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 335: Skyping with Mom

This morning, I was able to Skype with Mom from our hotel room in Waikiki. Her friend, MF, was visiting at the time, so she also got in on the action, as did Mr. E once he was out of the shower (including a brief topless streaking moment or two!).

I toted Big Purple (my laptop) out onto our lanai to show off the view of the ocean from our hotel. It was a bit challenging to truly appreciate the panorama, since the sky was covered by clouds and the water was a similar pale light grey colour, but I think Mom and MF still got a sense of where we are staying.

And both of them have been to Oahu in the past, so we could compare notes about what we've seen and about the tour that Mr. E and I will be taking tomorrow to Pearl Harbour.

Day 1 of our vacation included strolling around Waikiki Beach, some successful shopping at Ross and ABC Stores, time on Kuhio Beach and a swim in the ocean, a jog to and from Diamond Head with a climb to the top in the middle, pupus back at the hotel, dinner from the food truck court on The Beachwalk, drinks at Shorebird Restaurant, and finishing off with some wine and lounging back in our hotel room.


Day 334: Minneapolis Airport All Wired Up

I had a layover in Minneapolis yesterday, and I was struck by several improvements to the terminal, at least in the G Gates area. The healthy grab-and-go food options (by Cibo) have expanded, as has the number of bars -- at least four drinking options within the span of about 12 gates.

The major upgrade, however, is the installation of iPads all over the place as a mechanism for ordering food, beverages, and snacks, all of which are delivered to your seat "within 15 minutes." It was actually a bit disconcerting to be greeted by the swarm of small screens perched atop the numerous tables distributed amongst the gate areas.

Maybe this is more cost-efficient than human service interaction? Human servers still deliver the ordered items, but the screen interface eliminates any need for attentiveness ahead of time and certainly decreases the opportunity for face-to-face communication.

I'm not sure I'm overly fond of this ubiquitous screenery that has descended into so many public places. The airport is definitely all wired up now, as passengers can also use the iPads for typical Internet uses for free as well, but I still feel as though there are times that being disconnected from machines and technology is actually a good thing. And traveling used to be one of those times, but not anymore, apparently.


Day 333: Fresh Snowfall

Another weather system sprinkled about 3 inches of sparkly fresh snowfall onto Marshfield last night. The new layer made everything look much prettier this morning, but it also meant that I had to spend 30 minutes engaged in one of my least favorite activities -- shoveling snow. Bleah.

At the moment, the worst part is that there's not much place to put any removed snow, as the piles on either side of Mom's driveway are already over my head! At least it was light and dry and fluffy, not heavy, but this is definitely something I do not miss at all about living in a colder climate.

Just add screaming children waving garlic in my face while I'm shoveling heavy, wet snow, and that would be pretty much a good example of one of my levels of Dante's Inferno.


Day 332: Peppermint Twist Candy Shoppe

Mom had saved an older edition of the local paper, the Marshfield Mariner, for me to read during my visit, primarily to see the photos and stories about the recent major snowstorms. While I appreciated that information and those images, I was more struck by the feature on a local business, Peppermint Twist Candy Shoppe:

The store has apparently been open for about a year, but somehow I missed it during our summer visit, as I would certainly have been a frequent patron! Up to this point, my only source for bulk candy or old-fashioned penny candy was raiding the toppings bar at a self-serve frozen yogurt shop.

I'm so pleased to have a better source to feed my sweet tooth!


Day 331: Cold

According to, it's currently 17 degrees here in Marshfield but feels like 6 because of the wind. A wind chill advisory is in effect until 10am tomorrow morning, and the forecast overnight low is -2. Yes, that's a NEGATIVE 2 degrees.

Meanwhile, back home with Mr. E and the kitties in Sacramento, it's 63 degrees and sunny.

Umm... yeah... maybe this type of nasty climate extreme will finally convince Mom to move??? It certainly reminds me why I'm not clamoring to come back and live in New England!


Day 330: Stanford Park Townhomes

When Mr. E and I were shopping for a downtown condo, one of the other complexes in our size and price range was Stanford Park Townhomes, on P Street between 15th & 16th Streets, right across from Fremont Park:

These townhomes are somewhat similar to our unit at Saratoga Townhomes, except that we have an additional light source, thanks to the high southern-facing clerestory windows, and we also have a major advantage in an attached garage. Stanford Park Townhomes have detached parking accessed via the alleyway behind the row of buildings, which is certainly not as convenient for accessing the living space or unloading or avoiding unpleasant weather.

We toured at least one of these units during our home search, and although the overall square footage was similar, we definitely felt as though the unit we eventually purchased at Saratoga Townhomes feels more open and larger and has more options for upgrades (e.g. enclosing the balcony off the south-side bedroom to get more truly livable square footage).

Although the Saratoga Townhomes may be closer to the retail and restaurant options in the revitalized R Street Corridor, I'm glad we chose our complex instead. And it's definitely closer to the gym!


Day 329: State House Apartments

The State House Apartments are located on 12th Street, right along the RT line between the 13th Street Stations and the Archives Plaza Station:

Despite being so close to a transit line and the frequent noise of the trains, many of the online reviews for this complex appear to be very positive, except for some issues with parking and some folks who aren't happy with the owner or manager (confusion as to who's at fault for the complaints).

However, it's interesting to note that the most recent posting on the web site is from 2012... Hmm... Does anyone still live there? There's a notation on a Yelp! site that this building is closed, although it looks still occupied whenever I walk, run, or pedal past it.


Day 328: Travel Extremes

I'm about to head back east for 5 days to be with Mom, so I'll be getting very reacquainted with cold and snowy weather. Brr! Let's just hope that no more snow storms head that way, at least not during my travel days!

I get back from the East Coast weather and time zone on Wednesday night only to then leave the following afternoon for 4 days of vacation with Mr. E in Honolulu. Yep, another time zone and completely different climate - warm, sunny, and humid.

Major travel extremes in my future!


Day 327: Governor's Terrace Apartments

The Governor's Terrace Apartments are located along P Street, between 14th & 15th Streets, across from Fremont Mews:

Another web site has a rather interesting description and review of this apartment complex:

This property resides in a prime Midtown location, minutes away from parks and great shops. As a conversion from a hotel to apartments, the interior of the apartment is odd while the exterior is tired and in need of renovation. However, the units are roomy and have nice features such as a balcony or deck and great natural lighting. Pros include: Property has a rooftop patio with a great view, available for guest use. Units are spacious with large closets, living rooms, and a balcony area. Great Midtown location, close to a park, restaurants, and shops. On the down side, property was converted from a hotel to apartments, has a strange layout inside the building from unit to unit. Some units have a musky smell. Could freshen up the exterior as well update some appliances. Tips: Concierge service is available for those with incoming guests.

It's quite interesting to learn that the building used to be a hotel, so I can imagine that the conversion could have led to some rather odd floor plans. And you would certainly never know from the exterior that a rooftop patio space is one of the amenities:


Day 326: Park Mansion Apartments

The Park Mansion Apartments are located at 15th & N Streets, right across from the eastern border of Capitol Park:

This is one of the many downtown residential rental properties managed by CADA, the Capitol Area Development Authority. Mr. E and I are very familiar with CADA, as it's the organization that has been largely responsible for revitalizing the R Street Corridor, which is technically the neighborhood area that includes our small complex of Saratoga Townhomes.

Park Mansion has several types of units, from studios to two bedrooms, and is apparently relatively pet-friendly, especially compared to other downtown and midtown rental options that often don't allow pets at all.

When I run by the many low and mid rise buildings around downtown and midtown, I often wonder what the interior of the units is like and what sort of folks reside in these locations. It's rather comforting to know that some options could be available for Mr. E and me if we every ended up in a different type of financial situation and needed to revert back to renting instead of owning.


Day 325: The Comstock Senior Apartment Residences

During my run through Midtown this morning, I noted again the names of several apartment building complexes, so I think this may become a recurring theme for some upcoming blog posts, as long as I can find info online about each location.

The Comstock is located on the corner of K & 18th Streets (in the same block as CVS and close to the Sacramento Ballet Studios and the Squeeze Inn, which are both at the corner of 17th & K Streets):

I didn't realize that this mid-rise building houses senior apartment units, although that makes a lot of sense since a lower portion of the building is home to an All Seasons Cafe site, which is a program of Meals on Wheels that supports multiple group meal sites across the Sacramento region so that seniors have an opportunity to receive meal services in a social setting rather than just getting meals delivered to their homes.


Day 324: Why I Hate Comcast

We're still working on the final touches for our new media wall configuration in the living room, and part of that transition includes getting a smaller Comcast cable box so that it would fit neatly on the shelf rather than needing to have some piece of furniture to hold our media components. Since Mr. E and I both had a holiday today (yeah, we both still worked though... *sigh*), we figured it might be a good day to run an errand up to the Comcast location in Natomas to switch out our cable box.

Of course, I wanted to confirm that the store was open before driving up there, so I attempted to call Comcast this morning to inquire about the store hours for the President's Day holiday. Note that "attempted" is the critical word in that sentence, as there was no direct phone number to the store, so I ended up getting routed through the ridiculous labyrinth of a customer service call center, only to discover that the agent with whom I finally connected couldn't even look up the store hours without first accessing my account information. Um, why would that matter? I had the exact address of the store, so why would you need to log into my account to find the same info? Grrrr!!!

This is yet one of the many, many reasons that I hate Comcast. Despite all the fabulous commercials and superlative customer service claims, our interactions with Comcast over the years have unfailingly been frustrating and annoying and lengthier than we expect in order to finally resolve whatever issue we're having.

It's almost enough to make me want to switch to Direct TV. About the only compelling reason for us to stick with Comcast at this point is that the basic package is included in our monthly HOA fees, and we'd have to pay that amount even if we transitioned to a different cable and TV and internet provider.

So basically, as long as we live here and the HOA Board doesn't make changes to this set-up, we're pretty much stuck with Comcast. Grrrr again!!!


Day 323: Fruits vs. Vegetables

For some reason, Mr. E and I started talking about the "official" difference between fruits and vegetables tonight when we went out to The Press for drinks and snacks. I think it came from musings about what to eat when we got home and Mr. E's insistence that I have some sort of green vegetable and my pointing out that I could have celery and had already eaten some avocado for lunch as part of a summer roll from Safeway. That got us into the debate about whether an avocado is a fruit or vegetable, and I figured it might be the former, since it's got a pit, and perhaps anything with a pit or seeds qualifies technically as a fruit rather than a veggie (e.g. tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, etc.).

So of course we then decided that we needed to learn about the true difference between fruits and vegetables, and I found this very helpful explanation and diagram on

Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems. By those standards, seedy outgrowths such as apples, squash and, yes, tomatoes are all fruits, while roots such as beets, potatoes and turnips, leaves such as spinach, kale and lettuce, and stems such as celery and broccoli are all vegetables. 

The outlook is quite different in culinary terms, however. A lot of foods that are (botanically speaking) fruits, but which are savory rather than sweet, are typically considered vegetables by chefs. This includes such botanical fruits as eggplants, bell peppers and tomatoes.

Fascinating! I think this means that cucumbers are a "botanical" fruit even though most folks would consider them a vegetable. So really, it would make much more sense to refer to fresh produce in categories of "savory" or "sweet" rather than vegetable or fruit!


Day 322: Sacramento Ballet's "Peter Pan"

Last night, Mr. E and I attended the world premiere of "Peter Pan" from the Sacramento Ballet (we're season subscribers for the Friday evening performances). The performance was preceded by George Balanchine's "Stars & Stripes." We've seen bit and pieces of that ballet before, as the Sac Ballet has numerous Balanchine pieces in its repertoire, so it was lovely to see the full five-part creation.

I felt that "Peter Pan" was too long and that the focus was too much on spectacle sometimes (e.g. elaborate sets) rather than on the dancing and the story, which was also a challenge for me with Ron Cunningham's original "The Great Gatsby" a couple of years ago. The ballet ran about 1 hour 20 minutes with no intermission, and it could easily have been cut by 10-15 minutes without losing anything critical.

Here are some still publicity images, featuring Rex Wheeler as Peter Pan, Christopher Nachtrab as Captain Hook, and Maggie Rupp as Tinkerbell:


Day 321: John Q's Ballroom

We had a day-long work meeting today at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza in John Q's Ballroom. I'm don't know the origin of the name, but the view from the 16th floor was quite impressive, as it's not enough that I get an opportunity to see Sacto from on high.

This image focuses more on the table than on the view, but at least it gives an idea of the panorama available from the windows on three sides of the room:


Day 320: Daffodils

A few weeks ago, the first daffodils that are scattered throughout the small landscaping plots around our townhouse complex started to emerge. For some reason, the small cluster by the corner of 10th & Q Streets bloomed first, followed just recently by the clumps along Q Street near 9th. And the multiple groupings along 9th Street are still just green shoots with no blooms.

I didn't have a chance to capture any images of the actual daffodils around here, so of course I looked online to find a representative photo. I just couldn't resist this one, even though the flowers clearly aren't the focal point of the picture!


Day 319: Kylie's Courtyard

During my run through parts of Midtown this morning, I was struck by the fact that many of the small apartments buildings and complexes are named. For example, the two buildings at 1701-1705 G Street, with nine rental units, are known as Kylie's Courtyard:

For a more intimate view of these apartments, check out this YouTube video tour. As Mr. E observed, the current tenants in residence when this was filmed were not excessively neat and tidy! And apparently someone really likes rather bright paint colours...


Day 318: Magnolias

In addition to the flowering dogwoods that have been bursting and scenting the Sacto downtown, the magnolias are also signaling the end of winter and the turning of the seasons.

I'm lucky enough to pass by several of these amazing and striking trees on my walk to the gym and on my ride through Capitol Park on my way to work:


Day 317: National Bagel Day

February 9th is National Bagel Day! I only knew because I got a coupon offer through the Noah's Bagels email list-serve for 20% to celebrate National Bagel Day (although the coupon was actually valid through February 23rd):

I figured it would be fun to commemorate the day by bringing a bagel box (13 bagels + 2 tubs of cream cheese) to share with my colleagues at work, so I scooted by Noah's on J Street on my way to work to pick up some goodies to brighten everyone's Monday morning.

And while I was there, I seized the opportunity to order two heart-shaped bagels for Mr. E (blueberry) and me (cinnamon sugar) in honour of Valentine's Day next weekend. Sweet!


Day 316: Winter Rain Storm

We finally got some good rain over the past few days, including significant downpours this afternoon. Luckily, I was able to do my longer run (1 hour) this morning before the worst of the precipitation rolled in, although I was still completely drenched by the time I got home (and my running shoes are still drying out!).

This evening, as Mr. E and I were working in the office, we spied a partial rainbow out the window during a clearing in the weather system.

Other folks saw that same colorful arc and captured it in this image:


Day 315: Ruby Throated Hummingbird

We had lots of hummingbirds flitting to and from the feeder on our patio this morning, like a little avian all-you-can-eat buffet. Mr. E thinks the feathery crowds today may have been a result of the high winds and heavy rains yesterday that likely kept the birds from their typical feeding schedule.

One of the little brown birds was perched on the side of the feeder, and as it turned its head, I saw a bright and surprising flash of red revealed on the front of its neck. I think it must have been a ruby-throated hummingbird, like the one in this image:

So pretty! I'm so glad that we finally got a feeder and that our patio seems to be an appealing spot for these amazing little birds.


Day 314: Tapestri Square

During one of my morning runs this week, I ended up winding along a route that took me east and south, heading towards Broadway. On the way back, I ran through the Poverty Ridge area, which earned its name not because of the residents' lack of wealth -- quite to the contrary, the homes here are quite large and expansive -- but because the area sits on higher ground so the common folk who lived in the surrounding areas used to seek shelter in this section during times of heavy rain and flooding.

A new development is finally in the last stages of completion just along the western border of Poverty Ridge. Tapestri Square is bordered on the east and west by 20th Street and the railroad tracks near 19th Street and on the north and south by T and U Streets.

These are detached single-family homes designed, built in a brownstone style, and ranging from 1,300 to 2,700 square feet, based on the unit type.

Mr. E and I haven't toured any of the models, but the gallery images on the web site look quite appealing. The project had stalled for a little while after breaking ground, due to the shaky housing market, so it's been heartening to see the construction continue and the development reach its finishing phases.


Day 313: Flowering Dogwood

Some of the trees have started to bloom around downtown Sac, including what I think is a flowering dogwood, a sample of which is pictured here:

The cornus florida is not native to California, according to Wikipedia, but the web site of the National Gardening Association has a very brief entry about flowering dogwood in West Sacramento, so I'm thinking that my guess about the type of tree may actually be correct.


Day 312: Dark Running

Morning runs during the winter months can be rather dark. I actually really enjoy running as the sun starts to rise and illuminate the Sacto streets, but the lack of visibility can be a bit challenging. A few years ago, when I was still running more often and longer distances, I finally invested in a headlamp to help see and be seen during my dark running periods.

This is a Petzl E93 Tikka 2 headlamp in storm gray:

Unfortunately, I also used the headlamp as a light on my bike, so when that bike got stolen from outside Michelangelo's in Midtown a couple of years ago, the headlamp went missing as well. Boo.

I ended up buying a new headlamp of the same model in late 2012 as a replacement, and I've been very glad to have it for my dark running days, such as this morning when I hit the pavement just after 6am for a 35-minute run before an early-to-work day for a conference.

The headlamp is quite useful inside as well, as that I don't have to turn on any lights while I'm getting ready to head out, although it does seem to freak out Captain Jack a wee bit when he sees me walking around like a glowing Cyclops!


Day 311: Sacramento Skyline at Night

I picked up Mr. E at the airport last night when he got home from his trip to visit G, G, & L in Ft. Worth, and we had a lovely clear view of the Sacramento skyline as we drove home along I-5, similar to the panoramas in these photos:

I'm rather fond of how our city looks from this perspective, but Mr. E keeps waiting and hoping for taller towers in the downtown area, as his primary comparison point is downtown Chicago. However, from my time on the Planning Commission, I know that there are some height and massing restrictions along Capitol Mall and other blocks near and around the Capitol Building in order to preserve a certain view of the Capitol itself.

So I'm not sure we'll ever have any major skyscrapers here in downtown Sacto. And really, that's just fine, if we can at least get some interesting and distinctive architecture to provide some unique and iconic developments.


Day 310: Super Sunday Run 10K

Yesterday morning, I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) as part of my goal to run a race each month this year (started in October with the Urban Cow 1/2 Marathon Relay).  My primary objective was to run the entire distance, as my typical long runs on the weekend are done with a run/walk combo, which has been quite effective so far and has helped me to continue running and start to extend the amount of time and the distance of these runs.

The Super Sunday Run looped in and around the CSUS campus, starting just outside Hornet Stadium and finishing on the grass of the football field inside.  The farthest I had run continuously prior to yesterday was 5.9 miles at the beginning of December for the first leg of the California International Marathon Relay. I finished that distance in 57:10 and was very pleased to complete my leg at a 9:41 pace, as I was just hoping to be faster than a 10:00 pace.

My run yesterday was even better -- I actually wonder if the course measurement was a bit short! According to the official results, my time was 55:44, which is a pace of 8:59. I finished in the top 33% overall, top 22% of all women, and top 17% of my division (women ages 40-44). Nice!

This definitely encourages me to keep running and to attempt the full Urban Cow 1/2 marathon in October. I hadn't even thought about being able to do that again, but I'm feeling pretty positive that I can use my walk/run technique to complete the 13.1 miles, and that in itself would be a really nice way to finish out this year's fitness goal.


Day 309: Fire Near the R Street Market

Yesterday afternoon, I went grocery shopping after my massage, and as I left Safeway, I heard and saw numerous fire engines speeding south along 19th Street. As I looked after them, I saw smoke billowing into the sky from just a couple of blocks away, and it was clear that a fire had recently started up somewhere nearby.

I couldn't find much information online, but it appears as though there was a fire in a residential building at 20th & T Streets, although it's difficult to know which structure was impacted from the only photo that has been posted so far:

A more accurate source may be the Fire Department's Facebook page, which indicates that the fire location was actually 19th & T Streets and provides a short video montage of the scene.