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February 28th, 2008 - Walk Softly and Carry a Big Schtick — LiveJournal .

February 28th, 2008

February 28th, 2008
01:08 am

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...Two hearts are thrillin' in spite of the chill in the weather. Love knows no season...

More winter recap... During this year of restoring my parents' house, the nostalgia has run high. Apart from coming to town every year or two to go to the Orange County Fair, I haven't really been keeping an eye much on the changes to the town I grew up in.

One small change has to do with how the housing tract looked when it was built, forty-plus years ago, compared to how it looks today. Oh, some changes are obvious. Places where the sidewalk has been relocated to curbside, instead of there being an extra strip of lawn along the curb. And if you know that many (most?) of the houses had a tree planted in that green strip, the smaller number of trees lining the street jumps out at you. The occasional house that's been violently or virulently rebuilt out of all recognition -- you can tell that it didn't start out looking like that. And occasionally a positively enormous tree towering up behind a house, from someone's back yard.

223 Princeton Drive. But a more subtle change that actually started not long after the place was built is the disappearance of the split-rail fences in front of the front yards, and separating the properties. You know, when I was reading books growing up I didn't know what a "split-rail fence" was, even though there was one in front of our house. It was just the fence we balanced on, like tightrope walkers, with the removable pieces of wood we could slide out if we needed to.

Here's a house on the street that still has the fence at the front of the front yard. Some of it is leaning dangerously, and I'm sure if the house is ever sold that'll be the first thing to go. (And therefore I suspect that this house has had the same owner for two to four decades.) Interestingly enough, the sidewalk has been re-done! There are bricks separating the plain squares of concrete. (We're standing at the end of the driveway which continues up off the right side of the photo, looking diagonally across at the property.)

So take a look at that photo. (Click on it to bring up the viewing-size image.) Imagine fenceposts standing tall and sturdy. A little kid standing behind it on the lawn where the bushes are now, while his or her sibling walks across.

Current Location: Anaheim, CA
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic
Current Music: Torchwood closing theme music
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TimeEvent
05:23 pm

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...love knows no clime, romance can blossom any old time. Here in the open...

EDIT: Hazel's Picture Gallery 10th Birthday Party will be in Handlery Hotel Room 123, Saturday Night 2008-03-01.

Winter recap continues... Orange County, California, is where a lot of business ideas start. Especially having to do with food. To be fair, so is the rest of Southern California - McDonald's out in San Bernardino, Jack-in-the-Box down in San Diego, Trader Joe's in South Pasadena, and so forth. (I think the only major fast food chain that has a lot of stores in California that started out of state is KFC, which began somewhere out near Tennessee. We don't have any or many White Castles, for example, so it's hard to find a small serving of Chicken Rings when you want 'em.)

If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. So when UK giant Tesco, which is more than a grocery store or ordinary supermarket -- you can sign up for cellular phone and internet service at Tesco, you can find Doctor Who toys there -- decided to expand into the American market, they started with Orange County.

No, they're not building Tescos here.Collapse )

''Fresh & Easy'' is a new medium-sized grocery store. This is the Orange location (at SW corner of Chapman & Main). Anyhow. If you like TJ's for putting meals together, you might want to check out Fresh & Easy, Tesco's new market. A mid-sized market smaller than the supermarkets (even the older, smaller sized supermarkets) but larger than convenience stores. One of their very first stores is the one in Orange, at Chapman and Main. library_lynn and I stopped by there, in December.

As you walk in, the first section you'll hit are the produce and ready-to-heat foods. Basically, the more you want to cook from scratch, the further in the store you go to find that stuff -- if you want to dash in, pick something for dinner and go out, it's set up to be very easy.

The place has all self-serve checkstands, although there's a cashier or two to ring up your purchases. (At the same checkstand; basically they're just helping you push the buttons.) They've got their fresh produce packed in plastic bags with bar codes, so nobody has to ring up 4-digit produce codes. You want to buy some pasta, a sauce, and some meat to go on it? Want the meat pre-cooked so you just heat it up? They've got it.

They've got a big kitchen, I believe it's in south O.C. (probably near the El Toro Y - the 405/5 junction -- because they've got a Lake Forest store acto their website) where they cook all their pre-cooked food. No preservatives, so everything fresh tends to have a short use-by date. You could walk in tonight, the 28th of February, and find things marked USE (OR FREEZE) BY 29 FEB. Seriously, for much of the first cold case, you'll want to just get a few days' supply of food and plan to come back.

But that's their target audience. People who aren't doing a lot of methodical menu planning. colleency might not find this store to be her taste, assuming they open one up over by LAX for her. (Probably not, because TJ's is almost walking distance from her house. In fact, I've got a hunch that if you start plotting Fresh & Easy locations on a map that has TJ's marked on them, they won't be putting 'em too close to Joe. Wait a minute, I spoke too soon -- they've got a store planned on Rosecrans west of Aviation. That's practically the same shopping center as the Trader Joe's there. But there aren't any currently announced going in further up the LAX area/West Side. Maybe they're going to wait and see what happens when they're competing head to head with TJ's?)

The store is aimed at people who are in a hurry, want to dash in, pick something out of a manageable array of choices, and get home. They want to cook, they don't want to cook that much.

They have their own lunch-packs at eye-level. The ''Lunchables'' brand are lower down in the same cold case. One of the things I really like is the slightly subversive, if I can use that word for something as innocuous as this, the slightly subversive way they try to get you to make healthier choices or to cook from scratch. They have some of the "Lunchable" line of box lunches. But they also put together their own lunch packs, with some pieces of fresh fruit and a piece of cheese and so forth. You don't have to get the high-fat, high-sodium preservative-laden big commercial product. If you want it, it's there, but you could get this better house-brand product that's actually on at eye level and easier to get. Arguably, the cynic in me counters that they've got the Lunchable products lower down so that your crumb crushers can grab them easily and put them in your cart...

They have a sampling station. In some ways they really look like they paid attention to how Trader Joe's does things. They have a permanent sampling station, right by the fruit, veg, and the first cold cases. (Tell me they didn't go to TJ's...) They've simplified things deliberately, in some cases, by reducing the selection available. You want a supermarket's selection of thirty of fifty kinds of soda pop? Fine, go to Ralphs. They've got maybe six or ten flavors here at Fresh & Easy. Keep the store from getting too big.

And I was talking about cook-from-scratch. The thing that charmed me the most about Fresh & Easy was this: the aisle that has the crackers, cookies, and candy is the same aisle that has the Jell-O, brownie and cake mix, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and so forth. You could buy some commercial sweets for your dessert... or maybe you'd like to try baking something yourself this time around?

Finally, I eagerly look forward to when they offer logo merchandise. Although perhaps a "Fresh & Easy" t-shirt would sell better at Hot Topic?

Current Location: Santa Ana CA, USA
Current Mood: hungryhungry

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