Grieving, Obsessions and Tears

How they spend every morning and evening beating the heat.

How they spend every morning and evening beating the heat.


Me: Dinner! Ding-ga Ding-ga Ding-ga Ding!

Molly: (already eating) TUMBA TUMBA TUMBA TUMBA!

Hank: Mama’s ringing a bell and Molly is…

Me: Knocking on the door of a Dragon’s lair, of course.

Molly: YAH! (giggling, mouth full, humidity curls bouncing) Dragon door. (nodding)

Pai: Smells evil good.

Hank: What is this?

Me: Fair warning, I am incrediably emotional. This is emotional cooking. I am on the verge of tears at any moment. This was my favorite food when I was a kid before I stopped eating meat all together. Meatball subs with melty, melty cheese. Made possible by papa.

Pai: What did I do?

Me: You bought me a crock pot and you bought a bag of frozen meat balls and American hot dog buns while we were sick with the flu. These are things I would have never done.

Hank: Are you sad about the fire?

Me: So sad about the fire. I was on social media for all of twelve seconds today and there were a flood of photos of (voice cracking) families with small children who were on ferias (vacation) in the area who are still missing. Then the news started reporting… (shaking off a wave of grief)

Pai: (hand on my back in comfort and support) Portugal has declared three days of national mourning.

Hank: The fires are all we talked about at school. I told my class about the time we drove through an incêndio (wild fire) on the highway once.

Me: (tilting my head back trying to get the tears to flow back inside my broken heart)

Pai: (rubbing my back) Let’s listen to music.

Hank: Yes. Mama, knows the song I want to hear.

Pai: (joking) A song from Eurovison I assume.

Me Nope, a classic. (queueing up The Weather Girls, It’s Raining Men)

Hank: I am totally addicted to Eurovision.

Me: You aren’t addicted. You are obsessed. There is a clear difference.

Pai: An addiction is something that you emotionally and often times physically can’t live without. You start out only needing manageable doses but rather quickly with an addiction you need more and more and it is never enough. If you were addicted to Eurovision you would start with one hour, but then you would find you weren’t satisfied so then you would find yourself watching two hours, then three, then four but you still wouldn’t be satisfied. This is why an addiction is so damaging. You need so much of a thing that you would go to any length to get your fix of the addiction.

Me: You have obsessions, Hank. You always have. Your first obsession was Elmo, then cars…

Pai: Cars was a long obsession.

Hank: I still love cars.

Me: Then it was stop animation and Play Mobil, then…

Pai: Minecraft.

Me: YES! I almost forgot about Minecraft. And then it was YouTube in general and now it is Eurovision.

Hank: I didn’t know I was like that. Is it bad?

Pai: Not at all.

Me: It just shows you are passionately interested in things. There is nothing wrong with that.

Pai: And maybe with Eurovision and your love of The Weather Girls we can help you become passionately interested in Music from the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Me: OH fun! I bet Hank would like Roxy Music and maybe Donna Summers and my favorite…

Pai: Chaka Kahn.

Me: YAS! You know me so well.

Hank: WAIT a minute. Hold on. I like this song. This one. I am not saying I am going to like all the old songs in the world. Calm down.

Me: But Chaka Kahn was like the Adele of my life. And Prince! If you like Conchita Wurst from Eurovision 2015…

Hank: Eurovision 2014.

Pai: Or maybe Aretha Franklin or Keely Smith.  Ballad makers.

Me: Whatever, then you would love Prince. And Simone de Oliveira!

Pai: She was in Eurovision.

Me: Really?

Hank: Yah, like the first ever one.

Me: So doesn’t that fit the criteria?

Hank: I like the pop music Eurovision not the old school formal, like, first shows.

Me: I have already reconciled that we have completely contradictory music tastes but your killing me, Smalls.

Pai: Face it, no matter what we suggest he listen to he will hate it because we are lame old parents.

Hank: You’re not lame… you’re just not my style.

Me: WHITNEY HUSTON! Who doesn’t love Whitney. You have to love Whitney if you love pop music and you don’t have to choose her early albums.  Some of her later songs are fantastic, too.

Hank: She died of addictions of drugs, didn’t she? A lot of musicians do that.

Me: Creative, sensitive, artistic people so often get swallowed up by addiction.

Pai: All addictions begin seemingly harmless until they reach the point where more and more is needed and then they become dangerous and isolating and all consuming.

Hank: I’m never doing drugs.

Pai: You can become addicted to more than just drugs.

Hank: You can become addicted to the internet.

Pai: True.

Me: Let’s become addicted to THIS. (pushing play on Chaka Khan I’m Every Woman) Chaka could have totally won Eurovision. Hands down.

Pai: Your mother wanted to be Chaka Kahn when she was little.

Me: I wanted to be Diana Ross first and then Chaka Khan with a dash of Tina Turner with the soul of Laura Nyro. I Didn’t really jive with the New Kids On The Block generation.

Hank: (shaking his head) I have no idea who any of those people are.

Pai: Your mother was always a contrarian.

Me: And this was all before the 90’s when I full shifted to the Riot Grrrl scene.

Hank: I don’t hate this song, but it still isn’t my thing.

Pai: You were also obsessed with ABBA!

Hank: I like ABBA.

Me: I TOTALLY FORGET! YES! ABBA was the bridge between Elmo and cars.

Pai: ABBA it is.

Molly: YAH! (dancing in her chair to Dancing Queen, mouth stuffed, happy with our choice)

Me: (looking around at my happy, funny tribe and I just can’t hold back the tears any longer)

Pai: (hand on my back)

Hank: (focused on his meal, humming along)

Molly: (wiggling, giggling, curls bouncing)

Me: (crying into my napkin, so grateful for the safety of my beautiful family, extremely aware of what has been lost, holding the families not sitting down to dinner tonight heavy in my heart)


Poached Eggs

conversations with hank


Molly: (splish, splashing in our new inflatable pool, happy as a clam)

Hank: I can’t believe you guys bought a piscina (pool).

Me: The proper terminology is Kiddy-Pool. All the refreshment of a substantial pool with much less commitment.

Hank: And we couldn’t fit a real pool on our veranda.

Me: Truth.

Pai: It is going to be so hot this weekend and I have a huge work report to finish so instead of the beach I brought a bit of the beach to us.

Hank: Accept it is áqua doce (fresh water).

Me: And by making our fun at home I won’t run out of energy or end my days in too much pain!

Hank: Even going to the park is hard for you.

Me: Indeed, but I love the heat. The dry summer heat of Portugal soothes my body and soul.

Pai: I need to get a job in the Algarve. Your mother would do well by the sea with less winter rain.

Me: (flirting) I would do well anywhere with you.

Pai: (acknowledging the flirt with a wink in return)

Hank: I would also do well in Algarve. I approve that move.

Me: Well, then it is settled.

Pai: (roaring with laughter) Sure, it is. I will just call up the Universidade do Algarve and let them know I will be joining their psychology department.

Hank: (brow furled, suspect) That isn’t how that works, is it?

Pai: No.

Hank: That is what I thought.

Me: Back to the heat. It is in our best interests not to turn on the oven this whole weekend as to not heat up the house so we will be having a ton of eggs and omelettes.

Pai: I am perfectly fine with that.

Me: I would like to try my hand at poaching eggs again. I just can’t seem to get the knack of it.

Hank: Why don’t you watch that cooking lady’s videos? The one who knows everything and has been to jail.

Me: (roaring laughing)

Pai: Who are you talking about?

Me: (hysterical)

Hank: I don’t know her name, but she’s…

Me: (in between bursts of laughter) Martha Stewart.

Pai: Oh, yah. She was in jail, wasn’t she?

Hank: And she knows absolutely everything. What did she go to jail again?

Pai: Insider trading.

Hank: What is that?

Me: (riots of laughter)

Pai: It is when you are told what is going to happen on the stock market before it happens so you don’t lost money. It is a very high and very illegal form of cheating.

Hank: And she didn’t know she was cheating?

Pai: No, she knew and that is why she went to jail.

Hank: She is so smart and knows how to cook everything but she was dumb enough to go to jail?

Pai: She wasn’t that smart.

Hank: But she can poach an egg.

Pai: I am not sure that was a skill she used in jail.

Me: (holding my side, cramped from laughing, tears streaming from my eyes)

Hank: Why was that so funny, papa?

Pai: Because it was true. The best jokes are always true.

Me: (snickering)

Authors Note:
This conversation took place on a beautiful Friday evening before the devastating natural wildfires in Central Portugal that cost so many their lives.  Our family is still in shock along with the country. We have no words and no conversation.  We are all grieving. Please take a moment to hold the victims, families, and firefighters in your hearts.


Nossos Sentimentos Mais Profundos (Our Deepest Sympathies)

This weekend Portugal has suffered a loss so great we are all shaken to our core.
A natural wild fire so extreme has taken the lives of 60+ people and injured even more.

I have no conversation about this because we are all beyond words.  We have said nothing.  We are all speechless.

Summer fires are so common in Portugal that we have all driven through one and the fact that so many people lost their lives in their cars on the road has left us all shocked and grieving.

Please take a moment to pay your respects for the victims, families and firefighters who fought this blaze so bravely.

It is our greatest wish that this tragedy leads to better forest management and fire prevention. We are all willing to contribute so that there is never such a loss again.