Friday, July 24, 2009

Brought to you by the letter Z

Do you know what Gleed means? It means in a tiny, soft voice you take the drapes and take them down to make a coat out of them and draw small circles for the buttons.

Do you know what Zeek means? It means you take a little frog and play with him.

Do you know what alik means? It means you take your iPod and dance around.

All asked and answered while Z read Harry Potter to me. Who needs drugs when you have a 4 year old?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This Overwhelming

This overwhelming good feeling is the Sudafed isn't it? Or maybe the afterglow of the eclipse? Or the fact that I've resigned myself to the No of the would-be blurbist and now am actually enjoying writing to the famous poets of the world--with much lower expectations. Or perhaps this proposal of the food book is the one. Or is it the fact that two good friends await my arrival in Sedona for some swimming and barbecue fun? Either way, drug me up on the Sudafed and get me to Sedona. I'm feeling summer today for the first time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Writing Day That Isn't

It was a crazy long weekend revolving around Zoe's birthday.Thursday was birthday proper which entailed swimming, Fratelli's for pizza and dancing in the square. Friday we threw a party--12 adults, 8 kids, many bratwurst--turkey, veg, and regular. Cleo the dog was the party fouler by harassing the babies and the crotches at the door and eating a hot dog off one of the kid's plates. Then, we had to recover all day Saturday which involved watching many already-seen movies. Yesterday, farmer's market and a special night called Erik went upstairs to watch TV so Z and I could watch Mamma Mia. The movie was as bad as the musical on broadway but it was pretty fun to watch with Z who had a million questions about veils, weddings, bachelor parties, mom's who paint toenails (dad's the toenail painter around here), and smart questions about, why are they singing now, isn't the wedding starting? And, why didn't Sophie just tell her mom the truth? And, why does his (Pierce Brosnan's) face look so silly? Indeed. When Pierce broke into song, it was hard to cling to his suaver Remington Steele days.
Yesterday, I got some work on this new proposal done (because I wanted to write this proposal 6 times) but the ambition has been shanghaid by needing to withdraw an essay and poems from other mags, which I hate doing, and by getting rejected by two potential blurbists in one day. Two. In one day. No one told me getting blurbs would be so heartbreaking. I thank jacket copy gods everywhere for the two I do have.
So now, I should eat lunch. And then Z comes home.
Perhaps this afternoon there will be some long as I'm not derailed by more Monday rejection.

ETA: I also felt compelled to make wheat berry tabbouleh since wheat berries are falling out of my cupboards. Pretty good. Too much lemon juice. I conquered too much lemon with feta.
Also, I washed some sheets and made a bed. And I still have some time left today, right?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Almost Z's Birthday

4 is old. 4 is like totally back-off, unless, of course, I need you to sit in the back seat with me. 4 is I can crack an egg and scramble it but, for some reason, I need your help getting me a tissue. 4 is I can't wear these shoes, or these shoes, or these shoes. Where are my shoes? 4 is that exact number of clothes changes per day. 4 is why doesn't dad like yellow flowers to which dad says he just doesn't like the yellow-flowered invasive butter bush to which she turns and asks me, why doesn't dad like yellow flowers? 4 is bracelets and necklaces. 4 is Frosted Mini wheats and salmon but no strawberry juice on my carrot. 4 is lost bracelets and lost necklaces. 4 is I want to go outside. 4 is it's too hot. 4 is I want to sit in the other room. 4 is may I have some more milk please. 4 is swimming lessons and gymnastics. 4 is I want to give you one more hug and one more kiss. 4 is why do I have two toothbrushes downstairs? Two. Toothbrushes. 4 is which peach is ready for me. 4 is don't sing that song it gets stuck in my head. 4 is feeding Cleo a scoop of dog food, tapping on the food in the bowl and saying, I like to keep it organized. 4 is me saying, Z sometimes you drive me crazy, and 4 says, Sometimes YOU drive me crazy. 4 wonders why in the song "On Top of Spaghetti,” is there cheese on the spaghetti? 4 agrees knowingly when I answer, "It's Parmesan." 4 asks, Why does the meatball roll right out the door? Was the door wide open? 4 tells me she likes to move it, move it. 4 is saying to me, you shouldn't have dropped it. 4 is singing songs about getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, driving in the car. 4 is getting everyone a napkin. 4 is wanting to go to Fratelli's for pizza every day. 4 is thinking it's hilarious to hold up 3 fingers and say, no this is 4. If only it were so 4, because 4, 4 is old.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Electronics

Part of the difficulty in travel was assuming I'd have my laptop at the villa. They had wireless! I could type by the pool. More importantly, I could google important sites to visit, research more deeply the history of the region, find out where to go for dinner, figure out what the 7 hour siesta was about. Without that, I really had no way into places. I felt like a passive observer--more like traveling when I was a young kid. Being in the backseat of Erik's parents' rental car probably attributed a little to that feeling too.

The good part was that I really disconnected. So much that I've been a little better since I've been home. I had a loaner computer without wireless so I was connected via an anachronistic wire to my DSL. I couldn't move it around so I left it behind. I watched whole television shows that I already thought I'd seen, like Burn Notice, and realized that 90 percent of the show I hadn't really paid attention to. It was like getting another whole season in!
The sadder, and embarrassing news, is that my Kindle is already lost. I'm only admitting it because I believe in blogging the lost. I was on the last flight of a 28 hour trip (including layovers) from Rome. Z was asleep, shoeless and saying "Stop it" when I tried to wake her up when we landed. I was all concerned about how I could get her milk that late since the airport shops would surely be closed (needless concern: Paradise Bakery in airport and restaurant in hotel still open). I remember reading it right before take off, asking Erik if it counted as an electronic device. I decided it did and I put it in the dreaded back seat pocket. Then I turned on CNN, watched about Michael Jackson's cardiac arrest, then coma, then death, then fell asleep. I woke up, gathered up everything except for the expensive reading machine. I've spent the last 1.5 weeks calling Delta and harassing their poor lost and found folks but to no avail.

1 Lesson learned here: books, one by one are cheaper.
2 Lesson learned here: milk is cheaper than Kindles.
3 Lesson learned here: don't forget stuff.
Hopeful lesson to be learned: blogging the lost a surefire way to have materials returned.

Other electronic disasters included forgetting the iPod with my Italian lessons on them (which was OK since I'd had the lessons burned into my earbudded head), the microphone on Erik's camera breaking, and of course Z's nebulizer. She still has a bit of a cough. Perhaps I could make a trade with the lost and found gods: one cough for one Kindle.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Zoe abroad

I'm not sure what made us think Z would have fun on a trip to Italy. When we first talked about going, her cousins had planned to come. We chose a place with a pool and an ocean and a kitchen so we weren't going, going all the time but we went a lot and she did so well, even though her cousins didn't come. She walked miles upon miles on cobblestone streets. She drove in the car uncomplainingly for hours. She slept strangely and scratched her bug bites with good humor. 

She has always spoken Italian--she's been saying 'a' for 'to' since the she started to talk, as in this morning's "read a book a me," but now she's added  'mama' inflecting the 2nd syllable all latinate and lilt-y. She also says 'bella' and 'grazie' in a whisper but the coolest part is just that she understands language and culture a little bit. She wonders what people speak in Utah (Erik answers, "Texan drawl") and she wonders why girls here where tops on their swimming suits and why they don't in Italy. She also thought that the villa was Italy and that Rome was Rome and neither the twain shall meet but you could see the mental cogs that clicked as she understood 'gelato' was also 'ice cream.'

She still complains that her feet hurt--a week after all the walking but her mosquito bites have healed and her cough is almost gone and for now she remembers Italy fondly. When you ask her what her favorite thing about the trip was she answers the snowman with a headband, the bad cats, the frogs, the lizards. The fauna seems to have made more of an impression than the flora, even the fruit!, and who wouldn't have fond memories of Italian, headbanded, snowmen?

All the fruit in Puglia

The good parts of the trip were very good. When we arrived at the villa, after a somewhat disheartening drive by some very soviet looking apartment buildings and through towns of cardboard-flimsy buildings and over roads more hole than pot, we met Paolo, the son of the owner and our English speaking host. He pointed out the coffee, the semi-stocked mini-fridge and the fact we had to pay in cash. Except for the cash part, which would prove one of the stickingest points of the trip, we were happy there was cold milk and cold, fresh cherries in the fridge. Z could live on cherries and milk. 
Paolo invited us to pick any fruit on the fruit trees. This was early June. What fruit could possibly be ready? I was already amazed about the cherries but then we saw the peaches. Walking around the villa's couple of acres I found lemons, oranges, pears, apricots, figs, some weird caterpillar looking fruit under which Milo, the caretaker, draped a huge net to catch the falling fruit. Apparently, in this region of Italy, this is also how they collect olives. Most of the olive oil in Italy comes from this region but since they collect the olives with the net, which means the olives are a little over-ripe, it's not as high quality as the olives that are collected directly from the branch. These fruits were more starchy than sweet. I was the only ones who ate them. 
Not all the fruit was ripe yet and while we had a few peaches from the tree abutting one of the stone huts, Paolo and his girlfriend came by and collected them all one day. There was another peach tree but it wasn't ready yet. The figs were almost ready and we ate a couple. We pulled some almost ripe apricots and plums--still tart but pretty delicious.
Around the town of Lecce and in different cities we found even more fruit. Watermelon in June! More cherries. We went through pounds of peaches. While there weren't as many berries as you'd imagine, Z did find some strawberries. To complement her obligatory "Spaghetti con il burro," we also learned to order "Frutta da Stagione." One time, the seasonal fruit included a whole half a watermelon. Apparently Erik isn't much of a still life photographer so I don't have any pictures of the monstrosity but when he served the melon, the table looked very Flinstone-esque.
We had melon and prosciutto and kiwis. Oranges and apricots. I'm not sure in what world all these fruits are seasonal simultaneously. I attribute it to the dual ocean breeze but for someone who loves fruit more than other foods, and whose mother-in-law and daughter who love it as much, the bounty was more than welcoming.