Wednesday, March 27, 2013

That's What You Get For Being A Timberwolves Fan

"POLICE BLOTTER.  Noise complaint:  A noise complaint and possible verbal domestic case was reported at a home on Water Street.  Officers found there was just a man yelling at his television."
(Star Tribune, March 27, 2013)

You'd Think A Minnesotan Would Have Figured This One Out On His Own, But....

"POLICE BLOTTER:  Animal Complaint.  A person called to report that a raccoon was stuck in a garbage can on Howards Point Road.  Officers told the person to tip the garbage can over and call back if the raccoon did not exit.  The person did not call back."
(Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 27, 2012)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Return to the Boot

We got back yesterday at around 7pm our time, and drove directly to the orthopedic hospital.  Good thing, too, since it closes at 8 on Saturdays.

It turned out, as predicted, that my daughter had messed up a growth plate in her heel.  So now she's in a boot for God knows how long.  At least I don't have to feel too bad about forgetting to sign her up for softball. I'm pretty sure sliding in to home with a heavy and potentially damage-inflicting plastic boot on one foot is against the rules.

Her injury, obviously, meant cutting back on the last of our Rome sightseeing.  She missed the catacombs and St Mary Major, one or two other sights.  But she was determined to see Assisi.

If you haven't been there yet, Assisi is all hills.  Some of them quite steep.  Luckily one of the chaperones hit on a brilliant plan:  Would some of the boys of the Chesterton Academy kindly carry the injured 12-year-old on their backs?  And amazingly, several of them did.  So my kid is the first person I know to see Assisi from piggy-back.  She enjoyed it immensely.

Oh, and for anyone who is planning a trip to Italy in the near future:  bring your own ibuprophen.  Lots of it, I mean one of those huge Costco-sized bottles.  You are probably going to need it and you won't believe how much the stuff costs over there.  No kidding, like 14 bucks for ten tablets.  You might even pick up a few euros selling it as a sideline.  And with the dollar where it is, well, let's just say a few of the mega-ibu bottles would have come in real handy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Thrills, The Chills: Travelling by Bus Italian Style

Yesterday our group took a bus to Assisi.  Our driver was Italian.  It took us nearly four hours to get to Assisi.  Understandable, what with driving through maountain ranges and all.  Plus it was a big bus, hard to maneuver on those tight curves.

Why then, we all wondered, did it take only two hours to return to Rome that night?

Because our driver drove like a frickin' lunatic, that's why.  Either he had a hot  date  or there was a soccer game on he couldn't miss.  Whater the reason there were a few times I thought the end might be near.

That always happens in this country. It├ás no wonder there have been so many great Italian racecar drivers.  They must all start training for the job before they get their learners' permits.  On the A-1 people rountinely drive at 90 mph.  Worse, they routinely tailgate at 90 mph. And I'm not talking slick young men here.  I'm talking moms with babies in car seats.

It's one of the first things I learned in Italy:  stay to the right.  The far, far right.  For God's sake stay out of the left lane unless you have a serious death wish.

On the plus side, now that the media have mostly flown the coop there's a lot more room to maneuver here.  And they've taken down the media tents that were cluttering up our view of St Peter's.  Last night we were actually able to stand ont eh upper balcony and admire Michaelangelo's gorgeous dome. Also on the plus side, it has stopped raining, the sun is shining, it's even warmed up a bit.  At last I have the right clothes.

My daughter is still laid up with whatever is wrong with her foot.  I see a trip to the orthopedist in her near future.  LIke, as soon as we get back.

Which is tomorrow, alas.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Pope, Old Fracture

So we have a new pope.  Yesterday DIH watched the installation of Pope Francis from a balcony high above St Peter's Square, and believe me she was glad to be above that crowd.   I am as loyal to the Papacy as the next girl but no way was I getting up at 4 and taking my chances in a crush of a quarter of a million people.

Not to resort to cliches but it really was an amazing experience, being here for the installation of a new Vicar of Christ.  I thought the Holy Father's message was beautiful.  Dont't be afraid of tenderness.  Unless you are a very tasty young calf, in which case the Italians do such wonderful things with veal that--

Oops.  Scratch that.

The only really maddening thing was getting out of Vatican City after the ceremony was over.  Because of all the visiting dignitaries the roads leading out of VC were closed.  We were trapped here until the last statesman was safely across the bridge.  Our group had to cancel its plans to see the catacombs.  Screwed by the likes of Joe Biden again.

In other news my daughter's old heel fracture is apparently acting up.  I have to give her credit for hobbling all the way over tot he Trevi Fountain on crutches yesterday.  She was determined to see it and claimed it would build her upper body strength.  Now of course whe's exhausted and sore, so we are skipping today's touring so she can lie in bed with her foot elevated and complain to her mom.  I may need a new job before the day is over. 

Anybody got any spare Advil?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hobble on the Cobbles

Today is Day 4 of our Rome pilgrimage, and already my daughter needs crutches.  Seriously.  Her foot started hurting on Friday and by now all our home remedies have proven ineffective.  Anybody know where I can find a pair of crutches in Rome?

(I am typing this on an ancient Vatican computer.  Any typos, blame Dan Brown.)

Yesterday was an epic day.  We heard Pope Francis make his first Sunday Angelus address.  One thing the press reports have not really made clear:  the guy is funny.  Really, he has a good sense of humor.  Can't wait to hear more from him tomorrow at his installation.  Which I hope to watch from a safe distance as the crowds in St Peters Square are way too vast for me.

(Note to Vatican wordmeisters: maybe you should come up with a better term than "installation."  Makes it sound like the man is a refrigerator.)

Today we are supposed to be going to St Paul Outside the Walls and St Mary Major.  If we can find a pair of crutches.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ciao from Roma

Years from now people will ask Desperate, ""Desperate, where were you when the white smoke went up?  When the first Argentine pope stepped out on the balcony?""

I would love to be able to say I was in Rome.  But the truth is I was in the airport in Atlanta, waiting for  my connecting flight to Rome.  Saw the whole thing on TV, though.  Comforted myself with the thought that at least I wasn't standing in the pouring rain in  St Peter's Square.

Anywa we're here now, at a residence right next to the Vatican that looks down on SAt Peter's Square.  Relevance of this location:  the whole place is packed with TV trucks.  We keep tripping over cables.  Saw a guy sound asleep in a car that had a placard, "CBS News."  Oh, and I think the Vatican choirs are rehearsing for the pope's installation already.  We keep hearing choral singing, plus a lot of bells bonging.  Hope they knock off before ten.

Rome is as beautiful and intriguing as ever.  Spent the afternoon in Trastevere and-- and I want Lenten credit for this--DID NOT BUY A SINGLE GELATO.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Airport Talk

At MSP airport a gruff lady demanded my boarding pass.  She looked it over, shoved it back at me and said,"No pope yet ."

Really it's wonderful to be so on top of things .  I mean what else is there to talk about these days?  The sequester?  Please.  The Kardashians are more interesting.  Also more of a genuine phenomenon.

I love how every time I turn on the news some jerk at the White House is telling
Me the world is about to end.  Like what America needs most right now is tours of the White House and we'll never have them again until the GOP plays nice.  Have you ever been dragged through a White House tour?  I have.  And I'm sure I speak for American schoolchildren everywhere when I say  I'd rather be at Denny's.

As to who is the current favorite in the College of Cardinals, that's a more interesting topin but sadly we have even less reliable information to work with.  But at least we're willing to admit it.

Hey has there been another vote yet

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Off to Rome

I may not be quite on the cusp of important international events, but tomorrow morning -- hideously early-- the daughter and I are off to Roma. We do now know if we will see the Holy Father.  We do not know if anyone else will, either.

But we plan on having a good time. We are tagging along with the American Chesterton Society's annual pilgrimage, so DIH is happily anticipating a lot of wordplay.  Along with a lot of pasta.  BTE did you know that Italian pasta, I  mean pasta cooked and served in Italy, has no carbohydrates?  It's true.

We also plan on a run up to Castelgandolfo.  We will leave the Pontiff Emeritus in peace, but instead make a beeline for the Ristorante Bucci.  Mamma mia, that lady's cooking.  I wonder if Benedict knows about the place. He should.  It's just a stone's throw from the papal palace.

I wrote quite a bit about the Bucci in "Breakfast with the Pope."  How they served a sauteed trout that I tried a hundred times to imitate back at home, but never could.  How during peach season you could have peaches and biscotti and local wine and swear if you died at that moment you'd die happy.

The last time we were in Castelgandolfo the Bucci had changed a bit.  The kitchen had been remodeled, it was three times the size of the old one, which was about the size of a powder room.  But the same lady was in charge, and she was as wonderful as ever.  She even let my daughter help her out in the kitchen as she gave her a short but unforgettable cooking lesson.  "Cook with your nose," she said.  We have never forgotten.

Yes I know, theres a ton of other things to love about Rome.  And I love them, I really do.

But the Bucci?  Beyond love.  Absolute devotion.

p.s. will probably have limited internet access in Rome (staying at a really cheap pension).  Will blog  whenever possible.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Update For You Papacy Fans

According to the Twitter feed, the cardinals will vote today on when to commence conclaving. The announcement is supposed to be made at 7pm Rome time, 12 noon Minneapolis time.

I'm assuming all the action will get rolling on Monday morning, March 11.  Who knows?  By the time yours truly gets to Rome on Thursday all the excitement could be over.

Which is a good thing, I've decided.  I'd hate to spend my latest Roman adventure standing in a square squinting at smoke, which is supposed to be black for "no decision" and white for "we got pope"  but everyone says is actually mostly grey every time.

So I may be in Rome for the election, or I may not.  But one thing is certain:  I will definitely be in Rome for St Joseph's Day, March 19.

And that is definitely something to look forward to.

Anybody else out there got a sweet tooth?  Is St Joseph's Day your favorite holy day, or what?

I'm talking PASTRIES, baby!  Cannolis!  Napoleons!  Cheesecake cheesecake CHEESECAKE!!!

According to my pastor the Romans make pastries on St Josephs' Day that they never make the rest of the year.  "There'll be powdered sugar everywhere,"  he predicted.  And he ought to know, he lived in Rome for years.  Still thin though.  Not sure how he pulled that off, must ask.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Morning After

It was a tough loss.  A close one that only got close very late in the game.  Holy Family Academy's Crusaders played their hearts out but the victory went to St Joseph's of West St Paul.  Congratulations, St. Joe's, Twin Cities Champions of 2013.  You played a great game.

I think I may just not be cut out to be a sports mom.  The excitement really gets to me.  I'm not saying I was the one who yelled "HEY REF, YOU'RE MISSING A GREAT GAME!"  in the MCYO playoffs.  I'm not saying that at all.  Nor would I dream of bellowing the admitted not-very-classy anti-ref chants I learned in college.  But hey, that was hockey.  Classy didn't feature in the deal at all.

No, I'm much more likely to be the person firing off the Hail Marys under her breath. Which I did for half the game yesterday.  I did it without moving my lips. of course, or at least I think I did.  I'd hate to look like someone's old Irish granny in the stands.  Although I probably already do.

  I never knew any former college before I moved to Minnesota.  But here it's hard to swing a cat without smacking it into somebody who played basketball or volleyball or, obviously, hockey.

I have to say I've learned a lot from them.  It's amazing how dispassionate they can be about any game going on in front of them. They observe, they analyze, they adjust.  They root for their team of course, but they don't seem to get their guts in a know like I do.  It's an enviable quality.

I had a revelation a few months ago about my own chosen work:  I decided that from now on I would only write bestsellers.  (You have to start somewhere, I started with that.)  When I told am athletic friend about my decision, she responded, "You know, coming from a  sports background, that seems like the obvious thing to do."

It had never bee made so clear to me before:  St Paul was right (see 1Cor 9:24).  If you're going to play, then play to win.  It's the only thing that makes any sense.

And if that means occasionally pointing out that the ref may need new eyewear, well, somebody's got to tell him, right?

So Long, Papa

UD students as Pope Emeritus Benedict flew over their Castelgandolfo campus.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Snow Day! Basketball! Sheer Terror!

As the Twin Cities disappear under yet another foot of snow,  Desperate reflects on the blessing of the all-wheel drive 2005 Subaru in her garage.  For it is this noble steed that will carry us to the championship  game tonight.

I speak, of course, of the Twin Cities 7th and 8th graders girls' basketball championship.  Holy Family Academy clinched the Monsignor Coates Youth Organization championship last week.  Now the Crusaders will play the champs of another Catholic school league for the Twin Cities title.

I'm telling you, the excitement is ferocious.  I myself am a bundle of nerves, but that's because I am petrified of driving over to the other side of town in a blizzard.  My varsity player, on the other hand, is quite relaxed.   I take this as a good sign.

The game is at 7:15.  Given the road conditions we will probably have to leave home at 5 to get there in time.  Oh dear god I hate to drive in the snow.