Saturday, November 30, 2013
I spend most of my free time hanging out in Berkeley for its large selection of bakeries, coffee shops, and restaurants. A few years ago, I noticed a few shops popping up on Stockton Avenue in El Cerrito. I didn't think they would last. I thought there simply wouldn't be enough foot traffic to support the business. A few days ago I got a coupon for a small cup of coffee at Well Grounded Tea & Coffee Bar on Stockton Avenue, one of the shops that I saw a few years ago. I normally walk Kelsey just a block short from Stockton, so I thought I'd walk over and check out the shop while getting a free small cup of coffee.
This morning I went in the small coffee shop for the first time at 8:30 a.m. To my surprise, it was full of patrons, and there were 3 friendly staff behind the counter taking people's orders. The coffee was surprisingly good and strong. The customers were all friendly and asked me about the very well behaved dog, Kelsey, who was tied to a tree outside of the shop.
While I enjoyed my coffee, I walked across the street to check out other shops. They are Hibiscus Boutique Spa and The Glenn Custom Framing among a few others. Outside of the framing shop, there is a little cute free library full of books. I couldn't resist not to take The Dog Park Club by Cynthia Robinson. I read its introduction, and the story takes place in Berkeley. I can't wait to read a mystery novel that's about a dog park and takes place right in my neighborhood!
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
I took a 10-day trip to British Columbia a couple weeks ago. I booked a round trip flight to Seattle. From Seattle I took a 3-hour train to Vancouver. After spending 4 days in Vancouver, I took Pacific Couch to reach Victoria. While I had fun in Vancouver, I was blown away by Victoria. While touring the Parliament Buildings, another tourist highly recommended The Butchart Gardens. The older gentleman emphasized that he had seen many gardens and The Butchart Gardens was just amazing.
The following morning, I took a bus to the gardens. The admission fee is a bit pricy, and they don't offer student or senior discount. Once I entered it, I could see why. It is quite an amazing garden, which obviously takes a lot of people to care for it. I was also surprised that they allowed dogs in these meticulous manicured gardens.
On Saturday evenings during summer months, the admission fee also includes concert and fireworks. Unfortunately I was only staying for 4 days and leaving on Saturday morning. I had a nice lunch at The Blue Poppy Restaurant, but I certainly could have packed a nice picnic.
I would love to visit The Butchart Gardens again during a different season. The gardens look very differently during each season. Next time I will travel straight to Victoria from Seattle. I still want to stop by Seattle so that I can pay a visit at Jack's Fish Spot in Pike Place Market.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
A few days ago I found out that Million Dog March was going to take place today in San Francisco at McLaren Park. I thought it would be fun to participate, so this morning I got up at 6 a.m. and arrived at the park around 8:30. It was nice to get up early and drive over to San Francisco without its usual traffic. McLaren Park is the second largest park in San Francisco (Golden Gate Park is the largest), but many people who came for the March today had no idea this place existed including myself!
Once the March started at 9 A.M., it took quite a while for the crowd to get moving. A few dogs got snippy with each other. Fortunately I never have to worry about Kelsey even when other dogs snap at her sometimes. She would just back off and not let anything bother her. Most of the sponsors for the event had booths setup at the parking lot. Kelsey got a red Yelp bandana that says "The Original Yelper" on it. As usual, many people commented Kelsey for carrying her own stuff.
While marching along the route, we came upon a large oak tree that has a few interesting displays on it including the one shown below. I am not sure whether it's a joke of some sort as you can clearly see the "squirrels" in the clear box are not real preserved squirrels. The text reads "Sammy & Shirley 1926-1932 died from starvation during the great depression. Preservation performed by taxidermist July 1932". Everyone was amused by the displays on the tree.
After the March, there was a post-march festival with the event sponsors and other vendors. There was a live band as well. Everyone was checking out everyone's dogs. A young woman was quite taken by Kelsey. She told me that Kelsey looks just like her dog who recent passed away, and she told me her dog was a Hovawart. I told her everyone thought Kelsey was a mixed breed of Rottweiler and something else. She spelled out Hovawart and told me to look it up because that's what Kelsey looks like. I was surprised as I look at pictures of Hovawart, which means "an estate guard dog" and read its characteristics. Kelsey definitely matches most of the descriptions including getting along with non-canine pets in the household. It's an ancient German breed that's rare in the States, so people usually assume it's a mixed breed. I have seen many dogs including working at UC Davis Vet Med Hospital, but I had never heard of or seen a Hovawart before.
|Hovawart or Rottweiler mix?|
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
|Zucchini on the left and beans and tomatoes on the right|
In April 2012, I started working for a public charter elementary school as the manager. In February 2013, the school moved into a new site with an abandoned vegetable garden. Many parents volunteered to clear up all the weeds and prepared the vegetable beds for spring planting. We also took soil samples for testing to make sure it was safe for planting edibles.
|mint, sunflower, tomato, and other herbs|
One of the grandparents spent hours everyday to plant seeds and seedlings of tomatoes, kale, green onion, strawberries, corn, zucchini, beans, peas, cape gooseberries, and various herbs. He even came to the school during spring break to water the plants. In the beginning, some naughty kids would pull out or stump on the seedlings. As a class project, the teachers instructed the kids to make sign of "Look But Don't Touch" signs to place all over the garden.
We also got a compost bin to turn all the left over lunch items into rich nutrients for the edible plants. Last month the students released many ladybugs in the garden as a natural way to reduce aphids. In 3 short months, we have already harvested zucchini, strawberries, snow peas, green onion, and lots of cilantro (which is the only herb I fear). We have been handing out organic produce to all the staff, students, and parents.
The demanding nature of my position in the school has greatly reduced the time I am able to spend on my own garden; however, I am now able to enjoy fresh produce from the school garden. There is barely any shade in the school garden, so everything seems to grow faster and bigger. Of course, the devoted grandpa is extremely knowledgeable in growing vegetables. Since he speaks no English, I often help him with English translation. I feel fortunate that my own experience in growing has helped me in translating and explaining the process of growing edibles to the kids and other parents. Even though I don't have much time to spend in growing, I can still educate others especially the young generation.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
|Hopi Hoop Dance|
I went to my first powwow while I was attending UC Davis. Ever since then I have actively looked for powwows around the bay area to attend. I enjoy the costumes, the drumming, the chanting, the dancing, and fry bread a.k.a. Indian taco.
Stanford Powwow is one of the biggest powwows in the area. It always takes place during Mother's Day weekend starting from Friday evening and lasts until Sunday evening. It's free to attend and everyone is welcome. Most participants of the powwow camp on the campus during the weekend. A few traditional teepees can be seen although they are usually for display only.
I personally feel that as an American, I should be familiar with indigenous peoples' traditions and culture to an extend just like I should be familiar with Mexican culture as a California. I am fortunate that the Bay Area has many culture events all year round.
This year I brought Kelsey with me. There were many other dogs at the powwow and some greeted Kelsey. Kelsey was particularly interested in the parrot. You never know what you'd encounter at a powwow. There was a wolf conservation booth that brought 2 wolves with them to educate the public. I was particularly excited to see the wolves.