Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Truth be told, I'm a sort of Ebenezer Scrooge of Halloween. I've never liked it that much. As a child I wasn't really into candy, I didn't like wearing costumes (except that beautiful 1800's dress that my mom made me one year). In Wisconsin the weather was always crappy on Halloween so even walking the neighborhood wasn't fun, I didn't really like the begging part, and I really hated being scared. The only enjoyable part was getting home after the whole trick-or-treating ordeal was over, sorting my candy (I loved sorting anything) and then using it to bribe my sister for future favors (I suppose this was the precursor to my brief career at the Chicago Board of Trade).

My Halloween experiences as an adult haven't done anything to change my mind. I spent years in elementary any of you non-teachers have ANY clue what it's like to have a room full of 30 5 -7 year olds hyped up on pillowcases full of colorfully wrapped sugar, wearing costumes that ALL involve face paint, glitter, and some form of hand held instrument which ALL in the end become swords no matter the original intended purpose? It's not enjoyable.

I still don't like candy. I've done a lot of therapy to learn to be myself and not to live in fear, so the whole costumes and scary stuff is (still) out and I got that Board of Trade thing out of my system a lot of years ago (Laur, if I had a bag of candy now I'd just give it all to you, if you let me sort it first). And the straw that broke my Halloween back (or, as it were, the final nail...), my dear first dog Sparky died three years ago on Halloween. Suffice it to say, I'm still not fond of this holiday.

But, having said all's been a perfect Halloween day here in Maberga. Interchanging waves of fog rolling through the mountains engulfing the house and pissing down rain.

Not wanting to impose my biases on my impressionable dogs, I let them go trick-or-treating. Yeah, ok, I just let them run around on the mountain because I didn't want to stand out with them in the pissing down rain.

Q got this goody from neighbor Giuseppe.

I'm pretty sure Giuseppe didn't answer the doorbell and hand this to Q but rather left a bowl of them on the front stoop.

Want to see a close up of that one?

Now I'm going to put on a movie (not a scary one) and finish this

while I wait for all the trick-or-treaters to come to the door. I hope there aren't many, all I've got is a half eaten chocolate bar in the fridge.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

it's going to be a christmas baby...

This morning I experienced a sensation that will (most likely) be the closest I ever come to the anticipation of a pregnant mother ... followed immediately by intense sadness and doubt of same mother who has decided to give her child up for adoption.

Here she is...

As you readers know, this sweater was planned. It's not like I got drunk one night with some really soft, gorgeous wool and thought, "what the heck, let's cast on!" and then had to figure out what to do with what I started. It was nothing like that. An unfortunate friend of mine, who is unable to cast on and carry to completion sweaters herself, asked me to do this favor for her. Feeling as strongly as I do about the pleasures of having and caring for handknit-wear, I was totally sympathetic to her situation. No one should be denied the handknit experience, so I said, "yes, Marina, I will make your sweater for you."

So now, day by day, I am creating this baby. Stitch by gentle stitch, row by beautiful row, she is getting bigger.

It hasn't been an easy incubation, I'll admit.

The first few weeks I was really unsure about my decision to take on this responsibility. I had my doubts about my abilities to carry it off. I wasn't sure about how she was looking. What defects would she have? Would she be beautiful? Would she be big enough? Too big? Too lumpy? Too loose? Would the arms be long enough? Too long? From day one my whole body has had aches and pains in places I didn't even know I could have aches and pains, particularly my back. I've even quit drinking until she is done for fear that one glass too many will cause me to miss one of those little stitches and ruin her for her whole life.

Then this morning, I got a glimpse of her future. I could see how totally beautiful this little creation was becoming. I felt so excited and anxious for the day she will be finished. I saw how her pattern, her features were developing into a gorgeous whole sweater. How perfectly her little hem lies, how the decreases of the neck hole will hold her big full collar.

Then I remembered, when she's done I have to turn her over to someone else.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

the slow life movement celebrated a birthay

Some of you might be familiar with the "slow food" organization. If not you can read about it here. As the name implies, it came about in response to the fast food. If you ever have a chance to go to a slow food event, GO! I promise you will eat well, meet some interesting poeple doing amazing things with food, slowly.

Yesterday I went to a lunch party with a group of folks who, for the most part are participating in the "slow life" movement. We didn't fill out an application for this movement. We don't have a website or a logo. We don't charge dues or have a mission statement. We've all just found ourselves choosing to live life, well, slowly. Like having 5 hour lunches whenever possible.

Yesterday's party was in celebration of this gal

You might recognize her from das needle club. She's my friend Natalie.

Gathered around her table were these folks

If this group had a founder it would be Natalie. I realized half way through the lunch yesterday that all my friends at the table (and most of the rest that weren't there - Italian, german, english, american, dutch, danish, hungarian) I had met through Natalie directly or indirectly. Natalie knows everyone in the valley. And I'm very pleased to be one of them.

I came to another realization about 3/4th of the way through lunch...I didn't know the last names of anyone at the table except Natalie despite the fact that I have spent THOUSANDS of hours with them sitting around tables talking.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hello. I'm a little upset right now. I was just about finished with a post about the new electrical set up in my house and, then, with really quick and magical fingers I managed to delete the whole thing. The whole text and all the photos went highlighted blue...and then went...away.

Looking on the bright side of this blogging catastrophy, I might be coming to a new level in my blog posting. The post that I had swiftly deleted was written in an oliveknitting-formulatic way. Those of you who have been reading for a while are familiar with it (this, of course excludes you 7 people who tuned in for the last post and decided to use oliveknitting comments as a way of conversing amongst yourselves). The formula is something like this: something breaks in Lynn's house + she writes about it = a bit of a laugh at the non-country-girl American living in a foreign country. Nothing complex in that degree from the Carleton of the east needed to understand it.

When I realized it was gone (no "undo"ing possible) I considered recreating it. The thought of rewriting what I had just written brought an overwhelming boredom over me. It was then that I thought, if it wasn't good enough for ME to read (write) again ... I'm getting boring.

My mother once told me that only boring people get bored. I'm not sure how that relates to this but it must, some how.

Sooooo, whilst I search for a new formula, let me tell you, with some serious exhuberation, when I walk through my front door I can turn lights on with a switch (for you 7 folks from the comments of the last post, that's a new thing for Casa Cornwell). The lights over the stove are now switch controlled as well. No more plugging them into an extension cord that was strategically placed over the gas tank for the stove.

And, just in case some of you haven't gotten sick of the old formula yet (or hadn't figured it out yet) are some photos...

That's Luciano, the 4th electrician in Casa Cornwell...unforunately, he probably won't be the last.

PS. If anyone needs an extension cord we are having a buy one get ten free sale. Offer good as long as supplies last, which will be a while.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

a note to readers and parents (mine)

Today I made pancakes for breakfast.* I had coffee with some friends. I gathered water from the town fountain.** I made soup. I watched a movie. And I knit. That's all I did. I wasn't capable of more. My parents wore me out. For old people***, my parents really know how to GO!!!****

How is this possible? I mean, I'm HALF their age, well actually we've passed that point where I was half their age a lot of years ago. But still, I was ready for WAY more naps than they were. Again I ask, how is that possilbe?

Of course, I'm just kidding. THEY didn't wear me out...all the dinner parties with friends here who wanted to extend their hospitality to my folks wore me out. I go to a lot of dinner parties, but not usually one every night in one week.

Too bad for you readers, I didn't bring my camera to all the parties. Except for this one with pals Augusto and Lina

I did however make some photos last weekend in Florence.

David met us in Florence and toured us a little with some nice people we met who just happened to be from the same town as my parents!!! Just kidding. Those are mom and dad's pals Barb and Pat. It was planned.

Then David took us to an amazing place in Montefalonico where we had a dinner that can't be explained...over the top in every way.

That's us in the kitchen with the owner/chef...she's the one not dressed like an american, because, well, she's Italian.

Ok. My photos are, shall we say, a bit spotty from this visit with my parents. I could write more, but without photo evidence you might think I'm making shit up. So, I'll just end with a note to mom and dad:

Mom and Dad, you guys are champs! I don't know how you did it. I hope you didn't sleep through your boarding call today. Thank you so much for the visit. This post could have easily been titled "not only Italians esagerare the generosity". Thank you for everything, but above all your time, your energy, your company and your love.

much love from, your aging daughter (Lynn, not Laurie).

*It was the first time I've ever made pancakes, truth be told. And more truth is that they were really mini cake-bricks. Any pancake making tips are welcome. In case you were wondering, I smuthered them with some Mrs. Butterworth that I had in the fridge from god-knows which visit home and they went down like butter....buttered cake-bricks.

**Of course, Casa Cornwell is without water...I had guests visiting, didn't I? See! It doesn't just happen when those folks from San Diego come to visit(HELLLLLOOOOOO Denise and Wayne!!!).

***Of course, I mean "old" in a relative way. Older than me but not as old as, say, her.

****Dad held his own and keep up the pace for dinner parties...could have beeen his new trainers.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Proper Italian timing...

Here in Italy there's a joke always connected to deadlines. When someone says that they will, for example have your car fixed by Monday, you always respond, "which Monday?" Or, "your bathroom will be finished by Christmas." "Which Christmas?" You get the picture.

In my last post I mentioned that I'd write more when I got back on Sunday. "Which Sunday?" would have been the proper response. I've been back for almost a week now.

And, as promised I will write on Sunday...that gives me another day, or week, or even several weeks, really.

Just kidding...I'll be back just as soon as I've recovered from the great time I had with my folks. Which just might be tomorrow...Sunday.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thank you to all the well-wishers about my back. Apparently the witch is a bit fickle...she must have found someone else to hit because I'm feeling much better (even without the thermal baths of Piedmont...although, Earle, they sound like a wonderful cure, much better than heating my living space to an un-natural degree and taking a bunch of pills).

I'm happy to report that I will be getting on a train tomorrow for Tuscany to meet my parents and my husband. I won't be packing the FLORENTINO with me.

More on Sunday when I return. Happy weekend to all.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Life's little ironies...

Sometimes they just kill me.

Like right now, for example.

Remember this?

Yep. Making that one for my friend, Marina. It's called "Florentino" by Martin Storey - Rowan Mag #44 (remember that name, FLORENTINO, you will need it later in this post).

I've been formulating a blog post about this sweater since I cast on last week. Some kind of musing on trying the impossible, or stretching oneself past preconceived limits, or maybe just something about how everything about this sweater is difficult.

As life does, it sent me this blog post instead.

So, as I mentioned, I cast on last week. Marina would like the sweater by Christmas. David laughed when he heard that request, so as all good wives do I have decided that Marina will have this sweater by Christmas, if only to prove David wrong.

I'm this far

Actually, I've gotten this far twice! I wasn't satisfied with the first go at it so, hearing the Gambler's advice in my head, I ripped back and started again.

I'm excited by the challenge of the project (the project itself, not just the deadline part). It's a project that I would normally look at in the magazine and say "ohhhh, that's lovely!" and then turn the page because of some mental block about it being sooooo (or maybe tooooo) difficult. When Marina asked for it, it was just the push I needed to dive into the deep end of the pool.

I have been going at this sweater like a mad woman - HOURS everyday sitting while knitting FLORENTINO, knitting FLORENTINO while sitting. I'm please so far with what's happening...

But it isn't easy knitting. Sitting while knitting FLORENTINO. Knitting FLORENTINO while sitting.

The pattern looks like this

Thus, it's very interesting knitting but also a little tense. There's a lot of concentration involved. Knitting FLORENTINO while sitting. TENSE knitting FLORENTINO while sitting.

This morning I was outside in the fresh morning air with the doggies. It was first thing in the morning so they did what dogs (and a lot of people) do first thing in the morning. I live in the country...usually I just leave their morning "work" where they left it. For some reason this morning, I decided it would be a good idea to scoop it and throw it the tall weeds.

I bent over and WHACK! My back just went...gone...finished....just like that...WHACK. I won't go into all the details of how I reacted (David dear, sorry for screaming at you on the phone, thanks for being supportive anyway and many thanks to Natalie, Mette, AnnaMia, and Isolde for stepping up to the plate for me). The end result was the doctor explaining to me that the WHACK was the "colpa della strega" - witch's hit. Apparently she tends to strike when your muscles are tense and then get cold (???).

Well, that must have been one pissed off witch because I can't bend, sit, lie-down, drive, work, clean, or bathe. All of this would be fine by me, most of those things are over-rated anyway, but I'm also afraid that I won't be able to get on a train in two day's time to meet my Florence.

Life's little ironies.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

non esagerare

I think I've mentioned before that Italians talk a lot about exaggeration...the phrase "non esagerare" is said a lot.

The Italian culture is one of exaggerations. Ever eaten dinner at an Italian's house - exagerated amounts of food, seriously exaggerated. Italian shoes? Exagerations of style. Ever had a conversation with an Italian? An exaggerated experience...exaggerated amount of words and gestures.

I've become habituated to the level of exaggerations. I might even be assimulating some of them. There's one thing that still shocks me, though - exaggerated generousity. It leaves me in a state of cognitive dissonance. I don't understand it, I don't know what to do with it, I don't know how to respond. It's really, well, exaggerated...I mean the exaggerated generosity is exaggerated.

Example: Today I had lunch at pals Chiara and Luigi's parents' house (remember the most recent bride and groom? them). We had an appropriately exaggerated lunch. Mother Paolo served prosciutto, eggplant sotto olio, cheese...all homemade, of course. Then a ragu pasta...homemade, of course. Followed by breaded steaks. We closed with fruit, cookies, coffee and chestnuts. Everything was accompanied by wine...homemade, of course. Sunday lunch at an Italian's house - exaggerated, no? Ok, this much I knew was coming. I've even trained myself to be able to eat this much food in one sitting. When in Rome...

Then, as I was leaving, father Antonio (he's not a priest, he's the father of Luigi) asked if I have tomatoes at home. After six years of living in Italy you'd think that I'd be able to foresee what's coming. Nope. Stupid me says, "no". "Do you like tomatoes?" At this point I'm hip to the game. I do realize that he's going to go out to his garden and get me a couple to take home so I say "Sure!". I have learned enough about the culture that refusing gifts (particularly fresh food) offered by people is a bit frowned upon - not to mention, it's just stupid...fresh tomatoes? Come on! They can't be refused.

So Antonio says, "don't leave yet. I'll go get you some tomatoes." "OK!" I say, with a very real and apropriate enthusiasm. All the while this is going on mother Paola is preparing me a jar of the eggplant sotto olio - I had made the mistake of asking for the recipe during lunch, which I got, along with a jar of Paola's ... thus assuring that I will not make my own.

Antonio came back from the garden with this

Are you freakin' kidding me?!

Oh, there were also these

exaggerated generosity.

Friday, October 03, 2008

happy to report...

THAT...everything, if not already fixed, is on it's way to being so.

My car works a a dream without power steering (just for the record, it didn't have power steering before the flat tire and the other problems...which would make it not a big surprise that there is still no power steering).

David's car works perfectly...if you are David and out of town for work and have no need for your car until it comes out of the shop...which is where it is.

The DVD player is working brilliantly... since it is a different one. (Karen, we've never met but I love you already if you are sending me DVDs!).

The kitchen lights are working ...NOT! This will happen, in theory, when the electrician comes to ... do that thing that electricians do. Since he hasn't come yet, I can also report that the current STILL comes into our house via a multitude of extension cords. Albeit not asthetically pleasing, it does work. So, I mustn't complain.

Were there other broken things that I should update on? I can't think of them now. I do have a burnt out light bulb in the bedside stand but, well, if I blogged about that you'd all make the connection immediately how very INSIGNIFICANT all the other blogged stuff I'll just change that bulb and not tell you all about it.

have I mentioned before how I hate maintenance?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hello and Happy Wednesday.

Wednesdays have become very happy for me - Wednesday is Das Needle Club day. I am sad to report, however, that today was the last gathering for a while. Our host, Mette, is heading back to the land of the Vikings. The rest of us could, in theory, continue getting together without her - I mean, we do all have homes of our own where we could meet, but realistically speaking - it ain't gonna happen. I know we will all meet individually but as a group we are on hold until the return of our host and organizer.

In light of it being the last for a while, Mette went out of her way to make it...well...Holy.

Let me explain...

A couple of weeks ago Sjoekie gave us all starter batter for a "torta di Padre Pio". Padre Pio, if you are Italian or maybe catholic, is a household name. If you are neither Italian nor catholic you can read about him here. The torta (cake) is made with the starter which is given to you by a friend wishing to share with you the luck of Padre Pio. This starter is to be mixed with flour and sugar, it then sits for 10 days doing some chemistry or miracle (depending on your beliefs) and becomes a liquid batter which is put in the oven resulting in...


None of us are Italian, catholic, or even all that religious but still we figured any kind of outside luck couldn't hurt. With this in mind, Mette made the torta from Sjoekie's starter, timing it so it was ready for our last metting. She served it, appropriately with...what else,


These culinary treats combined with yarn, conversation, and all our knitted wears (which our organizer insisted we bring or wear) resulted in, well, a bit of holiness.

Some photos...

I'll miss you Ladies. Alla prossima...

PS. Thank you to Mike for pointing out the tech problem with yesterday's post. It should be corrected now. I tried a new way of posting photos...obviously it failed

PSS. Many many thanks yous to all who sent me birthday wishes!