The Flood Will Come

our ditch

I’m feeling good about our ditch.

Between our house and the house next door, running from the street to the back of the lot, this ditch conveys water to a large storm drain. Surface water drains into this ditch. Our sump water is pumped into this ditch. The water from the long ditch across the street, a major tributary, flows under the road through 12-inch pipe and into our ditch.

Six feet across, four feet deep, in a hard rain this ditch moves a lot of water. Unfortunately, along a third of its length, six tall, prolific cottonwood trees loom over it. They drop loads of crap–pods and clots of cotton spring and summer, a continuous blizzard of leaves in the fall, sticks year around–a plague of tree matter that winds up in the ditch and is dragged by the flow of water in a heavy downpour all the way back to the storm drain, which clogs, backs up, and forms a lake that can only be unclogged by hand. Of course, our backed-up ditch affects the one across the street. We’re all in this together.
Continue reading “The Flood Will Come”

What Comes Next

shopping seniors 4

Tizi says, Hey why don’t you Google the local stores and find out if they have special hours for senior citizens?  

And I think, But why would I do that? 

And then I remember.

I haven’t developed the habit of thinking of myself as a senior citizen. Then it hits you, like a pie in the face. A week ago, talking to my son in LA, I described our distancing regime during the pandemic.  Good, he said. Just that morning it had occurred to him that we were in greater danger. He’d remembered: we’re old.  Continue reading “What Comes Next”

TP Me

tp2

I was first in line at the Lahser and Maple Kroger yesterday morning, a Sunday. The doors would open at 7:00. I’d been waiting in my car for fifteen minutes, cars pulling into the lot after me, first one, then two or three at a time, killing headlights, engines. I was there more out of curiosity than immediate need. The day before I’d been to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menards at 7:00 a.m., checking on what they were out of.  I bought a can of Lysol. There were three left on the shelf. A few days before that, in a late afternoon stop at Kroger, I saw one half gallon of 2 percent milk on the shelf. One.  Continue reading “TP Me”

Into the Mix

empties.jpg

One of the delights in eating in Romagna (and I hazard to guess all over Italy) is the “misto.” 

The mix. 

Where I come from, eating fish you usually get one thing. Your appetizer is one thing–a tartar, half a dozen oysters, a bowl of mussels. And your main course is usually one thing–fillet of whitefish, fillets of perch, a chunk of salmon or tuna or swordfish, some crab legs or a lobster tail. Want to taste something besides what’s on your plate? Poach a bite from your wife’s when she’s not looking.   Continue reading “Into the Mix”

Romagna Food Notes, Part IV

lampino

This post is not exactly Romagna food notes. 

Tizi’s family on her mother’s side is from le Marches, a contiguous region known for white truffles. There are truffles in Romagna, too, any Romagnolo will tell you. We’ve been to eat, for example, in Sant’Agata in Feltria, which, as far as I can tell, is a truffle capital in Romagna. Truffles are on the menu in all restaurants we like around here. But we save ourselves for days like yesterday. Because in le Marches, we have a huge advantage.   Continue reading “Romagna Food Notes, Part IV”

Pienza, Pinconning, Santa Monica

evolution of man

“I don’t like the word cheese,” my wife says.

We’re driving home from the grocery store, where we have just bought a couple mozzarella balls to slice and lay over tomato slices at lunch today.

I am surprised and delighted. Forty-two years of marriage and I never knew this about her. I tell her cheese seems like a perfectly good word.  

She shudders just a little.

One syllable, it must have Anglo-Saxon roots, I think, also considering the ch in the word.  “Cheese,” I say out loud, testing it. In Italy, I’ve heard groups of people lined up to have a picture taken together, everyone saying “cheese,” in English.  I remind her of this. “Cheese has caught on in Italy,” I say.   Continue reading “Pienza, Pinconning, Santa Monica”

Market, Mercato

putto

So I had to get something.  Buy something. My wife and I were on the ninth day of a ten-day stay in Italy. She had visited her cousin’s boutique in Pesaro.  And her favorite shoe store and bookstore and her favorite herbalist in Rimini. And a great toy store in Bologna. And her scarf and headband lady in Santarcangelo. She was pretty loaded.

She asked me, “Don’t you need anything?”

“Nope.”

That Thursday morning we were walking through the mercato in Borgo Maggiore, a village ten minutes up the mountain from our apartment in San Marino. It was the end of November. In two days I would be back in the classroom. Continue reading “Market, Mercato”

Hit Me with Your Best Shot

crema

“Don’t tamp it this time,” my son says. 

“What?”  

“With my Gaggia,” he says, “I’ve stopped tamping.  I get better crema. Try it.”

The coffee, he means, in the filter basket.  

It’s a Saturday morning.  I’m making him an espresso in my Delonghi Dedica Deluxe Pump Stainless Steel Espresso Machine. When you make espresso with a machine, tamping is a thing. It’s part of the process, the ritual. I’ve always tamped. The pros in coffee bars tamp. Every machine I’ve owned came with a tamping tool. When I tell him with this machine I only gently tamp, just leveling the coffee off, he says I might get better crema leaving it loose.   Continue reading “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”