Deck The Halls With Gasoline. Dec 7, 2014 – Jan 3, 2015.

I gave up tracking routes because I rode them so much.
The only one here is the group ride with Vespa SF.

Apologies in advance; this post doesn’t have much in the way of travel. My holiday months in the Bay would be mostly work, hanging out with family, friends, and food. Not that it’s a bad thing, just a warning that there will be food porn close ups.

Also, dogs. There’s a lot of hanging out with Addy at the house.
Indoor rocks got climbed twice a week if I could help it. Thanks to climbing buddy, Dmitry, for this photo!
Resourcefulness is indispensable in a rotating cast of kitchens. Case in point: cookie cutter and rolling pin.
The results on the upper right, for Lisa‘s birthday gathering.
Happy birthday to one of my favorite people!
Decorating scooters at Vespa SF for their annual Festival of the Lights ride.
I knew I couldn’t be the only person who’s wanted to put antlers on my bike around this time of year.
Just went for a subtle bow, some streamers, and lights this time around.
Light’em up.

The Vespa SF ride to Tiburon was absolutely one of the most fun and surreal group rides I’ve been on. In between the dark shapes of trees, you could catch glimpses of scooters lit up like Christmas trees, reflected against the rain-damp roads, floating soundlessly along the twisty roads before vanishing beyond the next hill. We were chilled to the bone when we finally reached our dinner destination. Anyone fool enough to decorate their bike and ride twisties on a damp winter night is cool by me, what a great group!

Back to work for a while. Addy is helping.

With my family spread across the globe it’s not often I get to have a ‘family Christmas’, so I was much anticipating my sister’s arrival in SF. On the day her flight arrived, I rode from the city to Sunnyvale through a rainstorm for one last climb with Dmitry before he left for the holidays. Climbing tights still wet but skies holding up, I continued, cold, damp, and with low blood sugar to Palo Alto. I barely had a moment put on the dry pants Kendall lent to me before it was time for Brazillian BBQ with her dad. No biggie (whew, just give me a sec for feeling in my fingers to come back).

The Seester has landed!
Also, Babington on the lower right, the food mascot I knitted for Moni a while back.

Introducing these two: Kendall on the left, my sister’s best friend (and my good friend as well), and Moni, my younger sister. Kendall is pretty much family, we went to the same highschool in Hong Kong and this is actually our second Christmas together. We would be crashing at Kendall’s father’s place for a marathon of food, drink, and all that holiday stuff. Let the festivities begin, I say!

Borrowing an entire outfit for the ballet, haha!
Ermergerd, Thur Nertcurcker.

Attending the Nutcracker ballet is Kendall’s family’s Christmas tradition. Roger’s continued patronage meant not only were the tickets comped, we also got to tour the stage after the show. I really got an appreciation for the amount of distance the dancers cover, leaping around on tip toe.

The view from the other side.
There. Will. Be. Dimsum.
Joy Luck Palace’s killer app: those taro puffs in the back. I hope they never change.

Other San Francisco traditions for Moni and Kendall include dimsum in Cupertino (much less crowded than San Francisco and just as good), the Dickens Fair, and the annual pilgrimage on foot to Molinari Delicatessen for handmade ravioli.

I think this is the right bus for the Dickens Fair.
Puzzling rings.
Darn, I don’t think this fits under my helmet.
Obligatory corset shoppe.
Handmade ramen!
It’s like Moni and I are related or something. Kuro ramen at Maru Ichi.
The trek for salami and ravioli.
Kendall gave my sister her gift early: hexagonal cookie cutters. So smart.
Roger mixes a beverage called ‘Turban Oil’ – equal parts eastern European plum spirit and fortified red and white wines. I can’t find any evidence of this drink outside this household though…
Interlude for a family visit to the Wan grave. Oh yeah, my parents and the entire Wan side of the family are in town. Hi, Dad!
Back at the ranch…
Go home, Babington, you’re drunk.
My sister: Fastest pipette hand this side of the Mississippi.
Behold the tessellation.
After Christmas dinner, we took my favorite family photo from this year. The fam’s in town for a family friend’s wedding.
We didn’t know we were going. Oh well, more borrowing of clothes. Also, I love my sister. Unexpected family functions are infinitely better with her making faces next to me.
Not everything was cooking and eating. Just most of it. Trying to walk off some food at Bedwell Bayfront Park.
This tea goes over the rice, which I’ve never had before.
Chawanmushi, my favorite!
Scratch that. Behold salmon roe and sea urchin roe nigiri, the latter with a raw quail egg. It’s a delicious eggpocalypse in my mouth.

I’m extraordinarily grateful to Kendall and her family for sharing their holiday traditions with my sister and I yet another year. Perhaps the most tiring thing about not having a permanent address is that it means always somewhat having my guard up, counting down until I need to find the next place to stay, balancing budget with not overstaying a welcome. Not only was Kendall’s family home a Home – a place with history, traditions, and memories – they’re fantastically unique people that I love spending time with and can be truly comfortable around. For a week and a half, I could let down the guard and be at home in their home. Entire days happily revolved around cooking, baking, playing videogames, hitting up the best local eateries, and consuming TV series whole.

And if that isn’t a Christmas miracle, Matt came to visit from Brooklyn!

This guy.

Some trinkets from our wanderings in Chinatown.

T-t-t-tiger Bomb? Wall painting in Chinatown.
Snack of Molinari spoils. Little did I know, urban picnicking in SF attracts all the local homeless.
There’s a Vespa parked at the fortress of porn, and it’s not mine.
What is this sorcery, Craftsman and Wolves?
Paxton Gate never fails to delight.
Counting down to 2015 with some of my favorite people.
Feeling chuffed to bits for my good fortune this year. Thanks, Duncan (not pictured), for the lesson in British vernacular.
Visit to Cat Town Cafe, Oakland’s first cat cafe.
Showing Matt the historic Oakland spots.
And the classy ones too.

Holidays passed and responsibilities called. My sister was required to return to the icy winterland of Wisconsin, Kendall and Duncan to London, and Matt back to Brooklyn. After the whirlwind of festivities, it felt a bit like the end of some sort of rally – now was the part when everyone goes home. I would need to readjust back to my Bay Area pattern of work, rock climbing, and staying without overstaying.

But why was I trying so hard? It felt like I was merely aping my old habits in Providence, which wasn’t what I left for. I didn’t set out for a year long vacation, only to return to my old practices in a new city with less stable living arrangements.

I needed to focus on the next evolution. I needed to get back on the road, as soon as job stuff was in a good place again. There’s work to be done and The Roar is waiting.

Also among the things I need: this sticker. One for Davide too.

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