Epiphany

When I was a teenager, I was rightfully paranoid about getting pregnant. After a few pregnancy scares in my mid-teens, I went straight, and from then on it was condoms, condoms, condoms. I went on the pill in my late teens. But I couldn’t quite believe that taking these little pills was really a trustworthy way to avoid pregnancy. I could SEE condoms. So I still insisted, condoms, condoms, condoms. It took me years to come around to the realization that these little pills were known to have well over 90% efficacy; and then I finally laid off the condoms, when in trustworthy relationships.

Something similar has been going on this year. All year it’s been mask, mask, mask. Then I get two shots in the arm. Can I really believe that those two little shots mean I’m protected, and protected from infecting others? I can’t actually see the shots doing anything. I can SEE masks, and I can obviously see staying home doing nothing. So even since my long awaited V-Day, I’ve been careful, careful, careful. No indoor dining! And trips that I’d been looking forward to… should I really be running around the country, to NC, to NYC, to ME, weaving school even?

Maggie and I had wanted to celebrate our birthday together in NYC. I was more fine with the idea when it was distant, but now it’s coming up. She wants to plan indoor things. I told her I only wanted to do outdoor things. She said then it wasn’t worth planning anything. And it was OK, if I wasn’t comfortable coming down, it was fine, she honestly wasn’t mad. Not at me.

Then I’m like, when am I going to be OK with this? What threshold of cases will make it all OK? It hit me when I saw a headline today about the Canadian border *possibly* reopening soon. If it reopened tomorrow, would I go to my long-missed Canadian haunts? With my prevailing attitude of fear – no, I wouldn’t. Dammit, what’s it gonna take, Tytania? When will you live again? I’ll tell you when. At some arbitrary point. Someday you will just start to feel OK doing shit again.

Why not make that point now?

It’s on.

Makes You Want to Stop and Read a Book

Winooski River, Richmond, VT

Today makes up for yesterday.

I would have enjoyed my salad at Big Spruce more if – well, let’s put it this way! I LIKE cilantro – but it’s an HERB, not a salad green, people.

Oh, this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow

El Crapola Memorial Day

What a pathetic excuse for a day off. I read some periodicals, I did some sudokus, I pitted a huge bag of cherries. & I futzed around with my colored pencils thinking about Weaving School in August where I’ll be attempting a warp-faced rug, which I will call Ruggy McWarpface, for my studio/playroom/office. Not getting too far.

Long Slow Twilights

So, we are choosing to still avoid public indoor dining.

This has forced us to be a bit creative… where is there outdoor seating, that is open on a given night, that will take us in, that we haven’t already had this week, that has halfway decent and healthful food… Well, sometimes X out of Y ain’t bad. We ended up at Hoagie’s in Essex, of all places. My salad greens were past their prime. The food was really not good, but the overall experience was stellar. We were the only ones out on the patio for some mysterious reason. We had draft beers. Service was quick and the right degree of attentive, unlike our other forays this season to more understaffed locations. And we took a leisurely walk down suburban side roads afterwards, saw new things, with an occasional open field to appreciate.

That was last night; Saturday night was kind of similar. I did something I had been itching to do, which was choose a restaurant out of some 183 different ones in Chittenden county, using a random number generator. It ended up pointing us to takeout Vietnamese in South Burlington. We ate at picnic tables down Community Drive way, and took a leisurely walk, seeing new things we don’t see every day. That food wasn’t the best Vietnamese ever, but it was better than Hoagie’s wilted lettuce.

Essay Corner Addendum

Oh yeah, one other thing she got spot on: “Visiting one another’s homes is akin to food shopping. On your way out the door, you will be interviewed about what groceries you’re lacking at home, and two bags will be filled for you and placed by the door.”

Mom was always trying to foist food upon us upon leaving. Homemade goodies made by her or someone like her – without a doubt, understandable. But also goodies not necessarily homemade, like her leftovers from the restaurant we just visited – yup. “Take it home! Take it home!” But even ordinary run-of-the-mill groceries. An untouched Entenman’s cake – “Want to bring some cake home?” Want this? Want that? Mom, I can buy an Entenm…. oh, never mind. And she always seemed to think that we all had to eat round the clock; we may have just come home stuffed from a four-course meal, and she’d be like, “Want something to snack on later? Here, you can nibble on this later.” Jesus Mom, I may not even be eating tomorrow.

Essay Corner

A special person in my life sent me a copy of Gastropolis: Food & New York City.  I turned immediately to the Italian chapter, entitled “Cosa Mangia Oggi?”  What’d ya eat today?

It’s one of those Italian Grandmother reminiscences, written by an Annie Rachelle Lanzillotto.  Annie was born about a decade earlier than me, and is from the Bronx, not Staten Island; and of course, her grandmother’s southern Italian, like everyone else’s American-emigrating grandma.  Given all those things, it was truly amazing all the parallels that I could relate to.

  • Her Grandma Rose was born in 1900, same as mine.
  • Grandma would embarrass her by picking dandelion greens out in center field during her ball games.  Mine would embarrass us picking them at the cemetery.
  • My grandma made polenta.  Her grandmother called her “polenta” when she was laying around being lazy.  But both hated laziness.
  • “Menza menz” her grandma would say when asked how she was.  My mother said that all the time; sounded like “mizza miz.”  The “z” pronounced American, not Italian.  Means “so-so.”  What a great honest answer to “How ya doing?”
  • “When carrying an Italian bread home in its white paper sleeve from the corner store after Mass, bite off one end of the bread before you make it up the stoop into the house.”  Every single aspect of this sentence is important, not just scarfing the end piece of the bread, the best part.  It has to be in a white paper sleeve.  Has to be after 12:00 mass.  Has to be before reaching the “stoop.”

It was almost too much.

I loved the part where she tried to decipher her grandmother’s written recipes.  Here, her grandma definitely had an edge over mine: Carmela was illiterate and could only sign her name.  Anyway, Grandma Rose’s recipes were part Italian dialect, part phonetic English.  The best was trying to decipher “begn polvere.”  She enlists help from other relatives.  “Polvere” is powder.  But “begn…” she had to pronounce it out loud, various ways, before she stumbled upon it: of course.  Begn powder.  As opposed to begn soda.  Similarly, “1 bottiglia di greppe giuse.”  Just say it out loud.  The accents all come pouring back.

And Annie writes with some phonetic emphasis too.  Ricotta is never spelled as such, but is ‘riGUTH.’  Now, we were northern Italians, so we never ate ricotta OR “riGUTH”, but we did eat “riZUTT.”  And both Annie and we ate “bisCUT.”  That was what my grandmother would have for breakfast, with coffee: Stella D’Oro Biscotti, pronounced strictly as “bisCUT”.

It was all almost too much.

So, cosa mangia oggi?  I can hear one of my own relatives asking this with kind of a singsong lilt.  Or my mom, no trace of accent on her except for New York; she’d have phrased it, “What’ya makin tonight, something good?”  I’m gonna make a big salad, ma, with asparagus and spinach, in a vinaigrette.  “Mmm!” she’d hum approvingly.  And I made cornbread to go with it.  I thought of a nice crusty Italian bread, but Xopher likes cornbread, plus that will go good with chili I’m gonna make later this week.  “Nice!”  She’d approve.  Sorry Mom.  Sorry we didn’t get to have more of those conversations.

On the Missisquoi

This weekend inaugurated biking, dining outdoors, washing mohair, and, perhaps my favorite, sitting in the lawn chair on the screen porch. Above some moo-cattle look on from a little hilltop farm along the Missisquoi Rail Trail. I’m so happy lately I think I may have popped a funny fuse.