Summer in the City

28 07 2008

I have discovered the best thing to do on the first rainy day of summerRain in Rome (Rui Palha's Style): go to the park.


Now, this may seem counter-intuitive, but let me explain.  Mice live in the park, Field mice that love to burrow.  Molehill Mouse from each sideMice reproduce every twenty-one days.  They are sexually mature at 4-7 weeks. Two mice will make up to 50 new mice during a three month periodbaby mice macro.  If the timing is right, and the rain comes mid-summer, just as the burrows are brim-full of runoff, the park grass will team with what I like to refer to as a torrent of leaping and squealing “rodentia minutia”.


Easy pickings for a small dog bred for going to ground, as it were.


People tend to whine in the summer rain.  I dine.


It’s all in the way you see things, no?




To Market

23 07 2008

Grazia is in the kitchen again.  Today it’s hot and muggy and the flame on the stove is gone.  Today dinner will be cold.


She and I go to the morning market before the heat begins to rise.  Piazza di Campo de' FioriCampo di Fiori is crowded with tourists and Romans, alike.  The vegetable stands overflow with summer produce.Campo di Fiori


Verdant basil, tiny ruby tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes. So lovely. Maybe this will get your kids to eat salad?sweet onions, baby green beans: the meal will be simple and sumptuous, the aim of most Italian cuisine. A loaf of fine country bread Italian Bread 12/27/06and a large jar of olive oil soaked Mediterranean tuna.


Did I mention I love tomatoes?  I pull the sweet cherry variety off the bushy plants that sit in clay pots around our terrazzo…just the low fruit.  I’m allowed that without being chided.  But the tomatoes on the terrazzo are still green so, today, we buy Campo di Fiori fare. 


Here is what Grazia does with her market bounty:


Toss together the tomatoes, a handful of torn basil, thinly sliced onions and blanched, chilled green beans.  Add the drained tuna.  Toss again. 


While Grazia brushes slices of fresh bread with olive oil, grills them on one side, then rubs them with a clove of garlic, I search the floor below the tossing for bits of anything that might have escaped the bowl….


The salad is chilled until dinner time.  The toasts are put to one side in each bowl.


Balsamic vinegarModena > Sealed Bottles of Balsamic Vinegar and freshly grated parmesan is added over each serving at the last minute.  And the empty bowls are mine….









Dog Day Afternoon

17 07 2008

July in Rome and all the dogs do is pant.  Panting



It’s hot, it’s humid and the streets are streaming with tourists.  The air is thick with a smattering of assorted tongues: different languages buzzing above my ears and an array of tongues dripping before me.  Buxley Panting in Car after Dog Park


Thank God Rome is replete with fountains at every piazza.  Roman fountainsMost are dog-low, and those that aren’t have broad enough lips to grant any dog a steady perch for a long drink.  Roman fountain


Rome fountains are still fed by the clear, pure water of the hills to the east.  Where there isn’t a fountain the savvy dog can always find a nasone: the nose shaped pipe that offers a constant flow of cool water, any hour of the day. Nasone The truly parched canine will stand just under the nozzle until his coat is drenched. 


L’ultimo in “cool” tricks, no?  Who says an old dog can’t learn? Billo e il Nasone....



To Skin a Cat

15 07 2008

There is a cat next door.  A surly, serious, dim-witted cat with no sense of humor.   The "mean" CatHe sits on the wall of the terrazzo, just beyond my reach, eyeing the ripening tomatoes behind me. 


I bark in fun, giving a short, jest-full rise to the end of my communiqué.  He hisses, claws poised to do harm.


Cats seldom have a sense of humor.  They certainly lack the ability to find themselves funny in any way and most hold a sense of entitlement rivaled only by a Caesar.  This is perpetuated by the Roman Gattinare: hundreds of elderly women who make their daily business to feed the thousands of feral cats that inhabit Roman ruins.Cat Overlooking the Roman Amphitheatre in Syracuse, March 2005Feral Roman Cats In Ruins


And yet, the feral dogs that roam the Pincio garner only thrown stones and shouts…


While I can see the attraction most humans have for the feline: furry, cute, blah, blah, blah.  They are, for the most part, conniving, manipulative and undependable.


How many cats can cross the floor on the spur of the moment, Catito kneadingwithout taking time to plot the entire trip from cat-stretch to pounce?


How many cats are willing to wait for their breakfast before they use their claws to begin to knead and furrow any bare skin peeking through the covers?I knead you


And how many cats can you depend upon to run to the door to meet you every time you open it?


Evolutionarily speaking, I think dog-kind as a whole should give the attraction some thought.  Fine tuning may be in order: sharper claws, the adoption of a more aloof spirit, the hint of caution to each adventure.


Man must enjoy a certain amount of punishment, no?



A Fool and His Dog

12 07 2008

I believe Samuel Butler had it right when he said:

“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”

Trick DogDogs make great fools, just look at any one of Old Dog, New Tricksthem. Dog on a bike / chien sur velo - Bangkok, Thailandtrick dog getting the mailTrick Dog

They will try anything once, even if it’s the last thing they try.a one trick dog....

After all, man has been their role model since the first spark flamed the campfire.  As we have become domesticated, we have moved our center toward those things which tickle man.  Imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of flattery, no?

112/365  Stupid Human TricksTrick for Treat


Thistles and Bees

9 07 2008

Hyde Park is glorious in the summer.  London - Part 1A 017 - Hyde ParkLong grass and thicket abound, begging to be trailed and explored.  And I am the dog to do it.

But the British squirrel is as stoic as Churchill, with a schizophrenic look in its eyes. When Squirrels Attack! The last thing I saw before the ER visit... It sits upon the lowest branch of a tree in temptation, just high enough to foil me, just high enough to vex.

Sometimes I sit motionless, intending to be a piece of errant statuary, misplaced by a bemused tender of the yard, but just as Churchill was too smart for Hitler,hitler-kitty the squirrel knows my game.  I move on.

Behind a well-kept row of roses, over a small berm, there is an orchard of thistles in full bloom.  Purple ThistleThey smell like honey and clover.  I have learned that if the blossom is tender and one nibbles carefully, it will come clean away from the thorn.  It is lovely to eat, even for a small dog.  It has no ill effect beyond tempting my tongue for more.  But there is something missing.  The air is still and clear.

No bees.European Honey Bee Touching Down

No bees to chase and snap up along the way.  The park is full of blooms, open and fragrant…and without a single bee.  I worry.

Even a small dog knows that the world was built from the ground up.  Everything in between exists for the next along the way.  Like taking a step out of the stairway to heaven, without that one step there may be no where to go but back down.

Where are the bees?Bees together


The Crossing, Land, Ho!

2 07 2008

Denny opens the kennel door to the deck and there is a new scent in the air: raw, dirty, earth.  god made dirt, dirt don't hurt


I push my nose under the rail and, with one eye, catch a glimpse of land.  With a simultaneous jerk, I am whisked into the arms of my Contessa and pointed in the direction of the elevator. 

My fair-sea friends bark a “buon viaggio”.  We have reached Southampton and the odyssey is over.

The clean sheets and clotted cream of London await.  Hyde park in the gentle mist of an English morning.  The fur hats of the palace guards…Buckingham Palace Guard

For a dog, life is clearly in the destination, I think.  For that is always where the nose points: discovery in middle of the unknown.

I am a traveling dog.are you walking the dog?


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