Dawn broke, Gentle Reader, like the yolk of a soft-boiled egg. I slipped out the clunking glass door, cursing as it banged open – I was up before my hosts, and I desperately needed nicotine. I don’t think I woke them, but they did shortly appear.
B had to get into the office, but Miss Spectacular was free all day; we were due to visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden, where she’s a member. The garden is set in 16th century China, and – built in the traditional way, with traditional materials – is designed to display the home and garden of a wealthy scholar and his family.
We drifted through the various courtyards and pavilions, enjoying the loving detail put into each specific aspect – the guidebook even had a window in the front; when you saw a certain symbol, you were supposed to gaze through it across five hundred years. The wood was all diligently, delicately carved by hand; the massive stones were flown in from Lake Tai. Even the mosaics underfoot were different in each area!
Spectacular caught a few snaps of me on the charming bridge (which have not yet arrived) and then we broke for lunch in the authentic tea room.
An old man sat in the corner, playing Erhu (I think – Google seems to think so). Anyway, if it wasn’t an Erhu, it was an instrument that looked like this:
After a sumptuous meal of tea eggs, moon cake, and sundry other delicacies, Miss Spectacular and I posed for a photo in the Moon-Gazing Pavilion (again, they’re en route), while a helpful stranger waited for other tourists to get out of the damned way in the background.
While wandering and waiting for our bus to the Hawthorne district, we encountered some interesting street people, including two tiny elderly ladies who were able to give us directions. Once across the bridge, we spent probably three hours in House of Vintage, a thrift shop that is ridiculously large and ridiculously well-stocked. There was a turquoise pair of snake-skin pants that I was lusting after, and Miss Spectacular rejected each and every one of the twenty silk kimonos we found. It was a blitz of color, a frenzy of fashion, a riot of really awful things that are too terrible not to own – and the perfect place to search for hidden treasure.
There were too many other places we visited that day to list – but after shopping, we rested at a sports bar and waited for B to be able to join us. After that, we hit another shop that I do recall: The Gold Door.
It’s a shop specifically calculated to make me want to buy everything inside: Dead things? Buckets of them. Folk art from around the world? FROM ALL AROUND THE SHOP, MORE LIKE. Antique settees? Enough strange or exotic jewelry to take a bath in? Yup. They had it all. In fact, I was so enthralled that they couldn’t pull me out until closing time.
Dinner at a local ‘farm to fork’ place was next, this busy Saturday night. The Verde Cocina had excellent food, and it showed – the place was packed. We waited in the stairwell, leaning back when steaming trays of food tripped past – they just served to add to our hunger. We finally got seats in the loft, and lingered over our meal, staying until closing time there, as well.
Back to the apartment, where we stayed up far too late, jamming on our ukes, reading tarot, and explaining some old high-school stories to B – he had never heard of Stupid Cloak Girl, which is a story I won’t recount here. It did lead to me having to explain the well-known adage “One is never fully dressed without a cloak and a merkin” – and I think we’ll finish with that image firmly lodged in your head, Gentle Reader.