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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Of Playclothes, Bugspray, and Backpacks

You already know, I’m playclothes-challenged.  To solve that problem, I picked up a couple of bright-colored tennis skirts to supplement the regular black track pants and black hoodie that I would normally wear for any type of sports in weather ranging from 18 to 81 degrees.

This attire can backfire.  When I was paired with an older gentleman for mixed doubles, he repeatedly referred to me as “My partner here, Johnny Cash.”

What can I say?

Now that Petya and I are embarking upon our archaeological field schools, I discover that we need all sorts of clothes that I have not ever possessed, or owned so long ago to make them about three sizes too small.  I know there’s a pair of jeans somewhere around here, but with the low-cut, hip-hugger styles prevalent, that simply means I’ll have to watch how I bend over, giving rise to a whole side-stepping, dip-and-rise movement that could appear strange when in the field….

Naturally, we’ve chosen this week to get started, when Tropical Storm Alberto is set to sweep the East Coast of the U.S.  So add to my concerns:  deep mud, driving rain, and high winds.

“Dress for the weather,” one field director e-mailed.  “Wear something that you don’t mind getting dirty inside or out.”

Not having the gift of interpretation, I had no idea what this might mean.  My list of potential attire was lengthening:  jeans, army pants, cargo pants or khakis;  long-sleeved shirts or polos to fight off the mosquitos and ticks; hiking boots and sturdy socks; sun hat; rain poncho; work gloves with leather palms; a bandana?

A girlfriend suggested “Bounce” the dryer sheets that everyone took with them on the golf course to repel mosquitoes, or “Skin So Soft” that was also said to do the same.  Reading some online reviews, I wasn’t so sure that these would get the job done, when the job did not involve copious amounts of drinking and doing wheelies in golf carts on well-manicured greens.  We were talking wilderness, woods, and wickedly-hot and humid conditions.

“Deep Woods Off, 40% Deet,” I read, wondering if my son and I would mutate by using too much of the stuff.

I threw a can, along with some heavy-duty sports sunscreen into my shopping cart, knowing perfectly well that bug spray destroyed the efficacy of the sunscreen and vice-versa.  My plan included slathering on the sunscreen, and then giving the entire body a misting of Eau de Repellent, not enough to break down the sun protectant, but enough to put the skeeters on notice:  Don’t Mess With Me.

There were other issues that arose when we were addressing the reality of hard work under the hot sun.  We needed to bring lunches.  While I could construct a very nice lunch for my children attending various, day-long activities, I had no idea what to pack for myself.  I was tempted to throw an apple in my bag and call it a day.  I wasn’t really a panini person, unless in Italy where panini and pasta were your two basic foodgroups.  Maybe some crudites and hummus dip?  I wondered if we would be graded on our lunches, or judged according to our dietary habits?  Were we expected to “share”?

Perhaps I could rediscover my inner child with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

So not moi.  This was becoming stressful.

Which brought us to bags.  There was a lot of stuff to haul:  usual purse paraphernalia like wallet, keys, lipstick, powder, calendar, pens, phone; lunch which might necessitate a plastic groundcloth, mini-cooler, and water bottles; disinfectant handiwipes; camera; hat, sunscreen, bugspray; field notebooks and logbook in plastic bags; toolkit.

As newbies, we really didn’t need to bring an entire archaeologist’s toolkit, but… you know us.  Rather than purchase an entire professional toolkit to the tune of almost $200 each, Benedetto, who was a real archaeologist long ago when we met in the mountains of the Middle East, gifted us with his own grab bag of goodies from the hardware store.

Tool holder (a holster-like thing that could be hooked onto my nonexistent belt), 3 paintbrushes, one trowel, measuring tape, level & string, plumb bob, and leather work gloves, all added up to about $35 or $40 each.  Not bad.

But where to fit it all?  Even my refrigerator-sized purse won’t hold it.  I check into a fuchsia backpack that’s been sitting in a closet for almost a decade.  Possible.  We pull out an Israeli Army backpack for Petya and then think better of sporting Hebrew lettering while heading into the remote and wild woods which may be hiding terrorist training camps….  Better add binoculars to the list.

We locate an Old Navy backpack in another closet that I got for Benedetto years ago, that he’s probably never used, and which looks perfect.   Petya delightedly snaps it up.

“Etah moy rook’sack?”  (It’s my backpack?) he asks.

“Pah-chech-moo’ nyet?”  (Why not?)

I think we’re ready.  Pray that we don’t destroy any priceless artifacts on our first week in the field.




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