Friday, April 28, 2006

Dogging me

My apartment building in Indy is...quirky. It's a terrific early nineteenth-century building full of original studios, and I like to imagine the first floor window fronts as a buzzing 1920s diner, just like it really was back in the day. Some 80 years later, though, the building and the neighborhood have changed. In addition to the, um, quirky folks who live in the building (including me!), we've some regular characters outside the building, too. Most of them are just traveling through, but the shade on the northwest corner of the building makes a cool spot to linger in the summer.

One warm day, my windows wide open, I heard the usual noises: traffic, the occasional yelp, city sounds. But then the yelling got stronger and louder -- more voices and more anger in those voices. When it sounded like there were physical blows accompanying those yells, I figured I had better call the police even though I couldn't see what was going on through the leaves of the tree outside my window. It sounded like somebody was getting beat up down there.

As the officer asked how many people I heard, where they were, and how long they'd been there, he also asked what they were yelling. "Um, there's one that just keeps yelling, 'Tell them, tell them you're my dog.'" The officer paused for a minute, perhaps not knowing how to respond. I was pretty sure I knew what he was thinking. While I do speak jive, I was having a hard time articulating this phrase in the same threatening way that the guys downstairs were yelling it. The way I said the words made it sound like a greeting. "Hello! My dog! Tell them you're my dog. Jolly chap, my dog! Why, hello Madame. Thou art my dog, too!"

Eventually a police car drove by the building's corner and whatever was happening down there stopped happening.

I should say, too, that this was a rare occurrence at my place. Lest my loved ones worry, I don't make regular calls to the police or anything. The quirky folks inside the building and our friends outside...we're all dogs. I mean, dawgs.


Sunday in the Park

Our friend Eric invited us to the Italian Heritage Society of Indiana's annual Pasquetta picnic last Sunday, and Corrie and I eagerly accepted. Pasquetta really translates into Easter Monday, that Monday after Easter when families really get together, some celebrating with picnics, others with family gatherings. However, only in Italy do we get that Monday as a holiday, so Indiana is forced to celebrate it the weekend after. It worked out well for me, as Easter weekend was a busy one, and so, on Indiana's Pasquetta, my friend Allison and I met up with Corrie to take the trip over to the church of Holy Rosary. The picnic was in the park nearby.

Eric had promised us that the park was going to be overloaded with people, the tables stocked tightly with food, and the bocce courts ready for use. Only the last of these three promises came true, but we were told that for some reason this year the turnout was low. Still, there was plenty of food (much of it eaten already--we had arrived fashionably late Italian-style to this Italian-American picnic: what are you SUPPOSED to do in these situations?), and plenty of new people to meet. Allison, Corrie, and I quickly grabbed some plates, ate some lunch (Corrie and I had each brought a dish too, so we were able to have first dibs on those), and settled into meeting people. It was a perfect day for a picnic, and we had fun mixing our Italian and English languages together--every third word Italian--surely creating a scene for the neighborhood passersby.

And then it was time for bocce. I had never played bocce. I was ashamed to admit this, actually, being the only current resident of Italy in our little group--so I decided it was time to learn. Eric, who actually helped BUILD the bocce ball court, and Corrie had both played before. Allison and I had not. So Eric quickly did the math, putting the two novices on the same team. Allison and I shrugged it off, though. We were fast learners, right?

Well, not when the person teaching you forgets to explain the rules. Just when I thought I knew what I was doing and I let the first ball loose, Eric added a few rules he had left out (such as: the ball is not supposed to touch the wall on the other side). A little too late for that! The ball was already out of my hands before he had even opened his mouth with the news, and of course, at the other side of the court, a loud 'thump' was heard as the ball ran into the back edge. We quickly decided that this was going to be a 'practice' round.

Allison and I caught up quickly, though. Five or six rounds later, we were far in the lead, and we decided to stop punishing our friends and call the game off. Yay--the novices win! Trophies were handed out, and cake was eaten.

Okay, that's not true (Corrie will kill me if I don't post what really happened): actually, we ended in a tie, something like five points a piece. Still, pretty good for two newbies, right? All in all, it was a fun Pasquetta picnic: I learned how to play bocce ball, I met new people, and of course, I ate wonderfully Italian food cooked in the middle of my home town.

It was something comforting, I thought, to find a little corner of Italy back home in the states, in the place I least expected.


A new hedgehog...named Dawg

Blog update: Check out our sidebar to enjoy the company of our blog's newest member--Dawg! We found the virtual pet site by way of The Life I Chose Blog, where there's a virtual pink tiger hanging out, and, it just made sense to adopt ourselves a little mascot. So meet Dawg--the blog hedgehog. Also, since Antonello is a hedgehog/porcupine-lover (he has a collection!), we thought he'd enjoy this too. Have fun with Dawg! Don't play too rough!

-Jackie and Corrie

countdown to Jackie's return to Italy: 3 days

p.s. the name "Dawg" will have to be explained by Corrie later--she has a strange life :)! (say it!)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bye Bye Blue

Ronnie, in the garden

It has been a rough month and a half. I apologize right off the bat for not writing more, and I hope to post more about Corrie's wonderful trip to Italy at the beginning of April, but now I am actually in America, halfway across the globe, spending the rest of the month in Indianapolis. It's been a whirlwind trip. Everything from buying a ticket two days before I left to packing up last minute gifts for friends and relatives--giant Easter eggs and chocolate and pounds of cheese (a typical gift for my cheese-loving family!)--to waving goodbye to my husband at the Ancona airport has been hurried. Today is Sunday. Sunday? How? I can't believe that I've been here a week and a half already.

So, with everything going on, I haven't had time to pay tribute to our family's wonderful dog, Ronnie, who died two weeks ago. Our favorite little Dachsund, Ronnie gave us 14 full years of lovely memories. From bringing her home--a tiny little puppy dog for 12 year-old me and my older brother--to teaching her tricks and growing up with her, Ronnie has always been a big part of this family. She was my first, and only, dog, and right away, taking her in my hands and cuddling her, I decided I must be a dog-person. Who couldn't love her? She fit perfectly in my arms and never grew any larger, but she challenged even the biggest dogs--the German Shepherds and Rottweilers of the neighborhood--with her bark and her stubborn courage. She even chased down all of the squirrels in our neighborhood, never to succeed in capturing one (thank goodness!). She learned to sit and roll over and sit up, and she loved to play. She was, as everyone will say about their own dog, the best dog we could have had--the best dog ever. When my brother Paul and I moved away from home, Ronnie became even more imporant. We could count on walking through the door, coming home for a visit, and finding her, tail wagging, waiting to jump up and welcome us. There was nothing better than that feeling--having our little dog wait up for us, happy as could be knowing we were finally home.

We loved Ronnie very much. We will miss her. We already do.