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This blog post has two three five a whole mess of points followed by an invitation. First and foremost is this Cautionary Warning:

WARNING: If your roommate brings home a cute graduate student because he didn’t have anywhere else to go for Thanksgiving dinner—esp if he’s tall with curly dark hair and blue eyes—and you feed him turkey and homemade apple pie, you might never get rid of him. Just saying…

Did I listen? Of course not. 40+ years later, the curly dark hair is a fond memory, but those eyes are still very blue, and still persuading it’s the academic gypsy life for me. We’ve lived in six states and in five different countries. So I have nobody but myself to blame when he said he’d been offered a job in Italy for the upcoming year.

Me: “Pandemic!”

Him: “Italy is doing lots better than the UK. Right now, anyway.”

Me: “Death!”

Him: “Gelato!”

Me: “I’ll start packing.”

We’ve been in Italy for a little over a week. I’ve eaten gelato. We’ve driven on the roads. I’ve thrown up gelato.

[Digression #1: Actually, today we deliberately stepped into that circle of hell Dante never mentioned that is Italian bureaucracy. The Hub needs an Italian bank account to get paid. To get that, we need permission to remain. To get that, we need a local phone number. To get a local phone SIM, we need the codice fiscale (taxpayer ID). To get the codice fiscale, we need (wait for it) permission to remain.

US: “What about that visa we each forked over £300 for?”

ITALY: “Oh, that. It was just to get you into the country. Now you have to spend so so much more to stay here. Not to mention all the visits to various Italian officials where you will wait in Italian lines. As one does.”

At the end of a day of line-waiting, number-taking, and general government bureaucracy hell-experiencing, we asked when we could expect the certification. Turns out it takes so long most people leave before they ever get it. Instead, you use your much-stamped payment receipt. The whole time you’re here. Ah, Italy!

[Digression #2: OMG. The roads. Driving our car down here from Scotland seemed like the best way to get here with the dog, who can’t fly due to airline restrictions at the moment. But as we crossed the Italian border, The Hub’s Land Rover somehow morphed into a colossus that literally scrapes one side or another of some of what our GPS fondly believes are streets.

Yesterday we ventured out on that obligatory new-place IKEA run. Our house is in the hills above Florence, so navigation is… well, merda. The maps program pointed us to streets barely wide enough on either side to squeeze past the rows of parked Vespas. You know that part of the rollercoaster where you get to the very top of the track and ahead of you all you can see is empty sky? And then you plunge straight down? Well if that sounds like fun to anyone, you should come here and try it with a line of angry Italian drivers behind you shouting suggestions that seem somehow to involve your mother. Because as far as I can tell, that describes most roads here. After about a year and a half of this torture which the Hub swears was only about twenty minutes, we finally made it to IKEA. I went into the Ladies and threw up. Then I put off the return journey by spending hours buying things our (fully furnished) house didn’t have. Or need. Squishy pan lids in cool turquoise, squishier pillows, and even squishier dinosaur toys for the grands? Hell, yeah.

Now I’m back at the house and thinking I can just stay right here until it’s time to go back to my little Scottish island where the other drivers know my car and my dog and rarely mention my mother.

And that brings us to the actual point of this blog post.**

**[Of course there’s a point. I’m a professional point maker. Do not try this at home.]

The POINT is that I miss all of you so much already and would like to do a zoom call with each and every one of you. And since I’ve also been asked to do a baking session online, I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

I have an invitation for each of you. Join me (virtually) on 17 September at 10AM (London time) 11AM (Italy time)

Arran Bagels [from our Arran bagel class. See post here

Would you like to bake bagels along with me? How about learn to bake and braid that fabulously gorgeous challah bread with the talented Linda Martin? Or even how to do the round challah braids only used for Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which starts this year on 18 September? (Or just get a sneak peek at our amazing rented villa in the hills above Florence?)

Round New Year Challah (Image credit: Essential High Holidays From Scratch by Dori Gordon Walker, 2020]

Of course you would! All you need to do is go to here and sign up. It’s absolutely free! They will send you a short list of ingredients for your bagels, and the link to the Zoom meeting. YUM! I can’t wait to see you there, and to taste the bagels and challah.

Register for the online bagel and challah class at: https://tinyurl.com/scojeccreativethursdays