Bowled Over & Clucked Up

“Dude, that’s insane!” Thing 3 said to me last night.

“I KNOW!” I replied gleefully.

I was showing her photos I had taken earlier in the day, after a naughty trip to the junk market, a doctor’s appointment, and the flower market. I think it might have qualified as my best Shanghai morning ever. No traffic, blue sky, eyeballs no longer burning with smut and grit.

Last week with Poppy I had seen a porcelain (?) bowl in the junk market that I became obsessed with, sky blue on the inside and chocolate brown with gold chrysanthemums on the outside. The asking price was outrageous as befits my white face. I knocked the price down a bit but did not go much higher, left the vendor, and purchased some other more reasonably priced goodies. That damn bowl stayed in my mind ‘til the end of the day and I actually went back. But it was gone. Of course! Come back in a week, the vendor next to him said.

I was beginning to think I was a little crazy, to be so possessed by this bowl. I have a lot of bowls. In my heart, maybe I am replacing all of my beautiful Mexican ones dropped by the movers. I had only used them for special occasions, keeping them out of the hands of the domestic help and children so they would not be chipped or shattered, kept pristine with disuse and esthetic admiration. All to be broken by an unknown group of movers. My mother’s Mexican bowls are chipped but she still uses them. Hmmm, what’s the lesson there? Then I was reading

    The Year of Pleasures

by Elizabeth Berg and the main character, too, had a bowl fetish. Relief! Vindication?

“How old is this bowl? V3 asked.

“No idea. Old but not too old.” I said.

“Old, like 100 years, 50 years, or old-new, like one and a half years?” He asked.

I knew what he was talking about. I am sure half of the things I have purchased were made a year ago and have had dirt vigorously rubbed onto their surfaces.

“Who knows? You tell me when I get back!”

So yesterday, I went back up into the market, the only foreigner in the jam-packed place, second-hand smoke filling my lungs to the brim in search of this bowl. The bowl was not there. Of course. Come back in a week, the vendor said. What, were they making the bowl? Probably. So I visited another vendor from the week before and knocked the price down off a lesser bowl but one that was still pretty. My real find, I thought, was a rice (?) bowl with a sky blue interior and black and orange goldfish with gold detailing on the outside. Wouldn’t this make a nice hostess gift, I thought to myself. The interior looked rather worn and discolored. A group of women stood off to the side watching and giggling. As the vendor was boxing it up, there was another one which he sold me too, the Chinese liking to make things in pairs. Had I been had again? Of course. I pulled my money out of my Mexican wallet, my bra, which everyone loved, and left with my arms full of treasures.

Back in the van, I showed V3 my finds. I lied when I told him what I paid for them but he still said he could get them cheaper. The goldfish bowls he thought might be old-old but the bowl he thought was old-new. Whatever.

At the flower market I bought bought peach tree branches, orchids, and peonies and an azalea for the pots by the front door. The peach tree branches remind me of weddings, the white and pink blossoms like the froth of a skirt or veil. Gorgeous. V3 bought his wife a bunch of roses and, as he perused my purchases, told me he could get everything I bought cheaper. As we drove home, he slowed down at the section of the road where we saw the chickens last week.

“Let’s look for the chickens,” he said.

Slowly we drove by. V3 started to speed up as we were coming to the end of the area where we thought they had been, almost pulling back onto the freeway, when suddenly there they were!

“Ducks,” he said, “not chickens!”

“Go back, go back, go back!” I shouted, laughing. I stuffed a camera in my purse this morning at the last minute, aware somewhere at the back of my brain, that I should be prepared.

I have posted a photo below, one far away so you will get the idea of their actual location of the elongated bodies without me getting run over in the middle of the freeway.

Rubber Ducks

My advice to you: Use your bowls. Keep a camera handy. Remember that someone can always get something cheaper than you but might not have enjoyed buying it as much. Buy your wife flowers. Look at the flowering trees and remember a wedding, even if it’s not your own.

It is good to have a good day, even if it is a half of one. And I am not going back for that bowl next week. It will just have to find me again.



Filed under Life, People, Reading, Shopping, Travel

12 responses to “Bowled Over & Clucked Up

  1. MCV

    This is one of my all time favorite blogs–right up there with Maria sambaing in Rio. It was filled with GREAT suspense. I thought for sure you were going to find that damn bowl again and that the bowl adventure was the “insane” event Thing 3 was referring to. LOVED it. Keep it up. And buy me a damn bowl–don’t you think I deserve it after a broken wrist, a broken foot, an ear infection, strep throat, another ear infection (for 4 weeks or so), tubes, adnoidectomy, and a stomach bug that has caused projectile vomitting and diarrhea for 5 days?????? All for ONE child!!! The medical bills are mounting and I need a priceless bowl I can put on eBay!

  2. Mood Ring Momma

    MCV is right – one of the all time best. Loved that you had a great day too, just you and V3. I think I have a crush on V3 – he bought my father a goodbye gift, he buys his wife flowers, and he takes you shopping and enjoys it!

    P.s. – I get the bowl thing. 🙂

  3. Winnie

    MCV – (from the XPPrincess’ MIL),
    I don’t think one bowl is going to suit your needs – sounds more like a job for a paper towel and plastic bag supersale! So sorry you’re having such a rough time!

    XPP – I, too, am bowled over by your blog. If you should happen to find something with an interior cerulean cast flecked with a little gold terrier motif and golfers running around the outside rim … leave it where it is!! I already have 3. And please, don’t let Col. Saunders see that photo! Advertising in the USA is already at an all-time low.

  4. gamamãe

    Loved the last two posts and so glad you had a good day. Voce merece! I am intrigued by the bowls too, am wondering if a very small goldfish one may make its way to Boston??? Thank you for reminding me to not only find, but see beauty. In my life, in my corner of the world.
    We head to Paraty with familia sanchez for ‘ spring break” tomorrow. Tchau- for now – state of Rio! I have already been told I will not be purchasing “naif ” fisherman paintings or any other unneccesary souvenirs. Any tips for ignoring annoying lectures and semi-threats from husbands about spending habits before moving??

  5. Laura

    I´m sure the elusive bowl is actually made by Hermanos Castillo in Taxco and shipped to Shanghai, or at least it sounds like a close relative. Do you remember those? Robin´s egg blue with inlaid gold and silver iguanas, fish and stars?

  6. Ping the Duck

    What has happened to my brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles? It looks like they have been hung out to dry! Where is Dalai when we need him? We need understanding and peace! Oh, I forgot, he went to Seattle to bring understanding and peace. Unfortunate relatives, no PETA in Shanghai. Quack Quack.

  7. I agree with your first commenter. Just the best post. I liked the whole deal of being where you are and finding happiness.

    I would not say that I am a bowl nut. I am a semi-bowl nut. I AM the mother who uses the Mexican bowls. Once I bought a good Mexican bowl second so that I could use it for a dishpan. It broke, but I loved using it while it lasted. My bowls are scratched chipped and worn, but I love using them. Once I bought stainless steel bowls from Target because I liked the lines of the deep sloping bowls. Line is as important as color. Which brings me to . . . I think I need at least one new bowl.

  8. P.S. Could you start a small export bowl business? I do like the old stuff, but I can make old/new do.

  9. Flaky Friend

    That is truly amazing; what I also notice from the photo is that the Chinese also have grafitti. It’s funny to see it in their language; somehow it doesn’t look as trashy as ours.

    On an unrelated subject was at the makeup counter on Friday and learned that deep rosy pink lipstick is the color for spring. Thought of you.


  10. maria

    Dude,your blog made me jealous……since you left I had no” fun shopping time “anymore….I think I´m going to Sao Paulo alone to find bowls in Tania Bulhoes or at saturday morning fair in Pinheiros.After this blog I need this so much!

  11. MCV: You definitely deserve a bowl. Choose your color palate and I will start searching.

    MRM: I am sticking to roosters for you.

    Winnie: Ha ha! You were born in the Year of the Snake but I am avoiding those purchases. Like the plague.

    Gammy: ignore husband and I will bring you a bowl. Please note that the goldfish were on the outside.

    La Lopez: my tour guide in Beijing actually told me that the Chinese believe they are related to the Mexicans. Really and truly. Not the same blue on the bowl but there are iguanas on the outsides of the bowls!!!

    Ping: you deserve a spanking.

    Radish: the bowls are decorative, darling. But I might bring you one too.

    FF: I actually think that is advertising, not graffiti!!!

    Maria: dudette, I miss Tania too. That would be shopping without the muck. Pinheiros should give you a fix, however. SEND ME YOUR ZIP CODE.

  12. Laura

    Chinese related to the Mexicans? Hmmmm. Given that the civilizations are a few thousand years apart in development, not to mention a few ocean currents away, it strains the imagination. Unless they are talking about the coolie labor that was tossed out from the US into Mexicali once they finished the railroad. Might not have been the US’s (or Mr. Stanford´s) most shining moment in human rights, but I don´t think anyone would argue that it did wonders for the Peking Duck options in Mexicali.

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