The Audition

We are looking to get some new furniture.

I’m using this space to try out a few candidates.

Here’s the sofa. It’s a wood frame with removable cushions, suitable to a lifestyle which involves a dog.

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Bow Arm Sofa

The cushions in this photo would be fine in the right situation, but aren’t to our taste – we prefer something rather plainer, like this faux leather called Buggy.

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Likewise, the finish isn’t to our tastes as it is too dark for the house. We both liked this one, which is called Provincial

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This end table fits our style and I’m becoming very attached to it.

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F.V. Boulder Creek End Table

Finally, a matching coffee table offering storage works for me – good place to hide away all those papers when company is due to arrive!

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Boulder Creek Coffee Table

Tomato Progress Report

It’s about 6 weeks since potting my tomatoes, so I thought I’d share a picture.

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From left to right –

The Red Brandywine wins the height category, and it is setting a modest number of fruits.

The Vintage Wine is still a dwarf, and hasn’t set a single fruit. It has had a disappointing 2 blossoms, and I’m not sanguine about its future.

The Boar is not tall, but it is healthy and has started to fruit.

The Stupice is my water hog and is loaded with fruits, some of which have already ripened.

By the way, the bed behind the pots was assembled by my husband, and filled with topsoil this morning before temps hit the 90s. Here I plan to plant up my strawberries and grow carrots. A second raised bed to the right will be filled with my blueberry plants and a few herbs I’ll rescue from another bed destined for obsolescence as we build a small addition to expand our kitchen.

Running thoughts

Earlier this year I decided that resuming running would be a fabulous idea. The opportunity to act on this thought was, however, rather slim; a late and lengthy commute saw me home at past 8 pm most days, and the prospect of cozy pjs and eating a toasted bagel while perusing the daily news was a greater temptation than a lonely trek down a dark – and therefor slightly creepy – trail.

A fortunate change to this situation arose some 4 weeks ago, and last weekend I started my training. I am pathetically out of shape, and manage to alternate huffing through a 0.1 mile run and walking the same distance about 5 times. But 1/2 mile of running + 1/2 mile of walking = 1 mile more than eating a toasted bagel and reading the news achieved, so I hold out hope that my persistence will lead to a generally healthier lifestyle.

I had an interesting experience while running: I pictured myself, lean and ponytailed, swiftly gaining the wooded trail near my house. Afterwards I had a sense of accomplishment even though I am not exactly lean and my hair needs about 2 more inches of growth in order to achieve ponytailability. I wonder how others who run may similarly fantasize. The Oatmeal provides me with some clues plus some reassurance that I am not evil when I eat half a box of bite-size Butterfingers.

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The running bug has invaded many corners of my life, including style. I suddenly find myself designing a knock-off Narciso Rodriguez creation I call the track dress due to its track-suit striping.

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I also find myself perusing Zappos for far too long in search of the perfect running shoe: comfy toe box, arch support, plenty of cushioning, and a rigid sole.

I do this while forgetting to empty the garbage, vacuum up the dust, check my calendar. And while these things are important, they are also distractions from the essential voice of the trail, which creates the space into which my thoughts of trees and ocean and wind can beautifully inhabit. So it’s nice to have the time to forget, and to remember.

The washing of the water

Several years ago my husband and I joined some friends on a kayaking outing up at Tomales Bay. The excursion was strenuous for me, not being much of an athlete, yet also relaxing: the scenery so beautiful, the air positively delicious, and the sound of the ocean just beyond the bay all conspired to raise the experience to a level I can describe as meditative.

I have often reflected on that day in years since, and recalled the memory of being a speck on the powerful waters as a means of smacking me in the head with some perspective in those moments when my mind and heart are too much engaged in the world of mediocrity (which, unfortunately, is rather more often than I should prefer).

Memory grows sparse without reinforcement, so on Sunday a friend and I headed to the Oakland estuary for a kayaking basics course led by Sou at Cal Kayak. I had considered a more advanced course, but given the number of years since my initial outing I felt it best to start from the very beginning, and indeed the experience of the day suggested this was a wise decision. My upper body strength is poor, and I found myself continually padding on the wrong side and direction when attempting a turn, so much practice and patient coaching by the instructor was a necessity.

The outing felt like an adventure, and afforded a unique view if the estuary, that not even a walk along the shoreline could provide. We began from Jack London Square and crossed the channel toward Alameda, then headed southeast toward the High Street bridge. A fleet of Navy boats heading to the open Bay passed us, and a couple of the sailors waved. Several sailboats were also trekking Bayside, and at a wider spot in the estuary A sailing class or club was working at some exercises. We passed a small neighborhood of houseboats, the view of which provided me with some material for future daydreams.

Having waited out a couple of pleasure craft, we crossed back toward Oakland after passing a pretty marina, and took ashore for a lunch break at Estuary Park – lots of potential for beauty here but sadly, a shabby spot. We then headed up a side channel toward Lake Merritt, passing under a couple of low bridges. The channel doesn’t go through – at least, not yet; there is some chatter about opening up the channel to connect lake and estuary. The exercise was not without some perils here, as a swift current combined with silt barriers required some focused paddling and many adjustments to prevent being caught on barnacle-encrusted columns. I nearly became tangled in the silt barrier, but pushed through with some great effort that my arm muscles regret this morning.

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Returning to Jack London Square marina was quite a bit easier than the easterly trek, as we followed along the current. The hazard here, though, was that the current pushed one toward the center of the channel, and being center would place a small, relatively fragile kayak in the direct path of larger, engine-powered craft. A good amount of adjustment was required to remain closer to the shoreline.

The day was lovely fun, and though I was sunburned (on my knees where it didn’t occur to me that I might require sunscreen) and a bit sore this morning, I am eager to take the next course and hazard the more challenging waters of San Francisco Bay.

By the way, I recommend the company. Their people are knowledgeable and helpful, and the prices were reasonable. My friends in the Sacramento area may be pleased to note that the company has an office in Rancho Cordova, and offers tours in Folsom, including a moonlight paddle at Lake Natoma.

Transported Back in Time

I decided to watch Star Trek: TNG again. Just finished season 1, episode 5 (The Last Outpost), and remembered this as the one that hooked me on the series way back when. The ensemble was just beginning to click, and this was the first episode where the theme of respecting exploration began to develop some subtlety.

Plus, this is the first time viewers are introduced to the Ferengi, who utter these delicious words: ‘It’s true: you work with your females, arm them, and force them to wear clothing. Sickening!’

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