Where We Love

September 30, 2011

After spending a few days with my mom and step dad, I headed back down to Sacramento to return my rental car and meet my dad and step mom. My companions on the drive:

I loved the drive to and from my mom’s house—it’s straight and easy, up Interstate 5, a trip we took many times when I was growing up. The drive gave me time to think, to sing along with the iPod, to watch for landmarks from my childhood letting me know I was getting close to my destination. I love the openness, the flat fields backed by misty little hills in the distance.

Sacramento was HOT. One hundred degrees a couple of the three days I was there—but, say it with me, it was a dry heat! And it was cool in the morning and evening, so still not as uncomfortable as Florida.

My step mom and I spent our time doing all the things we enjoyed when I was growing up: shopping, going to the movies and visiting with family. My step brother came over for dinner and we visited my step grandma at her assisted living facility, where my step uncle met us. (My dad and step mom have been married for more than 30 years, so her family is my family.) And, of course, there’s my “sister”:

One of the highlights of the trip: Harness racing at Cal Expo. My dad used to take us to these when I came to visit him in the summer. I adored watching the horses race, and one memorable evening, we got to ride in the starting car. Occasionally we’d arrive early and walk through the stables where I breathed in the scent of hay and horse and walked on air for hours afterwards.

Harness racers are standardbreds, who trot or pace around a track pulling a two-wheeled cart (called a sulky) and driver, at up to speeds of more than 30 mph. (In the pace, the two legs on the same side of the horse move forward together, unlike the trot, where the two legs diagonally opposite from each other move forward together.) Most races are a mile long. The most famous race is the Hambletonian, held every year in August at The Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey, but you can see harness racing at many county and state fairs all over the U.S. (For more information, see http://www.ustrotting.com/. To learn more about standardbreds, go here.)

We ate dinner at the Turf Club and spent several hours watching the races. And let me tell you, it’s far too easy to place bets. You can buy a voucher for whatever amount you want, then slip your voucher into a machine, use a touch screen to place your bet and away you(r money) go(es). I limited myself to a $20 voucher.

My system of betting was highly scientific. First, I chose a horse whose name had some meaning for me. I got my dad to decipher the racing form and quickly read up on the horse’s stats. I usually placed a “win, place, show” bet, so that I would win if my horse came in first, second or third, and I liked to bet on long shots (or at least not favorites). My first race, I chose “Racetrack Diva” in honor of my friend’s horse, Glory, an off-the-track thoroughbred. Diva obliged me by coming in third. The next race I bet on, I chose “Amazon Dot” because of my love affair with Amazon.com. Dot won the race! I began to feel pretty proud of my system! You can guess what happened next. For the rest of the evening, none of my choices came in better than fourth. I ended the evening with a net loss of $3.90, which I consider well worth it for the amount of entertainment I got.

My family—both sets—basically spoiled me while I was in California, and gave me a much-needed break from my everyday responsibilities. I felt so lucky to be able to see my California family while my Florida family took care of themselves.

Monday, I asked, “What makes a place home for you?” This morning, I found an answer: “Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

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  1. It's true, where we love is home. It can't get simpler than that.

  2. Glad your families spoiled you - everyone deserves to be spoiled at least once in a while. Sounds like your betting system is as good as any - especially since you almost broke even. And I really love the picture of your sister! LOL!!

  3. How wonderful hearing about your family visits IN California!! That is great that you had an opportunity to travel and spend time with them. I learned some things through your tales about different ways horses move. Gee... talking about horses brings back memories to my grade school days - aren't most girls in love with horses at that time. Sounds like the bug stayed with you.

    Also... I smiled when I recognized the coffee cup. Dutch Brothers was new to me, we first spotted them in Washington State and then enjoyed them in Oregon, and the northernmost corner of California as we headed back from dropping our youngest at college last month.

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, Kathy! Sorry I've been off the internet except for Facebook this summer, and haven't been great at keeping on other people's blog posts. I've also deleted my FB account so I could have more painting time. Also got rid of my smartphone. It was a bit of a withdrawal and I miss the chatter, but I have more free time now, hopefully for painting, blogging and keeping up with my blog friends.

  5. Hey, Kathy, so happy that you had a fun trip. Your horse racing pictures are really cool.

    I think that you are right; it is where we love, even if those we love are no longer in them, or the homes have been sold to someone else. When I think of my family, I think of where we were at the time and that helps with the memories.

    Welcome back and welcome home.

    Kathy M.

  6. Timaree--You're right--it can't get much simpler.

  7. Cheryl--My "sister" is a beauty, isn't she? :)

  8. Claire--I loved my CA visit and sure miss living there! I'd never tried Dutch Bros. coffee, but stopped at one of their little stores along the highway and bought a concoction of coffee, chocolate and coconut--wow, was it yummy!

  9. Krista--good to hear from you again! I'm glad you're steamlining so you have more time to paint and blog. It's so hard to cut enjoyable things out, isn't it?

  10. Thanks, Kathy! It's good to be home, after visiting home! Lucky me.