Ok, y'all, I was gone and then I returned and now I'm sort of gone again, but I had to check in, not least to tell you a funny tale.
Last Friday morning, before the sun was up, I flew to Louisiana for a quick visit. My sister, who as you probably know lives in Italy, had been in the Dominican Republic with her Italian family for a vacation. When they returned to Florence, she and her children (my nephew, Leone, and new niece, Virginia) flew to Louisiana to see my parents. I just had to take advantage of our being in the same country to see Elia and Leone and meet Virginia.
Virginia and Leone have the same birthday. She is four months old and he's that plus three years. I'd not seen Leone or Elia since last August, so really, being home was such a treat in so many ways. Not least because there was no snow in Louisiana nor any fumes from floors being refinished. And because crawfish season is terrific and fun.
Naturally, because there was a new baby, we had many visitors over the weekend. One, Mom's dear friend Susan, has known my boys for years now. She is well aware that he is fairly obsessed with what some might call junk but which he calls treasure. And because she runs a museum and the warehouse next door, she has been able to indulge Oliver's treasure-hunting desire by letting him putter around inside the cavernous store.
Susan came bearing gifts, including a few from the warehouse. One was as perfect as they come: a disembodied mannequin hand missing the top knuckle from its middle finger. Susan thought she'd found the missing piece and so into the box threw that digit. However, that turned out to be a lady's finger with a pink-painted nail, no match for the thick masculinity of the hand.
Everyone in the room about fell out, and I could not wait to bestow these gems upon Oliver. I packed them carefully in a box and nestled that inside my carry-on, sort of forgetting that the Lake Charles Regional Airport is quite possibly the most stringent, nit-picky, rule-following airport in all the world.
This morning as Mom and Elia watched me attempt to go through security, they were first surprised when I was told to step aside for a pat down because the back of my skull showed up in suspicious code-yellow on the security monitor. I wasn't even wearing a ponytail.
While I waited for a female agent to administer my head search, my carry-on bag set off the x-ray alert as it passed through the scanning tunnel.
"Ma'am, we need to search your bag."
"No problem," I replied, thinking that the hand probably looked a little weird on the scanner.
"Do you have anything fragile or sharp in here?"
"Well, I do have a St. Patrick's Day-themed Garden Gnome for my son who both happens to love gnomes and trolls and was born on St. Patrick's Day. His hat is sharp, and he's breakable." It also happens that the leprechaun gnome is puking a rainbow into a pot of gold which is obviously one of the reasons I bought it for Oliver.
"I also have, and this is going to sound weird, a hand in a box and a loose finger too. It's from a mannequin. My son likes weird things."
THANK GOD this occurred in Louisiana, y'all, because had I been, say, in Iowa, I am just not sure this all would have gone over as well.
Comments from the TSA agents (who, by the way, had felt my head and declared me safe) during the good ten minutes all this took:
"Well, I'll be. Look at this hand."
"If you need a hand, you don't need to look far."
"Can I give you a hand?"
"Give yourselves a hand for finding this!"
Meanwhile, Mom and Elia are on the other side of the glass, and we are all texting back and forth furiously and trying not to literally fall on the floor or be too obvious about the hysterics we were in.
"Ma'am, I'm going to let you pack these items back up," one agent said, and as I found out later, before I approached the examination bench to repackage the barfing gnome, severed hand, and dissonantly delicate but also severed finger, Mom snapped this photo.
I was, not surprisingly, the last to board the plane. And we have all been laughing all day. Oliver, needless to say, is thrilled with his treasures. I'm just glad they all made it home safely.
We are finally in the homestretch with the renovation. Due to my ordering knobs but only finding out they are backordered UNTIL JUNE when I called to ask why they'd not yet shipped (the customer service rep said, "Would you like me to check our stores for you to see if they can fulfill your order?" Um, YES! Then she said, "I'm so glad you checked." And I am still thinking "Wasn't it your job to let me know of said backorder?" but whatever), I only have twelve of the fifteen I need but should be made whole soon.
All the painting is done, the backsplash is nearly complete, all but one light is in, the appliances work, and the floors are looking great.
The kids and I moved into a friend's house tonight (T home in our basement with Nutmeg) as we cannot access our bedrooms this week because of the refinishing and will move home on Saturday, just in time for Oliver's birthday.
For now I'm off to bed. Sleep well, friends.