Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blimey! I Think I Saw A Leprechaun!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Well, by the number of green shirts i’ve seen today, i don’t think i need to encourage the celebration of Ireland’s best known holiday. Despite that it’s Thursday – there’s a party atmosphere in the air – maybe it’s the sunshine. So let’s get down to business – where are the festivities? Every Irish bar, and the English ones too, are pulling out the green and offering specials on beers and music festivals and anything remotely Irish. Downtown Sacramento has the best variety of venues and choices of entertainment and beer specials. But Elk Grove, Folsom, and Roseville are celebrating the green tonight too. De Veres downtown is having a block party that started this morning and will go till 10pm – featuring live music, dancers, bagpipes, and food vendors. Proceeds benefit Mary House, a service that provides shelter and help for the homeless and struggling families. Another live music venue is at the Boxing Donkey in Roseville. The Streets of London, while not Irish (but neither am i), will be celebrating in big style in all three locations (Sac, Folsom, and West Sac). Elk Grove has the Elk Grove Brewery & Restaurant which will be serving up some tasty treats and brews this St. Patrick’s.

While you’re out enjoying the celebration, look for these favorite Irish drinks. I’m going to skip Guinness; i think everyone is familiar with that famous stout. For beer, try Beamish, Murphy’s, Smithwick’s, or Sam Adams Irish Red. For whiskey (and my personal favorite), look for one of these pleasers, Jameson, Bushmills, Midleton, Brennans, and Tullamore Dew. I put the last on the list, not because you will find it (if you do, for freak’s sake – please let me know!), but because it’s one of my favs from when i lived in the UK.

If you’re completely broke (like me) or can’t go out due to work obligations the following day – here’s a recipe for St. Paddy’s fun. Put on a CD of Dropkick Murphy’s and play it obnoxiously loud – sing along whether you know the words or not. Drink your favorite Irish brew or whiskey. Have a Rueben sandwich. Watch the DVD Boondock Saints (the first one please, and no – they’re not actually Irish but it’s a great flick nonetheless). Read some James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, or William Butler Yeats – top it off with a whiskey night cap and Oi! You’re Irish for the night!

Erin go braugh!

Since whiskey is my drink of choice, i have to push this nice little guide to Irish whiskey here:

And please - if you drink and are out on the town, don't drive! Have a designated driver!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time Well Spent - Volunteer!

On this blog i’ve talked about what we can do to enjoy our lives. To see and experience things we haven’t tried before or maybe not for a long time. But now i’d like to suggest something near and dear to my heart – volunteering. If you rolled your eyes when you read this, don’t worry; i did too for most of my life. I had in my head that volunteering was boring. Stuffy. Like filing books at the library or stamp collecting. It just didn’t have that zing that i thought i was looking for. Ha! I love it when i can surprise myself.

Sometimes it seems we’re already stretched to our limits with lists of “things to do,” many of which are never finished. You never feel there’s enough time. Or maybe you wonder why you should give away what precious little time you have – for free – to someone else; let some other sucker give it away. Even the most open of hearts can feel this way sometimes. We are pulled and pushed in so many different directions that just the idea of one more thing to do will send us over the edge. Yet we will make enough time to chat on Facebook or Twitter for hours. Or mindlessly watch whatever happens to be on TV for most of the evening.

Enrich Your Life
Despite what some might think, volunteering is not altogether an altruistic act. At least not completely. When you volunteer, you suddenly have a whole world of information open up that was previously not accessible. If you like learning new things, volunteering can be a great way to re-discover your inner-child. Like a great teacher it offers intellectual and hands-on learning. The best of both worlds.

I’ve found another benefit to volunteering. Camaraderie. This, even more than learning, is a huge factor in the warm and fuzzy feeling i get about volunteering. Humans are such social creatures. Being with other like-minded people is such a boost to our need for community. The time spent together working on a project connects us heart and soul to what is best in the human spirit.

Obviously, many of us like the idea of volunteering because we truly like helping others. The opportunity to help and contribute to the community in a positive way makes us feel good about ourselves. It gives us a place to belong and a reason to be a better person. And that’s addicting. One of the few addictions that won’t cause weight-gain, isn’t illegal, and you won’t be embarrassed about telling others.

The other great thing about volunteering – you make your schedule. Do as much as you want. Organizations that rely on volunteers are overjoyed with whatever you can give. So there really isn’t a downside to being a volunteer. It’s all good. If there’s something you like or are interested in, there’s probably a volunteer job out there that will fit the bill. Whether you want to work with animals, medical & disaster preparedness, museums, environmental, schools, sports, the homeless, or children’s services, there is a niche you can fill.

Where To Go To Volunteer
There are many, many centers over the greater Sacramento area that take volunteers. Most cities have a volunteer page on their websites but almost all organizations have listings on Volunteer Sacramento – an all-in-one site of information. There is also the Volunteer Center of Sacramento and Hands on Sacramento that have excellent suggestions and contacts for volunteering. So take a moment and ask yourself, “What do i have a passion for?” Now get out there and volunteer!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bok Kai Festival!


Everyone Loves a Parade!
March 5 &6, 2011 - Marysville, CA
The festivities of March start off with the spectacular and colorful Bok Kai parade in Chinatown, Marysville. This will be the 131st year of the Bok Kai festival which celebrates the Chinese New Year and honors Bok Kai, a Chinese water deity believed to keep Marysville safe from flooding. The Saturday parade is a huge affair, with marching bands, equestrian riders, dancers, martial artists, singers, and various performances. But the big treat that everyone waits for are the lion dancers and the Bok Kai Dragon! So colorful, so energetic! The Dragon coils and uncoils and weaves its sinewy body along the parade route. The best show is, of course, in front of the Bok Kai Temple where the Dragon and lion dancers converge to honor Bok Kai. Two-story long firecrackers are set alight and the scene is filled with celebration! I have performed in many a Chinese New Year parade – but Marysville has more firecrackers than any place i have been – including the parade in San Francisco! It’s fantastic!

Bombs Away!
The following day, March 6th, is “Bomb Day” where special “bombs” are made and set off at 4 PM. Both days offer tours through the Chinese American History Museum of Northern California and the Local History Archives.

Parade Details
The parade is on Saturday the 5th and starts at 11 AM on the corner of 6th and D Street and lasts approximately one hour. Come early, bring chairs and get a good seat. Immediately following the parade are performances which are held on 2nd Street between C and D Streets. There will also be vendors selling food and drinks all throughout this area.

Click for a calendar of events!

Map of Marysville