Monday, March 20, 2017

The Boyz

If there was ever any doubt that Popcorn and Archie would completely steal my heart (there wasn't)...they have.

We're just past the three-month mark, and I love the boys so much, it's ridiculous. Every day they make me laugh, and every day, I'm thankful to have them.

Popcorn is my lap cat, my cuddlebug. He loves to jump up on the couch and knead his paws on my lap before making a quick circle and plopping down for a long nap. He doesn't offend easily, so if I sneeze or get a bit wiggly, he just rolls with it. If I scratch his ears or his back, a very faint little rumble will start, even as he dozes.

Archie isn't as much of a lap cat, but he definitely demands his share of attention, and, with his brother, he sleeps next to me on the bed at night. He's more likely to be ripping a catnip mouse to shreds on the floor while Popcorn and I watch from the comfort of the couch.

Seriously, The Boyz are pretty special.

They both greet me when I get home from work, but this was
after a quick run, so Popcorn declined.

Archie has his own morning beauty routine.

Popcorn, rolling around and being adorable in the cat tree.

I went out for a run while they stayed home.

All the smells to smell.

This is how we Sunday.

I brought home this cute plant stand/table and was quickly
reminded that everything must pass inspection.

Archie in da house.

Popcorn on my lap.

"I don't always sleep next to you, but when I do, I...oh, yeah.
Actually, I always sleep next to you."

Curled up in a ball, but vertically. He happily stayed like that
(between me and the arm of the sofa) for a while. 

Archie. :) He's not actually fat. 


Most of the time they're together but sometimes they both
need a little "me" time.

Half on my lap, half on the pillow next to me.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

More Fun in Casa Meg

After several months of using a tiny TV on a night stand, with cords hanging out all over, I finally found a TV stand.

See, my tax return was big enough that I was able to pay off both my credit card and my sofa (with enough left over for a plane ticket to visit Summer in Phoenix for Spring Break, yay!!). I still have approved credit at RC Willey, and the delivery fee I paid for the sofa is good for a whole year. I found a reasonably-priced TV stand that I liked the look of, so I bought it. Mom and Dad are getting a new TV soon, so I get their not-so-old one, which is three times the size of what I currently have.

In the meantime, I've done some picture-hanging and whatnot in preparation.

The morning of the delivery, I unplugged everything BUT the

Archie (inside) and Popcorn inspect the new furniture.

My TV is SO TINY. Also, I adore my peacock. 

Later I bought a pretty, inexpensive pitcher and silk flowers
for some pop.

I nicked the frame from Mom and Dad and put a 5x7 shot of
some daffodils that I took last year in London, and the
Christmas card I sent out when I was living in Burnham.

Yesterday I added a couple of framed pictures. The bigger
TV will really finish it off.

The view from the couch.

I also recently bought some frames for some priceless artwork, to hang above my dresser. I was teaching my students about Cubism and loved how my samples turned out.

I also bought a plant stand that is doubling as a tiny table next to the couch, because I needed more light there. The London phone booth picture had been displaced from over the fireplace, so I put it there with the tiny London bus I've been hauling around from one home to another since 1999.

Run, Meg, Run

After the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon in November 2015, I took a break from longer running for a while. As 2016 dawned, I wanted to spend less time pounding the pavement and do shorter races. In April, I ran a 12K, and it was okay--I under-trained for it, but I made it through. By July, I was in escrow on Casa Meg, and two days after taking possession of that hot little mess, I "ran" a favorite local 5K in Sacramento. Okay, I walked it. After the first mile, in which I felt sick to my stomach, I slowed it down and enjoyed the scenery.

Then I got busy making Casa Meg what it is now, and moving, and decorating, and fixing, and adopting cats, get it. I haven't been running. I make the gym a priority, but I just haven't made time to run.

I miss it. I miss the Zen feeling that comes when I focus on my breathing (two steps for each inhale, two steps for each exhale). I miss the feeling of meditating I achieve when in motion like that--I can't get it sitting still. I miss how my body feels after a long slog. So, I'm getting back to it.

It's so hard.

On Monday, I went out with one mile in mind. A long day at school followed by an after-school band rehearsal had me wanting to get it over with. My shins protested every run interval. During the walk intervals, I heaved. My face was soaked with sweat. I reminded myself that it's worth this initial fight.

On Wednesday, I did again. The difference wasn't huge, but it was there. It was the tiniest bit easier, but still nowhere near as easy as it used to be.

I went out again this morning, with two miles in mind. I'm not going to lie--I walked most of it. I spent a good chunk of yesterday cleaning and doing laundry, and had a late evening hanging out at Sarah's. Running was the last thing my body wanted to do, but I got out there and ran part of two miles total. Just making myself lace up the Mizunos was a big deal, really.

And so it goes. I'm thinking of signing up for the Urban Cow Half Marathon in October to give myself a goal...and another finisher's cowbell. That is plenty of time to get back up to thirteen miles, especially given my running history. There are parks near my condo that give some nice running routes, and I'm not opposed to going to Mom and Dad's on a Sunday morning to run their neighborhood again. After all, I ran there for five years and trained for three half marathons on the hilly terrain there.

So bring on the $125 Mizunos and endless packs of Gu gel. Bring on the stretching and foam rolling and the pissing and moaning. But mostly, bring on the badass feeling of getting it done out there. The Running Fool is back.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Adulting 101

I'm just going to throw this one out there.

As of yesterday, for the first time in over a decade, after unemployment, an emergency room bill that was later put on my credit card, and all of the fun that financial distress entails...

I paid off my credit card.

Zero balance.

Frankly, the only times I've ever done that in my life have been when I've had some help from my parents. And this time, it was with no help at all, just a tax return, which I earned. 

Also paid off--my lovely new sofa. 

Just five years left of payments on Slyvie, and we won't even mention the mortgage. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

To the Shore

I've had this week off--oh, heaven--and unlike last year, there were no adventures in London to be had. But just because this year didn't take me to dear England, doesn't mean I can't have smaller adventures near home, and since buying Casa Meg, I haven't taken time for adventure as much as I should.

So on Wednesday, I sat down at the computer and perused Google Maps. I wanted to visit the ocean, but I wanted to see something new, too. I happened upon Bolinas, which, for all its proximity to San Francisco, I'd never heard of. I did some more googling, and I came across a three-year-old write-up in the New York Times.

Turns out the residents of Bolinas like it that way.

Turns out, whenever signs directing people off Highway 1 to Bolinas are erected, the residents will go out there and tear them down. They're not unfriendly, they're simply fond of their quiet lifestyle and lack of outside intrusion.

I had to see it.

I set out from Antelope at about 8:00, taking a slightly more meandering route to avoid as much of Interstate 80 as possible. Once I got in to Marin County, I had to stop a few times to capture the green. By June, this will all be yellow.

It took about two-and-a-half hours to reach Bolinas, but honestly, the journey is half the fun. The roads are twisty, Sylvie's favorite. The views are incredible and ever-changing.

Bolinas itself was not a disappointment. I started by walking to the beach access point. I was not alone--surfing in this spot isn't great, but that doesn't mean that people don't try. Other people were also walking, or sitting and enjoying the sight and sound of the Pacific.

I climbed down some rocks to an area where the tide had gone out, leaving dozens of starfish stranded. There were shells everywhere, and remains of crabs that had been found by enterprising birds.

 An intrepid surfer--surfing here is quite dangerous, as the shore is basically lined with large rocks.

There's graffiti along the sea wall, which obviously I love.

Unicorn Mermaid

Next, I wandered along the main street of Bolinas. I knew from the Times article to look for a few specific things, but there were also some surprises.

 The local bar is Smiley's, across the street from the one restaurant, the Coast Cafe, which said "Closed" but had paying customers eating, so who knows?

I found this odd and delightful little shrine right there on the side of the street next to the cafe.

The community has a thriving arts scene, and a decidedly progressive vibe.

I stopped to buy a cookie at the general store, and asked where the nearest public restroom was. It was in the community park, which is tiny, but well-loved. The bathroom was clean, as these things go. The park itself has a pizza oven, benches made of stone and of driftwood, and one tiny play structure in the shape of a boat.

Over the park's pizza oven:

This old church caught my eye.

The Grand Hotel, mentioned in the article. It was never intended to be a hotel, but after they found the sign and put it up for grins, people started wanting rooms.

There is a community "free box," where people can leave unwanted items and take others.

Another shrine, this one outside the town's tiny book store.

The town's bookstore has an honor system, and was designed to invite reading and enjoyment. I love this.


By this point, I had pretty much exhausted the wonders of Bolinas, and I needed to gas up my car. Bolinas does have a gas station, but it is over $4 a gallon, so I opted to head north on the highway to Point Reyes Station, a slightly larger town with cheaper gas.

I stopped in Olema, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of town, to take exactly two pictures and wander the uncommon mercantile of The Shop.

After finding gas for $2.67 a gallon in Point Reyes Station, I set out once more, having decided on a whim to head north on Highway 1, through Bodega Bay and onwards into nothing much.

I stopped once, in a turnout, because as I came out of some trees to this view, I gasped out loud.

Finally, the highway started to run along the coast at Bodega Bay, and I enjoyed the view while Sylvie zoom-zoomed around the twists and turns of the road.

I stopped at Sonoma State Beach to walk on the sand. It was windy and cold, and this particular beach is quite dangerous, but there is nothing more soothing to me than to listen to the waves crashing and smell the sea air.

The beach was mostly empty--I only saw maybe five or six other people, including some children playing in this little stream.

The afternoon was wearing on, so I decided to start trekking inland. I stopped in Guernville to have tea and quiche at a small cafe. Guernville is just as colorful and artsy as Bolinas, but that's where the similarities end. Where Bolinas is off the beaten path, Guernville is a stopping point on a small highway, and it welcomes visitors.

Getting back to Sacramento entailed a what-the-fuck-Google?! series of twists and turns through wine country, which wasn't unpleasant, except for the delivery truck I spent a long time stuck behind, going 45 in a 55 zone, while a pick-up truck tail-gated me. Finally, I was deposited on Highway 37, where traffic was a nightmare, and then onto Interstate 80, where it was also a nightmare in Fairfield and Davis.

Google had told me I'd be home at 6:30.

Google lied. I made one ten-minute stop at Safeway, and was in my door at 7:30.

California is truly a beautiful place, but of course, I'm always drawn to the coast. Here's to more adventures soon!