Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Real Realtors

One of the reasons we chose Gatejen Realtors as we embarked on our house search was because we met the woman who became our realtor, KM, at an impromptu tour of a house that ended up lasting almost two hours as we hit it off and went back to her office to continue our discussions about where to look, what to look for, how to proceed, etc. It really seemed as though she was a good match for us - very knowledgeable and specialized in the Midtown/near East Sac area that interested us, a background in community organizing and fundraising for non-profits, a true love for the funky urban parts of Sacto. But as we continued the process, occasionally we ran into slight snags in our communication with her or with her colleagues. Overall, everything worked out fine, and we even got our condo for less than our offering price, though we did have to pay our closing costs, which we were trying to avoid, and we also had to make multiple phone calls and faxes to keep the ball rolling at times even though that's what Gatejen was supposed to be doing for us.

What bugs me now, however, is that despite the lip service KM and others paid to the great customer service and ongoing relationships that Gatejen provides, we have not heard anything from anyone at Gatejen since we closed on the condo on 5 August, over three weeks ago. Normally, this might not bother me so much, since I'd figure that the end of the transaction would bring the end of regular contact. But the expectation had been set for additional communication or at least some sort of follow-up call to see how we're settling into our new home.

I'm disappointed. I had really thought that KM and Gatejen might be different, and I'd recommended them to a friend at PPMM. But I don't think that's going to happen anymore. Too bad. It would have been nice to have found a realtor that proved to be truly exceptional rather than simply better at hiding its/her true nature.


Curtains, Curtains, Curtains

When you look at curtains, they appear to be a pretty simple shape - just a few yards of rectangular fabric finished off on each side with a large casing at the top for the curtain rod. Yet construction & assembly of these window features can be amazingly time-consuming! For those of you who've never made curtains, here's a glimpse at the steps involved...

  1. Measure window height and width to determine necessary finished length and width of curtains.
  2. Find curtain fabric that matches room colour and quilt colour and that isn't exorbitantly expensive.
  3. Find lining fabric that complements curtain fabric.
  4. Calculate necessary yardage of each, especially since curtain fabric is 60" wide and lining is 48" wide (6 yards of the first, 9 yards of the second to have enough to piece together for a full lining for each curtain).
  5. Purchase all fabric and 2 spools of complementary thread.
  6. Measure & cut curtain panels after finding a sufficiently large enough space in the condo to lay the large swath of fabric flat on the floor since you don't have a large enough table on which to cut. Remember to calculate 1" on each side and on the bottom for double 1/2" hems to finish off the raw edges as well as 3 1/2" along the top for the casing.
  7. Set up sewing machine, spin a first bobbin with the appropriate thread, then rethread machine so it's ready to sew.
  8. Carefully turn under all edges 1/2", iron a crease, pin as necessary, & zig-zag stitch to help compensate for the slight stretch in the fabric.
  9. Repeat for sides and bottom. For top, turn under 3", iron, pin, & stitch.
  10. Repeat for second panel. Stop to spin new bobbin when thread runs out. Continue.
  11. When finished, iron entire panels and hang on curtain rods to establish appropriate finished length and size of hem.
  12. Decide instead to turn over 3" casing a second time for additional strength. Need to wait for lining panels before sewing, however, so that lining & curtain are attached at the casing.
  13. Turn over bottom hem 1/2", pin, iron, & stitch.

Curtain panels finished!

  1. Spend 2 hours at laundromat to wash & dry 100% cotton lining fabric.
  2. Iron lining fabric.
  3. Measure & cut lining fabric so that finished size will be approximately 1" less in width and length than the curtain panels.
  4. Measure & cut additional lining yardage to piece together to make lining wide enough for panels (given the 12" discrepancy in width of each bolt).
  5. Sew French seams to piece together lining panels (this means put wrong sides together & stitch 1/4" seam, then iron flat, put right sides together & stitch 1/2" seam so no raw edges are showing on the back of the lining panel).
  6. Repeat with second lining panel.
  7. Stop to spin new bobbin and load second spool of thread when both run out.
  8. Turn under all edges 1/2", iron a crease, pin, & stitch.
  9. Repeat on all sides.
  10. Repeat for second panel.
  11. Iron both panels.

Lining panels finished!

  1. Remove curtains from curtain rod.
  2. Lay curtain panel flat on floor. Turn 3" casing down a second time & pin in a few places.
  3. Lay lining panel on top of curtain so that bottom of lining is max 1" from bottom of curtain and sides of lining are 1" from sides of curtain. Tuck top of lining panel under casing turnover at top of curtain panel, re-pin, & stitch.
  4. Repeat with second curtain & lining panels.
  5. Hang assembled curtains/lining on curtain rod.

Phew! No wonder it takes so long! And I haven't even done the tiebacks. But those can wait until another day...



Today, Pete's protests at Planned Parenthood provoked profanity provided by a peeved patient who peeled out from the parking lot proclaiming, "F*** you!" to poor pouty pitiful Pete.

Does anyone know a good synonym for "solo/alone" that begins with "p?" I think I may have to spend some time perusing the P section of my dictionary today!


Poor Pete

So Pete the Planned Parenthood protestor was pouting profusely yesterday, perchance because Pete prefers to protest with his posse but Pete was protesting solo with only the peaceful paltry three female prayers for companionship. Poor Pete.

Pete definitely gets riled when he's ignored or when I stand and smile angelically at him as he attacks PPMM or tries to get under my skin with his comments. And he certainly doesn't like that I know and use his name. So he decided to bestow his own monikers on me and on an older gentleman who has become a regular escort. According to Pete, we're now going to be known as "Mabel" and "Jake."

Hmm. Think that's some sort of veiled reference to Cain and (M)Abel? As I mentioned to my other younger escort colleague, he should perhaps be named "Elwood" to pair with "Jake." But this escort suggested "Steve" instead, as in "Adam & Steve." I'm guessing Pete might miss both of those references...

Pete also started to preach to us about how short this life is compared to eternity, and he decided to use the analogy of snaps to make his point. So Pete and the older escort only have about half a snap left, whereas I and the younger escort have two snaps left. But maybe only one and a half. And perhaps even less than that, since I could get hit by a car tomorrow.

I particularly liked the snaps bit and suggested that Pete was taking lessons from the Fab 5, but he didn't at all understand that comparison. He thought the Fab 5 was a music group of some kind. Poor Pete. He really should brush up on his pop culture references.

Snap! Snap! Snap! (with accompanying Z shape in the air, of course)


Muffin Counterpart

As my last post mentioned, E adores German Shepherds. Personally, when it comes to the canine species, I'm rather fond of corgis. Part of this, I'm sure, comes from warm fuzzy memories of seeing the Welsh corgis that were raised and trained by neighbors of St. Margaret's Convent in Duxbury, MA, where both my sister & I went to overnight Summer camp for a week or so several times during our childhood.

But I've recently come to realize that the other reason I have a penchant for corgis is that they're the canine equivalent of Muffin! Short, stocky, solid, round, low to the ground, with stumpy little legs and sweet, sweet faces. They even move like Muffin does - not running, but scampering.

Corgi = Muffin in dog form. That explains it all!


Of Dogs & Cats

I am unabashedly a self-proclaimed "cat person." My current wonderful feline, Muffin, was inherited from a former roommate in PDX, and she's the sweetest cat imaginable. Even people who don't like cats like Muffin - she's just got that sort of personality and unique character that make her charming and irresistible.

One of the things that charmed me most about E was how quickly he and Muffin took to each other. E is definitely not a "cat person," although he's become a "Muffin person." He didn't have pets growing up, and his first real encounter with having a pet of his own was during his previous marriage, when he and his ex welcomed some German Shepherds to their family. E loved these dogs. I mean, LOVED. I can see it in his face and hear it in his voice when he talks about them. He had to put the boy dog to sleep, and it still pains him. When he got divorced, his ex kept the house and the dogs since they needed the yard. I know how much he missed both the dogs, how much he had bonded with them. He still visited them occasionally, but that's not the same as daily contact, of course. And then about a year ago, the female died. E was so upset, and I know he regrets that he couldn't have been around her more often as she got sick.

Having a cat is fairly easy, no matter what your living space is like. So our condo is just perfect for Muffin, and she even manages not to violate the HOA weight restriction (2 pets max for 20 lbs max - she weighs in at about 17 or so these days). But there's no way we could have a dog here with that sort of limitation, regardless of any other space or lack-of-yard issues.

So at some point, when we're ready to move on, I really want to make sure our next home has a yard that allows us to add a canine to the family. I want to make this happen or at least have it be possible, because I know how pleased E would be to have a canine companion again. He absolutely melts every time he sees one of his "babies" anywhere - it's like he's got German Shepherd radar or something, because he spots them way before I do! Yes, we'll definitely have to make this happen some day. E deserves it and needs it.


Scooter Goes Down

So after all the fun of singing at PPMM on Tuesday morning, the rest of the day went seriously downhill from there. What should have been a quick errand to WAMU in anticipation of the Farmer's Market turned into a scrape for the scooter.

I found some shade on the corner of 21st & Capitol behind a parked car and positioned the scooter appropriately - perpindicular to the curb with the rear wheel almost touching the curb and at least two feet between the scoot and the car in front of it. No other vehicles were near the scoot, since it was a few feet in front of a parking lot entrance. I did my business at the ATM across the street, and as I was walking back, I didn't see the scoot right away. Then I noticed that its front wheel was no longer upright but was lying down on the street... almost under the rear bumper of the car that had been parked in front of it.

By the time I realized what had happened, another driver (I think he had been sitting in a parked car in the street on the other side of the parking lot entrance) had come over and righted the scoot. The driver of the offending car was standing nearby, smoking a cigarette. She apologized immediately and admitted to having no insurance when I asked the obvious question. After a quick look, I was relieved to see that the scoot didn't appear to have any serious damage, but the driver and I still exchanged names and phone numbers, since I couldn't be sure that it wasn't hurt in ways that weren't immediately visible.

All was going quite smoothly, and I was feeling less upset, when the other driver, who had retreated to his car, decided to re-insert himself into the situation. He came over and started berating me for asking about the woman's insurance, accusing me of parking too close to the car, and just generally being rather hostile and irritating. His presence only served to re-introduce tension into a situation that was gradually working itself out, and I'm still not quite sure what motivated him to re-enter the fray. I finally told him the scene didn't involve him and asked him to leave, which he did (phew!).

I was able to ride the scoot home, but I noticed that the left brake lever was bent and a bit wobbly. Since we actually have separate insurance on the scoot (gotta love the CA laws that require such things), I called GEICO when I got home to find out what to do. After spending over 45 minutes on the phone with the company, it turns out that we don't have property damage coverage anyway, so there's really no reason to file a claim, but since it was started, it had to be completed and closed out in the system. Arrgh! One of the first questions I asked was whether or not I needed to file a claim! So why did it take almost an hour and a second person to determine that it wasn't necessary??

Needless to say, this aggravation did not help my mood any. And the rest of the day continued in a similar fashion - lots of little irritations that accumulated to a mood of supreme grumpiness by the time E got home in the evening.

Luckily, the scoot is still driveable in its current condition. I took it to a nearby cycle repair shop, and the parts are $72 and labor will be $50-$100, depending on the amount of time the repair process takes.

Now comes the one really cool aspect of the whole thing:

The woman who backed into the scoot was very nice and apologetic at the scene and told me to get in touch if there was anything she could do (her son has a mini-scooter, so she felt very badly about damaging mine, especially since it's my primary mode of transportation around town). When I called her after visiting the cycle store, she continued to be quite nice and easy to deal with, agreeing to pay $70 to cover half of the repair costs. We met yesterday morning at the "scene of the crime," and she gave me the cash then. How cool is that!

So all in all, a rather difficult and unpleasant situation was resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Kinda restores your faith in human nature, doesn't it?


Singin' with the Protestors

Last week during my clinic escort shift, I was on a very short fuse. I'm not sure exactly why (perhaps fatigue or stress from moving the previous weekend), but the protestors really got to me and were extremely irritating. I actually yelled back at them several times, which I don't usually do, since normally I can just ignore them or smile cheerfully at them as they preach at me or hurl insults at PPMM.

Luckily, one of my fellow escorts, an older gentleman whose daughter is a clinician for PPMM, was a very calming presence, and he helped me to become a bit more tranquil, especially when he recommended the strategy of "shadowing" the lone protestor. This action consisted of our walking alongside or in front of or behind the protestor as he moved along the sidewalk or ventured out into the street to try to pass his brochures and little plastic fetus dolls to people coming to the clinic. Apparently, our strategy worked quite well, because the protestor called the police to complain that we were impeding his movements. Hah!

When the police arrived, they made a simple incident report and explained that we all needed to give each other same space, since the city ordinance is still currently under injunction and the Council hasn't yet drafted and passed a new one, and that we couldn't block the protestor's path. My escort colleague and I nodded and discussed the situation calmly and tactfully, and I think we really looked good in comparison when the protestor veered off the subject at hand (i.e. walking along the sidewalk) and started spouting, "They're killing babies in there!"

I guess we really riled the lone protestor, and he felt forced to summon reinforcements, because this morning he was joined by three colleagues - two older men, both of whom have been intermittent protestors, and one older woman who quietly recited her rosary and prayed.

Due to the suit brought against the ordinance by two of the protestors, we now know their names: Peter and Harry. So one of my new tactics has been to use their names as often as possible when talking to them (rarely) or about them (frequently) with other PPMM folk while the protestors are in earshot. This morning, for example, I greeted each of them cheerfully as I put on my bright blue PPMM smock. And I also made sure to "introduce" the protestors to our patients as I led the patients to the clinic: "Good morning. How are you today? Oh, these are our protestors, Peter and Harry. They're here on Tuesday mornings, so feel free to say hello to them on your way out." (kudos to E for coming up with this idea last week)

The best part of the morning, however, was when the third gentleman was standing near me and started to sing "Amazing Grace." So I joined in with him on the second line and belted out the song with far more gusto than he did. I think I sort of took the wind out of his sails, because he didn't even attempt a second verse or any other singing for the rest of the morning.

It's great to be able to use their own tactics against them! Hah!


Straight Fear

Two major negative news items yesterday:
Let's look at each of these negative events in turn, shall we?

1. As much as I hate the fact that state laws don't currently allow for gay marriages, I can't truly fault the CA court for this ruling, since they were simply interpreting the law as it stands. It sucks, it's unfair, it's just plain wrong, but until the Legislature gets off its butt and makes some changes, there's not much than any local officials can do. I admire Newsom for his actions, for making a statement, for challenging the stupidity of the law, for bringing this ridiculous discrimination to light. And I'm hopeful that ongoing challenges and lawsuits will prove that the state constituion doesn't allow for marriage discrimination (on the model of the MA SJC decision).

On the other hand, the CA court should not have invalidated the licenses that were issued. Can you imagine how that feels? To suddenly be told, "Oh, we're sorry. Your relationship doesn't count after all. Nope. Doesn't matter that you've been together for 50 years. You're not a real couple. Sorry. You'll have to give back all of those rights that little scrap of paper granted to you. No big deal, really. After all, aren't you used to this sort of discrimination? Your people have been hiding and putting up with it for years. You should be used to this sort of treatment by now."

Lovely, isn't it?

2. On a weirdly almost-related note, Governor McGreevey of New Jersey comes out as gay and in practically the same breath declares that he will resign and step down from his office on November 15th. Umm. So it's acceptable for a man with a history of groping and other similarly questionable behavior towards women to be elected governor of a state several times larger than NJ but it's not acceptable for a gay man to be governor?

One of the articles I read mentioned several other problems with McGreevey's administration - questionable practices or appointments - but none of these problems led to his feeling a need to resign. And let's think about all of the men in power who have been discovered to have had extra-marital affairs with women. A fairly substantial list, I'd wager. Yet how many of these men felt compelled to resign their positions??? So is it simply the gender that makes all the difference?

It really all comes down to straight fear. To be more specific, the vast majority of heterosexuals are frightened by anyone different, by anyone who dares stray off the straight and narrow path. I don't understand this fear. GLBTQ people aren't trying to take anything away from their non-GLBTQ neighbors. We don't want anything special or different - we just want to enjoy the same quality of life, with all of its ups and downs, goods and bads. Why is that so hard to understand? Why are so many straights so threatened by the thoughts of two women in love? Of two men joined in marriage? Of GLBTQ elected or appointed officials?

It's a bit like the male anti-choice protestors at PPMM. They're so adamant about preventing abortion that they don't consider the many other reasons why women (and men) use PPMM's services. It's amazing that the thought of women's exercising control over their bodies and their right to choose strikes such fear into the hearts of these men.

The saying "We fear what we don't understand" doesn't offer sufficient justification for these actions, for the discrimination routinely committed against women and GLBTQ people. There are lots of things I don't understand, but I simply remain puzzled and frustrated, not frightened. And certainly not so filled with fear that I must take action against others in an unforgivable attempt to suppress and quash anyone or anything that doesn't fit within my own worldview of right and wrong.

George Orwell's pigs would be delighted.

"All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others."


What's Wrong with this Picture?

On my way to Kaplan last evening, I was scooting merrily along J St, trying not to melt from the heat of the sun above and the waves of warmth reflected from the pavement below, when I found myself following a rather slow-moving driver in a black BMW.

"Oh well," I thought, "since I'm on a little 49cc Honda scooter, I guess I can just be patient and bide my time."

After a short distance, however, my East Coast aggressive/impatient driver roots refused to be stifled any longer, and I pulled over to pass the car in front of me.

Yes, that's correct, my little scooter and I actually overtook a BMW. Woo-hoo!!! Power to the scoot!!!


Moving Frenzy

E & I moved to a downtown condo over the weekend, and I was amazed at how much stuff we still have, despite the recent huge purge before our relocation from Madison.

Where does this stuff come from?

Why are we so attached to it?

What do our possessions say about each of us as individuals or about us as a couple, an entity?

And what does our manner of organizing and decorating reveal about us?

I love looking at other people's houses and seeing their stuff. What have they chosen to display? And what have they hidden away? Looking at objects that have priority of place can tell you so much about a person, about what they find important or interesting.

E & I are really looking forward to doing some decorating, now that we finally own our living space. The condo is great in so many ways, and the amount of space fits us perfectly, but some of the colours need to be changed as well as a few other structural elements. Some of that will have to wait for additional funding, of course, but I'm excited about doing home decorating together. All that time spent watching TLC and HGTV will finally pay off!

The only real negative about the recent move is our current lack of Internet access at home. Getting our DSL set up through SBC is certainly not a prime example of efficiency and convenience... So for the time being, I'll be trying to log on daily at the Sac Central library. Arrgh! When you're used to on-demand online access at your fingertips, it's really hard to have to schedule it in one-hour increments at a location 8 blocks away!!!



One of the interesting aspects of belonging to a health club is observing the variety of ways women get ready for their post-workout lives.

It's odd - as anyone who knows me can attest, I'm definitely a high-maintenance person in many ways. But when it comes to hair & make-up, I'm as low-maintenance as possible. And I'm certainly in the minority, based on my observations of other women in the locker room. It's frankly amazing sometimes to see the array of skin-care, beauty, facial, hair, and make-up products that women pull out of their tiny lockers to arm themselves before re-entering the real world.

I have to wonder: do they truly enjoy these lengthy preparations? what motivates them to spend so much time applying make-up or curling & blow-drying? do they feel compelled by some external force? or do they believe they must use these accessories to be acceptable and attractive?

Another cause for musing and puzzlement on my part comes from the abundant lack of imagination that most women display in terms of underclothing. Women have so many chocies in this department - underwire or soft cup? lace or satin? cotton or silk? bikini or high-cut or v-string or boy-short or thong? Yet I have seen very few women at the health club who take advantage of this plethora of possibilities. The worst part is seeing how few of them even take the time to match - it's just not that difficult to pair white panties with a white bra, regardless of cut or style or fabric.

So why is it that the same women who spend at least 30 minutes on their hair and make-up don't spend just 5 minutes paying the same attention to detail with their underclothes? Why is their outward, public appearance so much more important than their inner, private layer?

I must admit, I'm just the opposite. I refuse to wear underclothes that don't match, and I take full advantage of different colours, styles, and fabrics. Yet I spend very little time artificially enhancing my face and hair. I wonder what this disparity reveals about me...


Book Review

Thanks to LNJ's recommendations, I've just finished reading Arturo Perez Reverte's The Seville Communion. This is an excellent novel, which came as no surpise to me after thoroughly enjoying Reverte's The Flanders Panel (props to LNJ for the gifting on that). Reverte crafts intricate stories with complex characters and finely-detailed locales. The wealth of details makes me believe that Reverte does his research and knows of what he speaks, though I haven't attempted to verify this myself. Kudos must also be extended to his translator, Sonia Soto, since the English never sounds stilted or odd. Wanting to read these in the original language of the author, however, simply adds to my desire to learn Spanish! Here's an example of Reverte's evocative prose:

"He sat on a bench and looked at the church for a long time. Nearby, bells rang; the swifts and pigeons took wing and then settled back on the eaves. The moon had disappeared, but the stars were still visible, twinkling icily. At daybreak it grew colder, and the priest's muscles and back began to ache. At peace now, he watched the light grow in the east. The nearby clock struck again, and once more the birds flew. The pink glow pushing the night toward the other side of the city, the clear outline of the belfry, the roof, the eaves around the square - all signaled the arrival of day. Cocks crowed, because Seville was the kind of city where cocks still crowed at dawn. Quart got up, as if waking from a long dream."

One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed about The Seville Communion was the occasional allusion to other Reverte works - the character of the art dealer Montegrifo from The Club Dumas and a very brief mention of the painting that plays a pivotal role in The Flanders Panel. I really appreciate authors who self-reference from time to time, since it's like an inside joke or understanding with their regular readers. Too many self-references, however, can be annoying and off-putting, but Reverte never crosses that line.

On the other hand, another recently-borrowed book from the library should be avoided at all costs. Laurie Notaro's Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood pulled me in with the wry bio on the back cover, which seemed to announce a tongue-in-cheek look at the author's transition from single to couple. Unfortunately, however, the author sets the tone at a high level of extreme and never comes down. I don't often not finish a book, but I just couldn't take anymore of this one after paragraphs like this:

"After discovering that my backup boyfriend's roommate was not merely a former girlfriend but a size-six, raven-haired beauty with not one, single freckle and a flawless complexion, I decided to cut my stay short by a couple of days. When I realized that she was from FRANCE, pronounced my name 'Loh-wee!' and got regularly manicured, I folded my hand and hopped on the next flight home. I had already lost out to a dog girl; there was no way I was going head-to-head with a skinny little Frenchie with perfect nails and healthy skin who could eat troughs of cheese without the ramifications."

Self-deprecation as a writing style can be fine in small doses, but when it forms the foundation of the book and is accompanied by slams against almost every other character who enters the author's universe, it becomes no more than a lame attempt to compensate for a lack of true writing ability. The pretentious use of a subtitle should have warned me.

Trust me, stick with Reverte. You'll thank me for it.


MidTown Restaurant Reviews

Crepeville, 17th & L
A most excellent place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Low prices, fresh ingredients, friendly and consistent service - everything combines for a great dining experience. We've been here several times since it opened about 3 weeks ago, and this is definitely at the top of our "favs" and "musts" lists. Aside from delicious crepes, the pasta and salad dishes are fabulous, and the staff is always willing to cook everything to order (meaning a high-maintenance foodie like me can be totally satisfied each time). The only minor strike against this restaurant is that the savory crepes are made with the same batter as the sweet crepes - a wheat base would be preferable (and more authentic) for the former.

Michelangelo's, 17th & I
This is my next favorite choice for dinner. Outdoor dining is available in a separate small back courtyard with frequent live music and local artwork on display. The restaurant is adjacent to an art gallery that had a fabulous "faux" exhibit for last month's 2nd Saturday Art Walk - local artists contributed fakes of famous paintings or sculptures in a competition to see who could create the best phony. As for Michelangelo's food, the menu is limited but has a wealth of good choices, including reasonably-priced wines. Excellent salads and yummy piadina as a starter (flat bread - sans garlic! - stuffed with cheese and veges).

Lucca, 16th & J
On one of our first nights in Sacramento, we went out for a stroll to see what was nearby and stumbled upon this chic little spot. Slightly higher prices and interesting architecture make this something of a "see-and-be-seen" dining spot. The service was a bit spotty, which irked me more than E, but the salad was tasty, and the lightly-salted thin-cut zucchini chips were an excellent and rather unusual munchie option. They were supposed to be our appetizer but were neglected until we reminded our server, so they arrived to accompany our meal instead. I'd definitely return for the zucchini chips, a cocktail, and some interesting people-watching.

P. F. Chang's, 15th & J
This upscale Asian bistro is part of a national chain (we ate at one near Chicago, IL about a year ago), but its consistency and predictability are a plus if you're not feeling adventurous. The Buddha's Delight provides a large portion of fresh steamed veges, and the steamed dumplings are a tasty option as well. Nothing spectacular to rave about, but a safe choice with reasonable prices.

Plum Blossom, 19th & J
One our second day in Sacramento, we decided we needed to leave the apartment to escape from all of the boxes and unpacking, so we wandered a few blocks away to check out this appealingly-named Chinese fast-food restaurant. We both ordered from the lunch buffet special menu. The food was hot and fairly fresh but left that weird aftertaste and uncomfortably-full feeling. I think next time I'd order off the menu instead.

HukiLau, 16th & O
E visited this place when he was searching for apartments and was impressed with the casual happy-hour atmosphere and Hawai'i-inspired decor. We attempted to have a late breakfast here a few weekends ago before visting a nearby condo, but the experience was less than successful. My teriyaki chicken & veges with sticky jasmine rice was yummy, but E's order of an interesting egg dish was wrong both the first and second times. Eventually, he gave up and ate just the toast. The manager didn't charge us for E's meal, but that still didn't completely salvage the negativity. E maintains he'd try it one more time, though (he's more forgiving than I am), so we may be due for a return trip.

33rd St. Bistro, 33rd & Folsom
Rave reviews for this Pacific Northwest-inspired restaurant. The breakfast was fabulous - egg panini for me and something scrambled for E. Strong coffee, pleasant outside dining, and great service. We returned for their Saturday night acoustic music and had some fabulous home-made tortilla chips along with a special appetizer of roasted corn-on-the-cob sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Outstanding! And the Jolly Rancher watermelon martini I tried was delicious as well. Definitely at the top of our list for frequent return visits.

Cornerstone, 24th & J
Only open for breakfast & lunch, this unassuming diner-esque restaurant claims to have the best breakfast in MidTown. We finally put it to the test yesterday for E's birthday and were quite pleased with the prompt service, reasonable prices, and satisfying egg dishes (egg-white omelette with mushrooms, tomatoes, and turkey for me; Greek scramble with feta, spinach, and tomatoes for E). Nice to have healthy options (egg whites or egg beaters) at this type of joint.

Jack's Urban Eats, 20th & Capitol
This is a cafeteria-style restaurant known for its great made-to-order salads. I ordered the "half salad" with spinach and a bunch of other ingredients, and the "half" was plenty for me! The rice krispie treat for dessert was light and crispy and not too sticky. E's chicken sandwich was large and tasty as well, and the low prices make this an attractive option for healthy and fairly quick meals. One caveat - the tofu for the salad is marinated in olive oil & herbs, including garlic...

Brew It Up, 14th & H
Do-it-yourselfers can apparently make an appointment at this local brewery to craft their own beer. We haven't tried this option yet, but we did have a pleasant dinner of a salad and grilled chicken sandwich with some tasty calimari to start. One unique standout at this restaurant is the soft hot pretzels that take the place of the typical dinner rolls/bread to accompany the meal. Not quite as good as what the Great Dane in Madison offers, but a close second and reason enough to return for another meal.

OK, that's enough for now. More to follow later, I'm sure...


For the past two mornings, I've felt a bit odd upon waking. Something just didn't seem quite right. I couldn't identify it at first, this unsettled and unfamiliar feeling. And then I realized - strange white striations blocked the blue sky, admitting only a pale white light through the slats of the mini-blinds.

What is this? What can be happening?

Wait a minute... I seem to have some vague recollection, deep in the recesses of my memory, of this weather pattern. Oh... Clouds! How odd!

Yes, this is the first time since we arrived in Sacto on June 7th that we have seen clouds in the sky. It's been unvaryingly sunny for two whole months! For an East Coast native who's always lived someplace with distinctive seasons, such unremitting sun has been quite a change. And I hadn't realized until now how much I've grown to appreciate and bask in this constant sunlight.

Must be all of the vitamin D flowing into my veins...