffered this Pacific journey on United's old stock for too long. I was able to enjoy more seat and leg room in economy and the self-entertainment options that your own screen the seat headrest allows.

Our plane was delayed for an hour in Auckland as they had to deal with "engineering difficulties," aka they couldn't get the engines to start. However, they did the equivalent of using jumper cables to get things going and away we went! The plane was surprisingly empty and I managed to get a row to myself. It wasn't the most comfortable way to lay down, but at least I got some sleep. I also enjoyed two movies on the flight "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten" and New Zealand film Rain.

It was a comedy of errors once we landed in San Francisco. First, since we were late they had given away our gate so we had to wait for them to find us another one. Then they couldn't get the jetway to connect to the plane, so that was another 5+ minutes delay in getting off the plane. I did breeze through customs, grabbed my luggage and headed out to the Airporter, which came quickly. We sat in bumper to bumper traffic along 19th Avenue, but it cleared once we hit the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's amazing how quickly I have adjusted to being back home- doesn't feel like it's been 10 months since my last visit. There will be lots to do for the wedding, but I also plan to find time to catch up with people.

California, Here I Come

It is nearly time for me to leave for the airport and head home. I am flying Air New Zealand from Melbourne to San Francisco (via Auckland). The main purpose of this trip is to attend my brother's wedding at the end of the month. See you on the other side of the international date line.
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