Wednesday, October 28

party time

I'm looking over the guest list for our Halloween party this weekend, thinking up the menu, and starting on a shopping list... when it occurs to me that once again, I will never learn.

In fact, it's no longer a sneaking suspicion. Despite the periodic ranting of my dear husband (who is obviously just making stuff up) I maintained some glimmer of hope that I was being driven by something good within me, and not just simply making the same boneheaded mistakes over and over. I now have the hard evidence that I never learn. Documented by yours truly in this blog.

It was nearly one year ago that I started blogging, and my very very very first post was about me getting ready for what turned out to be an insanely wild Halloween party. Fortunately we kept it just shy of caving in the floor and killing Marchesa.

Tuesday, October 27

RTT: just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

I need to work on my "I don't understand a word you're saying" look. Yes, I'm trying to hammer this language into my bowling ball head and Yes, I get the general gist of things and Yes, you are SO SWEET to make the effort to communicate with me BUT could you please slow it down just a tad... the trying expression on my face does NOT mean I've got gas.

I miss my dryer. I KNOW I harp on about how great and environmentally righteous we are to not have a clothes dryer, but when it's friggggggin cold and you haven't figured out how to turn the heat on yet and punkette insists on continuing to sleep in just her underwear and although you clearly explain that it is her own fault that she's a human popsicle in the morning... you've run out of blankets to pile on her bed during the night and you are grinding down your teeth as you smile and warm up her clothes with the hair dryer in the morning... a clothes dryer would be nice. 1. For the fresh out of the dryer warmness and 2. the plumpy softness as opposed to the cardboard stiffness that is causing Punkette to boycott clothes in the first place.

Cabbage is my new favorite food. Since the days of school evacuation due to the stink of a nearby cabbage field, this is a dramatic swing of opinion. In the past three weekends I have made three different cabbage based dishes that have all gotten rave reviews from the family. Yea. I'm glad I gave cabbage another chance.

Pass the Pigs. For once I am not talking about bacon. It's a game that the punks got from Grandma and Grandpa and it's just oodles of fun. It's like dice, but instead the die are pigs. Here's how you score: You toss two pigs and you get points based on how they land. You can roll as many times as you like, accumulating points, but risking to loose them all if you get Pig Out (pigs lying down on opposite sides).

For example:

trotter: 5 points

double trotter: 20 points

razorback: 5 points

double razorback: 20 points

snouter: 10 points
leaning jowler (snout + ear touching table): 15 points
total: 25 points

Then there's combos:

snouter: 10 points + razorback: 5 = 15

leaning jowler: 15 ... no points added for only one sider

this is the oinker and clearly impossible, you cheater... back to zero

I think you should get triple points for this one, but it is also, in fact, an oinker: back to zero you pig!

Look what you made me do.

Monday, October 26


I pull on my jeans and a hoodie over my night shirt. My running shoes and my wool peacoat. There is an automatic easiness about this "look" that I've achieved in 1.35 minutes. Ironically, it's the same look that I see in every shop window.

And it's in these comfort clothes that I scurry the punks out the 17th century doors. They zip down the street on their bikes, closing that two block gap between now and "puntuale." Past the black heels that stop their clicking to look.

Some days I can fold myself in. Capture the notes and blend with the harmony of this city.
Make no disruption and pretend not to notice the crucifix, the thinness, the perfect urban precision with which it hums. Pretending to be comfortable and drowning myself in the beauty of a new culture.

But on days like today my 15 year old jeans and a thick grey sweatshirt will do just fine.
On days like today I feel no need and make no excuse.
For being distinctly alien.

Friday, October 23

You know you might have a scary mamma if...

I stumbled upon a blog this week that really spoke to me. It's called Scary Mamma and is written by Jill. From her site:

What is a Scary Mommy, you ask? I believe a Scary Mommy is a mother who doesn’t leave the house wearing lipstick at all times. A Scary Mommy loves her kids to death, but will admit to feeling totally overwhelmed and exhausted by the gig. A Scary Mommy doesn’t really care what other people think, and a Scary Mommy thinks that all mothers win when we admit our weaknesses.

In other words, a mamma who is scary in the minds of all the perfect mothers. The good mothers who never make mistakes, who's children dress with coordinating socks and they eat precisely the food recommended by the FDA. They get all their shots and meet all their milestones, follow their schedules and sleep through the night.

So, to help the blissly ignorant children understand what all the hairy-eyeball looks are all about, I present:

You know you might have a scary mamma if...

you are dressed in clothes that pass "the smell test" about once a week.

she has no qualms about the three second rule, unless you're in the city.

you know plenty of curse words, but know darn well not to use them.

you nursed until the age of 4 and then got a bike in exchange for giving up the habit.

you know how to swim but you've never had lessons.

if there is a fruit or vegetable you like, you're welcome to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

you have no idea what a crib is.

you've caught tadpoles and had pet crickets.

you know burnt food contains carcinogens and you should just scrape the black stuff off with your knife.

one in every 8 meals is SOOOOO GOOOD!

you know better than to say anything about the other 7.

once when you couldn't sleep in the middle of the night, mom and dad took you out for doughnuts.

you are 4 years old and your favorite music artists are The Clash and Cat Stevens.

when you ask her for a pet dog she replies "like I need something else to clean up after."

you have a working knowledge of sarcasm that your teachers find delightful.

there is dried finger paint on your dining room table.

you share a bedroom with a sibling of the opposite sex.

she dressed you in the same Halloween costume 2 years in a row and then used it for your little sister for another two years.

you've eaten pancakes for dinner.

you know you're responsible for the freakish shape of her belly button.

you had to wear your brother's t-shirt at the water park (to cover up your 6 year old breasts) because the people that work there are stupid.

there's a box by your front door full of rocks, leaves and chestnuts.

she's living proof that if you're having a bad day, you try not to take it out on your family and if you accidentally do, it's important to say you're sorry.

also that it's important to forgive each other, no matter what.


I love my punks.

Thanks for inspiring this post Scary Mamma... that was fun.

Thursday, October 22

the fun theory

It's my favorite meme of the week... Think Green Thursday!

Depending on where you live in this world, you may be at different phases of this idea of thinking green. Over the years, I've found that new "green" programs are met with a wide mix of response from the public. I'm happy to see that, more and more, the trend is leaning toward enthusiasm for such programs rather than resentment.

None the less, I came across a cool program being sponsored by VW... I know, cringe, a car manufacturer... but don't dismiss it just yet! It's called the fun theory and is the coolest idea I've seen in a long time for promoting change in our habits. The fun theory states that people are more likely to change their habits if the new (hopefully greener) habit is fun.

Makes sense right? Sure works for my kids. I let them ride their bikes to school because they enjoy riding their bikes and practically skip out of the door in the morning. Let them squeeze their own orange juice, set the table for company, take all the pictures at museums... because it makes the activity more fun (less whining!) This is a tried and proven theory that all moms know well.

Turns out it works for whining adults too... check out this video about making taking the stairs more fun:

What can we do to make "green living" more fun? I'll have to chew on that and get back to you next week.

Tuesday, October 20

over the top

Wild Child at Naked Opinions picked me for a blog award. Too sweet!

With the award comes selection of cryptic questions to be answered with one word each... I threw a few out, rearranged them to my liking and decided to answer some with pictures (this took a HELL of a lot more time than I expected it would... next time just do the damn meme and be done with it!):

Where is your cell phone?

Your hair?

Your mother?
nerves of steel

Your father?
makes me look good

Your favorite food?
chicken en mole poblano

Your favorite drink?
hot pepper cafe mocha

Your dream/goal?

What room are you in?
silence in the library... just for you wild child ;)

Your hobby?
birth/breastfeeding activist

Your Fear?
locked-in syndrome

Where do you want to be in 6 years?
on the red line

Where were you last night?

When was the last time you laughed?
last night

Last time you cried?
watching "Grace is Gone"

One place that I go to over and over?

Favorite place to eat?

Something that you aren’t?

Wish list item?

Where did you grow up?

What are you wearing?

Your TV?

Your pets?


Your mood?

Missing someone?

this man captures it beautifully
(not my bike, but bikes/life in general)

Something you’re not wearing?

Your favorite store?

Your favorite color?

Your life?

Monday, October 19

the happy ballad of a strange pilgram

I have a big heart, bursting with achy spaces and joy. Sectioned off into dozens, maybe hundreds of little rooms. And really just one person in the world holds the keys. One person who makes me laugh and cry at all the right moments. One person brave enough to stick around. One person I can stand to see walk away on distant adventures and who I know will understand as I embark on mine.

So come in dear children, husband, mom and dad. Sweet friends and family from far away and those new ones close at hand. I have an ample heart and it's mostly fit for loving. How?, I'm learning day by day. For it was just one, lucky, incredible chance that my eyes were open at just the right time and saw one person there who needed me to save the world and whose exhistence and love also saved mine.

Friday, October 16

get your geek on

Geek 1: What's the integral of 1/cabin?

Geek 2: A natural log cabin.

Geek 1: No, a houseboat – you forgot to add the c!


Wednesday, October 14

bacon on the brain

Captain Dumbass has put a bug in my brain.
Well, he didn't actually put it there, just re-activated it.
The long dormant bacon bug.
His RTT post got bacon and apple strudel all mixed up in my brain.
Sounds so damn good.
What I wouldn't give for a plate of crispy bacon right about now.
Swimming in maple syrup.
Or wrapped around a piece of veal and sage, fried in butter.

Don't hate Italy, but they don't sell bacon here.
(Or maple syrup, but I have a private stash)
With a little bit of effort, you could probably get bacon.
You'd have to sleep with the butcher though
With the way my mouth is salivating, I'm not sure I can seduce the butcher.
Ironic, isn't it?

So I'll have to live vicariously through you.
I'll share with you my secret recipe for a knock-you-on-your-ass BLT.

BLT... Bacon Lettuce Tomato sandwich.

Start with two slices of toasted bread. Something simple, and willing to ride it out in the wings. Assembly is the key to a good BLT, the secret takes it up to heavenly, so pay attention.

Take one slice of toast and spread some mayo on it.
Two slices of tomato on the mayo
Top with two leaves of a nice crispy iceberg lettuce
Leave it for a sec.

Take the second slice of toast and spread some creamy peanut butter on it
This is the trick. Trust me, it'll knock your socks off.
Cover all that peanut butter up with warm crispy bacon. Usually 4-5 slices works for me.
Flip this onto the lettuce and tomato side, pressing it all together.


I'm going to go collapse on the floor now.

Monday, October 12

I like his style.

I'm sure you all have seen this as it popped up on my google homepage and therefore must have popped up on every google homepage. I'm sure google doesn't know me that well. Please tell me that they sent it to everyone and that they haven't secretly tapped into my internal psyche. Yikes, maybe google reads my blog.

Don't you think google has become very 1984? ((shivers))


Watch the video. Not for the belly dancing. His belly dancing is terrible. Watch it because you see someone embracing life. His life. And seemingly (in the 1:30 seconds we have to observe him) loving every second of it.

I wonder what Ishan would say...

How is it possible that there is always pee splatter on the floor! I grew up with three brothers and never remember the bathroom stinking like a truckstop restroom.

Cleaning the bathroom floor 3 times a day is a celebration of my physical agility! Do you like the way I shake it?

or maybe...

Me: Punkette takes forever to put on her shoes. Why does she insist on loosening each shoe right to the end of the laces. She is driving me crazy!

Ihsan: Punkette knows what she likes and has the determination to get it herself! It's beautiful! Take it nice and easy. And watch how I clean the entire kitchen while she does it!
I am not normal.

Well, I am thankful for that! I hope to be not normal too Ihsan. I like your style.

Saturday, October 10

what a great day for a weekend

Do I dare say it?

My day is off to a great start. One of the best. The punks only woke once during the night, at the same time. Punkette was a rare one, waking to a bloody nose. She was upset at having ruined her pillowcase, which I found long ago in a second hand store. One of those softest cotton cases that has been embroidered along one edge. This one has pineapples on it. I told her not to worry, that I would wash it out in the morning.

And then I slept... until 9. Not opening my eyes, I heard the whispered plots of the punks. Plotting a surprise for me. Getting dressed and making their beds! Oh, these two know me so well. I couldn't dream of anything better. I smile and feign continued sleep.

But they went even further. Planning their own breakfast and sending Papa out for the ingredients. Homemade lemon-lime soda. What ever floats your boat dear ones.

And even further, Punkone is doing his homework for the weekend and Punkette is occupying herself with legos and solitaire card games.

This is my new day. What a great day for a weekend!

Peace- Christine

Wednesday, October 7

think green thursday

I want to lie down in dappled leaf-shade,
In quivering shadows of quivering leaves-
be they oak, be they maple,
be they elm or birch,

I want to rest in the play of shadows
over my reclining form,
The massage of shadows
which consoles me in its way,
Restores for me
with whatever restoration
Flickering shadows of leaves afford-
be they willow or aspen,
be they poplar or beech,

I want to be caressed by shadows
of wavering leaves,
Soothed off to sleep
feeling the gentle breeze,
Looking up at the rustling
sun-drenched crown-
Be it basswood, be it chestnut,
Be it walnut or hickory,

after all is said,
after all is done,
This is the way
I would die. -ANTLER

The ultimate natural family living resource, mothering, has an article this month called "Eco Baby Shower." Imagine having a baby, and bringing it up in this world, without the mountains of handy, helpful baby gadgets. Imagine! One couple did... and they insisted that no one give them anything new. Nothing packaged, wrapped, or plastic. They didn't want any of it. Husband insists, "I don't want any plastic crap."

Imagine what they received instead: a pair of denim overalls saved from the baby days of the mother-to-be, a collection of favorite baby books that have been outgrown... things that have been made beautiful by wear and tear.

I very much liked this article because it reminded me about my revolt against baby gadgets when I was pregnant. I didn't want to think about it. All I needed was a comfortable place to live, a warm bed, good food... I refused to think that I'd need anything more.

It helped that we were living on a boat at the time. We told people not to buy us all those gadgets simply because we didn't have space. I didn't want to get philosophical, and it worked.

And we did just fine. No monstrous high chair (I am truly amazed at the amount of space these things take up in my friend's houses). No crib... not even a pack-n-play. No swings or saucers. We had a few simple things (and of course the mandatory car seat... but we opted for a convertible one that could be used for two years... no "baby buckets"). But far less than what you find on the "essentials" list you get at Babies-Are-Bucks. And my punks grew just fine. Safe and happy, calm and curious.

There are so many things out there. Interesting, wonderful things. But do you really need it? Do you even really want it? Take some time to imagine. Take some time to think.

click for more thoughts on think green thursday

Tuesday, October 6

grammar finally comes back to bite me in the butt

Italian class, day 3.

Today we learn how to use/form the past tense of verbs. Holy hell, what a nightmare.

Past participles, reflexive and reciprocal verbs, infinitive...
And then, near and far past?!?!

Crapity crap crap crap
Grammar finally came back
To bite me in the ass

Did I ever mention that I hated grammar (can you tell)
I knows I can speak English. I ain't got to knows why!

Well, apparently I DO. Because now I'm up shit creek when my teacher asks me to form the passato prossimo. And could I please explain the difference between reflessivi and transitivi verbs? This is apparently a very key difference because it depends on whether or not you form the near past actions with to be or to have.

To be completely frank, I have no friggin' idea.

I know Mrs. Jones is tsk tsk-ing right about now..

Hi Mrs. Jones. Yea, I know, sorry about all this. I really didn't learn a damn thing in your class, did I? But hey, look! I've got this groovy blog! And even you stopped by to read it.
What's that? I shouldn't start a sentence with And? That's like, creative writing, isn't it?
Oh, okay, I'll put a quarter in the jar for using like improperly. I bet you about ready to retire on the misuse of the word like in your 6th grade grammar classes. Wow. That is impressive. Way to turn what must have been like a totally maddening situation into something positive. Oh, sorry, double word score for using like and totally together. Here's a dollar. Now leave me alone.

Monday, October 5

a saturday afternoon

Winding our way north on the autostrada, we're on our way to explore the hills and valleys between Bolzano and Merano, Itay. This is not far from where we live, but given that we don't own a car and seldom venture outside the city, it feels like another world.

We leave at 12:30 and just 45 minutes later, find ourselves in a small bar in the little town of Appiano for lunch. They have a hearty orzo soup on the stove, perfect with the bread and cold cuts... speck, salami, and prosciutto.

We then head out to explore:

Stunning steeple, you'll see it again later from the Boymont Castle tower.

some other expats exploring the area

a farmer taking in the apple harvest

can you get any more quaint?

For some reason, we enjoy walking through cemeteries. This one is full of German surnames due to the fact that this part of Italy was part of Austria before World War I. In fact, there is a separatist movement here and German is the first language of the region.

We then enjoyed an hour long hike up to one of the many castles.

click to enlarge if you would like to read the text

I love photographs through windows... imagining how long this view has been captured in this way...

From the top of the tower you can see the layout of the castle ruins and the beautiful surrounding country side.

From here, we went to Merano, which was absolutely gorgeous... but I left my camera in the car. I guess you'll just have to go there yourself. ;)

Friday, October 2

Marchesa means Dutchess

A good day. Kitchen's been cleaned since breakfast. The fruit bowl is full of fresh selections from the market. Even a load of laundry has been hung.

Has been hung... sort of has a nice ring to it.
And bells, now have been rung.
Has been hung... ring... rung. It's amazing that I get anything done.

I realize that I'm gazing out the window into the open space, enclosed by my kitchen window and the walls of the neighboring buildings. An open space that, by definition, goes up to the sky, but also down, to the patio below. Just one floor below.

Oh yes, I realize. Time to get the kids.
Out the door for horse drawn carriages and down the street I stroll.
Faccio due passi
as I learned to say one day ago.

Kids, bikes, and two packs on my back. We need to stop by home.
About this home... have I told you?

It's a palazzo. Palazzo Parisi and the Marchesa herself lives there still.
She's old and crippled and has a nasty bite.
Everything is wrong and nothing is right.
I don't like this crabby old woman... but let's not be impolite...

I can't remember the Italian but she complains.
Complains for wrappers left on the floor that blew in from carnival 8 months before.
Wrappers from candy we do not eat, but I pick them up from under her feet.

More yelling as I put away bikes.
What can this be? What have I done?
Ah... the lights. I've turned on two when I should only use one.
I make the mistake to try and point out... and words from me only cause her to shout.

What waste I have made!
She pays the bills!
And what an expense!
There's a light in the room!
You don't need the one in the hall!
And as she screams on... I decide to stop listening.

My home brings me joy and I'm glad when I'm there
High ceilings and large windows that let in fresh air
Climb up marble stairs with an old iron railing
Just ignore the old hag that never stops wailing

Thursday, October 1

italian lessons... day 1

I've started my Italian language class. Yep, after two years in Italy, I've grown tired of sounding like a cave woman. My first class was pretty enlightening, exactly the stuff that Strange Pilgram is all about, so I'll share. Maybe weekly, we'll see...

What did I learn in my first day of Italian?

A pencil sharpener is called temperamattita. This word gave me a lot of confusion when the punks and I were shopping for school supplies. Mattia means pencil, and tempera reminded me of Temper Paints, so I thought it was some kind of painting pencil. Glad we finally cleared that up!

Also, principianti means beginners. I'd always understood it to be "participants"... which actually works most of the time. Ahh, the subtle details are beginning to surface.

And then this phrase really threw me for a loop:
Lui e' medico, pediatra in un grande ospedale di Milano; si chima Paolo, ha 45 anni, un po' di pancia (poca), e' un po' pelato (troppo), e' sportivo, simpatico e allegro.

Did you get all that? Well, Paolo sounds like a pretty good catch. He's a doctor, a pediatrician at a big hospital in Milano. 45 years old. Pancia means tummy, so he has just a little tummy. He's also athletic, nice, and happy...

But what about pelato? What the heck does that mean? I'm thinking: Pelle is skin and pelo is an animal's fur coat ...wait, are they saying he's furry? Too much furry?

How much is too much? Are we talking Mike Rowe furry or Teen Wolf furry?

good furry

bad furry

Well, it turns out that, on the contrary, pelato means bald.