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 277: Necklace of Birds

During my final length in the [super-cold!] CAC pool this morning, I was doing the inverted breaststroke on my back and noticed a series of V-shaped white clusters gliding through the periwinkle-blue sky.  I realized that these white dots were actually birds flying together, and they continued in the V formations but subtly shifted and exchanged positions as they glided onward.

These morning birds in mid-flight looked like delicate necklaces of white beads as they moved and flowed, and eventually they disappeared behind the office building in the neighboring block as I reached the end of the pool.


Day 276: Comfort Food

Today was rather cold and windy, and as I walked home from a yoga class tonight, I was thinking of heating up a can of soup and adding some extra chicken and veggies to enhance it when I realized I could just make my own chicken noodle soup from scratch.  Perfect comfort food for a chilly winter evening!

I kept everything simple -- organic chicken stock, Barilla tri-color rotini (the only brand Mr. E will buy), carrots, fingerling potatoes, celery stalks and greens, broccoli stems and leaves, a can of diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, 3 bay leaves, and a chopped-up chicken breast.  All of the veggies were organic and/or from the Farmer's Market, of course.  I think the only thing I really wanted to round out the dish was some grated parmesan cheese on the top for a bit of extra flavor.

After I finished my portion, I had enough for 3 smaller and 1 larger containers to save.  Mr. E enjoyed the larger container when he got home from playing volleyball, so the 3 smaller containers remain in the freezer for future lunch or dinner options.  Yum!


Day 275: Crepeville

I met S for lunch today at Crepeville in Midtown.

When Mr. E and I first moved to Sac in June 2003, this location was just about to open, and we were frequent visitors when we still lived in the apartment at 19th & H before we moved to 9th & Q at the beginning of August.

Despite the name of the restaurant, the menu includes far more than just crepes:

I usually order a sandwich, soup, or salad, partly because the one less-than-ideal aspect of the menu is that the savory crepes don't use a buckwheat batter but instead are made with the same batter as the sweet crepes, which I just don't particularly like.

Our monthly brunch group has often gathered at Crepeville, either at this location or at the site just south of Broadway that has now been sold but still maintains much of the same menu.

Today, both S and I ordered the chicken noodle soup as part of a combo lunch offering.  I paired the soup with a half Greek salad, and S had a half tuna melt sandwich.  Oddly and unfortunately, the soup was topped with a small pile of green onions -- how weird!  I was able to scoop all of them off the top of my soup, but I was just so surprised (and disappointed) to see them as a garnish.  Had I known in advance, I would of course have requested that they not be added, but who would think of such a topping on chicken noodle soup???


Day 274: Swimming on a Rooftop in Austin

The Hilton Austin Downtown, where we stayed during our recent holiday visit, has a nicely-equipped health club and spa on the 8th floor, including a heated outdoor salinated pool on the rooftop overlooking the city skyline. I took advantage of the lap pool on twice during our trip and enjoyed having access to a straight pool of a decent length, despite the fact that the pool temperature was a wee bit too warm for lap swimming (even for me!).

On both Thursday and Friday mornings, I had only one other companion in the pool -- an older woman doing some water exercises and some leisurely laps -- and we each had plenty of room for our respective workouts.

Even though I'm not focusing on a swimming goal for this year, I still really appreciate having access to a pool when we travel so that I can continue to incorporate swimming into my workout routine and options.


Day 273: Captain Jack, Film Buff

Our little tiger boy is quite a fan of the films that star his namesake, Captain Jack Sparrow, in "The Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.  The photos below show how attentive our boy cat was tonight during the opening of the 3rd installment as we continued our re-watching of the series:


Day 272: Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater

Mr. E and I met up with B last night at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar to see "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."  This chain of movie theaters features full food and beverage service in each auditorium, including "bottomless" popcorn served in a big metal bowl.  The menu includes sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers, and snacks in addition to cocktails, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages.

One of the unique features of these theaters is the pre-show entertainment, which begins about 30 minutes prior to the screening of each feature film.  The pre-show offerings are designed and themed to complement the main movie, so for last night's showing of "The Hobbit," the previews features all different types of dragon movies and characters along with some home-grown shorts related to various characters and events in the hobbit tales and movies.

Apparently, there's an Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco as well, so Mr. E and I may need to check that out when we head to SF for our anniversary weekend in a couple of weeks!


Day 271: Merry Christmas!

These felines are so ready for the holidays...  Let's hope our kitties aren't getting into similar mischief back home!


Day 270: Waiting for Bags

I think we've finally found an airport that has slower checked baggage service than Sacramento's Terminal A!  Mr. E and I arrived in Austin around 11:45pm last night, and we waited at least 30 minutes for our 1 red bag to appear on the conveyor belt. Oof! Especially at that time of night!

This had been a trend at the SMF Terminal A for many years, although recently we've seen a marked improvement in the transfer time from plane to baggage carousel. Perhaps this is one positive effect of shifting the Southwest domain to the new Terminal B, since Terminal A is no longer home to as many flights as it used to be.

We finally got to our hotel in downtown Austin around 1am, and the majority of that delay was entirely due to the baggage wait time. Hmm. Yet another reason to try to pack "light" and just manage with a carry-on, right?!


Day 269: Winter Swimming Haiku

Steam rises above.
Blue light below fades, as blue
sky above brightens.


Day 268: Orphan Breakfast House (revisited)

On Saturday morning, Mr. E and I decided to go out for brunch and chose to revisit Orphan over in East Sac, as we hadn't been there since June when we met up there with L and R (see previous post). This has been one of our favorite spots, and we've been several times with our monthly brunch group as well. Since the restaurant is open 365 days a year, we also have enjoyed going there for breakfast on Christmas Day a few times when we haven't traveled for the holiday.

We were surprised to notice a significant increase in the menu prices, however (despite the old version of the menu online -- that's poor form).  Almost everything is now $1-$2 more than it used to be, which will likely take this out of circulation for the monthly group, as we try to stick with more affordable options. As an example, Mr. E's French toast (3 big pieces) was $11.50. The only slight redeeming factor is that all of Orphan's prices include tax, so what you see on the menu is the exact cost that appears on the bill.

We had decided in advance to get a pound of Brazil coffee, which was now priced at $17 (previously around $14). The benefit here is that you get 2 free cups of coffee if you buy a pound, so that's a $5.50 value to bring the per pound cost back down to a reasonable level. And Mr. E even got a free refill on his coffee, so the final price of our ground coffee to bring home ended up at $8.75, which is quite a bargain.

All of the food is still fresh and wonderful. We waited about 10-15 minutes to be seated, and our food came out quickly, so we were in and out in about 1 hour total. Much, much better than the lunch experience at 33rd Street Bistro that I described in an earlier post. And frankly, Orphan was much busier and had a steadier stream of customers, and yet somehow the staff and kitchen have figured out how to expedite the food in an efficient manner. Yay!


Day 267: Chanukah Mishap

Mr. E and I attended a Chanukah gathering last night chez B & B. Technically, the festivities were hosted by their dachshund, Lupe, as "Lupe's Latke Party," but I'm pretty sure that her humans prepared all of the yummy food -- potato latkes, sweet potato latkes (with no onions!), homemade applesauce and cranberry sauce, two types of brisket (Mr. E liked that), roast turkey with carrots (I liked that), and gefilte fish (meh... I still have to pass on that).

B had set out a variety of menorah, and some of the kids helped to light the candles. About 15 minutes later, I smelled something burning that seemed like more than just typical candle smoke. When I looked over at the row of menorah, I noticed that a candle in one of them appeared to be missing, so I walked over to take a closer look and realized that it had fallen out of its holder and was burning through the cloth covering the top of the wooden hutch. Uh-oh!

I blew out the initial flames as well as the rest of the candles in that menorah in order to reach the burning fabric, but a larger flame started licking along the edge of material. By that time, B and another guest, D, had come over as others started to realized what was going on. B headed to the kitchen to get some water, but D was faster and poured some water from her glass onto the live flame, which effectively put out the mini fire. Good teamwork!

I think we should all have read something like this prior to lighting all of those candles...


Day 266: Santa Run

As Mr. E and I were heading off to brunch this morning around 9:45am, we noticed several folks wearing Santa outfits in the blocks surrounding the Capitol. We realized they had participated in the Santa Run, a 5K race celebrating its second year.

Mr. E wondered where people got the Santa suits, and I figured they bought or rented them. However, when I looked for more info online, I discovered that the race entry fee actually includes a free Santa suit. Sweet! We'll have to put this one on our radar for next year.


Day 265: Mansion Flats Neighborhood

The core grid of Sacramento (Downtown and Midtown) is home to multiple neighborhoods, many of which have buildings and landmarks that are linked to the history of the city as the Capitol of California.

Mansion Flats is the Midtown neighborhood that includes the block where CPCA is located (corner of 12th & I Streets):

According to a local web site, Mansion Flats gets its name from the fact the Governors Mansion is located there. It is also home to the Music Circus and the Sacramento Theater Company. Dorothea Puente who killed her boarders, buried them in her backyard and then cashed their SSI checks had her home here. There is also an infamous garage in an alley way where the SLA stashed their get away car after their robbery of the Carmichael Bank. The artist Robert Gordon is based here. Traveling through the area you will see many businesses adorned with his art work.

The last Governor to actually live in the 's Mansion was Reagan, and the building is now open to the public as a museum:

It's a rather impressive structure, and having it embedded in the city grid near the Capitol Building certainly would have helped to integrate the Governor into the daily life of the people and voters responsible for electing him (or her... hopefully someday soon...).

Our current Governor Jerry Brown actually lives just a few blocks away at 16th & J Streets, so it's not unusual to see him out and about in the area, often walking his corgi.


Day 264: Strike #14 Against 33rd Street Bistro

(thanks to Mr. E for the title of this post!)

My team from work had our holiday group outing today, which included volunteering for several hours this morning at the Sacramento Food Bank and then lunch at 33rd Street Bistro.  This restaurant is a local favorite in East Sac, but Mr. E and I haven't been for years as we have often experienced slow and spotty customer service.

Unfortunately, today's group lunch followed this same pattern.

The restaurant doesn't take reservations, even for larger groups.  Our crew of eight arrived at 12:10pm, and we were told that the wait for a table would be 20-30 minutes.  However, we weren't seated until slightly after 1pm, more than 50 minutes later.

We had reviewed the menu in advance so that we could order quickly, and we completed that part around 1:10pm. And then again we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Finally, after 30+ minutes, our food began to arrive.  By the time we finished eating and settled the bill, it was almost 2:30pm. So our entire lunch experience took close to 2.5 hours.

Unacceptable. Mr. E and I will definitely be keeping this off our list.


Day 263: The Citizen Hotel

Downtown Sacramento has several upscale lodging options, including the Citizen Hotel, a boutique hotel that's part of the Joie de Vivre portfolio. The hotel is in an historic building, across from Cesar Chavez Park, that was refurbished to create the hotel:

CPCA has held a few events and receptions at the Citizen, and Mr. E and I have also occasionally dined out or met up with friends at Grange, the restaurant on the ground floor.

The lobby and elevator corridor is impressive (first image below), and it looks as though the guest rooms are equally luxurious (second image below), although we've never stayed overnight to personally experience the hotel's hospitality.


Day 262: California Capitol Holiday Tree

Mr. E and I weren't able to attend the holiday tree lighting at the California Capitol, but I enjoy seeing the lights every time I walk by on my way home in the evening.  According to the state Senate web site, "The Capitol Christmas tree arrived on November 4, 2014. It is a White Fir from the Latour State Forest near Redding. The tree stands 53 feet tall."

The first image below shows the tree being lifted into place and decorated, and the second photo shows the tree lit up at night.

I also found this picture of Governor Brown at last year's tree lighting, and I'm particularly fond of seeing his corgi participating in the festivities!


Day 261: Emerald Cup Festival

Mr. E and I spent some time writing holiday cards in the comfy lobby area of the hotel on Saturday evening.  We were close enough to the Front Desk to overhear several phone calls that were obviously from folks trying to find available lodging for the night.  The hotel was fully booked, and we heard the staff mention numerous other hotels in the area that were equally engaged. 

Neither of us could figure out why it would be such a busy weekend, so when Mr. E walked over to the small commercial area next door to get some food, I asked the Front Desk staff what was going on and learned that the busy weekend was a result of the Emerald Cup Festival.

The 11th annual Festival was held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and featured Two days of incredible music, world famous speakers, and over a hundred great vendors... for every cannabis enthusiast. Non-stop excitement for entertainment, learning, and sharing of all sorts of treats. PLUS some major laughs from cannabis comedians... (who knew there was such a specialty?!).

The online version of The Press Democrat featured an article with the title "Pot festival meets country fair at Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa" and the following illustrative photo:

I think the first paragraph from the article pretty much says it all... Marijuana culture took center stage on the first day of a high-profile organic cannabis competition at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, a first for the county and perhaps a harbinger of the drug's eventual outright legalization.


Day 260: Food at the J Vineyards Bubble Room

Mr. E often likes to capture images of impressive food or meals and share them with some of his friends.  Below are photos of the food we enjoyed yesterday at the J Vineyards Bubble Room.  We've both noticed over the past year or so that the portion sizes have increased, and one of the winery staff members mentioned recently that the new-ish chef is a "larger" person than the previous chef, which could certainly be the reason for the increased amount of food provided to guests!

On the left is the first part of the first course: Coastal Hill Duck Egg, Celery Root, Truffle.  On the right is the second component of the first course: Goat Milk Yogurt, Quinoa, Wheat Grass.  Each course is paired with a different wine, and in our case (as explained in my previous post), we enjoyed one of J's fabulous Pinot Noirs with each plate.

This is the second course: Petrale Sole, Dungeness Crab, Kohlrabi, Citrus.  My version was a bit different to accommodate my lactose issues, so I didn't have any of the cream sauce.

The third course listed on the menu is Niman Ranch Pork, Quince, Cabbage, Wheat Berries, which is the dish Mr. E enjoyed.  However, since I don't eat pig or cow, I received a different dish that featured salmon instead of pork and included a sauce without beef stock:

The other guests at are table were also non-pig-eaters, so they received the lovely salmon dish as well.

We finished with the Cheese Course, Moses Sleeper, Duck Prosciutto, Persimmon, and Dessert Course, Chocolate Crémeux, Coconut, Pecan Brittle.  I didn't take a photo of my variations on these courses, but I had a lovely mixed salad with extra persimmons and no cheese for the former course and extra coconut morsels, candied almonds, and pure cocoa dots instead of the rich and creamy chocolate mousse for the dessert course.

In addition to all of these items, we also started off the experience with an amuse-bouche and finished with a final sweet plate.  Since we're members of the wine club at J, we pay $60 each for this wine and food pairing, which is a pretty amazing value given that we have very attentive table service, a 2+ hour experience, 6 courses of food (including 2 substantial portions of protein in the middle), 2 "extra" food bits as bookends, and a variety of wines to accompany each food course. Yum!


Day 259: Cutsomer Service Contrasts

Mr. E and I are having a quick trip to wine country this weekend, and we're staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport, as we were able to use points for the room at this hotel and be near to our destination of J Vineyards.

We often take a taxi to and from the winery when we have a reservation at the Bubble Room so that we can fully enjoy the food and wine tasting experience and not have to worry about driving later. When we checked in to the hotel, Mr. E asked the front desk about a recommendation for a taxi service, and the staff person said she could either give us the information or call a cab for us. We asked her to make the call and told her we needed to leave at 1:40pm, which gave us about 35 minutes to go up to the room before our departure.

Once we got down to the lobby around 1:35pm, Mr. E asked the same employee if she had called the taxi, to which she replied, "of course."  However, as we loitered in the lobby area, I overheard her saying "...a taxi as soon as possible... J Vineyards...," which made me rather suspicious as it seemed quite coincidental that someone else would be heading to the same destination at the same time and also suggested to me that she had not called the taxi as she had promised and affirmed. I told Mr. E what I'd heard, and we decided we'd wait until 1:45pm and then just drive on our own, which is what we ended up doing, since the taxi didn't arrive as we had requested. Very disappointing customer service...

Once we got to J and were seated in the Bubble Room, we discovered that the wine and food pairing menu was a special holiday edition that featured all sparkling wines rather than the usual diversity of sparkling plus other whites and several reds. I heard one of the Bubble Room staff mention Pinotage to some guests at another table, so we asked if it was also being poured as part of the pairing or could be added, and she indicated that we could add any of the reds. When we then expressed our surprise and slight disappointment about the sparkling wine menu, she told us that they could accommodate a switch to all reds, since that's what we prefer.

The staff checked with the chef to determine which reds would  be appropriate for each dish on the tasting menu and designed a wonderful "on-the-fly" line-up of J Pinot Noirs to accompany our food. We enjoyed the entire experience and were much happier with the reds than we would have been with the sparkling wines. Fabulous and exceptional customer service.

What a contrast!


Day 258: (Towe) California Auto Museum

CPCA's staff holiday party this year was a more lavish event in honour of our 20th anniversary. The festivities were hosted at the Towe Auto Museum on Front Street near the Sacramento River, which is quite close to our home and just across the street from the City of Sacramento Animal Shelter, where we found both our fabulous felines, Calypso and Captain Jack.

The museum has a constantly rotating exhibit from its permanent collection of classic cars and also features special exhibitions organized around particular themes. Mr. E and I had visited the museum once before to actual view the cars and at least one other time for a community development outreach meeting. Tonight, we took a stroll through the cars on display at the beginning of the evening. Below is an example of the autos on view:

When Mr. E and I moved to Sacto in 2003, the name of the venue was still the Towe Auto Museum. However, in 2009, the name was officially changed to the California Auto Museum, due to the change in focus of the collection. I didn't realize the extent of this change until I read about the history on the museum web page, as I still referred to it and think of it as the Towe Museum. Good to know the correct and accurate name!


Day 257: New Pie Shop in Midtown! Oh... Never Mind...

Mr. E reported another striking sight from his errand trip last night -- a new restaurant at 16th & K Streets, in the venue that formerly housed Monsoon India (and Bistro 33... and something else... not a very successful corner so far...).  This new place is called Pieology, and both Mr. E and I were excited at the thought of getting a mini-pie spot in Midtown, similar to the fabulous Pie Face shops that we discovered during our journey to Australia and New Zealand:

The location below was directly across the street from our hotel room balcony in Cairns:

Mr. E tried several of the offerings, and I sampled a lemon mini-pie at a location in Sydney. We both liked that there was a mix of sweet and savory products available, not to mention the unique "faces" on the top of each pie:

Unfortunately, when I looked online to find out more about Pieology, I learned that it's actually a pizza place, not a mini-pie shop.  Drat!

However, it may still be worth a try, since it has a unique Chipotle-style approach to customizing its thin crust pizzas:


Day 256: Flying Pig "Reindeer" Holiday Lights

One of the restaurants in Midtown, Mulvaney's, took over and renovated a former auto body shop next door to create a special events venue known as (fittingly) Mulvaney's Next Door.  This photo shows the two locations, with the original restaurant in the right foreground and the event space in the left background:

These images show the "anteroom" and the main room of the event space:

Mr. E did some errands in Midtown this evening and noticed the holiday lights on top of the building, which just happen to be flying pig "reindeer" that look something like this (but not pink):

Mulvaney's menu can definitely be rather pig-focused, so it makes sense that the preferred holiday decorations continue that theme!


Day 255: Holiday Lights

As I was walking home from work tonight after dropping off a library book, I passed by the CIM apartment building on J Street between 8th & 9th Streets.  I glanced up at the building and was delighted to see that several of the apartments had holiday lights or trees strategically placed in the floor-to-ceiling windows and casting a lovely glow out towards the cars and pedestrians on J Street.

Mr. E and I have been a bit tardy with our holiday decorating this year, as we've been rather busy with work and travel, and I'm looking forward to making our home look festive!


Day 254: CIM Relay Update

The "unofficial" CIM results are now available, and it looks as though our overall team time was 4:06:23, which equates to a 9:25 pace.  We finished 288 of 928 relay teams, putting us in the top 31%, and 57 of 263 in the "open female" category, landing us in the top 22% of our sub-group.

Not bad, especially given that M jumped into the team at the last minute and hadn't run since we did the Urban Cow 1/2 Marathon relay at the beginning of October.

Unfortunately, the split times aren't aligned with the Relay Exchange points.  So our splits show times and pace for 10K, 13.1 miles, 20 miles, and the Finish, but the distances of our relay legs were 5.9 (me), 7.6 (E), 7.0 (M), and 5.7 (V).

One accurate piece, however, is the difference between the Gun time and our Chip time, which indicates that I'd managed to get across the Start line in about 1 minute, and that's pretty darn good for such a crowded Start line clumping!


Day 253: CIM Relay

Three of my CPCA colleagues and I formed a team and ran the CIM Relay this morning.  I've run the full CIM twice (including my Personal Record of a sub-4 hour marathon) and the CIM Relay at least half a dozen times.  The weather today was almost perfect -- low 50s to start, a bit misty but not rainy, and sunny and clear by the end.  Much better than in 2012 when the first 3/4 of the marathon were accompanied by nasty stormy conditions of heavy rain, wind, and cold temps!

Our team name was Totally Unrelated Running Divas and included two ladies in their 20s and two of us in their 40s.

I ran Leg #1 today, which is my favorite Leg to run in the Relay, as I prefer getting my workout finished right away rather than waiting around.  The starting Leg is 5.9 miles, and I completed it in just over 57 minutes, which equates to about a 9:41 minute pace.  I was quite please with that performance, especially since I was able to run the entire time (rather than doing a run/walk combination).

One important note for future reference is that it's really not necessary to get to the Convention Center in downtown Sac by 5am for the shuttle bus to the Start line out in Folsom, as it takes at least 20 minutes to get all of the runners loaded onto the buses.  I waited inside the Sheraton Hotel, just across from the Convention Center, until the bus lines finally got shorter and finally boarded a bus around 5:20am.

The CIM results aren't yet posted, so I don't know what the total time was for our entire team, but I'm pretty sure that we managed to finish in less than 4 hours 15 minutes.  Not bad, considering that only one of our team members was running faster than an 8 minute mile pace.

And of course, the most important thing was the fun of doing this as a team, including our designated team driver, who had planned to run a Leg of the Relay but was unable to do so due to injury.


Day 252: And More Capitol Box Art!

I've really been enjoying the view from the light rail this week, as I discover several of the Capitol Box Art projects that I haven't seen before.  This colourful example is at the corner of Capital Ave & 8th Streets:

The piece is entitled "Night Rhythms" & "Giant Orange," and the orange side faces 8th Street and the light rail tracks.  Most mornings this week were rather grey and cloudy or rainy, so the brilliant orange and fanciful artistry were even more striking in contrast.

The artist, Jim Piskoti, has a second piece on display at 16th & L Streets. He didn't include an Artist Statement on the Box Art web site, but here's his bio:

After receiving his Masters in Art from Yale University, Jim Piskoti taught painting and printmaking at the California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock until his recent retirement in 2005.  His large-scale paintings are meticulous depictions of the darker side of California life.  Interactivity plays a key role in his mixed media work, as viewers activate sensors that set the work in motion.  Since the audience becomes physically engaged with his ‘hands on’ work, they are forced to contemplate their own lifestyle choices and their relationship to Piskoti’s subjects.

Breaking from the typical rectangular format, Piskoti paints on wood and shapes each surface to suit the activities of his characters.  Although Piskoti touches on difficult issues such as environmental destruction, social inequalities, and America’s dependence on technology, his work remains playful, as seen in his use of bright, pop art colors.  His dynamic art is a testament to the fast paced life of the average American, in perpetual motion through challenging urban and suburban settings.

Piskoti’s painting titled, “Justice” is on display in the Crocker Art Museum’s The Californian art collection.


Day 251: More Capitol Box Art

With all of the rain this week, I ended up taking the light rail to work most days.  One morning, when the train was approaching the station at 8th & Capitol, I was looking out the window and noticed the Capitol Box Art project on the corner of 8th & N Streets:

This piece, entitled "Supremely High Octane," is by Donald Satterlee. Here is his artist statement from the Capitol Box Art project web site:

A photo of a weathered old gas pump triggered the inspiration to create this piece entitled Supremely High Octane for the Utility Box Project. The piece incorporates 5 images taken around Northern California.  The pumps were taken at the Empire Mine in Grass Valley and in Broderick. The riveted sides are images of the huge train engine parked behind the California Auto Museum. An abandoned fire truck in Williams provided the gauges and an image from the Folsom Powerhouse Museum provided the blue pipes. All the elements were composited using Photoshop, after which, layers of texture were added to create the aging patina.

What struck me most about this piece is that the view from the light rail is the side with the gas pump, which is such a lovely and almost ironic counterpoint that pits driving vs. public transportation and emphasizes the fact that light rail riders likely don't have to worry quite so much about the availability and cost of gas compared to those who commute by car.


Day 250: Small City?

I walked home from work this evening, and as I approached the intersection at 10th and N Streets, I saw a woman on the sidewalk putting on her coat. I noticed her curly hair and thought of L, a member of my monthly Book Club, and this impression was heightened when I observed her clog-style shoes.  Once I realized that she was accompanied by a tall, thin woman, I realized that I was correct and that I was just about to walk by both L and M.

Since these two ladies live out in the Arden-Arcada area, it's rather unusual for me to bump into them downtown, and it was such a lovely surprise to see and chat with them briefly. They were headed out to dinner at Mother on K Street (M is a vegetarian) and then to the Capital Athletic Club to see the current multi-member art show, as M will be showing her art there in May/June 2015.

Here's a sample of her work:


Day 249: Bay Area Rain

The rainy weather continued today in NorCal, leading to all sorts of difficulties in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area, including this sinkhole at 6th Avenue & Lake Street in San Francisco:

Yikes! That may take some time to repair...

Our weather radio (thanks, Mom!) signaled a flash flood warning around the Sacramento area this evening, and the same message was broadcast by Comcast on ESPN during the Badger basketball game around 7:30pm. Luckily for us, the warning was for El Dorado, Nevada, and Placer Counties, not for Sacramento County, where we live.

Frankly, we need the rain, given that the past three years have been so dry, leading to the current drought conditions. And I certainly enjoyed the amazing and long-lasting rainbow late this afternoon that was visible from my office window and lasted more than one hour!


Day 248: Sacramento Rain

California has been experiencing more severe drought conditions since last year, when we didn't get much rain during the winter. Various efforts for water conservation have been implemented across the state, including minimal or no watering of lawns, even around Capitol Park.

Over the past few days, we've finally been getting some rainfall in the Sacramento area, and I'm hopeful that the precipitation will continue at normal  levels -- or even above normal -- in order to help mitigate some of the ongoing drought effects.


Day 247: Beignet Rankings

As I mentioned in a previous post, our brunch group went to Shady Lady this month. Part of our meal was an order of beignets, which Mr. E and I considered a prelude to our trip to New Orleans with his family for Thanksgiving.  We enjoyed New Orleans beignets on both Thursday and Friday morning, so I figured a brief ranking recap would be appropriate.

Shady Lady
Perhaps I'm just partial to NorCal, but I rate these as my favorite. I prefer the smaller size so that I don't feel overly full, and I also really like the rasberry (?) dipping sauce on the side, as the sweetly tart fruit helps to counter-balance the fried dough and powdered sugar on the beignets themselves. Price = $3 for an order of 3 beignets + dipping sauce.

Cafe du Monde
This is the famous and classic New Orleans spot for beignets, as that's pretty much all that's on the menu in addition to coffee and a few other beverage options. The venue operates on a cash-only basis and has definitely perfected the supply chain process for consistently delivering their renowned pastries and coffee-with-chicory. I do enjoy the atmosphere here, just for the unique aspect, and the cafe is open 24 hours a day, so it's certainly the right spot no matter when you're craving beignets and coffee. Mr. E finds that the dough of these beignets has a distinct flavor that sets them apart -- in a positive way -- from others, so these are his top choice.  Price = $2.42 for an order of 3 beignets.

Cafe Beignet
This shop was less than 1 block from our hotel, so of course we had to give it a try.  Unlike Cafe du Monde, this restaurant has a full breakfast and sandwich menu in addition to its beignets. It's also quite small, which means that getting a table can be almost impossible, especially if the outdoor patio area next door isn't open. These beignets are the largest of the bunch and have less powdered sugar, which makes them a bit neater and easier to eat. At the same time, they also seemed to have a bit more residual oil, so they felt heavier overall. I wouldn't discourage folks from trying this spot, but it's definitely not our favorite, and it's also the most expensive of the three options. Price = $3.99 for an order of 3 beignets.