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Blossoms in Lodi — and a new eatery blooms, too

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Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:00 am

Laura Bush has won, hands down! Lest you are wondering why you haven’t seen anything about Mrs. Bush in the papers lately, I am not talking about the former first lady. I am talking about the first rose in my garden to fully bloom. She’s a tree rose with blended shades of orange and pink, and she is steadfast: the first to bloom and the last of the season. Not that there are not other roses in the race; there are lots, but they haven’t quite come into display yet.

As always, the weather has encouraged weeds, but azaleas and bulbs and flowering trees and bushes have shouted them down — for the moment. They’re sneaky, and the wary gardener has to keep pulling and spraying and digging. This is apt to go on all summer and into the fall, and needs to be a regularly scheduled activity, like other chores we would rather not spend time on. Each of us has a list of our own, I’m sure. The older I get, the longer my list!


Many of the items bringing themselves to attention for this column seem to do with food, but I shall start with a special commemoration. You may have seen her obit in the paper a week or so ago: Patience, the blind dog who lived for several years in the office at the Animal Shelter. She was found wandering in the parking lot at Apple Market. I hope it was because she inadvertently strayed from the family car or something, and not that someone deliberately just didn’t want her any more and turned her loose.

Anyway, her last years were lived with love and care, and for this we can be grateful. I have said before that the lowest circle of hell should include all those who mistreat animals in any way, particularly those who are helpless. Thank you, Patrice, for your care for Patience.


This coming Saturday, April 13, Friends of the Pool (at Hutchins Street Square) are holding a flapjack fundraiser at Applebee’s from 8 to 10 a.m. Tickets, at $8, may be purchased in the pool building at the Square. The Friends have already raised some funds with a spaghetti dinner, and plan to do more to help the city get the needed monies to repair the pool prized by many, particularly seniors, as great therapy for a variety of aches and pains. So indulge your love for pancakes by any other name and help a good cause!

DeGrande’s Café is once again open for lunch, in addition to their takeout dinners. Go down to 2370 Maggio Circle from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and both enjoy lunch and bring home dinner. (Dinner takeout is limited to Tuesdays and Wednesdays.) The menus for both are more limited than previously, but the care in preparation and serving is still there in true DeGrande fashion. The café is still putting on its dinners once or twice each month.

Something special has happened at the northwest corner of Lockeford and California streets. California Al’s has opened. Al Gomez, who began his culinary career at the age of 16 washing dishes at Richmaid, is providing a large variety of breakfast and luncheon dishes in a very inviting atmosphere. His specialty is salads. He hasn’t been open a month yet, and is doing pretty well, particularly at lunch time. At the moment, the restaurant is open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Al provides takeout as well.


Anyone who starts a new business these days deserves all the encouragement they can get, so if you know of any brand new or fairly recent enterprises, please extend a helping hand. “If everyone gives a thread, the poor man will have a shirt.” — Russian proverb

By the same token, patronize as best you can all the fundraisers given by volunteer groups, who are often struggling in the face of rising expenses and dwindling memberships to continue to serve their altruistic purposes of one kind or another.

Thus, local scholarships will benefit greatly if you attend the luncheon and fashion show to be given by Chapter IM of the PEO Scholarship at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 20, at the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club. Open seating, limited tickets at $35. Call Claire Lima at 209-334-4040 to reserve yours. “The Way We Were” will feature styles of bygone eras, which, as a lot of us know, were far more formal than today’s dress. So guests are asked to fit right in by dressing up and not opting for denim.

Another dressy occasion is in the offing, too. St. John’s Episcopal Church will again be serving its annual British High Tea from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 — which is next month! Where does the time go? Tickets at $25 are available at the church. Call 209-369-3381 to reserve. Again, limited seating. This is an occasion where a lot of the ladies attending have previously chosen to wear hats. It’s fun to see the different styles. Be prepared for waiters in tuxedos!

And one to beware of: “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” — Anon.

Gwin Paden has been writing this column since 1999. Thanks to readers who encourage and give ideas, and thanks to Wee Geordie, our latest cat, who always gets involved when the computer is active.

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