Packing for the Grand Tour

8 03 2007

What I learned from our three-week trip to Europe two years ago: Pack Light. My sister said to me, before we left, “Why are you packing clothes? You’re going to Paris! Buy them!!” It was good advice that we did not heed, and ended up dragging a monster suitcase plus other assorted bags all around Europe. We actually mailed some of stuff home (postage: 50 euros). So, having learned our lesson, we are packing light for the Grand Tour. In keeping with the raison d’être of the Grand Tourist (“…studious observer traveling through foreign lands reporting their findings on human nature for those less fortunate who stayed at home…”), our main items will be instruments of reportage: a solar-powered laptop, multiple digital cameras and video camera, film cameras, journals with blank pages to fill, pens, pencils, brushes, watercolors and drawing pads. Our solar-powered GPS system that links to the laptop, for showing (and knowing) exactly where we are. One of those tiny tape recorders and the little cassettes that go with them. Converters, adapters and battery chargers. A corkscrew. Swiss Army knife. Tins of smoked oysters and clams. Change of shoes. Soap.


Takin’ me on a journey – an’ me an’ me an’ me.

10 12 2006

Where’m I goin’ to go that would require a full suitcase made of leather wid a handle at the top an’ wheels so I can push it? De-sign-er luggage – don’ think I’ll buy me any of that nonsense, no siree, don’ know me any famous designers so their luggage just goin’ t’ ‘av t’ sit there on them shelves collectin’ dust  – or bein’ wiped on account of them famous designers not likin’ dust on their fancy leather. Don’ want t’ take big, heavy cases an’ drag ’em all roun’ Europe – or even the whole wide world. Ain’t thought too much where this tour begin an’ end an’ I don’ wanna read me where you may be settin’ out them rules and regs. – wan’ me t’ be foot loose n’ fancy free – I take my chances on survivin’ with or without a mess of travel irons an’ linen han’kerchiefs. I’m thinkin’ bes’ thing I can do is travel light, live on jus’ my wit, imagination n’ perhaps a little thievin’. Am also thinkin’ jus’ might not be me on this long, long journey roun’ where ever I up n’ decide to take mysel’ – nex’ time I writes a thing there has t’be a chance I be someone entirely diffren’ – who’s to know? So…. what’s I packin’?

I’s takin’ me a carpet bag, a battered, old, rugged carpet bag. No need t’ worry when it gets thrown about, no screamin’ angry if it takes a kick or two or some clumsy fancy dan spills brown roast coffee an’ red wine all over it. I likes me weathered things – they’s had a life. Soooo… I’s takin’ my ol’ poncho for the cold an’ a straw hat for the sun: I’s takin’ me a silver flask fo’ water n’ sometime whiskey: I’s takin’ me a heap o’ nuts, dried fruit, a sharp knife an’ one book that surely be as ol’ as me – I’s hopin’ on them long days I larns t’read. Now wouldn’ that be somethin’ I’s be proud t’ tell when I gets back? Why tha’  ol’ carpet bag will maybe’s be chock full o’ words when I next sees them folk al’ known t’ me… an’ me… an’ me…..



10 12 2006

 by Anita Marie Moscoso     


Here I am, getting ready to start another writing project and getting ready to once again pray that the target I’m trying to hit is as big as the side of an Ocean Liner because I can promise you that no matter how clear and concise the instructions are for this “ Writing Journey” I’ll botch it up.

Like I did this writing exercise at the Soul Food Café where I was suppose to write about bottled emotions and to my credit I did write about bottles  (so far so good) that were in a Curio shop.

 Of courseinside of the bottles were tumors and three headed cats and I think a baby alligator with a human face. (

What…you wouldn’t have some feeling about seeing that?

Myself, I love that kind of thing. Other people…well, you know most people have delicate sensibilities and wouldn’t like seeing organs on display for fun and profit.

But you’d feel something.

Wouldn’t you?

Oh, and this other time we were suppose to write about taking a journey with a Ferry Woman and learning some kind of truth or wisdom on the trip and I wrote about a woman who killed her husband because of the way he buttered his toast.

I justified that one by writing my friend into the beginning of the story (she really does work on a ferry boat). So I thought, “hey it works”.

So before you write me off as a total brain dead idiot I want to assure you I did learn something on that particular ‘journey’. I learned on that ‘journey’ that a lot of people are into the twisted and macabre and that as lame and cliché as ” Datura ” might read it’s one of the most popular on my blog so there!

Now, back to the project at hand; as I pack my ‘bags’ for my “Journey” I’m going into it stress free. In real life I will only travel if I can do it with a smile on my lips…I see no reason to change horses midstream and start this journey with a bag full of worries.

I won’t be hearing myself say, “ what if I’m not good enough to write?” (Ha, ask me if I care about that. I happen to READ A LOT and I’m here to tell you that hasn’t stopped about a gazillion books and articles in magazines from being published on any given day of the month)

And I’m determined to be myself; I’m going to write any story that is dumb enough to wander into the black abyss that is my imagination. I’m like one of those predatory animals that weeds out the sick and old and anything not strong enough to run to save it’s own life.

If I can catch it, dude…it’s all mine.

I know my stories are very odd and they are most definitely weird and some of my nearest and dearest  have this look on their faces when they visit me and I know just KNOW they’ve read something I’ve written.

I don’t care because when I write I happen to have a very good time.

I laugh at the gross parts, the bad parts, the titles…you name it. I laugh when I write because I happen to enjoy what I’m doing. I also happen to take what I do very seriously.

Yes, I can hear it now ” sure you do Anita, sure you take writing seriously” Well, it’s true…so there.

There it is in all it’s glory…my travel list.

So I’m set.

What am I taking with me on this journey? What am I packing?

A sense of humor, that’s what I’m packing…and now here’s the ‘note’ I’m leaving on my door.

In the words of the magnificent Ruth Brown:














I’m packing…

5 12 2006

From the vast expanse of my prairie world lying cold and dormant under a sun which has slid far south. Shortened days give way to lengthened nights where people huddle indoors in heated rooms or beside hearths filled with flames. Wrapped in a quilt, I prepare for my journey.

In my traveling case I will put

a favorite hairbrush for the strokes that begin and end each day with the calming movement of hand and arm drawn over long tresses
a flannel nightgown
silk shirts and woolen pants and skirts
a hat
books, journal, a favorite pen
tea of many kinds: green for health; chamomile, mint, lemon, cinnamon spice for soothing companionship that suits time and mood
bits of fabric, trims, thread, needle, scissors to create a reflection of sights and insights

I’m sure I’ll think of more items as I mull this and plot my travel itinerary.


Day One – what’s a girl to pack?

5 12 2006

My Main Bag

Not just any bag will do – but a Doctor’s bag. Though, to be honest, it didn’t belong to a doctor, but a policeman. My great-grandfather, who was an agressive, abrupt R.C.M.P officer in the Prairies during most of the 20th century. He had entirely too much ego. But I should not speak ill of the dead.

On to better things. What’s a girl to pack?

1) pencils and a sketchbook.
2) a leather bound notebook, with ink and pen.
3) tea – ye Gods yes, must have tea. Early Grey, green, peppermint.
4) a very big hat, beige.
5) several books on GnosticismNotebook
6) salt, sugar and spices.
7) clothing – a decent dress, some (gasp!) pants, blouses, sweaters, socks, stockings, a very warm coat, leather gloves, etc.
8) my blessed camera
9) sunglasses and sunscreen
10) a little ginger tincture for motion sickness
11) vitamins
12) a travel pillow, and travel towel
13) a mosquito net (“if you don’t believe in the power of one individual, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito”)
14) passport and money
15) Swiss Army knife (with cork screw, of course)
16) compass and pocketwatch
17) waterbottle and travel cutlery
18) personal padlock (combination style)
19) cotton hankies
20) make-up and facial/toiletry needs
21) my Tarot cards

Beige bagNow, luggage labels were suggested. While I certainly love the look of them, and do collect them, for fun, I rarely use them – and never on my prized “hand-me-down” luggage from my great-grandparents. I will include some of these fun labels soon. I have stamps too.

Oh, and you must see this quaint “box” for my toiletries – to think, my great-grandmother used this for her many journeys…
I’m almost ready to head out. I must include a photo though, of what I have to face once I leave my front door. Brr! Must I really battle through this unexpected barrage of snow and ice just to make it out of the city?
snowy yard

until day 2,
the already weary WiccanGal

Preparing for the Big Day

5 12 2006

As a young woman I travelled with my parents nearly every year at Christmas. For six months we’d relive the excitement and fun of the previous trip but by the time summer arrived, waiting for the winter cruise listings became almost unbearable. So, one fine Sunday, usually at my mother’s suggestion, we’d get in the car, buy a box of donuts at a local shop, and head to Hoboken to see if any ships were berthed at the Holland America pier.

Sometimes we were lucky, the Nieuw Amsterdam, Rotterdam, or Statendam would be tied up and we’d watch as provisions were loaded, handsome Dutch officers hung over the rails or bounded down the gangways, and the ship swayed gently at the rising tide. Sailings were usually on Saturdays, so we rarely saw the ships leave. One time we arrived shortly before dusk and were treated to a beautiful sight. Sitting in the car, we watched as the sun set and lights began to twinkle on the Nieuw Amsterdam. “She’s as beautiful as a Christmas tree,” someone said and, at that moment, we knew that no matter what her itinerary, we’d be sailing on her for the holidays.

If the piers were deserted we’d drive over to the dry dock area to munch our donuts and gaze at rusty old freighters. It was a poor substitute, but just the sound of waves smacking the pilings and the smell of river water would conjure up images of foreign ports and exotic locales. We’d spend most of the time sitting in silence, each lost in a private daydream.

By mid-August or early September, Cruise Lines began to advertise their winter schedules. Again, Sunday was our day and we’d pour over the NY Times travel section searching for a trip we could afford, with just the right number of days, and ports that would set our hearts pounding, at first in the Carribean and later in South America and Europe.

There was also a little yellow book that could be gotten from a travel agency. What a precious thing it was! Every cruise on every line was listed along with days of departure and return, ports, and minimum to maximum prices. Whichever system we used, the next step was to call either the travel agent or the cruise line direct to get brochures and deck plans. By the time we chose our trip these would be limp from unfolding and refolding.

So many decisions! Excitement built as we discussed and researched the different ports of call. Staterooms were color coded for price. Could we afford the red or blue? Port hole or window? Although the roll of the ship was felt less on lower decks and midship, because of my walking disability, we chose high up–Sundeck or Prom–and toward the stern for easier access to the outside decks. Then, hold that room! send in a deposit!

If possible, we made arrangements to visit “our” ship on a sailing day. We’d catch our breath at the beauty of the public rooms, peek into the dining room, and wonder who the lucky people were sailing in our cabin. The sound of chimes and a loud speaker announcement informed visitors it was time to go, but we lingered until the urgency of the final call and the sound of the ship’s horn vibrated the soles of our feet. Standing on the dock as the ship departed, we’d wave farewell and shout “Bon Voyage,” knowing our turn would soon come.

Did I say soon? How was it possible for three months to drag by so slowly? A few weeks before the sailing date tickets arrived in the mail and (be still my heart) baggage tags! Now it became real and a sudden panic would grip us. Our business demanded we work until the very last minute, but cruise wear had to be looked for in closets or purchased, (a long bamboo pole spanned the living room from one door jamb to the other to hold carefully ironed dresses). Matching jewelry had to be cleaned, shoes polished. Appointments for haircuts and permanents had to be made and kept. For some odd reason, my mother always felt compelled to leave the house spotless. Dad cleaned the garage. What was all that about? Maybe because he needed to unearth a ladder to get the luggage down from the attic.

Suitcases were open in every room of the house. Our two cats, Little Guy and Barry, padded from one to the other searching for a comfy bed only to be dumped and shooed to make room for bathing suits and shorts, underwear, and pajamas. Last of all, the cocktail dresses and evening shirts went in and the cases were closed and locked, tags attached. Where was I? Tidying up the last of the work–I loathed packing.

The night before I barely slept. Sailing day came and all of us were dead tired, convinced we’d forgotten something vital. Finally, bathed, dressed, shod, perfumed, coiffed, gloved and coated, we locked the door behind us (after checking that the gas was off–how many times?) and got into the car for the trip to manhattan. Half-way through the Lincoln Tunnel I’d spot the sign that says New Jersey/New York and Mom would ask Dad if he had the tickets. He always did.

Waiting to Depart…

4 12 2006


My travelling companion looks trim and elegant as she waits on the Queensland shore before our departure on the Grand Tour.

Why did I choose Edith Wharton as a companion – why did she choose me? I have long loved her books, and I was enchanted to learn that she wrote in bed until noon, tossing the sheets of paper on the floor as she finished each page.
She was not a woman of her time, but a woman who lived in her own time – here is a sample of her writing:

“You have hit upon the exact word; I was fond of him, yes, just as I was fond of my grandmother, and the house that I was born in, and my old nurse. Oh, I was fond of him, and we were counted a very happy couple. But I have sometimes thought that a woman’s nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing- room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.”

“And your husband,” asked the Spirit, after a pause, “never got beyond the family sitting-room?”

“Never,” she returned, impatiently; “and the worst of it was that he was quite content to remain there. He thought it perfectly beautiful, and sometimes, when he was admiring its commonplace furniture, insignificant as the chairs and tables of a hotel parlor, I felt like crying out to him: ‘Fool, will you never guess that close at hand are rooms full of treasures and wonders, such as the eye of man hath not seen, rooms that no step has crossed, but that might be yours to live in, could you but find the handle of the door?'”

Who would not want to travel with this woman? And why does she want to travel with me? I don’t know, she just smiles and says that the time is ripe for adventure, and leaping into the unknown off the Queensland coast seems like a great adventure.
We have discussed the places we want to visit – New Zealand, Tahiti, Egypt, Peru, Italy and Spain. Perhaps not in that order, and perhaps we will actually wander off our plan when other places of interest show themselves. We have a globe of the world, and we will will spin it to see where we go. For what is an adventure if there is no mystery, no chance?
So I hand her the globe and with one white, elegant hand, she spins…