Friday, September 30, 2011

Recovery Continues

Six months ago today I attended my first physical therapy, two days post-surgery on my left hand, for Dupuytren’s Contracture. (“Occupational” therapy, for the record.)
Elevate, elevate, elevate, were my doctor’s post-surgery instructions.
Holding my still-bandaged-limb (from fingertips to elbow, and six inches wide around my hand) up high, I walked through the therapist’s door. A benevolent-looking gray-haired lady, working with another patient’s wrist, looked up and said, “Well, what happened to you?” A bond at first sight. Her kindness was almost as healing as the therapy, and consistent to my last session in early August.
Thank you, Marian.
And my hand continues to improve, just like she and my doctor said it would.
- PJ

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Positive Feedback

Well, people seem to be enjoying my September 24 post. (I'd still like for those who tell me they follow to comment; I don't bite.)

This enthusiasm sends me a glimmer of hope, considering the panty liners story was part of a submission.

We'll see if Travelers' Tales feels the same.

- PJ

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Life in LA

Europeans and people from other parts of the U.S. sometimes ask me, with a sparkle in their eyes, what it’s like to live in Los Angeles. Here’s a view from my balcony, the last several mornings.

Here’s the same, in early evenings.

Living in southern California is nice, but, like the view from my balcony, my routine is not what some imagine as typical. At work, some years back, a visitor from Georgia saw me with a Snickers candy bar and snarled, “I thought y’all out here only ate granola.” Weekdays, I leave for work at 6:55 a.m. and then see only the walls of my office building for most of the day. Since 1979, I’ve visited Disneyland just twice (about as often as I’ve eaten granola). I don’t “live” at my gym, shop on Rodeo Drive, or go to nightclubs (my lights are out by 9:30 p.m.). I’m not vegetarian or vegan (how I wish I could find good fresh rabbit, reasonably priced!). I’ve not had a facelift, and my hair is natural salt & pepper (more salt, these days). I’m a native and I fit in, because, as they say, here anything goes. I do wish there were more people here from the world of publishing, though.

The French family who visited last summer told me I’m lucky to live here. I accept.

- PJ

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ah, the Medical Insurance Wait

Still no official resolution to the $19,237.00 medical insurance threat imposed on me, many weeks back. My doctor’s staff stepped in, called the surgery center, and I made a co-payment. The amount, I’m told, was the normal co-pay I’d have made if the surgery center was in-network, and it seemed reasonable. But my insurance statements still don’t show the re-billed amount, my co-payment, and a write-off.

Is the stress of this prolonged resolution creating a new medical problem? If it is, I’ve at least reached my out-of-pocket maximum, for the year.

- PJ

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Panty Liners

My last Travelers’ Tales submission contains a story about my friend and travel companion’s panty liners. Frustrated by laundry’s interruption of vacations, last year he -- yes, he -- decided to experiment, using feminine panty liners as protective underarm shields in an attempt to make his undershirts “last longer.” But the panty liners’ cooperation was minimal, with regard to their adhesive. On our return, they outright protested during airport security inspection in Chicago, twelve hours after he’d attached them, and dropped to the floor in front of a security official as he performed his task. The official stared at the crumpled pads on the floor, then at my friend, and then said, “Uh, you can get rid of those if you want.”
(And that’s just the end of my submission. Its future, or fate, is in the hands of Travelers’ Tales.)
This year, on the internet, my friend found true underarm shields. Like me, the shields await our trip to France. They’ll eventually see parts of Paris I hope I never will. For anyone interested, check back in late October or early November, for a brief performance evaluation.
- PJ

Monday, September 19, 2011

Foie-Gras- Follow-up to last France post

I know someone who claims she loves foie gras so much that, over thirty years ago, she smuggled some (fresh, not canned) back from France, via the bottom of her baby’s diaper container, which no one cared to search. Her reasoning was: even if they’d searched, how could they’ve known which was which…?
I’ll stick with bottled salad dressing, packed in my suitcase.
- PJ

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dressing for France

One month from tomorrow I leave for France. There, I’ll see the family who visited Los Angeles last summer. They brought me Herbes de Provence (something I brought home last fall but quickly used up); I’ll take them Caesar salad dressing.
The family loved chicken Caesar salad. One of their sons, the one who celebrated his fifteenth birthday here in LA, declared he’d have only chicken Caesar salad for the rest of their trip until he tasted his first bacon cheeseburger, which became another family favorite.
I can't take American bacon to France, so Caesar salad dressing it is. This one is good.

- PJ

Friday, September 9, 2011


I sit and think of my second book. The Other Half, I like to call it: Tales of life on the farm where I grew up, the other side of my family. Oh, I started it, some time back. But I open the document and my heart sinks. If Half Italian is going nowhere, why bother with this second collection? Too bad, such funny stories. The Gas Thieves; Getting Stuck in the Walnut Dryer; The Pet Alligator; Stealing Farm Workers Lunches; so many tales, to give people a lift. We need a lift these days, as our economy, our investments, and our spirits gloom.

It’s Friday evening. I’ve closed The Other Half, and won’t open it again today.

All is not lost; the sun still shines outside, radiant, over my Little Tuscany. A pleasant breeze comes in, through the open window.

- PJ

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Thought for the Day

He who lives in a box, with the lid tightly nailed, sees other people and their actions as the sole source of his problems, and the solution.

Oh, what I'm learning, from that family blowup.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A New Sense

Six weeks from today I’m off to France. My thoughts are just that, unrealized, but akin to children running into warm beach water in summer: many and happy. In this moment, I’m thinking of chocolate ganache tarts, available in some patisseries, perfect for a five-bite mid-afternoon snack.

The day before yesterday, Labor Day, I saw “The Help,” which I highly recommend.

But, will I ever be able to eat chocolate again, the way I could before?

- PJ

Sunday, September 4, 2011


It’s early evening in the San Fernando Valley. The sun still shines, but shadows are growing long. Someone is strumming a guitar, either in my building or the one next door. My pulse goes up; this calm music disturbs me. As a tax-paying citizen, I have rights to quiet enjoyment of my home.
The sounds stop, and then continue. I imagine a village in south France, or Italy, where a local sits and strums, perhaps outside his stone house. My pulse goes down; I feel peace. What the heck is this, with me?
I write, and listen. Shadows stretch, over my little Tuscany, as I look out my window.
- PJ

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thinking & Rocking vs. Clicking

Last year at this time I was clicking, counting down to my departure for France, with only one click left. This year, I’m considering when I should end my publishing attempt, and this blog. No rush, but I will be setting a deadline. I did that once, in 1987, with music; when I knew my goal wouldn’t be realized, I quit, and made another career for myself.

Clearly, this situation is not the same. In 1987, I faced a career choice that would affect the rest of my life. Now my decision is: am I wasting my time? What to do, that’s more productive?

For now, I still believe in Half Italian, and I still enjoy this blog. No responses yet to my recent email queries, or the one to France magazine, last June. Who knows what the folks at Travelers’ Tales will think of my submissions? I won’t know that until sometime next year.

Ever heard of “Castle Rock” by Ernie Fields? I wonder how long it took for that to come out on 45?

- PJ