Alternative Verses

Photo by HJH Pereira

Photo taken at the Palácio de Pena, Sintra, Portugal by HJH Pereira


While on vacation outside of Lisbon:

Me: (as three fourths of my family walk through the door) Hello! How was Sintra?

Hank: WAY too many Tuk-Tuks!

Grammy: It was wonderful.

Grandpa Snitch: I can’t believe they let that one palace go into ruin.

Pai: We had a lovely day and then also got stuck in an impossible traffic jam that took almost an hour to fix.

Me: Sounds like Sintra!

Molly: PAPA!

Pai: (swooping Molly into his arm) Olá filha. (hello daughter)

Molly: Olá papa. (pythoning him about the neck) Hug. Hug.

Me: (with everyone distracted) Hank, come over here and tell me everything.

Hank: The traffic jam was unreal and the worst part of the day. I really liked the first palace. That was my favorite.

Me: Monserrate?

Hank: Yes, also we got to ride in a golf cart because Grammy and Grandpa (leans in and whispers) are old people.

Me: I can’t wait to be an old lady. I will wear turbans and moo-moos, keep a flock of corgies whom I will refer to as The Crogin and blossom into my fully eccentric self and also ride golf carts whenever possible.

Hank: And then we went to Palácio de Pena.

Me: Now that is special.

Hank: There was so much to see. I took 1000 photos almost.

Me: Show me.

Hank: (handing over his phone)

Me: (scrolling) You really know how to capture the details.

Hank: Sintra is all about the details.

Me: I couldn’t agree more. (in a mocking voice) Ooooo la la, it looks like you decided to take a picture of a rather naked lady.

Hank: WHAT? No, I didn’t.

Me: Oh, yes you did. It is a lovely painting, I must say. Good choice.

Hank: (taking his phone back) Mama, I don’t think you understand.

Me: Oh, I understand and have zero problems with it.

Hank: No, mama! Listen! There was so much to see in Palácio de Pena that I just took photos. I just clicked everything because there were people in front of me and people behind me and I knew I would miss things. I don’t even remember taking this photo.

Me: Riiiiiiigggghhhttt.

Hank: Mama! If I wanted to take a picture of naked ladies there was a whole room just for Don Carlos Primeiro (last king of Portugal) FULL of naked lady paintings.

Me: Okay, so you noticed those but not this one, is that it?

Hank: NO, mama. (deep sigh of defeat)

Me: (to the tune of What Would You Do With A Drunken Sailor)
Hank took a picture of a naked lady,
Hank took a picture of a naked lady,
Hank took a picture of a naked lady in the palácio!

Hank: Mom.

Me: (delighted with myself while simultaneously emailing the naked lady photo to myself) Haaaannnnnkkkk took a picture of a naked lady,
Hank took a picture of a naked lady…

Grandpa Snitch: What’s this about?

Me: (still singing, showing my dad Hank’s photo) Hank took a picture of a naked lady in the palácio!

Pai: Was it one of the nicer ones?

Me: Yes, he was discerning.

Hank: Mama, I will delete it.

Me: Don’t you dare.

Hank: Then you have to stop singing that song.

Me: (whining) But Hannnnkk. It works perfectly! It’s like this old drunken bar song was written for this exact moment.

Hank: You can sing it once more, but not every day and never in front of other people.

Me: Deal… HA-

Hank: (interrupting me) You’re going to blog about this aren’t you?

Me: Oh yah.

Hank: Argh.

Me: Hank took a picture of a naked lady,
Hank took a picture of a naked lady,
Hank took a picture of a naked lady in the palácio!

Hank: (hands up) NO.

Me: (sticking out my lower lip)


Leonardo da Vinci’s Virtuvian Man


About a week later back at home:

Me: How was the Da Vinci exhibit at the Palácio dos Duques?

Hank: It was fun! Better this time because I was in a better mood and with my Grandpa Snitch who knew all about him and his inventions; the ones he made and didn’t make because it wasn’t possible when he was alive.

Me: He was a visionary. Da Vinci is one of my biggest inspirations because he didn’t do just one thing. He was a doctor and an engineer and a painter and an inventor and a reader and a writer of letters and a world traveler and so much more. Today, society wants you to master one thing.  I find this boring.

Grandpa Snitch: And I got the one thing in the gift shop that was in English, but except it is in Italian.

Me: Oh, good they had Da Vinci swag? They had nothing when we went a few weeks ago, but it was newly open.

Grandpa Snitch: (pulls out a t-shirt of Da Vinci’s Virtuvian Man with a flourish)

Me: (teasing tone) I love that sketch, but isn’t it a bit controversial of you to flash a penis around town in Middle America? I have zero problems with it, but is that church appropriate, dad?

Hank: Yup, there’s a penis on your shirt.

Grandpa Snitch: I thought about that. I am going to ask your Grammy if she will stitch a fig leaf over that area.

Hank: That’s cleaver.

Me: American to the end!

Grandpa Snitch: You don’t think that is a good idea? I guess I can just wear it at home.

Me: Nope, it’s a great idea. Makes for a great conversation starter.

Hank: I like the leaf idea. Fig leaves are pretty. It will look nice.

Me: (eureka moment, singing at the top of my lungs once again to the tune of What Would You Do With A Drunken Sailor)
Bern (Grandpa Snitches’ first name) bought a t-shirt with a penis on it,
Bern bought a t-shirt with a penis on it,
Bern bought a t-shirt with a penis on it…

Hank: (gleefully joining in)

Hank and I: IN THE PALÁCIO!!!

Hank: (riots of laughter)

Me: (practically purple, tears rolling down my face)

Grandpa Snitch: (walking away) Alright, alright.

Hank: You’re right mom, that is a great song. (walking away, singing to himself)
Bern bought a t-shirt with a penis on it…



Ferias (Vacation)

Can you see him? That is Hank, rustling cows. My boy rustled. It was great.

Can you see him? That is Hank, rustling cows. My boy rustled. It was great.


I fully intended to post a conversation today, Hank’s first full day of Spring Break, but then we were invited to visit our friend’s organic farm outside town and we lost track of time tagging along with them as they tended their animals and we all took turns bouncing their glorious (almost) two month old baby.

Hank met a gaggle of geese, horses and cows and chickens, a duck, bees and a shaggy dog named America.  He forgot the goose egg he was gifted to fry up for his lunch and his hat, but we left with a sack full of lemons and were so delighted we didn’t want the day to end. And all the blissful exploring and activity means I need to spend the afternoon in bed (happily as it was such an amazing morning and well worth the minor RA/AS aches and pains) so I have decided to take my Spring Break a day early!

Tomorrow my parents arrive and having not seen them in two years we are just going to spend all of our time soaking up as much love as possible.

There will be no new conversations until April 20th.

From our family to yours we hope you enjoy these first beautiful weeks of spring.

Don’t forget our archive of over 4 years of conversations to keep you busy if you wish to catch up with Hank (and Pai and Molly and me) while we are on hiatus.

See y’all soon!


Hank made this photo collage as soon as he got home while simultaneously asking when we could visit the farm and our new friends again.

Hank made this photo collage as soon as he got home while simultaneously asking when we could visit the farm and our new friends again.


Always Put Love on the Shopping List

conversations with hank


Me: Hank?

Hank: Yah?

Me: Get paper and a pen and come here please.

Hank: What?

Me: Gather your instruments and assemble by my side!

Hank: What?


Hank: Where are you?

Me: We do not live in a palace, good lord, I could only be in one of a few rooms.

Hank: Yes, but… Oh, you’re in the office.

Me: Hello, glad you could join me.

Hank: (placing the pen and paper on my desk) Need anything else?

Me: Yes, scribe. Take a dictation.

Hank: Huh?

Me: I need you to write the shopping list for the supermarket as I say the things we need.

Hank: Oh.

Me: Plot twist, you will be writing the list in English.

Hank: Argh.

Me: Don’t worry about spelling, English is tricky, use you ears and spell the way the word sounds. You need to practice your writing.

Hank: This isn’t going to go well.

Me: You aren’t defending a life, you’re writing a list. Punch fear in the face and let’s do this!

Hank: (unenthusiastic) Okay.

Me: Coco powder, eggs, instant coffee…

Hank: Slow down.

Me: Sorry.

Hank: Is there a mark above between the word and the ‘s’ on eggs?

Me: You only use an apostrophe when the word is possessive or a contraction other wise adding a ‘s’ to the end of a word makes it plural. Does something belong to the eggs?

Hank: No.

Me Is eggs a shortened version of a long word or a combination of two words put together such as cannot becoming can’t?

Hank: No.

Me: Then no apostrophe.

Hank: I may have already…

Me: There is no stress with a shopping list. All mistakes are forgiven. Right… Almonds, Dried Apricots…

Hank: Does dried have an I or an E?

Me: Both.

Hank: Why?!?!

Me: Don’t get bogged down. Keep going. Just do your best. This isn’t an exam it’s grocery shopping.

Hank: Ready.

Me: French Fries.

Hank: Yum.

Me: Chocolate.

Hank: Ch-o

Me: c-o-late.

Hank: Just like in Portuguese!

Me: Chocolate is universal. I bet you could travel to Timbuktu and say the word chocolate and someone would hand you a candy bar.

Hank: What’s next?

Me: I need a Melon Baller.

Hank: Prima’s silly present for her birthday!!

Me: Every proper household needs a Melon Baller.

Hank: Not really.

Me: Truth, but they make summer melon eating all the better.

Hank: Agreed.

Me: And we need a pretty folder to put your grandpa snitch’s story in. I am tired of it always getting tossed about.

Hank: Yes, we have meant to do that for a while. OH and we jinxed this morning so you owe me a Coca-Cola.

Me: I do, indeed. Add it to the list. And I need more espresso and quiche pastry.

Hank: Is pastry masa (dough)?

Me: Yes.

Hank: Okay… and… what else?

Me: Love. You always, always, always add love to your shopping list.

Hank: You do that.

Me: You need more love in your life wherever you can find it.

Hank: Even while shopping.

Me: Especially while shopping.

Hank: I cheated in a few places where it was just too hard with Portuguese because I am lazy and this is my first day of Spring Ferias (spring vacation) from school.

Me: I will let it slide this time. Thanks, buddy.

Hank: Let me know when we’re ready to go!

Me: (admiring his list) Count on it.