“I’ve got a feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night….”
We lay in bed rocking out to the music that floated through our open window. From outside the celebratory sounds of a wedding party crashed the night.
It was one year ago today that I was honored and lucky enough to attend the most fantastic wedding in my life. No, not my own, but a friend’s wedding in Italy. Every detail, from the ceremony in an ancient church, to the fireworks that lit the sky over the medieval castle where the reception was held, was perfect.
But not all weddings go so smoothly. Some are unlucky, some were badly planned, and some were never meant to be. We’ve probably all attended at least one wedding where something major went wrong. And even my friend’s wedding in Italy had a couple of stumbles; the bus that couldn’t squeeze down the narrow, country road to the castle…. Or the train on the wedding dress that tripped the bride and groom as they did their first dance. But little issues like these are what make what would otherwise be too choreographed become real; human.
I am thrilled that in November Soul Mate Publishing will be releasing the digital version of my story, UNTANGLING THE KNOT (check here for a little more info about it
). I loved writing this story because it takes place around a wedding; one with its own share of problems. And what could be more fun than that… Well, other than possibly attending the rocking wedding party I heard this weekend!!!
My Friends, Steven and Melissa - outside
Fiesole Cathedral; July 30, 2011
It is hard to believe that one year ago I was making my way across the lovely Tuscan hillsides. I thought it would be a perfect time to re-post my blog from that time in case any of my followers did not get a chance to live my adventure vicariously yet. I hope you enjoy!
"It is made by my uncle......."
Apparently there is something about Tuscany that forces you to write lyrically.... It may be the wine, or perhaps the moments of beauty, but whatever the reason, I apologize for my change in tone. It can't be helped.
Images of San Quirico d'Orcia- A garden, hidden by a stone tunnel. Voices and the clinking of silverware on plates. It is obviously a trattoria.I walk through the town; a dark church where a white ceramic statue of the madonna floats in front of gauzy silver fabric. She glows like an apparition.
My parking ticket in Chianciano Terme put me off as I began my day, but now I have been put back together again.
A store is open past 1:30; it is a miracle. Inside, linens fill shelves, frames and ceramics are everywhere, but my eye is caught by a small pillow, Le Mamme sono angeli in incognito.
A wide grassy area in a park makes me wonder why? There are bleachers... perhaps sports? No, it is for music of course. Today, though, all is quiet, only ghosts crowd around me.
I am drawn back to the trattoria. A table for one? I ask in english. Of course signora, he says. The menu has English
translations... oh no! I have chosen wrong. How is it possible? The setting is perfect. A table under an awning, under a tree. A wisteria covered trellis. Everyone around me speaks Italian and smokes.
Wine? I am asked. Soft or hard? Old or new? Full bodied? Ah, this one, he says. I ask, where is it from. He tells me
Montepulciano...It is made by his uncle. All is forgiven... I have chosen right after all.
So this is what panzanella looks like. It has more bread than i thought - and cucumber for crunch. I take a picture but its essence is hidden in 'place'... this place.
Pici is a type of pasta from this area. It sounds like it should be small pieces of something but it is actually more like misformed spaghetti. With pecorino e pepe, it is as close as Italians might get to mac-n-cheese. All creamy and
white, the pepper stands out as the queen of the dish.
Now I am done. Should I linger or continue on my journey? The perfect contrast between the dark pink red of the
melon and the green of its' rind is compelling, but I think I will pass. A dark cloud is coming our way and I hope to find another place still today.
But no, not yet! First I meet Graciella and Guido as we wait to pay our bill. I take their picture and they take mine.
Guido is very interested in my time here. It is a good place for Americans to see, he says. Yes, they should come here. They are from Torrino, it is too built up he thinks. This is what a holiday should be.
The cloud has passed.... probably I will now chase it to Montalcino.
Have you been to Italy recently.... please share your stories here also so I can live vicariously through you.
“That’s a lot of pudding.”
For her birthday this year my daughter decided she wanted a Figure It Out party, (based on the Nickelodeon show), and complete with a huge vat of slime. This is not the easiest thing to accomplish. For one thing, there are a ton of different recipes, so on a dreary Sunday about a month ago we tested out some of them. After five variations, we landed on a version made from pudding, jello, and flour.
What we didn’t count on was how tricky it would be to mix a huge quantity of the stuff. 24 packets of pudding later, my arm was tired from stirring and the bin was only half full. It turns out there was more than enough slime to go around. During the game the kids were very wary of doing anything that might get them slimed. But as soon as we let them loose with the slime it was a different matter.
I have to stop here to give huge kudos to my husband, who was the target for most of the slime fight. It was payback time and the kids, particularly the boys my daughter had invited to the party, were ready for the challenge. Handfuls of the stuff were tossed on him. His poor squirt gun couldn’t keep up… and before long he was covered in the slimy green pudding/jello mixture.
Was the party fun…. Definitely. Did the slime come out…three hair washings later just about. There is very little I wouldn’t do to make my daughter’s birthday fantastic; but I can guarantee this is the last time we will have a slime party.
In case you’d like to try it yourself…. Here’s the recipe I used:
-Mix 24 packets of vanilla instant pudding with a gallon and a half of milk
-gradually stir in 3 cups flour
-boil 6 cups + water
-mix about 1 cup with 4 packets instant lime jello till dissolved
-stir jello mixture into pudding/flour mixture and add enough of the boiling water to make it gloopy
-add green food coloring till desired color is created
“Do you think pepperoni is too spicy for him?”
What is it about a lost dog that makes me drop everything to help? I’m totally not kidding. In this case we were on our way to get frozen yogurt and instead I found myself trying to befriend a scared stray wandering the parking lot.
About 5 years ago, when my daughter would still have been in a car seat, I literally jumped out of the car on a freeway (traffic was at a standstill) to try to grab a dog who was trapped on it. It was only after my unsuccessful attempts (and almost getting hit by a huge truck) that I returned to my car and realized my daughter had been left alone while I tried to save the dog.
As with the freeway incident, I did everything I could to help the parking lot dog last night. I called animal control, waited with another family (who were trying to lure it with the pepperoni) and then chased down a police car to come help. Meanwhile the stray skittered by me and escaped.
There is something about not knowing what happened to either of those dogs that seems to steal a little part of me. If I could save the world, one dog at a time, I suppose I would. But experience has also taught me that, just like those dogs, some situations are out of my control. Still… I can’t help but try.
Sooo… if you are missing a medium sized, black and tan, male terrier of some sort in the area around West Linn, OR check with the police. Last I saw of him he was heading to the back door of the pizza place, looking for more pepperoni.
Sort of looked like these little guys...
Only had more black coloring.
“I can’t believe I’m only half way. They shouldn’t make this so long.”
The couple next to me had received one of Starbucks treat receipts. A fantastic way for the company to encourage user feedback by offering a free drink after the customer fills out an online survey. I have received one before and have not been likewise overwhelmed by the process…. But apparently not everyone feels the same.
There is a reason short and sweet has become an adage; people appreciate conciseness and care when writing. Samuel Butler said - Brevity is very good, when we are, or are not, understood. I suppose at worst, keeping our message short runs the risk of confusion. But better that than confusion and boredom!
When I first began writing I attempted children’s stories. This led to a huge appreciation for the talent required of this genre. To fit an entire story into 250 words takes discipline, clarity of thought and an extensive vocabulary. I quickly switched to novel length adult fiction.
Still, brevity is an admirable goal... and one for which I will continue to strive. And in that vein, I believe this post has now made its point and it is time to move on.
“I met a guy, Evan, and he’s going to show me his shower.”
These are not the words you want to hear come out of a twenty-three year old daughter’s mouth let alone a seven year olds’. I have two words for you… PARENTAL CONTROLS.
Yes… we clearly have a lack of them in our house. This has become clear as our daughter has begun to explain to us the ‘friends’ she has made on the computer programs she plays. FYI – for anyone out there who reads this and
believes we are obviously not watching what she is doing, let me correct that misconception. I have very set rules about the time she can be on the computer (no more than an hour); the places she can use it (doors always open); and the sites she can be on (I monitor and set controls).
Yet somehow she has found herself able to use the chat features on the sites I have made ‘kidsafe’. “Another one bites the dust,” I tell her; which she has no context for, but knows means that she is no longer allowed to play on that site.
On one site she proudly showed me the safety certificate she had earned for answering 100% of the questions right on an online safety quiz. Things like- Q: When should you give your password out? A: Never. Or Q: Your new online friend is probably a. really nice because she says so, b. rich because she gives me points presents all the time or c. I have no idea, she could be anyone. A: c
Not two moments later… after showing us her answer to that very real second question mind you, she introduced us to one of her ‘new friends’. When we said she was going to have to say goodbye because she wasn’t yet allowed
to have online friends she argued, “But my friend is really nice. She would never do anything bad.”
“Oh yeah… right…. And you know this how?” We spent some time that day talking about stranger danger and what we know or don’t know about people online. It was a good lesson learned for all of us.
The bottom line is that while we do our best to monitor her computer usage, the technology still seems to evade us. Sooo, I’d love to hear about your favorite user-friendly online safety control systems.
I promise to reply back with my gratitude; but, though I am sure you are a perfectly nice blog friend, don’t expect me to visit your online shower!
“His Federer bet earned OXFAM over $100,000.”
Not only did my
ears perk up at this, but so did my daughters. Even she
knows that $100,000 is a lot of money. This critical piece of news happened to come from my husband, who instead of sharing it had waited all day to tell the
tennis coach. Huh!
He should know me well enough by now to appreciate how much I love feel good news
like this. Apparently back in 2003 a gentleman made a bet that Federer would win 7 Wimbledon titles by 2019. Sadly, he passed away before seeing it come true; but he willed his bet to OXFAM who was able to collect $155,000 from Federer’s recent win.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with OXFAM: “Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in 92 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty.”
So putting the win in OXFAM context, with 206 points scored by Federer during the match it was the equivalent of 20 goats per point.
I’m of course not suggesting we should all go out and start gambling… but in the words of my character Jessica, “Hadn’t a bet already given her the determination she needed to accomplish the impossible?”
Here’s to making (and winning) impossible bets!
“There’s a lost child wearing a bright orange t-shirt…”
We heard a brief snippet of the announcement come over the attendant’s walkie-talkie as we waited to board the Zoo Train. In a moment, I was back at my high school summer job… a hostess at Marine World, Africa USA.
It was a dream job for me. I was outside all day, working with the guests at the shows, around animals, and able to eat pretzels and soft-serve for my lunch. My uniform… shorts, a cute shirt and espadrilles, ended up giving me the weirdest tan lines that didn’t really go away for years afterwards. This, though, was more like a badge of honor… how could anyone not envy my job?
My favorite shift to get was the first one of the day. Arriving before the park was open, it felt like I had it all to myself. The paths were perfectly clean and everything was quiet but for the call of the animals now and then.
When this was combined with a shift at the dolphin show my day was perfect. There I would say hello to my dolphin friends and they would follow me around the arena as I prepared it for the show. We had a fun game of tag where I would go in one direction along the tank and they would chase me until they could splash me with water, then I would turn and go the other way and they would try to repeat it.
I even enjoyed working in the information booth… a shift that for some reason the other hosts felt was the worst. I liked answering questions for the guests and welcoming them as soon as they walked in the front gates. The
only part of the job I hated was when a child would become lost and be brought to us to care for. Being with the poor, scared child wasn’t the part I disliked; I appreciated the chance to try to reassure them and make them feel better. It was only when the parents arrived that my anxiety would peak.
If the parents found them quickly all was fine. But for some reason, the longer it had been the angrier they were with the child when they finally found them. After being with the scared child for a while, it was almost impossible for me to watch quietly while the parents yelled at them for disappearing.
Now, of course, as a parent I understand better. For one thing, although my daughter was never a runner, I have seen plenty of other children who are. Warning after warning makes no difference… and it is only after getting truly lost that the child learns the lesson about staying close to their parent. I also learned, in that info booth, how easily it can happen. So while my daughter doesn’t enjoy hearing my directions every time we go somewhere crowded, I still remind her of what to do if we are separated.
This article by wikihow
provides excellent suggestion for keeping children safe at amusement parks, which from the sound of it the parents of the lost zoo child did well. And I like to think that when they found him, rather than yelling, he got a huge hug.
The incessant barking of a dog.
With the weather finally turning nice here in Portland (we always have to wait till after the 4th of July for it to do so:>) we were finally able to sit outside and enjoy our iced lattes. My daughter was playing with her friends while the mom and I caught up about some important news.
And yet… it was almost impossible to hear over, and certainly no way to ignore, the loud barking of the anxious dog whose owner had left him to go in and get his own drink. My pet mommy heart-strings were pulled… particularly as it made me wonder if that is what our own dog, Summer, had been like on our recent trip to Tahoe.
It is true…. The older she gets the grumpier and more demanding she becomes. If she wants to sit, cuddled up in her spot next to me, I better not even consider having the computer there. And heaven forbid you try to move
her if she is asleep and comfortable. When we have friends over she sits, staring pathetically at them when they have unknowingly taken her favorite spot on the couch, until they move. And dinner time happens on her schedule not ours. She has become a type A dog.
She’s never been a particularly gracious dog. I know some dogs would do anything for their master; but not Summer. Don’t get me wrong, it is clear she loves us (me especially) but she has a certain level of expectation
that she wants met… not unlike a cat – albeit a very nice one.
Still, until recently she has been complacent enough to remain in her pen when we leave and put her there. Tahoe, however was different. Her anxiety at being left gave her the courage to jump out…. Something she has never
done before. Anxiety is funny that way… sometimes it can provide the inspiration we need to attempt something we’ve never dreamed of. It is both a limiter as well as a motivator.
It didn’t take long for the owner to come out and yell at the dog to be quiet… which may not have been the attention he was looking for but at least reassured him he hadn’t been left for good.
I’d love to write more about the challenge of negative attention and kids, but it will have to wait. Summer is pushing the computer off my lap and wants her cuddle spot.