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How San Francisco recharges the psychic batteries

December 22, 2018
Elisabeth Sherwin -- ensherwin@gmail dot com

We had three snowstorms in October 2018 here in Allenspark, Co., which to my way of thinking was at least two too many to start off the season. It wasn't that cold, and the snow did melt, but I decided to take a quick trip to San Francisco just to recharge and get ready for the winter.

Oh, the air was so balmy and warm/cool in The City. I'd forgotten that roses bloom in California in November. It was just what I needed. It was warm in the sunlight, cool in the shadows, cool and windy at night.

I stayed with good friends who have an apartment between Castro and The Haight at Buena Vista Park. I loved standing in their living room overlooking the Bay Bridge, AT&T Park, and hundreds of lush backyards and gardens behind million-dollar homes and condos. As the sun went down, the sky turned gray and pink while lights lit up across the city.

The next day I took the No. 22 bus up Fillmore to Japantown where I had a massage at Kabuki Springs and Spa. The bus dropped me at the doorstep. Perfect. Andy by the way, it costs only $1.35 for seniors to ride the bus and the bus system is excellent.

I was early for my Kabuki appointment but for an extra $15 I could enjoy the hot tub, cold tub, saunas, and showers. That was followed by a massage. So far this get-away was perfect.

I decided to get my short hair cropped even shorter and looked around for a place to get it cut. There's a hairdresser in Japantown by the spa but it was $60. I decided to keep looking as I walked up Fillmore. Another place was $60 and yet another place was $120. I kept walking until I found a chain that gave me a great haircut for $25.

San Francisco is such a city of contrasts -- many rich and super-rich people next to old people and young folks who live in rent-controlled apartments. I'd forgotten how dramatic the clash of lifestyles can be.

Over the week we went to a youth symphony at Davies Hall, made a trip to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, sampled several Chinese and Japanese restaurants, and went to Chinatown where we visited the tiny fortune cookie factory.

I also found and devoured delicious sesame seed buns filled with red bean paste. Safeway sells these little dessert buns and I am sorry to say they are terrible because they've been sitting in a hot tray for hours. But the ones in Chinatown were four times larger, hot, sweet and just wonderful. The best were found at the AA Bakery on Stockton.

I also went to the Tartine bakery at 18th and Guerrero in the Mission just because I'd run across an on-line review of it. It too was good but like many popular places in San Francisco, there was a line out the door and no place to sit.

But it was located close to the Mission Dolores which is made up of both the huge Basilica (church) and the tiny mission (the oldest building in The City, founded in 1776). The mission has a tiny cemetery attached and for several nights in early November flashlight tours of the cemetery were offered. I took the tour with about 20 other curious people one night and on Sunday morning went to Mass in the Basilica.

A few years ago I discovered The Marsh theater on Valencia and make it a point to see whatever is playing there. I particularly like Brian Copeland's performances ("The Waiting Period," "The Jewelry Box") but our schedules don't always mesh. This time, I saw four solo performances -- each about 20 minutes long -- and each excellent, professional and moving. Monday Night Marsh features works in progress. We saw -- and loved-- "Precious Water, I Kiss You" by Andy Peri, "When You Are Called" by Susan Jackson, "Sun in the Shadow" by Suraya Susana Keating and "Hi.(Entering Burned Area") by Aine Donnelley. Bravo, all.

The week passed too quickly. The day I flew back to Denver was the first day that smoke from the Paradise fire descended over the city, shrouding the Golden Gate Bridge and other attractions, making it difficult to breath. I got out just in time, armed with memories of sunny, warm weather, November roses, good friends and clear urban vistas.

-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at ensherwin@gmail.com

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