Arrivederci, Italia. All I want for my birthday is a gun.

(The Von Trapp family walked over these. We just flew. Nice view, yes?)

Ha! Kidding, of course, but we are home, safe and sound after the trip of our lifetime together and now I have moved on to bear hunting. I need to do a very lengthy update- or better, a series of short, succinct posts with some stunning photography- but I hit the pavement running and haven’t had a moment to think, which I’m starting to suspect is the new 60. That bit about not thinking. 

(Flying first class has comforts. Getting settled into my “pod” with quilt, iPad, knitting and lavender travel pillow from a certain blogging buddy.)

I’ll definitely finish up with more on Italy because our final two days in Firenze (costing more than the entire rest of the trip) were so full of wonder and beauty and, hmm, 632 photographs but life will have to quiet here a bit first. That happens on Monday when the whole world and one of the two cats leave and Sophie and I can contemplate the fall mountain colors in peace. I will be much, much older then and in need of some quiet time.

Two or three days ago, whenever it was, we arrived at the spanking new, incomplete Sheraton Hotel at the Malpensa airport in Milan to catch a few winks before boarding a 7 am flight to London. Let’s see, 2.5 hour advance check in, no boarding passes or assigned seats yet, it’s so late all the ticket counters are closed…Malpensa airport combined with this new Sheraton that has crammed a zillion rooms onto 3 floors because of height restrictions put our room about 2.8 miles from the nearest fire exit, which wasn’t completed yet in any case. No sleep, from Malpensa to Heathrow to O’Hare. At O’Hare, Rich and I had to part ways as he was crazy enough to keynote a conference in Iowa (don’t ask) the next morning, so there we were, many pounds and bags overweight, oozing ourselves and all that olive oil through customs: “no. no agricultural products. no, not been on a farm. no, no food…” I had a mere 1 hour layover to get off the plane, get through immigration lines, gather the bags, go through customs, recheck the bags, ride the train to the next terminal, kiss Rich goodbye (we were making out like Italian teenagers crammed into the jam-packed shuttle, as though we were saying goodbye forever rather than 24 hours.) Then it was back through security lines that, for some reason, brought to mind the gruesome images of Hell on the Duomo Firenze ceiling, and I RAN another mile to the farthest gate in O’Hare to catch a tiny commuter plane home to Charlotte. And then a 2.5 hour drive back to here.

Here is where my good friend and fellow fiberholic, Kristen has been staying, minding the cats and spinning her heart out while we were away. Here is where she stood up one evening to look out the window because Cloudy had his hackles up and saw, not one but THREE bears two feet from the front door wrestling with the giant paper wasp nest in the dogwood I have been watching grow this past summer. It was a beautiful piece of architecture and the wasps were very peaceful, just going about their business building their own version of the Duomo so I was letting them be. So much for that. One bear stood up on his hind legs and tore it out of the tree and they then shredded it to bits, eating the larvae. I guess they ran out of ground hornet nests. The next night they stood up against the back deck picture window and torn down the heaviest metal bird feeder on the market and carried it off down the hill, smashing it in, along with a second one. But not before they crapped on the deck, in the garden, along the walkway. 

(Who’s been pawing at MY window? asked Mama Cranky.)

Kristen had bearly recovered from that adventure and poured herself a glass of wine when she noticed the cats having a little confab in corner of the living room around what looked, at first glance, like another pile of bear crap. Closer inspection revealed it was a coiled up king snake, although until we confirmed that with a photo, she was convinced it was a Timber Rattler, aka, Canebreak snake. Sophie has the good sense to observe before jumping in with all four paws; McCloud not so much. He was busy poking it and it was busy lunging at him. Kristen screamed to a friend on her cell phone and then bravely shooed the cats and attempted to sweep the poor coiled snake out the front door. That took some effort as he seemed reluctant to cross the threshold to freedom but she finally got him out.

Let’s see, yesterday is a blur. Got to bed about 3 am, got up at 7 and unpacked, did 3 loads of laundry and then we headed out to the WNC Farm market. This was part of a plan to get me quickly back on EST because of events this weekend. Since not thinking is part of the new 60, we bought a half bushel of Roma tomatoes, a half bushel of ornamental gourds, a peck of apples, dried split peas and some southern form of cured pork butt. Then we went on to the WNC Arboretum and saw the bonsai, the handweavers exhibit, the quilt garden, the grass gardens and so forth. And then we came home and of course, something had to be done with those damn tomatoes. You know, she is much younger than I am so she should have known better in the first place, but no. So we canned tomatoes until it was time to pick up Rich at midnight at Asheville airport. 

(Some of Kristen’s carded fiber batts and, why,  tomatoes!)

Now it is 6 am and I’m getting ready to water the house plants and the deck plants before we head off to the long-awaited Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. Florida friend Cathy is already heading to the airport in St. Petersburg to fly in for this annual event. The airport is across the street from the fairgrounds so I’ll just zip over and get her when she lands. You’ve been around here long enough to know that for me, this is three days of sheep, alpaca, fleece, yarn, wool, fiber and more fiber.

Only crazy people do this crap the day they leave for and the day they return from their long postponed honeymoon. But Italia? Crazy romantic. I will update, promise, promise. If you really want to read a funny series of posts about our adventures in Italy, complete with laugh out loud photos, check out where our neighbor Ken gives a full report. We met up with them for a few days while in Tuscany. Ken is the nut who rode his Vespa 150 scooter across America to raise money for a small school in Ecuador and wrote daily journal entries in his blog. His spelling is worse than mine, but he writes a very humorous, very informative blog. You can find him here at Europe 2010 Diaries.

Gotta run.

11 responses to “Arrivederci, Italia. All I want for my birthday is a gun.

  1. What are you going to do about the bears. Of course, they were there first–probably they are saying–what are we going to do about the humans.
    Stay safe–that’s all.

    Looking forward to the next Italia report.

  2. I cannot believe you are home talking about how busy you are after you abandoned me, Manuela, and Spotty right at the beginning of olive harvesting. My hands are just shreds after pulling olives for 2 days for what? You to have another jar of olive oil to shove into your overstuffed suitcase. Bet you miss real pasta and me. Well, probably just King Lion and Vicki and pasta

  3. Sleep, any sleep in this picture? When DO you finally burn out and sleep for say…. 15 hours or so? No, indeed, chasing bears and snakes and canning tomatoes would not be on my list of things to do before or after such a glorious trip. Of course we went to Italy before we had a good digital camera. Sigh.

  4. You are one crazy lady, and I don’t think 60 has anything to do with it. I have loved your chronicles of the trip and especially will look forward to your photos from Firenze. Of the places I visited in Italy, I think it was my favorite.

    I’m going to send you some photos my friend took of bears fishing for salmon. They were about 15-20 feet away, maybe not as close as your friends there.

  5. When you were looking at buying that house, did anyone mention bears on the porch?

    Can’t wait to see/hear all about the trip!

  6. Welcome home. I am stunned by your bear stories. May I politely say, “holy shit,” to that. Wow. That’s a heart-stopper for sure, well, that and the snake in the house. I am also blown away by your energy. I feel lazy, lazy, lazy, but glad that someone has all that creative energy. Looking forward to more updates.

  7. You give me the Stendhal Syndrome, what with your myriad activities and beautiful images.

    Wash Uffitzi, drive me to Firenze.~Phish

    Canning tomatoes is your default response to many of life’s joys and challenges, methinks.

    You do realize that the slope to evolving into a full-fledged Republican woman becomes super slippery once you become a gun-toting bear hunter, I assume. What’s next? Switching to SPARTAN superiority and support?

    For Kristen’s batts,
    I am nuts.
    But I’ll pass
    On pork butts.
    Vasari/Zuccari’s sins
    Cover mile upon mile;
    Whereas Mantegna’s fresco ceiling always makes me smile.

  8. Sounds to me like Kristen is the one who needs the gun.

    PS I will never again complain about raccoon poop on the deck. 🙂

  9. A gun.
    The southernification of y’all continues.


    I have to admit, I am loving your bear problems, because challenges are good, they keep us on our toes.
    When I moved here, I had visions of orchards and a garden that pumped out produce.

    Instead it is a constant, (losing) battle with the wildlife I love.

    So bear with it, you will come to some agreement with the Ursus’s.
    Glad you are home safe and happy.

  10. And I always thought bears took care of their business in the woods. No guns. Be kind. He might be gentle Ben or his offspring.

    Ironically, another blog I regularly read (and I don’t read THAT many) featured the writer’s thoughts on traveling through Tuscany. You didn’t happen to bump into her, did you? Her name is Lauren and she is from northern Israel.

  11. What I mainly got from this post is that you and Rich had some awesome Hotel Sex in Italy.

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