Tuesday, December 22

and finally... ... ... joy

The blues seem to have haunted me this year
Exercising their grip at my throat
A weight on my back
Making me restless
and, well, forced.
And I've been pounding at it
With markets
And baking
And music
A tree
And it's stayed cemented right there.
Damn blues.

But today
Something is different
Lifted, l i g h t e r .
It's more than
Presents wrapped a smile in M's eye snow boots cards singing celebration laughter and knowing you love me
More than these things
I wish I knew what
I feel like love finally won
And has taken over my heart
Painting my face with a victory smile
Dancing with joy and bursting with light
I feel like finally I can say... and feel most sincerely
I Merry love Christmas you

See you again in 2010.
-Strange Pilgram

Wednesday, December 16

let's zap their brains

The punks and I had a really wonderful walk home from the dentist today. The temperature has dropped dramatically in the past two days. So cold, my nose hairs are freezing up and Punkette retrieved a stick from under a pile of leaves that had patches of frost on it. She was delighted to discover how cold it felt. What a goofball, that one.

Our walk from the dentist takes us first along the river. The Alto-Aldige. I think you can see blurry bits of it on the side of my background image. Yea! Did you know that was an actual map of my surroundings? Pretty cool. Anyway, the Alto-Aldige is a big rough looking river. The kooks around here have raft races down the river in the early summer, right when I'm sure it must be at it's most dangerous levels. Now it's at least 5 feet lower, and still has some pretty nasty looking currents.

But it's a wonderful walk. Lots of trees and the sun coming down into the valley. It's our last half-day off together before Christmas break so we decided to go somewhere special for lunch. Chinese. Just over on the home side of the river.

Lunch was uneventful other than that we ordered from their Sushi menu and it was DEEE-LICIOUS and I adore the family that owns the restaurant. They always take the time to chat with us about how we're adjusting to life here. One of the women even taught the kids how to fold the napkins into sailboats.

From the restaurant our walk wanders through downtown toward where we live on the other side. People are returning to work and shops are opening up after the pausa. We're window shopping for gift ideas. This included a drool session over where they have the 480 euro Lego Death star. I swear it was only 450 last time we saw it.

So the kids are dreaming up fantasy Christmas gifts... Punkone comes up with a list that would knock St. Nick back about a thousand bucks. But Punkette knocked it out of the park.

Her idea was inspired by the sight of someone tossing their cigarette into the drain. She goes into her rant... Why do they throw their cigarettes into the drain? That's for water! It's not a garbage! That's why the ocean is full of all that gross garbage! (gee... I wonder where she picked that up?)

And then the idea unfolds: I want Santa to bring me a secret zapper for Christmas. One that I can hide from everyone in my hands. Then when I see someone who throws their cigarettes into the drain I'll use it to zap their brains. I'll zap them just a little bit so that they start throwing their cigarettes into the garbage. I'll change their brains so they won't want to throw their garbage where the water goes anymore. They can still smoke cigarettes if they want. I won't zap them too much.

Now I have to admit that I'm always encouraging my kids to utilize their imaginations to solve problems. To think up crazy impossible things because someday it might be possible to invent such a thing. But, somehow I don't think mild brain alteration of litterbugs will come to pass.


Dedicated to Think Green Thursday, and to goofballs.

Tuesday, December 15

comes and goes

rain floods
that make us laugh
and cry
side aching joy
seasonal fruit
hope and inspiration
marital bliss
the morning bell
being pulled
by moon phases
fresh sheets
and the lack of
moments of
and too much time dwelling on
terrible twos or your teens
and now your neck
the first crash
first crush
or indifference
your mean streak
and team building skills
a beaming smile
surprise birthday cake
and a big bear hugs
family too
With all in this world
comes and goes
It's so nice to have met you.

Monday, December 14

swallowed in the sea

I have reached my capacity for things new. Just today. Maybe tomorrow, or the next day too, but I won't worry about that. It's hard to explain the depth to which you are out of your element when you move abroad. It is wonderful, exciting, educational, expansive... but I think this alien feeling must be general among people who move for an extended length of time to somewhere dramatically new. Or maybe it's just me. To find that there is a limit, and when you reach it, you just want to go "wee wee wee, all the way home."

It's more than troubles adjusting to a new language, food, or routines. It's in the undercurrent of the culture. A foundation that doesn't support you no matter how hard you try to adapt. There's no footing, no traction. I feel like I'm always slipping, sliding, floating... there's nothing solid to hold on to. And that's fun sometimes. Thrilling. But sometimes it makes you want to lash yourself to the nearest anchor and plunge yourself back to where you came from.

Just for the music... I love Coldplay these days.

Thursday, December 10

jumping the gun

There's nothing that drives me more nuts than presents in the closet. I do not have the capacity to not give something to someone once I've bought it for them. Well, I have occasionally been able to wait it out, but I'm sure my stomach digested itself a little bit every time. Seriously, I get a bit looney trying to keep things under wraps. It's so much better for me to just buy the gifts, like the hour day before.

But then last year I ran into the problem of the gifts I was looking for being sold out. And my habit of last minute shopping has taught me that this happens routinely. These small shops just don't have the space to stock items. If there's something specific you're looking for, it's absolutely best to just buy it at the first opportunity. So this year I decided to get some of the gifts a couple of weeks before Christmas.

I think my brain was in the right place, but my heart just wasn't capable of holding out for the actual day.

Did I make it? No. I already gave one of the gifts to Punkette. And I was literally sweating from the conflict inside me... fighting to not give up one of Punkone's as well. That battle is still going on (this post isn't helping) Ugh. Now, not only do I have to go shopping again, I've got to figure out something else to get.

Sometimes I'm definitely my own worst enemy.

Wednesday, December 9


Rasping weakly for air
You breathe in another time

Once chiseled from the flesh of stone
Now left soft, bleeding

Out your poetry
Wrapped in words, color and light

And water
That glorifies and damns

All at once

Venice close ups

I went to Venice for il ponte dell'Immacolata this past weekend. We rented an apartment and just took our time. I found myself at once obsessed. The whole city was decaying, crumbling and grey, yet, these spots of color were everywhere. Maybe they stood out so much because of the contrast. The dampness that penetrates everywhere. Seeping out of the walls, over the edges, ruthlessly eating away the foundations of this enchanted place.

How can a place be hopeful and helpless at the same time? I don't know, but somehow that's how Venice makes me feel.

Saturday, December 5

double take

Written Inc. has done it again. The thematic photo this week is different. It's about looking at things from a different point of view, or perhaps slightly off the beaten path. About seeing beyond the obvious and finding something, well, different.

While he took the vantage of taking a second look at an obvious photo spot, I decided to take a second look at something average.

An average street in my city:

Holding an unexpected burst of sunshine:

Try it ;)

Friday, December 4

it's a tough row to hoe kid

Little Punkette has been one stressed cookie these past days. In addition to loosing all her teeth, there's all the first grade BS to deal with. Having to wake up at 7 am after the night has inexplicably slipped away. Having to change her underwear EVERY DAMN DAY!!! Having to brush her teeth (wth, they fall out anyway Mom). And all the coloring they make her do at school (I have to agree with her, the amount of time they spend on coloring is ridiculous... I kept her home today just to give her some time to work on her reading for a change).

But today was especially tough. One of those roller coaster days where you're emotions are all over the place. I had to take Punkette in for a mandatory vaccination today. Yes, the "s" word. A shot.

So when we woke up the crew this morning, I thought I'd let her have an extra half hour to sleep. I was getting Punkone ready for a field trip and I figured the contrast of his soaring mood and her impending doom would be too much for her to bear. Punkone could barely abide by my wishes for him to not wake his lil sister and rub her face in it.

But then, we discovered it was SNOWING!!! Even at 36, I get a charge of adreniline when I see the first snow of the season. Punkone pounced on lil sis and they literally leaped to the window together. IT'S SNOWING! Happy happy joy joy.

Then, of course, he just had to remind her of the vaccination.

And the rest of the morning ensued. SNOW! shot SNOW! shot SNOW! shot. Poor kid was getting emotional whiplash.

So, yea, even though we were finished by 11 am, I let her blow off the rest of the day. She did read an entire book at the doctor's office; I really don't think missing an afternoon of coloring is going to set her back. And I know it's so tough being a kid... I have to try my best to give her more ups than downs.

happy days

Tuesday, December 1

contrary to popular belief kids love having their birthdays lumped together with other festivities

It's December! Woo Hoo!

December is all kinds of fun. First off, it's the most awesome month to be born in. Two of my brothers and I were all born in December and we always celebrated our birthdays together with one big party. It always felt extra special for us to share this day together.

Yea, look at me. I'm all about blowing out the candles. Look at those lungs! From across the table! Wait Ma, lemme back up a few more steps. Let's see if I can blow them out from outside the door. From the looks of it, this was birthday #6 for me, and numbers 4 and 1 for the little bros. Aren't they cute! Got to love the cowlicks. Yea, I always thought it was called a cow-lick and imagined that I got my forehead all slobbery licked up by a big cow tongue just after birth. What? Isn't that how they clean up the babies in the heartland?

Speaking of cute, check out Punkette's face. Yikes! She's loosing all her teeth! She lost a second one since I took this picture and she as another two that are loose. I sure hope Santa still brings front teeth for Christmas or this girl will have nothing but eggnog for Christmas dinner.

And that brings us to that timeless December question: What do you want for Christmas? Well, go no further than this monster hunk of awesomeness: The Lego Death Star

Punkone saw this in a shop window the other day and almost wet himself. Then I saw the price and almost wet myself. 450 EUROS!!! Holy crumbolie Lego. That's a lot of moola! What do you think Santa is made of? And don't try and sucker poor Santa into one of those interest only scams. We're wise to your evil ways Lego.

Wow. Never thought I'd accuse Lego of being evil. Sorry Lego, I take it back. Can we talk fixed rate, 30 year?

And Punkette, bless her soul; she wants a puzzle. A really hard one with about 100,000 pieces and a picture of a castle or something on it. She went just as bonkers over the thought of a new puzzle as Punkone went over the Death-of-our-savings Star. God love her.

This Christmas all she'll have to eat is egg nog. And nothing but a stinkin puzzle under the tree. Please send money to finance some dentures for our poor little Punkette. Dentures. Not the Death Star. This girl needs some teeth.*

*I'm joking. She doesn't need dentures. Bigger and better teeth are growing as we speak. Please don't send any money.**

**We will accept Legos though.