We’re Famous . . . Again!

When I was dating Tony, one of the interesting things that he told me about himself was that he had lived with his family in Indonesia as a teenager. While living there, they spent a summer visiting family in a little town in Idaho, where their exotic expatriate exploit made them instant celebrities. An article even appeared in the local newspaper about the American family who were living in Southeast Asia, and had now brought their international selves home to grace tiny Aberdeen Idaho.

It became an even better story after the same thing happened to us. In 2008, we moved our little family to Chiusa di Pesio, Italy so that we could reconnect with our Italian roots and claim our long-lost Italian citizenship. It was the first time such a thing had ever occurred in Chiusa, and our very existence there  caused something of a sensation. It seemed that everyone had already told everyone else our story. Still, in due time, we were visited in our home by a local reporter, who wanted to publish an account of us in the weekly paper, just in case someone had missed it.

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Cooking in the Tropics

Last year while I was waiting for our Tunisian landlord to get air conditioning installed in our apartment, I did a couple of posts on cooking for hot weather. When we are not having hurricanes and tornados here in Florida, the weather here is also very hot. And unlike Tunisia, where the sweltering wind off the Sahara desert kept things pretty dry even by the coast, Florida is more of a tropical place. In fact, I’m convinced that if we let our lawn go for, say, six months, we’d probably end up with not a knee-high grassy field, but a full-out jungle. Seriously. You can almost see the grass growing.

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When in Deltona . . .

Do as the Deltonans do. So we did. We went to the 4th of July Parade. It’s been a couple of years since we spent a 4th of July in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Two years ago we were in Ireland, and I was surprised at how much the Irish got into celebrating OUR independence day. They even had special “American” foods (pancakes, maple syrup, and root beer festooned with American flags) on sale at the grocery store. When we went to Church, as the only Americans in the congregation (along with the missionaries) we were wished a happy 4th of July from the pulpit.

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Welcome Home, Part 7: The Tornado Fun Zone

Yes, we’re currently on tornado watch, due to tropical storm Debby (note to self: find out if they usually get through a whole alphabet of storm names in a season). I didn’t know we had tornados in Florida before we moved here (among other things. This was obviously not the most well-researched move). Someone was killed by a tornado in south Florida yesterday, and when I saw the picture of her house, I freaked out a little. Or a lot.

Fortunately, this was not the first time I had heard of tornados here. Mormons in general are known for being a bit fanatical about disaster preparation. Not only are we enjoined to have a 72-hour-kit full of necessities like high-energy food, flashlights, emergency blankets, solar/hand crank radio, etc., but also a three-month supply of the normal foods we eat, and a full year supply of longer-term food storage like wheat and dried beans.

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The DMV

Ever since living in Italy, I no longer really worry about red tape or long waits at the DMV. American bureaucracy is so mild in comparison to Italian bureaucracy that if I ever even feel the least bit impatient, I just open my mental catalog of the many stressful hours bopping from one Italian government office to another in pursuit of this or that slip of paper or colored stamp, and smile, because I’m here, and not there.

And in fact, despite its reputation, I don’t ever remember an excessively long wait at any DMV. All I recall from my first trip to the California DMV at the age of sixteen was that the person who conducted my driving test had a pretty low opinion of my driving skills. She (reluctantly) gave me the license, but she told my mom, “now, I wouldn’t let her go driving cross-country, if I were you.”

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Waiting for the Rainbow

So, do houses not need lightning rods anymore?

I have been wondering this for a few weeks, ever since thunderstorm season (I don’t use the word “hurricane,” because I think it’s bad luck) began in earnest. I distinctly remember that in Ray Bradbury’s creepy masterpiece, Something Wicked This Way Comes, it was of utmost importance to get a lightning rod installed on one’s house before the big storm arrived. And then when the lightning hit the rod, I think that was when the army of spiders started to invade the house. Or was that just some bad dream I had after reading it? Was Ray Bradbury living in Florida when he wrote the book?

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Dumpster Diving in Deltona

I know. Another post about garbage. I need to get my mind out of the trash heap. Still, if you share my interest in garbage, I must recommend reading about our garbage debacle in Italy, not to mention what we did about the horrifying garbage problem in Tunisia.

The only time I’ve ever been bona fide dumpster diving was at married student housing in Provo, Utah during graduation week, when most of our neighbors were moving on to real jobs, and we were newlyweds gearing up for another year of starving studenthood. Among other things, I scored a functional microwave, some hair-cutting supplies, and a pair of shiny jet-black vinyl pants (pictured below, modeled by me on our first Valentine’s Day).

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Hiking Lyonia Preserve

I’ve been practicing my nature photography, so get ready for a lot of pictures. Right next to our library (about ten minutes from our house) is the lovely Lyonia Preserve. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve visited the Preserve several times. Every time we go we see something new.

Florida foliage is pretty interesting to me. It reminds me of a cross between San Diego and Washington State, in that you feel like you’re walking in a desert one moment, and the next moment you’ve stepped into a dense jungle. The Lyonia Preserve has more of the desert, or “scrub” side.

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More Florida Wildlife (Not for the Squeamish)

Like Axa, I’m O.K. with snakes. Lizards don’t bother me, even if they’re crawling on me. I can pick up snails, and I have even petted a slug at (Axa’s request, of course). But arthropods. Oh, arthropods. I do not do arthropods.

Due to nature study, and my commitment to helping my children say “ohhhh!” not “ewwww!” when they see an insect, I can now get on tolerably well with ants, ladybugs, crabs, praying mantises, and even beetles (and by “getting on” I mean literally letting them get on me and not freaking out). This has been a long and painful process, and I’m still working on the occasional flare up of internal anti-insect sentiment.

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Our First Brush With Florida Reptiles

Nope, it wasn’t alligators; just snakes. And they weren’t in our backyard. We actually had to go looking for them. The Lyonia Environmental Center next to the library sponsored a 1  1/2 hour talk on local reptiles. Axa and Raj sat raptly through the whole presentation, which was very well done, I thought, by the seventeen-year-old daughter of the president of the Lake Region Audobon Society.

At the end of the presentation, they let everyone (everyone who wanted to, that is) come up and hold the snakes. Raj consented to touch a snake with one finger only, but Axa was in poikilothermic heaven.

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