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IMG_1119The long drive to this specialty store needs some planning.  It is towards downtown.  A quaint shopping area has a number of shops that catches the eye of my bride.

Today we chuckled on our walk toward “her store”.  “There are no stores for me anywhere near here.”
She spoke sympathetically, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
But there was something a little brief in her comment, especially as she stepped lively into the destination store of her choice.

She disappeared among the merchandise and the other customers.  My sole objective was now to find a comfortable chair.  Two men occupied the sofa.  Another man was perched on one of the rolling step ladders.

There a few yards away, around a few rounds of hanging garments, tucked in a room filled with mugs, dishes, utensils and kitchen items was an empty are chair.  My brow furrowed, hands balled up and my steps were directed, intense and determined.  That was my chair and no one was going to beat me to it.

When I arrived safely and unchallenged, I paused next to my discovery and gazed around to ensure that my possession was without threats or competitors.  Then, satisfied that I had mounted a successful offensive to claim this territory, I eased my finely tuned body of aching bones into the welcoming comfort of a chair made for Bruce.  Comfortable and ready for a lengthy stay, I pulled out my cellphone to decide which game I would play while patiently waiting.

Time passed, games got boring, emails were all completed and texting was done for the day. Leaning back I wondered what else I could do to pass the time.  That’s when empty wine bottles caught my attention.

Someone had a clever idea to add color, dimensions and arrangement to the store.  From the ceiling the artist or decorator had hung bottles from string.  The arrangement was simple, uncomplicated and orderly.

I was drawn to the display.  God made us in His image and aesthetics is a value He instilled in us.  At first I took a picture of the display as it hung as one of many decorations around the store.

Then, I paused and looked up from the bottom.  Tilting my camera at an angle for an unusual perspective, the dimensions and depth gave the photo very good appeal. After all, it did pull me out of my comfortable chair.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Our adventure took us into a local discount store.  There are treasures to be found and the price is very appealing.  Not too much lends itself to quantity here, but one-off or unique items abound.

It is as much a discovery time as it is a bargain time.  Most of the stuff is newish.  That means it is new but manhandled quite a bit.

Customers pull an items out for inspection and then toss it any where that is convenient.  Then, a clerk follows them and folds or hangs the item up for the next treasure seeker.  It is almost comical.

This time it was a unique experience.  From the time I entered the store my eyes caught a glimpse of something that made me focus.  It was a picture.

This piece of decoration was located along the back wall.  Yes, from the front of the store to the back of the store I locked into something that grabbed my curiosity.  Without being rude or in a hurry, I walked toward my target.

There was something about that picture that had my imagination.  Aesthetically, I liked what I saw. It wasn’t gaudy or overdone.

Instead, there was a balance in the picture.  Colors were basic and yet highlighted to give it dimension and texture.  It wasn’t symmetrical yet, not awkward.

The subject of this art piece was a zebra.  It wasn’t a photograph.  There is probably a name for this kind of art but I am not privy to its identification.

Simply, I just liked the picture.  It was large, perhaps nearly four feet tall and three feet wide.  No frame was needed, just the canvas wrapped around a simple interior wood frame.

Zebra stripes wove up and down and graduated back to the hindquarters.  That horse like face was only partially in the foreground.  But, one eye made a connection with any who would glance in its direction.

Carefully, I lifted it out of its bin and set it on a shelf so that I could admire it.  I was tempted to consider buying it but we have no wall space for it.  There wasn’t any extra coins to spend on decorations when so much else on our necessity list preceded it for attention.

But, my trusty cellphone camera would have to be satisfying for the moment.  Isn’t it a cool picture?  Very cool zebra.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Strolling down Columbus St. in San Francisco is never the same.  You might guess that the weather varies from foggy to sunny but it’s more than that.  Or traffic patterns might suggest changes; but, traffic is always busy here.

The street is lined with fascinating shops that attract tourists from all over the world.  Languages that are very foreign and different from American English can be heard at every stoplight.  That variety is more of a staple than it is anything unusual.

Great eateries keep the tourists filing in as well.  There’s a world-famous Salami shop in Little Italy.  Some say it is not brag it is just fact.

We enjoy the Stinking Rose as a very fun place to eat.  It specializes in garlic recipes.  Well, that is not quite accurate. 

This eatery emphasizes garlic in quantity.  If you get lost looking for it you don’t need a map when you’re close.  Just follow the fragrance.  It is yummy to the tummy!

On one of our walks through Little Italy, we bumped and bounced off of other pedestrians who filled the sidewalk.  If you don’t mind the loss of personal space it’s kind of exciting to be immersed among the people all racing from hither and yon.

A couple were negotiating with the owner of a restaurant.  They really wanted to get in and eat there.  “Really, sir,” she pleaded, “we would love it if we could dine in your fine establishment.”  She flashed her ivories seasoned generously with sparkling eyes of hope.

Next door to that sidewalk cafe is the Mona Lisa.  It is a cozy restaurant along the block as the Salami shop.  Their clients seems tenaciously loyal.  

Minding my own business, my attention shifted quickly to the curb.  Beauty and novelty met my eyes.  Even with the San Francisco penchant toward smaller cars, this one was really tiny!  It was a convertible.

But, the inside of the car was set up For the casual stroller their attention is captured by the clever paint job on the eye-catching little car turned romantic table for two.

San Francisco is a fun city.  The eye takes in so much.  Ears drink in so many different sounds and combinations.  Of course, olfactory nerves are flooded with the amazing aromas that make this city famous.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

A good friend included me on an email notice. Raul Midon was coming to town. He was on the concert ticket at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

This would take a little explanation. I never heard of this artist. But, that isn’t a testament to Midon’s lack of notoriety. Rather it is a revelation that I don’t know jazz.

My friend sent me a short explanation. I was intrigued. Mostly, however, I greatly respect my friends musical talent. He would not give me a recommendation for a night of music if it wasn’t going to be special. I was very very pleased.

Midon is a one-man band. That doesn’t just mean that he does a solo act without accompaniment. It is true that he is on stage without any other supporting musicians. However, the moniker of being a one-man band hints at his versatility and expansive talent.

In his musical presentation he not only plays amazing guitar he also adds brass support, percussion and bass lines all while singing with a soulful velvet voice. During my introduction to Midon I not only thoroughly enjoyed the concert, I kept cocking my head with the reaction, “How’s he doing that?”

Several times during the concert I closed my eyes and imagined what I would be seeing if I didn’t know that this was a single artist on stage. A small ensemble made more sense to my ears than what my eyes told me was happening in my very presence. How can one man add layers of sound and mix those sounds all by himself. It was remarkable.

Midon is a self-proclaimed genre bender. I liked that. There was so much story in his lyrics that I easily tracked with the episodes in life that he was painting for us. I’m not musical purist. So I am attracted to something enjoyable that is also something easy to relate to.

Oh, by the way. Midon is blind. He has been from birth. As a premature child he was a victim of the early light treatment that caused his blindness.

Yet, with this handicap he clearly has a winsome personality. He is positive about life. Humor is a feature in his concert that gives him a great appeal.

Overcoming adversity and demonstrating amazing impact on others is truly commendable. So, the soul inside of me clapped in syncopated rhythm with Midon’s music. My bride and I were transported into one of God’s greatest gifts to His creation, the world of rapturous music.

photo credit: google image

An email notice flashed on my cell phone screen.  A few taps on the screen gave me a heads up that our dinner meeting would be at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.  Our rendezvous was scheduled for 630Pm and it would be at the Oak Restaurant on the main floor.

This was a first for me.  My guest and I arrived at the O’Farrell and Ellis parking garage.  It is a two block walk to the hotel. 

Revolving doors transported us into one of the plush destinations of our city.  Historical and elite art decked the walls.  Grand architecture surrounded us. 

Photographs of the rich and famous hung on the walls.  I only recognized a few of the faces.  Surely, I must travel in very different circles.

The carpet in this amazing facility is unique.  It is plush.  Colors on this exquisite flooring does what rarely occurs, I glance down, raise an eyebrow in admiration.

There in the corner of the lobby is the famous grandfather clock.  It stood strong and steady through the great earthquake at the turn of the century.  All of the great wars surged through the pages of history while it faithfully kept time.

Countless lives from every corner of the world have scheduled the meeting of clients, V.I.P’s and dates right at the foot of this clock.  Similar words over the generations have announced, “I’ll meet you at the clock.”  Some of those meetings were happy, some sad and some devastating, but this is where so many of them began.

A picture to my left caught my eye.  I had seen it on the internet.  It was a photo of the Bistro’s signature dish.  Featured on a plate was a delectable beef rib.

Garnish decorated the serving.  Lighting was perfect to make your mouth water.  There was not a pile of ribs, just one. 

However, the one was sufficient.  It looked more like a roast with a single bone sticking out from the side.  My attention had transformed into desire.  I wanted one!

The restaurant menu was to the side.  My eyes glanced down the offerings until I found a match.  If you thought that a high guess on the price was $35 or $50 you like me would have been way too low. 

What an amazing hotel.  It was charming to look.  But, I settled for a glass of water with a slice of lime.

photo credit: google image

God is the Master painter.  With flawless brush strokes of His creation He decorates the end of every day with a spectacular display on the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.  Often I enjoy the stunning artistic work on my way home from a long day at work.

There are many places to pull off the highway along the coast.  My route takes me along Skyline Boulevard, Highway 35.  I pick it up by Lake Merced.

A steep but steady climb leads me away from the lake.  Just around the cliffs where paragliders love to catch their thermals the view of the Pacific breaks open.  It is one of my favorite daily views.

Now it is a matter of personal taste.  Small state parks, county parks and city parks dot the route.  Green signs indicate a turn-off is approaching.  This is one of those driving moments when you need to multi-task.

Off to the West the gestures of the Creator are already at work.  Gulls add their gentle gliding to the picture.  Their steady wing beats and arched wings capture the wind currents that define their art of flight.

Pelicans are ungainly when they waddle on the ground.  But, now in groups that draft for the flock they fly in formation off into the setting sun.  These fascinating birds add texture and uniqueness to the menagerie of a closing day.

The delicate clouds that hug the horizon will become the canvas of the finger painting of Jehovah.  They will capture the colors, add depth to the portrait and spray the sky with shifting hues.  They start off white but literally pulsate with the sinking of the sun.

Now, the closing act of the day begins in earnest.  The star of the show is the sun.  This blazing ball of light moves through the prism shades of light. 

Orange comes to mind.  No, it is yellow.  Hmmm….maybe golden describes it best.  Aesthetic words for colors certainly are not my strong suit.  But, what I lack in vocabulary, I make up in soulish appreciation.

What God gives me to take away my stresses of life with a gorgeous sunset is a gift.  Like a soothing massage of my spirit, He whisks me away into His greatness, reminding me that He controls all things.  He is the Savior of my past, the Solution of my present and the Sovereign of my future. I love Him!

photo credit: brucefong photography