Sanctuary City: Part Two

Sanctuary City: Part Two

As promised, this second post is about being home and taking refuge in the place that we rest and come back to. I live in San Francisco, CA. I have lived in this city for over 12 years and I am also a Bay Area native. I am happy to have grown up in a liberal bubble and have the privilege to travel the world and see what is beyond the boundaries of the area I was born in. Not everyone has that privilege and I would just like to name that, I can afford to travel and I take the opportunity to do so often. Maybe you are an arm chair traveler and this blog is your way to see the world, and if that is the case, I salute you. Please come back and please keep reading. Home can be a wonderful place to explore and to find solace in just as much as the newness and exoticism of travel.

In that respect, this blog post is dedicated to my home and the ways I incorporate my travels back into it. While I attempt to make a trip once or twice a year, let’s be honest, the bulk of our time is spent in the place we pay our rent or mortgage to be in. We have to live our daily lives doing things like feeding the cat, making dinner, going to our jobs. This shouldn’t mean that our homes can’t be lovely reflections of our travels.

When I was younger (remember I started my world travels at 15) I would buy a lot of tchotckes, little cheap trinkets that they sold at tourist attractions. They had no real purpose and they all eventually ended up in boxes to be packed away in the back of my closet.

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The totem was from Seattle or Vancouver, the Buddha from Hawaii and the watercolor was bought in Italy. These are on display in my bookcase.

As I got older, I wanted to be sure what I spent my money on was useful in some way. I didn’t want to just fill my house with things for thing-sake or bring useless gifts home for friends. I became more mindful about my purchasing decisions. Perhaps I’d rather spend that money on an experience or food from a local vendor. Where would my money be going when I spent it on a tourist goody, to Chinese manufacturers or to the local people?

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One of the storage boxes containing shot glasses and old honey and olive oil jars. In the background you can see a mug I actually use daily from my travels in Iceland.

I find the best way to decide on my purchases is by asking the following questions: Can I eat it and if so can I get it home? Can I display it in my home and will it stay on display or end up in a box? Am I supporting the local population with this purchasing choice? Can I afford it?

Due to these questions, here’s what I buy the most of: honey, alcohol, art and local artisan crafts.

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I love this Iceland puffin mug-bought in a tourist shop but something that I actually use. In the background you can see the carved hippo I purchased in Kenya on display.
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Different types of alcohol specific to each region: Peru, Costa Rica, France, Italy. The rooster is a wine stopper from Portugal. These are great to share and bring home as gifts for a tasting party.

I would rather share an experience with my group of friends or have art that will last on my walls forever. After returning from Portugal, my friend Caroline and I hosted a Portugal party and broke out are ration of sardines, olive oil and wine we had bought in the country while on a Douro Valley wine tour. We shared our love of the food we enjoyed for those two weeks with our friends and family over the course of one afternoon. What a great way for them to experience the tastes of a foreign place from home!

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I am a big fan of Afternoon Tea and these boxes highlight some of the tea I’ve picked up in France, Iceland and England. You can keep reusing them to fill up with different tea year after year. Functional, pretty and a good memory from that time period.

The other things I love to bring home are artisan goods. Something that I can wear, put on my walls or use in my house. We visited a local artisan collective in Peru where we bought woven table runners straight from the women who made them rather than from the big name stores in the cities. The table runner lives on my kitchen table most of the year.

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© Michael Goode

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Making the dye from nature

I try to actually use things I bring home. This sheet from India hangs at the foot of my bed. Not only does it keep Bean’s cat hair off my white duvet, it also potentially blocks all those scratch marks she leaves on my bed from view.

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I still wear this bracelet that I picked up when visiting the Masai in Kenya
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Technically this puppet has no purpose other than to please me, but my father and I got a lot of kick out of what we dubbed “Elmer” when we road around the countryside of France after I purchased it in a toy store in Lyon.

It’s important to display the things we love. I added this hook on my wall to display a kimono my Japanese grandmother brought back for me after her last trip to Japan. I wear it on a cold day but I get to admire it year round.

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In the background, you can see art that I collected on my travels as well. I keep a gallery wall in the hall and basically add art to any open surface throughout my apartment. Buying art from local artists is one of my most favorite purchasing decisions when traveling. My favorite piece is from the Peruvian graffiti artist JADE. I found it in a trendy boutique in Barranco. My brother and I did a lot of shopping in the San Blás neighborhood of Cusco and found a boutique that featured local artists, where I got the painting to the left of the Jade Rivera piece by Natalia Lizarraga.

I also like to keep things to remind me of what the name of a boutique was or an especially good restaurant. After all, it helps me with this blog. I use to keep the mementos in scrapbooks but after reading a Martha Stewart article, I decided to start throwing things in keepsake boxes and displaying them on my book case instead.

All I have to do is pull one out and riffle through it. I keep my travel journals and a small photo album of some of my favorite images from the trip in the box as well. And that brings me to my last favorite item to bring home from travels: photos.

I don’t like to let my photos linger on my hard drive. Instead, I get them professionally printed out. I have used the Apple photo book feature in the past to make the small photo albums in my boxes but recently I branched out and used Social Print Studio for the first time. I ordered 48 of my Instagram photos and they were delivered within a week and were beautiful. I am not being paid to give them a shout out but I can’t sing the praises of this Bay Area start up enough. I will definitely be using them again.

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Some of my Valentine’s Day themed travel photos on display from Social Print Studios.

Passion Passport recently did an Instagram challenge featuring people’s favorite Travel Treasures. You’ve seen some of mine, what are yours? How do you display them in your home?

Sanctuary City: Part One

Sanctuary City: Part One

I called this post Sanctuary City for two reasons. One, San Francisco has been a sanctuary city since 1989. We have felt the need for that status more than ever in the political turmoil and unrest that is settling itself around the country right now. The title is a nod to that, for sure, but I also wanted to remind myself that a sanctuary is by definition a safe space, a refuge. San Francisco isn’t just a sanctuary city for the nation, SF is also my actual home, where I come back to after I travel, where I feel safe, where I recharge my battery before I can go back out into the larger world again.

For Part One, I wanted to explore a little of this sanctuary city that I call home, a little corner of my world. For Part Two, I will showcase a little of my actual home and how I bring the world into it. Both posts will be based on my desire to get better at photography this year, so this is less about writing and more about visual storytelling.

I asked everyone for photography lesson books for Christmas and am saving up to get a new lens for my Canon Rebel. With the sun actually out for once, I decided to take a walk down Divisadero St. in San Francisco this week and take pictures of things that I gravitated towards. Here is a little taste of one little street in the great place that I call home.

 

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I wanted to practice using the Macro feature on my camera to explore odd details you wouldn’t necessarily notice. I live in what is considered Lower Pac Heights which is directly above Western Addition. I loved the cracked paint on these old murals and the way the two interplayed with the late morning light.

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My walk took me to the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Divisadero and Grove where I purchased some tasty citrus fruit.

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On the corner is 4505 Burgers and BBQ which is a great place to stop for some brisket and sit out on the picnic tables with a beer in your hand when Karl the Fog takes a break for the day and lets the sun shine.

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I was more interested in the kegs against the red wall then the people eating on the other side.

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Even the dogs are enjoying the nice day
On our way back up the street, we stopped in to two boutiques I’ve always wanted to peruse but stopped myself solely because of my desire to buy things and not being able to afford it. First stop Tanner Goods to find the man a nice leather backpack. The shop was well-manicured and had everything for the SF modern man from bar supplies to hygiene kits. Everything was immaculate and perfect and the price was, not shockingly, well above either of our pay grades so we left empty handed.

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Funky table in the store that draws using a system with weights
I wanted to look at some girly things too so we hopped across the street to The Perish Trust where I could imagine what having a millinery in my kitchen might feel like…and also wish I had a house to interior decorate.

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The Mad Hatter’s closet
It may have all been hipster-inspired madness but I loved the mixture of textured ribbons, wide brimmed hats and checkered floors. I’m still learning the features of my camera and had wanted to focus on the hat in the center, but because of its depth in the back of the room, my camera brought everything in the foreground into clear focus. While not my intention I do love that you can really see all the texture and colors at the front while almost feel like the back of the room is sucking you through a rabbit hole.

As any good San Franciscan will do on a free Sunday, we skipped the line out the door at the Mill (though I love their cinnamon toast) and headed over to Mojo for some equally good Ritual coffee without the wait (Fun Fact: Four Barrel was started by the guy who started Ritual, so same same.) and took that coffee on the road to stop in open houses that we will never be able to afford. Yay SF and being one of the most expensive cities in the world right now. Makes a teacher feel good. After looking at the small three bedroom apartment, we rode the squeaky elevator to the roof and checked out the views of the Victorians across the street.

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I liked the juxtaposition of the two chimneys with the beautiful houses behind them. The chimney stacks look like prison towers. 
Remember this is only a hop, skip and a jump from Alamo Square and the famous Painted Ladies but who says you can’t see equally pretty house fronts from your roof deck.

If you want to get better at photography too, here are the two books I’m working through:

Sidenote: I’m not being paid by DK or Canon, I just really like these products. *I wouldn’t mind being paid by someone to promote their product if I like it so hit me up (wink wink nudge nudge).

Dante’s Eyes

Dante’s Eyes

Another blast from the past. Italy 2004 continued…[Warning: some R content]

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Kim and I lunching in Capri

June 5, 2004 

Frescoes are a poor man’s Bible in a time when a Bible cost as much as a house.

Dante’s eyes in his statue look alive but trapped in stone, possessed or dying. Dante was excommunicated and tried writing very well to be reinstated to Florence. Milan Kundera’s theory is that being excommunicated from your home makes you a better writer.

I need to get kicked out.

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By Bruno Barral CC Wikimedia

 

June 6, 2004

The poppies on the hillside look like light blood stains on green pants, scraped knees and grass stains. Boys playing in fields snatching at footballs and shoulders, tumbling to the ground and bruising. Wrapping their knobby bones and flesh together for mere seconds then pushing apart and running with a continued fervor.

One of the girls on the trip is eating an orange like an apple and biting into the skin and swallowing it.

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Hotel view in Sorrento

We went on the Blue Grotto boat ride around the Isle of Capri. Drove into a cave –sounds of water clapping against polished white walls. Echoes of voices like shards of glass cutting the water and hollowness. The water rises and sinks sending diamond bracelets dangling from stalactite hands. Dipping my palm into the turquoise Mediterranean Sea and when it dries in the Italian sun there is a shimmer of salt coating my fingers.

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Giorgio Sommer [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Statue on the rock in Capri – Scugnizzo

The young man working the snack bar on the jetfoil to Capri looks like a man in a movie, not from good looks but in the nature in which he inhabits the room. Silent, sad eyes. He lightly probes the room. He trails a pretty older lady as she walks by then resigns to making espresso, staring at the slowly filling white cup with the same sad, empty expression. In the movie version of his life, we follow him back to his room. We call him Dante. He’s lonely, horny. He jerks off in his bedroom watching commercials for self-tanner. He imagines himself with the older lady. He lightly touches her breast. The linen of her shirt. Hesitates, pulls his hand away. His sad eyes searching her face. And then he’s back. Back to us, making the cappuccino, back to being alone.

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And for the hell of it, another poem:

Apollo and Daphne

Perhaps the characters will be named

Apollo and Daphne

Chasing one down a long hall of

glowering ancient busts,

Climbing into a laurel tree and

shivering from fear

and the cold night air. A predator

at the base with a gold

Arrow in his hind. Naming

oneself after a Greek myth

is only so cliché that it can

be new again.

The lead in her side causing an itch,

a tearing of the flesh, a vomiting

at the look of those loving eyes.

Let night come! She pleads,

Let the sun go away.

Let the leaves fall around the

Crowns of your head.

In Dante’s writing, the reader visited Heaven and Hell and everything in between…if that sort of fiction interests you, check out my satirical novel about religion on my other site here. A new chapter is posted each Wednesday afternoon. And don’t forget to add your email to both sites to follow all new content.