From MySpace: 10 Oct 06 Tuesday
PG, Pine Beetle, Pasta and Palominos…
(This is my first blahg attempt..I couldn't figure out that livejournal thing girls. Sorry. But here's a story..)
It's been four years since I was last in Prince George.
I don't remember much from that trip considering it was a whirlwind of tears, old women in black, a language I barely understand and booze, all brought on by the untimely death of my Nonno. For anyone who hasn't heard the story of the demise of Felice Bevacqua, my jolly, spitfire grandfather had a heart attack after beating a thief with his cane when the scumbag burst in on him mid-prayer La Madonna Degli Angeli and tried to rip-off the wallet chained to his polyester brown pants. He lived and died a fighter. He was a great man.
Anyway, as I drove into town with my cousin Mike the first thing I noticed were the colours of the landscape. The low, rolling hills of spruce and pine trees were green, yellow and... red?
How beautiful. Or so it seemed. As we got closer I could see the trees were not red, but rust-coloured and leafless, like lifeless statues of trees put under some cruel mythological curse. Pine Beetle. I'd heard all about the devastating effects of the bug that, in nature's balance, should have had most of its population die off each year in the frigid winters. Even with all the articles and hype about climate change (including a cameo in Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth) I never imagined the Pine Beetle infestation to be such an in-your-face cancer on the landscape.
You'd think it'd be enough to convert the town towards some serious environmentalism. Not really. "Government..s problem."
Everyone's talking about the big boom coming. Oil exploration apparently. "Gonna be the next Fort McMurray, eh." That's what PG needs, more gas money for all the ginormous F-series Fords and trips to Wal-Mart.
Okay, that's enough..
So we get to Nonna..s new apartment and I..m relieved to see all the stuff from the old place downtown is there: black velvet painting of the Last Supper, light-up Jesus statues, Pope plate collection and walls filled from floor to ceiling with family photos.
Nonna's kitchen table is covered in flour and tiny round gnocchi she..s made (potato dumpling pasta.) It's her specialty and she plans to stuff me with it and anything else she can over the next two days: perpeta (deep fried rice balls), pitoli (deep-fried zucchini flowers) and shitty homemade wine from noon until I pass out.
"You hungry, you wanna eat a something, I make a nice a pasta for you, Mange, Mange.." she sing-songs in her shrill accent that has yet to fade though she's lived in this country since 1965.
We listen to Mario Lanza cassette tapes, drink espresso and watch Italian variety shows. She gives me the little nuggets of family history I've come here for.
I find out that Nonno's biological mother had 16 bastard children she left on various people..s doorsteps after her husband left her to go to America and she became the mistress of a well-known doctor. And that her husband eventually came back in his sixties and she took care of him until he died. Even Nonna was shocked. "Why she take him back I no know. E pazza!"
She gives me hell for breaking up with PW and then tells me her friends are coming over to meet me. Panic ensues.
When I was a kid Nonna used to invite her old lady friends over and make me massage the blue rivers of varicose veins on their thin white chicken-skinned legs. They..d say, "Young a hands make a better" and slip me a dollar bill.
But these friends were cool and mostly compared notes about their ailing bodies and gossiped.
The highlight of the trip was an unexpectedly stellar night on the town. I asked my cousin Lisa to take me out for a PG special: Inn of the North, slots at the new casino and I wanted to go to the Generator (that's where my parents met), but we settled on the Cadillac Ranch.
I'd never really been to a country bar and didn't know what to expect. Luckily, it was packed with cute young cowboys, crazy old cougars and had a live band. Our dance cards were more than full before we'd barely stepped in the door.
I learned to two-step by the best dancer of the bunch--a green-eyed wrangler in tight wrangler jeans, a shirt that said "wrangler" on the front and "cowboys rule" on the back, cowboy hat and boots. He wasn't too much of a redneck, but did sporadically "Yee-haw!!" at the top of his lungs and stomp his boots like a crazed gorilla.
(Note to the wise: don't mention Brokeback Mountain any place north of Hope.)
So at one point, the cowboy asks me if I want to go outside and look at his horse. I ask him if that's some kind of cowboy-code line and he says not at all. He really did have his horses outside in a trailer hooked up to his truck (F350, bleh!). Three Palominos and beautiful flaxen pony. What majestic, beautiful, sad creatures.
That was enough of cowboy for me, but I think cuz is a fully converted buckle bunny.