Friday, May 24, 2013

I went to a garden party

It's becoming obvious to me that I need to schedule time to write if I'm going to be working as much as I have been. So much happens, some of it is even quite interesting, and by the time I get around to writing about it well...some of the excitement is gone. I hate that. I think my plan will be to get a nap in every day so that I can stay awake later at night and get some writing done. As with all plans, I'm sure this will change but for now I'm going to try it.

I really wanted to talk about last Saturday, because it was one of those days that started one direction and then ended up completely different. And completely wonderful.

Originally I had planned to ride a tour with Leif that day.  Another group of Swedes were visiting Florence and we were going to take them up the mountain for food and wine at Torre A Cona. I accidentally took a babysitting job that day. I blame this on the fact that I don't have a smart phone with access to my calendar at all times, and I get requests in SMS at weird times like grocery shopping and such. I suppose another part of the blame could be placed squarely on my aging memory, but let's not go there. Leif was disappointed but understood. It was a small group so he could handle it, it's just more fun with me. His words, not mine.

Friday evening Leif got an e-mail from someone  who wanted to ride with the team on Saturday (who wasn't a team member) but didn't know where they were meeting. He was wondering if he could ride with Leif to the meeting point. Well, obviously Leif wasn't riding with the team, but I said since I wasn't working till later I could get him to the meeting point and just come back to town. This, my friends, is that thing called Minnesota Nice. We go out of our way for complete strangers because we've been taught that it's the right thing to do. A concept unknown and completely baffling to Italians. But anyway, that's what the plan was as of breakfast on Saturday morning.

So I met this complete stranger whose name is Feargal and we rode to the meeting point. I'm not sure when, but at some point I got a text from the mom I was working for that day that she didn't need me and if I could still go with Leif that I should. I thanked her kindly and put it out off my mind. I mean, what were the chances that I'd get this guy out to the meeting point (a 40 minute ride away) and back before Leif left with his tour?

Apparently the chances were pretty good. I got back to town a half hour before he was scheduled to leave, so I met him and the group at the bike shop and we rode up the mountain together. It was another group of 18 year olds from the cooking/hotel school. I have to say the teacher has really loosened up since last year and she can ride better up hill and actually picks up some speed going down hill. I wasn't as patient as I could have been with the girl who had trouble climbing because of her asthma. The pack of cigarettes tucked into her bra didn't do much to help her cause with me.

I did find out one interesting thing. One of the girls had chewing tobacco. I have to assume it's becoming cool again. Tragic. Anyway, I heard her talking about it in Swedish and just had to ask her about it after lunch. I asked what it was called in Swedish and she said it was snus. How funny is that? Every old farmer in Minnesota (regardless of their country of origin) calls it snus. I am always surprised by how certain words or customs permeate midwestern culture. I also learned a new way to make lasagna with bread and some of my favorite cheeses here. Tuscans will put bread in anything. Wasting nothing, they've created tons of recipes that include old bread. And it tastes good, not at all like old bread.

We got home in time to shower and get ready for a party. A garden party thrown by one of my moms who I guess felt very progressive inviting her babysitter to a social event. I didn't really care though. Great wine and food on a beautiful Italian evening sounded perfect to me. And it was. OK, too much prosecco but honestly it's pretty hard to gauge how much I'm drinking when there are a dozen bottles on ice and random men keep filling my glass for me. We were probably the only people who arrived on bicycle. I'm sure the rest took taxis so they wouldn't have to walk too far in their 4 inch stilettos or ruin their hair.

Speaking of hair, I actually spent some time curling mine for the evening. I don't know why, just one of those things that I decided I should do once while I'm here. I mean, someone gave me a curling iron so I had that here and there was time. I felt very glamorous, even after the bike ride (with helmet) to the party.

Ready to head out to the party.

I was devastated to learn that this 30-something mom had no idea what I was talking about when I told her that I'd had the song "Garden Party" stuck in my head all week. How is it even possible that she doesn't know Ricky Nelson or that song? Am I seriously that old? On second thought, don't answer that.

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