Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I woke up a little sad this morning. It’s Thanksgiving Day in the US and I was supposed to be there were it not for that little surgery I had last week.

In my big, extended Italian-American family major holidays are shared around. Way back when, when I was little, Grandpa and Grandma hosted them all. All 18 of us - aunts, uncles and cousins would pile into my grandparents’ 900 square foot house which luckily had 2 kitchens to keep us eating and eating our way through the celebrations of the year. In pictures from those times the only way to tell one holiday from the next or one year from another was to look at the outfits of we girl cousins were showing off and the hairdo my Aunt Nancy was sporting.

I don’t really remember when the first phase of handing down the holidays to the next generation happened. I suspect it coincided with the growth of the bodies (some growing from childhood to adolescence, some from young adult to middle age – either way additional girth was a result) and then the growth of the number as we started adding boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, grandchildren at every holiday. I do know that this handing down happened long enough ago that we are now in the second phase.

My mom and dad got Thanksgiving all those years ago and they haven’t yet passed it on. It’s been years since I’ve made the trip to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and I really wanted to go this year. I wanted to go while it is still at mom and dad’s house, I wanted to go help with the enormous about of work that goes into hosting the Serpe family, and I wanted to go to be with my big, loud, funny, and loving family.

Before my sadness and I were even able to slide down that slippery slope into the self-pity pool, I saw this:

And I got to thinking…this year I’m thankful for my sadness.

I’m sad about missing the sound of my mom getting up at 3.30am (or whatever un-Godly hour) to check on the turkey and to do all that pot clanking she does. I’m sad that I won’t get to try to stay out of my dad’s way as he vacuums the living room for the 100th time to make sure those little V’s in the shag are visible. I’m sad to not be able to call my sister 20 times to see if she and Steve and the kids are on their way yet. I’m sad not to get that squishy, soft hug from my grandma that feels so comfortable like she’s just the right fit for hugging, and to smell the great perfume of my aunties as we kiss happy thanksgiving. I’m doubly sad not to steal rice and artichokes and Uncle Dino’s bread with my cousins before it’s officially time to eat. I’m even sad to miss Uncle Mike’s dirty and quite un-PC jokes. I’m sad to not be able to see how my cousins’ kids have become, well, not kids any more. I’m sad for missing the duker games (aka: the cheat-a-thon).

If none of these things were happening today, I wouldn’t be sad about missing them. But they are happening and I’m thankful for it. As it happens I live in Italy, which has become my home and my amazing, crazy, dreamy and very real life for which I am thankful daily. If I weren’t so blessed as to have a beautiful family in the US and a beautiful life in Italy, I wouldn’t be sad. So this year, as David and I sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner which will begin with our tradition of sharing what we are thankful for, I will say I’m thankful for my sadness.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

a few loose ends...

As I sit here, healing and heeling (yep, I’m kind of getting in that holiday spirit…or else I’m expecting my one-legged friend The Giant for a visit), I got to thinking about my poor neglected blog. How many times in the past few weeks have I dribbled into a post some time-buying cop-out like, “more on that later!” or “photos to come, I promise!”. It’s more than time that I follow through because, as they say here, “a promise is a debt”.

Olive Harvest. I’ll start here because it’s the easiest….we didn’t have one. Sad but true, and I will be lamenting it every time I have to buy oil. This non-harvest occurred not because we are lazy or because of an unexpected surgery or even because WonderWoolman took me off somewhere causing lost time. No harvest because the olives look like this.
The really hot and dry summer left us with only one tree that even had any olives to pick, then when we went to pick them we decided the effort wouldn’t be worth the teaspoon of oil we would get. It seems that in addition to the unsuitable olive tree climate this year, there was some nasty bug that got to the olives before we did. It happened all over the region. Bummer.

The (dog) wedding photos...I won’t embarrass the poor dog with the photos of his new wife totally ignoring, snapping, and growling at him (or myself by making public that I actually put a bow tie on the dog). Spy, the lovely bride has gotten a little irritable in her pregnancy…well, only with Ruffino. Other than with him she is handling her circumstance with grace which is no small thing given her teats look like this.

After we left our great thanksgiving/wedding dinner Ruffino was clearly dazed at why that fun-loving gal he “met” up at our house was not NEARLY as fun any more. Why is there suddenly a Meatloaf song in my head.

Reflections on the Italian hospital stay…this one is a biggie. Really there’s so much to tell but let me just give a few thoughts:

--I am grateful beyond words to a country who is humane enough to offer socialized medicine.
After heavy sedatives, it seems I speak only Italian.
--I was awed and touched by the number of people that came to visit me, repeatedly, during my stay.
--I owe a HUGE thank you to my friend Mercedes who took Friday off work so she could stay all Thursday night with me after my surgery – “of course, I will! Men are not allowed and you CAN’T be alone!”, she told me.
--Those of you who have or will spend time in a US hospital, don’t take for granted those curtains between the patients’ beds. While not necessary, they are a really nice luxury, ‘specially when the poor gal next to you is having colon problems.
--I realized how much safer I feel when my husband is around.
--Doctors everywhere need to talk and explain more to their patients…it’s never too much information.
--It seems that Italian nurses come in only two varieties…surly bitches who seem that they would rather have their French manicured nails pulled off one at a time with a pliers than look at, touch or talk to the patients or the helium-voiced perky bundles of joy and hope who use terms of endearments like there was a buy-one-get-one-free sale on them at the Molto- Walmart. Strangely enough, in a time of crisis, I prefer the latter.
--Just because it’s Italy doesn’t mean the food is good in the hospital. I admit it, when they finally brought me my first meal (on my third day!) I was expecting my little bed tray to be a display of aesthetic and culinary taste…perhaps a nice chicken alla cacciatore with a side of rice, a nice glass of barbera to wash it down and a rose in a little vase just to wish me buon appetito. Nope- bland broth, boiled chicken, and water.

That’s about enough for now of my hospital musings.

4. The last thing I could think of that I promised was a group photo of this year’s Christmas market hats. That one will have to wait for a while since I’ve packed them away for safe keeping in my studio, which looks like this again.

I have just one word STAIRS!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A little something missing

Something’s been missing from this blog...yeah, that would be ME. I’ve been missing. Sorry about that. I guess it’s only been a week but it seems a lot longer.

Contrary to what some of you (who know me) might be thinking, NO I have not been nursing a wicked doggie-wedding hangover (and just for the record, for those of you who don’t know me, I DO NOT pretend that my dog is a person and does people things like get married. I love him, AND he’s a dog….who happened to have gotten married last weekend, but anyway back to today’s blog…)

Something else has gone missing. That would be my appendix. Yep, just as I was packing my bags for a Thanksgiving trip back to the States for turkey and lasagna with my german-american/Italian-american family I was leveled flat to the couch with what I thought was “just a little gas”. After a couple of days of complaining, David decided it was time for me to go the emergency room to have my “gas” checked out.

5 days later I am missing:

--an appendix
--a flight to Chicago
--a week of bloggerly fun

But hell, I can’t complain. In return I got:
--3 lovely stitched up holes on 1 beautifully bloated belly (no photos, I promise)
--more blog material than any blogger could wish for from an emergency surgery and 5 day stay in an Italian state hospital.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another wedding

We’ve got another wedding to go to tonight. The bride and groom “have to” get married, if you know what I mean.

Here’s the broom, relaxing a bit before the big event.

Yep, our little Ruffino knocked up some bitch. Given that the gal he put in this “situation” has an Italian father, he’s insisting on a wedding.

(her mother is American so we will also be celebrating thanksgiving together after the ceremony – pictures to come, for sure)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dawn in Maberga

It's hard to have a bad day went you wake up to this.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Go topless!

So, I could see my breath this morning – inside. The weather has really changed. David and I were sorely mistaken when, in the scorching heat of July we thought that just because the walls were smooth now the bedroom would be warmer. We were mistaken in thinking that just because it LOOKS like a bedroom, a room in which one sleeps sheltered from the elements, that we actually did anything substantial to keep the elements out. Nope, all superficial. When it’s 110 in a room it’s hard to imagine being cold in the same room, even though you’ve EXPERIENCED it for three consecutive winters.

The walls don’t drop bugs anymore since we covered the exposed stone but we really did nothing about the roof, the main source of the bedroom breezes. Roof tiles covered by bamboo are still roof tiles covered by bamboo which let in all the breezes. And of course, a vaulted ceiling is still a vaulted ceiling – a vault for rising heat.

To our credit, we did think a little about heat when we arranged the room. We thought it would be really smart of us to put the wood stove in the corner opposite and facing the bed. In theory this is a good thought.

But here is the reality

It was really optimistic thinking that the fire from that little stove of ours would pump the heat the 20 feet diagonally across the room to our bed without sneaking a rise up to the ceiling.

The good news is, is that since David has been gone I have been the mad-freakin’-hatter. Check these out!

And today’s addition to the Hatter’s collection….I’m calling it “Go Topless”

Yep, I've knit a hat that has no top. (perfect for that "fountain 'do" that I'm sporting today)

So, there you have it... I'm topless in the cold. Ain’t nothin’ better.

Ps. If any of you really were studying these pictures you might wonder why those chairs are on the couch in the wind/heat photo. The dog has taken to humping the cushins in with an energy I can't keep up with...this was my solution to keeping the couch from being repeated violated.

Friday, November 03, 2006

30% Alpaca, 100 % grocery store

I have to tell ya' all, I am having NO buyers remorse for having spent the food money on yarn. NONE!
First of all, check out that hat!!! Is that not the loveliest fez-style-looks-like-a-circus-tent-grocery-yarn hat you've even seen? (my own design, if you want the pattern, just ask, I'm happy to share)

Secondly, I realized last night, as this hat was growing, stitch by stitch in my hands, that I knit way better than I cook any way, so why not spend the food money on yarn. (although I did make an incredibily tasty cabbage with bacon and tomatoes for dinner - good, but not as good as the hat - 'specially the smell).

Thirdly, the fun I'm having taking my own picture wearing grocery yarn hats is worth eating cabbage for a week.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hi, my name is Lynn and I have a problem...

I might have a slight problem…Ok, I admit it, it’s a big problem. I spent this week's food money on yarn. That’s a problem.

I went to the grocery store yesterday to buy onions, that’s all, just some onions. David is gone again. During these times I do a lot of “creative cooking” that involves emptying the fridge of stuff that’s been in there a while but hasn’t yet gone bad. I creatively add similar stuff from the cupboard and, there you go…a creative meal. So all I really needed from the store was some onions, that way I could save this week’s food budget for, well, something else.

As I was making my way to the onions I passed a stand that was selling yarn. Yep, yarn in the grocery store. I stopped in my tracks. I had a moral dilemma, I mean, I was just there for some onions. Some of you hard core knitting people might scoff at the fact that I would even consider buying yarn in the grocery store. This just means that you are hard core knitters who are not on a Budget – Budget with a capital B, that is. Because, let me tell you, I’m a hard core knitter, a knit-aholic in fact and I KNOW it because I contemplated yarn in the grocery store. Besides, it wasn’t 100% acrylic, 30% of it was alpaca for God’s sake!

Ok, I didn’t just contemplate, I bought.

I bought one skein yesterday (200 grams and 270 meters of 30% alpaca). I thought I’d just give it a try. I mean, what the heck, it was just one skein (one monster skein which, of course, help justify my actions).

Last night I made this with it
(along with some Lamb’s Pride. The white stuff is the grocery store stuff. See! You probably couldn’t have even told the difference if I hadn’t pointed it out). And I love the stuff. It’s soft and there is so much of it!

I went back to day…I didn’t even have the excuse of onions. I went straight for the yarn and bought three more skeins.

I spent the weekly food budget on yarn. I have a problem. Of course, I did technically spend the money at the grocery store.

Other Olive Knitting related stuff…

Seems that some new readers have been joining me here on Olive Knitting. Welcome to everyone. If you are here because of the “knitting” part…about 1 in every 10 posts is actually about knitting, so just hang on and those posts will come. If you don’t give a shit about knitting, don’t worry, only about 1 in every 10 is about knitting, you can just skip those. Also, if you are new to visiting this blog, or even if you are a veteran, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. If commenting to the WORLD freaks you out a little, just drop me an email. I’d still love to hear from ya. Many thanks to those of you who comment and give me feedback regularly. I love it, really.

Speaking of feedback…it was pointed out to me that I made a grammatical error in my last post. Sorry about that, I do usually know when to use “me” vs “I”. And, for the record, I do know the difference between “there” “their” and “they’re” and “its” and “it’s” although I have caught my own mistakes in the past. Those are typos and I don’t care enough to take the time to correct them after I’ve already published the post. If you find those mistakes, that’s because I SUCK at proof reading. I also suck at spelling, bare with I.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the relativity of size

We had some friends visiting this weekend. They are from New Mexico but have been living in Turin for the past 4 years. They are looking to buy some land in this area and build a house.

This got us to talking about square footage. This has always been a tough one for David and I. In the US I could make relative guesstimates at the size of houses based on the houses we had owned. I knew our “cute little doll house”, as so many friends and neighbors called our last house in Denver, was 1400 square feet, so based on that I could say, for example, that the new house that my sister and brother-in-law just built is FREAKIN’-HUGE-squared. At one point in the buying process of our current pad here in Maberga, I’m sure we were told the square meters of the place but since this number had no meaning to either of us, we promptly forgot it.

Anyway, with our friends we did some rough measurements and rough calculations…our house is roughly 83 square meters, for those of you not familiar with the metric system, are you ready?….that’s about 900 square feet.

I’ll say it again, in case some of you think I made a typo…900 square feet*. My (cleanliness challenged) husband, our (exceptionally lively) dog and (anal retentive) I live in 900 square feet. And ya’ know what? I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a house that felt bigger.

Here’s why it feels so big to me:

Because there is this view.

And this extra room (house dimensions where calculated only by the under roof area – under grape vine area not calculated).

Because after 6 every day we are alone here on the side of the mountain.

Because even in the smallest square-footage house I have ever lived in, I have my own studio.

Because compared to our road, well, everything seems big.

Mostly it’s big because I feel e x p a n s i v e here. And, let me tell ya’…that goes a long way when the cleanliness-challenged husband and the exceptionally-lively dog and the anal-retentive I are all secluded in HALF of those 900 square feet on the fourth rainy day in a row.

So, I guess what I’m saying here in this post is that size doesn’t really matter as long as it makes you feel good…of course, I’m talking here about houses.

*I recognize that 900 square feet is truly enormous for most people living in the world, but for most people reading this blog, well, it’s not.