Doni’s Random Thoughts: From Auction Results to Shopping Peeves

• The final tally of the money donated for ANC's Carr Fire Scholarship fund is $5,310. I am blown away by the generosity of every donation, both large and small, from bottles of Butter Creek wine contributed by Don and Elaine Cohen, to Janine Hall's extraordinary Carr Fire Pendant. (Click here to see all the donations and contributors.) This was a wonderful collaboration between donors, bidders and the entire ANC family.

Janine Hall designed and created this pendant specifically for's online auction. Retail value: $2,400.

Barbara Rice, thank you for introducing Deb Segelitz to Matt Grigsby. Matt Grigsby, thank you for being the liaison between Deb and ANC four years ago, suggesting she have a column. Deb, thank you for starting the ball rolling for this first Carr Fire Scholarship fund that began when you commissioned the talented glassblower Paul Jones of Wales to create the Carr Fire Phoenix, just for this auction, which he mailed to Scotland, which you mailed to Redding.

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Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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64 Responses

  1. Bruce Vojtecky says:

    The only way small businesses can survive today is to have an online store and not sell the common items that the mass retailers sell.
    Grandkids? What my six and eight year old granddaughters love is when I wheel my walker to their after school programs. The past two weeks saw the Fall Festival with a blowup corn maze and the Read Under the Stars complete with a blowup planetarium. Parents usually have a tough time getting to after school programs so it leaves it up to us grandparents.
    And, Doni, you are a good person.

  2. Beverly Stafford says:

    High fives to you, Doni, and Deb and Matt and Eleanor and all the donors and bidders. And thank you, Don and Elaine Cohen, for donating the Pinot Noir that we are enjoying.

    See’s Candy must haves: Butterscotch Squares and Rum Nougat. Forget virtually all the rest. The peanut butter wafers don’t compare to Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.

    Good idea about mini disposers in bathroom drains. Items I’m so glad I purchased are the small water heaters I had installed under my bathroom basin and under the kitchen sink. Instant hot water! No waiting for our 34° water to warm. Saves the septic tank several gallons of inflow, and the capillaries in my Reynaud’s Syndrome fingers don’t snap shut from being in the cold water.

    Amazon and other online shopping: I dislike shopping. All that pawing through clothing or intimate apparel in hopes of finding the correct size? No thanks. When I see exactly what I want/need in a catalogue or on Amazon, why would I drive 75 miles to Redding, drive from store to store, search the aisles and shelves for the item only to find that no store stocks it. Example: purchased a lipstick at Macy’s and wanted another. Three stores in the mall stocked that brand but none had it, not even Macy’s where I had purchased it originally. Online? No problem, and it arrived in about five days.

    Butter and cream cheese softening in containers on the counter. Absolutely. And another thing somewhat like that: always close the lid of the toilet when not in use so that when changing the toilet paper roll, it doesn’t land in the toilet if it is dropped. Likewise anything in the cabinet above the toilet. RV, are you listening?

    Looking forward to next year’s scholarship auction.

  3. Tim says:

    Kid-friendly experiences: trampoline park, turtle bay/carter house, lake shasta caverns, the lassen lava tubes, Eskimo hill, a horseback ride, a train trip, a discovery flight, animal educators/entertainers, arts/crafts classes, etc

    And Amazon is hurting big business too (ToysRus, Sports Authority, Sears, etc). I don’t think that is a bad thing – there is nothing noble about having 100 people each spending 1 hour driving to a store when one delivery truck can bring those goods to them in 8 hours. It would be nice if they wasted less packaging, but I’m sure the environment prefers extra cardboard to extra hydrocarbons.

    As for the businessmen and women left scrambling, they’ll just need to do what capitalists have been doing for 500 years: find new ways to bring value to the lives of those around them. Simple, but quite hard…

  4. Marcie Vega says:

    Oh my, this was great! Had me laughing all the way through it.

  5. erin friedman says:

    Nodded my head quite a bit through that column. I still do the Mama Sway when I’m standing, waiting, thinking. My theory is that it’s self-soothing – still reminds me of those happy days of growing babies.

    As for what to give your grandkids – maybe a project that you can build together? A plan to write and illustrate a book together? You’ve definitely got the right idea – less stuff, more time together. The stuff ends up at Goodwill, but generations to come will benefit from the memories you make together. And YES to more potlucks where people bring their best dishes and NOT sad, generic, Costco culinary afterthoughts.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Ditto your last sentence, Erin. A clamshell-full of store-bought cookies that resemble Crisco, flour, and sugar is hardly worthy of a place on the potluck table.

    • Mama Sway. Thanks for putting a name to it. I think you’re probably right about self-soothing.

      Actually, my grandkids are working on their own cookbooks at my house as a long-term project. I bought them photo albums that they’re filling with the illustrations first. The almost-8-year-old’s is a hunting cookbook, and his 5-year-old sister’s is a book of sweets.

      Potlucks are the best, especially when there’s a diverse range of good cooks. I don’t think we’ve quite figured out how to organize a holiday potluck so there’s not SO much food. (Though everyone brings containers for leftovers to take home, so that’s nice.)

  6. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    My husband was looking for bedroom slippers a couple of months ago. Went to Kohl’s, hunted down a sales clerk who said, “We have women’s but we only have men’s at Christmas, don’t ask me why.” Do you have – “if we have it, it’s over there (waves vaguely in a westerly direction).”

    Separately, we needed a specific part for our gas fireplace. The fireplace repairman told him that Ace sold the original so that was where we had to go. My husband ordered it from Ace, who said it would be here in X days. After two weeks, he went in to that Ace where he discovered the clerk who took his order had a giant stack of old unfilled orders she had never bothered to follow up on. The fireplace repairman happened to be there at the same time and watched as he ripped her a new one; he later called to thank him for chewing her out because she’s been that way for years, yet still has a job – even after multiple complaints to that Ace owner.

    So yeah… brick-and-mortar shops will have to reinvent themselves and improve customer service, or die a slow death.

    My favorite See’s: whichever one I happen to be eating at the time (though I am partial to their peanut brittle).

    • I’ve had scenarios similar to yours regarding ordering items for remodeling, and last summer, a lawn mower that I’d paid for and was supposed to be delivered to the store. The store got the money, but the clerk forgot the step about ordering the mower, so weeks later when I checked I had to undo the whole thing, get a credit, and just ordered the mower from – you guessed it – Amazon Prime, which arrived within three days. So now, I may give a store the first shot, but if they’re out of something, I go straight to ordering it online myself.

      There are some See’s I just can’t handle. That white nougaty number comes to mind, and the one with the bits of dried fruit.

  7. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    I presume the penultimate observation has to do with yesterday’s retracted article.

    In addition to Tim’s great suggestions, my grandkids enjoy going to open gym at one of the kids gymnasiums in town. When you’re a little kid, few activities beat running and hurling yourself off a ramp into a big pit filled with foam scraps. My daughter posted on FB the other day that our 5-year-old grandson’s eyes grew big as saucers when he learned that climbing gyms exist (they usually have bouldering walls for little kids), so that’s on the agenda next time he’s in town.

    I have always and forever hated shopping. It runs contrary to my life-long losing battle against acquiring more and more stuff. It often involves crowds, especially this time of year. It also often involves disappointment—I went to four stores on the morning of our Thanksgiving dinner (Saturday, to accommodate some of our family) looking for folding wooden chairs. All four stores were sold out—clearly a hot item leading up to Thanksgiving. I’ll take Amazon Prime every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Sorry, brick-and-mortar.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      As for See’s, it exists solely to sell butterscotch lollipops for Christmas stocking, far as I’m concerned. We usually go to Ashland every year on the day after Thanksgiving for the Christmas Parade. One of the frou-frou stores on the main street carries frou-frou Christmas candies. I always get a pack of the candied licorices for each stocking of the gals in the family—they’re so good that the ladies hide them from the kids. (Basically frou-frou Good and Plenty, but where G&P is a sad little McDonald’s hamburger compared to the $20 burgers at Moonstone Bistro.)

    • Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Steve, what does penultimate mean? My education did not go beyond five letter words.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Pretty sure I learned the meaning of the word from the Monty Python sketch.

        • Beverly Stafford says:

          I remember when I learned the meaning of penultimate. I thought it meant more like uberultimate; so even now, I have to think “the one before the last one” not the final, final one.

          • Beverly Stafford says:

            Also, I hope there is an explanation for the retraction of yesterday’s article. Were we duped?

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            I’m guessing that there was another version of the story that RPD was happy to describe and validate.

          • Tim says:

            I suspect so. I don’t have much difficulty imagining scenarios where RPD treats people of color unfairly, but the penalties for getting into an accident without insurance happen to be the same for white folks: $300-600 in court fines, an impounded car + fees, and 1-4 years without a license – regardless of fault…

            There were a few other red flags in her narrative:
            1) I don’t often see a husband & wife taking their 3 kids – along with food stuffs – with them to get a car repaired (asbestos & impact guns don’t exactly create the ideal picnic ambiance).
            2) How was the car home (still unrepaired, uninsured, & unregistered) at 10am if they were on the way to the appointment sometime after 7?
            3) $300 is hardly an unreasonable amount for a collision repair (you can pay up to $400 to get a detail these days – and that’s just in Redding!)
            4) Asking a collision victim on Thanksgiving eve to wait a month and a half (“until after the holidays”) for vague recompense (“we’ll work something out”) IS unreasonable, especially after assuring her at the scene that you would take care of it.

    • Steve, as to your first sentence, in a word, yes. I wish our comments section allowed the kind of emoji I’d like to insert right now, but I’ll leave well enough alone.

      You’re right about kids and their love of running and hurling themselves, and with any luck, there’s a pit of foam scraps to catch them.

      More and more, I enjoy shopping less and less.

  8. Bruce Vojtecky says:

    IKEA is opening small stores which are basically show rooms, not huge storage spaces. Their idea is customers will come in and see the actual furniture, already assembled, and then order online for free delivery.

  9. Hey Doni, here’s an enthusiastic vote for Scotch Mallows. 🙂

  10. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    How nice to laugh first thing in the morning. THANK YOU STEVE for the link to Monty Python. Those guys are always genius!!

    As for See’s. The ONLY one I will eat is the what I call burnt sugar, I don’t know what they call it, but it’s a small cube covered in chocolate. Oh . . . well, then there’s the chocolate covered nut clusters . . . . oh, and maybe the chocolate creams. Maybe, just MAYBE there is a reason See’s does NOT come into my house.

    As for a filing system. What has always been my problem is that what seemed like a logical choice of category or naming of the file yesterday, is NOT what seems logical today. And my on-line filing system isn’t a whole lot better!! Doni, I like your idea of hiring a skilled thief!

    • AJ, I am pleased to inform you that the See’s candy you describe as “burnt sugar” is, in fact, my beloved Butterscotch Square. I’ve seen knock-off recipes for it, but the closest I’ve come to replicating the taste and texture was my former father-in-law’s homemade penuche recipe. Basically the recipe is brown sugar, cream, vanilla and salt. You’re welcome. 🙂

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        My mother made a burnt sugar cake with burnt sugar frosting that was sort of a cake version of See’s Butterscotch Squares. I miss my mother and her burnt sugar cake.

      • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

        THANKS DONI . . . . frankly, I thought it had some “frou-frou”name like Arabesque, or Indocine or ??? . I was pretty sure I was the only one who called it “burnt sugar.” My mother used to make penuche and as a kid I never liked it much. I felt it was just a poor man’s imitation of fudge. Maybe, if she had covered it in chocolate like See’s does, I would have been more accepting. LOL

  11. Judith Salter says:

    My granddaughter asked for an art day with me. We paint rocks, we color in one of those fancy adult coloring books, we paint Christmas ornaments try pouring small amounts of nail polishes into a clear ornament and roll it around ) and this time we are going to make potholders on those square looms you and I had as kids. I can’t WSU to see what others suggest too !

    • Great ideas.

      Here’s one that was inspired a few years ago by a lapel pin made by the talented artist Joanne Snyder: (I’ll write a post about it soon as a holiday gift project for kids), but it basically starts with a bag of those plastic lizards and frogs from the dollar store, and after coats of different nail polishes, glitter, sequins, colored thin wire and a pin on the back they’ve created a really stunning little piece of jewelry. Yes, it’s messy! Dollar store nail polish is great for the selection of colors, and each bottle has its own little brush, but have a fan going, because the smell can be pretty overwhelming.

  12. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    I take my teen-age grand kids on walks around our neighborhood, drive around Redding, pointing out the history, the style of homes, look at the front yards… trying to get them to appreciate their own surroundings, while asking them to close down their smart phone, which always doesn’t work.

    • You’re a good grandfather, Frank. I hope your grandchildren appreciate you.

      Regarding kids and electronics, my grandkids know that they must turn off and park any electronic devices they bring with them by the front door when the enter, which they can pick up when they leave. (Wish I could get some adults to do the same thing. )

  13. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    What a great column, Doni! So much information, humor and great ideas.
    Congratulations to all who help make the auction happen, and donated to the auction. You Rock! 🙂

    I, too, have the “Mama Sway”, as I discovered once as I waited in line to buy a ten pound bag of potatoes. I had to laugh at myself when I realized I was “soothing” the bag of potatoes.

    I was thinking how brilliant your filing system is. No criminal will ever be able to break in and quickly steal all your good stuff. In fact, they might get so frustrated they would turn themselves in. LOL.

    Have fun with the grandkids, and thank you everyone for these great ideas!

  14. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    You are so welcome, and I’m so grateful to Barbara and Matt for being the links in the golden chain of friendship that brought me here to ANC, to so many new and valued friends!

    I have never even had my own children, and I do the ‘Mama Sway’ as it has now been so aptly named! Mainly because I’ve been lucky enough to have heart-children who I love like my own, who I’ve cuddled and walked and loved and helped to raise (who are now grown-ups, married and everything!). So I sure hope it’s normal :).

    One of the things my heart-children used to love most was treasure hunts at my house. It didn’t matter how small the gifts were, as long as there was a treasure map and a half hour of hunting in places they normally weren’t really allowed to go, they were in little-kid heaven. The map didn’t even have to be all that realistic. If I said that the river was in the kitchen, the river was in the kitchen, and we followed on to the next place from there.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      What a wonderful heart-Mama you were! My niece and nephew were too far distant for me to know when they were children, but I now call my niece “my girl child” because we are very close, fortunately. Thank goodness for e-mail and telephones. Neither she nor I have Facebook accounts. No thanks. If Mark Zuckerberg can’t protect his account, how are the rest of us supposed to protect our information?

      • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

        Thanks, Beverly :-). The daughter of my heart came to visit us over the summer. It was weird and wonderful to see her now, at age 29, when I haven’t seen her since she was 19. She was exactly the same, yet not the same. Her new (to me) husband came too, and seeing her as part of a couple was hard to wrap my head around, too. She has accomplished so much in the past decade in terms of education and profession and I am ridiculously proud of her. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to see her brother, the son of my heart… when I left the States he was a gawky and lovable 15 year old. Now he’s a great big full-grown man, in the learning states of taking over his father’s business, getting settled down with his girlfriend, and so on. The fact that these ‘kids’ are now fully functioning adults living on opposite ends of the east coast just blows my mind. The fact that we are still in touch even a little bit makes me grateful, because I went from being a part of their daily lives (often literally), to not having seem them in a decade, one which was so formative for both of them, with so many changes.

        It sounds like you have a really lovely relationship with your niece, which is wonderful!

        Facebook… I like it and loathe it in equal measure. It’s the best tool, for me, for keeping up with friends around the world. But I don’t trust it farther than I can throw Zuckerberg.

    • Lucky kids to have you as their heart mama. And the idea of a treasure hunt is BRILLIANT! I’m on it!

      • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

        I was lucky to have them :-). Lucky that even now, a decade later, I still do 🙂 (See my above reply to Beverly.)

        The treasure hunts were great, and the ‘daughter of my heart’ still talks about them to this day.

        • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

          TREASURE HUNT!!! I LOVE TREASURE HUNTS . . . . TO THIS VERY DAY!! As a little kid, my mother would occasionally put on treasure hunts when the cousins would visit. As a teen, a couple of our youth directors at church put on a treasure hunt that involved driving . . . . once. Some of the teen drivers got a bit, shall we say, reckless, when driving to the next clue!

      • Amy Gibbs says:

        YES! A treasure hunt! We used to do that with my stepdaughter for Easter, and then with our daughter. Each plastic egg had a two-line verse in it as a clue to the next egg. Greg was a serious master at those little rhyming clues. For several years after Lindsay had “outgrown” the treasure hunt, she made them for us, complete with the two-line verse. But a REAL treasure map! Ohhhh….my heart….what a cool idea!

  15. Eleanor Townsend says:

    Our grandchildren LOVE treasure hunts on our large outdoors (12 year old fast growing out of it…) Much more effort for me than for them, yikes, because I place clues all over and guess what, when they start to look, they can find faster than I could place.
    OK, there is nothing at See’s except marzipan. Unless they have coconut, the which I don’t know because I only care about marzipan, marzipan, marzipan.
    I am letting the penultimate go. I know what the word means, but the outcome I will know if I need to. Otherwise “Let Ig Goooo……….”
    I’m for sure done with that one with the grandchildren…….

    • Wow. I’m really loving the treasure hunt idea. (And really, I like your outdoor version better than the indoor one …just because I have visions of the house being turned inside out to find clues.)

      Marzipan. I didn’t see that one coming.

      Now I have the Frozen Song in my head. 🙂

      • p.s. what kinds of treasures?

        • Eleanor Townsend says:

          Why, candy, of course. At every stop. Kind that doesn’t melt in the sun. Never, ever marzipan.

      • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

        Hahaha Doni my place was always an absolute mess by the time the treasure hunts were over, so Eleanor’s outdoor treasure hunts are probably an excellent way to go, instead!

        • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

          The treasure hunts my mother put on consisted of going from clue to clue with one “treasure” at the end. The one we did as teen agers consisted of going from place to place and collecting items at each place. The item that I remember was “a lock of Mr. Schmeltz;s hair.” He was the seriously balding piano player for the choir who happened to be practicing that night. My mother (the choir director) was NOT a happy camper . … well, neither was Mr. Schmeltz!!

  16. Eleanor Townsend says:

    Let It Go……..

  17. Shelly Shively says:

    Bathroom garbage disposal: ewww!
    Remember that poster in our childhood dentist office, “if you can’t brush after eating, Swish and Swallow”.

  18. Candace C says:

    My mother always took her grandchildren ( separately)
    to Barnes and Noble for their birthdays. The birthday girl/boy could choose two or three books and then choose something to eat/drink at the bookstore “cafe” and talk with Grandy about whatever they wanted to talk about. Just the two of them – no rush. The grandchildren are grown now and they all say hands down that outing was one of their favorite memories and something they always looked forward to.

  19. Candace C says:

    Here’s a fun but messy ‘kid’ thing I used to do with mine. Make a big pot ( large enough for small feet to stand in) of oatmeal, put a bunch of gummy worms in it and let them put their feet in and try and pickup the worms with their toes. It’s messy but fun. Pro-tip – make sure the oatmeal has cooled before you put the gummy worms in so they don’t melt. Although I let the kids do it inside it’s probably best to do outside during the summer, near a hose.

  20. Amy Gibbs says:

    Sees candy story: when we were young, we would almost every year make a sojourn to Sacramento, to the Arden Fair Mall to do “Christmas shopping”. There was a Sees candy store in that mall, and we were allowed the caramel pops, one each. You could choose the light caramel or the chocolate caramel. To this day those are highly nostalgic for me.
    Mama Sway: I still do it while waiting in line. It’s probably a self-soothing thing, but with my horrible lower back I can’t stand still for very long, and swaying keeps my back from seizing up. And yes, part of my lower-back issue comes from carrying a human being in me for 10 months and then carrying her in my arms for several years. So, yeah…

  21. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Amazon is hard on businesses. I check around to see that what I want doesn’t exist in Redding before turning to Amazon, but there are also local businesses I favor over internet buying. I suspect the reason l I patronize some of our local businesses is that the “sales associates” look me in the eye and seemed pleased to help me find my way to where the right sized nuts and bolts, batik fabric, music books, mystery book, paper for print making or 45 degree zerks are.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      I try that, too, Joanne. If I can’t find it in Fall River then I go to Burney. If not there, on to Redding. But unfortunately, none of the three has what I want/need generally; so it’s back to online shopping. Twice recently, I needed a tiny bit of hardware – an acorn nut and a small clip for my small dog’s leash. I was in Lowe’s for one item, and in Home Depot for the other. A staff member from both places suggested Ace Hardware where I found both items. I guess I’ll just start at Ace henceforth.

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