Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Radiant

A week or so ago, I was sitting in my folding chair on the sidewalk outside the laundromat around the corner from my apartment building, reading while my clothes went for a swim. Suddenly it began to rain, but only where I was. I looked up to see a woman wielding a garden hose from atop her garage. “Hey!”, I yelled. “You’re getting me wet.” “Sorry!”, she said.

The woman emerged onto the sidewalk and continued with her watering. Neither of us said anything, but the mood didn’t seem unfriendly. Then I said, “Your roses are very beautiful,” which they are, a rich yellow-pink. She thanked me and said she worries they’re not getting enough water. I added that they smell good, which they do, and then I told her my name and she told me hers and it ended up being a very pleasant interaction. Now if I see her again, I can say hello to her by name.

The following day, a Saturday, Howie led us in a half-daylong—four hours of mindfulness practice—at the Mindfulness Care Center, on Gough St. just south of Market St. There were about ten people from Mission Dharma there, about 30 people total. Howie gave us meditation instructions and we sat, and then had a bit of discussion, then walked, sat, discussed, walked, sat and left. The four hours flew by. I was slightly beset by nearby laundry detergent, but it was tolerable, sometimes evident and sometimes not, depending on the movements of the air.

During walking periods, most people did the standard slow walking back and forth, it looked like, but I, the new devotee of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, was free to walk anywhere at any speed, so, with the very slightest of mental smirks, I went off around the block: Gough, Market, 12th St., Otis. Someone had put a squished dead bird into a blue recycling bin. There are a lot of auto-related businesses around there, satellites of the large dealership (Honda, I think) at Market St. and South Van Ness.

When the four hours were done, I walked—windy!—down to Ananda Fuara and had a cup of dal and a green salad for lunch. Then I briefly went to the Civic Center, where the Asian heritage festival or some such was underway, then walked over to REI to look at and in fact purchase a sun hat or two. Mine is twenty years old and really is disreputable looking, though it still does its job faithfully. Even Carlos thought its day had come and gone.

Next I headed for Sports Basement to see if they had different or better hats, which took me past Dandelion, which I’d never been in before. It is two floors bursting with books and kitchen-related things, including many Japanese ceramics, and lots of things that are just a few dollars. It’s like the nicest parts of Sur la Table, plus a huge library. If you’re stuck for a gift for someone, try that place. It’s on Potrero St. at 15th.

(Another good place for a beautiful gift is Currents on Valencia St. at 20th. They have a back room with a lot of nice Japanese bowls and cups in it. Huh! If you didn’t think this was going to be all about shopping, neither did I! But as long as I’m on the subject, there are probably three other good places for gifts on Valencia St. between 19th and 20th, on the west side of the street.)

Leaving Dandelion, I passed the soup kitchen where I have just started volunteering and stopped in briefly. A couple of people I’d not met before were doing something or other. I chatted with one of them for a few minutes. His face was radiant with joy, which seems to be quite common around there.

As it turned out, Sports Basement had about the same hats as REI, but cheaper.

Next I thought I’d go try one of the many new restaurants on or near Valencia St. and ended up at Radish, on 19th St. halfway between Valencia and Mission, the source of a mild resentment every Sunday, when I’m cycling to Rainbow and see what seems to be a big crowd of “new Mission” people standing outside it. When I got there, the three or four tables outside were empty but for a lone woman. I asked her, “If I eat here, will I be happy?” and she said it’s pretty good, so I went in. It’s medium sized, with an expansive, open feel. Indoors, there are tables to seat about 16, and seats at the bar for eight or 10. Seated at the bar were a gay male couple and a gay female couple in their 20s or early 30s; the latter seemed to be friends with the lady proprietresses (the cooks were Mexican men), and I concluded it may be lesbian-owned? A large swath of wall is purple and another is red, and there are decorative glass vessels here and there, and three pleasing photographs on one wall and some paintings on another. The ceiling is quite high.

The remaining patrons were late 20ish and casual in appearance. Possibly they are tech workers who make handsome salaries and live in places formerly occupied by people who have been evicted and now have to live in Antioch, but who knows? Up close, I couldn’t really detect any hint of evil.

I had a spicy, almost crunchy veggie burger that was quite good. There may have been a tad too much Dijon mustard. It comes with greens, but I got an enormous pile of salty fries instead, for three dollars extra. It really was too much food and of course I ate it all, while reading my New Yorker, so maybe it would be better to stick with the greens next time. The woman behind the bar thanked me when I left, with a very pleasant smile. I imagine I’ll go back to Radish.
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