We've been home from San Francisco for three weeks now. The weather has warmed the heck up out here in the Greater Midwest. Yesterday, it hit 68 degrees, which set off some impressive storms. It's now warmer here in Illinois than it was in San Francisco.
Still, I miss it. I miss the blistered toes jammed into cowboy boots. I miss the all-day burn on the calf muscles. I miss the food. No, really, I miss the food. You can't get food like that in Western Illinois. I even almost miss the fog.
Luckily, I brought back enough of San Francisco to keep me going through lightning and hail.
A mural from Alcatraz, now in convenient postcard form!
Perhaps I mentioned that Chinese New Year was going on? These are "red cards," which are absolutely beautiful little envelopes that people put gift money in. Red, if you didn't know, is the lucky color.
So, here's the story about the lantern. When I was a wee lass, my father had his own fishing lure business. I must have been about five when we 'negotiated' my terms of pay for packing boxes of lures to ship. I apparently refused to settle for less than $0.05 per box. I drove a hard bargain. So, I saved up my nickels, carefully waiting to find something that was worth my hard-earned silver. One day, we took my Mema out for Chinese, and there, in the display case, was a little lantern. I want to say that it was $3.75 or something like that. I bought it, and it was all mine.
I have no idea what ever happened to it--I'm tempted to blame the house fire a few years later, but may very well have just played with it until it 'disappeared' on day. I forgot about it--until I was wandering around San Francisco with my family on a lovely spring day. Happiness is not just a nifty cool trinket. Happiness is finding something that brings a long-forgotten memories of my first paycheck, my first independent-of-Mommy purchase, and, most importantly, of dinner with my Mema, God bless her soul.
I used to buy touristy t-shirts on vacations, but those unisex shirts are never good on me, so I decided some time ago that I was going to buy souvenirs that I would love. Enter jewelry!! I got both of these pieces from street vendors. The copper disks were hand-hammered by a shy guy, and the necklace was strung by a lovely Chinese woman. Souvenirs: $18. Fashionability: Priceless.
We bought a LOT of delicious souvenirs. Cowgirl Creamery cheese, Boudin Bakery sourdough bread, XOX truffles, Ghiradelli (in which we ate squares in a Square), and fresh fortune cookies. But the only one of all those delicious souviners that we have a reminder of is this:
Charles Chocolates. Man, oh, man, those were some good chocolates. We personally met Charles in his store, where he generously gave The Kid chocolate-covered Oreos and us some of these chocolate-covered almonds, which is why we had to get our own to come home with us. Divine, really. And any man who hands out chocolate samples is a friend of mine.
But above all this, my favorite keepsake is this:
I didn't leave my heart in San Francisco! It's only about an inch across, so it's perfect in and amongst all the other good luck charms that habitat my desk. And that's a whole 'nother blog.
I bought other things, but I doubt most of you loyal readers would be interested in a never-ending parade of book covers (correct me if I'm wrong). And of course, The Husband and The Kid each got their own memories-to-go. But these are mine.
Ah, the memories.