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

Taaka Goes Home for the Holidays

The Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without a special Taaka visit home to The Purity.


Spreading cheer among some of my favorite things.


If you haven’t tried Alden’s Vanilla Ice Cream, you must.

Gary's favorite section.

Gary’s favorite section.

Look! The Purity has coffee beans you can grind yourself!

Look! The Purity has coffee beans you can grind yourself!

If you don't want to grind your own coffee, pour yourself a ready-made cup.

If you don’t want to grind your own coffee, pour yourself a ready-made cup.


Uh-oh, where’s the rest of Taaka’s family?

Tour de le Purete

If you live here and have never shopped at The Purity, shame on you.

You need to know what you’re missing.welcome.com

When you walk into the store, head to the right. Look up at the back wall.

The welcome sign is above my favorite section of the store—the place where the Cyrus O’Leary’s chocolate cream pies are kept. Buy one. (Caution: Do not read the nutrition label.) Eat it. Go bonkers with delight.

Also toward the back of the store is—


You can gather here gather between 8:00-8:15am with those who ran out of beer overnight and again between the hours of 4:00-6:00pm with those who need to refresh their evening inventory.

Think all The Purity has are chocolate cream pies, beer and Taaka Vodka? Think again. They also have—


Just look at all these healthy cereal choices.

These cookies are gluten free and truly delicious. The WOW on the package is what you’ll say after you eat the first one.


I haven’t tried these, but don’t they look good? Buy them and tell me what you think.


Thought only your high-end stores carry fancy-dancy crackers?

You probably don’t even know you can buy cup of coffee at The Purity. It’s not Starbucks or the Mendocino Cookie Company, but it’s good coffee. (I confess I’ve never tried it, but it’s at The Purity so it has to be good.)coffee

You might want to explore shopping at night. I love The Purity after dark because it’s so mysteriously beautiful. I can sneak in and buy a chocolate cream pie while wearing pajamas. If I run into anybody I know, chances are they’re also wearing pajamas.purityatnight

The Purity is open until 8:00pm Monday-Saturday; 7:00pm on Sunday.

Shed that cloak of shame. Go to The Purity now. I promise you’ll love it.

Purity Pairings

I bought these Organic & Artisan-Baked Doctor Krackers today because:

(a) They are on sale;

(b) They are an example of the many hidden treasures to be found at The Purity; and

(c) They look healthy.

At home, I opened the package and popped one in my mouth. My assessment:

(1) Hay probably has a similar flavor profile.

(2) It is a food that falls into the acquired taste category.

I paired the crackers with homemade tomato soup. My assessment: after eating a cracker, a spoonful of soup somewhat neutralizes the hay aftertaste, making it more—yet still not quite—palatable.

I imagine these crackers might be best appreciated by paring them with Taaka Vodka (kept, for anti-theft or fire prevention code purposes, behind the counter at The Purity).

Follow these instructions and tell me how it works out:

(1) Take a large slug of Taaka.

(2) While your tongue is burning, put a cracker in your mouth and start chewing.

(3) Quickly—very quickly—wash the cracker down with another shot of Taaka.

(4) Guzzle the remaining Taaka.

(5) Lay down on the sofa, place the open cracker container on your belly, and turn the TV to any channel (it won’t matter because you won’t remember what you watched). Enjoy the healthful benefits of eating this snack while your taste buds are impaired.

Parking Lot Hit

It’s a new car, a tricky parking spot at The Purity, Gary is babbling, I’m grousing, and it’s raining. An 80’s era pickup painted with white chalk is parked in my PPPP (Preferred Purity Parking Place)—the one next to the sidewalk, facing south, the one that offers a panoramic view of Franklin street action. While I wait for Gary to pick up a few groceries, I’ll have no entertainment. Bitterness knocks and I invite it in.

The pickup hogs the space, sitting on the white line. I pull in next to it, compensating for the room he should have left. I really do not want this to be the day my new car gets its first blemish.

After Gary goes into the store, I realize in trying to keep my car safe from the antique pickup, I’ve parked too close to the left line. What if someone pulls into the parking space on the left and slams my car with a passenger door? I’ve got to resituate my vehicle.

As I back out, I feel a tad resistance. I stop, craning my neck over my right shoulder. I strain to look out the fogged back window and see nothing. I put the car in drive and prepare to more efficiently pull into the parking space. Something catches my left peripheral vision. I turn my head to see a very angry man.



He looks to be in his thirties, his brown hair not too disheveled (despite the rain). He’s wearing clean clothes—a black zip-up sweatshirt and dark jeans. He doesn’t look crazy. He looks barely this side of bursting his carotid artery.

I’ve never hit anyone before. I start to shake. Was I using proper surveillance techniques when I backed out? I didn’t see him behind my car. I must apologize. But where is the button to roll down the window? It’s a new car. I don’t know!

I crack open the door and say, “I’m so sorry.”


“I’m so, so sorry.”

“YOU HIT ME ON PURPOSE!” His face borders on purple.

“No, really, I didn’t. I didn’t see you. I’m so sorry.”


I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

He walks towards the post office. I shut the door, pull into the parking space, shut off the engine and tremble. He’s not limping so I don’t think I’ve done litigious damage.

Oh my God, is this the beginning of the end where I lose my competence behind the wheel? What will I do when my children confiscate my keys? I hit someone—a human being—and I didn’t even see it happen.

It’s my bad karma for being in a hurry and grousing at Gary. I vow to be a kinder, gentler person.

Gary gets in the car.

“I hit someone.”

“Did you scratch the car?”

“I hit a person.”

“What?” He speaks through a burst of laughter.

As I relate the story, Gary calms me down by stating the obvious. “The man walked away. You didn’t hurt him. Good thing it’s a new car—there’s no license plates yet. The cops will never find you.”

“Are you kidding? It’s a red Honda Civic with no license plates. After being in Fort Bragg a week, every cop knows this car.”

“Hurry, get home and park in the garage.”

Our friend Laurie comes to dinner that evening. I mention I hit a person in The Purity parking lot.

“I did that last week,” she says. She was backing up to pull out of a parallel parking spot in front of the post office. (I’m jealous that she can still parallel park.) “I looked at my backup camera” (I’m jealous that she has a car with a backup camera) “and saw nothing. I felt a bump, like someone had slammed their fist on the trunk, and this guy started yelling that I’d hit him.”

Ah-ha! The You-Hit-Me-On-Purpose-Guy!

Guilt and self-doubt are replaced by anger. What a jerk! He hit my car and then made me feel bad. Next time I see him, I’ll hit him for real.

I haven’t seen him. Maybe he miscalculated his last extortion attempt and is lying in traction in orthopedic rehab.

I hope so.

Solution Architect

While shopping at The Purity recently, someone (who shall remain nameless, but is my only family member currently residing in Fort Bragg) called me a control freak because I suggested that he shouldn’t buy a bag of pork rinds to satisfy his whining need for a snack. “They’re not good for you and they smell like farts.”

This is the one-millionth time I’ve been labeled as such (I have a clicker on my belt) and I’m still not entirely certain what it means. I looked up the definition on Wikipedia: “In terms of personality-type theory, control freaks are very much the Type A personality” blah, blah, blah.

As a Type A personality, I get a great deal accomplished and successfully spur others into action (that is, until they stomp their feet in the middle of The Purity and start crying and calling me names).

My belief is, if you’re going to tell me your problem, you’re asking me to take control and find a solution. Otherwise, why would you tell me? Why would I listen? At a recent appointment, my therapist gently suggested that this approach is devoid of compassion. Sometimes people need to talk or do things without hearing my opinion.

Driving home, I was formulating a plan to fire my therapist when my son called.

I told him, “A member of our family (who shall remain nameless, but is the only one besides me who currently resides in Fort Bragg) called me a control freak.”

“I dialed the wrong number,” he responded. “I meant to call the Solution Architect on my project.” Demonstrating another stroke of brilliance, he hung up.

Solution Architect? I was intrigued.

According to Wikipedia, “A Solution Architect is a very experienced architect with cross-domain, cross-functional and cross-industry expertise.”

What a perfect way to describe my skill set: very experienced at inflicting my opinion on the way others should run their lives with all of my cross-blah, blah, blah expertise.

On the website www.glassdoor.com, there is no job listing or salary compensation for Control Freak. However, the median salary for a Solution Architect in the San Francisco Bay Area is $108,000.

  • 24-hours in a day minus 8 hours for sleep = 16 hours x 365 days = 5,840 Solution Architect hours/year.
  • $108,000 divided by 5,840 hours = $18.49/hour
  • That’s $18.49/hour more than I make as a Control Freak.

As a newly-minted Solution Architect, I will no longer dispense advice for free. The billing clock starts when the whining starts.

But I thought about my therapist’s words and another idea entered my cross-functional brain. When people share their problems, I can shut my mouth—actually keep my opinions to myself.

This will be difficult and require scientific intervention.

I began to formulate a compassionate-pose lipstick that contains glue and doesn’t cause cancer in laboratory rats.

When someone starts to tell me their problem, I’ll take the tube out of my purse, dab a bit on my top and bottom lips, and smack them together in a kindhearted smile. This will prevent me from uttering anything more than “Um-huh.”

But the lip glue development is proving difficult. Lucy, my newest lab rat, isn’t fond of lipstick. Yesterday, after I boiled up another experimental batch, I showed her its deep fuchsia hue and she ran off. When I finally caught her, she bit me several times as I applied it to her lips.

After completing my first round of rabies shots, and waiting to see if Lucy developed cancer, I realized I should heed my therapist’s advice. After all:

(1) My belt clicker doesn’t count past one million.

(2) My friends haven’t paid their Solution Architect invoices and have stopped inviting me to coffee.

(3) Lucy’s getting quite randy. (Fun fact: Webster’s Dictionary defines the term as “a coarse, vulgar, quarrelsome woman.”) She struts about the maze with her pink lips like she owns the place. It’s time to return her to the wild where she can wreak havoc on her own kind.

When you see my lips turning blue while being pressed together between a thumb and forefinger, know that I’m sincerely trying to stifle my control freak tendencies and keep my opinions to myself. Um-huh, I really am.

Meth Head Comes A-Callin’

Voted Fort Bragg’s Fun Couple by The Purity patrons for five years in a row, Gary and I ramp things up on Friday nights by challenging each other to stay awake past 9:00. I usually win. Gary slips into a snoring coma in his easy chair about the time 20/20 gears up.

On this particular Friday night, a knock on the door at 9:30 sends a shock wave through my heart. What the hell?

I turn on the porch light. The door’s top quarter panel is leaded glass and I can see a young man standing on our porch. I recognize him as a former high school classmate of our son. It’s rumored he’s a meth addict. I have not seen or spoken to him in at least six years. I keep the door closed.

“Are you Harrison’s mom?” he asks.

“Yes. And who are you?” (Pretending I don’t know him makes me feel like a shrewd detective.)

“I’m Fred Murphy.” (Not his real name.)

“What can I do for you, Fred?”

“Rita threw me out and I need $12 for a motel room.”

Twelve dollars? Such an odd figure. Maybe a hit of meth costs $12. I don’t know. In retrospect, if he’d asked for $20, I might have given it to him. I’ve never had anyone ask for $12.

“I can’t help you, Fred.” I remain detective cool and collected.

“But Rita threw me out. I don’t have anywhere to go. I’ll have to sleep in my car if I can’t get $12 for a room.”

“I can’t help you, Fred.”

“It’s only $12. You’ve got $12 don’t you?”

I’m growing more than a little annoyed by his persistence.

A special note to meth heads: You do not want to mess with a menopausal woman. She, like you, probably hasn’t slept in several days. She, like you, is probably not feeling rational. She seriously hates anything that stands between her and the potential of a good night’s sleep. When you show up on her porch at 9:30 at night, you’ve definitely lessened that potential and have put yourself in grave danger.

“You need to leave now, Fred.”


“Now! Leave now!” I’m a real bad ass, my wits drawn taunt, a commanding edge to my voice. Back off, son—there’s no telling what I might do.

I shut off the porch light and tiptoe into my dark office. I peer out the window and watch him move slowly down the stairs and along the walkway. At the gate, he stops and turns towards the house.

I duck down and grab the phone, prepared to call 9-1-1. My heart races and my breath comes in short gasps. Piddle leaks into my pajamas.

I slowly raise my head above the window sill and watch him get into his car. I wait until he drives away.

I race to the living room. “Gary!”

“Huh? What?”

“Fred Murphy was just here asking for $12.”

“Who? What?”

Fred Murphy! He used to go to school with Harrison. He’s now a meth head.”

“Oh him,” Gary says, as in no big deal. “Why are your pants wet?”

“He asked for money!”

“He’s gone now, right?”

“Yes, but he wanted money for meth!

“Call the cops.”

I’m certain the cops won’t do anything more than what I did—with the exception of peeing their pants.

They’d probably refuse my request for 48-hour surveillance even though I fear retaliation in the form of Fred breaking in, tying us up, setting the house on fire, and letting our bound bodies fry to a crispy crunch.

I change my pajamas and go to bed, but don’t fall asleep until well past midnight, setting a personal best record in the Friday night challenge.