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


Day 93: Time Zones

I spent most of my life in the Eastern time zone, but I grew to love the Central time zone during my 7 years in Madison, as having the prime time shows an hour earlier is a much better fit for my preferred sleep schedule.

Although the West Coast reverts to a similar prime time schedule as the East Coast for most network broadcast shows, one benefit to the Pacific time zone is being able to watch the Red Sox at a much more reasonable hour.  So even if a game goes into extra innings, it doesn't interfere with my bedtime! 

Of course, we also subscribe to and can watch almost any game at any time that's convenient for us, rather than having to watch live, but it is rather nice sometimes to witness the game as it's being played instead of catching up later.


Day 92: Hot & Humid

Sacto gets pretty darn warm in the summer - definitely in the triple digits - but the lack of humidity makes the heat tolerable and helps the temperature drop at night to become much more comfortable. 

I'm always reminded of how lucky we are to have this type of weather when we travel to hot and humid climes, and our current trip to Montreal and Chicago definitely highlights the contrasting weather.  Just our luck to hit a Canadian heat wave with temps in the upper 80s and high dew points - yuck! 

I'm so very thankful for air conditioning...


Day 91: Unwelcome Sacramento Stowaway

As much as I love Sacramento and miss parts of our life there when we're traveling, there's one particular type of stowaway that I'd much rather leave behind - cold-inducing germs!  Several of my co-workers have been sick recently, and I woke up on Thursday with a slightly scratchy throat, which steadily progressed into head congestion throughout the day and led to a rather uncomfortable flight experience on Friday.  Grrr...  Getting sick right before heading out on vacation just isn't any fun...


Day 90: Airport Transportation

Getting to and from the Sacramento Airport is usually accomplished thanks to the services of my friend, S, who also typically provides cat care for our longer trips.  However, S happens to be out of town herself right now, so we had to fend for ourselves this morning and opted to try the "ExecuCar" service from Super Shuttle.

Unlike the traditional shared passenger service that I associate with the Super Shuttle iconic blue vans, this option allows up to four passengers to reserve a private sedan, which allows for more convenience in scheduling a pick-up time.  Mr. E and I were very pleased with our choice this morning, especially when everything promised during the reservation process occurred - text confirmation the day before, arrival about 10 minutes early, and very courteous driver.

Although this service is pricier than the shared van from Super Shuttle, I think the convenience and ease of the process was well worth it, especially for a 6:13am departure!


Day 89: Downtown Mail & Shipping

Downtown Mail & Shipping is located on L Street between 10th & 11th, right across from the State Capital, so it's very convenient to access when doing some errands during the work day.  It's become my go-to place to buy stamps, send packages, and find unique greeting cards.  And Mr. E has even patronized the business from time to time for similar purchases.

Ever since the downtown Central Post Office location moved farther west into part of the Westfield Mall complex, it's been much easier to stick with Downtown Mail for the majority of our postage and shipping needs, not to mention that the service is much better that we had experienced at the USPS!  Yep, the stereotypes about postal employees were unfortunately not proven wrong at either the downtown post office or the Alhambra locations.

And if we every have larger packages to mail that require transportation by car, we simply head to the UPS Store that's co-located in the R Street Market complex around the corner from our local Safeway.

So great to live "on the grid" and have easy access to nearby services and local businesses!


Day 88: Lily of the Nile

Along several sides of the CAC exterior landscaping are light purple flowers that cluster in a crest at the top of a rather long stem, which extends up from clumps of narrow leaves.  I didn't know what these flowers were called, although I thought they might belong to the lily family, given the size and shape of the fluted blossom.

A somewhat convoluted Google image search finally revealed that these are Agapanthus, also known as Lily of the Nile:

The flower is apparently native to South Africa, and it seems to be pretty happy as a transplant here in the dry summer of NorCal.  I prefer other types of lilies (Stargazer, Tiger), but the height and diffuse sprouting of the Lily of the Nile seems to last longer into the warm weather season, which can certainly be an advantage here in Sacto.


Day 87: Sudden Demise of Cafe Roma

Another casualty of the Sacramento restaurant scene...  Cafe Roma, located on L Street across from the Capitol, has closed suddenly.  So suddenly, in fact, that the web site and Facebook page are still active, none of the usual blogs or Sacto foodie sites has any updated info, and trying to call the phone number produces a message that "your call cannot be completed as dialed."

I passed by Cafe Roma less than two weeks ago and didn't see any sort of advanced notice of the closing or any other indicators that the business was in trouble.  Today, however, a sign on the door announced "Sorry, Closed for Bussiness" (yes, that was the spelling), and it looks as though the interior has been almost entirely stripped of its fixtures.

Mr. E and I were rather fond of this little family-run venue and had been pleased to see it succeed and even expand into a larger space over the past few years.  I took Mom here for lunch during a holiday visit, and Mr. E and I occasionally met up for lunch during the work week, since the location is midway between the CPCA office and Mr. E's home office on Q Street.  I enjoyed the homemade soup and turkey panini, and Mr. E was relatively fond of the meatball sandwich.

I was also a fan of the frozen treats, as Cafe Roma always stocked 2-3 flavors of sorbetto in addition to a range of gelato options:

The closing of Michelangelo's was far more impactful and regretful, given the many positive associations we had with that special restaurant, but we'll still miss Cafe Roma's presence in the downtown Sacto dining scene.


Day 86: Cool Morning Swims

Although we've had warmer temperatures in June so far this year compared to the lovely June we experienced last year, the mornings have remained mostly cool, thanks to overnight lows in the mid-50s.  This drop in temperature is one of the aspects of Sacto's climate that makes the daytime heat much more bearable, especially since it's coupled with a lack of humidity most of the time.

For some reason, however, I seem to have become much more sensitive to the chilliness this year, and I've really been feeling the coolness during my morning swims in the outdoor pool at the CAC.  In fact, I pulled my wetsuit out of retirement for the season and have worn it again at least half a dozen times in May and June, which I don't remember doing in previous years

I definitely appreciate my neoprene in the winter, and despite the fact that my wetsuit is starting to literally disintegrate from wear (it was purchased in October 2012), it's still been helping to keep me warm this spring as well!


Day 85: SF Getaway, Part 2

I went for a run this morning along the Embarcadero, one of my favorite running routes of all time.  Usually I'm able to greet the sea lions in the morning, but the small group that had been hanging out yesterday afternoon was gone, and I only saw a loner on a separate dock sprawling in the sun.  It's so sad that the sea lion colony has dwindled so much during the 10 years we've lived in California, as discovering them in great numbers was a highlight of our initial visits to SF.

As I passed by the Boudin Bakery at Fisherman's Wharf, several bakers were preparing some of the day's bread and could be observed through the window along the sidewalk.  I got to see a tray of mini turtles all ready for baking.  They looked something like this:

How neat to see "before and after" of the adorable mini turtles today and yesterday!

The next part of my route was along the water in Aquatic Park, which has a lovely beach and clusters of hardy swimmers braving the cold temperatures of the Bay as they swim laps between a couple of buoys.  I couldn't find a good picture of the swimmers, but this image shows the curved beach area and concrete steps/seats that overlook the running, walking, and biking path:

At the end of Aquatic Park, you can choose to go out along the Municipal Pier towards the right or head up Fort Mason hill to the left.  I opted for a hill workout today, as it's been awhile since I've tested myself on much of an incline.  This image doesn't really do the hill justice, as it definitely feels much steeper than it looks here!

Once I got back to the hotel, Mr. E and I had breakfast in the Executive Lounge, caught a text from A just in time to Skype with her and F, and then headed off to the Oakland Coliseum for the final game of a 4-game series between the Red Sox and the As.

All went quite well for Lester and the boys, and since we were getting a bit chilled (yes, I know it's late June, but in 60-ish degrees and breezy in the shade, it does get rather cold!), we decided to leave after the 6th inning and listen to the rest of the game on our way home.  Disaster in the 8th and 9th innings, including a very surprising blown Save by Koji Uehara (until today, he was 42 for 44 in Save attempts), led to the As coming back from a 6-1 deficit to tie up the game 6-6. *sigh*

At that point, we couldn't listen anymore, so we were thrilled when we checked the final score about 20 minutes later to see that our boys had battled back to win 7-6, thanks to a solo homer by Big Papi in the top of the 10th.  Phew!  Too much drama!

I think Mr. E and I both agree that in-person games at the Coliseum may not be worth it anymore, due to a trend we've noticed in increased obnoxiousness among the male fan base of the As.  In the future, although we may still take advantage of having the Red Sox in town to enjoy a Bay Area getaway, we may just choose to watch the game from our hotel or a local restaurant rather than trekking to the stadium itself.


Day 84: SF Getaway, Part 1

For our annual trek to see at least one of the Red Sox vs. As games each season, we decided this year to opt for a single game viewing (tomorrow afternoon) combined with a short getaway in San Francisco today rather than our usual and beloved Doubletree Berkeley Marina (lap pool!!!).

This time around, we're staying at the Hilton Financial District, which isn't too far from the Ferry Building, so we headed down there today to grab some lunch after going to the California Academy of Sciences, a visit we've been talking about and planning to make for several years and that we finally prioritized for this short trip.

Mr. E's destination at the Ferry Building was Boccalone for a small "cone o' meat:"

My primary destination along the Embarcadero was quite a bit farther away at the Boudin Bakery at Fisherman's Wharf, the only Boudin location that sells the adorable mini turtle sourdough bread:

I love these guys!  Not that they taste any different from Boudin sourdough in any other shape, but they're just so adorable that I can't resist 'em.  In fact, my Skype picture is an image of me in the outdoor seating area near Boudin holding up a mini turtle - with a leg detached! - from an SF trip several years ago.  Mmm...  turtle...


Day 83: Tour of the California State Capitol

11 staff from CPCA gathered for a tour of the State Capitol this afternoon for a "field trip" organized by the Fun Team.  I led the planning efforts and was really pleased that we had such a cross-section of folks joining the tour, including our two summer interns.  With a larger group, I had made reservations through the California State Capitol Museum, which provides both public and private tours:

The Capitol is an impressive edifice, surrounded by 40 acres of grounds:

Our tour began in the 1st floor rotunda, which includes a central statue, tiled floor, and classical architecture:

We gained access to the Assembly Gallery, the floor of the Senate (a special for our group, thanks to tour guide Robin Davis), the East Annex (aka blah administrative space), and ended by the big bear statue in front of the Governor's Office.

All of us enjoyed the architecture and decorative elements of the building, and G pointed out this beautiful stained glass version of the State Seal, which is in the hallway outside the Senate Chamber:

The same seal is carved and embedded into the area in front of the west entrance to the Capitol and also appears in numerous other incarnations throughout the building.

Mr. E and I have an affinity for Capitol cities and Capitol buildings, given the amount of time we lived in Madison.  I proposed to Mr. E the first time in the Ohio State Capitol in Columbus and the second time (with the "real" ring) in the Massachusetts State Capitol in Boston, and he proposed to me the first time as we walked through the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.  We got married in the beautiful Senate Parlor of the Wisconsin State Capitol, and we've toured the Texas State Capitol in Austin.

We've taken pictures outside the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, and the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. We have also driven by the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe, and we walked by the Hawai'i State Capitol in Honolulu.

In addition, I toured the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln with F during a trip for a production by Le Theatre de la Chandelle Verte when I was still managing the troupe, and I drove by the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau during a 1-hour impromptu taxi tour with Mom and an older couple from our tour group during the Elder Hostel trip "Exploring the Inside Passage."

There's just something about these buildings that appeals to us, and it's always fascinating to learn historical facts and trivia about each State during a tour and to muse about how the differences among the Capitol buildings might be reflective of the differences among the states themselves.


Day 82: CPCA "Thirsty Thursday"

My first week at CPCA, my supervisor, V, organized a Happy Hour outing after work.  This was a definite sign that "we're not in Kansas any longer" or rather that I had moved into a very different work culture compared to that of PPMM.  I soon discovered that CPCA values and doesn't skimp on catering for our meetings, events, and conferences, and this extends to the availability of alcoholic beverages at work gatherings, which was never a part of PPMM-sanctioned activities at all!

Over the past year or so, I've started to arrange for monthly Happy Hour outings for CPCA to the various restaurants and venues that are close to the office.  The initial terminology was "WOW" (Wine on Wednesday), and then after switching to slightly later in the week, the phrase has become "Thirsty Thursday."  This latter term is also more inclusive, of course, as it doesn't suggest that only wine will be consumed...

This month, I hadn't put anything on the calendar yet, so I did a last-minute invitation on Tuesday evening for tonight, and that spontaneity was actually quite successful, as 8 of us met up at Downtown & Vine on K Street, just 3 blocks from the CPCA office:

This is a great wine bar that has been successful enough over the past year to expand its offerings with beers on tap and more food options.  I was a relatively early visitor to the venue when it first opened, frequenting the site with CPCA colleagues, with my friend S for our monthly Happy Hour, and of course with Mr. E.

The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, with small clusters of tables in addition to a lovely bar area:

I especially enjoy the wine flights, as I like being able to have small tastes of a variety of wines.  During Happy Hour, there are usually 4 wines (2 white and 2 red) available by the glass for $5 along with $1 off all tapas.  My favorite menu item is the cheese plate, a sample of which is in the upper left quadrant below, as it's is a perfect size to share (with S or Mr. E, for example):

Here in Sacto, this is probably the closest substitute we have for our beloved original version of Barriques back in Madison, a site that continues to have strong positive memories for Mr. E and me, as it was the location of our first "non-date" in January 2002.  Downtown & Vine hasn't become quite such a memorable spot [yet?], but it's certainly one of our favorites.


Day 81: The Park Moderns

Another urban infill project currently under construction in The Bridge District near Raley Field in West Sacramento is The Park Moderns, a 32-unit residential development built around a park, just south of Raley Field.  These units are for sale (not rental) and include a variety of facades and floor plans of 1400+ square feet, starting at $400,000.

As is fitting with the name, the house designs are all very modern, and what's even better is the diversity of the models, so nothing looks or feels "cookie-cutter-like," which is quite rare among new residential subdivisions:

Mr. E and I will definitely want to take a tour once the model is open for viewing, sometime this summer, according to the web site.  It's always interesting to see different urban residential options, although I can't imagine moving to the "other" side of the river, especially since that would place us in [much more conservative] Yolo County.


Day 80: Capitol Yards

The area around Raley Field in West Sacramento, right along the banks of the Sacramento River, is the site of two current significant development projects.  To the north is The Capitol Yards, which appears to be a primarily residential project of future apartment homes along with some interesting urban amenities, including a salt-water pool and free bicycle rentals (are they really "rentals" if they're "free?"... just askin'...).

At least one of the options is quite modern, with lots of windows, based on the photo gallery image on the development web page:

I often run by this site, as I have a few different running routes that include this region of West Sacramento, depending on how long or how far I choose to run.  It's been interesting to follow the progress of this project, and I definitely want to tour the models once they're open. 

Mr. E and I always enjoy seeing new urban infill, and considering that many projects got stalled for several years during the worst of the real estate market, it's quite heartening to see some progress as construction moves forward on these sites.


Day 79: Furniture Frenzy

Mr. E and I have been chatting for awhile about making some changes to our first floor layout, especially to accommodate more guest seating not only for visiting but also for hosting meals.  At the moment, we can seat 4 people at the counter-height island in the kitchen along with 2 people on the red loveseat and 1 person in the purple chair.  This works just fine most of the time, especially when it's just the two of us and the kitties, but it does limit our options for entertaining.

The biggest challenge has been around some sort of dining table configuration that could seat 6-8 people.  We really don't have the space to have that large a table permanently set up, so we've been trying and trying to envision modular possibilities that would maximize the space we do have and provide for optimal flexibility in seating arrangements as well.

Mr. E suggested a field trip to Ikea this past weekend to look for table-top options to which we could add legs, possibly adjustable, as we had toyed with the idea of having 2 tables that could raise and lower so that 1 of them could be used as a coffee table.  When we saw the length of the table-top, however, it was obvious that the appropriate dining length would be too long for a coffee table.

We decided to go for 2 table-tops with legs, knowing that we can easily keep one entire set dismantled and stored somewhere when we're not using it.  That way, we'll have 1 table of roughly 60" x 30" permanently in the room and another that we can add to it for more seating, when necessary.

Now if only the table-tops weren't out of stock! *sigh* According to the Ikea web site, they should be back in stock at our local Ikea in West Sacramento by the end of the month.

Prior to our Ikea trip, we had checked out the options for additional seating (not dining) at Scandinavian Designs (SD), prompted partly by the $50-off-$500 coupon we received in the mail last week.  We found 1 sofa at a reasonable price that we both liked, but thought we might find something else at Ikea, so we didn't make any purchases at SD.

Our browsing at Ikea for comfy seating options was completely unsuccessful, however, and we both felt that the design aesthetic at the store has changed over time and become much more poufy and traditional, whereas we tend to prefer items that are more streamlined and somewhat modern.

So... back to SD yesterday to look at the sofa again and make some decisions.

This is the Bloom sofa in Anthracite, which looks better in person than in the picture (really, it does...).  To replace the red loveseat in the living room, we decided to purchase 2 loveseats (no photo available) rather than 1 longer sofa, as that gives us more flexibility in layout of the furniture along with more total seating.  Realistically, only 3 people would sit on the long sofa, but 2 people can fit comfortably in each loveseat - even maintaining some personal space between them! - so that will give us seating for 4 guests.

While we were wandering through the store on our way to look at this sofa again, we found some other items of interest, which resulted in multiple purchases that prompted the title of this post.  We're getting this all-in-one recliner, but in red, to replace the big brown chair in the Library uptairs:

The big brown chair and matching ottoman, currently downstairs in the living room, will be finding a new home with my colleague, N, who will be moving soon from a small apartment to a 3-bedroom house.

Mr. E also finally found a reasonably priced and more comfortable office chair, which is something we've been seeking for several months:

And finally, we'll be bidding a fond farewell to the sleeper sofa in the Office and replacing it with this adjustable day bed, which has multiple moving parts to convert from a sofa to a twin bed to a queen sleeper:

Phew!  All of this is due to be delivered next week, so Mr. E will be calling the Salvation Army for a donation pick-up for the red loveseat and sleeper sofa. 

It's a bit sad to say goodbye to the sofa, as that was a piece I bought at American Furniture in Madison after I moved into my 1-bedroom apartment on South Brooks Street and needed not only a sofa but also a place for houseguests to sleep.  So that sofa, which now sports a SureFit slipcover that I altered the heck out of to make it fit, has been with me longer than I've known Mr. E!

Once everything arrives, I'll post photos of the new configurations in all 3 rooms.


Day 78: Massage Envy

A couple of years ago, a Massage Envy location opened at the corner of 19th & S, across from the R Street Market Safeway.  Mr. E and I had heard about this company and took advantage of the introductory massage rates to try it out.  We enjoyed our experience, and since my sister was a member of Massage Envy at the time and had given us some positive feedback, we decided to join.

Massage Envy follows a membership subscription business model, so current members pay $49.99 per month, which gives you a "credit" for a 1-hour massage.  If you don't use that credit in a particular month, it rolls over to the next month, so it's not a "use it or lose it" arrangement.  Any additional 1-hour massage in a month costs only $39.99 for members, and you can also add on an extra 30 minutes to any massage for a slight incremental fee of $17.

Mr. E decided a few months ago to cancel his membership, as he didn't feel that he was getting as much benefit out of the experience as I (my neck and shoulders and back really need this monthly attention).  And I usually opt for a 90-minute session, as 1 hour just doesn't seem sufficient!

Since we're fortunate enough to have a wonderful primary care physician who knows how active we are and supports our healthy lifestyle, she has provided us with prescriptions for regular "therapeutic massages," which means that the cost for my monthly massage can be reimbursed through our Flexible Spending Account for health-related expenses.  Nice!


Day 77: BevMo Opens in Midtown

A few months ago, I had noticed that The Beat music store on the corner of J & 17th Street had closed, and eventually, a sign appeared announcing that a new BevMo would be opening soon.  We've been wondering when the store would be ready, and we learned that the grand opening was this weekend.  Mr. E found a coupon in the weekly alternative paper, the Sacramento News & Review, and we decided to include this stop among our errands this afternoon to pick up some agave nectar, Mike's Light Hard Lemonade, and several other beverages.

It's great that the commercial real estate space didn't remain vacant for too long, and we're glad to have a BevMo in closer proximity - and accessible by bicycle!  Previously, the closest location was in Natomas, which isn't that far in terms of mileage but definitely requires a car trip.

It's a bit hard to see in the small photo above, but that object to the far right is actually a bicycle rack in the shape of a wine bottle.  Several other bike racks in artistic and beverage-related themes continue along the front of the store, which adds an interesting decorative touch and also serves the practical purpose of meeting the needs of Midtown and Downtown folk, who frequently prefer bikes to cars when traversing the grid.


Day 76: Der Biergarten

To celebrate the upcoming wedding of my colleague, S, a group of us gathered for an "unbridaled shower" this afternoon at Der Biergarten:

This is a relatively new spot in Midtown that's entirely outside and follows the German tradition of a beer garden, according to the web site.  Luckily, there are large umbrellas installed over the recycled wood community tables, or I wouldn't have lasted much more than about 5 minutes in the direct sun with temps in the high 80s today!

The menu is focused on a couple dozen beers (and 1 cider) on tap along with some appropriate snacks, including soft pretzels, french fries, and sausage.  I enjoyed the Two Rivers Pomegranate Cider.  The pretzel was decent, but not as good as the pretzel sticks at The Great Dane in Madison (those are still my favorite and the model against which I measure all others).

When I was looking for images of Der Biergarten online, I found this great shot of dachsaunds on the deck:

We didn't see any puppies during our visit today, but that photo was just begging to be shared as part of this post!


Day 75: Happiness is...

...getting notification from the Sacramento Public Library that the new Stephen King novel, Mr. Mercedes, is ready for me to pick-up! ;-) 

The last time I had looked at the "hold" record online, I was still 19 of 65, so I was completely surprised to get moved up the list so quickly.  And since my previous non-fiction selection, A New American Life, had turned out to be rather dry and boring, I was more than happy to turn it in unfinished and shift to fiction.

I started reading when I got home after work this evening and am currently on p. 187 (of 437).  The kitties are very happy that I'm devoting time to the brown couch upstairs in the "reading nook" of our bedroom!


Day 74: Capitol Park Squirrels

One of the most enjoyable parts of my bike commute is traveling through Capitol Park, which allows me to see not only the various events happening each day or groups gathering to support certain issues but also to admire the rotating landscape displays, especially the different flowers, such as snapdragons, cyclamen, roses, etc.

And then there are the squirrels!

I've always been a fan of these little critters, and the Capitol Park squirrels are especially amusing and entertaining with their antics.  They're bold and frisky, and this morning I saw one romping about in front of a pedestrian in a manner that mimicked that of a dog being walked by its human.  Adorable!

Anytime I see these brown and grey fluffy-tailed creatures scampering around, they bring a smile to my face.  And our little Captain Jack has some rather squirrel-like traits as well, which probably makes me even fonder of the actual varmints when I see them out in their natural surroundings!


Day 73: Amtrak

Today I attended a workshop at the Federal Building in San Francisco, and I opted to take Amtrak rather than attempting to make the trip by car.  I'm actually rather a fan of train travel, perhaps thanks to the great rail system I enjoyed in France during the time I worked for EuroDisney, and I often wish that the US had a better and more convenient train system.

The Sacramento Valley Station in downtown Sac is a beautiful historic brick building that's in the midst of seismic retrofits and other renovations.  The exterior of the station itself and of the adjacent commercial building (with a Starbucks, of course) remains impressive:

Within the past few years, the primary tracks were relocated farther from the Station in order to prep for full development of a true multi-modal station that will eventually be incorporated into the larger Railyards Development (during our lifetime, we hope...).  The tracks are now accessed via a pedestrian path and ramp system:

I'd forgotten about the longer distance to the train when I went to SF a couple of months ago for a grants workshop at The Foundation Center, and I was very glad to be a bit early to make sure I didn't miss the train!  This morning, Mr. E dropped me off with 20 minutes to spare, so I had plenty of time to grab an iced coffee at Starbucks and stroll leisurely to the tracks.

There's no train that goes all the way from Sac to SF, so you have to disembark at Emeryville and catch an Amtrak bus to access different parts of the city.  Although I was going to the Federal Building near the Civic Center, the bus schedule didn't include that stop at a time that accommodated the workshop, so instead, I got off at the Ferry Building at the base of Market Street and made the rest of the journey on foot.  I really enjoy walking along that stretch of Market Street, and it's particularly fascinating to see how the neighborhood character changes once you get past the Westfield shopping center into the Central Market District.

I was especially struck by all of the rainbow flags on the street posts and special rainbow displays in some of the stores in celebration and honour of Gay Pride month. 

However, as much as I enjoy visiting SF, I'm so glad to live in Sacto, as I find the Capitol City to be much more livable and human-scaled.  I prefer the slower pace and less-crowded streets, and at this point, I don't think we lack for anything in terms of amenities, culture, entertainment, or restaurants here in our "cowtown" of the Golden State.  Well, except maybe for a Major League Baseball team... but we love our River Cats!


Day 72: Triple Digits

Sure signs of hot weather in Sacramento:
  • No need for a light sweater when walking over to the gym at 6:15am
  • Getting warm during the 1-mile bike commute to work @ 8:30am despite wearing a light, sleeveless dress
  • Seeking any patch of shade that exists anywhere, even just the shadow from a street sign
  • Watching the temperature in our townhome climb up to 82 degrees even though the thermostat is set at 76 degrees and the a/c has been on since 8am
Yesterday and today, we hit the triple digits in Sacto, with a high of 104 at 3:45pm yesterday afternoon and already 102 as of 3pm today. *sigh*  Last year, we had a glorious June with mostly 90s and minimal use of the a/c unit.  Perhaps it's payback time??? 

At least it feels as though it's "only" 98, according to, and it did cool down enough last night for us to open up the windows around 2:30am for a few hours of natural air.

And it's all still better than the nasty Midwest or East Coast humidity!


Day 71: Orphan Breakfast House

We went to brunch today with L and Mr. R M, her almost 2-month old son, whom we had "met" 2 weeks ago during his nap time. Today, we got a bit more interaction with an awake R, who is a super-sweet and adorable little boy who apparently looks very much like L's partner, M, when he was a baby.

Our chosen brunch spot was Orphan Breakfast House in East Sac, near McKinley Park:

I can't remember how or when we first discovered this venue, but we've been fans ever since our first visit. The food is super fresh and tasty, the coffee is brewed to order with a pour-over bar (which has become much more common now but was still unusual when we first started to frequent Orphan), and the staff is friendly and efficient.

We also enjoy the option of the "community table" that can accommodate larger groups and often helps to shorten the [sometimes long-ish] wait time if you're willing to share a table with other folks:

Today, we opted for an individual table inside (not on the patio, where the hostess initially tried to seat us), given the high temps (triple digits by the afternoon!) and to better accommodate L and R. Mr. E ordered the fruit pancakes with a side of eggs and sausage, I had the Seasonal Fruit Bowl with a side of poached eggs and house-made rosemary bread, and L enjoyed a lactose-free version of the Platas Verdes. She managed to eat one-handed the entire time, since she was nursing R for part of the time under a lovely coverall.  I was impressed by her dexterity!

My other favorite dishes from the breakfast menu at Orphan are the Five-Dollar Oatmeal, which is made to order and includes brown sugar and fresh fruit garnishes and is totally worth $5 (or more!), the Breakfast Burritos in a spinach wrap with no scallions, and the Avocado Scramble with no scallions.

I've also been to Orphan a few times for lunch when I was still working at PPMM, since it was relatively close. My favorite lunch offerings are the Nuevo Latino Roll-Ups and the Chicken Soft Tacos without jalapenos.

Now if only the owners would open a location closer to Midtown or Downtown!


Day 70: Sactoversary!

Yesterday marked the 10-year anniversary of our arrival in Sacramento after driving cross-country from Madison with a car full of stuff, including Miss Muffin, and a big Mayflower moving truck following behind us, thanks to the relocation assistance provided to Mr. E by HP. Each year, we note our "Sactoversary," but this year we did a little something extra to mark the decade in California's Capitol City.

When we first arrived on June 6, 2004, we dropped off Muffin and most of the stuff from the car at the apartment that Mr. E had found for us on H Street between 19th & 20th and then headed to the Embassy Suites on the riverfront by the Tower Bridge to spend the night, since the rest of our belongings wouldn't arrive until the next day. So last night, we replicated the experience with an overnight at Embassy Suites:

Like many Embassy Suites locations, this hotel has a large central atrium with all of the rooms around the edges:

Our room looked out over the Sacramento River and Tower Bridge and West Sacramento, with a view very similar to this:

The first room we were assigned was #708, but we noticed some oddities about the room that suggested it might still be inhabited (half bottle of water by the sink, used lotion bottle by the TV, some garbage in the bathroom trash can, no comforter at the foot of the bed, card keys on the desk), so we called the Front Desk to ask for a different room. We ended up in #710, which is an ADA room, so the entire space was larger and everything was a bit lower (light switches, closet rod, etc.).

To apologize for the inconvenience, the Guest Services staff also gave us a $60 voucher for the hotel restaurant, so we were able to subsidize our entire dinner, including quite a few leftovers that came home with us today.

And around 10pm, Mr. E answered a knock at the room door to find a delivery of chocolate-covered strawberries and a lovely note from the Guest Services staff apologizing again for the room mix-up and congratulating us on our 10-year anniversary in Sacramento. I had made a remark about the occasion on our reservation, and I think she may have interpreted it as a wedding anniversary, especially since her note was addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. S" - umm, yeah, there was no "Mrs. S" in that room last night... But we still enjoyed the strawberries.  Ha!

After having some drinks and munchies at the Manager's Reception, we wandered around Old Sacramento for a bit and of course made a stop at Candy Heaven, the best candy store in the historic district:

This morning, as Mr. E slept in a bit, I swam for 75 minutes in the hotel pool:

The pool is nice and straight, but quite short. Based on counting my strokes, as I'd forgotten my watch and there was no clock in the pool area, I calculated that it's about 1/3 the length of the pool at the CAC, so I had to do 225 laps to achieve the equivalent of 75 laps (3,750 yards) at the CAC. After awhile, I got tired of counting!

We enjoyed the extensive breakfast buffet and eating outside overlooking the River. The cool morning weather reminded me once again of why the Sacto climate is so comfortable, as the high 90s temps during the day still cool at night and in the morning. We even had our window open last night to enjoy the lovely breeze.

In many ways, it's hard to believe we've been in Sacto for 10 years, and it's great to take a few moments to reflect on everything we've done, experienced, and accomplished during that decade.  Who knows what the next 10 years will bring?!


Day 69: Hummingbird

On my way to the gym this morning, I caught sight of a little grey hummingbird zipping in and out of the small white flowers on a bush in the elevated landscaping bed that borders the 8th Street side of the Bateson Building. The flittering critter looked something like this:

Its quick wings and frolicking antics in and around the flowers brought a smile to my face, as I'm still delighted by these little creatures and their amazing ability to hover and flit around with such spurts of kinetic energy.

When we had planters filled with flowers on our patio, we often attracted some of these lovely birds. We still occasionally contemplate purchasing a feeder to bring them back, but we haven't yet found one that we really like. Seeing the hummingbird making its daily rounds this morning, though, reminded me of how much I like them, so perhaps that purchase will need to become more of a priority.

And just think of how excited the kitties would be to have such entertainment right outside their door!


Day 68: Monthly Brunch Group Goes to Dinner

Due to conflicting schedules and lots of travel in June, our Monthly Brunch group couldn't find a weekend date for our usual gathering, so we opted to try something different and meet for dinner instead.  We headed to Jack's Urban Eats in Midtown:

The best part about Jack's is the made-to-order salad option, which has lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, cheese, legumes, and freshly carved meats (tri-tip, turkey, chicken) so that you can totally design your own yummy meal.  Here's a sampling of the salad bar items from which you can choose:

I learned a strategy several years ago to order just "toppings" rather than a typical salad so that I can get more of the good stuff and not just fill up on greens.  This also happens to result in a less expensive total cost, as the "per-topping" charge ends up being less than the regular price for a 1/2-salad.  And a 1/2-salad at Jack's is a very generous portion, almost too much for me when it includes greens as a base!

We used to go to Jack's relatively often, but we lessened our patronage because we often wanted to order food for take-out, and unfortunately, the restaurant continued to use styrofoam containers, which we actively avoid.  At some point, however, Jack's finally switched to food-safe cardboard, so perhaps we'll return more often since there are no other similar options around Sac that offer these types of fresh salads.

Jack's has numerous other locations, and one of the newest is at Terminal B of the Sacramento International Airport, as part of the focus on local food and beverage programming for travelers:


Day 67: Yoga At Work

My colleague, M, recently completed her certification as a yoga instructor. She's been practicing yoga for many years, primarily focusing more on the physical workout than on the mental approach or the body/mind connection. During her training program, however, there was much more emphasis on all aspects of what it means to practice yoga and to share it with others through teaching, and that shift in approach had a real impact on her.

Back in April, she reached out to all CPCA staff to see who might be interested in gathering for a Yoga-At-Work session either in the morning or evening, outside of our typical 8am-5pm office hours.  The consensus was for Wednesday from 5-6pm, and we've now had five sessions with anywhere from 2-6 people in attendance. K and I have been the most loyal thus far, participating every time that M has been available.

Having a yoga class in the office right after work is so very convenient and a wonderful way to get moving and shed some stress at the end of the day!

And M has been a great teacher and guide for our hour-long sessions. She's not charging anything for the classes but rather simply wants to share yoga with others because it's been so meaningful to her life. However, I did buy a couple of extra yoga mats at Ross to show appreciation and support for her efforts and in the hopes of enticing other CPCA staff to join the group.


Day 66: A Peloton of Bicycle Commuters?

In a road race, a group of cyclists is called a peloton, but does that same term apply to an informal group of bicycle commuters? Or is there another word for that sort of group? A bunch. A pack. A cluster. Blah. All of those options are rather boring and lackadaisical. Given the growing emphasis on and facilitation of urban cyclists, there should be some more inventive and catchy terminology for bike commuters.

As I headed out of the parking garage on my bike this evening to ride home from work, I encountered 3 other cyclists already waiting at the traffic light at 13th & J, and another cyclist then glided up behind me. We all pedaled together, in various clumps and combinations, for the next 5 blocks and gradually shed folks along the way as our paths diverged. I left the final 2 gentleman at 13th & Q when I turned right towards home and they continued straight to go farther south.

A bundle of bikers? A cyclone of cyclists? A rustle of riders? There's got to be some wonderful word to describe this phenomenon, but I certainly can't think of anything at the moment.


Day 65: Horse Statue at R Street Market

I had a few items to pick up at the R Street Market Safeway this afternoon, and I noticed a gentleman taking a picture of the big chrome horse statue that marks the entryway:

Here's a closer look at the equine art:

This horse is another example of the public art that populates many parts of downtown and midtown Sacramento.  Mr. E and I are rather fond of this sculpture and appreciate that a large, corporate, mainstream company like Safeway agreed to incorporate a design that references the surrounding neighborhood in the use of brick in a low-profile store with interesting arches and a wraparound parking lot that doesn't overwhelm the overall development and maintains a pedestrian-friendly vibe along the boundaries.

Although other folks may have differing opinions related to the artistic merit of this sculpture, it remains undeniably unique as a marker of this specific location and has become rather iconic in the area, demonstrating that even a "big-box" type corporation can successfully integrate into an urban environment.