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“You are fortunate to live here. If I were your President, I would levy a tax on you for living in San Francisco!” – Mikhail Gorbachev

Thank heavens the Russians never took over our City!

After a long week of travel and looking at another week of travel to colder parts of the country I am so glad to live in the city Herb Caen affectionately called “Baghdad by the Bay”.  Living in San Francisco you don’t even need to go hog wild to enjoy its simple pleasures.  I was already exhausted but wanted to enjoy the decent January weather and spend some time with my two children and wife.  If you didn’t know I am a proud San Franciscan.  I’ve had a chance to live in other great American cities such as New York and Chicago but San Francisco has all that I need.  It’s small, diverse, community oriented,and yet very sophisticated and progressive.  As a father, all you could ever want is to give your kids the best that you know how and sometimes when I  need help, this city offers up a beautiful weekend.

With moderate temperatures and ample parking it is easy to get around.  I just wanted to recharge my batteries on Saturday watching my kid’s basketball games (and teaching my kids a few moves on the courts), hitting a few golf balls at the Presidio Golf Course (the oldest course west of the Mississippi). I also got to go to my favorite hideaway in San Francisco, Liguria Bakery.  Open since 1910, it is a family run business that makes the best focaccia around.  It is all they make and all the major restaurants buy their focaccia from them.  It is a San Francisco secret.  Why?  Well they start baking at about 5am every morning and open their doors around 7am and close when they’ve sold out.  That could be 10am or 3pm.  Oh, and they go back to Italy every year for the summer for about 6 weeks.   If you’re coming here, just ask a local.  there is a small sign in the window, but nobody will give away the secret.

Inside, things look much like they always have except for the few autographed photos from some recent baseball players on the Giants. A rather sparse counter with a roll of paper for wrapping and and a sign that lists the focaccia for sale is all you will find.  I remember when the standard for the cocaccia was $1.50

Prices have gone up in recent years but I once lived on a diet of their focaccia when I was on a budget back in college.  Get the plain pizza focaccia with tomato and green onion.  It’ll serve two adults easily. BEWARE CASH ONLY, but it won’t suck your wallet dry

Afterwards we took the kids to the Haight Ashbury and got our kids some Ben & Jerry’s at our store located conveniently on the famous corner where hippies changed our culture back in the ’60s.  From there we walked over to Golden Gate Park, past the Arboretum and back to our home.  Our kids thought all the “new Hippies”  (homeless) were interesting but as parents we try to teach our children empathy and not to stare.  Most of all we are happy that they are not scared and are exposed to many of our society’s many issues and are not sheltered.  Living in a great city, they can appreciate what they do have.

Sunday was more of a family day as well as the Super Bowl.  Chinese tradition is to have a big one year old party banquet (200 people).  My sister and her husband go all out with the traditional dragon dancing and the banging of loud drums.  Growing up in San Francisco I used to go to these events all the time and got tired of them.  I look at these events now as a great opportunity to casually expose my children to a part of their heritage so that they appreciate where they are from.  They got a real kick out of it and also enjoyed visiting with all of my cousin’s kids.  San Francisco really is a small city and since both my my mom had 6 siblings and my father had 7, we have many relatives for our children to play with.  There are many advantages and disadvantages of a large family, but today we took advantage of the good parts and the good weather to spend time with family and friends.

While we didn’t get out and do everything this weekend, we did enough and have our eyes on other activities we are looking forward to in the coming weeks.  As usual, we did our normal, “how was your weekend” questioning of our children.  They both looked at each other and yelled, “Great” and told us their favorite parts.  Maybe it is the weather, but I think it is part of the magic of living in San Francisco which gives us energy, strength and resolve to have hope in our lives.

When i look back on this post in a decadeI do need to remind myself that this is a deep recession we are in and many people are losing jobs, worrying about how to pay their bills and simply wondering how to make ends meet.  I don’t think I’m any different.  Like everyone I wonder what might be around the corner and hope to just maintain the status quo, yet to hear my kids say they had a great weekend is just enough to make you feel like you are doing something right.

I have another long week of travel ahead of me, but I look forward to returning back to my city by the bay and recharging my batteries once again.