Item #4: Pottery
I have a weakness for pottery from faraway places. Some of my favorite souvenirs from our travels are a vase from the oldest Polish settlement in Ontario, a pitcher from a topferie (pottery shop) along the roadside that follows Germany's Moselle River and one from a hilltop town in France's Dordogne region, rooster plates from Greece, and coasters from a tiny shop in Paris' Marais neighborhood. So Ed was getting worried when I kept pointing out the large ceramic urns that I saw at nearly every house along the floating market canal in Thailand. They are enormous, designed to hold rainwater, the cleanest water the residents have access to. I could just see his mind working to figure out how to tell me that "no," "absolutely not," "no way" were we going to try to bring one of those back to Farm Dover. I didn't ask.
Instead, I found a lovely (small) dish at a pottery workshop in Chaing Mai. It is a piece of Celadon stoneware, known for its green glaze. Most of the pieces in the workshop were large and ornate with hand painted details that, while lovely, did not really appeal to me. Then I saw this simple one and knew that it would be at home at Farm Dover. (And I found the wooden spoon at a local market; the perfect addition to my collection.)
Item #5: Salt
Just ask my friend Walt how much I love seeking out salt from places we visit. Whenever I find an unusual salt, I double my purchase; one for me and one for him and Lynn. So, as we were traveling to the floating market on the last day of our travels, we passed acres and acres of salt fields. Our guide explained that the salt water was pumped in from the Gulf of Thailand and three grades of salt were produced, the nicest being from the top layer – its flakes used as a finishing salt. I begged our guide to stop and see if I could purchase some. He did, and I did. The only problem was the only size that I could purchase was 2 kilograms (or about five pounds). That is a lot of salt.
I packed it in my suitcase and swore to the customs agent that I was not bringing in any illegal substances. As our bags came off the carousel, a cute little puppy was sniffing each bag -- then I realized that the person holding the leash was a U.S. Customs official. The bag of salt looked remarkably like what I think a bag of cocaine might look like and I didn't really want to try to explain that all I was bringing in was sodium chloride. So, I made my way to the other side and snagged my bag before the puppy could sniff it.
And finally, Item #7: Original Artwork
I celebrated my birthday in Cambodia and when Jack asked me what I wanted, I answered that I wanted one of his original pieces of artwork. While living in Shenzhen, he's been painting with Chinese brushes and ink and I admire the creativity that starts in his brain and comes off the end of his brush. He brought me a whole canister filled with his art. I'm trying to decide which one to frame first.
I've been looking at these since I got home and think I've narrowed it down to these two:
And now my bag is empty.