Happy Halloween!

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I received this photo by email earlier this morning, and at various points throughout the day today, I have had the chance to see it again in my inbox.  Every time I see it, I smile and can’t resist chuckling a little.  So, I had to share. This is the Cosumnes River College baseball team.  Go Hawks!

Zoltar Speaks

zoltarI was thinking the other day about how the word “superstitious” has a negative connotation.  Its synonyms are: “gullible,” apprehensive,” and “fearful.” I don’t think I fit these descriptions, but I would never deny paying attention to the fortune promised by my word of the day calendar, the happiness I find when I am open to happenstance, the products of providence, and the delightful surprises of serendipity, kismet, and charms.

I put a dollar into the Zoltar machine, and I was delighted when Zoltar spoke.  His handsome voice warned: “He who laughs last thinks slowest.”  As fast as I could, I guffawed as Zoltar produced a ticket forecasting my fate.

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Lucky Creation

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My favorite restaurant in China Town is Lucky Creation, on Washington St., in San Francisco. A hole-in-the-wall spot that specializes in vegetarian Chinese food, particularly mushrooms in a clay pot and “meat” dishes made from gluten, this spot may not look or even sound appealing. But some days I daydream making the drive from Sacramento just to have an order of pot stickers and a bowl of wonton soup. Mmmmm.

Although the tables are crammed into the small floor space, the community table is the place to be.  I have learned some of the best tips from regulars, such as the only way to put sauce in a pot sticker that accommodates even my mediocre chopstick skills and the best ratio of vinegar and soy for dipping.

Let’s say gluten meat and piles of vegetables don’t sound appealing to you, the altar at the back of the dining room is captivating.  Amplified by a mirror on the back wall, it features Guanyin (aka Kwon Yin), the goddess of mercy and compassion, fruit, and flowers. The proprietors are especially pleased when tourists appreciate their loving tribute to their ancestors.
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Sweet and Sour Pork

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Pot Stickers

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Lunch Crowd

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China Town

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San Francisco’s China Town is a deluge on the senses.  I go for the food, but it is a great place to window shop and people watch. On the sidewalks, look out for floods of rushed locals struggling against lolling tourists, expect to find restaurant employees attempting to lure you in for dim sum and other delicious bites, and have your camera ready for the unexpected. (I missed a shot of a grandfather holding his granddaughter up as she urinated in the street.)

It is the Year of the Horse, and there are representations of horses everywhere, reminders of the twelve-year cycles that help us to understand ourselves and others based on the year we were born, the month, the day, and the hour.  These horses remind me the importance of lucky numbers, colors, flowers, and other signs and superstitions in this culture and others.  It is a norm to try to find meaning and make rules to try to understand fortune.

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Smile!

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I was telling a story the other day out at Home Depot.  The story was about how serious I am when I am traveling in Mexico, so serious I have had people stop and tell me to smile.  I can’t smile though because all of my energy is focused on rehearsing what I want to ask, state, explain, try out.  I try to do this and walk simultaneously.  Apparently, the result is a focused, or worse, face.

If I had the words, I might respond to the smile command with some tirade about how otherwise warm Oaxacans assume a stone pose when approached by the camera, no matter how much I beg them to say cheese or whiskey.  Instead I muster a smile and return to studying my lines.