Double Surprise Package

i’ve been gone for more of the month of December than i’ve been home. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s left me a bit more disorganized than usual.  Re-entry is a balance of art and science, and i needed to hit it hard to stay on track.

i’m pretty efficient when it comes to travel – including take offs and landings. Arriving home around 10pm Monday night, i was able to dump the contents of two suitcases, play with the critters, and do preliminary triage on a large stack of mail waiting for me on the table — and get myself to bed by 11pm.  Re-entry should be a fast, surgical strike to allow the rapid return to normal schedules and routines!

Amongst the shrapnel awaiting me?  Three “Missed Delivery” tags from FedEx.  Whatever was being delivered required a signature.  Hmmm… Hadn’t ordered anything lately, so i was pretty curious about what could be in the package.  If it requires a signature?  That usually means wine!

Did my darling sister in Florida send me an unexpected Christmas gift?

Back at work on Tuesday, i hit the gym with Studley.  In the spirit of making the re-entry process quick and efficient, i suggested that we could grab lunch at a sushi place south of town afterwards – and swing by the FedEx distribution center to find out the contents of the mystery package.

FedEx Woman #1: Hi! What can I do for you today?

daisyfae: i’m here to pick up a package – hoping my dear sister in Florida shipped her little sis some alcohol for Christmas!

FedEx Woman #1: Well, that’s a good sister!

daisyfae: Yes! At the moment, we love her very much!

As the clerk went back to extract the box from the warehouse, the second clerk asked Studley if she could help him.

Studley: No, I’m just here as her Package Sherpa – to do the heavy lifting!

FedEx Woman #2: Well, where’s your umbrella? Didn’t you notice it’s raining out there?

daisyfae: Ha! She’s right! All the other Sherpas bring umbrellas. Sherpa FAIL!

As we were horsing around with FedEx Woman #2, FedEx Woman #1 returns with the box.

FedEx Woman #1: This isn’t really all that heavy. Pretty sure there’s no wine in there…

daisyfae [checking label]: Well damn. i wonder what the hell she sent?

As i checked the return address, it was from some designer label store in Oregon. Didn’t recognize it. And then noticed something else.

daisyfae: Oh, shit! This isn’t even for me! It’s addressed to the people who used to live in my condo! Crap!

FedEx Woman #1: Well I guess we’re not loving our sister so much anymore!

image found here

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Merry Christmas

i have many tales to tell. But not just yet…

The Boy and i have started our journey home, and The Girl is back at her apartment, recovering from our visit.

Through the years, it became a family tradition as we erected* the Christmas tree, for me to stand back and say (in my best June Cleaver voice) “It’s the most BEAUTIFUL Christmas tree EVER!”. The kids would play along with this saying “Yes, Mother! It really IS the most beautiful Christmas tree we’ve ever had!”

This year? We spent Christmas Eve in a very nice hotel room, thousands of miles away from the unopened box in the storage room at home that holds two decades worth of Christmas ornaments.

During the afternoon, The Boy and i were camped in the hotel room, waiting for The Girl to finish working for the day. Since i am a frequent visitor at this particular hotel chain, i had been granted access to the Executive Lounge. With an open bar. The mini-fridge up there was loaded with Carlsberg and Tuborg Gold!

Sipping free beer as we prepared for a siesta, The Boy asked if i’d ever seen a Heineken Christmas Tree. Googling it, we agreed that it might be possible to construct one. It would require some ingenuity, but we had a fridge full of free beer and an afternoon to kill…

We did it. By exploiting some odds and ends we swiped borrowed from the hotel bar, we built a tree. Even rigged the desk lamp to light it from below.

We were joined for the night by two of The Girl’s friends – they’d stayed too late to catch the last buses home, so we shuffled the sleeping arrangements and made some room on the floor for the menfolk.

Midnight arrived, and we toasted our Christmas in Turkey.

“It’s the most beautiful Christmas tree ever.”

And it was…

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* nhur, nhur, nhur…. “erected”…

Baby’s Day Out

We’ve been camping in Izmir, Turkey for about four days. The Boy and i crashing on sofas in the living room in the fairly small apartment The Girl shares with one of her fellow teachers here. Although she was able to get a substantial chunk of time off work to babysit entertain us, she had to go to work this afternoon.

She’s been a fabulous guide for the past two weeks, showing us some amazing sites while teaching the basics of life in Turkey. The plan for today? The Boy and i would have a “down day” in the apartment while she and her roomie went to work. Plus, it’s definitely time to do some laundry.

The Girl was scared shitless about leaving us alone.

This morning, she fussed over every detail. How to open the doors. Which keys go where. How to lock the doors. How to close the doors without making a terrible noise and annoying the neighbors. How to run the washing machine.

Our plan was to go to the grocery store next door, buy some basics, and spend the afternoon cleaning the apartment top to bottom. She coached us again on how to say “I don’t speak Turkish”, and that the cashier would ask if we wanted a store loyalty card. Reminded us how to say “No”.

As she was preparing to leave, The Boy and i noted that we felt like latch-key children, being left on their own for the first time.

The Girl: Yeah… Kinda like two giant toddlers who like beer and cigarettes.

As she left, we prepared our game plan, and grocery list, for the day. Venturing out, we were going over roles and responsibilities. It’s my job to work the conversational bits, and he’s got the key/door thing down.

The Boy: Between the two of us, we’re like one functional person.

daisyfae: Almost…

But we did it. Remembering the type of cheese The Girl likes. Sorting through the aisle of cleaning supplies and figuring out which is for windows and which is for countertops (cleverly marked with pictures of windows and countertops, by the way). Me asking for cigarettes at the checkout… Picked up a store loyalty card, and was even able to take advantage of a special on bananas! 2kg* for 1 Turkish Lire!

The Boy fixed lunch while i started cleaning. “Start at the top and work your way down”. Didn’t take too long, and we were pretty proud of the results. Plenty of time to shower and relax before we make our way to the bus stop, and wait for the 209 this evening… Hopefully finding our way to her office to meet her after work for drinks!

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Two very enterprising toddlers at Ephesus yesterday. Home to some seriously old shit…

* And that’s a metric shit ton of bananas, by the way…

Turkish delight

When my children were entering their ‘double digit’ years, i had an opportunity to take them to Germany to visit a niece living there. Wanting them to learn to be citizens of the world, it was a good opportunity to take them overseas.

My ex-husband was not particularly interested in going, so it was just the three of us. With assistance from my niece, i did the planning and logistics. Flying into Frankfurt, i rented a car. And the adventure began… It was up to me to get us there, and back.

Doing my crash course in “German for Tourists” in the weeks before the trip, i was reasonably prepared for navigating in a foreign country. Didn’t hurt that i’d been there a few times before. It also didn’t hurt that in southwestern Germany, most people speak English. Together, we worked on a few important vocabulary words. Mostly, the kids would tail behind me like ducklings, eyes wide open, taking it all in.

The next year, they wanted to do it again, so we went to England. On that trip – without a significant language barrier – we did a lot more improvisation. Four days in London as we decided where to go next. A conversation with a taxi driver led us to a train station, and a few days exploring Devon and Cornwall.

Our spring holidays continued, with visits to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Arizona before they were out of high school and far too cool old to travel with their mother. It was great fun to share some of my favorite places with my own spawn.

Arriving in Istanbul early Thursday morning, The Boy and i made it through the airport and found our driver at baggage claim. The Girl had arrived Wednesday, and was waiting at the hotel. After a short siesta, we headed out into the city.

Although she complains that after living in the country for six months, her Turkish should be better, The Girl is out front this time. Ordering meals, explaining the history of the Turks, navigating from a map in her iPod, translating ancient Ottoman hieroglyphics.

And teaching us important words and phrases…

“Hello”

“Good Morning”

“Thank You”

“Three beers, please”

Tonight, at the Grand Bazaar, The Boy fell in love with an incredibly goofy lovely hat. Taking advantage of closing time, and her newly acquired skills, she was able to haggle with the vendor. From his original offer of 110 Turkish Lire, she got him down to 70. And The Boy joyfully collected his wares.

Tomorrow? Another day out. Since it will be raining, she’s taking us to the Blue Mosque, and then off to see the art museums on the Asian side of the city.

i will continue to follow behind like a duckling. Practicing my new vocabulary. Eyes wide open. Taking it all in.

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not Constantinople…

And away we go…

i’ll be a bit scarce in your comment boxes* over the next bit…

happy holidays. may you not strangle your loved ones, or strangers in shopping malls. may you enjoy the down time at the office, fucking off for pay. may you eat yourself into a sugar coma and gain no weight.

and may we avoid finding out the joys of a Turkish prison…

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*not a euphemism. probably. well… except for you. and you know who you are.

Daisyfae – 1, Shelob – 0

My schedule has been a bit on the crispy side since i got home.  Between long days at work, de-stinking gear from the dive trip, and preparing for my next adventure*, i’ve been in constant motion all week.

Leaving work Friday, i executed a complex string of errands that involved stopping at a liquor store, a warehouse club, an electronics store and a discount department store – on my way home.

After a brief decompression stop at home, i began the task of unloading the shit from the trunk of the car.  The heavy stuff.  Dog food, cat litter and four bags of salt for the water softener.

Hauling the first bag downstairs, i opened the door of the utility room, and switched on the light – while balancing a 40 pound bag of salt on my shoulder.

There. She. Was.

Giganticfuckingspider.  Wolf spider. i fucking hate spiders and this one was staring at me, saying “Excuse me, but you’ve interrupted my nap.  Now I will kill you!”

It was on.

Calmly stepping out of the utility room, and setting the bag of salt on the washing machine, i reached into the cupboard to look for some of the pesticides that my daughter had stockpiled when she lived here.  She hated spiders too, and living on the lower level, she ran into them more frequently.  Hence, she was the resident Spider Prevention Specialist.

“Eco-Friendly Pesticide?”  Whatever.  It was the first thing i grabbed.  Squirting the beast squarely in the face, i unloaded several ounces of Eco-Friendly Spider Killer until she stopped moving.  “Whew!”

Starting for the salt again, she raised her front legs in a fighting position – and i hit her again with a few more blasts of liquid spider death!  Curling up, i was sure she was a goner, but when i quit?  She started to retreat.

“Oh no you don’t, bitch!”  and i was back at it again with the squirt bottle.

Clearly, this Eco-Friendly crap wasn’t working.  Back to the cupboard, i found another can of “Green Pesticide – Kills on Contact”.  Damn my vegetarian hippie daughter! i’m looking for advanced tactics in chemical warfare and she’s trying to save the earth.  Well, all of the earth except spiders.

i tried the new stuff on the beast in the utility room, and she once again stopped moving!

This had to be enough to kill her!  This stuff was starting to pool on the floor!

Nope.  Another attempt at retreat.  And did she just raise her front legs a little?

Giving up on the Green approach, i went back looking for something more toxic.  Ah-HA!  Spot remover!  In an aerosol can!  It was a foam spray, and she was buried in it within seconds.  With a final defiant lift of a leg, she finally curled up for the last time.

Victory was mine!  As i continued to unload the remaining bags of salt into the softener, i became more confident that she was really dead, she was really most sincerely dead!

image found here

Yesterday, while out and about town with Mr. X, i was relaying my tale of arachnid warfare to him.

daisyfae:  i started with this Eco-friendly pesticide that my daughter had in the house.

Mr. X:  Couldn’t you have just used a rock?  Hell, or even just hit it with the can.  That’d be pretty eco-friendly…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* This year, i’m a ‘conscientious objector’ to christmas bullshit.  No time.  Not gonna worry about cards, gifts, decorating, baking, shopping or any of that stuff this year… Priorities have been made clear for me this year.

Re-entry

On the first of three flights that would eventually bring us home yesterday, Studley and i groggily navigated US Customs declaration forms.

“Exposure to Livestock”?  Taking the easy cheap shot, i pointed at him and said “i think i have to declare this, since we’ve been bunkies for the week”.

“Are you transporting any vegetables?”  His turn for the cheap shot, as he started to write my name in the blank.

“Did you purchase anything?”

Scratching my head and other bits, i was momentarily vexed. Could not think of what i’d bought.

daisyfae: Did we buy anything this week?

Studley: Four litres of liquor at the Duty Free shop on our way out of the country… but that doesn’t count, right?

Spending a week on a quasi-tropical island, and between the two of us, we’d not bought a single souvenir. No t-shirts. No gee-gaws or knick-knacks.

daisyfae: Doesn’t that seem weird? We spent money… Rented scooters on the non-dive day… Ate pretty well… The hotel bill included the dive shop costs for Nitrox…

Not that there weren’t ample opportunities to shop, despite the fact that Bonaire is a small enough island that there are no traffic lights.  Some of our fellow dive buddies spent money in the shops.

As we wound our way through three airports on Sunday, it was apparent that others had been busy.  One couple had gone to great lengths to transport a 4′ long wooden carved iguana. They had tucked him into a backpack, with his head poked through.  A strategically placed sock on the head for protection, it looked like a baby in a pappoose.

They also schlepped a large, wooden carved sun thing of some sort. i never saw it, but knew that it was too large to fit in the overhead bin of any plane we rode homeward. They probably spent several hundred dollars on the carvings – and from what i could see of Baby Iguana, it was more kitsch than art.

A few of the gents in our group bought jewelry for wives and daughters. Most folks at least bought a souvenir t-shirt or hat from the dive shop.

Studley: No. i don’t think we’re weird. We just don’t buy shit.

Over the course of my last few adventures, though, i have picked up a strange habit. Trying the local brew wherever i land, i’ve started peeling the labels off beer bottles.  They can be easily flattened and stuck inside my passport.

This has become my souvenir collection method. Whether or not i could locate all of the beer labels i’ve collected through the years is an entirely different matter, however.

Bonaire made this a bit challenging. Part of the Dutch Antilles, this little island (as well as the sister islands of Aruba and Curacao) import virtually everything from the Netherlands. We were stuck with a very limited supply of ‘local’ beer.

Studley:  “What’s your local beer?”

Cute Barmaid:  “Amstel, Amstel Bright, Heineken”

daisyfae:  “No, we want something brewed in the region. Something unique. Something the folks who live here drink.”

Cute Barmaid:  “Yes. Amstel, Amstel Bright, Heineken”

So we bought “Amstel Bright”, which is the Dutch version of Corona – served with a lime wedge. And about as disappointing.  But there were labels to peel…

Not so easily discouraged, we eventually found ONE Venezuelan beer! “Polar”.

Unfortunately, there was no label to peel.  It’s printed directly on the glass.

Whatever… i still didn’t buy any souvenirs.  i took a picture.  Close enough.