August 23, 2008

A Perfect Saturday

E and I are evaluating whether to remodel our house or buy a new one and move. It's a big decision, and either way, it means we will have to cut back on our disposable spending, which, for us, primarily means reigning in the spending on restaurants and travel. I think I'm ready to make the switch, but, seeing how much joy I get from those two activities, I've been somewhat sad about the new world order, if, indeed, we do decide to go down one of these routes. But, I'm getting super-excited about the prospect of a gas stove and a better kitchen, where I can derive more joy from cooking, especially, the things we grow in our garden (and, of course, my favorite part of the garden, the tomatoes).

This morning, I got up to take advantage of a local race and fundraiser. I knew it was sponsored by a local Indian charity, and expected it to be a cultural experience, but it was even more so than I expected. B (of law school fame), my across the street neighbor, her sister and I all showed up about half an hour before the race to register. We heard the announcements that thanks to all the participants and their race fees and fundraising, at least 200 surgeries in India would be funded to save 200 from curable blindness. Man, that really helped to reinforce my recent feeling that I should be spending less of my disposable income on selfish pleasures.

At least 90% of the participants appeared to be of Indian descent. This made the race very different from all of the races I've done in many ways. The start time was merely a suggestion, and I think the true start time was at least half an hour later. Before our race, the emcee led much of the group through 20 minutes of music-inspired calisthenics. It was a sight -- B and I were chatting and then we looked over to see at least 1,000 folks, the majority of whom looked Indian (and thus much more visually homogeneous than I'm used to seeing in a crowd that large) jogging in place, lunging, swinging their arms and basically looking like my high-school Phys-Ed warmups. This was not your typical bay-area race. Folks were friendly, significantly less focused on running or the organization of the event than I am used to and more focused on socializing. As an added bonus, the post-race treats included a full plate of Indian food. All for 2/3 of what I generally expect to pay for an organized race. B and I left full, amused that we wouldn't have to go out for a post-race meal and wondering what the most-delicious of the mushy treats we were served with Idli was called.

I arrived home thankful that I live in such a culturally mixed place that I can take part in an event that clearly brings foreign cultures to me and welcomes my participation. Perhaps I don't need to travel as much as I thought...

Also, I was pleased to see that my recent re-commitment to speed training had paid off and I wasn't as slow as I expected -- I ran the 10K at close to boston qualifying pace -- but, predictably, B easily kicked my ass, because it turns out, she's on track to qualify for Boston in November, and if you want to be ready to qualify for Boston, you need to be able to run shorter races at a MUCH FASTER pace. Today made me happy with my overall fitness, but glad that I decided that if I was going to try to qualify, the race I would choose to do so would be next March.

Once home, relaxed and cleaned up from the race, E, brother, and I headed to downtown for lunch and then we looked at some houses. And, when we returned home, we did our Saturday harvest ritual and I found myself elated with the glorious fruits of our labor:


This picture actually does the garden justice. I am thrilled to be home to enjoy the glory of what a once-weekly harvest can be! It goes to show that 7 medium-healthy tomato plants produce a gift-giving amount of fruit in our neck-of-the-woods in August. Plus, the okra, the new growth from the treated and (hopefully) recovering crook-neck squash plant, and, of course, the herb box mean that I don't need to acquire that much at tomorrow's farmer's market (not that it will stop me). Clearly, next year we need more tomato plants, okra in the ground instead of pots, 1/2 the basil plants, more dill plants, chives in a bigger pot, we should ditch cilantro altogether, one sage plant and one Italian oregano plant is just about right, and one marjoram plant produces entirely too much for one family to consume.

After we worked in our garden for an hour or so, I was torn between doing absolutely nothing or combining chores with decadence. I called the dry-cleaners and they were about to close but would stay open 'til I got there, so my course was decided -- from there, I could head to the salon and get a pedicure.

Upon arrival at the dry cleaners, I was asked,

Do you have some time to help me?

Of course. (One of the great things of this stay-at-home-non-going-out-or-traveling-on-the-weekends lifestyle is I'm not too pressed for time, and since I stayed up late to finish much of my weekend work late last night, I really wasn't too busy at all.)

Turns out, our local dry cleaner, good old Sam, is the president elect for the Northern California Korean Dry Cleaner's Association. He's giving a speech tomorrow. It had been translated for him from Korean, into English, but he needed help with the pronunciation and grammar. So, I spent a gleeful half an hour working with Sam on his speech. For those of you who know me well, you know this is the type of thing that I absolutely adore about life. Language. Culture. Cadence of speech. Figurative speech gone adorably wrong and then explained and fixed. I was in heaven.

I left the dry-cleaners with a discount and even more convinced that I did not need to give up on my love of foreign language or culture in order to attain our financial goals. It's here. That's why we love it here. Perhaps if we stop leaving so much, I'll be able to enjoy it even more than if I traveled. What an amazing realization!

From there, I headed to the salon, where, predictably, my race-sore feet were soaked, primped, massaged, and painted a beautiful shade of purple. All the while, the massage chair kneaded my back and I listened to the melodic under-conversations in vietnamese.

I mean, really? What, exactly, do I think I'm going to be missing if I give up the opportunity to travel for a few years in order to attain E's and my financial goals?

Certainly not food -- more time at home means time to grow and/or cook great food ourselves (did I mention that we recently took delivery on some grass fed beef that's looking to be cooked?).

And, clearly, today shows that by staying home I don't have to miss out on cultural experiences, friendly folks with different life and national experiences, or exposure to foreign languages.

So, here I am, relaxed, happy, and fairly convinced that our next big move won't really even require the big sacrifices I thought it would.

Like the title says, this really was the perfect Saturday.

What a great day!


Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Your garden is GREAT! I really like the pic of the 'fruits of your labor'.

OT: When I saw the pic of the peanut butter cheesecake over at The Enforcer, I was wondering about the crust difference; now I know :)

Dingo Dave

[No Nickname] said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by. We very much enjoyed your cheesecake -- thanks for the recipe.