Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Amazing Produce at Food 4 Less

Can you guess what this is? Here's a hint; it's in the produce department, and you use it in cooking and especially in salads.

Give up?

It's celery! What makes it hard to recognize is that you are looking at the bottoms and the tops of the celery bunches, neatly arrayed in precise verticle rows. Not quite the way I'm used to seeing celery in the store!

This is the Food 4 Less store in Vallejo, CA. Mike and I like to shop here because they have good prices, awesome selection, and we can find stuff we can't find at Raley's or Safeway like cotijo cheese and Campbell's Bean with Bacon and Tomato Bisque soups. We stopped here last week to pick up a few things. It was shortly after the store opened for the day and when we walked into the produce department I just stared.
All the produce was lined up perfectly, piled in meticulous pyramids, or stacked tightly in vertical cubicles. It was so amazing that we went back today, camera in hand, to take photos.

I have never seen produce arranged this way before. I don't know if this is something new that Food 4 Less is doing, or perhaps I'd never shopped there first thing in the morning, before hordes of shoppers had made a shambles out of the painstakingly organized fruits and veggies.

Following are some of the photos we took this morning:
Carrots, cabbages, and celery.
A pile of cauliflower surrounded by carrots, radishes and lettuces, amongst other stuff. Note how vertically, and tightly, the vegetables are stacked!

Broccoli, loose carrots (64 cents/lb!), and several types of lettuce.

Squashes, purple eggplant, artichokes, beets and asparagus.

Artichokes, close-up, all neatly facing the consumer.

These tangerines almost look messy! Next to them is a bin of plums, in neat lines.

Pineapples presenting their bottom-sides. Such an interesting way to display them.

Lovely oranges.

Carrots flanked by broccoli and spinach.
A close-up of the carrots. How long does it take to stack loose carrots this way??

Several types of lettuce bunches.
Orange and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms. The colors are amazing!
A long view of potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

The white sections are the bottoms of green onions; in the middle are green onions again, this time with their tops facing forwards. Radishes and cilantro fill the bins on either side.

It was really a feast for the eyes and definitely a novel (to me) way to arrange produce!

One final photo: we also stopped at Wal-Mart which has a McDonald's inside. Ronald McDonald was there, just waiting for someone to sit down and have a little chat with him, so I did! (I think he likes me.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Springtime on I-5

Anyone who says California doesn't have distinct seasons just isn't paying attention.

It's Spring in Cali.

And if you've ever driven Interstate-5 between Sacramento and Los Angeles you know it's one of the most boring routes in California. Except right now! The mustard grass is blooming and it has transformed boring into breathtaking. Look at all the fields covered in yellow mustard grass! In just a few short weeks these fields will be brown and dry. Summer follows Spring very quickly in California and the bright green and yellow will be gone as the long summer, and very dry, days arrive. But for now -- enjoy these pictures and, if you need to drive I-5 between Sacramento and L.A. anytime soon, please share any photos you take. An old red barn behind a swath of blooming mustard grass. Mustard grass has nearly overgrown this wire fence; only the fencepost is still visible.Windmills on the Altamont Pass - seen from I-5 looking west.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Enjoying Laundry

The weather has been so beautiful that I have stopped using my clothes-dryer and yesterday I hung out 2008's first load of wash on the clothesline. After hunting around for clothesline kits at Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, etc., with no results, I finally went on line and found dozens of websites for small businesses, often family-run (my favorite kind!) that make all kinds of clothes lines. I settled on The Clothesline Shop LLC which had the exact style I was looking for at a good price. (They also sell snowplow-resistant mailboxes which I'm very grateful to say I have no use for)!

I wanted a clothesline just like the one my mom hung our family's clothes on when I was growing up in southern California. I have fond memories of the comfort and well-cared-for feeling I always got when I saw our clean clothes swaying gently in the breeze. Often the lines were hung with dozens of cloth diapers in those days before Pampers, and while our family was growing. On hot summer days my brothers and I used to play among the damp, cool sheets, imagining them to be ghosts or a fort where we hid from Indians.

My friend Judy's mom hung her family's clothes on the line, too, and she had an apron with a big pocket in the front where she kept her clothespins handy. I thought it so clever. I coveted that apron! When I hung my clothes out yesterday I thought about that apron and how both clotheslines and aprons are making a comeback.

I think line-drying clothes is yet one more way for us to slow down a little, enjoy the fresh air, flowers, and birds in our backyards, and more keenly appreciate each individual day of our lives.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Searching for Mary Perdew

This is a scan of the envelope of a letter I wrote in 1994 to the last-known address of my friend, Mary Perdew. We had lost touch around the mid-80's so I was not surprised, but still disappointed, when the letter came back. I have been looking for her ever since.

I knew Mary when I lived in Hampton, Virginia. She was our across-the-hall neighbor in the apartment complex I lived in with my first husband and our two little boys. Mary's husband and mine were both in the Air Force and stationed at Langley AFB. Mary's husband's name was Robert Perdew, and she has a son also named Robert, who was called Robbie. Robbie was buddies with my son, Rodrigo.

Mary was my best friend in Virgina, and I still miss her. She was only a couple years older than I am so she'd be in her early 50's now. She was originally from Ohio (as you can see from the letter) where she worked for Sears. She and her family moved back to Ohio around 1982 or 83. Maybe she has gone back to work for Sears. She may also have gone back to her maiden name (which I don't know), or remarried, who knows what has happened in the years since I lost contact with her. This makes it even harder to find her.

Every now and then I Google her name, but so far none of the Mary Perdews I've found are the right Mary Perdew. But I keep hoping that someday I'll find a clue that will help me get in touch with her again. Or that perhaps she'll somehow find me -- if she's looking. I hope she is.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Introducing Ryan Spencer Talley!

Check out my niece, Heather's, family blog at for more photos of my new grand-nephew, Ryan Spencer Talley. This kid is totally loved by his mom, dad, and extended family. I know what it's like to raise boys, and it's a hoot from Day One! Heather and Spencer will have a grand adventure with this little guy!

I received these three things in the mail today from; bookplates, bookmarks, and Post-It notes.

Yes, I have been blurfing again (blog surfing) and came across mention of this website. I love books so I had to check it out. The website is devoted to promoting the sharing and reading of books all across the globe. It's so cool how it works. Here are the directions, directly from the website:

Grab a book, any book.

Register it with and jot its unique BookCrossing ID (BCID) down in the book, along with the website url. If it's already a BookCrossing book, you can skip this step.)

Read your book and then use the BCID to make a journal entry on it. You'll find a place to do that here on the home page or through the link on the left side bar.

Release the book out into the wild and wait for it to write home to you. (You can also give the book to a friend, send it on a book ring etc-- just be sure to make a release note on it when you send it off into the world.)

How fun is this for people who love books and sharing books??

I recently left a book in an airport in the hopes someone would pick it up and enjoy it as I had. This was before I found Now when I leave books out in the world I will be able to follow up on them and see where they travelled.

My first book will be going out very soon. I am registered at as "Webajeb." You can follow my activities if you like. Also, you can "hunt" for books to see if any have been released anywhere near where you live. I found that coffee shops in Berkeley are a popular release spot! You can even hunt for a particular book title and see if any have been released, and where.

I'm thinking this might become rather addictive! I want to get my little town of Benicia on the map so my first book will be released right here in my own home town. Who knows where it may go!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Baby in our Fam!

Last night my little great-nephew was born, Ryan Spencer Talley - 8 lbs. 11 oz. and 21.25 inches long! Here is the first pic I have of him; many more to come. Plus, I get to see him next week while he is still brand-new and remembers what it's like in Heaven!

Proud parents are Heather and Spencer. Click on their name to go to their family blog site. Of course, there's nothing on there yet about the new baby since Heather is in the hospital and won't be doing any updating for at least a few days.

Congratulations Heather and Spencer!

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

On Sunday we took our bikes to Golden Gate Park for a day of cycling and a picnic lunch. We had just set off on our bikes when we heard thundering cracking, crashing, splitting, and crackling noises and then shouts. Only a split second later we rounded a bend in the path and were confronted with the sight in the above photo. A huge eucalyptis tree had fallen across the bike path. Dust and leaves were still in the air.

We just missed seeing this happen, and maybe being underneath it! About a dozen people stood around marveling at how this occurred just out of the blue and with no warning whatsoever. Luckily, no one was hurt. Nature is awesome! We rode by the Conservatory of Flowers and admired the early spring garden of purple, red, yellow, and orange. Every time I see this set of stairs I remember the time Michael (our #2 son) was about 14; we took him and his brother bicycling at Golden Gate Park, and Michael rode his bike down these stairs!These flowers are a kind of poppy -- I think -- I've always called them Cosmos. I love their bright orange and yellow color, they practically glowed in the sun.
We ate lunch at Ocean Beach. Those are our bikes parked against the concrete wall. Behind them is the windmill that stands at Queen Wilhelmina's Gardens. It is restored, but not functional. It's one of my favorite sights at GG Park. I want one in my backyard!
We crossed Golden Gate Bridge on our way home. Next time we are out that way we will ride or walk across it. You can see that many people were out taking advantage of the gorgeous summer day!