Lessons from Losing a Car Key: Part 1

Don’t do it. It’s just a ridiculous idea that you should get out of your head at once. Just don’t.

No, I suppose that isn’t helpful. What might be helpful, or at least if nothing else, entertaining, is for a recount of my own story in hopes that you’ll find the straws of wisdom at which to clutch.

It began on Sunday morning. My mother has been in town visiting, and had to switch rental-houses. She mentioned Saturday night that I should stop by in the morning to come see it. So I did. She wasn’t there. And with July being a particularly busy month for me, I decided to take my shiny powder-blue Peugeot to Pwllheli to get some writing done with the unexpected free time. I spent a few hours there before wandering off to the beach, which was delightful and I gained a fantastic sun-shaped sunburn on my back (don’t ask).

Lesson 1: Use pockets

I was wearing these fantastic summery, flowy, flowery pants, because they’re light and hide my shape and make me look taller (oddly enough). However, for some reason fashion designers don’t think that women need pockets. Or, they’re in cahoots with hand-bag designers (or they’re in actuality handbag people themselves!), and it’s all a conspiracy to get women to accessorize (something I, myself, just can’t be asked with). Either way, I had an equally-flowy sweatshirt tip thing which had one pouch in the front, much like a hoodie. It was there I stashed my belongings.

You might be thinking that this is how I lost my key. I assure you, that I didn’t, though I did have that thought. If I lost my key at the beach, then how did I drive back? Hm? Yes, let’s not be silly about this now!

I managed to get my back to the car, though I did forget my key at my perch for a couple of moments and had to return to retrieve it. But to my car I meandered, and drove back to the village, parked my car—

Lesson 2: Don’t lock your doors

–and locked the doors. I know, you might think this is a habit I should regularly engage in. However, usually I don’t have the best of cars (in fact the car I left behind in the states had a button for the ignition, and that wasn’t a built-in feature but rather the result of the starter stopping), and so, logically, I would rather someone just have access of the little-that-there-is-of-worth by opening my door instead of me having to pay for a broken window. What’s more, I live in a village with a rather insanely low crime rate, and it’s filled with insanely rich tourists, who aren’t going to steal my car or what’s in it, and probably have nicer cars to lure the criminals than my own. So, I don’t lock my doors.

Yet, for some unknown reason, as I left my vehicle with my backpack slung over my shoulder, and my free book in hand, I felt the need to hit that damned lock button. So, it’s locked. What does this tell us? My key isn’t locked in my car. I need a button to lock it, and that button is on the key. So it made it out of the car.

I live above a pub, and so it’s only a short distance from the pub parking lot to my flat. Once there, I had an hour before I was meant to meet up with my mother and a family friend at the Yacht Club to go out on said friend’s boat. (It should be noted that I’m not a club member, nor do I look the part, nor do I act the part, nor do I fund the part) During this hour I probably flopped onto the bed and just decompressed for a few moments before rooting around my room for a pair of clean jeans and a presentable top.

Lesson 3: Pay Attention to the Possibilities of Your Clothing

I couldn’t tell you what top I did find. But I do know for certain that I was wearing jeans with adequate pockets. And I do know that I grabbed that flowy seater thingy as well. At this point, my memory loses track of the key. Could it be that I stashed it on my night stand as I usually do when I get home? Did I put it in my jeans pocket from the bedside table? Or did it make it back into my sweater thingy’s front pocket on the journey from the car to my room? Who knows! After all, I did grab my bank card (another dumb decision), and whatever change I had laying there.

Lesson 4: Pay Attention to the Possibilities of Your Accessories

I was meeting with my mother and family friend on the boat to scatter Granny’s ashes. A couple weeks ago I made the long drive to Warwickshire to retrieve her ashes (that I didn’t know were still at the funeral director’s and was shocked to discover), and I had been the holder of them until Sunday. I didn’t have it in me to delve into the black-funeral-party-looking bag, into the shoe-box-looking case and take out the urn (which it turned out, looked like a coffee canister to my indignation), so it had remained snuggly put together in the corner of my room. I retrieved this open bag (is this a clue???), my bundle of flowy sweater thing, and left the flat near the time I was meeting everyone.

Lesson 5: Pay Attention to Mindless Habits

I noticed I was a little early to the corner that I was meeting Mom at, so I meandered toward the ATM, where there was a line. I stood in line for a little bit before I saw Mom, and abandoned the idea of getting cash out. Now, usually, when I am going to need something out of my pocket and I have to wait, my eager hands will sneak into my pockets and fiddle with the thing I need, or retrieve it entirely. This means that I could have had my card in my hand, I could have taken it out of my pocket, which means that my inadequately small lady pockets could have regurgitated my key from my pocket during that time—IF my key was in there to start with.

We weren’t at the Yacht club long at all before finding family friend and heading toward the boat launch—you know, down the stairs with nice gaps between them that open into the swaying tide. I managed to get into the launch boar fairly easily, though, as we left the jetty I felt the nip of wind and decided to put on my sweater thing. Was my key in that pocket? Did it fall out in that boat?

Lesson 6: Don’t Hop Boats

We reached the sailboat and managed to climb over the ledge of the launce, over the wire railing of the sail boat and get in. I actually have to pose the possibility too—did I actually just put my sweater thingy on in this boat, and not the launch? I know I was in charge of passing things to my mom, who was first onto the sailboat. Was my own clothing one of those things? Did my key fall into the water?

Lesson 6.5: When You Do Hop Boats, Stay Away From the Ledges

The day was beautiful, and we sailed around the—well, you can read my post on it here, or the description of the scenery on my travel blog here. I shan’t bore you with repeating myself (though I’m pretty certain I’ve bored my readers already at this point). We drank a glass and a half each of Prosecco to Granny on the way out to the point. When we finally reached the spot where Granny was to be scattered, both Mom and I made our way to the back of the boat. There we both leaned over the railing and took turns dusting the sea.

I think I can rule this out. While we were leaning forward, my memory had considered that perhaps the vibrations of the boat might have shaken the key from my pocket. But honestly, I think that it would have hit the flat back of the boat first, thus producing a clunk. Also, we didn’t start using the motor of the boat until after she was scattered and hugs were spread. We were all sail up until that point.

After the tears and the hugs, it was time to break into the average daily wine, and I think I had maybe two and a half, possibly three glasses of red, myself, while we moored up (is that the right terminology? I’m not a sailor. I suppose we parked the boat in the boat-parking lot on the bay).

Lesson 7: Repeat Lesson 6: Don’t Hop Boats

The launch came for us fairly soon afterward. I hopped boats. Again. What’s more, I hopped from the launch to the jetty, and made my way up the stairs with the large gaps to the Yacht Club.

Now, this is where I lose moments of my life it gets a  little hazy.

We of course had to have another drink to Granny at that time. She had such a great impact on so many people in the Yacht Club, and in the village. There were only a handful of people there, but I knew most of them while Mom knew all of them. Drinks ensued.

Lesson 8: Drink Only If You Don’t Have Your Car Key On You

And more drinks.

And more drinks.

Until finally the Yacht club was closing, the family friend and the rest had all gone home and Mom and I were swaying our way out of the building, through the beach huts in the nice, fine, white sand, across the beach car park, under the chain locking the car park, down the little lane (at which point Mother and I parted), and then down to the pub, where I live.

But of course the adventure never ends there, does it? Thinking that I was being good, strict with myself and emotionless, I threw the funeral-party bag and shoe-box into the giant pub trash bins. That sorts that!

I decided that I had to do my managerial duty and do the stock order for the following day…with my very heavy dose of hick-ups. This means that I went into the pub to retrieve keys, into the ice cream shack, into the storage shed, and repeat (for all those concerned, I did not drink and order. I realized that I couldn’t hold a pen, never mind leave a message with an order for twenty flavors of ice cream, so I gave up and hoped for the best).

Then I retired to my flat.

That’s where my memory ends.

Christmas and I are just not homies (how to gain social acceptability to drink red wine for breakfast)

Generally, I’m a bit of a Scroog when it comes to the holiday season. Being that I’m pagan and surrounded by Christian celebrations was what spurred my distaste for this time of year, though as I got older, I came to accept it as a cultural holiday rather than a religious one. My main issue really was the commerciality of the season and the over saturation of poorly written holiday songs that are played on repeat with horrendous “jazzy” remakes. I don’t want to fall into the pressure of society to spend the very little money I have on gifts for everyone. Thankfully, over the years, I have trained people to know that I probably won’t participate in gift giving, but will gladly spend time with them. I think that it is of importance to show the folks you care about that you care about them all year ’round, not just during the “giving season”. What’s more–charity and good will t’ward men needs to happen year ’round as well. If you want to show you’re a good person, make it who you are, don’t participate in the annual December competition.

But I digress.

This year I wanted to do something small, let the people who do put a stock in Christmas know that I appreciate them. So I decided to make truffles for everyone. I’ve done it in the past. They were easy and delicious. 

Being the hippie I am, I wanted quality chocolate and other ingredients, and I wanted alcohol in them because I’m a grown up and I can. I spent some $45 on ingredients (though this did included spiced rum and red wine). I began this process on Thursday, planning on making a double batch of red wine truffles, and a double batch of rum truffles.  I started with te former, since it requires sitting in the fridge overnight. 

  
When the morning came, the truffle bowl was not firm. In fact, it wanted nothing to do but glop. The truffles were only vaguely formable, at best. 

It took me a while to figure out how to deal with this. I only had enough chocolate for the rum batch. Of course it dawned on me that the rum batch and ye wine batch should merge to make rum wine truffle babies. 

I combined the recipes, making sure to put in less liquid (though still added a full 10 oz of rum). I had to create a make shift double boiler to get the chocolate to melt the second time. After a lot of mess, I got it to melt and mix with the new chocolate, cream and rum. Again, I put it in the fridge over night. 

  
This morning, knowing I was going to have to get all my truffles ready for the farmers market (which I’m not participating in today due to the lies of the weather forecast (when it said it was supposed to sleet, I’m waking up to blue sky)), since the majority of my recipients are there, I woke early to get these damn chocolates ready! 

Don’t be fooled by the above picture. I assure you, the chocolate under the surface is just as gloppy as yesterday.  I attempted to make my truffles, to form them into something recognizable, though again failed.

 
Now what! I had a bowl of 36 ounces of melted chocolate, a carton of double cream, and a ton of booze that wouldn’t form into chocolate balls!  
I was getting the kettle to boil for my tea while I stared at the bastarding mixture when it dawned on me. I threw my truffle balls into the mug and added the hot water.

   

 
And that is how you solve a problem! If it’s a weekend and it’s in hot chocolate, no one is going to get on your case for drinking wine in the morning. 

Thank Goodness for Travel and Amazing People

What a fantastic trip to California, something that I needed so desperately, yet had no idea.

I last left off with the Turrah! to Oregon, after camping at the base of some fantastic sand dunes. The drive through Northern California was fantastic. If any one decides to take a trip to Cali, going up/down the 101 is the way to go.

We paused only to take pictures of the fantastic trees, and of course, to say a quick hello to Paul Bunion and Blue Babe (Who for some reason had a sex-change into Blue Bull Babe.

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It was wet the whole way down. The rain poured as if it were introducing itself for the first time and trying to assert it’s authority. My friend fretted about her breaks in the wet with the steep hills, and I just breathed in the scent of the trees. There is no better smell to me than the smell of trees – which is stronger after or during a rain. 

It took  us ten hours of driving to make it from where we were in Oregon to Windsor, our final destination for the day. It was there that my friend had a condo booked, a three-bedroom pent house, near the pool and most importantly – the hot tubs as well. To exhausted to do anything, we all ate our dinner and retired fairly early. 

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The plan for the following day was to take us to San Francisco, and to check out the Aquarium of the Bay. Both of my sisters live in San Francisco, so I attempted to meet up with one of them before she had to dash off to work. It was just a quick visit, since the drive took us longer than anticipated. My friend and her kids hung out in Alamo Park while I visited with my sister just a block away. It didn’t take too long for the morning to turn cool, and after my sister departed for work, we made our way down to the Warf for food and Aquarium time. 

Unfortunately, for some reason my phone decided that we wanted to go to the lock-your-doors ghetto part of San Francisco opposed to the piers, but after a forty minute learning experience, we found our way, and parked fairly easily at pier 1. It was a little bit of a walk to pier 39, but we didn’t mind. The exercise would be good for all of us. 

Famous Last Words.

It began to rain. Not just rain like it was on the way down, but a full on torrential down pour, soaking us all. At this point we were far enough from the car and close enough to our destination that it wasn’t worth going back. But with the kids beginning to cry because of the wind picking up and the rain seeping through everything, it made the walk double in length.

But the pier remained, and the number of footsteps remained, and we reached pier 39, and quickly dipped into a fish and chip shop for some food to warm us up.

I had a delicious crab and shrimp bread bowl (I don’t know what it is, but they are always so delightful in that you can eat the bowl as well!) and we marveled at the cheek of a pigeon that thought it was appropriate that it sit on one of the tables inside. What’s more, the staff didn’t seem to mind at all. We took it as a lesson as to why we never eat food that’s fallen on the table.

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At last we made it to the Aquarium. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was partially underwater, with those tubes you can walk through and have fish swimming all around you. It was the first time I had experienced anything of t he sort, and was thrilled. I wanted to take more pictures, but my phone was running tragically low on battery.

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The rain began again on our way back. It seemed as though Washington was determined to remind us of where we are fun. But even so, rain is never as bad when you’re watching palm trees and saturated in the energy that is San Francisco. 

 

The next day, we were to meet my other sister in Golden Gate park. Of course, I have been before, though I had mostly been in the handle of it, near Haight. I love that it is just swathed in eucalyptus trees, and that they scent the air on a warm day. I love watching the groups of hula-hoopers, the parents taking their children for a stroll, the students deciding this is their home work spot, and those just cutting through to get to their destination. I simply love it there. 

We went to the Academy of Science. We parked wherever we could, as parking was few and far between, and made our way. I dashed off to find myself a restroom, and with all of us still wearing our soaked shoes from the previous day, the group was fairly slow moving. 

I had run on a head of them, and was fairly certain they hadn’t caught up yet, so I ducked into a little grove of trees, sitting along the low growth branches.

I was not alone.

I heard the pitter before the patter. I spied him fairly quickly though, this curious and uncertain little squirrel. He twitched his tail nervously at me, would dash closer to me before running away, would run up a near by tree to see if I’d take the bate to chase him before scrambling down again and to a closer branch. I could hear his little claws scratching up the bark. I smiled, not moving otherwise, to show him that I was not after him. I remembered the plain almonds in my backpack, and decided I would much rather enjoy my snack making a friend.

I tossed him a few almonds, and watched him nibble on them, and eye the next one lest it grow legs and run away. 

I spent longer in the grove than intended, and my friends beat me to the Academy of Science.

Thursday was out last day in California, and had decided it would be a relaxing day for us at the condo. My friend has an autoimmune disability which causes her to exhaust easily, so she needed the chill time. My sister, on the other hand, decided to take a day off from work and come up with my brother-in-law and hang out. 

They took me wine tasting, which was quite appropriate as we were in Wine Country. I had never been wine tasting before at a vineyard, and I was thrilled. I truly enjoyed it. They were all so beautiful, and while we only went to two, it was enough for me to know I wanted to see many more. 

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Wine has always been an interest of mine, even though it took me a while to develop a taste for it. I still don’t have an educated pallet, but I certainly want to change that. I’ve always wanted to go wine tasting with my sisters, especially since my oldest one is an expert. I envied the gentlemen that hosted the wine tasting, knowing that their job was to know, see, taste and talk about wine to a great many people, to go to conventions about grapes, to understand the elements of soils, and in some cases, getting to look out over the spectacular views over which the winery perched. A romantic job, in so many ways!

The drive home was long – we left at noon on Friday and arrived at 4:30 in the morning. I was exhausted, but so grateful for the amazing experience.

I live to travel. I have always loved traveling and getting away from the every day of everything. I need to be able to get away, experience something that is not the norm. This is why I make myself get on planes, even though they terrify me, this is why I got credit cards, even though I really should not be allowed to look at them. I think traveling helps a person to grow, allows a person to gain insight to the world that those that stick close to home lose out on.  I think it closes the gap of separation between nations, states and cities, and is important in teaching compassion, in an odd, roundabout sort of way. 

Nothing is as spectacular in pictures as it is in real life. You can learn about the redwood forests, you can know about the grand canyon, you can hear about the clear waters of Mexico, or the speckled hills of the UK, but you never truly understand why it is so amazing until you are there to witness it for yourself.

 

 

Fermented Friday – Washington Wine

I learned something the other day while in Spokane.

Our friend that drove us had some other friends that invited our crew to breakfast. We had an amazing breakfast with home-made cinnamon swirl bread that was turned into french toast, infused maple syrup with vanilla and star anise and cinnamon sticks, rum-soaked apple slices, organic eggs with goats cheese, shallots and herbs. It was beautiful!

After, our hostess took us downstairs to show us the wine cellar. I had never been in a proper wine cellar and I was just tickled pink! They were all labeled with tags off the neck and arranged by year and location. Most were from local wineries.

Our hostess began telling us about how California had a bad year and France was having troubles too, so Washington Wine is where it’s at for the next couple of years.

I of course had to make the crack – “Washington – Good Wine, Good Pot!”

However, the truth is, for 2013, Washington set the record as far as their harvest goes, with 210,000 TONS of grapes for wine.

I also learned that Cab Sav is our top wine as well, which is perfect, since that’s my preference.

Wine from Walla Walla was even featured at the White house in February, enjoyed by the president himself! It was a 2009 Chester-Kidder red blend, which is half cabernet sauvignon blended with syrah as well as petit verdot, all of which grown in the Columbia Valley.

Washington has over 43,000 acres for wine grapes, and produces over 350 different wine varieties with at least 750 wineries. It brings in half a million dollars annually to the state, and is the third most valuable crop in Washington, and ranks as the second premium wine producer. Find out more Washington Wine Statistics Here.

Seems I’ll have to be sampling these wines, seeing what flavorful journeys I’m taken one with our local delicacies.