Thursday, June 30, 2005

A woman's right to choose

I feel, as a woman, I have a basic right to choose. My own fruits and vegetables that is. (What? Did you think I was going all political on you?) Here's the way it works in Kosovo: customer approaches produce stand; customer makes half-English/half-Albanian request for produce, with a lot of pointing and holding-up-of-fingers; customer negotiates tricky territory of quantity, as the amount here typically refers to kilos, not pieces; produce vendor or shop clerk then picks for you. It totally eliminates the "squeeze-and-smell" method of personal choice that we use in the USA and as a result you have zero quality control. Your tomatoes could be rock hard, potatoes green with age, fruit moldy...and you'd never know it until you got home. A small gripe, yes, because when you get good stuff it is REALLY good in a way that the mass-transported, irradiated and chemically-grown produce back home can't even approach. But I'm hesitant to hoof that 10 kilo watermelon home without truly knowing if it is ripe, sweet and juicy.

We're in the home stretch here. There's a lot to do...organize, pack, get ready to leave. We're thinking about having a goodbye party combined with a party for D's third birthday, which is next week. We might try to get a bunch of friends together at a restaurant or maybe have a BYOB party on the patio here at the apartment. I've finally figured out how to give people directions here. It would be something like: take the main road up past NCSC, at the big intersection in front of the Ardi Mart go right, then a quick jog left by the store with the chandeliers, then straight up the hill, past the egg store. Go left at Mercy Corps, then make your first right. We're the second building on the right, white, four-stories, next to the abandoned, bombed-out brick house. Third floor on the left. Give us a call, we'll buzz you up.

Sunday we leave for six days in Budapest, Hungary. I'm really looking forward to it, not the least because we're staying at the Four Seasons and I know we'll be pampered beyond our wildest dreams. They've already contacted me asking if D has any dietary preferences (yeah, grilled sardines and plain pasta please) and asking if we need help making any reservations or arrangements. This is the customer service you get BEFORE you arrive. Yowza!

For those readers wondering how the knitting club went...not good. I did learn to knit while we were in Pittsburgh, but my fingers have forgotten how. Plus I had to use these giant wooden needles as long as my arm and apparently the part of my brain that controls hand coordination is decayed. It was a mess. I did have a very helpful "instructor" - a German woman who was in Iran before coming here with her husband. She tried hard and had a great sense of humor. Knitting is a year-round activity here, but is really taken seriously in winter.

D just came out in her "Wedding Outfit" - green skort, purple tee-shirt and hot pink plastic flip-flops. Apparently I'm officiating at a Care Bear Wedding before lunch. Wish Bear and Proud Heart Cat are the lucky couple, although Good Luck Bear usually gets to join in.

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