Mistakes can be Gifts

It was Cinco de Mayo. The restaurant was busy with the lunch crowd topped off by holiday fun seekers wanting craft margaritas infused with strawberry lavender or tropical flavors of pineapple cilantro.

I waited. Alone. To be noticed.

It seemed like forever until a server hurried by, pointing to a room in the back with over a dozen empty booths. I found my way there, sitting alone, the only one in the cavernous space recently opened since COVID restrictions have been eased.

Leaving the busy bar and front restaurant behind, I found myself comfortable, setting out my usual tools that accompany with solo dining.

My Phone and Journal.

I started reading blog posts from my favorite bloggers.

Twenty minutes went by. No server. I got up and went to the other part of the restaurant, the festivity of the day was just beginning. The bartender was buried, shaking drinks. Another server, a different one rushed by me, my words followed her, that I was still waiting to place my order.

Sitting down, and going back to my reading, an apologetic young waitress who I recognized must be from Chick-Fil-A. If you have ever been to this particular fast food chicken franchise, you recognize employees here and past with their robotic “my pleasure” repeated over and over after you place your order, ask for something, and receive your bag of fast food.

Immediately, upon meeting my server, I empathized with her.

She took my order, with several “My Pleasures” and apologies.

I went back to reading posts about travels and the adventures at Bedlam Farm. While, I was reading I was also thinking about my order and hungrily anticipating trying the poblano chili dish with sauteed mushrooms, cheeses, and sauce with a side of warm flour tortillas to scoop it up with. Whispers of salad suggestions were pushed away during my scan of the menu. I was successful resisting the fried taquitos and potato pancakes.

My chips and salsa arrived with my Agua de Jamaica. A rich crimson color infusion of hibiscus flowers loaded with vitamin C. It’s refreshing with a tart-berry like flavor.

To my surprise, my server returned with my dish and more apologies. I let her know that I totally understood her predicament being thrashed around myself in the restaurant business.

After she left, I glanced down at my food.

A rectangular plate of beet salad with greens. The long line of arugula and spring lettuces smiled back at me.

I didn’t call back my server for two reasons. One. I didn’t want to add more on her plate. Two. I knew, this was a sign from my loved ones on the other side.

“We know you couldn’t wait to have the flour tortillas slathered with cheese and buttered mushrooms. The salad is a better choice for you and we are happy you chose the hibiscus tea, so good for lowering blood pressure.

I must admit. The salad was the better choice. And it was delicious.

Mistakes are the portals of discovery.
— James Joyce

Pedicure and Chow Chow

Coco and Chanel, two well behaved Chow Chows at my nail and pedicure shop

Near my new home, it was a nice surprise to see well behaved, beautifully groomed Chows Chows at the nail shop.

My past experience with Chow Chows have been limited to my summers bathing dogs at my Aunt Jackie’s Dog Grooming Shop during my teen years and wandering dogs ending up impounded at the Marin Humane Society when I worked at the front counter in the nineties. Most of them, matted, untrained, and not too friendly.

These two gnawing on their chewies, assessing and greeting clients at the door, and following the owner about, a young petite Vietnamese Woman in a black flowing pantsuit were entertaining to watch.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

After admiring Coco and Chanel, the Chow Chows, while getting my nails done before my new job starts soon, I decided to look into Chow Chow history.

Turns out Chows originated in China 2,000 to 8,000 years ago depending on what studies you delve into. An ancient breed imported to the states in 1890.

Emperors of the Tang Dynasty kept 25,000 hunting dogs of the Chow Chow breed in their kennels during 7th century EC.

Many myths circulate on why the Chow Chow has a blue-black tongue.

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

Some tell the story of the faithful farmer’s dog. One day the farmhouse caught on fire. The family’s loyal Chow Chow saved the house by putting out the fire with his tongue, the ashes staining it black.

A creation myth remembers the day when God painted the sky blue, drops of paint fell from the sky, the Chow Chow caught the drips licking up blue bits of paint coloring his tongue blue-black.

At the nail shop, I watched as Coco and Chanel considered everyone who walked in the door, determining each person’s intentions before settling down to continue chewing on their treats.

Monks kept Chow Chows as protectors for their Buddhist Temples. Owners of Chow Chows swear by their ability to tell bad people from good, and their gift of seeing ghosts.

Sun and Fire

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

Flamingos are becoming a familiar spirit animal in my life.

After my partner Scott’s transition, I had a vision of flamingos in a desert.

Following dream teachings and guidance from Robert Moss’s book Sidewalk Oracles, I’ve kept my eyes open for signs of symbols and synchronicity around me in anticipation of how my journey will unfold after losing Scott’s physical presence.

My first sign and encounter with Flamingos in the physical world was on my trip to San Diego. There, I spotted a pink flamingo on a fence post validating my compass was pointed in the right direction. San Diego turned out to be a healing trip for me. Scott and I were headed there before he transitioned.

In Birds, Myth, Lore and Legend, the flamingo is a bird of rebirth, a symbol of new beginnings. complementing the myth of the Phoenix, reborn from the ashes.

Recently, I was looking at one of Scott’s online album of photos. I was surprised to find a photo of flamingos remembering at the time, another photo he took, a close-up of the bird’s elegant face and presence.

Yesterday, waiting for an interview for a new job, I was invited to sit near an office in the back of the building.

I was surprised and delighted to interview for this position at a non-profit serving at risk people in our community. I’ve applied, sending resumes to this organization over a dozen times in the last ten years. Persistence paid off. Finally, I had a chance to give it my all. Exploring my immediate surroundings, I found a drawing taped on the window, the Flamingo, a beautiful figure created by an artist unknown, at least unknown to me.

In my heart and spirit, I knew forces were in play and if the job was meant to be, I would be guided there. The morning after my interview, my cellphone rang and the job was offered to me.

The name Flamingo may be derived from the Spanish world Flamenco, an art form, a fiery dance of passion full of spirit and heart originating from the Andalusia area of Spain where my family is from.

A few years ago, Scott and I worked at the same hotel when were together, at separate intervals. The hotels theme. Flamingos.

I am reminded that life is a dance of death and rebirth. Of sun and fire. The people and animals we love who have “departed” are here, living through and around us. They are pure essence of who they were and are.

We continue together creating with full expression as the journey unfolds in the physical world.

If we keep our senses alive and awake, we can connect and see the proof of immortality all around us.

The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings. J.M. Barrie

Curious about Bars

Ignore the Red Umbrella in the photo and take in this picture of a historic saloon built from the timbers of the Umatilla, an abandoned paddle steamer.

With $100 and the aid of the ship’s carpenter, Johnny Heinhold built this saloon in 1871 from the Umatilla’s bones for seafaring men to feel at ease sitting at its bar.

This is the saloon at Oakland’s waterfront where famed American Novelist and Journalist Jack London in the 1890’s listened to sailors’ tales, and met Alexander McLean, known for his cruel nature and ship nicknamed The Hell Ship. The vicious Captain and seafaring stories inspired Jack London to write his best selling novel of mutiny and shipwreck, The Sea Wolf.

“But, – and there it is, – we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move, to want to live and move. If it were not for this, life would be dead. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality.”
― Jack London, The Sea Wolf

Heinold’s has been been a working establishment since 1884. The Saloon has been closed since COVID.

The historic saloon still has original gas lighting and the potbelly stove.

My sister and I have been traveling the San Francisco Bay Area on a quest searching for captivating bars and researching spirits in the form of cocktails (more to be revealed later).

For many reasons, I’m anxious to revisit and stay at the Waterfront in Jack London’s Square. When COVID orders are lifted and Jack London’s rendezvous Heinold’s opens again, I’ll be back in Oakland, California to order a beverage and visit with the ghosts of the past.

I love a good ghost story.

Sea Horses and Sangria

Last night walking through the lush greenery on the patio at Mexico Lindo, the garden sculpture with the seahorses caught my attention.

Seahorses symbolize money and prosperity in Mexican culture from the little research I have done. Seahorses are fascinating creatures, they mate for life and are monogamous. The males give birth to the children, not the females.

Yesterday, I celebrated an early dinner at Mexico Lindo after interviewing for a social work position at a non-profit. This morning, I was offered the full-time position. I’m very excited about working on the ground helping people.

This job requires a car, so I will be shopping for one soon. My travels will be expanding through the Northern California area on my days off and after work hours, and my vacations will take me from beyond here when I have more time to explore.

It’s good for me to go back to work now. I resonated with the team I will be working with, all people doing good works.

If you visit Sonoma County, and want a yummy Sangria, the price is so reasonable and it was so good in the heat of early evening yesterday, I encourage you to visit Mexico Lindo in Graton, California for festive drinks, good food, and a shaded patio out back.

Last night, it was so hot for Spring, in the high eighties at least. The patio was the perfect place to cool off and toast possibilities for a new beginning while cherishing my life so far.

On the Waterfront

Walking along the waterfront in Jack London Square, Oakland California, I fell in love with the lounge benches for one person or a couple to lean back, relax and watch the water.

The beautiful lady on the right had her pile of books and sandals off for an afternoon of reading and enjoying the fresh air, and sea. I noticed she was reading Michelle Obama’s book Becoming among others. I haven’t read it yet. Have you? I’m going to put it on my list.

I made sure to get the restaurant’s name in the photo, Scott’s. He’s always with me,

Next time, I visit Oakland, I’m going to make reservations to have dinner there, at Scott’s Seafood Jack London Square.

Faithful Dog

“Thornton knelt down by Buck’s side. He took his head in his two hands and rested cheek on cheek. He did not playfully shake him, as was his wont, or murmur soft love curses; but he whispered in his ear. ‘As you love me, Buck.‘” -Jack London’s Call of the Wild

I don’t remember who I saw first. The monument to Buck at the park in Jack London Square or the husky shepherd dog faithfully holding a down stay across from him. I thought it the perfect image for fortuitously happening upon an area dedicated to famed novelist Jack London.

The log cabin is a replica of the one Jack London lived in at twenty-one years of age during the brutal Klondike gold rush in Canada’s Yukon. The Yukon inspired Jack London’s book Call of the Wild.

There is so much to take in at Jack London Square in Oakland, California. I will be back to hopefully stay a night or two at the waterfront.

Last night we enjoyed a Japanese Dinner and Jazz Music at Yoshi’s. The music was Bossa Nova style and the green tea beignets were delicious.

Goddess Cheemah

Walking around Jack London Square last night in Oakland with my sister, I found this beautiful stunning Goddess surfing on the back of an Eagle.

Who is this Goddess?

Looking closer we found the bronze plaque with her name Cheemah and her creator Osprey Orielle Lake, one of the world’s few female allegorical monument makers.

Speaking at Mikhail Gorbachev’s State of the World Forum, a gathering of 700 Leaders form 120 Countries, Ms. Lake said,

“Art, because of its creative and visionary nature, needs to be a part of the dialogue as we develop models for a sustainable and compassionate global civilization. Narrative art is of great importance in guiding and influencing the direction of humanity. We need to renew our dreams about what calls us to our common humanity. Transforming and creating new cultural stories and images provides an opportunity to create a balanced view of what the future can hold.”

Ms. Lake’s Cheemah, the Mother of Spirit-Fire is an eighteen foot bronze monument dedicated to celebrating cultural diversity, world unity, and the care of Earth. The Cheemah statue is one of eight placed around the world.

It was a gift for us to find her at Jack London Square in Oakland, California.

Jazz Brunch

Jazz at Cafe Frida

When I was thirty-four, I leased my first home by myself. Before then, I shared places with my boyfriend in my early twenties and roommates after our break-up. My first solo home was a cute Victorian cottage near the downtown. I walked everywhere. I walked to the bookstore, the cafes, and to work.

When I first moved into my place, I didn’t have any furniture. I remember sitting on the floor of the living room visioning how I wanted the place to look and feel. Before the month was out, I found a Middle Eastern furniture shop. The owner, a young Persian Woman my age helped me pick out sitting cushions for the floor in bright silk covers of burgundy, aureate, and the deepest of ruby reds. A beautiful table formed the centerpiece where I ate and served my meals. For many of my guests, it was the first time they sat on the floor to eat.

On Sundays, I walked my Golden Retriever puppy Melanie downtown to shop for CDs. I would buy at least three to half dozen from the Jazz, Blues, International, and Classical sections. Back home, I would fix a decadent breakfast with more coffee, and play my cds entranced by music I wasn’t familiar with.

I remember describing my Sundays to Scott. At the same time, back then, he was visiting stores in Berkeley, and through-out the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento picking out records, cds, and listening to as much music as he could, especially the Grateful Dead and Neil Young. His passion was music. His tastes were so deep and varied, it’s hard for me to mention just a couple of names because there were hundreds if not thousands of musicians and bands he followed. He never abandoned it. I did over the years, finding other interests, reigniting my desire for listening to jazz and blues, and other genres when I met Scott.

Today, I listened to live Jazz, at a local cafe near downtown with my sister and my mom. It was so wonderful sitting outside in the sunshine, having brunch, watching the parade of dogs enter the outdoor cafe. I am grateful to live in a dog friendly town.

Listening to the music, I thought of Scott. Last year, he played Chet Baker for me. It was the first time I really listened to Chet Baker. I fell in love with the music, taking me back to a time that I felt free and independent longing for a partner to share my life with. And here was Scott playing jazz for me on a Sunday. I remember feeling grateful that my prayers were answered. Up to the day, he transitioned, Scott was playing music, I remember him placing his headphones around my ears, so I could listen to a piece of jazz he found, so excited to share it with me.

I am so glad live music is back in our town. I feel close to Scott when I listen to music.

As the music played, the cafe filled up quickly. We almost had to step over dogs to find our way out of there. I’ll be back. The coffee is so good and the food presentation is delightful at Cafe Frida.

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