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


Cheetah Cat

This is such a classic Calypso pose - lying on her back, tummy and feet in the air, just chillin' in her cheetah bed on the couch. How freakin' adorable can ya get?!


Tomato Transformation

Mr. E likes to plant tomatoes in our plot at the FCG, but sometimes the harvest produces a bit more than the JEMS duo can handle, as the photo below demonstrates:

And this was just one rather small moment of picking the bounty! So you can imagine what the entire season's production may be. Anyway, since Mr. E does the planting and tending, it's my job to figure out how to use the yummy produce. This year, thanks to inspiration from an article in Edible Sacramento, I decided to finally attempt to "make" sun-dried tomatoes. We'd discussed this option in the past but were always concerned about how to keep the little jewels clean and protected from dust and dirt. My first thought was to use cheesecloth, but we don't keep that in stock and couldn't find it during any of our typical shopping trips. So then we brainstormed other ideas and realized that all we needed was a fine-grain fabric that would protect the tomatoes but still let the sun do its job. And voila - the idea of using sheer curtains was born!

We just happened to have some extra white sheers that we no longer used, and since we were going through one of our frequent "purge" cycles, it was the perfect opportunity to dig out the sheers and put them to a new and better use. As you can see from the photo above, I cut the curtains into smaller pieces to wrap around the trays of tomatoes that are placed on tables out in the bright sun of our balcony. We had no idea how long the process would take, but our first batch of Romas was complete in about 5 days, and the tiny grapes were finished in about 2 days. So now we have several bags of sun-dried tomatoes, and I even sent a sampler bag to my sister for tasting!

Above is a photo of the sliced grape tomatoes ready for drying, and below are the Romas all ready to go. We figure we've dried multiple dozens of tomatoes at this point, which will be great for cooking and baking in the winter months (savory scones, quiche, stir-fries, pizza) - yum!

I'm still rather delighted at this food "experiment" that uses a totally natural and renewable resource (the sun), our own hand-grown local produce (the garden is just 5 blocks from home), and re-used materials that we already owned (the sheers). Tomato Transformation = Sustainable Success!!!


Calypso Earns Her Kibble

A few years ago, I was part of a Focus Group on cat litter, thanks to Miss Muffin's presence in our lives. For two weeks, I had to use a new version of Fresh Step with "odor-eliminating charcoal" and then participate in a videotaped follow-up interview. We got an entire 25-lb bag of the litter for this time period, which was way more than enough, and then I was compensated $75 for my time. Not bad! I praised Muffin for "earning her keep," especially since the remainder of the litter lasted a few months, even though the product didn't hit the market until several years later.

Now Calypso is getting the chance to earn her kibble! I was asked to be part of a Focus Group about Pet Care, and apparently my responses to the screening questions were appropriate, since I was accepted as part of the study. This time, I have to keep a Pet Care Diary for two weeks as "homework," for which I'll be compensated $35. At the end, I'll participate in a 2 1/2 hour group meeting, and I'll receive another $85 for that activity. Sweet! The black-and-whites rule!


Smart Cat

Doesn't surprise me at all that the kitty who earned a GED is a black-and-white... definitely the best sort of feline out there!


Calypso Cat

I realized that I haven't yet posted any photos of the wonderful new kitty that joined our household last November after our beloved Miss Muffin left us. So here are a few shots of the riduculously-adorable and sometimes-crazy Calypso:

She's a big fan of any type of box or container - this happens to be our paper recycling box in the office, but she's just as ready to jump into the laundry bin.

Yeah, she's a stretchy cat... It's amazing how long she can be when she sprawls out in such an unladylike manner!

She's also a very snuggly cat, both with us and with the black-and-white friends that provide her camouflage on the bed. We love our new kitty! She was definitely the right choice for us, so she knew what she was doing when she purred and licked me at the shelter to convince me to take her home. :-)


SF Marathon

Even though my time for SF in July (4:18) was longer than for Napa in March (4:07), I'd say it was a better marathon experience overall, since I actually achieved all of my goals for the race:
  • Manage the hills
  • Run the entire course (no walking at all - only the 2nd time I've done this in 6 marathons)
  • Enjoy the scenic tour of the city
  • Avoid injury & feel good afterwards
  • Finish in about 4:30
So why aren't I totally enthusiastic about this when people ask how it went?

It all comes down to that phrase at the beginning of this entry - "even though." Because despite the fact that I didn't have a time goal and that I approached this marathon and my training with a mindset of just-enjoy-the-ride, I still couldn't help feeling a slight pang of disappointment with the time. This is especially silly considering that I estimated my finish time at 4:30 when I registered (to get into the appropriate wave start), and I'd ordinarily be thrilled to finish a race 12 minutes faster than expected. I even got a really good photo out of it (see above), which is rare, as my race pictures usually show me in a really odd pose or make me look like I'm not even moving.

Sometimes I get really frustrated with my perfectionist exacting mind that often is more detrimental than helpful to my personal growth, development, and contentment. But I guess the only thing I can do is keep trying to work on celebrating my achievements without always having that little voice in my head wondering "Was that really enough?"