Amazing Grace

Some moments change your life forever; others have a less lasting impact, but significantly alter the moments that follow.

• • •

When I started working from home years ago, I made a family rule: if my office door was closed they were to pretend I wasn’t home. It seemed simple enough, but my husband and kids found ways to complicated it.

For the most part, I forgave trespasses through the closed door, but there were times when repeated violations caused my anger to grow like storm clouds and it was hard to hold back a cloudburst of temper.Stormclouds

One day way back in 2002, I was inundated with solving client issues. Gary asked for a ride to the dietician’s office. (Diminished eyesight had recently prevented him from driving.) He needed to turn in paperwork before the dietician left on vacation.

“Give me a half hour.”

Moments later, my daughter arrived from school to burst through the door. “I need to use your computer for homework.”

“Give me a half hour.”

My son arrived and failed in his hunt for food. “I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat.”

“Give me a half hour.”

Gary poked his head in. “I need to get to the dietician.”

I wanted to put on a lightning and thunder show, to send everyone scrambling for cover.

At the hospital, I helped Gary navigate the hallways to the dietician’s office. He spent ten precious minutes explaining to the dietician what I felt was self-explanatory. I tapped my foot and tried to force deep breaths through constricted lungs. I longed for the progress that could be made in that wasted time.

Back in the car, he said, “I don’t know what to make for dinner.”

One lightning bolt and he’d be gone—vaporized.

PurityI pulled into The Purity parking lot. “What do you want me to get?” 

“How about milk and bread.”


“And a head of lettuce.”

“Okay.”  My hand was on the door lever.

“And a cucumber.”

I sighed. “Anything else? “

“Some sliced cheese. I’ll make toasted cheese and ham.”

I opened the door.

“Get some soup. I’ll heat up soup to go with the sandwiches.” 

I wanted to slam the door. Hard—very hard.

Milk, bread, lettuce, cucumber, sliced cheese, can of soup—repeated like a mantra. If I missed anything, I’d be back, wasting even more time.

beercornerI had to choose between two checkout lines: one with quarts, six packs, and cases of beer backed up five deep; or the other with a grandma, two young kids, and a packed cart of food. In no mood to be entertained by alcoholics, I took up position behind the grandma.

The hungry eyes of the little girl scanned the candy display, pointing out treasures to her slightly older brother. He shrugged, not interested. His expression revealed the age-old question: Why were you even born? All you’ve ever done is ruin my life.

The girl asked Grandma if she could buy candy. Grandma gave a sweet, short lecture on financial planning. Save your money to buy something big as opposed to spending it on a bunch of little things.

The boy jiggled coins in his pocket and nodded his head.

Grandma paid the clerk and gathered her bags. The boy, still jiggling coins, asked, “What’s dial-sis?”  She paused to determine what he’d asked and saw the canister on the counter for Dialysis Project donations. “It’s called dialysis, honey.” 

“What does it mean?”  

“It’s a treatment for people with kidney problems.” Grandma started to walk away.

The boy walked a few feet before turning around. He returned to the counter, lifted the coins from his pocket, and deposited them into the canister. Without a word, he rushed to catch up with Grandma who was nearly out of the store.

AngelsAn explosion of sunlight lit The Purity in a heavenly glow. The Hallelujah Chorus burst from the Muzak speakers.

JesusI was humbled in the face of pure charity, my heart filled with joy. I wanted to hug everyone in the store, to profess my love for one and all. I had to refrain from hollering, “The beer’s on me.”

I entered the car and thanked Gary in advance for making dinner. He chuckled and gave me a wary look. I turned the car off Pity Road and detoured to Gratitude Alley (it runs directly behind The Purity).

Back home, the teenagers were infused with love. They tolerated it—yeah, yeah, love you, too—but their pleasure leaked through the soft edges of their eyes.

My office was unchanged from the previous hour. Stacks of paperwork, the decorating focal point, were accented by the blinking light of messages backed up on the answering machine. An essential part of the room had changed from the previous hour—it felt manageable.

The dogs wanted a walk. I noticed it was a beautiful afternoon. I leashed them up and headed out.Tucker4 001Due to the generosity of donors like this young boy, Fort Bragg was able to build a dialysis center in November 2006 which provides an invaluable health service to our coastal community.Dialysis

Never Mix, Never Worry

VirginiaWoolfOne of my favorite trauma-dramas is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Each time I watch it, I swear I will never watch it again. But then a decade will go by and someone will bring up Elizabeth Taylor or Richard Burton and I’ll remember how brilliant they were in this film and mention it to my husband Gary (who would watch it several times a year if we lived in separate houses) and before I know it, I’ve seen it again.

Afterward, I sit in stunned silence, my childhood flashing like zoetrope images across my brain, unable to go to sleep until 3:00am, and swear I will never watch it again.

Part of the reason the movie is so disturbingly alluring is because it is filled with epic lines.

One of Gary’s and my favorite exchanges is when Martha (Taylor) commands George (Burton) to “fix the kids a drink.”

Nick (George Segal) asks his tipsy wife Honey (Sandy Dennis) “What would you like?” And she says, “Ohhhh, I don’t know, dear, a little brandy maybe. ‘Never mix, never worry!’”

My friend—avid It Happened at Purity blog reader, dog sitter, Godmother to our daughter, and retired College of the Redwoods Financial Aid Officer who I’ll call MW—failed to heed the advice of never mix, never worry on a recent shopping trip to The Purity.

MW had taken care of our 14.5-year old dog Wilson for a weekend while we were out of town. The following Thursday, after a stressful day, she went to The Purity. While the checker rang up her purchases, long time employee Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a) filled one of MW’s reusable bags.

She opened the second bag, peered inside, looked at MW and said, “What do we have here—underpants?”

MW—who is the most modest woman I know—issued a dog-like yelp loud enough to set off the pagers of every volunteer firefighter in town.

Marcia, who has worked at The Purity for a couple of decades and witnessed things you and I cannot even imagine, took the incident in stride and claimed to own a pair of similar hue (bright fuchsia).

Reusable shopping bag

Reusable shopping bag

MW stuttered to explain that she’d used the bag on an overnight stay and had apparently neglected to remove all garments. Marcia chuckled and said that she’d done the same thing a week before.

While MW blushed and prayed for immediate death, Marcia simply packed the groceries on top of the panties and called it a day.

Overnight bag

Overnight bag

The moral of this story: Reusable shopping bags are designed to be used as shopping bags. Overnight bags are designed to be used as overnight bags.

Never mix, never worry!

Turkish Apricot Scones

DSC02906What can you do with Woodstock Turkish Apricots besides enjoy their yummy taste and feel good about serving your body a healthful snack?

DSC02937You can put them in scones along with another product sold at The Purity: endangered species chocolate

Last week I became bored with my old scone recipe and searched for a sexy young idea to liven it up. I found it at  Smitten Kitchen (my favorite cooking blog)—a scone that incorporates pears and chocolate.

Chocolate! Can you imagine? I have lived a good long life believing that—outside of Cocoa-Puffs—chocolate was not to be ingested before noon.

Thank you Deb at Smitten Kitchen for giving me permission to add this forbidden ingredient to morning food and making an already good life even better.

Last Sunday morning while it was beautifully sunny here on the Mendocino Coast, I put together this recipe:

4 c. + 1 T. all-purpose flour (I substituted 1T. ground flaxseed for the 1T. flour)

2 T. sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

2T. baking powder

¾ lb. cold unsalted butter

2 t. salt

¾ c. diced dried Turkish Apricots

2 – 3-oz. bars endangered species dark chocolate with cacao nibs, cut into small chunks

4 large eggs

1 c. heavy cream

Okay, okay, I can hear some of you now. “Turkish Apricots are intended to be healthy. This recipe is a heart attack waiting to happen. It besmirches the name of Woodstock Foods and all of its affiliates. They will never send you a t-shirt after this.”

I’m taking your hand and gently patting it.

Now, now—you certainly wouldn’t make these scones every day. But today is an exception. Today I give you permission to love yourself enough to splurge on something warm and decadent, something that will bring you joy and make you happy to be alive. (Besides, Woodstock Foods has already put not one, but two t-shirts in the mail to me.)

Back to the recipe:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

DSC02927Combine all dry ingredients.

DSC02928With a pastry knife, cut the cold butter into the flour until it resembles the size of little peas.(You are going to add all of that butter. Yes, you are.)

Stir in the diced apricots and chopped chocolate.

DSC02930Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the heavy cream. (Do not cheat yourself and try to substitute low fat milk.) Add the eggs and lightly mix the wet ingredients together before incorporating them into the flour mixture. Knead it for a bit to make sure it’s well mixed.

DSC02933Divide the dough into two equal portions. On separate baking sheets, pat each into a round about ¾-in. thick.

DSC02934Cut each round into eight triangles. Separate these triangles in the baking sheet. Sprinkle each liberally with sugar. (Calm down. A little extra sugar this morning is not going to hurt you.)

Bake for 20-25 minutes. (I bake both batches at the same time on separate racks, rotating them after 12 minutes.)

The minute you take the scones out of the oven, make yourself a latte, cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy the golden, rich goodness of these delectable pastries. Share with others or wait until they cool, wrap well and put in the freezer so you can warm one up to eat whenever you feel like it.

DSC02939Be happy.


Turkish Apricots

One of my readers recently wondered about my connection to The Purity Market. She asked, “Does your husband work there?”

I wish!

If you click the About tab above, you will learn that I write about The Purity because I absolutely love the store.

This past Sunday, I was scrambling around looking for pinto beans, when I happened upon this display:DSC02897Curious, I bought Turkish Apricots, brought them home, tossed the package into the garden, and took this lovely photo:DSC02906I then took them into the house, opened the package, and conducted a taste test. I liked them. They lack the tangy bite that I find distasteful in dried apricots.They’re yummy, kind of like a fig, but without the dense fig taste.

The company that makes these is called Woodstock and they are Proud Supporters of American Farmland Trust.

Their display at The Purity has some other intriguing items that I plan to try. DSC02899DSC02900DSC02901DSC02902

DSC02589Disclosure: I do not have any affiliation with Woodstock. However, when I featured Taaka Vodka last July, the company was so thrilled that they sent me a t-shirt. (I wonder what I’d look like in a Woodstock t-shirt?)

Three Gifts for Under $5

alanaDevoted It Happened at Purity fan and first-class Purity clerk Alana became inspired by this blog’s frequent references to Taaka Vodka. (Either that or the number of 200 ml bottles she sells each day.)

On Valentine’s Day, she cobbled up this clever greeting:


Cost: $2.09 for the Taaka + 10-cents for the bag.

This one might work for Easter or perhaps to cheer up a sick friend:


$2.09 + $2.50 for the card. (The basket is not for sale, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could buy it?)

There are many occasions for which this would work:


The party’s at The Purity! $2.09/bottle + 25-cent toppers from the toy vending machine.

Thank you Alana! I hope you inspire others to share their Taaka Vodka gift ideas with It Happened at Purity.

Pick Up on Aisle 2

Oh my—it happened again. I’ve racked up two hits in the past 15 years.

This past Sunday, I was making my way around The Purity, checking items off my grocery list when I remembered I needed onions.

Puritybins2Onions are in the front of the market on a short, narrow aisle. I wheeled my cart over to find two guys between the ages of 50 and 90 blocking the aisle. One was tall, in hunting camo and the other short wearing a dark jacket. They had their heads down and chatted in low mumbles. I waited for them to notice they were in my way.

The tall guy looked up.

I smiled.

He said, “Well hello pretty lady.”

“I need to get to the onions.”

He mumbled to his friend and they began to move. As he came around my left side, he said in a tone of disappointment, “You married?”

“I am.”


At home, I said, “Hey, Gary, I just got hit on at The Purity.”

He rolled his eyes.

“He looked just like George Clooney.”GClooney

Plastic Bag Passion

The man in front of me at The Purity is asked by the clerk if he’d like to buy a grocery bag.

images“Damnit! I left mine in the car!”

The clerk says, “It’s only 10 cents.”

“Damnit! Shit!”

The clerk remains silent.

“Okay, I’ll buy the goddamned bag!”

On December 10th, the Fort Bragg Advocate News posted on their Facebook page:

Starting today, Monday, the City of Fort Bragg’s carryout bag ordinance will prohibit supermarkets and large drug stores — Safeway, Harvest Market, Purity, CVS, and both Rite Aid stores — from providing plastic bags at the check stand and will require a minimum 10 cent charge for paper bags. Only “carryout” bags given out at the check stand are affected by the ordinance. Smaller bags for produce, bread, prescriptions and other items aren’t restricted and may still be plastic.

The 60 comments from passionate community members are roughly divided into half who support the ban and half who do not. The folks who support it can be summed up by the following two:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that the area I live in is proactive about the environment. Our future generations depend on our actions to provide a healthy planet for them. This is one small action that will make a HUGE impact for the children & the earth we reside on.

After seeing a perfect photo opportunity on the Pudding Creek trestle a couple months ago, ruined by 2 of those controversial plastic bags pasted against the cliff by wind and weeds, I did the HAPPY DANCE when I heard they were going to be outlawed. I’m going to put on my big girl grownup pants and bring my own dang bags or pay .10 for forgetting.

There are a variety of theories espoused by those against the ordinance:

The Conspiracy Theory:

this is the LAMEST law ever…. why restrict one type of plastic bag and not another? sounds like a profiteering conspiracy….

Big Brother strikes again!

The Stupid Yuppie Scum Theory:

Stupid scum yuppies from the Bay Area moved up the coast and ruined it ,,, this is just another one of their stunts!!

Rebuttal: I’m “a local and not a bay area yuppie” and I’m 100% for this law. A plastic bag might be gone in anywhere from 10 to 100 years (estimates vary), but scientists report they never fully decompose. Americans only recycle 0.6 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags they take home from stores every year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter. Landfills are few and far between, making the costs of transporting our garbage more expensive all the time. And then there is the carbon pumped into the atmosphere from trucks moving garbage long distances. And as the Advocate stated there is a destructive impact on the environment, particularly wildlife and fisheries.

Rebuttal to rebuttal: I rest my case ,, the people that have a problem with what I said are NOT LOCALS!!!! I don’t like plastic bags either ,, my big problem is all the people making the decisions on the Mendocino Coast Have NO right to say anything!!! If you don’t like what was out nice logging and fishing community then GET OUT!!!

The Pet Waste Management Theory:

How will we take care of cat poop? I’m so stressed!

The First Amendment Right Theory:

I have to repeat this every time in these same tired arguments: get rid of all your foolish bags — plastic, paper, and cloth. Get yourself a BOX! You can get one at the store. You can bring one from home. I’ll give you as many as you want. The box can hold more than the bag. It’s easy to carry. It won’t tip, rip, or drip. Get a BOX!!! And another benefit of the box: you won’t have to go on like an idiot arguing this lame culture war over bags. Yeah, you. I said shut up!

Rebuttal: This is America, and no we don’t have to shut up.

The Germ Theory:

I would be concerned about the increase in germs coming into the store. Do the baggers touch peoples bags from home? Maybe they should start wearing latex gloves that have to be disposed of.

Great idea? Make sure that you wash your reusable cloth bags after each use to protect yourself from contamination, food poisoning, illness and death.

Can you imagine all the germs and bacteria all those cloth bags have in them.

Rebuttal: what about the germs on your mustache? your breath? keyboard, your chair? Did you wipe of that soda can before you drank out of it? Germs???? THEY ARE UNAVOIDABLE! Bring your own bags

The I Can’t Classify These Theories:

Well, that will save the world!

For decades it has been trees vs oceans. Oceans are winning currently. And recycling is a sham. Reusable is the best for the environment, but having to bring your own when you are a volume shopper is absurd. Wal-Mart has it right, stores like Safeway should pay attention!

I think it is only a get-rich scam. If people who wanted to bring their own bags would have done so to begin with, the plastic wouldn’t have been a big problem, it sounds like. I’ve hated it since Wal-Mart enacted it in Ukiah (only to line their pockets even more because who remembers to bring in the millions of bags we’ve been forced to buy floating around in the back of the car now), and I’ve boycotted Lo Bucks in Willits because I am SICK of their paper bags ripping as I’m trying to carry my bags up the driveway.

what’s not to love about half-measures? I mean, we cant starve the Great Pacific Garbage Patch floating out there…it might sink or something….we have to feed it little bags.

And the Theorist who waxes poetic:

Plastic bags are a byproduct of making gasoline !images
Now what to do with it?
Burn it as waste!
Thanks to all your tree hunger
Al gore lovin
Obama freak