This morning I drove over to Oakland, picked up my friend Kobe, and hit the Jack London Square Farmers Market. Yeah, yeah, I had taken my neighbor and his visiting lovely lover to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market yesterday, but I had managed to limit my purchases. Besides, I just wanted to check out another Bay Area market. Good thing I did.

Right off, I spotted Oakdale Cheese. First time I’ve seen them in a year, as they have stopped coming to the Ferry Plaza and Justin Herman markets. They make an excellent moderately-aged gouda. They also make by far the best quark I’ve had in this country, and while I try not to allow the price of foods to influence my purchase decisions, I’m still enough the mean old Scot to notice that they charge half the price of their competitors like Cowgirl Creamery.

And then right beside them there was the Golden Sheaf Bread Company from Watsonville, from whom I used to buy their four-seed baguette at the San Mateo Farmers Market when I was working at Oracle. I would spark a feeding frenzy by putting it out on the refreshments table, which was rather like tossing a Jack Russell terrier into a knee-deep pool (his knees) of half-starved piranha, a pleasure which has never been mine but one which I have imagined repeatedly owing to my great love for piranha.

My German friend Chris is a honey connoisseur, eager to sample them from all over the world. When I discovered this, I leaped into seeking new sources locally, hoping to fan his interest into an obsession, a task I sense will be fairly easy. This autumn I discovered that there are urban bee keepers in San Francisco who market their honey in specialty shops, labeling it by neighborhood. These include: Golden Gate Park, The Castro, Pacific Heights, Lake Merced, Richmond, Sunset, Twin Peaks, Glen Park, Cole Valley, Cow Hollow, Dolores Park, Lone Mountain, McLaren Park, Mountain Lake Park, and Presidio Heights. Chris took a selection back to Germany last November.

Today, I was pleased to see at the market honey from a vendor I didn’t recognize. Her name is Ann Wilson and she lives in Le Grand, but the honey was made in Madera County orange groves by a bunch of bees she has enslaved. Talk about a sweat shop! No retirement program; they work ’till they drop dead, and then are dragged out of the hive and cast unceremoniously on the heap.

Unlike Freddy, who they “dropped off the fire escape into the alley with military honors.” I hadn’t thought about Don Marquis in years, but as soon as I did, whole stanzas came back to me. It’s all in lower case because archy types by climbing onto the typewriter carriage and jumping down onto a key and thus cannot do capital letters. To give you an idea of the time frame here, the dust jacket on my “new edition” of the lives and times of archy and mehitabel describes archy as “the gay little cockroach.” As opposed, in modern language, to a little gay cockroach, which archy is not, although he is a cockroach and not particularly large.

Yes, I will do anything to set these up.

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