Sunday, September 27, 2009

Museum Day

So yesterday was Museum Day and Scoob and I took advantage of the free admission to go to the Coyote Point Museum. Not only did we get free admission to the museum, but we didn't have to pay the $5 for access to the recreation area either. Woot!

The exhibits in the museum were so-so; mostly informational with a handful of interactive pieces that were perfect for the 5-year-old kids that were there as part of a birthday party.

But the real attractions were outside. The museum has several animals, some local to Coyote Point, on exhibit. I can only assume these animals came here as part of a rescue and rehabilitation program, but were unable to be released for whatever reason. And guess what? I took pictures.


A coyote. It's not called Coyote Point for nothin'.

burrowing owl

Burrowing owl


Badger. So friggin' cute.
I could watch this badger waddle around for hours and be totally entertained.

red fox

Red fox. No not that Red Fox.


Yurtle the turtle

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron

He's just so pretty (and such a poser) that he gets two pictures.

golden eagle

Peek-a-boo with a Golden Eagle.

snowy egret

Snowy Egret (?) in the sun.

Dunno who this is, but he sure was chatty.

evergreen tree silhouetted over the San Francisco Bay

I just liked the way this tangle of evergreen branches looked
silhouetted over the San Francisco Bay with the horizon line in the background.

Grandma, if you're watching, look away now. (Grandma is terrified of snakes.)

San Francisco garter snake

A very colorful San Francisco garter snake.
Unfortunately, the lighting in his case gave everything a yellow tint.

boa constrictor

Up close and personal with a boa constrictor. (I even got to pet it!)
I'll let y'all come up with your own snake petting jokes.

I Can Read. Really.

Sometimes I stupify even myself. So this afternoon I was trying to find a place to park at a strip mall. As I pulled into a parking stall, I realized that it was marked . It said:


I turned to Scoob in the passenger seat and said, "Who the hell is Delta Co.?" The name didn't sound at all familiar and as I scanned the mall, I didn't see a Detla Co. anywhere. The paint was very faded and I was thinking maybe they'd gone out of business, whoever they were, and it would be okay to park there.

Scoob looked at me like I was crazy and repeated "Delta Co.?" before he started laughing—quite obviously at me.

Clearly I hadn't noticed the very large Del Taco restaurant not 20 yards or so in front of the car.

Monday, September 21, 2009


So it was fogged in and 58° when I left work tonight, bright sunshine and 79° when I pulled in at the house 30 minutes later. What's up with that? It's freakin' nuts is what. It's supposed to hit 98° tomorrow at the house. Blech.

So pretty mellow weekend. I spent most of Saturday in pain because I'd had my first physical therapy session Friday for my back. The PT guy, we'll call him Matt (cause that's his name), asked me all the requisite questions and we covered how PT had gone with Kaiser. See at Kaiser they did this thing where I rested my upper body on the therapist while she then rotated my body to mobilize the vertebrae that are stuck. Oh I can't explain it right, but anyhow it was gentle, extremely low impact, and, aside from the first couple sessions when she totally spazzed out a muscle, painless. "Yeah," Matt said, "I'm not going to be that gentle."

You know, there are times those words wouldn't be a bad thing. They might even be welcomed. But not when we're monkeying around with my back people.

Anyhow, Matt crunched my back a few times, which really wasn't that bad because I crunch my back anyway, but when he tried to crunch my back and it refused to crunch. Oh. God. Now that hurt. He seemed genuinely perplexed that he couldn't get it to move. And then had me do all sorts of twists and stretches to reinforce the mobilization of that area.

That was followed by "heat & stim" which apparently meant a heat pad (heaven) and stimulation. And said stimulation is mild shock therapy. No joke. They've got these gelled up pads that they put on my back and a hand-held zapper thingy that is cranked up to "just shy of painful." But of course you have to find painful first before you can dial back to "just shy" of painful. That was the weirdest thing. At first it felt like little buggies crawling under my skin. Then big buggies. Then it was just tingly. I felt pretty spaced out when I left the clinic.

So anyhow, we'll be repeating that twice a week for the next month. I only hope that every day-after doesn't feel like Saturday. Oh, and I hope we can fix my back. In the meantime, I'll be doing the exercises that he gave me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Day at the Farm

So what about the farm? We went to the Renaissance Fair on Sunday and had a fun time. It's probably not something I could do weekend after weekend, or probably more than once or twice a year, but it was fun. There were some truly amazing costumes and real jousting. I still can't get over the jousting. I assumed it would be simulated jousting with no real weapons involved or "animals harmed in the making," you know crunchy-Berkeley style—but this was full-contact. And while the horses weren't harmed, they were winded (and beautiful). I took a couple videos of the jousting, but I can't seem to figure out where my camera has stored them or how to get them out just yet.

Dude, and check out the codpieces some of those guys are sporting. You so don't want one of those guys standing too close behind you in line. I had the hardest time not laughing my arse off the first time I noticed them, and seriously, how do you not notice them when they're practically tall enough to plant a flag in one and claim it for Spain.

Yeah, those codpieces, or is that codpi?

I had just as much fun checking out the animals and other stuff on the farm.

This shed reminded me of a similar catch-all

spot at my great-grandparent's place.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To Market, to Market

We had a busy weekend and I was just enjoying myself to dang much to stop and blog about it. Sorry. I'll try to keep my priorities straight next time that happens. So any how, you luck out because you get to hear about my weekend during the week.

On Saturday, we had a plan, but except for making it to the post office and getting lunch, we didn't follow the plan. After we had a tasty lunch at the Banyan Tree restaurant, we went next door to the Asian market to get ingredients for a couple recipes I've been messing with.

We also picked up my favorite chili pepper paste that I told you about way-back-when. There are days I can eat this spoonful after painful spoonful. Must be a hormonal thing, 'cause there are other times I think I'm going to die from this stuff (though those other some times are usually after the actual eating of it).

It's Delightfully Hot!

As we were walking into the market, I spotted one of these things on a car dash.

The leaves and little sunflower head were bobbing and it reminded me of the Plants vs. Zombies game that I'm still addicted to. Scoob has decided that I must have one and the rest of our day was spent on a scavenger hunt of sorts. We figured out that they're made by Flip Flap and Tomy, and that these little solar-powered bobbers are very popular in Japan, so we headed to the Mitsuwa Japanese market in San Jose where we did find various other bobbers, but not the sunflower one. We did, however, find an interesting (and surprisingly big) Japanese bookstore. Even though we didn't understand a single thing we were looking at, it was still fun browse.

We picked up a bottle of this miso and mustard salad dressing while we were at Mitsuwa.

It's one of my favorites!

Afterward, we meandered over to the Valley Fair Mall and strolled and browsed, keeping an eye on the kiosks for my little bobber. Some of our earliest outings when Scoob and I first started dating were at Valley Fair where we would stroll and invariably stop for a pretzel. So that was fun in a low-key kind of way, though there were no pretzels involved this time. I guess the wooing period is over. Though Scoob did buy me a new ring. I think I like it better on my thumb where the band isn't right against the other ring.

I seriously need to sit down with a nail file.

I was actually stunned at all upscale designers with stores at Valley Fair now—Louis Vuitton, Betsy Johnson, Coach, and more. This used to be the go-to mall when I was in my 20s, it now feels like it caters to a market with much more disposable income than we have, which on the one hand can be depressing yet on the other makes for some really fun window shopping where I can ooooh and aaaah over the crazy things people will waste money on—not at all like my bobber thingy.

I finished reading The Plague of Doves the other night and I really enjoyed it. It's a multi-generational story of lives and histories on a reservation and how people cope with individual realities emanating from a shared, ugly past event. In addition to the main story, I thought it was an interesting look into survivor's syndrome. And how the ripples from a single, defining and common moment or event—it could be anything, 9/11, the Loma Prieta earthquake, Challenger, Kennedy's assassination—act on each person in different ways, in this case, it's a lynching. I also think the book was hopeful in that no matter how different from each other the characters became, they were just different, not entirely incompatible. It felt a little disjointed in places, though in its way, that disjointedness complements the story. Huh. I hadn't quite realized I'd thought about the story that deeply, so I guess it was pretty good.

I started Water for Elephants last night and was hooked from page 2. I'm having to be very disciplined about putting it down.

Oh, so Saturday's plan had been to go to the Renaissance Fair at the Farm. Yup, the very same farm that had the crazy train festival last weekend. But we ended up doing that on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Germ Alert

If the sniffling and sneezing at the cube farm are any indication, I will be miserably sick very soon. Just sayin'.

Friday, September 11, 2009

nine eleven

Eight years ago today, in addition to our national emergency, it was also the day my previous partner was diagnosed with cancer. We'd been in the emergency room overnight and had learned, just hours before the first plane hit, that he had Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

I was so focused on making sure he was getting care (we were running into a lot of problems because he was uninsured, but that's a separate story), learning everything I could about the disease, and being the conduit between the doctors and his family that I think it was a full 2 weeks before the enormity of the attacks really sunk in.

That day was the end of normal in so many ways, and it is one of my least favorite days of the year.

Brief Blackout

Apparently Scoob didn't like that Red Potato Tart as much as I thought he did. He said he liked it better without the ham, so I finished up the leftovers for today's lunch, which was kind of junky because we don't have a toaster oven in the kitchen at work, just two microwaves and a slice-style toaster, which means it was just soggy. (That just totally made me think about "two turntables and a microphone," not that they're even similar, but oh well. There you have it. Man, it's been a long time since I listened to that.)

Nothing really exciting happened today, unless you count the power going out tonight when I got home from work. Seriously, I think I'd been home about 15 minutes, was snuggled with Scoob on the sofa dreading the fact that I needed to do cat box duty because it's garbage night, and zzzzzt—no power. It was pretty strange really. It wasn't quite night time, but definitely twilight and I've never realized how dark our neighborhood could be. It was seriously strange watching flashlight beams bob around in the windows as if every one of our neighbors were being burgled at the same time.

Luckily, I have candles. And even luckier, I know where they are. So we had a bit of light to kick around the house with, thought the combination of (super, super strong) vanilla, melon, and sweetpea scented candles may not have been the best solution.

So my biggest challenge was trying to change the cat boxes by candle light without making a mess. And wouldn't you know it, even with a fresh litter box, Dozer still peed on the carpet. I don't understand this cat anymore. I've even bought those puppy pad things people use for house training puppies. When she decides to not use the box, she sort of uses them. But she plants her tuckus right at the edge of the pad. Right where there's no absorbent stuff, so the piss just hits plastic and runs onto the carpet anyhow! There are days I'm tempted to put her up for adoption. But who is going to love that pissy puke bucket at much as we do?

Anyhow, it was really eye opening to be without power. Without the television, a radio, or the internet, we had no way of knowing what was happening or how widespread the outage was. And yes, it did cross my mind that tomorrow is 9/11, not that I'm paranoid or anything. If our cellphones hadn't been charged, we would have been completely cut off. We called a few neighbors and determined it was just local thing and then our minds turned to dinner.

We debated about trying to cook or reheat something at home, then realized that that the stove has an electric ignition and even if we lit it the old-fashioned way, we'd still be cooking by candlelight. Not the best. So we ventured out for Mexican and saw that someone had hit a light pole at the intersection. Who knows whether that was the cause or a result of the blackout. At any rate the power was back on when we got home, though I could see that some of our neighbors down the way were still dark. Good thing too, because it's warmed up the past couple days and tonight would have been miserable with the fans.

We definitely need some sort of emergency kit, like with one of those crank radios.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Red Potato Tart

I've tried variations of this recipe a couple of times now and I really like it. Aside from all the slicing, it's really quite simple and makes for a nice savory meal paired with a soup or salad.

Red Potato Tart

Cooking time: 50 – 60 minutes
Prep time: 20 minutes

    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    ½ of a sweet onion, diced (Walla Wallas are in season here)
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 zucchini, cut into half moons
    ½ cup of sliced mushrooms
    2 red potatoes, thinly sliced
    1 cup of ham, chopped (I used turkey ham)
    ½ cup crumbled feta
    2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
    1 store-bought 9-inch pie crust, or make your own
    Kosher salt and black pepper

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms, add salt and pepper as desired and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and ham and toss to combine.
  2. On a piece of parchment paper, roll the 9-inch pie crust out to 12 inches. Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet and spoon the potato mixture onto the pie crust leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle with the feta cheese then fold the edge of the pie crust over the potato mixture.
  3. Bake until the crust is golden brown (you can cover the crust with foil if it gets too dark) and the potatoes are tender, about 50 – 60 minutes. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve.

I've also tried a meatless version without the ham, with leeks instead of mushrooms, and a sharp cheddar in place of the feta (picture version). It's a filling, but not heavy meal, and we both really like it. Even better, we always have leftovers for lunch!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Holy Locomotive, Batman

I completely forgot how annoying the Historic Rail Fair at Ardenwood Historic Farm is. Our housing property is adjacent to the farm and the Historic Rail Fair is one of the noisiest annual events they put on at the farm. And bless them, they do it on Labor Day weekend so residents can enjoy 3 days of noise instead of 2. I'm so happy neither of us works the night shift and that we're not trying to get little ones down for naps.

The farm hosts a Train Museum and the museum includes track for an 1891 Baldwin steam locomotive that circles around the farm. Listening to the chugga-chugga as it motors along the track isn't so bad; it's the choo-choo part that's driving me loco. I swear the person driving the train waits until they're right next to the houses before yanking that whistle wide open. Hopefully, as in years past, there will be enough complaints (I've already called in with mine) that they'll start tooting their horn on the other side of the track—the side that runs along the already noisy freeway.

In other news, someone we actually know has the H1N1 flu virus. Scoob's boss' child was diagnosed with the virus around mid-week and the entire family is under quarantine for several days while anyone they've come in direct contact with is being notified and tested for the virus. Luckily, Scoob is a telecommuter and hasn't been in direct contact with his boss. Actually, I don't think they've ever even met face-to-face. His boss lives in Virginia (I think).

I've been struggling with One Fifth Avenue. I'm only about 100 pages into it because I can't seem to stomach reading about the trials and tribulations of New York City's social elite wannabes for more than a few pages at a time. There are one or two character lines that I find interesting enough, but reading the rest of it is nauseating. Which, now that I think about it, is probably why I lost interest in the Sex in the City shows as well.

Anyhow, a couple days ago I told Scoob I was going to give it about 30 more pages to suck me in and it didn't. I think it's time to stick a fork in it and move on to the next book. As my previous boss says, "Life's too short to read bad books. There are plenty of good books out there just begging to be read."

So then the question is, which book do I read next? Do I just grab the next one from the stack? Or, do I carefully select one, weighing the merits of each against the other? (Honestly, if that's the toughest decision I need to make today, then life is pretty darned good.) Here's what is in my stack, from top to bottom:

Fine Just the Way It Is, by Annie Proulx
Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
The Plague of Doves, by Louis Erdrich
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, by Mark Bittman

I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy the Erdrich novel as I've liked some of her other novels, which might be the perfect way to get the disaster of One Fifth Avenue out of my head. So yeah, I think I'll do that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Looong Weekend

So I made it to the library and picked up all 25 of my books on hold and immediately proceeded to drop 20 of them into the returns bin. There's just absolutely no way I'm going to read all those before they're due. Even if I renew them. So anyhow, I've got 5 and I started reading the first one, One Fifth Avenue, last night. I'm not sure what to expect from this book but I'm hoping that since it's written by the same person who wrote the Sex in the City book that it'll at least be entertaining. Not that I read the Sex in the City book, but I've seen enough of the TV series based on the book that I feel I know what her humor is or will be.

I met a new neighbor coming home from work tonight. Well the neighbor isn't new, we've just never spoken. Anyhow, she has the cutest puppy. I saw it for the first time last week, but seeing as how I had to walk right by her and the dog tonight, I stopped to say hello. Seriously, if I didn't already have Tank and Dozer, well, and if I had a yard, I would try to adopt one.

Labor Day weekend is approaching fast and I have to take a mandatory furlough day on Friday, so it's an extra-long weekend for me. I'm trying to figure out what I'll do. The Bay Bridge is closed this weekend, so I definitely won't be driving into the city. I was seriously thinking about pricing airline tickets to get away for the weekend, but then I remembered that Scoob doesn't have Friday off. He doesn't watch the calendar at all and was surprised to learn that he has Monday off.

This is my last of the 6 required furlough days, and I've kind of been enjoying it. Well, at except for the part where I get my paycheck. So far the company is tracking at 98% of our projection for the fiscal year, which hopefully means things will get back to normal soon at the office. We might actually be able to hire someone to replace at least 1 of the 3 editors we've lost to attrition. Or, we might even be able to start getting raises again. Or, hey, we might start seeing the employer contribution to our 401(k)s again.

I'm not holding my breath.