The other night we went for dinner at our neighbors, and we brought the food. I'd invited them over, but they've become a little frail in the last few years, and, in their mid-eighties, aren't up to walking up to our house. So we went over to theirs instead, and brought a simple dinner I'd cooked: polenta, Peposo Tuscan stew, and a cake.
Just as we were leaving, Rebecca announced:
"I don't feel so good".
"Oh, what's up?", I asked distractedly, while looking for the pressure pan lid that I wanted to bring along.
"I don't feel like going out", she explained.
But we did go out, because in the scale of ailments, "not feeling like going out" doesn't rank very high, and our neighbors were waiting.
It turned out that she really wasn't feeling so good (the poor girl has had a tough month). As soon as we arrived, she curled up on a chair in front of the wood stove, and went soundly asleep while we ate. Just as we finished the cake, she woke up, walked out into the hall, and was sick.
While Tom and Jeremy took Rebecca and our pots & pans home, Nicholas and I stayed behind; I cleaned the hall, while he cleared the table and kept our hosts company.
I joined them in time to hear our neighbor tell the story of how, when he was a boy of 7 or so, he'd been assigned by the village teacher, a city person, extra homework as punishment for having written "sheep" in his local Ligurian dialect rather than in Italian. The assignment was to write the Italian word "sheep" one hundred times. But after his daily chores around the farm, he had neither the time nor the energy. So he made a drawing of two sheep in front of a barn, and wrote "sheep" twice.
The next day, he explained that he could only write the word "sheep" twice because the other 98 sheep were inside the barn. The teacher from the city wasn't amused, but 80 years later, we laughed with him.