September at last, and a hint here and there of cooler weather.
The berries on the hawthorn tree have already moved into the red, as have some on the Chinese pistache. Some leaves here and there have a head start on fall color. I think I can look forward to another round or two of roses and hibiscus - if the fall is mild.
September now. Turn around and it's Hallowe'en. Turn again and it's Thanksgiving. And then the final spin into Christmas. Already catalogs are featuring Christmas cards and decorations. It's too soon! Give us time to savor the wonderful fall nostalgic time when gardens are falling asleep and we tuck things away for another winter.
A patchwork of stories: My friend Norma Kellam told me a heart-warming tale. She was taking groceries through the checkout line at Raley's when the clerk told her that the man in line behind her had offered to pay for her purchases. Surprised and appreciative, Norma asked him why. With a warm and sincere look in his eyes, he said he wanted to help her because she reminded him of his mother. Acts like these are like beacons in this turmoil of worry and contentiousness we all seem to be in. Bless that man, and all those like him who try to lift burdens.
It's a small world. The other day at the University of the Pacific health center, a student sitting in the waiting room with me had a very large book.
"Textbook?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.
"No, physical therapy."
"Do you know Monty Merrill?"
"Yes, he's my instructor."
Well, I know Monty well because he owns Lodi Physical Therapy where I do my gym program. (Not as often as I should, lately!)
Small world again. We have been going to De Grande's to eat lunch occasionally and have become friends with owner Gary DeG and his son, Miles. Turns out some years ago Gary had a concession stand at Herman and Helen's Marina. I asked him if he knew my friend, the late Naomi Carey, who at one time was the bookkeeper at the marina. Turns out he did.
Speaking of De Grande's, it's one of Lodi's best secrets, located as it is on Maggio Circle off South Stockton Street. The food is excellent (as is the company) and all made on the premises. Hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. or so - maybe later. They cater on weekends, lately at Jessie's Grove.
What delights me is that they have a hot dog cart! I have been missing my friend Lou Fugazi and his hot dog cart at the Post Office, and hope I can persuade Gary to activate his somewhere Downtown during weekdays.
DeG's is really not hard to reach. Go down West Lane to Harney Lane, turn left, and left again on Stockton Street. Maggio Circle is right there on the left.
And speaking of business friends, Randy and Laura Heinitz are gearing up to move into the larger space vacated by Bill Manley's decorator shop at Lakewood Mall, which has moved just next door. They plan on adding a line of fine women's clothing to their men's line. Great! Also, Wrappin' Up, the mall's gift shop, is doing some redecorating.
I think it's reassuring when small business owners have the courage to branch out and grow in these times. We need to support all our local businesses; they're what grew this country and are the foundation of our economic system. It would be great if more of the economic "stimulus" is directed to them; there's a lot still unspent. Of course, it would be nice if that were put back in the Treasury! Not likely.
I have been reading about the uproar concerning prayers before the Lodi City Council meeting. If anyone needs prayers, it is any governing body in this country. We don't seem to be doing so well on our own, given all the double dealing and antagonistic attitudes.
Why not a roster of all the churches, like a duty roster? Each one would have a chance. Faith of any sort is a firm handhold in these, or any, times. A quote from my pastor, the Rev. Harold Clinehens: "I think the true test of a religion is what it says to people in crisis, in the apocalyptic moments of our lives, when the world as we know it is falling apart."
And that is happening, more than the average person is aware. If the plans being dreamed up by Obama's circle of "czars" ever come into being, we will not recognize the corrupt dictatorship this country will become. Again, I beg my readers to watch Fox News. It's the only place to get the truth.
Given all the grim worries over the various health care bills, I received a great cartoon on my e-mail the other day. It shows a little old lady at the entrance of a large maze of cubicles, all taller than she. Over the door, a sign reads, "Public Option," with a large red cross above it. On the side wall, another sign: "If you can find your doctor, you can keep him."
Gwin Paden has been in Lodi since 1957, and has been active in many community groups and projects, as well as having several careers in various fields. She has been writing this column in one way or another since 1999.