This is my first installment of, “What am I doing this week to amuse myself?” Or as I like to call it, WAIDTWTAM. It’s a working title. Don’t judge.
The last few weeks I have been learning all I can about the semi-forgotten art of canning. Living in the pacific northwest, I have access to a lot of beautiful produce both from my own garden and other peoples gardens as I walk down the street. I kid. I kid. We have lovely farmers markets full of tattooed twenty-somethings that know how to sell a gorgeous tomato. I found myself in a situation of having too much produce in the fridge and it spoiling. So, I set out to learn some preservation techniques which I have been practicing the last few weeks. First of all, I am killing it on the jam front. Jams are my jam. Also, because I can’t do a single thing simply I fancy them up. I have made a spiced strawberry jam, a jelly made of coffee, kiwi jalapeno, raspberry and cardamon, apple whiskey Jam, and peach and rum. It seems like a lot for a family that hardly ever eats jam. It is. Every time I see someone, or an unsuspecting family member walks into my home; I shove a spoon full of jam down their gullet. It is getting to the point that people see me waving a spoon in their direction and they run for the coat closet.
While at my local grocery/produce stand I came across a box of apricots for 3.99. A BOX. It is about 15 pounds of sweet little stonefruits that taste like a peach dipped in honey. They are perishable as hell. I think they were the last of the apricots of the season and they needed to get them out of the store to make room for berries of all sorts. I was like, “Yes gimme! Give me all of the stone fruits so I may look at them and scratch my head.” I have literally spent more accidentally on freeze-dried bull-shit (real poop coming from a bull) from Cards Against Humanity then I would pay for 15 pounds of fruit.
I searched the wonderful world of Pinterest and found all of the recipes for apricots.
As first attempts go, my first attempt at over dyeing a rug turned my rug a slightly blue tinge, but only in the right light. It also stained my tub like a smurf crime scene. I killed Brainy. He was annoying as hell anyway. Don’t tell anyone.
I would deduce this as a pinterfail but frankly, I don’t fail pins. I do them twenty times till I have flattened my face by hitting a wall or I make the damn pin. I mean why buy a fifteen dollar lamp when you can make your own for two hundred.
What I have learned from this disaster? Hotter water, I need caustic chemicals, and probably not RIT dye. But I swear on Odin’s Nuts my fifteen dollar goodwill rug will be a glorious shade of teal or I will fray it trying. I need to bring out the big guns here. I need to read some directions and God forbid follow some instructions and it will be blue. I need a blue runner. It has to happen. It is a thing now. I sound like a crazy person… Stop looking at me like that. I’m not crazy. (Tries to bite own ear)
After three months, gaining ten pounds, and twelve ass gropes (groping of my ass, not me assaulting Italians); I start the journey home. I am reminded of one of the great movies of modern cinema. Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey
I had an absolutely wonderful time at the villa. I learned a great deal about Roman architecture and got an opportunity to sketch great Italian masterworks, both new and old. I would say that traveling to Europe was the greatest event of my college career aside from graduating, but I was happy to be going home.
I realized the day that I needed to leave that I had made a terrible mistake. As a side note, it seems that in my life I tend to miss important details. Especially if there is excitement involved. If there is excitement. I could be naked and covered in eels and I probably wouldn’t notice. The way that it worked out was I gave my presentation that I had been working on for a month to all the students and faculty. Sat down for a moment to take a breather and overheard a conversation.
“What time is your plane?”
“8 am, what time is yours?”
“3 in the afternoon, you know the trains don’t run till 9 and you have a 4 hour train ride ahead of you”
Oh holy shit. Oh bullocks. Oh fudge. oh damn… oh shite. I haven’t packed and my flight leaves a 7 am. IN MILAN! Which means dear reader, that I need to be on a train within an hour with all of my crap from my journey here plus: six bottles of wine, a bottle of olive oil, a new purse, rolls of parchment drawings, a painting, a agate stone, a new glass necklace, and a glass statue. Seriously I bought a glass statue in Venice. I am of the “It’s awesome, I’ll figure it out later,” variety. This also meant that I had no where to sleep tonight. If all else fails, I can create a fort out of my luggage on the side of the road and huddle inside.
Commence packing. Actually no, that is not an accurate description of what happened. Commence the fastest packing in the history of all packing. Commence chucking multiple things that I did not use this summer. Hair dryer, who was I kidding. Swim suit, I will buy another. Toiletries, I will stink. I shoved, I pulled, I sang lullabies to those bags till they closed. And close they did with the help of some duck tape.
I realized a small snag in my victory. What do I do with all the wine, olive oil, and sculpture? I bought them, I will steadfastly carry it across my chest like some deranged wine bomb. Wine is not heavy at all! (I should have just drank the damn wine, all six bottles, and they could Medivac me to Milan.) We pile into the car. My instructor looks at my wine bomb sideways.. I smile the smile of desperation and glee. My roommate had to fit the clown car with all of their luggage as well so she sat on my lap with her face pressed against the windshield, like a mime that is saying, “help me, we need a bigger car.”
We arrived down the hill at breakneck speed. Our combined weight, plus that of the luggage allowed the car to be pulled down the hill. I doubt the instructor had to even put it into gear. We landed with a squeal and smoking tires at our stop just as the sun was setting. It was picturesque. Trash blowing in the wind and then getting caught on my luggage. The smell of urine and bougainvillea wafting by. A lowly mosquito landing on my arm and receiving a just death. Ahhhh Italy. How I will miss thee. I want to point out that Italy is a beautiful country full of wonderful people, but this train station smells like pee and has bums everywhere.
We hop on to the night train heading for Genova.
The train ride to Genova was blissfully quiet and empty. The air conditioner was on and it was wonderful. I created a fort of luggage around me and put my feet up. I dared anyone to say anything by sporting a manic look, and twitching a bit. I only wanted to set fire to my luggage once at this point. From there, we took another train to Milan. Again uneventful save for dragging it through the huge terminals. At this point I have bruises on my shoulders from my “wine bomb” across my chest.
We hop on the train from Genova to Milan, then take a bus and arrive around midnight. Nothing is open. Of course we are all starving. I have learned to use the Euro, and I want to use it to buy some damn food. My flight does not leave for 6 hours. I am exhausted and have not slept in 30 hours. I pulled an all nighter the night before working on my final project. So I am slap happy. I try to play cards, but I cannot focus on anything. I go hunting for a place to wall myself up in. Low and behold I spy a space behind the elevators. My roommate and I make a wall of luggage blocking off us from view, curl into a little ball on the dirty linoleum and sleep the sleep of a child on Tylenol.
I wake up four hours later and wipe the gravel and drool off of my left cheek. It was wonderful. When you are that tired, any sleep is welcome. Even if it is behind a elevator shaft that infrequently gets cleaned. I turn my luggage in to the counter, I almost want to draw faces on the individual pieces of luggage and name them. They have been my constant companion on this voyage home. Sort of like Tom Hanks with “Wilson.” Except mine would be, “Samsoniteeeeee!” Or Sami for short. We don’t stand for formality.
I trudge onto the plane. I smell amazing, and I pity my seat companions. The plane takes off and I leave my second home. It was the grandest adventure of my life up until that point and life changing. I will always remember the good and bad of Italy and be thankful that I took the chance offered to me to travel in college. It has shaped so many aspects of who I am now as an adult in my thirties, and I think I am better for it.
Things I learned on my Voyage home:
I am not carrying anything to Europe. I’ll stuff cash and my passport into my bra.
Every place I pass that has food, I am going to purchase some. I am not going to starve and live off of airline food.
All joking aside, I am serious about the passport and my bra. Screw luggage.
Redwoods are really gigantic trees that are not found anywhere in the desert I grew up in. I looked. All we have is Joshua trees, and they lack the oomph that redwoods have. They only get to be about twenty feet and can look rather alien-ish scary. Imagine a field of fuzzy things from “mars” all raising their arms at you.
This is my childhood, with the occasional jaunts to Mt. Charleston for some.. gasp.. pine trees. Mt. Charleston is lovely, but it isn’t the grand arboreal forests I have heard of in California. Places with trees so large that to hug one, it would take you and six friends. I love the landscape. Desert, forest, or arctic tundra. But for some reason, I was particularly entranced and interested in this one type of tree. Call it part novelty and part appreciation.
A very good friend of my, more like a sister really, is from behind the “The Redwood Curtain.” Basically as you can guess it is a barrier of these giant trees that cuts off parts of California. No pipes, or utilities can cut through. Her and I went on a road trip a few years ago to visit with her family and I got to see these giant trees first hand.
I got out of the car and Stood surveying the prospective candidates. My friend was like, ‘What the hell?” then, “Yea yea pick that one.” The one I picked looked particularly snide and rough. Maybe he was having a bad eon or something. I walked over to him and hugged him. I hugged him with everything in me. I hugged him with all the magic I was hoping there was in the world brought on from a childhood reading science fiction and fantasy.
Nothing happened. What should have happened is a damn Treant comes to life and takes me on a grand adventure to save the forests or something. Instead, I came away a little sticky with a few spiderwebs stuck to my shirt. The tree may or may not have appreciated being singled out and given some hugs. Either way, I felt better. The tree was beautiful and I was so lucky to have finally witnessed first hand.
This will be a very “listy” post. For obvious reasons, see title. I thought it would be a good idea to get some of my goals and stuff up and crossed off. I know, super long list and it is constantly getting updated. This is by no means all of them. But a good start and I plan on writing posts about them: