Mami and Papi – Father and I

When Laura and Gabriel are at school, Father and Mr. Blasi are busy with the vineyard business, Mrs. Blasi is fussing with baby Leo, he’s teething and has been so cranky! I go and talk with Papi and Mami.
They may be Laura and Gabriel’s grandparents, but they insist that since Father and I are such good friends of the family I should call them Mami and Papi too.
They say they are my Swiss grandparents. 

Mami says she likes to keep herself busy by helping around the house. Usually this means, walking around the house, straightening things, sweeping floors, dusting things with her hankie, and carrying food on trays to Papi in his bed. Sometimes she is very wobbly, and I carry the tray for her. Whenever I go into Papi’s room, he asks me to fluff his pillows, sit with him a little while, and read to him. Mami usually feeds him while I read. Mami assures me that Papi knows me, but he never remembers my name.

Papi always has me read the same book to him, Huckleberry Finn. He says it’s his favorite English book. I never finish it, but he doesn’t remember me reading it to him before, so I just end up reading the same part to him over and over again. Papi always falls asleep after he eats, while I’m still reading to him.
Mami says Papi is forgetting because he is old, but she is just as old as he is and she can remember lots of things! I think there may be something wrong with Papi. It makes me sad because he’s still so sweet and kind.

Yesterday, Papi was not his normal self. He was very grumpy and it took him a long time to fall asleep. He kept wanting his pillows fluffed, and he would keep mumbling things in German and Italian. Mami just smiled at him and did whatever he wanted so he would be most comfortable. I actually got through four chapters that day. Just as he was falling asleep, though, he looked over at Mami and asked, “Who are you?”
She cried. 

I left. I didn’t know what to do, I still don’t. Father says sometimes these things happen to old people, they forget. Even the people they love most.

When I was getting ready for bed on yesterday, Mami knocked on the door of the room Laura and I are sharing. She came in and sat on my bed for a while. She said she wanted to explain why Papi’s questioned made her cry (she is a pretty serious woman, so seeing her cry was really weird). 


Mami told me their story:
“Who are you?” was the first thing Papi ever said to her.

Mami is from Italy, but she moved to Switzerland to get away from the bad things (she didn’t tell me what they were, just that there were bad things happening in Italy back then). She had just started working at a bakery in town and one day Papi came in. It’s a small town, so it was easy to see she was a new worker. Mami said Papi was trying to be flirty (I had to ask what that meant), but she said “I wouldn’t have any of it, I was working after all”. But when she got off work that first day, he was waiting for her. He waited for her after work everyday for three months before she finally agreed to go on a date with him.
I guess Mami was serious even back in those days. 

Papi wanted to impress her, but his father only owned a small farm so he didn’t have much money. Their first date was a picnic! Mami said she was shocked that this is what she had waited three months for, but Papi made her laugh so much that by the end of the picnic she didn’t really care. Mami says on that very first picnic date, Papi told her that he would marry her someday. She didn’t believe him.
“Things just don’t work out the way you plan sometimes,” she told me.

Papi was determined as a young man. A year later they were married. 

Mami said they didn’t have a lot of money at first. She was still working at the bakery, though now she was actually helping to bake the breads, and not just sell them. Papi was working on his father’s farm, but the farm wasn’t doing well. It was Papi’s idea to turn the farm into a vineyard, because Mami had told him all about the vineyard she had grown up on in Italy, and Papi was inspired.

Mami said that she had laughed at this as a silly idea! But Papi convinced her, and they started the vineyard.
It was so much harder than they thought, they almost went bankrupt (I think that means they almost lost everything and were homeless).
Finally, everything started working out, and by that time they three kids, Mr. Blasi’s three older siblings.
Mami said that Papi had a way of always making sure things worked out alright, even if it wasn’t always in the way they had originally planned. He would make it work. This made her smile when she said it.

Papi built more rooms for their house, it used to only have two bedrooms, now it has five. Mami said it took him ten years to make the house what it is now (and it’s beautiful now)!
Mami put in the gardens in the front yard, all the flowers and bushes; and in the backyard, all the veggies and herbs. When Papi finally finished the house, Mami found out she was pregnant one last time, with Mr. Blasi! He is ten years younger than his closest sibling (a sister, but I don’t know her name).
Mami patted my knee and said, “I am so happy to have children in her house again.”

Then, Mami showed me her wedding ring. Her hands hurt her now, so she doesn’t wear it on her finger, but on a necklace. It doesn’t have a diamond on it. It’s just a gold band. She says that’s all Papi could afford back in those days, but for their 35th wedding anniversary, Papi took it to a jeweler to have it engraved on the inside with the words “My Forever Love” in Italian (I can’t read it, but Mami told me what it says).
She laughs when she sees it because Papi’s Italian was never very good and one of the words is spelled incorrectly. He also had the outside of the ring etched, which is like engraving, I think. It kind of looks the same as the engraved things I saw in Venice. The outside of the ring has hearts for each one of her children, and in the middle are two hearts that are connected, for she and Papi.
It really is beautiful, and I told her I love it.

She kissed me goodnight and left singing a song in German, swaying back and forth. 


I’ve seen Mother’s wedding ring, Father has it saved for me, it is engraved too, but I don’t know what it says. I don’t ask to see it because it makes him sad, but one day Father says it will be mine to save, and then I will read it. For now, I wait.

I dreamed about Mami and Papi being young again, smiling at each other, with all their kids in their home, dancing to that song Mami sang as she left my room.
I dreamed about golden rings on young hands, and old hands.
About tears and laughter.
About weddings, and baby cradles, and old Papi in his bed with his worn, red quilt. 
I dreamed about Mother.
About her smile.
About Father laughing with her.
About Mother singing.
About her laying in her bed, with her light purple quilt.
About the machines buzzing around her bed.
About Father crying.

I woke up from my dream this morning, before the sun. I was crying. I didn’t want to wake up Laura, since we are sharing a room, so I went downstairs with my journal to the couch in the living room.
I’ve been writing for a while now.
Mr. and Mrs. Blasi is here now. I think they know I was upset. Mr. Blasi is going to carry me out to the field with some blankets, and we are going to watch the sunrise, while Mrs. Blasi gets some breakfast going.

I love my Swiss family.

At the Vineyard – Father and I

We are at the Blasi family vineyard! We have been here now for two weeks. It’s been all very exciting and busy, so I haven’t had time to write until now because… but I’ll get to that in a minute.

When we first got here, I got to see Laura, Gabriel, baby Leo, Mrs. Blasi, Mr. Blasi, and Mami, but I didn’t get to see Papi for another whole day. I was sad, but Mami told me that Papi has to take things slowly, and to be patient. Finally, Mami took me into Papi’s room, and I understood what she was talking about. He has gotten so old and little. He sits crumpled up in his bed, like he’s shrunk into a wrinkled little boy. I don’t know if he is sick, or just old. I asked Father why Mr. Blasi didn’t just move Mami and Papi to Italy and he said it was because Mr. Blasi’s father can’t get out of bed anymore, so they came to him.

I asked Mrs. Blasi how it has been moving all the way over here. She said it has been “an adventure”. That’s probably an understatement (I just learned this word. I like it. It’s a great word.) Now they have a new house, new family to take care of, and a vineyard to take care of too! It’s quite a bit more than “an adventure”, I think.

I heard Mr. Blasi tell Father that it is good that his brother also gave them a good amount of money to run the vineyard, I don’t really understand that. A vineyard is where grapes grow, and grapes are plants. Plants don’t need money to grow. They need water, sun, and good soil.I have been learning a lot about plants while we’ve been here. Father says it’s a very hands on way of learning about the science of plants, or botany. It’s a huge vineyard, so there is a lot to learn

I’ve been playing with Gabriel and Laura a lot, but mostly on the weekends because they have “real” school. They call my kind of school “home” school. I think that’s a silly name for it, I’m never home when I do “home” school. I’m usually on a train, or an airplane, or in a car.


Last Friday, when Laura and Gabriel got home from school, they took me on their bikes to see the old church, Father and Mr. Blasi came too. I rode on Gabriel’s handlebars, he was being nice. I had seen it before, but not up close yet. You can see it from their house if you stand in the front yard or look out from one of the upstairs windows on that side of the house. Father took lots of pictures when we got there. It was very pretty in the sunset. Gabriel said the church is not the only thing that looks pretty in the sunset, which made my cheeks get really hot, and made Laura make a barfing noise.

I liked riding on Gabriel’s handle bars, no matter what Laura says or the noises she makes. 

We haven’t been able to ride at all now because it has gotten very wet and cold. It’s getting colder everyday I think, and it should have started snowing at least three nights ago, but instead all we get is frigid rain (I ran out of words for cold, so Father taught me this new one. It’s a good one). 

Today, for example, is Saturday, and Laura, Gabriel, and I should all be outside playing around and exploring, but it is too wet and cold to leave the warm and cozy house. 

So, instead we are playing inside things. Laura is playing with some paper dolls I brought for her. Gabriel is attempting to play scales on his guitar (Mr. Blasi is teaching him to play). I am writing.

Disclaimer:
Photograph is not mine. It is beautiful and fits with the story well.
Photograph credit:
http://www.studentshow.com/gallery/60216757/Swiss-Church-Study

Over the Mountains – Father and I

I’m so excited!
We are going to the Blasi’s vineyard, farther into Switzerland. I love the Blasi family. Father has known the Blasi family for a long time, even before I was born. My Mother and Mrs. Blasi were friends in college, before Mother and Father met. Our families have been close for a long time. I’m so excited! We are going to spend a few months with them.

I’ve never been to their vineyard, or any vineyard. Father says it is beautiful, but we aren’t actually for any of Father’s work. Mr. Blasi asked Father to come and help him at the vineyard. Apparently, it’s a family business, but Mr. Blasi’s brother and father had been taking care of it on their own. Mr. and Mrs. Blasi have just moved back to the Swiss vineyard from Italy, because Mr. Blasi’s brother died last year, and his parents are too old to handle the vineyard alone. It’s very sad. That part, I am not excited about. Mr. Blasi’s parents are like my grandparents. I call them Mami and Papi, and I love them very much.

I’m mostly excited to spend time with Mami and Papi, and with the Blasi children, Gabriel, Laura, and Leo, especially Laura. She’s 8, just 6 months younger than me. She’s like a cousin. I’m so excited to play with her!

I love traveling with Father, but sometimes I want to around someone else, someone my age, or close to my age. I’m with grown ups a lot. They’re usually very nice to me, some even play with me, but they aren’t kids. Sometimes I wish I had a sister, like Laura. Or a brother, like Gabriel, though he’s 12 and sometimes he’s annoying.

The train is going through the mountains now. It’s magnificent. Father says that word may not mean what I want it to mean in talking about the mountains, but I’m pretty sure it does.
Magnificent means: “impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.”
The Swiss alps are magnificent.

(Father printed this picture out for me once we got to the Blasi’s home, so I could paste it in my journal)

Disclaimer:
The above photo was obtained from this website: (it is not mine, and is in no way property of Gracious Purpose Blog, credit goes entirely to the following site and their gifted photographer)

https://www.muchbetteradventures.com/magazine/10-of-the-best-adventures-in-the-swiss-alps/

Not Disneyland – Father and I

Hello from Switzerland!
Father’s next article, after the one on the snooty fashion lady, is on the Alps, and Father insisted I see the REAL Matterhorn. 

It took us about 6 hours on trains and buses to finally get there, but once we did I can say for sure, it’s not like Disney’s pretend mountain. For one thing, it’s not alone. There are probably thousands of mountains and with it! I mean it is THE ALPS, with an “s”, meaning plural, as in lots of alp.

We are staying in a very tourist-y town called Zermatt. Everything is in German here, and I don’t know German very well. Father and I don’t stay in German speaking places as much, because we don’t have family here, like we do in Milan with the Detti’s. 

We are staying in a tiny hotel room that is decorated in an old style, with lots of dark wood, and dark reds, and pretend oil lamps, and frilly curtains, and that kind of thing. It is all very nice though! There is a little eating-area-thing downstairs where we eat. There is even a balcony where we can sit out and look at the mountains and the town!

Zermatt lake sunnegga - website 800px w-0167

This is a postcard of the Matterhorn. I got in town (but I think the picture was taken somewhere else, not in the town).

The balcony is my favorite. 
Not only can you see all the mountains around, the old style buildings in town, breathe the outdoors-y mountain-y air, but also there are these boxes with flowers everywhere in all the windows! I wish I could take one with me and have a box full of flowers everywhere we went. It would make every place we stay in feel like home. Father and I have a home, but we aren’t there very much, so sometimes it’s hard to think of the-house-we-are-never-in as “home”.

Tomorrow Father and I are taking our cameras and going to climb mountains! I am so excited to get out there! I love hiking and climbing, and I’ll be with Father while he’s working, not like in Milan when I had to stay away from him. I like being with friends and little Camilla is super cute, but I like being with Father the most.

With the Detti's – Father and I

Yesterday, Father and I left Venice. We took the train from Venice to Milan, which was like 5 whole hours of train riding (it was exhausting). Father has to meet up with some fancy fashion lady. I can never remember her name, just what she looks like. She’s tall and skinny with a pinched up face. Her lips are constantly pushed together in what is supposed to be like kissing fish lips, but they are so thin that they just look wrinkled. She has huge eyes, and they peer down at you out of her equally huge glasses. Her hair is probably gray because she colors it all the time, so it’s always a different color whenever Father goes to see her. Father is seeing her today, he left early this morning, before I woke up.

We are staying with our friends, the Detti’s, who live just outside of Milan. I say friends, but I have known them pretty much my whole life. Father says he doesn’t like to just have friends wherever he travels, he likes to have family. Lorenzo Detti is a funny man, with thick, dark hair, glasses, and the loudest voice I have ever heard. Isabella, his wife, has happy, blue eyes, and her fingernails are always painted red. Their little girl’s name is Camilla, she’s almost two with her always in pigtails. She is adorable!

While Father interviews and photographs the pinched-faced fashion lady, I stay the day with the Detti’s. Father will be home tonight, late, way after dinner, just before I go to bed.

Camilla is napping right now, Lorenzo is at work, and Isabella is resting too, so I’m in “my room” writing here in my journal.

Father is staying in their guest bedroom, but I’m staying in the study. It’s a small room, but I love it. The sun comes in the room almost all day, keeping it warm and cheery. One whole wall is just books. A large, brown leather chair sits next to the wall of books. I’m sitting in it now, with my knees all curled up, and there is still plenty of room. It’s a huge chair. There is a nice lamp that comes up over the back of the chair, so in the evening, it’s a great reading spot too. Wall of books, comfy chair, and a lamp. Perfect!

The wall opposite the window is the single murphy bed. The sides of the bed just barely touches everything else in the room, so it’s pretty cozy.

Decided to add a little doodling to my journal entries.

Tomorrow, Father and I plan to spend the day at home with the Detti’s. It’s Saturday, so no work for Lorenzo. I love listening to Father talking with Lorenzo and Isabella. I’m hoping that in the afternoon, we can go downtown to see the sites. I know I’ve seen it before, but there is something about it that is so interesting. Milan almost looks like a big city in America, but the skyline (new vocabulary word this week) is filled with new things and old things. Skyscrapers and cathedrals. Apartment buildings and red tile roof buildings. Construction cranes and marble statues.

The day after tomorrow will be Sunday, which will be our last day with the Detti’s, but we will miss them in the morning. They go to church on Sunday mornings. Father and I don’t. I don’t know why we don’t go with them. I’ve been to church before, but I felt weird, like I didn’t belong there and everyone was looking at me.
Maybe we will do something fun Sunday afternoon before our train to Switzerland Sunday night!

I hear Camilla waking up from her nap! I’m going to go see if I can help Isabella with a snack. I love playing with little Camilla!

First Entry – Father and I

My name is Eleanor Marie Wiles, but don’t call me Eleanor, just Marie is fine. I’m just now nine years old. My birthday was yesterday and Father gave me this journal. Father and I visited Venice yesterday, which is where my journal came from.

Father says I should write in my journal once a week or maybe even more often than that. I’m quite a busy person, so we will have to see how often this journaling thing happens.

I think Father also gave me the journal so that he can talk to me about what I’m thinking and writing down. Father is trying to talk with me more, which is good I guess, but that means I have to think of things to say back to him. Sometimes what I’m feeling is not good for me to say out loud; it might hurt his feelings.

Father’s name is Basil Gregory Wiles (he has everyone call him Basil. I think he is more of a Greg). He’s a writer and photographer. We travel together so that he can find different things to write about for the magazine The Coffeetable. He writes the articles about other cultures and natural wonders, things that are interesting to have open on your coffee table. His articles are the most popular section of the magazine. He also has a fancy camera that I’m not supposed to touch. He takes pictures of the places we go to and the people we meet. Sometimes he even takes selfies of the two of us. I tell him that it’s weird that he uses his fancy camera for selfies. He laughs. 

Since I’m not supposed to touch his camera, last year in Seattle he bought me my own little camera. I like it because I can take pictures just like he does, and my camera is red. My favorite color is red.

Father is busy with all the writing he does, but he is also busy with me. We travel so much that I don’t really go to a “real” school, but Father teaches me. He has lots of books on his eReader, including textbooks. Textbooks aren’t as fun as real books, but I have to read them for school sometimes. Father loves real books, so we try to use those more than the textbooks. When he has to write for work, I do my school writing and projects. He says school is my work until I’m grown up, then I will have job-work. Real work seems like more fun than my school work.

Yesterday, in Venice, we had a day off of doing school and work for my birthday.
We arrived on the train that came to the city across this land-y bridge-y thing-y. It was kind of cool and scary all at the same time, because you can’t actually see what the train is on, all you see is water! 

Once we got there, we decided that the best thing to do was to go get lost in the city. 

We wandered and wandered all around the city, finding lots of random streets and buildings. Sometimes we went with the hoards (that’s one of my vocabulary words this week) of people, like when we bought my journal, and went inside the basilica (another vocabulary word), which is just a big cathedral: a big church-ish building, but old. It was big and fancy with lots of gold, and pictures of people, and decorations like that.

We were going to go ride in one of the boats, Father says they are called gondolas, along the canals, but instead we just watched them while we ate lunch. Father packed us some sandwiches (egg salad, my favorite).

Finally, we wandered right back to the train station. We noticed a little shop just before the station entrance with lots of masks all over the outside of it. We went inside and Father bought us both masks.

Father’s is white with silver and black detailing around the edges and had a long nose; he said it is in honor of a friend of his named Cyrano, but I think he is making that up. Mine is gold with lots of jewels sparkles and has a crown. I’m wearing it now and feel very mysterious and glamorous. 

Father says this year will be full of new and exciting things. I hope that means we are going to places as magical as Venice!

Father and I – reboot

A long while ago, I started a series of posts called “Father and I”. It was essentially a serial fiction series about a girl and her father, their travels, their relationship, and the people they meet.

Well, I decided to reboot that serial here.
Starting tomorrow, I will be posting these short stories, some with slight edits, some completely new, but all in their original format of a little girl’s journal entries.

It seemed an appropriate time to reboot this serial since the internet is full of fear, too many news updates, and not enough normal, good news.

Here is a sneak peek:

My name is Eleanor Marie Wiles, but don’t call me Eleanor, just Marie is fine. I’m just now nine years old. My birthday was yesterday and Father gave me this journal. Father and I visited Venice yesterday, which is where I wanted to visit for my birthday and is where this very nice journal came from.

Father’s name is Basil Gregory Wiles (he has everyone call him Basil. I think he is more of a Greg). He’s a writer and photographer. We travel together so that he can find different things to write about for the magazine he works for, The Coffeetable. He writes the articles about other cultures and natural wonders, things that are interesting to have open on your coffee table. His articles are the most popular section of the magazine. He also has a fancy camera that I’m not supposed to touch. He takes pictures of the places we go to and the people we meet. Sometimes he even takes selfies of the two of us. I tell him that it’s weird that he uses his fancy camera for selfies. He laughs.

I hope you find this serial to be uplifting, thought provoking, fun, and maybe a little escape.