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 365: The Finale

And so it ends.

Today marks Day 365 of my daily blogging project, which I began last year on March 30, 2014, with this post. I'm sure there are many aspects of life here in Sacramento that I neglected to highlight during this year, and this project became more about how to be truly present and observant in my daily life -- wherever I happen to be -- rather than just about composing an multi-part ode and love letter of sorts to this lovely city o' Sacto.

I think it's fitting that this finale day included many common sights and sounds and experiences, from a morning 10K race along the levee path, beginning in front of the Crocker Art Museum, passing the Front Street Animal Shelter (where we met our fabulous feline matches, Calypso & Captain Jack), and through Miller Park; to an afternoon performance of Swan Lake by our amazing local dance company, The Sacramento Ballet, at the Community Center Theater; and finally back home through Capitol Park to Saratoga Townhomes, where we were greeted by some of the brilliant blooms that Mr. E surreptitiously sprinkled into our small landscape planters:

Sacramento truly has so much to offer and enjoy, and I'm glad this project helped me to be actively appreciative of my City as well as of other little bits and pieces of my daily life that so often otherwise go unnoticed.

Though the project concludes, I vow to actively work on keeping this mindset and approach to life so that I don't lose the joy of contemplation and observation that this blogging compendium has given me.


Day 364: Murals on California Energy Commission Building

On the southwest corner of 9th and P Streets is the California Energy Commission Building:

This building hosts a series of three murals along the 9th Street facade, which are just barely visible in the image above behind the street trees.

I've always enjoyed these murals as a way to relieve the otherwise stark building profile, and Mr. E took several photos today to show them in more detail:

There is no clearly evident indication of the inspiration for the murals or the creative artist responsible for them, but I found this great web site that provides a rather detailed history of the artwork, which was created by Roy De Forest.

Being more observant and appreciative of sites like this that I see in my daily life around Sacto was one of the catalysts for this particular blog project, as it's far too easy to take such things for granted when you see them often. I'm so glad that Sacramento has such a rich and growing portfolio of public art to enliven the urban landscape!


Day 363: The Boxing Donkey

We had a baby shower this afternoon for my colleague, G, who will become a new grandma in May. It's hard to think of her as having grand-babies, since she's only in her late 40s, but she had kids rather young during her first marriage. My supervisor is about the same age and had her boys later in life, so she's currently the mom of two sons in elementary school. Quite an interesting generational contrast!

A group of us met up at The Boxing Donkey in Roseville:

Apparently, G and her spouse R are regulars at this pub. Our group hung out on the back patio for some munchies, gifts, and a few rounds of cornhole. The weather was great for an outside gathering, but the nearby train tracks and loud freight trains were a wee bit distracting from time to time!


Day 362: Daffodils

This week, we had a rather intensive "site visit" at CPCA to verify that we're providing appropriate services to health centers in California, based on the terms of our cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC). We spent 1.5 days with the BPHC consultant and staff, reviewing our work plan, describing our activities, and occasionally defending or explaining ourselves to show that we are in compliance with our contract.


One of my colleagues, S, was very considerate and sweet and gave me a bunch of daffodils and a card to celebrate the successful results of the site visit. S tends to use mason jars on a regular basis, so the flowers are in that distinctive glass vessel and are now sitting near my monitor so that their vibrant scent and colour bring some joy to my day.

They look quite similar to this image:


Day 361: Allergy Season

I don't suffer much from seasonal allergies, but several of my friends and colleagues have a very difficult time during this transitional period as everything starts to bloom and pollen fills the air. As a "City of Trees," Sacramento can be rough on folks who are sensitive to these natural irritants, and even I find myself dealing with a runny nose and watery eyes by the end of my short bike commutes each day.


Day 360: Pilobolus Dance

On Sunday afternoon, I saw a performance by Pilobolus Dance at the Folsom Lake College Harris Center for the Arts. I've known about this troupe for quite awhile, although I'm not sure how or why (maybe the New England roots and links?), and I was really excited to see the show, which was AMAZING!!!

The troupe is known for the athletic and acrobatic and "bendy" skills of the dancers, and they certainly did not disappoint! Two of the pieces performed were Automaton and Skyscrapers.

According to the troupe's web site, Automaton is "A new collaboration with the internationally renowned choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The result is a cyborg of a dance that questions the difference between human and machine. Somewhere between Tron and Bladerunner, AUTOMATON takes place in a mirrored world that allows us to view multiple angles at the same time. Deep emotions punctuate the intoxicating rhythms of the machine as we experience a journey through a time that seems yet to com."

Skyscrapers is quite different in tone and style: "Set against the gritty, saturated colors of LA's Eastside streets, Skyscrapers explores the melancholy, understated elegance of the tango, quintessential street dance, drenched in overtones of love, romance, and loss. Pilobolus once again joins Trish Sie (co-creator of last year's Grammy-nominated Pilobolus/OK Go video and live dance, 'All Is Not Lost') to imagine Sie's brilliant new video for OK Go's Skyscrapers as a work for the live stage. This quick-change series of duet follows a never-ending, always-changing journey in search of connection."



Day 359: Birthday Baked Goods

In addition to the wonderful flower bouquet, Mr. E also presented me with a variety of tasty baked goods from local favorite Freeport Bakery.

We haven't frequented this establishment ourselves, but I've had different types of Freeport cakes to celebrate colleagues' birthdays or other occasions at both PPMM and CPCA.

Mr. E's array of treats included a mint chocolate chip cake pop, two spring-decorated cupcakes (vanilla and chocolate -- I ate the frosting off the later and left the cake for Mr. E), and a chocolate-dipped macaroon.

Again, I neglected to take pictures before we consumed the desserts, so here's a representative sample of the Freeport delicacies:


Day 358: Birthday Bouquet

On Thursday, Mr. E surprised me with a beautiful birthday bouquet of my favorite flowers, and their scent continues to greet me when I walk in the house. He chose a select grouping of stargazer lilies, dark purple slender iris, and yellow/orange tulips.

I didn't get a chance to take and upload a photo of the actual arrangement, so here are some stock images of these lovely blossoms:


Day 357: Azaleas

Now that the weather is getting warmer and we've had the first official day of spring, the air is scented with seasonal plants and flowers (and many folks are starting to suffer from seasonal allergies, including Mr. E...).

I always loved the azalea bushes in the front yard of my childhood home at 173 Cedar Acres, and here in Sacramento, we have numerous samples of these flowering bushes around our condo complex, with a variety of striking and brilliant colours (purple, pink, peach).

These images provide a pretty good idea of some of the beautiful blooms that currently surround our home:


Day 356: Blooming Iris

One of my favorite spring flowers are iris, which I always remember from our backyard when I was growing up. The striking purple blossoms and distinctive scent were a great harbinger of the warmer weather, and now that we're living in Sac, we get to enjoy these flowers even earlier in the year.

In a small corner planter on the curb just outside Fremont Community Garden is a cluster of multi-colored iris, similar to this image:

However, in the cluster I've seen recently during my morning runs, there are more of the brown and beige iris than of the purple. I find this makes for a slightly less enjoyable bouquet, as the duller colours just aren't quite so appealing.


Day 355: More of Our Hawai'i Photos

Weekend Hula show near Waikiki Beach
 More Hula entertainment

Hula show girls & young women

Lighting torches before Hula show

Long-necked white bird in hotel planter

Red-crested cardinal

Kaimana Farm Cafe Exterior

Kaimana Farm Cafe menu

Kaimana Farm Cafe deli sides


Day 354: Cows at the Capitol!

This morning, I happened to bike directly in front of the Capitol as I was traveling north on 10th Street to L Street, and I noticed some tents and displays set up to celebrate National Ag Day. Mr. E got to enjoy even more of the festivities when he strolled out to get some lunch today, and he got some great photos of cows at the Capitol:


Day 353: St. Patrick's Day

Mr. E and I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but apparently lots of other folks around here must take it rather seriously, as my Tuesday evening yoga class only had 3 people in attendance today. Usually, there's closer to at least a dozen or so practitioners, and it appears as though the only explanation is the combination of St. Patrick's Day and some lovely warm spring weather.

Frankly, I'd much rather be enjoying a yoga class than dealing with drunk and rowdy folks and crowds!


Day 352: Home Routine

It's nice to be back home and into a typical Monday routine -- swim, work, Pilates, home.

As much as I enjoy traveling and having experiences in other places, I also really enjoy spending time at home with Mr. E and the kitties and having time to just relax and re-energize.


Day 351: Some of Our Photos from Hawai'i

My previous posts from our recent trip to Hawai'i included photos that I found online of some of what we saw and did. I finally had a chance to upload some of the pictures that Mr. E took on the iPhone to give a more accurate sense of our three perfect days:

Shopping at the Waikiki Ross

Chinese Lanterns in a Shopping Center Courtyard

Drinks at Duke's

Mr. E's Spam Treat on the Table of Our Balcony

USS Arizona Memorial

Food Cart Dinner 
(1/2 Chicken Meal for J, Moco Loco with Kailua Pork for Mr. E)


Day 350: Travelling Cats!

Miss Calypso and Captain Jack apparently want to accompany me on my next trip, or at least keep me from leaving them again by making it impossible to pack my bag:


Day 349: Friday the 13th

Mom and I had a few detours this morning on the way to see her cardiologist, and in a spirit of generosity, I'm chalking it up to today's date.

Luckily, the rest of the day went quite well!


Day 348: March Race

As part of my current goal of running a race each month for a year, I had registered for the Shamrock'n 5K in Sacramento. This year, the shorter distance race is scheduled for this Saturday, March 14th, with the longer 1/2 marathon distance scheduled for the more typical Sunday morning timeframe, March 15th. Previously, both races were run on the same day, and I'm not entirely sure why the race organizers made the change this time around.

I wish that the historic schedule were still in place, as I won't be getting home to Sac from Marshfield until Saturday night, which means I'll miss my race. Darn. I'll have to look for a replacement within the next couple of weeks to stick with my goal.

I figured I might find an alternative here in Marshfield, so I looked up St. Patrick's Day races in the area, and was initially really excited to see info about what claims to be "America's Most Irish Road Race" here in my hometown:

Unfortunately, as can be seen from this infographic, the race will now be run on April 11th rather than the original March 14th, due to concerns about the road and sidewalk conditions as a result of all of the snow last month. Darn again. It would have been so cool to do a race in my hometown, especially since the course actually goes right by my Mom's house, so she could have watched and cheered me on. Maybe another year....


Day 347: Snow Melt

Since I was last in Marshfield about 3 weeks ago, there's been quite a bit of snow melt throughout the town. The roads are wider, some sidewalks are passable, and patches of grass are much more common than before.

However, this snow melt also reveals all of the nasty natural and human-generated detritus that had been buried underneath the frosty piles -- sand, rocks, wood, beach wall stairs, trash, and a rather large number of cigarette butts and single-size alcohol bottles ("nips," according to Mom). It's a pretty unpleasant sight, made even worse by the fact that the remaining snow is now grimy and black from the dirt that creeps into it and is thrown up off the streets by passing cars.

Yuck. The ugly remains of snowfall almost make me wish for a bit more of the fresh, white, fluffy stuff just to cover it all over again!!!


Day 346: Dogs on Planes

On both of my flights today, the passenger population included some canine flyers.

A beautiful German Shepherd (one of Mr. E's "babies") accompanied us on the flight from Sacramento to Denver in the company of a visually-impaired gentleman, and a smaller fluffier white dog (not sure of the breed) was along for the ride from Denver to Boston as the working companion of a woman. I couldn't quite discern this dog's primary job, but both canines were extremely well-behaved and the only way I even knew they were on the flights is that I saw both of them board and spied them later after we deplaned.

Dogs on planes are MUCH better than snakes on planes...


Day 345: Daylight Savings

I am not a huge fan of Daylight Savings Time, primarily because it becomes so dark again in the mornings. I tend to be rather sensitive to light and naturally wake up earlier during the summer when the sun rises earlier. At the same time, having longer days that are light until close to 9pm can sometimes be challenging for me, as I find it harder to instinctively wind down at the end of the day when it's not dark outside.

At this time of year, just when the mornings are starting to get light around 6:15am, Daylight Savings Time hits and I find myself getting up in the dark again, just like in the middle of winter. *sigh* I even had to pull out my headlamp for my run this morning!

The only advantage is that my bike commute home in the evening is absolutely beautiful with no need for a reflective vest or any bike lights.


Day 344: Jet Blue Experience

I've flown Jet Blue a couple of times back to the East Coast, usually on a red-eye flight, and I've always appreciated the free comfort kits that are distributed on those night flights -- eye mask, ear plugs, and socks.

I think today was the first time that I had a daytime Jet Blue itinerary, and I was quite pleased with the overall experience, including the friendly and efficient service, relatively comfy seats, greater leg room than in other airlines' economy seats, and complimentary real snacks (blue corn chips, popcorn chips, pretzels, mini chocolate chip cookies, elf graham crackers, etc.). Jet Blue may not offer the Biscoff cookies as Delta does, but at least the bags of snacks on Jet Blue are true single servings rather than mini servings.

Mr. E may have a preference for United, since that's also tied to our credit card points accrual, but I'm thinking that perhaps we should start looking more seriously at Jet Blue options as well, especially for those cross-country trips!


Day 343: Brunch & Birthday

Mr. E and I are in Austin for a very quick trip -- less than 48 hours -- for Mr. Christian Joel Moore's 1st birthday party (our nephew/godson). We started off our day with brunch at the popular local 24-hour eatery Magnolia Cafe:

We had to wait about 25 minutes, but we did a little shopping at the funky store next door, so that helped the time pass quickly. I enjoyed my veggie omelet with fruit and English muffin on the side, and Mr. E raved about his blackberry pancakes with bananas on top. He wasn't quite as enthusiastic about the "eggscape" of scrambled eggs and cheese over home fries as the cheesy goodness was a bit overwhelming. Still, I'd definitely return to try something else, as the prices were very reasonable and the coffee was pretty tasty.

Next on the agenda was CJ's party a The Thinkery, an awesome new children's museum here in Austin:

There are tons of interactive and creative exhibits and spaces for kids of all ages to play and explore. The birthday was in a separate room and was very well-organized and facilitated by the staff, with several hands-on activities and a big chalkboard wall to create a mural in honour of Master Christian.

Happy Birthday to the little Pisces!


Day 342: Casual Fridays

Being able to wear more casual clothes (including jeans) on Fridays at CPCA can be quite convenient, especially on a day like today when I'm heading straight to the airport from work. So helpful that I don't have to wear my work clothes on the plane or remember to bring something else to change into!


Day 341: Long-Distance Care

As much as I enjoy living in Sacramento and can't really imagine moving back to New England, being on the opposite coast from Mom can be challenging when there's a need to provide long-distance care of some kind. I'm very appreciative of technology and phone contact to stay connected, but it's just not the same as being there in person. I have a feeling this is going to be a recurring theme in my life over the next couple of decades, and I don't really have a solution at this point...


Day 340: Full Moon Over Sacramento

On my way to Pilates this evening around 6:20pm, I glimpsed a beautiful huge full moon hanging low in the sky over Roosevelt Park. Too bad I didn't have a camera available to capture the image!!!

This online photo from a couple of years ago gives a pretty good idea of the amazing lunar panorama tonight: