Scarlett’s Letter October 12, 2013

What an outstanding and amazing day!

After my evening with Mom last night, and her temporary hearing loss, I was a little hesitant to leave her for the better part of the weekend, but as I only planned on being an hour or so away, and could be back to assist, if need be, in fairly short order, she encouraged me to go. We figured, if worse came to worse, she could call me and speak to me, she just wouldn’t be able to hear me, but I would drop whatever I was doing and be on my way.

My day started early, as planned. I left the house at about 5:00 AM and headed for the river for a fifteen and a half mile run with my running club. If you asked me to sit down and design the most perfect day and setting for a nice, long run, I couldn’t have come up with anything better than what we had today. It was cool to begin, not cold, but cool enough that I hesitated to take my hoodie off. Once we got moving, though, it was perfect. The day warmed as the sun continued to rise above the golden leafed trees. The river sparkled and glinted in the slanted sunlight, reflecting the golden hue of the rays that filtered through the autumn colored trees. It was a good run, and nearly as hard as it sounds, fifteen and a half miles. It was rewarding and I’m confident that my mid-week workouts are benefiting me well.

I made plans with one of my favorite Meet-Up groups, the “Forty-Something Women’s Group”, happy hour and the “Second Saturday” art walk. Obviously, after running fifteen and a half miles I was not happy hour/art walk ready. It would be completely crazy to drive all the way back to Napa, shower, change and drive back to Sacramento for an evening out with the girls, only to drive back to Napa, again. I decided to use one of my abundant “free” hotel reward nights. Our happy hour and art walk event were to focus in the Midtown Sacramento area, so I booked myself a room immediately across the street from Capitol Park, where the State Capitol building resides. Brilliant, I know.

After my run, I grabbed a couple of street tacos at Rubio’s, which were good, but as soon as I headed downtown, I regretted. There are so many fantastic restaurants in Midtown, I could certainly have found something amazing to gnaw on, instead. But, then again, I spent $4 on lunch. I checked in to my hotel and took a nice, long shower. I had the luxury of getting ready as slowly as I liked. I had plenty of time before happy hour and just enjoyed the ritual a girl has in getting all ready for an evening. No one to rush me, no one to sit impatiently nearby knowing better than to rush me. I don’t really like being alone, a lot, but now and again, especially for a “girls’ night” the solitude is replete.

Even with abundant time well spent, I was ready a full hour and a half before I needed to be. It would’ve been tragic to just sit about inside my hotel room on such a splendid Sacramento day, so, I took to the streets. Having lived in this area for thirty some years before my recent return to my hometown, Napa, I’ve seen Sacramento change, considerably, for the better. Today, I decided to be a “tourist in my own town”, a pastime I definitely recommend to anyone, anywhere. I walked out into the warm, sunny afternoon, across the street, with no real plan, direction or agenda. I only knew that at 5:00 PM I needed to be at Zocalo’s a few blocks away to meet up with everyone.

As I meandered down the sidewalk I spotted the rose garden in Capitol Park, and so, I crossed the street and wandered around there for a bit. I don’t know what it is about capitol buildings, but I never cease to be attracted to them. The history, the stature, the architecture, I love it all.

Midtown Sacramento, as I mentioned, has no shortage of restaurants. It is the “it” neighborhood, these days, and full of life. Most of the houses are neat, tidy, landscaped and, apparently, well loved and a source of pride. The few houses that aren’t quite as well kept actually look like they are occupied by the younger, trendier, artsier types, for whom I have respect, admiration and a wee bit of jealousy. Art abounds, here, too. I took it all in, without entering any shops or galleries, I was saving all that for later, with the girls. I just walked.

Since I was in the neighborhood, again, having a history of my own here, and always being attracted to historical sights, in general, and, more specifically, mine, I headed to the site where the Sigma Chi fraternity house had been back in the mid-1980’s. I was a Little Sister for Sigma Chi, the charter year, and have many found, though, perhaps blurry, memories of those days. I wasn’t sure if I’d find the house standing, or replaced with some other structure. It’s been a while. As I rounded the corner, there it stood, and about as run down and beleaguered as I remember it. I was happy to find it there, like a touchstone of my youth. The Lambda Chi house was still standing, next door, though equally dilapidated. Some things, I guess, don’t change, or change more slowly.

At 5:00, I made my way to Zocalo’s to meet the ladies, have a couple of drinks and another couple of street tacos. I spent $4 on food and $20 on two glasses of wine. Oh well, I guess I have my priorities straight! I didn’t settle for the house wine, but, instead, had the Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon, one of my “staples”. Good stuff.

With the “Meet-Up” concept, you go online, find activities that interest you, and sign up for groups that participate in those activities. There are “Meet-Ups” everywhere, nationwide. I belong to several; a salsa dancing Meet-Up, a pole dancing Meet-Up, a hiking and adventure Meet-Up, a women’s wine-tasting Meet-Up and this Forty-Something Women’s Meet-Up, which is my favorite. By far. I’ve been participating as much as I can with my travels, and now the distance I live from the group. It took a few events before I really felt like I fit in, before I was recognized, but that is true of any social group. This group has been, by far, the most welcoming and warm of any I’ve participated in. Now that I’ve been around for a couple of years, even though not always present, I am greeted with enthusiasm and joy, which, of course, is returned in kind. There are always new ladies in attendance, too, and I do my best to make them feel immediately welcome and to get to know them. I do love meeting new people!

There were probably about fifteen of us in all, and after a couple of drinks and a bite to eat, we took to the streets to find art. Second Saturday is a tradition in the Greater Sacramento Metropolitan Area, actually encompassing all of the unincorporated areas, suburbs, neighboring towns and even neighboring counties. The galleries all stay open into the night, many offering music and wine and food. It is a lovely way to enjoy art and to visit different parts of town. Midtown, though, as I mentioned, is definitely the “it” area, these days, so Second Saturday is a bit more of a spectacle. There are people in the streets and in every empty lot, open-air art marts, demonstrations, live music, and all kinds of activity. The bars and restaurants are all brimming full, and, as the weather is perfect, the sidewalks act as added seating areas for most of the restaurants and bars and even some of the art galleries. It is almost carnival-like.

We make our way through one gallery. That’s it. One. Then, somehow, we end up at a Turkish bar/hookah bar, where we had Turkish beer, Turkish wine, and, for most of us, our first hookah experience. It was outrageous fun and I’m glad to have that crossed of my bucket list. I don’t see it as a regular indulgence, but I’m glad to have experienced it, and especially with such a fun-loving group of women. We laughed so hard I think the twenty-something’s that surrounded us were, perhaps, a tad bit jealous!

In our advanced years, at “forty-something”, our energy was beginning to flag a bit. We forced ourselves to one more pub, had a beer, stifling yawns, and decided to call it a night. I think it was, perhaps, midnight, I don’t know for certain. It wasn’t too terribly late, and, as luck would have it, our final pub was two doors down from my hotel. I was so happy to crawl into my king-sized bed and sleep off that fifteen and a half mile run, the wine, more wine, the hookah and the beer.

Morning will come quickly, I’m sure. I have big plans for the day, tomorrow. First and foremost, I’d planned on brunch at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, the Firestone Public House. In chatting with one of the “new” ladies, she asked where the Firestone Public House was, in relation to where we had happy hour. I told her where it was and that I planned on having brunch there. She will be joining me! I don’t mind dining alone, if necessary, but I am so happy to have company and conversation!

As I see it, in our effort to evolve into the people we want and deserve to be, we have choices. So often I hear folks complain that they don’t have friends available to go do things with, that they spend their free time at home, watching TV. That, I’m sorry, is a choice. There are so many opportunities out there to meet people, like-minded people, to have experiences, to meet even more people. There are as many opportunities to enjoy the sights and the surroundings alone, on occasion, too. Never let being momentarily solitary cause you to feel like you aren’t welcomed in public. I spend more time alone in public places, enjoyably, than I do at home. I relish a public place where I can be around people, perhaps strike up a conversation, have a glass of wine, a pint of beer, a cup of coffee, or just sit and read, write, or dunce around on the internet, all things I could do at home, but that I often find more fun in public. We shouldn’t overlook opportunities to get out of our rut, our routine, our family room and our TV ritual. Be inspired, be empowered, there is life outside the front door, down the street, in your town, or, maybe even the next town over. Just think of all you may be missing by staying home, comfortable in your sweats, catching that show you could just as easily record and watch later, after having gone out into the world to live life. Enjoy!

Scarlett’s Letter August 18, 2013

You guessed it. Another trip to Sacramento.

Not quite as early, but still requiring copious amounts of coffee. Mom went with me, again.

 

Third trip to Sacramento in as many days means coffee. Lots of coffee.
Third trip to Sacramento in as many days means coffee. Lots of coffee.

Since we missed out on chicken and waffles at our “farewell” lunch with my son at Cafeteria 15L, we decided we needed to try again. Sunday brunch. Is it bad that our waiter from Friday recognized us and laughed at us for returning? I know, deep down, he understood. This was all about chicken and waffles. Oh, and the bottomless mimosas.

Cafeteria 15L The Chicken and Waffle Capitol of the Capitol City.
Cafeteria 15L The Chicken and Waffle Capitol of the Capitol City.

I think Mom was awake for the whole trip to Sacramento. Bless her heart, so it was pretty much one inquiry after another, questions I couldn’t possibly answer, then long, disjointed stories that probably had a point at inception but didn’t when all was said and done, followed by random, pointed, statements that provoke me into fury. Bridled fury, but fury, nonetheless. I’m not so sure this is done unwittingly. It may be fun to see me turn red, bite my tongue and smile anyway. I introduced Mom to Pandora. I put the “Big Band” station on, which I like a lot, and I knew she’d appreciate. I even successfully taught her how to pick up the phone, without touching the thumbs down button, to view who was playing. And I still don’t think she totally understood. She still calls my phone “the Facebook” and emails, text messages, chats, and Facebook messages are often “faxes”. The bottomless mimosa made everything all right, again. For both of us, I’m sure. We do really love each other. I know she talks smack about me. I’ve caught her in the act.

Yes, the chicken and waffles were Uh-mazing! And if there were a gun to my head and I had to choose the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had, just shoot me. They’re all different, and I’ve tried many. I still love “the original” at Roscoe’s in Long Beach (and other locales). Fremont Diner in Sonoma is hard to beat, but Cafeteria 15L adds a peppery gravy and a maple pecan butter that just puts it over the top. And I do love over the top.

CHICKEN AND WAFFLES and BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS!
CHICKEN AND WAFFLES and BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS!
Four orders of chicken and waffles and bottomless mimosas. The food coma set in before the first bite.
Four orders of chicken and waffles and bottomless mimosas. The food coma set in before the first bite.
A picture of my son taking a picture of me taking a picture of bottomless mimosas. The food picture thing; is it hereditary or socialization? We may never know.
A picture of my son taking a picture of me taking a picture of bottomless mimosas. The food picture thing; is it hereditary or socialization? We may never know.

After our fab brunch, we headed back to my son’s house to collect things that won’t fit in his luggage for his upcoming move to Hawaii, pretty much his library. The plan; I will package the books up in U.S. Postal Service Flat Rate boxes and send him one every couple of weeks. You’ve got to love flat rate! The last little package of love I sent to my sweetie in Alaska cost me $15. If I had sent it regular USPS, by weight, it would’ve cost $65. If you haven’t discovered flat rate, do. And, the boxes are free, in the lobby of the post office, 24/7, and are perfect for birthday gifts and Christmas gifts of many sizes, in case you kind of forgot to buy boxes and you only have three hours to wrap everything before Christmas happens. Or, if, perhaps, you spent your entire Christmas budget on gifts, and shoes, and forgot to buy boxes. Free is good.

We headed home. Maybe it was the mimosas, maybe I’m just exhausting to be around. Perhaps both. But Mom slept the whole way home. There was a wreck in Vacaville that had traffic backed up for miles. We were down to a crawl for, well, most of the drive. It took absolutely forever. I was getting sick of the Big Band station, but didn’t dare change it. Mom would occasionally wake up, utter a provocatively ignorant statement and then go back to sleep before I could rebut. Example; “Is that a TAPE we’re listening to?” Snore. “No! It’s not a tape! They don’t even make tape players anymore! Do you see a tape player in the dash of my car? Why would we listen to Internet radio on the way to Sacramento and a TAPE on the way home?”  I deserve sainthood. Perhaps Mom does, too. We do love each other.

When we got home, Mom went up and took a nap. I seized the opportunity to finish a creative venture I’ve been wanting to work on, uninterrupted, for a couple of weeks. Then I wrote. And it was good.

I had eggs for dinner.

I HAD to have eggs for dinner.
I HAD to have eggs for dinner.

Scarlett’s Letter August 7, 2013

Magic sprinkles and sparkles today!

We received a letter from the gas and electric company a month or so ago, stating that they were planning a power service outage in our neighborhood, today, for maintenance. I made special arrangements with my manager to be assigned to a “project” today, rather than a teaching session. My plan was to get up, get ready, and head to a coffee shop or other free power/free Wi-Fi venue to work. Then to a late afternoon doctors appointment.

So, according to plan, I was up, coffee made, hot shower done, curly hair clipped back. I didn’t want to risk having the power turned off mid blow-dry, straighten and curl, so I just went curly today. I bundled my stuff up and plugged in the vital electronics to charge until the big switch was turned off. Which never happened. Two hours after the planned shut down, lights were still burning bright and my electronics were fully charged. Mom was huddled in her room with a candle, reading a book, assuming the power had been shut off according to plan. She was pretty pissed to find out otherwise. She called the utility company and was informed that their plans changed and there would be no power outage. She was even more pissed. I had a plan, power on or power off, I carried on. I needed therapy, anyway. Therapy being time in my car at high speeds with music blaring. I headed east, to Sacramento.

I have to admit, I was having a bit of a pity party for the first, oh, three quarters of my drive. But then I talked some sense into myself. Why is it, even though we know better, we tend to lapse back into the thought pattern that things external to us are responsible for making us feel happy and fulfilled. I talked myself down off the ledge and am once again, feeling solidly grounded. The result, of course, being an article.

My doctor’s appointment went well. For being fifty and all. I haven’t had a real physical in about three years and boy, has my doctor aged! My cholesterol levels were off the chart. Are we surprised? But my overall cholesterol is only elevated because my HDL cholesterol, the good kind, is freakishly high. My LDL, bad cholesterol is normal. So, in all, even though the numbers look scary, it couldn’t be better. Considering I eat pretty, darned well, and in restaurants more often than not, I was told that “running was my salvation”. So, I’ll keep running.

I met my son and his friend for a pint, or two, afterwards at Capitol Beer and Tap Room in Sacramento who features a fantastic and revolving selection of awesome brews. And after a pint, or two, the logical progression is, of course, pizza at Hot City Pizza in Sacramento, also home to a fantastic, eclectic selection of beer. We had a nice visit, some interesting brews and a scrumptious pizza. My son is headed off to Hawaii, as in moving several thousand miles away, in another week or so. That means both of my kids will be a four or five hour plane ride away, in opposite directions. Good thing I have lots of frequent flier miles!

So, all in all, for a day that was supposed to be powerless, it turned out to be pretty powerful. And magical. And good.

 

Left Coast Una Mas Vienna Lager which won Best of Show at the California State Fair this year. Fantastic! At Capitol Beer and Tap Room in Sacramento
Left Coast Una Mas Vienna Lager which won Best of Show at the California State Fair this year. Fantastic! At Capitol Beer and Tap Room in Sacramento

We also tried the Stone Farking Wheaton Woot Stout. Again, fantastic, one of the best stouts I've had in a while.
We also tried the Stone Farking Wheaton Woot Stout. Again, fantastic, one of the best stouts I’ve had in a while.
The Bruery Tart of Darkness. It was sour, but good. I thought I might like it better on a salad.
The Bruery Tart of Darkness. It was sour, but good. I thought I might like it better on a salad.
The Bruery Bois was, again, fantastic, dark and sweet. You could taste the whiskey influence from the aging barrels. I thought it had a rich, maple syrup finish and would go very well on "drunk waffles".
The Bruery Bois was, again, fantastic, dark and sweet. You could taste the whiskey influence from the aging barrels. I thought it had a rich, maple syrup finish and would go very well on “drunk waffles”.
Best "dive" pizza place in East Sacramento, Hot City Pizza. Here, half Pepperoni Bliss and Spicy Veggie. Both excellent!
Best “dive” pizza place in East Sacramento, Hot City Pizza. Here, half Pepperoni Bliss and Spicy Veggie. Both excellent!
Hot City Pizza also has a fantastic selection of beer. My son and I are fans of the Knee Deep Brewing Company's Tanilla
Hot City Pizza also has a fantastic selection of beer. My son and I are fans of the Knee Deep Brewing Company’s Tanilla