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


Russian River Valley Wineries - A Brief Sampling

(visited in the following order on Saturday, 19 March 2005)

Geyser Peak*
Friendly and irreverent service at the tasting bar. Enjoyable wines but nothing that screamed our names. One of the only wine clubs I've seen so far that has different "levels" for members that vary according to amount and frequency of shipments. Beautiful view.

Gorgeous peach villa with beautiful flowers, gardens, and view. Don't forget to rub the giant bronze boar's nose for good luck! Wines were adequate (glad we had coupons for complimentary tastings). Service was bland and oddly all of the females working at the tasting bar were seriously overweight (something I've never noticed before). Restrooms are downstairs through the wine cave - very attractive underground storage & private room for events. Might return for the scenery but unimpressed overall with wines and service.

Small operation that focuses on organic and biodiverse methods of wine cultivation. Five yummy wines to taste (1 white, 4 red). Estate bread and olives equally yummy. Saw or met six of the ten cats (the short-haired grey & brown striped male was our favorite). One of the two women behind the tasting bar was Norwegian (she recognized the nationality of E's last name). Recommend returning on a nicer day for a picnic in the yard, preferably on a Sunday when you can get a jug of local wine for $28. A bit hard to find this place, but definitely worth the effort.

Recommended by Norwegian woman from Preston (see above) and just 1/2 mile away. Only makes Zin and Syrah and had four fabulous Zins for tasting (complimentary). Attractive wine cave and extremely friendly service. Another definite recommendation and well worth a return visit.

A fitting place to visit on my 32nd birthday! Port and reserve tastings available for small fee, and for a bit more the ports are accompanied by appropriate chocolates. I opted for the latter and E tasted the reserves, both of which qualified us for procuring a Trentadue glass (the offer of two port glasses to make a set was much appreciated). Friendly and knowledgeable tasting bar staff who gave us both tastings for free because it was my birthday. Fab customer service, no? And certainly recommends a return.

Chateau Souverain*
Just under the highway near Trentadue. Beautiful view across the valley from the tasting room and some above-average wines. Slightly overpriced gourmet restaurant for lunch and dinner. Local artists displayed on the walls. Nice but not remarkable.

Rodney Strong
Convenient place to wait/hope for an opening in nearby J's Bubble Room (see below). E and I didn't partake here, since we'd tried it before and weren't too impressed, but P and T seemed to enjoy their selections as they attempted to "catch up" to us. Abruptly attentive service at the crowded and busy tasting bar. The only benefits here are that the tastings are free and the location is across the parking lot from J.

Our ultimate destination for the day. Saved the best for last! Thanks to some no-shows, we got into the Bubble Room without reservations just before 4pm, barely in time to get our order into the kitchen. J is unique among wineries because there's a full-time chef on staff who creates amuse-bouches to accompany each wine. The nibbles are always wonderfully presented and tasty (and the kitchen is willing to accommodate special requests like "no garlic, please"). Bubble Room patrons get couches or comfy armchairs and table service for two special tastings (unavailable at normal tasting bar) with accompanying noshes. Amongst the four of us, we had two Brut and two Pinot tastings to share. Four luscious Bruts, including a Rose, and three yummy Pinots from Mitsuko's Vineyard. Still not as good as J Russian River Valley Pinots, but tasty nonetheless. Great service from one of our favorite J people as we relaxed for an hour or so. And even better service as we prepared to leave when she presented me with a complimentary bottle of 1999 Brut for my birthday (she had noticed me opening some gifts earlier). J wines may be a bit pricier than some others, but the quality and service are top-notch and receive my highest recommendations. No doubt about multiple return visits to this favorite!!!


Interesting Typo

I just finished reading a collection of essays entitled "The Cost of 'Choice:' Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion." As the title implies, the essays are authored by women who "argue that legal abortion has in fact harmed women -- socially, medically, psychologically and culturally." Frankly, I agree with some of what they have to say, since I do believe that women deserve better than abortion, and if women were truly valued and revered as the fabulous individuals they/we are, then something as traumatic and difficult as abortion might not have to exist or might be extremely rare.


We do not live in that utopic vision, and the reality of this world is that women need to have a full range of choices associated with reproductive health and control. Legal abortion must be one of those choices.

Anyway, in the essay entitled "Abortion Clinic Regulation" that treats the lack of sufficient medical safeguards for abortion clinics, the author engages in a discussion about the number of women injured or killed due to substandard conditions during abortion procedures. Here's a little blurb with a typo that I found especially... um... interesting:

"The mortality rates for later-term abortions are significantly higher and the risk increases with advancing gestational age. For example, at 11 to 12 weeks gestation, the morality risk is 1 in 100,000, but at 16 to 20 weeks gestation the risk is 7 in 100,000." (emphasis added)

I must admit, I'm curious to know what, exactly, constitutes a morality risk, but I probably wouldn't like to hear the answer!!!



As I mentioned briefly in my last post, E spent some time in our new little garden plot on Sunday. Yep, we decided to purchase a 16' x 16' plot in the Southside Community Garden located at W & 5th streets, about 10 blocks from our condo. This particular garden is only a year old, and it's part of a growing number of sites run by the Sacramento Community Garden Coaltion. All tools are provided at the site, which is nice, and water is provided by the city all for the yearly fee of $80. Considering that we're here in lovely northern CA, we should be able to garden year 'round!

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that E should be able to garden year 'round...

I must admit, although I love to enjoy the fruits of his labor, I'm not so crazy about doing the actual gardening work myself. There's just something about getting dirty and sweaty in the hot sun that doesn't appeal to me. I'm sure I'll lend a hand from time to time, but luckily E is more than happy to assume responsibility for the bulk of the gardening (that was sort of a pre-requisite for our purchasing the plot this year).

Anyway, we made a trip to Home Depot on Sunday afternoon (BAD IDEA!!!) and finally emerged from the hordes and the lines with some of our desired items: 2 roma tomato plants, 1 easy girl tomato plant (love the name!), 1 pepper plant of some kind (can't remember the variety), 1 English lavender plant, 1 mint plant, 1 rosemary plant, and packages of seeds for pole beans, cucumbers, cilantro, and beets. Home Depot had a rather sparse offering for seeds and absolutely no tomato "cages," but E found a better supply at Target, which also happens to be only 8 blocks or so from the garden (Home Depot is much farther away). He added to our collection with seeds for chive and radishes, but we still need to find some basil plants somewhere (Thai basil & sweet basil are both on our list).

Currently in the ground, then, are the plants and some cilantro and chive seeds. Can't wait to see how it all grows!!!


Cookie Monster

After lunch, I decided to take a few of the final Christmas cookies out of the freezer for dessert. Two snickerdoodles joined two anise drops in one of the little blue bowls from Chris and Emre. Planning to munch on them as I worked on the computer, I put them on the little side table next to the recliner in the office loft upstairs. However, since E needed to check his email before heading to the garden (more on that later), I decided to get some cleaning done first instead, so I went back downstairs to sweep, swiff, and vacuum.

Finally finished with those chores, I headed upstairs again to get my stuff together for work tomorrow and to get started on the aforementioned computer work. My backpack was leaning against the recliner, so I knelt down to start loading it with the necessary items, and I noticed that Miss Muffster was sitting in a patch of sun behind the recliner next to the wall. As I started to greet her, I then noticed what she had hidden in front of her... a snickerdoodle!!!

I couldn't believe it. I mean, garbanzos are one thing (see previous post), but Christmas cookies??!! She's never expressed the least bit of interest in them before!

Not only was she working on the first of the two snickerdoodles (the second was sitting forlornly solo in the dish), but she had apparently already consumed both of the anise drops! All I found of them were a few crumbs and some green and red stains on the carpet from the colored sugar that was sprinkled on top.


And I guess it comes as no surprise after that unexpected human treat that she's not currently meowing for her 3pm feeding as she usually would... Perhaps that's the silver lining? I just hope she doesn't get sick from eating the cookies!!


Back to Sac

Dad was transferred from BWH to a rehab facility last Friday afternoon, so I'm back in Sacto and trying to catch up on work and life. I still feel a bit disconnected from the "real world" at this point, since I spent two weeks of February back east and the entire month feels like a blur. I can only imagine how much more disconnected J is feeling since she gave up almost four weeks of her life to care for Dad and deal with some of the necessary administrative matters (taxes, van, new location, etc.). It was definitely a stressful month.

It was interesting to take note of the changes and additions to my hometown of Marshfield, MA (where I stayed with my Mom during the weeks I was back east)...

New in Marshfield & the neighboring Pembroke (where the highway exit/entrance is): Lowe's, Au Bon Pain, Ember (a restaurant that looks waaaay to chi-chi for my hometown and that opened in the former Lou's 139 location - a once-venerable landmark that had been closed for awhile, so at least it's good to see something there), 99 Restaurant (popular local chain, sort of like a TGIF or Chili's), Pacini's (new Italian dine-in/take-out restaurant where the fish place had been), and a fabulous new Skate Park in the Library Plaza.

Closed: Rick's Deli. Though I did see some workers there during the last few days, so perhaps there are some re-opening plans.

Under construction: a Roche Bros. (hardware store, I think) in the big lot across from the school complex. Bummer, that. Perfect spot for a recreation facility or something connected to the schools and to youth activities, but I guess the town didn't get its act together soon enough to get anything done.

Old favorites still in place: Friendly's, Marshall's, multiple Dunkin' Donuts, Marshfield Liquor Store, Shaw's/Star Market, Starbucks (a rather new old favorite, actually), Gunther Tootie's bagels, CVS (the best pharmacy EVER!!!).

Other discoveries: Trader Joe's & Panera Bread at the Hanover Mall (next town farther north from Pembroke), Bonne Maman lemon tartlets & Hit sandwich cookies & low-fat Peter Pan peanut butter & lots of fair-trade Green Mountain coffee at Shaw's/Star (Who would have thought that my hometown supermarket would provide such a wealth of hard-to-find-in-Sacramento items? I stocked up quite a bit on my first trip at the beginning of the month).

Going "home" is always an experience, isn't it?