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SLO and Santa Monica

The morning after the wedding we slept in and then had a nice buffet breakfast at the Hyatt before packing our bags to head south. John's parents picked us up and after dropping his brother George at SFO we hit the road towards San Luis Obispo and our ultimate destination; the famous (infamous?) Madonna Inn.

Now I remember hearing about this place back in 1996 when I attended LACon III with my friend Laurie. I have a memory of driving through the central valley in the pitch black middle of the night and her waving vaguely at the darkness to the side of the road as she described this unlikely sounding hotel. Obviously I've heard a bit more about it since then but it always has had mythical proportions in my mind, associated as it was with my early memories of fandom and being in the States. In any case I was pretty excited about finally seeing it for real, but also a little worried it'd be a letdown. Happily it was anything but! The place is ridiculously over the top in all the right ways, no irony or hipness here, just glorious pink everything and a very mid-century California sensibility. But all of it well made and with a lot of thought and care put into the construction and design. The pool area in particular is a wonderful throwback that makes you feel like you're on your way to a party at Jayne Mansfield's pad.
John's parents were kind enough to book us into the Yahoo room, which was cattle ranch themed and decorated with pictures of the Madonna family. The bed was made from a wagon and the ceiling painted blue with sparkles to look like the night sky, there were dozens of other great little details as well but the standout was the waterfall shower. We ate in town at a really good BBQ place called Firestone on the first night and on the second me tried the Madonna Inn Steakhouse, whose menu was thematically old-school; meat and vegetables and big fluffy cake for dessert, but equally well done. The restaurant decor was if anything more insane than the rest of the place, like dining in Liberace's bedroom.

It was a relaxing couple of days, spent mainly in the pool or hot tub with a morning off exploring Morro Bay, home of a big rock, a small skateboard museum, and a deep sea rescue vehicle. On the third day we set off south again to spend the rest of the week in LA. John's parents got an AirBnB in Hollywood while he and I stayed at my sister's place in Santa Monica.

On the Monday we had to head to downtown LA to get my purse from John's parent's (I left it in the car as we carted our luggage up, oops) but Ashley took the opportunity to show us some landmarks. First we visited the old Hollywood grandeur of the Biltmore, and then we headed over to The Standard which is a modern place done up in an amazing seventies style. Unfortunately the famous rooftop pool at the latter was closed for repairs, but it was still pretty cool. After parting ways with his parents the rest of us stopped for some amazing tacos at a place called B.S. Taqueria. So damned good.

Tuesday we went to Disneyland with my sister's boyfriend Andres. Neither John nor I had never been before so it was all new to us. I intensely disliked Space Mountain (well, I enjoyed the lead up) because the ride takes place mainly in the dark and was just stressful, but enjoyed the rest of the rides. My love of crazy old weird stuff meant I was fascinated by the weird time-capsule that is the Tiki Room, wished there was more original Tomorrowland stuff to see, and enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion quite a lot. Star Tours and the Indiana Jones rides were both good as too, and as a Tarzan fan I liked the tree house even though I know it's just the retrofitted Swiss Family Robinson attraction. I was surprised that the park felt smaller than I expected, though maybe that was partly because we didn't really want to dine there or do much shopping aside from t-shirts.

Wednesday we explored Venice Beach with John's parents, starting in Santa Monica. We stumbled across the carousel, which I never knew was there and has a great retro soda fountain and ice cream counter called Soda Jerk USA. We got drinks and then stopped at the original Hot Dog on a Stick for a corndog before walking along the beachfront to Venice. I insisted on making everyone gawk at the Bordello Alexandra and then we got pupusas and chips for lunch and watched the skateboarders do their thing for a little before heading back to meet Ashley for a cocktail at The Bungalow. That evening was the central event of the visit; a dinner with John's parent's and all my local siblings. We ate at an upscale Mexican restaurant which was nice but unfortunately sat us far too near to the live music despite there being plenty of other available tables. Still, the drinks were plentiful, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and the desserts were tasty, so the evening accomplished its goal nicely.

Finally Thursday rolled up, John's last full day here. John's parents picked up up and we heading up to the Getty. Now I love the building and grounds of the Getty, but unfortunately our visit coincided with the only day of rain in the year so far, so of course most of the beauty of the place was lost to us and the flaws in the signage and layout of the museum were more evident than I remember from my first visit when I was distracted by the scenic views and splendid gardens. Still, we saw a decent photography exhibit that included Chris McCaw (who it turns out is the brother of Fanboy Planet's Derek McCaw) and a wonderful Turner one that included unfinished works and watercolors. When we had our fill, John's parents dropped us off at Ashley's and we cuddled, moped, and watched Community until we got hungry. Dinner was at a slightly pricey but delicious burger place called Pono. We forgot an umbrella and got rained going and coming back but it was worth it for the milkshakes alone. Back at Ashley's we polished off a bottle of champagne to cap the evening off.

Then Friday dawned and it was time to say goodbye. We had breakfast with Andres before he went off to work, John wrote some postcards on the balcony, and we idled away out last couple of hours together before his parents whisked him off to the airport. I moped about till Ashley got home and cheered me up with some wine, ice cream, and Netflix.

Saturday was my own last day in Santa Monica and after an abortive attempt to go see Mad Max: Fury Road (it was sold out) I spent the morning reading and relaxing until Ashley got home. We had planned to go out for drinks but found ourselves entirely unmotivated so we repeated the previous evening's formula to great success. Pistachio ice cream is the best y'all.

Then Sunday morning rolled around and it was time for me to go home, or back to San Francisco anyway.

And that's the honeymoon (or the proto-honeymoon, I think we'll do something more coupl-y and romantic later on). Now we wait until its time to file paperwork and get me to the UK!

After the Wedding

(Catching up on the last few weeks here, gotta make an effort to post in a more timely manner.)

After the ceremony at City Hall we headed as a group to my local diner (also John's favorite purveyor of American-style breakfast) the good ol' Tennessee Grill. Once done with breakfast John and I took a couple of hours to relax and chill out before heading over to the evening's festivities over at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero where Leigh Ann was generously hosting a celebration/reception/minicon for us.

At the Hyatt we found Leigh Ann and she gave us our room key to go settle in. I changed into something more retrofuturistic (or at least silver) and John happily had his hair coiffed by Mette. Done with that and fortified by a glass of champagne each, we headed down to the Eclipse Lounge to party once again in the shadow of the Wicker Death Star.

The event was perfect; from the convention style badges and enthusiastic ribbon trading by all involved to the amazing cake made by Linda and accompanying space-suited cake toppers crafted by Bryan and Mette. Almost everyone I wanted to see there made it and it was a little surreal to see people from the different parts of my life meeting.

Richard Man generously gifted us with some professional portraits, which came out beautifully. The camera he used was pretty awesome all on its own. John's parents have met some fans before but I think this was their first time in the thick of it so to speak, they seemed to enjoy themselves all the same. Likewise my roommate Palle's parents came along and I greatly enjoyed seeing them mingle and meet Mette in particular. My best friend from my teens even made it, having recently moved up to the Bay Area. All in all it was a great group and everyone seemed to have a good time.

-Originally posted over on my website

Married

John flew out on May 2nd with his parents and brother and then on May 7th we got married at San Francisco City Hall.

It all went exactly as planned, pretty much. In the days before the wedding we got to spend some time hanging out together as well as with his family with whom we kicked around the East Bay for a bit and then attended a Hubba Hubba Revue show with. The next couple of days we caught up with friends in the South Bay. Then on the eve of the ceremony John headed over to Oakland to spend the night with his family. I went back and forth on whether that idea was sweet or a bit silly under the circumstances, but it was perfect really. It meant we could each fuss our way through the morning and preserve the surprise.

John and his friend Andrew arrived at City Hall a little before I did and so I was waiting to go through security when I heard him say my name and looked up to see him looking handsome and happy in his snazzy new suit. It was a wonderful moment and a highlight of the day.

From there things moved speedily along. We met up with his parents and brother, then with Mette and Joe Price, who served as our witnesses. Five minutes before our appointment time we met the judge, who was wonderful. She was warm and friendly, and exactly what I would have wanted if I had known what to ask for. Part of the building was roped off for some photo shoot including the rotunda stairs, making me worried we'd end up in a court room, but in the end it worked out and the ceremony took place exactly where I had hoped. The judge encouraged us to take the opportunity to get more photos in the beautiful building and we did just that.

Finally we headed out to get some classic American diner breakfast at the Tennessee Grill after which John and I took some time to catch our breath before the evening's festivities. On which more later.

Mar. 8th, 2015

In other news, the LJ text editor remains utterly shit.

FogCon

Originally posted to espanasheriff.com

This Saturday was my birthday, which I didn’t have to plan anything for specifically because it also happened to be the weekend of FogCon, a small literary convention in Walnut Creek.

Although I was a bit sad when the convention moved out of San Francisco after its first year, I really like the Walnut Creek Marriott and it seems to suit the size and shape of the convention quite nicely, the excellent bar staff also helps. As much as I like more rollicking conventions with night-time events and party floors it is also nice to attend something a bit more intimate now and then. FogCon is similar toPotlatch in this way and has solid programming plus a fair bit of socializing in the consuite and bar.

The theme this year was The Traveler and the GOHs where Cat Valente and Kim Stanley Robinson, both of whom give excellent panels. JP was kind enough to offer me a ride there and back, meaning that despite not getting a room there was no need to rush off to catch the last BART train, so Friday we stayed till about eleven or so and Saturday till around two thirty not counting the DST shift. I saw old friends and met some new folks, attended a half dozen panels, got some nice baubles from Fly By Night Books & Gifts, and ended up with a ton of books, so I definitely count it as a successful weekend even though I skipped the Sunday to prepare for the work-heavy coming week.

GarciaGate, Gally, Pie

Originally posted to my blog.

The past month has been busy. Luckily I landed a temp assignment and then a part time job at a nearby cafe, which meant being able to relax a bit and even attend my current favorite convention; Gallifrey One.

But before Gally there was a big event for Bay Area fandom; GarciaGate, the wedding of Chris Garcia and Vanessa Applegate. I worked early that morning at the Moscone Center, but  JP was kind enough to offer me a ride. This meant we had a couple of hours to kill so we got breakfast at Heidi's Pies in San Mateo and pick up some pies for the potluck.  As often happens at these sorts of events it felt a bit like a small convention, with lots of my favorite folks in attendance. It was also pretty cool that it took place at the Computer History Museum.

As for Gally, the convention had sold out quickly but my roommate Palle had kindly picked me up a membership in hopes I'd be in the area and able to attend. If all goes well next year I plan to join the Brit crowd and fly out with John.

I missed the last couple of years so it was really nice to be back and as usual it was a great convention, despite some annoyances before the start. Both the Barrowman and the Gorman/Myles panels were hilarious, there was a very amusing improv troupe called Doctor Who Live who did a Friday night show, and of course the always great Saturday also on Friday night party which was Orient Express themed this year. The costumes and conversations were all  wonderful and I even got a chance to record a little with Jade for the podcast. I can't wait until next year.

Now that I'm recovered from that it's time to look forward to FogCon, which also happens to fall on my birthday weekend. It's a smaller literary convention in the tradition of WisCon and I've enjoyed it the years I have been. I probably won't stay over but it's easily BARTable so that's not a huge deal. Kim Stanley Robinson and Cat Valente are the GOHs.

After that there is Hubba Hubba Space Station 1966 and then a Doctor Who themed art show in the Mission. March is good month for Bay Area nerdom.

That'll do, 2015. That'll do.

So on Christmas Eve johncoxon proposed and I said yes.

The rest of the Xmas holiday was lovely as well, as was New Year's Eve.

More details linked over on my blog, but suffice it to say that it has been a pretty great holiday season :)

Cold December in Leicester

It’s good and cold here now, though not quite literally freezing yet.
John got back and we had a nice day in Peterborough as he recovered from the trip. Then last week we went to Southampton on an exploratory mission of his soon-to-be new hometown.
We didn’t see all of it but got a basic idea of the layout, which seems a bit more spread out than Leicester. We had very good burgers at a place called Chalk Valley and explored the town of Fareham, where John’s friend Michael lives. It was fun and I liked the look of the southern part of the country.
The day we came home was also John’s birthday which meant food at Las Iguanas and drinks at the Orange Tree, both delicious. The main festivities were reserved for the weekend so in effect he got an extended birthday experience and I got him all to myself on the day proper, win-win.
Originally posted on my website

Leicester

(crossposted from my website)

Today makes two weeks in Leicester, during which the weather has been as hot or hotter than it was in Santa Monica, something I did not see coming. But otherwise it’s been quite nice.

I got into Leicester pretty late on Thursday and then John and I headed to Peterborough on Friday to visit his family. Saturday involved home cooked meals and surprisingly little jet lag, and then on Sunday we took the train into London for the annual Coxon family picnic. This involved lots of nice foods and something called French Cricket, which is a much more polite version of dodgeball. I did okay at it, I think, and we seemed to amuse the tourists. After all that everyone when their separate ways, including John and I to Leicester.

As before my favorite thing in the city is the Market, which is entertaining just to walk through listening to the vendors hawking their wares. Additionally there are some great deals to be had, and they’ve just built a brand new indoor market for the butchers and a really nice cheese vendor.

The new discovery I’ve made which I look forward to exploring when the weather cools down a little bit is the cemetery next to the University. The Welford Road Cemetery is relatively recent, dating from the 19th Century when Leicester was a big industrial city but it’s gorgeous and built almost more like a park than a graveyard. I look forward to exploring it a bit more and maybe taking one of the walking tours.

Hugos, Podcast

Hugo nominations are done, thank goodness. I found it less stressful than previous years, at least partly due to a deliberate effort to ignore negative chatter about various categories or nominees.

In other news, Geek Girl Crafts #53 is up, the gals and I discuss sftnal tech that's become reality.

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