Monday, March 30, 2009

St. Paddy's Day Weekend

Wow, we packed it in! I did 2 5ks, celebrated St. Patrick's Day both Saturday and Sunday, went cabbage bowling and hiked Mission Peak.

The first race was in Stockton. While Stockton is inland, it's connected to the bay-area by the San Joaquin River and the Stockton Deep Water Canal. The u-shaped race course hugged the marina and park in the downtown-area. The boats and sails, the greenery of the park and the new buildings in the marina and in the downtown-area were pretty amidst the ag-industrial surroundings of Stockton.

The race was made up of a nice sized crowd of about 300 participants. My goal was to get a better feel for running a 10-min mile and I succeeded. After the race, we bowled, had our complimentary beer at the festival and watched the award ceremony. After a stroll around the festival and a bite to eat, we got in the car and went to Mission Peak for a hike.

We arrived at Mission Peak to find it surprisingly crowded. It was overcast, windy and cold but that didn't stop the throngs. And neither did the elevation gain on the trail! It was rough! After looping around the lot until we got a parking space, we did a 3.2 mile loop that took us up to an old oak with a great view and past many cows who roam the park. There were a few spring flowers peeking out, some milk maids and buttercups but the rest were waiting for more sunshine and warmer weather.

The next morning we headed back to the East Bay, to Dublin, for the Shamrock Fun Run 5k. There were more runners for this race. Runners were staged by mile times and there were a lot of dogs. The course went through downtown Dublin and down a few streets in surrounding neighborhoods. It finished on a trail along the Alamo Canal where runners entered the festival after collecting their goodie bags.

Runners were served pizza and cake while being entertained with live music followed by the awards ceremony and raffle. We usually stay for the awards because my partner generally wins something. Today, I got my first ribbon:).

The town of Dublin turned out for the festival. The park area, flanked by fountains, was in front of the City Council Chambers Building. It was Sunday and the building was open to the public (nice warm bathrooms!). I was looking at the display of gifts from foreign dignitaries and was momentarily fooled by the sculpture in the corner. Ha!

There was another stage on the other side of the building and the parking lot was filled with vendor booths. By the time we left, folks were appearing in droves.

The drive home is always a little challenging because the body gets stiff. We've been up since 5-something in the morning, and this weekend we pushed even harder by doing 2 races and a hike, oh, but it was fun. A little sleep, some food, some water and we'll be ready to do it all again next weekend!

Monday, March 9, 2009

I decided that instead of moping about job hunting, I was going to make the most of our yard and get a full-on veggie patch going. After pulling some weeds and outlining a planting plan, I came in and talked to my partner. In a flash, we were out there turning over soil. We put in a couple of hours and continued Saturday when we got home from a 5k in Union City.

The weather in Union City was perfect, the gravel trail along the levee was scenic enough. There were only 37 participants. I got up late, didn't want to go, didn't get enough warm up time and performed poorly. It was great to get out and get some exercise even though it didn't seem much like a workout. I ran another half mile to cool down, walked, did some stretches and then we were on the road.

Back at the house, I started to tear out some of the succulent in the front yard that was too leggy while my partner amended the soil and turned the compost heaps. I sprinkled some wildflower seeds in the areas we won't plant veggies and put some sweet pea seeds along the fence. What a day!

Sunday, my brother and his family came over for a stroll in the redwood grove and dinner. We've hiked and camped many times over the years but the redwood grove loop at Henry Cowell was perfect for the little ones. We spotted a few deer, some banana slugs, squirrels and heard lots of song birds. The puddles were just about dried up so we were able to go inside the hotel tree. (Mental note: next time bring flashlight). There's a redwood that had been hollowed out and used as a room with a bed, wood-burning stove, bookshelf and other accoutrements. After a stop in the Visitor's Center, we walked over to Roaring Camp. The kids love trains, so we climbed on the cars and sat on a wagon car by the duck pond and munched on snacks in the warmth of the sun.

Dinner was baked spaghetti squash with sauteed kale on the side. I baked the squash, scraped the meat into a baking dish, mixed in some Parmesan cheese, covered it with a nice layer of home-made spaghetti sauce, a thick layer of grated cheese and baked it for 30 minutes. It was really yummy.

Monday, I planted starters for the garden; tomatoes, marigolds, nasturtium and spearmint. Once these are in the ground, I'll start bush beans, summer squash and herbs. I'm going to start two bush beans and two tomatoes and start two more in about two weeks so we're not over run with them. When we moved in last fall we had more tomatoes then I knew what to do with until I learned how to freeze them. We had fresh tomatoes for our spaghetti and enchilada sauces into January! After we harvest the lettuce and carrots, we'll plant a Three Sisters garden with beans, corn and pumpkins.

Just got back from a short run around the track (my first attempt at running in the morning before school starts - got to get there earlier, ugh) followed by a walk around the neighborhood. It's a little brisk but sunny, great weather for spring chores. Gotta put the seedlings on the porch and get to work on my California Dream!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Keepin' My Head Above Water

In so many ways...

The rain keeps coming. This is my first winter in the Santa Cruz Mountains and it is wet. The river at Henry Cowell is flowing strongly. The grass in our yard is soggy. The sun peeps through the clouds a few times a day, and even then, it can be raining.

On the up side, it looks like spring. The red buds and other flowering trees are in bloom. I was sweeping oak leaves off our front porch and got a whiff of thick perfume. Following my nose, I was lead to a bush practically tucked under the porch (we rent, so I have no idea what will bloom). I have since learned it is a Daphne of some sort. The leaves and petals are thick and the flowers are tiny but the fragrance is heady and profuse.

We also have some grape hyacinth blooming in the boxes on the porch. They add a touch of purple to the mostly red and pink flowers in the yard. They have a light, lovely scent that can be experienced up close so it's a good thing they're up on the railing, otherwise, I'd miss it.

The garden is coming long, albeit, slowly. The sun came out for a few days some time back and the lettuce perked right up. At the rate it's growing, I guess we'll have lettuce in April. Better late then never.

The rain has kept me from spending much time outside. I run on the treadmill once in a while and walk in light rain but mostly, I have been spending more time reading, reflecting, searching the internet, reading about running and sending out resumes. As far as the resumes go, I know in my heart I will find the right opportunity, it's just going to take time. Like many other people, I have been here before, having been laid-off in 2003 and unemployed for over a year.

A few days ago, I went to Henry Cowell for a walk in intermittent rain. The redwood grove was nice. The moss is bright green, ferns cover the ground and the little creeks are gurgling. It's the perfect time to spot salamanders and newts and, indeed, we found a couple.

The arboreal salamander was under our trash bin and the rough skinned newt (just eating the tail could kill a person!) was at Henry Cowell. I also saw a white-tailed kite hunting over the pasture at the entrance of the park. Simply writing about these things seems to be lifting my spirits, hmmm, guess I should do it more often:)


It hasn't rained for a few hours now and there is more sunshine breaking through then we've seen in a few days. I'm planning to go to the track and get in a workout. I'm hoping it doesn't rain until after I get started. Getting started in the rain has been harder but once I'm going, let it fall! After all, it is winter in California.