Friday, November 22, 2013

Western Time Diary: Berkeley, California

One of my favorite scenes in the 1967 film The Graduate is when Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair comes on as Benjamin drives to see Elaine at school in Berkeley. I can almost smell the greenery of the forest he is driving through. Tori Amos gave a feminine voice to Scarborough Fair, another favorite.

Berkeley was a date of serendipity. We were there the last day of the semester's clothing swap.

I have co-organized clothing swaps at my workplace for several years, and the secondhand market is near and dear to my heart to help keep items out of landfills, not support low wage labor, and empower ourselves financially. I would rather give my money to neighbors in my community at a garage or estate sale, a charity thrift shop or a main street consignment store.

Keep in mind this New York Times article, "Shopping, Before the Turkey Gets Cold,"
"Teenagers and college students can spend only so much time cooped up with their families on a holiday like Thanksgiving.

This year, some retailers are betting that this target spending group dashes out the door after dinner, perhaps dodging dishwashing or other duties, and in all likelihood ditching their parents.      

Destination: the mall.       

Teagan Marshall, 20, of New York City, said shopping on Thanksgiving definitely had appeal. As she stood in a Forever 21 in Manhattan, she added, “That seems like a good way to celebrate to me.”

Also consider an op-ed piece in The New York Times this month about the minimum wage by clothing factory workers in Bangladesh, $38 a month, with proposals to raise it to $68 a month. It is estimated that it costs $67 to feed a family of three. These factories supply stores like the ones that shoppers like Teagan will be patronizing.

Giving my money to the clothing swap instead: my Charlotte Russe peace sign shoes (how appropriate for Berkeley!), $2. You can read more about the peace sign history which I knew little about myself here.

Voting as often as possible with my dollars and actions for a reuse market. Good news to celebrate: you can support the America you want to live in today.

A peppermint tea at The Musical Offering, a classical music cafe just across from the college. I sat by Bach, and pondered classical storytellers from hundreds of years ago. I wish I had been taught about classical music in the course of my grade school or higher education. This is something I hope to learn about. What do you want to learn about?

We were lucky enough to get same-day reservations at the cafe of Chez Panisse on a Thursday at 1:30. Their $30 prix-fixe was vegetarian, so I went with that. Chez Panisse founded by Alice Waters and a group of friends, was, according to the website, named "in honor of Honoré Panisse, a character in Marcel Pagnol's 1930s movie trilogy about waterfront life in Marseille (Marius, Fanny, and César)."

A garden lettuce salad with Navarro grape juice. I loved all of the interesting non-alcoholic beverage options I kept finding in California if you didn't feel like imbibing. Usually it's just soft drinks or iced tea.

House made bucatini with chanterelle mushrooms, garlic, thyme and breadcrumbs, so simple but so comforting.

Cannard Farms grape sherbet with moscato d'Asti with raspberries, and elderflower nectar tea, all a garden delight for the senses.

Let's go to the farmers market. We're here on the right day, and Alice would want us to.

It's all organic!

There is nothing like in-season, local strawberries. Organic, even better.

Even apples have their stories.

A rainbow of flowers. I was proud to hold a bouquet of flowers on my wedding day from a local farm, Old Hook Farm in Emerson, New Jersey.

We stumbled on a Goodwill, and I found the perfect souvenir from the San Francisco Music Box Company for just $2.99. A touch of California, French living, fruits and vegetables, and the reuse market - all very me.

Key words to describe my California honeymoon I'd use: garden, zen, vegetarian feasts, national parks, trees, books, tea, history lessons and good living. All my most favorite words to start my married life.  Let the adventure continue...


  1. I love the descriptions and photos of the wonderful veg options you found in California, thanks so much for sharing the trip with us!

  2. I don't drink alcohol myself, just not to my liking, so I was noticing all those wonderful non-alcoholic options you found on your trip. And I am terribly jealous that you got to go to Chez Panisse! Alice Waters is one of my heroes and I look forward to dining there one day!

  3. Thank you both for the comments! I love to "vote" for vegetarian food and am handsomely rewarded. Since this trip, I'm often inquiring at restaurants about if they have any different non-alcoholic beverages. Sometime they do but not as often as on this trip.

    Alice's place was amazing. We would have needed to make reservations far earlier to get into the restaurant of Chez Panisse, but we were thrilled to get into the café and it's more budget-friendly.