How to Correct Your Coffee

“Did you drink my coffee?” Tizi asks.

“Yes, by accident.”

We’ve just finished a satisfying lunch. In Italy a post-prandial blast of espresso adds an exclamation mark to the experience. Lately she’s been taking her coffee “corrected.” With a dash of “mistra,” the local anise flavored grappa. Typically my wine intake at the table is higher than hers, so I finish with straight coffee. This day the server gets the two coffees mixed up. As soon as I toss it I know, Yes, this one was hers. And Yes, this is how I should be drinking mine. Correct.

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The Road Signs of Italy–What??

Driving into Rimini the other night, I saw a road sign that made no sense. To me the sign said, like, Do something. Or possibly, Don’t do something. And do it, or don’t do it, soon after you see this sign. Maybe right way. I didn’t do anything. In so not doing, I figured I had a 50 percent chance of being right. This is my modus operandi. Don’t do anything, and don’t do it very slowly so you can change course if needed. 

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Feeling at Home in San Marino

All these years I don’t know how I missed it.

Almost fifty years we’ve been coming together to this apartment in San Marino. Mornings I open a cupboard door, take down the stainless steel espresso pot, and make coffee. There are half a dozen cups from my mother-in-law’s China. Not the good stuff in the credenza in the little dining room. This is her every-day stuff. A cup holds half a pot of brewed espresso. Since she’s been gone, I’ve broken one or two of those cups. Dropped on the tile floor, they explode into pieces. 

On this trip, in the back of the cupboard I found a special cup, white, glazed on the side of it a leafy bunch of oranges, one cut in half, and a couple goofy improbable white flowers. 

Above the fruit, written in flowing cursive, Florida.  

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The Mountain Moves Us: San Marino Days

“You can’t hear that?” Tizi says.

“No.”

She rolls on her side, facing me in bed.  “Try.”

“Try,” I say. “You either hear something or you don’t.”

It’s 4:00 a.m. She wants me to hear a bird. I want to hear the bird.  I get up and walk to the foot of the bed where there are double doors that open onto a balcony. We have the serrande lowered all the way to shut out most of the light and provide a little dead air space. Every morning, without fail, I hear a dove out there. Wherever I am in the apartment I hear the dove. Also a couple roosters will start up in another 30-45 minutes. I’ll hear those. But this bird, the one she has been remarking on the last few mornings, I do not hear.  

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When Images Speak, and We Listen

The reminders come.

We see Nicola, the son of one of Tizi’s cousins. He’s in the travel business. I ask him how things are, if work is picking up since Covid. He says, Yes, and now there is the war. Later, his sister’s husband, Tomaso, who is in the food business, when I ask how things are, says, Well, first there was Covid, now the war.

It’s over there. I read about the war every morning. But it’s over there.

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Carnivale–Right Next Door

Carnivale continues. Yesterday was Fat Sunday.

As a small-town guy raised Protestant, I grew up thinking a carnival (“a carnival,” not “carnival”) was 3-4 trucks that came to town, driven by ruffians who set up a Ferris Wheel, the Tilt-a-Whirl, a House of Mirrors, and a few games like Ring Toss, Milk Bottle Pyramid, and the Basketball Shoot. Hey, there’s a carnival in Pinconning. Wanna go?

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