Rick Bailey grew up in Freeland, Michigan, on the banks of the Tittabawassee River. He taught writing for 38 years at Henry Ford College.
A Midwesterner long married to an Italian immigrant, he has learned the language and food of Italy, traveled around the country, and, in the process, he has been (partly) made over–italianizato. In retirement Rick and his wife divide their time between Michigan and the Republic of San Marino.
Michigan Ear Institute, it’s no surprise, is a noisy place. I’m sitting in the waiting room when Mr. Robinson walks in. He steps up to the check-in window, signs in, and waits. The receptionist looks up. Her lips move.
“What?” he says.
“What?” he says, again.
“HAS ANY OF YOUR INSURANCE INFORMATION CHANGED, MR. ROBINSON?”
I was talking to my friend Pat a few days ago about tomatoes. “Everyone who’s been there,” she said, “talks about the tomatoes in Italy. They’re supposed to be so good.” Yup, they’re good all right. Here in the US we do pretty well a few months of the year. Over there, year around it seems, great tomatoes.
I went a little crazy the other day. Couple times a year my brother and I go to Breckenridge to visit our mom and dad’s graves. We spook around the cemetery visiting them and all the relatives gone but not forgotten.
For years now I’ve suffered from garlic salt shame. It’s the seasoning I use most often, thinking that it’s a shortcut, that an accomplished cook with stores of self-respect would employ solo salt and stand-alone garlic that he would strip, dice, and sprinkle on a side dish or main course instead of going the two-in-one route.
When I was a kid, my junk food of choice, purchased at Pat’s Food Center across the street from my house, or at the park store in the Missaukee County trailer park, was Twinkies or Mars Bar or Three Musketeers bar (Pat’s) or wax lips or wax coke bottle with that syrupy pseudo coca cola inside or colored-sugar-in-a-straw (county store). I had friends who bought Good and Plenty, black or red licorice. Not me. Ever.
In Italy they say, “Non c’è due senza tre.” Which means, roughly, stuff happens in threes.
The expression comes to me tonight. I’m lying in bed with my wife in Mariposa, California, where we’ve come to visit our son and his wife. Behind the barn where they make cider, above which they have a comfortable one-bedroom apartment, there is a big backyard. In this big backyard, at all times of day, a bunch of deer. Also in this big backyard, a 26 foot camper, in which my wife and I are trying to sleep. Above this big backyard, a big sky totally free of light pollution. I’m urban, with memories of the rural sky I lived beneath when I was a kid. Since we got here, I’ve reminded myself a few times: go out there at night and look at the stars. Tonight is special. We’re waiting for the eclipse of a super blood moon. Well, I’m waiting. It’s a long wait. The eclipse will begin around 2:45 a.m. and will be at maximum at 4:15 a.m. I want to see it. My wife wants to sleep.