Tag Archives: creative nonfiction

Margaritas, Cold Sweat, and Dante

beata-beatrix

Dante wrote his long poem for Beatrice Portinari (that’s Bay-ah-TREE-chay)

“Rojo,” my wife says to me one morning.

We’re in the car on the way to the gym. We work out in the basement of the township senior center. Treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bicycles, a couple rowing machines—there’s always a few of these not in use. There are also number of pneumatic weight machines, for maintaining a senior citizen’s various muscle groups. You sit at these machines. They’re good for gentle sedentary social exercise.

“What about it?” I say.

“Why can’t anyone say it?” She says it again, “Rojo.”

“Rojo,” I say.

“Nope.  That’s not it.”

Rojo is a Mexican restaurant in the area. When our niece comes home from Italy, we have a family gathering at Rojo. Twenty or so of us get together to eat and drink. We try to organize these get-togethers on the Tuesday dollar-a-taco night. Rojo serves acceptable tacos and cheesey beany burritos and sizzling fajitas. Also popular is the house margarita, a greenish slurry of cheap tequila and an industrial-grade margarita mix that gives the drink a long distinctly chemical finish. The cocktail is served in an over-sized chalice; sort of like a small glass bucket. I don’t think it comes with an umbrella. (It should come with an aspirin.) Continue reading

Where We Are Was Once a Sea

When you get to Pahrump it feels like the end of the world. It’s California desert country, on the northwest edge of Death Valley National Park. Driving into town we pass Bride Street, Gravel Pit Road, and WTF Sand and Stone. Next to the Mobil where we gas up is a storefront church. It might have been a travel agency at one time, Anywhere But Here Travel. Now, in big letters above the door, between two crosses, the church identifies itself: IT IS FINISHED. What, as in end times? Continue reading

Faces in the Stone

I’ve been having doubts about my hat. It’s a hiker’s hat, with a full brim all the way around, and a drawstring that hangs in front of my ears and can be cinched under my chin. I bought it sort of on the fly. It was a careless oh-what-the-hell purchase. I knew I would need a hat. In three weeks time we would be walking eight National parks.

Unlike my wife, who looks great in hats (and she will tell you so, and it is true), a hat on my head can look ridiculous. When I buy a hat, attention must be paid. Continue reading

Me and Velociraptor and Forrest Gump

There it is, a dinosaur footprint. How about that?

We’ve just finished the lower Antelope Slot Canyon tour, outside Page, Arizona. Along the way our guide, Ryan, has been giving us a short course in geological history, which my wife translates from English into Italian for our friends Luigi and Adele. Her translations are brilliant, embellished by her impressive knowledge of American Indian culture. Continue reading

Dear Family and Friends,

Some years ago I had a very depressing conversation with my brother, Tom. We were talking about how quickly time seems to pass, and as an example, how the summer months, which seemed to last forever when you were a kid, fly by when you become an adult. Tom, you probably know, is a math man. He said, Well, it’s like this: think 3/x, letting x = your age in months. As x increases in value, the ratio of summer time to life time gets smaller and smaller. Infinitesimally smaller. Continue reading

Halloween in Italy

romagna-mia-la-piada-dei-morti

Where the month of dead means pumpkins, cemeteries, and baked goods

My wife is talking about Druids.

We’re in a kitchen store in Rimini, a place where we buy stuff for our apartment–pans, drinking glasses, cutting board, a new espresso pot. The lady there also keeps us supplied in stainless steel coasters, an accessory my wife delights in buying. (I don’t like them. With the least bit of condensation, they stick to the bottom of a glass, then detach and cymbal crash on the tabletop when you take a drink.) Our cupboard back in the US is full of them. Today the store is having a sale on nonstick pans, 10 euro. We’re tempted. Continue reading

The Sway of Earth

preci

A recap of this weekend in Italy: earthquakes and seafood

We have clams for lunch.

For dinner, earthquakes.

First, a food report from a restaurant on the Adriatic. The photos below were taken at a fish place called La Marianna that my wife LOVES. It’s in Rimini, next to the Roman-era bridge of Tiberius, completed around 21 AD. We drive over it every time we go to this part of Rimini. How’s that for engineering? Continue reading