Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Italy or not

In my 3/3/2012 post I mention a possible trip to Italy this year, but, so far, no airline seats are available to use miles. In my 1/7/2012post I wrote that this’ll be the year I make progress getting Half Italian published, or lay all attempts to rest, once and for all. Quitting may be the end result, but the pending piece in France magazine slows that thought down, for now.

Not sure whether a trip to Italy is fitting, or not, in this year of “either/or,” but if seats become available, Naples and Amalfi Coast, here I come. 


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Barbecued rabbit and Grandma

In my 8/30/2010 post, I mention barbecued rabbit, a recurring thread in Half Italian. For almost forty years, I've thought the only images of that annual Easter feast were in my head, until the family video editing project. But there it is, one black and white 16mm clip converted to video, a few precious seconds not only of meat sizzling on the barbecue, and the men at work, but also people waiting in line to fill their plates. That's the part I remember most -- finally getting to the steaming hot rabbit, and foil-lined boxes of barbecue-toasted, butter-dipped French bread. The video appears to be taken a few years before I was born, but the scene is what I remember. The trees are a bit shorter. The annual Easter party continues, and meat is still barbecued, just not rabbit.

Today is my beloved grandmother's birthday. If Half Italian is ever published, readers will understand why I say "beloved." She would have been one hundred and nineteen years.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Forward with this project

During lunch yesterday, I read someone’s advice on how to write a travel article, badly. I think of an agent who responded to a submission I made by saying I have a flair for storytelling. To date un-published, I note that France magazine accepted my submission, albeit, to be reduced to a letter.

I’m now in “feature vs. letter” mode. I’ll revisit two of my stories, prior magazine submissions, with intent to convert from letter-appropriate to feature-appropriate. The how-to-write-a-bad-travel-article piece was thought-provoking.

My goal? To obtain more publishing credits.


Thursday, April 19, 2012


Twenty-seven years ago, I discovered the joy of Puccini, when I contracted and played in an orchestra for La Boheme. And for twenty-seven years, I’ve wanted to become familiar with at least one of Puccini’s other operas.

Despite Madama Butterfly’s popularity, I was never tempted to give it a chance, but now, with the ability to “preview” via YouTube, I’ve discovered Anthony Minghella’s production with Patricia Racette. Oh, how I love a good spinto. The clips on YouTube were an appetizer; I wanted the entire meal. No Amazon order ever seemed to take so long to arrive. Tosca followed, and now, twenty-seven years after my first exposure to Puccini, I can finally say I’m familiar with more than La Boheme.
- PJ

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rain and soup

Rain again, tonight and tomorrow, so the forecast predicts. I’m worried about our ceiling; the leaks have become worse with each rain. We’ve borrowed deeper and wider buckets, an act of anticipation and protection. Furniture has been pushed aside, rugs rolled up and/or removed.
Our building is two years old. Until legal matters are settled, here’s life in our living room, during times of rain.
Last Monday we had a final lunch in New Mexico, beef soup at Casa de Fiesta Mexican Grill, in Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza. Simple and delicious, I attempted a recreation for tonight’s dinner. (Simple and delicious are my kind of cooking!) I call it “Hamburger soup.” This comfort food I’ll remember when I hear water dripping, during the night.
- PJ

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A bit of progress

In my 12/12/2011 post I wrote that new buildings, like the one in which I live, have growing pains. Throw in a builder who cut corners and you have what many of us who live on the top floor have, water coming through our ceiling every time it rains. And rain it did last night – at 2:30 a.m. we were moving furniture, placing plastic sheets, towels, buckets, and taking video. (Last night was supposed to be a good sleep to recover me from the New Mexico trip!)

This morning, I received an email from France magazine saying they’d like to publish my submission. However, since it’ll appear in their letters section, my story will be chopped down to about five hundred words. They’ll do the chopping, and I’ll wait and see how it turns out. Five hundred words published are better than zero. This took away a bit of the leaking-ceiling sting.

Once I see my words in print, I’ll have, and claim, my first official writing credit.

- PJ

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Memories of red chili

Returned home last night, back to work today. Here’s Easter Sunday dinner, prime rib and pozole, both were great.

Memories of that pozole will distract me, until I learn how to make an authentic red chili sauce.
Yesterday morning we returned to an art gallery in Santa Fe, one we visited Sunday afternoon. And yesterday morning we “came to an agreement” with the owners. Now the wait, until two paintings arrive. Ah, thoughts of red chili sauce, and paintings!
I received an email from France magazine saying the submission I made on 4 April has been passed to the editorial team. Not sure if that means I've cleared hurdle number one, or standard procedure is being followed. The response was prompt, however, and that's good news.
- PJ

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter in Santa Fe

It’s been a beautiful day in Santa Fe. I thought the Plaza would be empty today, stores and restaurants closed, sidewalk vendors home with their families. It was hopping.
I was stopped for speeding the other day, just beyond the Santa Fe Opera area. Speed limits in New Mexico change radically: 35, then 45, then 55, then 45, then 60, then 45…yikes. Lost in all those changes, my mind was stuck, I suppose, with the 75 mph limit on Interstate 25 (there’s no 75 mph in California, that I know of!). So I didn’t notice I was doing 76 mph in a 65 mph zone, I only noticed pedestrians walking along the side of the Interstate, something illegal in California. The policeman who stopped me understood, and issued me only a warning. He explained they were patrolling the area heavier than usual since it was Holy Thursday and those pedestrians were on a religious walk. I wondered if their destination was Chimayo, but didn’t ask, I only thanked the officer and got the heck out of there. Then I realized our rental car had cruise control.
Dinner tonight at Milagro, back to Los Angeles tomorrow.

- PJ

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Mexico

I’m in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, where I face a day of soaking in hot mineral waters.

Now, though, I type, sitting in bed, while coffee brews and morning sun streams in.
The book signing I mentioned, two posts ago, produced a nice surprise: Ed Mayes, Frances’ husband, was also there, as well as Steven Rothfeld, photographer for a few of her projects. Ed is genuine and outgoing. While Frances signed my eight books, Ed and Steven made me feel at home. Both signed books they’ve been involved with.
Back home after the book signing, I made a submission to France magazine, via website, which now accepts submissions. Then it was off to New Mexico, that evening.
Yesterday, we drove around the Piedra Lumbre area of Abiquiu; one short visit shows why Georgia O’Keeffe remained so long.
And so, surrounded by beauty, I hold good thoughts that perhaps I’ll get a publishing credit this year, a step forward for Half Italian.

- PJ

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fresh sage

The visit with my uncle and Carlin was great, as usual. The fall my uncle had earlier this year seems to have taken little out of him; that’s a relief to see.
During post-lunch espresso, I heard Carlin mention sage, growing in her herb garden. I inquired, she instantly produced garden shears, and I brought home three sprays of fresh sage. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with them (oh, how I love cannellini beans with sage, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar!) until I saw tri tip on sale. Why not? I particularly liked the “on sale.” I bought some potatoes to pan-roast with the beef, and here it all is, ready to go into the oven. More sage leaves are under the roast.

Here’s the project, over an hour later, before I turned the drippings into jus.
Red wine, anyone?

- PJ