Friday, December 23, 2011

Why Yes, Yes We Will Marry You

Ty: Dear ****, why yes. Yes I will marry you.
Jesse: Dear Jesus, could you just arrange a marriage for T and I? Just tell us when/where. Love, Jesse.
Ty: Hahaha "but also, not anytime soon or we'll spend our lives resenting them for tying us down."
Jesse: Amen!

But really. It would make things simpler for most of us in this post.

Ty sends me texts just often enough to make me wonder what is going on in her head and always, always calls me out on things and loves Jesus.
Laura just got a World Vision Hope Initiative internship and is always up for adventure.
Danielle showed me her hairy legs and said something about feeling the wind blow around them.
Michelle agrees time well-spent involves eating ethnic food til we drop and talking about our same, strange habits.
Autumn is about to burst with baby Chapel and still keeps cooking and making me laugh and miss New York. A little.
Steph is willing to move to a third-world country with me and consider what Jesus means when He says things like, "Feed my sheep."
Jenny (who I know vicariously through Angela) kills me with laughter and rawness with her posts about living in Niger at No Zebras Here.
Angela challenges me every time we get on Skype together. And she's writing a book on nothing other than the Bible. Yes, that's the book for her.
Vince and I commiserate about our stress-induced problem of digging our cuticles and hangnails til they're a bloody mess.
Mom keeps me company when I'm out late and walking back alone. And is my Mom :)
Shelley is really busy, but still finds time to e-mail me and revolts against things like; permanent housing, children, marriage, and settling in one place. For now.
Kelsie is the youngest, closest married friend I have who makes me laugh and miss her and Nate.
Nadine is my living link between the US, Canada and Tanzania who reminds me I am loved and not crazy for feeling at home somewhere I didn't grow up and that I am always welcome to see her wherever she is in the world.

These people are my friends. There's more, but they've definitely been present with me on this journey :)

It's so good to have people in your life who have quirks similar enough to make you immediately bond but enough differences to challenge and surprise one another for a lifetime.

Monday, December 19, 2011

An Accidental Death at Novole

Last night everyone realized one of the horses had been missing for a couple of meals so Ian and I went out this morning to look for her. Lucio came out and found her. A neighbour had cut the fence when he was cutting wood and since the field the horses in doubles as the olive field and is on terraces, Lucio thinks she tripped on the fence or was unprepared for the drop. It looked like her neck was broken. 

No one showed much emotion as the neighbour dragged her behind the tractor up the hill to a clear area. The horse was being boarded here and was very old. Her owner seemed unconcerned she was dead and even relieved of the cost to board her and pay for hay. Lucio shook his head and felt bad for her preventable death, but told us this area was no place for horses. 

When everyone else had gone and the grinding of the tractor faded up the hill, the other horse came out from behind the tree and approached the body of her companion. Even though the dead horse snapped at her when she ate and was dominant, Lucio's horse was disturbed and frightened. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Assisi, Asian Tourists, and Grave Flowers

Spontaneously, I decided to make the most of the moment when Lucio asked if we'd like to go anywhere by asking to be taken to the tren stazione to go to Assisi. The other morning I'd been woken up at some ungodly hour by one of the dogs downstairs and feverishly tossed and turned with a great weight on my mind: how would I get to Assisi and/or Florence before leaving this part of Italy, maybe forever? There seemed to be no way to go until today so I pounced on the free time.

To my delight, I saw snow-capped mountains in the distance. I also surely made the only attractive guy I've seen in weeks uncomfortable with all of my craning and shifting to stay in the warm sunlight whilst on the train. He was a few seats over but, unfortunately, I was hard to miss. You know, dirty hair, dog-haired covered jacket, and (all passerby's personal favourite) my Keen hiking boots completed by cement and dirt from working the last few weeks. I also top out at about 5'10 in the boots. 

Inside the church was beautiful (no cameras allowed so I sneakily took some video which has a quieter shutter). However, upon reaching St. Francis' tomb, I was more enthralled by the glorious smell of fresh flowers than by the renovated stone that was built around his coffin. He died in 1226 A.D. and we still read and learn from him. 

It was interesting to sit and watch people come see the tomb. Most people crossed themselves like they do in Catholic services, some knelt at the altar at the foot of the tomb, and a lot of old women clamored around to reach through the gate and touch the stone. It seems important to note that in 1997 a 5.6 magnitude earthquake rocked central Italy as a whole and damaged a lot of Assisi, including the church. Most of the stone around the tomb appeared to be fairly new. Everyone showed some kind of respect and reverence except for the Asian tourists. It makes sense, considering it's mostly a tourist site now and by enlarge they follow a very different belief system. 

I don't know if that's the politically correct term for the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and anyone else I'm unintentionally excluding from the term Asian Tourists. You know how it is. They all have nice cameras, are dressed smartly, and they invade a site, snapping photos of everything without smiling much at all, rush through like a whirlwind and the guide with the umbrella or sign ushers everyone back out. This is exactly what happened. Now, I have friends from Korea and have met Japanese and Chinese people who are really great. I harbor no known racial bias towards anyone except white Americans. The fact is, you can spot Asian tourists from a mile away and it's always worth watching them sweep an area. 

Why people felt compelled to pray to St. Francis and made such a fuss about the tomb is hard for me to understand. In that sweet-looking old stone coffin is ashes of a man who's long gone.  The whole point of going is he was such a holy man, which implies he's been with Jesus for eight hundred years. Personally, when I get to heaven, I doubt I'll be checking on my grave to see what flowers are left for me. Unless of course, some weasel leaves geraniums in which I will strike them down with bolts of lightning because no friend of mine would poison my patch of land with a geranium. 

I also don't understand why we spend $13.99 for a bouquet of flowers to put on a grave. Can I ask you why you leave flowers? Nobody's there. The cemetery gardener probably won't enjoy them as much as you would having them on your  nightstand in their memory. 

Oh, if you're wondering what all the hullabaloo is with the carabiniere around the church, you're not alone! It wasn't until I was back at Novole that Lucio heard on the radio that the president of Italy made a visit to the church today! Not that I can tell one suit from another. 

Making dinner tonight (gnocchi and artichoke), Claudia told me about a few celebrities she ran into when she lived in New York City. Leonardo DiCaprio was twitching in line for the bathroom, jonesing for cocaine. Meg Ryan is cute. Sarah Jessica Parker is a hard-core vegan. David Bowie is stingy with his tips, and Claudia told him he had to tip and pretending he "didn't know" because he's English wouldn't fly with her.  I love, love, love her for that. "I don't care who you are!" She said. 

In other news, it's too darn cold in our bathroom (especially when the hot water isn't working) and there are too many cuts on my legs to shave. BUMMER. The gloves I wore for cementing the walls were missing some vital pieces like the finger part of the thumb so my thumb has cement burn. Ready to gain 20 kilos in Sicily like Lucio warned? Heck yes. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

My First Dream House

I went to school for art for a little while. I received stellar marks.

Half-way through this I realized, "Ah! I've never made an architectural rendition of my dream house!" Now that I think about it, that is probably because until recently I abhorred the idea of having a house (which implies settling down). But now I can bring my drawings to someone and have them help me calculate the amount of materials needed to start building and a realtor to help me find some land. It's a pretty broad area and I'm only planning ahead so they should be able to come up with something by the time I've saved up for it. 

Already I have $200 towards the motorbike on the side of the house!

Also, I included Kelsie & Nate's, Steph's, and Angela's houses already because they've agreed to come be neighbours. I'm sure we could find space for anyone else! 

P.S. Can you find my parents' place? It's hard to see in the distance ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Novole & Fish Deaths

Top is the view from my window of the chapel (A.D. 1715) and the bottom is the last remaining of the four birds.

In a week from today I'll be heading to Palermo, Sicily to meet a new friend...who is from California, under twenty-five, lived in the same area of Tanzania I did, annnnd dated the same guy I did. But of course she's female as I've found little evidence of men travelling to Africa, or anywhere really.  I can hardly wait! I haven't hung out with any woman who's even remotely my age in almost two months. None of us women can figure out what men do all the time. Another topic, another day ;)

Our hosts went away for two nights this past weekend and left Ian and I in charge of the house and animals (two horses, four dogs, a bunch of cats, and one bird). While moving brush, Ian was nearly shot by a boar hunter (who was curiously standing on the road three terraces up and shooting into an olive grove) and it rained for two straight days so we couldn't go hiking. When Claudia came back I assured her the cat had not eaten the bird as she'd feared and assured her that the only creatures I couldn't seem to keep thriving (or breathing for that matter) are fish. In all seriousness, I'm an experienced house/pet/child sitter, but I will unintentionally cause the death of any fish you have. Once, we left mine on the counter in his bowl half-dead for four days while we were on vacation and when we came back, he was completely fine. Two days later he was dead. Ciao!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Exhausting Day of Rest

Today was supposed to be a restful, productive day. I would finish my scrumptious latte, exercise self-control and put the cookies away, clean the kitchen, put some laundry in, wave goodbye to everyone else and settle in to finish the video for our trip so far.

It was going swimmingly and then, unable to read the Italian label of the laundry detergent, I poured it on top. At first I thought it was the old, "Oh, the bottle's almost empty so we'll put water in it to get the last bit out" trick. But who does that besides my mom? It was bleach. My fingers were slick and the pool chemicals wafted into my nose. Plunging my hand in I pulled the top items out and examined them in the sun. They looked all right so maybe it was bleach for colours. Wrong again.

There is a sizable hole in the one pair that has bleach stains all over it. I'm terribly inept at sewing. It could have been worse, when I hung the clothes up only 60% had a spot here or there from the bleach. This isn't such a tragedy at home when you have more clothes to wear but this is all I have until at least May.

After that minor mishap, I edited all day long. From 10AM-5PM when I saved my video project in Final Cut for the fiftieth time (since auto save is not working) I sat in the kitchen. Confident my project was safe, I left for a few minutes to feed the horses and check my laundry dry-ness.

All the while, the rainbow spinning wheel of death was striking it's deadly blow to my project. Round and round it goes and it never stops so I hit force quit knowing I'd just saved it several times.

Alas. It's gone. Completely and utterly. Even if I try to revert the project, it's like today didn't exist (if only!). There is a black hole that all of my editing fell into and I was a half hour from being finished.

So I have nothing to show for this day except the horrid pinkish orange stains on most of my clothes. I also realized my favorite Nike running shorts have been gone for a long time and my second quick-dry towel for my hair is somewhere in France.

Ian is in Rome for tonight, hopefully enjoying his day off.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One More Day. They Promised.

Are you tired of olive picking photos? Because I'm ready for this harvest to be finito! Supposedly, we'll be finished picking tomorrow morning and go to the mill in the afternoon. 

For the photojournalists, why black and white? Does it mean something? Well, I spend nine hours a day seeing the same colours and this is a welcome relief. Also, I abhor trees this time of year. There are places where trees are green all the time, do New Yorkers even know this? 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lamb Brain for Lunch

At lunch today, Ian lifted my hand in his defeat of not finishing his half of the lamb's head. He dropped out after the eyeball. Win! Not that it was a competition, but I didn't run upstairs and disappear immediately after declaring defeat now did I? Nor did I scarf down dates because bulgar, bread and lamb brain was an insufficient lunch. Can you see the tuft of fur near the brain? To my delight Ian was actually entertained as I picked up the face and waved it saying, "Not by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin!" Because it actually still had a beard.

 I've never had the chance to try eating a brain before and am one step closer to being able to try absolutely anything (not that I can recall ever turning something down but I've heard there's something the Maasai in Simanjiro offer that's hard to swallow. I'll be ready!)

 Team, eating anything is all mental. To some people, like Claudia, the brain is the best part. Lucio said the eyeballs are "good", though he might have been just trying to bait me to eat it. I am now slightly skeptical when someone tells me something can be eaten because sometimes they're just messing with me and I eat it only to have them gasp and sputter, "you're not supposed to eat that!" as I'm gagging and it's already half-way down my esophagus. 

Upon first inspection, I maturely cried out, "This is like dissection in science class!" To which I received two blank stares from our hosts. "Do you dissect things in school in Italy?" No. No, they do not. 

As I was considering whether or not to shower tonight, Claudia sailed by and informed me we would be dining out for pizza tonight and there would be a lot of good-looking boys. "Better looking than Paolo?" I inquired. 

[Side story: Paolo appears to be the manager of the olive mill I went to last week with Lucio and Joe, who has since left us for another farm, but regardless, I was milling around shooting video when he gestured for me to join his conversation with Lucio and Claudia. I'd seen this before in Tanzania. It's always the same. "How many goats you want for her?" Joking. They usually just ask if I'd be willing to marry them and are mildly offended when I say no with my defense being their inability to meet my height requirements and the distance to ask my dad permission). Paolo is a bit more crude and to the point but luckily Claudia had encountered this side of Paolo as well and warded him off. I escaped at the first chance to sit in the chilly car with Joe where we compared mobile phone service providers, cars, and of course, sang as much of American Pie as we could remember. End of side story.]

Of course, I showered, put on the cleanest clothes I have which have only been worn at least three times already, and braided my long locks. Unfortunately, as Claudia duly noted, there were no attractive men or women to be found. "Nothing even nice to look at!" She exclaimed. Love her. Love her. Love her. 

As a final note, lamb tongue is better with salt and eyeballs taste a bit like snails. Bon appetito!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Italy's Most Eligible & Unshaved Bachelorette: Graphic Content!

And this is how it's done! 

Never, do I ever, want to do No Shave November again. At least once a day I look to untangle my pants from more brambles but wait! It's only my nasty leg hairs getting twisted around again. 

Discoveries: I have been bequeathed my dad's unibrow (not pictured!), as well as his leg hair and armpit hair. A lucky woman am I! My legs even have bald spots like his, except no one played Ouch Ouch with them which may have caused that. This is the game I played with my dad when he would come home from work. I would race upstairs after him and tear out his leg hairs as soon as they were in sight. Seriously. 

But let's be fair- I had my rainy-day barbie times and even a favorite blue dress I'd wear... in between playing in the mud and Ouch Ouch. 

Go ahead. Be grossed out. Call your mother, your children, your pastor, the media. But whatever you tell them, make sure you include that I'm an eligible bachelorette! Despite the horrifying and grotesque state of my under arms, I clean up rather well. So... gentlemen? Takers? 

And on this episode of Bachelorette, I'm going to shave. Wish me luck! Feel free to comment- someone already has on Facebook: "sick and wrong".