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


Solar Eclipse

The solar eclipse last weekend was pretty big news here in NorCal, given that the path of the eclipse in terms of prime viewing cut a swatch over a chunk of Northern California, including here in Sacramento.  Mr. E and I tried the traditional "pinhole in cardboard box" tactic to view the event but with little success.  Luckily, however, we noticed that our neighbors E & M were stationed in the parking lot behind our townhomes with a camera and solar filter to allow for excellent direct viewing.  We joined them to chat for a bit, and at one point, I happened to look behind us at the office furniture building and noticed the amazing shadows being cast by the trees (see photos below).  I had actually read that the eclipse could be "viewed" in this way, but I didn't understand how that was possible until I saw it in person.  So incredible!  I'm so glad we got a chance to see this!


April Activities

Mr. E and I really enjoy living here in Sacto for many reasons, such as the year-round Farmer's Market, minimal humidity climate, easy biking, etc., and we've always found it rather odd when Sac seems to be considered inferior to our big-city neighbor to the West (no, not West Sacramento - ha! - but San Francisco, of course).  So in praise of our lovely City, I figured a recap of our April activities would provide at least a small glimpse into why Sacto is such a gem.

April 1
Crocker Art Museum (Art):  Visit to see the Judy Chicago exposition in anticipation of seeing a film later in the week about women's and Feminist art as part of the celebration of Women's History Month (WHM).  The Crocker had a whole series of programming to focus on Women in Art to complement WHM.
Red Rabbit Restaurant:  Dinner with friends from the Fremont Community Garden at a new place in Midtown on J Street.   The "red rabbit" has become a Sacto icon, thanks to the fabulous sculpture at the new airport terminal, and the food at this place was quite interesting and tasty, as were the cocktails.

April 5
Crocker Art Museum (Film):  The new part of the Crocker (completed in October 2010) has allowed the Museum to expand its exhibition space along with its general community programming.  One feature is the "Thursdays 'til Nine" series that features different types of artistic offerings every Thursday, from music to movies to mixers.  Mr. E and I have gone to several of the film nights, including this showing of "!Women Art Revolution," which was a fascinating look at the Feminist art movement in the 60s and 70s as well as a snapshot of how the pivotal figures have continued (or not) to work through the decades.

April 7
Michelangelo's Restaurant My monthly dinner and drinks outing with L at a favorite Midtown restaurant with great food and even better service.  Grilled calamari with polenta, grilled shrimp, kumquat sorbetto.  Yum!  The only negative part of this evening occurred when we left the restaurant to find that my bike had been stolen. :(

April 8
Orphan RestaurantBrunch with Mr. E at one of our absolutely favorite spots in East Sac.  I've raved about Orphan in previous blog posts, and it always lives up to expectations.  Love the Brazil drip-bar coffee!

April 12
McCormick & Schmick's Mr. E and I have been trying to meet for Happy Hour at different places downtown near my office, so we opted to try this spot just 2 blocks away and conveniently on the way home.  Despite the rainy weather, we enjoyed the drink specials and the salmon sliders.

April 13
Sacramento Ballet (Genius Series: Balanchine):  We decided to subscribe to the Sacramento Ballet two years ago after enjoying several of their performances and appreciating the talent and range of the troupe.  I adore Balanchine's work, especially the ballets that create intricate and artistic groupings and patterns of the dancers, so I was really excited when the Ballet planned a special series of in-studio performances with only Balanchine works.  The entire evening was amazing, and it was great to have Carinne Binda as the host, since Ron Cunningham usually serves as the "face" of the troupe for audience interaction.

April 14
Red Rabbit Restaurant:  Monthly brunch with M, S, I & S at a new spot.  The creme brulee french toast was a big hit, as was the French Press coffee.  Perhaps a place to add to the regular rotation?  The only drawback is that the restaurant doesn't open until 10:30am for brunch, and we sometimes want/need to meet a bit earlier.
2nd Saturday (Q-Vo):  Sac celebrates 2nd Saturday with openings and showings at art galleries, music performances, and other special events.  Mr. E and I went to see the band in which my CEO (!) performs.  The 10-piece band performed some classic rock with Hispanic flavorings, and seeing CCG (my CEO, the woman holding the red microphone in the picture on the web page linked above) in a totally different context was really cool.
Roller Derby:  Mr. E and I went to watch the Sac City Rollers last year for the first time, and apparently this is now becoming an annual April excursion.  Both of us are in awe of the ladies on skates, not only for their athletic prowess but also for their resilience and spunk.  I'm pretty sure I'd be down and out with my first hit, but not these ladies - they're tough and talented!  And many of their bouts are staged to support local charities, which is even more admirable.

April 18
Cafeteria 15L (reception for CPCA Day at the Capitol):  Although I wasn't able to participate in the legislative visits as part of the annual Day at the Capitol for CPCA since I was in heavy grant-writing mode, I did benefit from the lovely evening reception with fabulous munchies and an open bar.  These sorts of activities are definitely a major perk of my new job!

April 19
Thai Basil:  Dinner with C from PPMM to check in and catch up.  This restaurant often receives rave reviews, but I've never been terribly impressed with either the food or the service, especially since the prices are higher than those at other Thai places that are equally (or more) tasty.  And this visit didn't do anything to dispel my impressions.  Not a terrible spot, but not worth the extra distance considering that other Thai spots are closer to home.

April 20
Sheraton Grand Lobby BarMonthly Happy Hour with S.  Unfortunately, the menu had changed, so the yummy house Pinot Noir and mixed olives were no longer available.  Drat!  We'll have to look elsewhere for our next get-together.  The comfy chairs and sofas are still a big plus, however.

April 21
Spring Fling:  My friend, M, has several annual parties, including the Spring Fling, which always includes an Easter Egg hunt in her large back yard.  This year's event coincided with an unusually warm weekend (the a/c went on for the first time...), but her house was comfortable, the company was engaging, and the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies were worth the wait.

April 22
Earth Day:  The warm temps weren't terribly appealing, but I made the trek to Southside Park for the Earth Day festivities an enjoyed a cool non-dairy popsicle while trying to stay in the shade as I wandered around the different booths.  My awesome sun hat was very welcome as I then headed to the Tower Bistro at Embassy Suites on the Sacramento River for the 1,000 Vegan Cupcake Challenge.  To support the event and the benefiting charities, I brought home 4 cupcakes to share with Mr. E (he was in Chicago for a long weekend visit April 18-23).

April 26
River CatsOne of Mr. E's volleyball friends got a sweet deal on tickets for the River Cats game in a special upper section of Raley Field along the first-base side.  Unfortunately, the weather had turned chilly again, and the wind was whipping through the seats, so despite our attempts to layer on appropriate amounts of clothing, we didn't manage to stay 'til the end of the game.  It's so great to live so close to AAA baseball, as we get to see the players from the Cats go up to the As and vice versa.  And the special tickets gave us access to a great food option for me - made-to-order salads - yay!  Lots of fresh veges along with freshly grilled chicken.  Not your typical ballpark fare, that's for sure.

April 28
Mike's Bikes Although I didn't want to spend too much on a replacement bike, I also am not comfortable with coaster-style breaks, so wanting hand breaks automatically bumped up the price point.  Since Mike's was having a store-wide sale, we figured it was as good an option as any to find something relatively reasonable.  And the $25 gift card helped out as well, so I came home with a new silver Raleigh bike with step-through frame.  I've already started riding to work this month (May is Bike Month in Sacto!), and the ride is so smooth and comfortable.  Definitely an improvement over my 10-year old bike with only 2 working gears that got stolen earlier in the month!
Farm Warming:  My colleague, M, has a sister, S, who recently embarked on a new endeavor for a community farm that includes Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions for weekly deliveries of fresh produce.  Mr. E and I decided to opt for the Basic Box once we confirmed that S could do a special "allium-free" mix for me (no garlic and onions).  The operation is named Heavy Dirt Farm, and we attended a gathering to meet S, finalize our CSA details, and pick up a fresh chicken from another member of the community, M.  So neat to see where our food will come from.
Red Bucket Dance Theatre:  At a previous "Thursdays 'til Nine" event, I had seen a sampling of contemporary dance works-in-progress that included some pieces and dancers from this new performance company.  I really enjoyed what I saw, so I was excited to see a full show by the company.  "All Summer in a Day" was inspired by the Ray Bradbury story of the same title and included some great lighting, graphics, and music, along with high-energy and intense dancing, so Mr. E and I really enjoyed the performance (despite the unacceptable 20-minute delayed start - grrrr).

April 29
Massage EnvyAhh... our monthly massages.  Lovely.
Knudsen Visit:  My cousins from Portland stopped over on their road trip to Monterey and enjoyed dinner with Mr. E at Burgers & Brew while I was out with M (see below).  I got to visit with them in the evening and during breakfast before they hit the road.  We'll see my cousin M again in mid-May.
Sacramento Theatre Company M invited me to be her guest at what she termed an "educator's schmoozefest" to see a free performance of "Little Shop of Horrors" and enjoy some sweet treats before and after the show.  I managed to stow away several cookies in my purse to bring home to Mr. E. :)

April 30
District 4 Candidate's Forum:  The Sacramento City Council districts were revised within the past year, and District 4 now contains the entire Central City, meaning that a special election has to be held to fill the seat.  I was curious to get a look at the current slate of candidates, but I was very annoyed when the event began with 30 minutes of schmoozing (i.e. no meaningful content, as I actually left work slightly early to attend the forum.  I did get to hear a few of the general questions before departing for my next meeting...
CADA R Street Workshop:  The developers for the 16th-18th Street blocks of the R Street Corridor are proposing a change to the approved plans to allow for more parking.  I had looked at the plans online and wanted to hear more.  I understand some of the underlying business needs, but it's disappointing to still see that the potential tenants for the sites are stuck on their typical "suburban" model of parking and traffic mode rather than realizing that this location benefits from heavy bike and pedestrian traffic that can offset the need for lots of parking.  Let's just hope the final result is appropriate development that manages to incorporate the true needs of the neighborhood.  Ha!


California State Parks - SOS


As part of California's ongoing budget struggles, the Governor's budget proposal last year included a cut of $22 million to California's State Parks, which meant that 70 of the Parks were slated for closure.  These 70 Parks represent 25% of the total Parks, including 50% of the Historic State Parks.  Although $22 million may seem like a significant amount of money, in the overall budget for California, it's a very wee slice of the pie, and the potential consequences of this loss are devastating.

Aside from the logistical challenges of actually "closing" a State Park, the potential of losing these natural resources will have a huge impact on local communities, residents, and visitors.  To highlight the impact of this legislative decision, the California State Parks Foundation helped to support the creation of a documentary, "The First 70," which was premiered at the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento this evening as a free screening.

I urge everyone who reads this and cares at all about saving our natural resources for future generations to watch the trailer of the documentary and then donate to the Foundation to help Save Our State Parks!

In our fast-paced, technology-driven, uber-civilized world, it's so critical to have tranquil places to enjoy nature without the influence of human development.  Losing these resources would truly be a travesty.