The rosy mist of memory :: {chick pea curry}

Yesterday the weather was Roman.  The sunlight seemed more golden, the air had a whisper of dust in it, and the the crushed basil leaves in my hand didn't hurt either.  I love it when the conditions are just right so that if I shut my eyes, I can go somewhere else.  Not that I didn't want to be in my garden with the basil leaves, but that I might rather be in Rome.  The layers of history, the vivid people, the fabulous food.  In Rome, poppies grow out of rocks.  It's an impossibly magnificent place.

We took Ducky with us on our trip and he posed in front of all the big attractions.  We hope that someday Heidi will be amused by these pictures we took on her behalf.

It's nice to know that I've now reached an age where I can be in a Less Than Ideal Situation and be absolutely certain that this is something I'm going to laugh about later.  To be certain about this almost allows me to laugh about the Situation in the moment.  Almost.  The particular situation I'm thinking of now is the unfortunate hotel I booked for our stay in Rome during our we-lived-in-England-for-two-years-and-haven't-yet-been-to-the-main-continent-and-will-go-even-though-we-are-expecting-a-baby-and-it's-financially-foolish trip.  All I saw, after hours of scouring the internet for hotels, was "Vittorio Emanuele," and thinking it was that big monument with the horses on top (that you seem to always end up at no matter where you go), and thinking that this was just where we wanted to be, I booked it.  Well.  It turns out that there's also a very dodgy street, several miles away from the monument, that shares the same name.  This Vittorio fellow must have been pretty influential.

We walked for those several miles until we got there.  I was pregnant and my husband was carrying all the bags (and would have been carrying me, too, if I'd had my way).  All we'd eaten was some salami and bread on the train from Switzerland.  Tired, achy, famished, hot, and (not least of all) confused, we arrived at our hotel.  To call it a hotel is an overstatement, but they were calling it a hotel, so for the sake of consistency, I'll call it one, too.  The graffiti smeared doors had been broken into several times, it seemed, as evidenced by the big chunks that were missing and the business end of several locks that were dangling down.  Somehow the door was, in fact, locked, so we selected what we thought might be our hotel from the very large list of indiscernible door bell buttons.  The door unlatched and we entered a large entry way that smelled of minerals and worse.  Ahead of us was the kind of elevator that should have someone there to help you operate it, with cages and unmarked buttons.

Somehow we ended up where we were supposed to be, even though the alarmed look on the concierge's face, followed by a lot of bellowing in a foreign language (not of a remotely Italian persuasion), might have made one think otherwise.  We waited in the "lobby" for what seemed like ages, and what was in fact almost an hour, until the flushed concierge re-emerged and showed us to our room.

Now, in Europe, you book rooms by the number of people, so, naturally, I had booked a double room.  What we ended up in was a room with a double bed in it.  I'm not sure how they managed to fit a double bed in a room which had clearly not been intended for one, because as we opened the door, we nearly fell on top of it.  On the other side of the bed was a wall with a window (through which we could see laundry that had no business hanging on a clothesline) and under the window was a Hole.  This place wasn't a hole-in-the-wall.  It had a hole in the wall.  This was a Less Than Ideal Situation.

Nonetheless, we stayed there.  There were nightly gripes concerning the quality of the place, or lack thereof, and we felt totally robbed.  We both knew that we would look back on this, one day, and have a great laugh about it, but we certainly weren't laughing then, as we gripped our passports in our sleep.


Sometimes we over-think things :: {lentil salad}

A one-minute sketch of a fleeting moment.

Some people go to spas to have their bodies wrapped in seaweed.  I went into the backyard, put my toddler in a tub of water and propped my feet up on the side of it.  Now, the Sometimes Goal of mothering is to relax with a cup of tea and know that you won't have to spring into action, leaving your tea to get cold.  Usually, a tub of water does the trick, but to be doubly sure that Heidi was as enraptured with this activity as always, I needed to show her that there were as yet undiscovered properties of water.  What we needed to learn about water today (aside from the well-known fact that water makes an excellent cup of hot tea) was that things can float on it.  I scattered a handful of sage leaves from the nearby bush into the water.  The silver-green boats bobbed across the surface.  She plucked one from the surface with careful pudgy fingers and draped it across my foot.  One by one, the leaves made their way from the water to my legs and then back again.  I watched her play with sage in water until the slice of light that was bathing us began to shrink and it was time to fix dinner.

Sometimes we over-think things.  Watching our childrens' rapidly expanding minds make sense of the world around them is dizzying and wondrous and gives us the daunting task of guiding, nurturing, and stimulating.  We spend too much time worrying that we're stunting the growing brains in our charge, and forget that everything we need is right around us.  All we need to do remember to look at everything with fresh eyes like they do; float a leaf in water, put a dried bean in an empty salt shaker, put a tea cozy on your head, have your legs wrapped in sage leaves.


Things left undone :: {refried beans}

One of my sincerest regrets is not finishing my creative non-fiction class in college.  Regret is probably the wrong word, since withdrawing from that semester was not a bad decision, but a necessary one, as I was unfocused and, to boot, had tonsils which had become veritable anthills in my throat, complete with a civilization of hardy bacteria.  I had to get those cut out, and also had to find focus (which I eventually did, through a year away from school spent interning at a great graphic design firm and learning to tango dance).  Life went on, I went back to school, studied art, got married, lived in England, had a baby.  I never got to finish my story about Clarence, though, and I think about it all the time.  Really, quite often.

The assignment was to interview a more-or-less stranger, and then write about whatever we talked about.  As a Very Shy Person, this was a horrifying task.  I finally settled on Clarence, our neighbor across the street, who was an easy target because I had seen him around, and, more importantly, he was even shyer than I was.  I had my mother set up the interview.  Clarence was a real life Carson McCuller's character: a bit trampled by life (and wife, I daresay), with hobbies that existed out of his generation and vocation, and with a smile like a pleased little boy.  We especially saw the smile when he would offer us whole Shoo-fly pies, convinced that somewhere along the line we had told him that it was our favorite.  (It wasn't.).

Clarence and I lived on the street between Apple Tree Alley and Pear Tree Alley. (image from google maps).

We sat at his tidy kitchen table, me with a notepad, and both of us with a sugary drink.  The conversation was halting at first, me unsure of what I should ask, and he baffled at the idea that he would have anything interesting to say.  I don't remember asking him for his life story, but he gave it to me, because it was probably the first time in his life that he guessed someone might be asking.  He told tales of cooking on the back of a truck during World War II, how he started knitting, his special technique for apple pies.  He went on and on, occasionally getting up to tend to the canary in the window or to bring his wife a plate of food.  Clarence never knew that he was a great character, really his own person.  He just gently went through life, taking care of his rotund and infirm wife, and one day quietly passed away.  I wish my notes from his narrative hadn't been lost and that I could share his apple pie recipe with you.  It wasn't the best apple pie, but Clarence had spent years perfecting it, and that was Something.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...