Lingonberries for Lamas

Considering I hit an art gallery or museum every day of last week (obviously my ability to post about them all in a timely manner is still less than spectacular) I decided I needed a break Saturday. I took my time, meandering through the Mission, snapping pictures of anything that caught my eye. A brief stop at Ratio 3 which I’ll post about as soon as I can (I know, I know, it’s a sickness) and I reach my destination. Or rather, I realize I’d left a digit out of the address on my printout and that I’m still like ten blocks from my destination. Some more wandering and picture taking and I’m at the Swedish Christmas Fair at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
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St. Mary’s is another San Francisco landmark that I’ve somehow never visited the entire time I’ve lived here. Actually, the event is held in an exhibition space below the church proper, so I never really get to see the cavernous interior of the cathedral.
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It’s fairly obvious from the pictures what captures my attention. But there are also tons of books, lots of jokes about glögg, and performances too dark to be captured by my camera.
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The cafeteria is packed, so I decide to tough it out, stuff a boxed Lingonberry drink into my pocket (disappointingly labeled “selected by Ikea” on the side panel) and head out to my next destination. I missed both Tomten and Pippi Longstocking but managed to find a few Christmas gifts in between staring mesmerized by packaged food from Europe.
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On to Tibet Day up at Fort Mason, stuffed into the confines of a room much too small for the event in Building A.
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Many charity organizations have tables set up, like the Terma Foundation which provides education, medical care and nutritional subsidies to Tibetans living in remote rural locations. The Gyuto Vajrayana Center in San Jose is on hand, looking for donations to build a permanent monastery in the Bay Area. There is also no end of jewelry, wind horses and prayer flags. I pick up a braided charm to affix to my luggage for the upcoming holiday travels.
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It’s inevitable. What can I do? Art finds me. Tibetan Thangka paintings are mesmerizing in their beauty and the artist is available to discuss his work. Ang Tsherin Sherpa is not only carrying on a proud tradition (he is offering classes at the Asian Art Museum in 2009), his work is contemporary as well (see his Suzuki Roshi painting on the site. I believe there was also one of the Dalai Lama on display). I purchase a vibrant print of Vajrayogini, “the female tantric aspect of the Buddha” (detail below).
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That’s actually a skull cup filled with blood in her hand but it reminds me I should probably eat some time today. Outside there are meat and vegetable dumplings available and they wash away any regrets at missing out on Janssons frestelse and knäckebröd.
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It may not be the “clear light of bliss” represented by the skull cup, but it’s certainly satisfying. Of course, my regrets return later when I discover that the L.A. version of the Swedish Christmas event featured Dolph Lundgren. Red Scorpion is like one of the greatest movies ever. I stare at Vajrayogini and vow to work on the whole attachment thing.

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