From San Diego With Onions

Sunday, March 3, 2013

007 Likes Onions in his Martinis
OK. So it's not quite as flashy as From Russia with Love. It may not even contain the intrigue, action, drama, special effects (OK, none of that). It doesn't even have an Auric Goldfinger or Rosa Klebb -- though SMERSH (Death to Spies) just might be involved here. What this blog posting does have, however, is a mystery. It's a deep, dark, somewhat smelly mystery that might never be solved.

Not even by the great 007, James Bond.

Onion Plant Starters
I bring you the case of the Missing Madcap Onions. The no-show scallions. The ghostly gibbons. OK, that's enough. They are like the onions you see pictured to your left. These onions are now planted in the Bird Back 40. There are three different varieties here, representing red, yellow and white.

So what's the mystery you ask? I'll tell you. The onions sets you see planted in the Bird Back 40 are "replacement" onions. They represent a second, rush shipment from Dixondale Farms in Texas. As for the first shipment? Where is that first shipment? Nobody quite really knows. And that's were the mystery begins.

It was South Natomas gardening zen-master Nels Christensen who first suggested last fall that we "tag team" on our order of onions this year. It made sense. Why pay for two shipping charges instead of one? Plus, the onions get somewhat cheaper when you buy more of them. So, by combining the order we paid less for them and avoided an additional shipping charge. As Wile E. Coyote once summarized: Our thinking was "genius."

Online Tracking for Onion Plant Starters
And then, the United States Postal Service got involved.

I love online tracking. I'm not sure who started it first, but everyone uses it now. It allows you to track a package or special order as it makes its stops here and there before arriving at your front door. Online tracking even informs you when that package will arrive at your front door.

In the case of Nels Christensen and Bill Bird, online tracking told us our 2013 shipment of onions from Dixondale Farms had arrived at the West Sacramento Postal Sort Facility on February 9th, a Saturday. With this information, we could expect a Monday or Tuesday delivery.

Super Star (White) Onions
The package never arrived.

This prompted a worried call from Nels to the West Sacramento USPS office where he received the response of: "Onions? We don't have any onions."

It seems our onions had vanished. Nobody was quite sure where they went. Five long days went by and still no onions, and worse yet, no response from the USPS. But, on February 15th, a single-word item appeared in our online tracking system: "Missent." Well! Where did they send them we wondered? Mars? Why would it take five days to locate a box of fresh onion plants? They'd certainly be stinking up a storm right about now.

Red Candy Apple Onion Starters
More information appeared in our onion online tracking that very same day. The missing box of onions was reported at the West Sacramento sort facility again. Well, this was good news! Right? This meant we could expect delivery by the next day!

Or so we thought. Two days later we learned that our wayward batch of smelly onion plant starters had been shipped to San Diego. It's not Mars, per se, but gardening is rather local. Nels and I don't have garden plots in San Diego. We have them in Sacramento, Natomas to be exact.

Replacement Box of Onion Starters
So how did the onions wind up in San Diego? That's a good question. Not even the USPS could tell us. In fact, if you called the USPS sort facility in San Diego they would claim: "Onions? We don't have no stinkin' onions," or something that effect.

You would think that the online tracking system would be updated with the message of "Really, really Missent," or "We screwed up bad there, bud." But nary a word crossed the online tracking system for four days. At that point? Our missing box of onion plants was on the move again. This time they were destined for  Carrizo Springs, Texas. That is where they had been shipped from originally two weeks ago. But instead of turning around and heading back to Sacramento, the USPS decided to send our quite-ripe box of onion plant starters back to the grower.

Venus Plants
Why? Good question! I told you this was a mystery! Ah -- but it gets even better.

I emailed Dixondale Farms with the request for a photo of our missing box of onion plant starters because I wanted to see the damage that had been done to it after two weeks of moving from one USPS sort facility to another. Dixondale Farms emailed back with the response: "We can't. The box was empty."

So where is that first shipment of onions? We can only deduce that someone, somewhere got a surprise delivery of half-dead onion starters with the code names of "Candy Apple Red" and "Super Star." And this person is now wondering if they've become the unwitting target of SMERSH (Death to Spies). Think about it for a moment. How many people get deliveries of smelly, half dead onion plant starters? Would you be a tad bit concerned?

Where are the onions? Rosa Klebb might know...
I'm pleased to report that during this Great Onion Adventure, the good folks at Dixondale Farms rushed a second delivery to our front door and this one actually arrived, on time, and in fairly good condition. The onions are planted. The onions are growing. And there's nothing quite like an onion starter from Dixondale Farms. Venus and I planted our first bunch of onion plant starters last spring, and we were munching on a whopper of a harvest through late fall and early winter.

You'll even find a bit of "Super Star" and "Candy Apple Red" in our moderately famous "Roasted Garlic, Pepper and Heirloom Tomato Salsa." Yeah, those onions are THAT good.

But as for that first shipment of onion plants? You're guess is as good as mine, 007.


Dree said...

Or maybe someone at USPS tossed them because of the smell? Last fall I was sent a priority mail (2-3) package from Houston. It didn't arrive, the shipper gave me the tracking number. After 5 days it showed up in NY, where it sat for 3 more. Then it went to NJ for 5 days of sitting. The shipper and I both contacted the PO. They refused to even deal with me, they said they only work with the shipper. The shipper could get no response out of them. The box was then sent to LA for sorting (not my sorting facility), and it took another 4 days to get it across town to my house. I expected the box to arrive damaged, with a smeared label or something. It was in perfect condition.

The shipper was unable to get any explanation or anything out of USPS, other than "Priority mail does not guarantee 3-day ahipping."

It was 15 days. Fortunately, it was not onion starters :)

Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick said...

Hi! I’m new follower of your blog and would like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

I hope you can make it!

Kathy Shea Mormino
The Chicken Chick

Bill Bird said...

I normally don't allow links posted by others to stay up, but I'm going to make an exception for Ms. Mormino. Number one, the blog is legit. Secondly, it does cover an important topic: raising chickens in a suburban backyard. It's got helpful tips. And while Ms. Mormino allows advertising on her blog, she isn't necessarily pushing for you to buy anything. It's for these reasons that the blog listing she included will stay right where it is.

Bill Bird