I have been hearing about these grocery boxes forever. I’ve always been intrigued but never ordered one since I like grocery shopping and have little interest in spending so much money for food that I could make for less at home. My aunt sent me a code for a free Hello Fresh box, and since it was free, I said, mk, and had one shipped out. There was a vegetarian option so I was delighted though hardly expectant of anything wonderful. A week later a large box arrived containing three paper bags loaded up with ingredients and a massive block of ice. I was impressed by the presentation, but still wasn’t sure that the food would be very exciting. Well, color me wrong, everything was good. Even the meals that I thought I wouldn’t care for were wonderful. The first one was a cheese ravioli on a bed of onion and mushrooms. It was very nice but hardly thrilling. The second meal was a shockingly delightful arugula salad with crispy artichokes and potatoes. It had green olives on top, and I thought that I hated green olives…and I still do, but on top of this meal they were quite at treat. I gorged myself silly on this. The last meal was saved for last because I was far from excited about it. It contained cauliflower and sweet potatoes. I don’t care much for either of these, so I was meh about the concept, but I should have had more faith in it. The vegetables were roasted with Persian spices and an onion and then tossed with a bunch of quinoa. Reader, it was phenomenal. I can’t wait to get home and eat my leftovers. So, I’m a total convert, and if I had the funds to do so, I would get a weekly delivery. It costs sixty dollars per week, and though that’s more than twice of what I spend on groceries currently, I might budget for it. It’d be rather wonderful to have meals each night that I wouldn’t make otherwise. And it’s rather nice to only have to stock up on essentials like olive oil and red wine and cheddar cheese and nothing else. And truly, every one of the recipes was hearty and satisfying and I learned to like things that I never knew I cared for. I’m completely impressed.
As I’m sure I’ve told you all before, at the end of the academic year, I get a bit mental. I don’t know why it is or why it has to happen to me, but it does. I get annoyed at every little thing. I don’t want to do anything that I’m supposed to do. Everything that once filled me with joy fills me with nothing. I don’t want to see anybody. I want complete silence and isolation. I don’t want to be spoken to. I don’t want to be looked at. I don’t want to be asked for anything. This happens at this time of the year like clockwork. I think of becoming a Romanian hay farmer with growing intensity. I can’t quite hop off to the Carpathian mountains in Transylvania at the moment, though, but I had to get away. So, instead of doing what I should have done this Saturday, I had to flee. I drove myself to Des Moines to the Art Center. It was much needed. It was wonderful to slowly wander through the galleries and look at the paintings I’ve seen dozens of times. It was wonderfully calming to just look at brushstrokes and sculptures and try to discern artist’s signatures. There was a temporary exhibition of preparatory sketches, and I thought they were just the most fabulous things I’ve seen in a while. It was wonderful to see how the artists collect their thoughts on paper. Every time I go to art museums, I want to learn how to paint. I would like to work with oil pastels or watercolor, but I never do it. I think that perhaps with practice I could do it. That’s what talent is, after all, somebody once told me, pursued effort. Few people are born with a true gift, it takes practice. I haven’t practiced at all. After a lovely stroll, I could feel the tension in my chest go down and I no longer felt like I was on the verge of a stress induced heart attack. The museum closed, so I went down to the Rose Garden and smiled at a few of the blooms. The weather was nicer than I had expected, almost warm and sunny, so I took myself down Grand Avenue to look at the big and beautiful houses. On a whim I turned down another street and was gobsmacked at the diversity of architectural styles. One had a massive fountain in the front yard and a coat of arms in the entryway. I wanted to immediately be made the lady of the manor. It was nice to see buildings that weren’t hideously mass produced and overdone. I decided that I should treat myself further, so I drove to the mall and sat down at the Wine Experience. This is an oasis for me in Des Moines. It’s rarely very busy and it’s always beloved by the people who love it. There are all sorts of wines to sip on and all of the food is utterly fabulous. I’ve never had a bad meal there. That night, I brought my iPad and typed away my Egyptian narratives while I sipped on delicious Côte de Rhônes wine and a tray of goat cheese. I had the time of my life and then I left and went back to reality. It was annoying to return, but I felt so much more like myself. I need time alone. I need to do this more often; it’s such a treat.
My house has taken a lot of work to not be hideous. The room that I chose for a gym used to be painted in a lurid green and covered with purple carpet. It was a fright. I spent weeks tearing out the carpet, pulling up the staples, refinishing the floor, priming and painting the walls, scraping the popcorn texture off the ceiling, filling in a number of cracks, caulking the windows, and then replacing a bit of the electrical work. It was exhausting. But it was absolutely worth it to have a room with nice hardwood floors, Sharkey Grey walls, and new switch plates. I put in a treadmill and some weights and some other things in the hopes of becoming a lover of fitness. I never did. The treadmill broke, so I threw it out and turned the room into a temporary office. Recently I finally decided to make it a permanent office, so I did some reorganization. I took out all the junk that I thought I’d need at some point and threw it away. That was a great help. I brought in new plants. I stocked the shelves on my IKEA island with Egyptological books. I installed a giant monitor and a speedy printer. I’ve had intentions of this for months, but I finally got around to putting the finishing touches on it this weekend. On a big blank wall, I wanted to have a large print made of one of my Egyptian pictures. I have been doing my best to live off cash only lately, so I decided that I could simply repurpose things that I already had. So, I found an atlas from the early sixties that I had pulled out of a dumpster years ago. I sliced out maps of the places that were important to me like Africa and California and Mexico. I affixed these to the walls with straight nails and then interspersed these images with pictures I had printed years ago from my grandmother’s life in the south of France. Now, the wall is endlessly interesting and filled with the loveliest features. I’m very proud of it. I feel as if it’s inspirational to be there now. When I’m trying to think of my travels, write on my blog, or craft a novel, my eye can wander to a map of the Congo and in a reverie, inspiration will return.
Cosmo’s Trip to Paris:
Supermodel of the world and spiritual icon, RuPaul, has a wonderful euphemism for dying. When somebody passes away, he says that they went to Paris. For me, this is an utterly beautiful way of expressing something rather tragic. Paris is a marvelous locale, so saying that a person has gone there is perfection. I will most likely not be using this saying myself since I go to Paris with blessed frequency. I don’t want to confuse people. But, I would like to pull a Tom Sawyer and witness my own funeral. The plans for the ceremonies and the exact specifications of my urn are already available here, so I don’t anticipate you all defying me. It’d be beyond interesting to hear the weeping and the speeches and the outfits my mourners choose to wear. But this isn’t about my fake death and funeral. You see, dear reader, my home was home to a somewhat infamous mouse named Cosmo. He was a gorgeous light brown, and whenever I told people about him they told me that there was no such thing as a light brown mouse. Of course they’re wrong. Mice come in a variety of shades, but some people are infuriatingly insistent on being right even when they aren’t. Cosmo was adorable. Sometimes I’d wake up and he’d be sitting on the floor, minding his own business. The cats chased him gleefully, and Cosmo gleefully ran from them. I’ve seen them all sitting together on a number of occasions. It was almost unsettling. Cosmo was a rodent, so I decided he needed to be out of the house, but he defied all attempts to be caught. I set out innumerable traps, but he was never tricked. His cunning was adorable and I finally just accepted him as a member of the household. Catching a glimpse of him was always a treat, and I quite cherished each encounter we had. Cosmo’s majestic appearances stopped one day, so I assumed he made his way outside and was enjoying the warm weather. Unfortunately this wasn’t true. While cleaning the basement, I came across his body. He hadn’t been dead long, but he was assuredly in Paris. I have buried Cosmo’s precious little body now. He may no longer curiously appear in the house, but he will never leave my heart.
BY THE WAY: Summer break has started so this blog series will be on hiatus until August. In the meantime, I will be posting the remainder of my travel stories from 2016, any bizarre adventures I have in Iowa — think monasteries and caves — and then regular updates from my travels to California and Mexico City. I’m so excited!