Friday, June 24, 2011

Viola lesson # 2

Feeling perhaps cooler than I have ever felt in my life, I strutted through the town of San Remo with my viola casually strewn over my shoulder, my folder of my sheet music in hand, to the apartment of my Maestra.

Excuse me for a minute but doesn't everything in that sentence I just wrote exude COOL? I have a voila, if I'm carrying it around, I must use it. I have a MAESTRA, and I go to see her in San Remo ITALY. I have SHEET MUSIC, for god's sake, which must mean I know how to read it! Freakin cool. So anyway...

She buzzed me in and sent the elevator down for me. I confidently entered, road to the top floor, and remembered, with a certain smugness that the elevator door pushes open from the right, not the left (I had made a stellar first impression at my last lesson by getting stuck in the elevator, repeatedly pushing on the left side of the door until La Maestra came and got me out).

M: Ciao Lynn!

L: Buon Giorno, Maestra.

M: Hai studiato? (did you study?)

L: Certo! Tanto! (of course! a lot!)

My homework was just two part, 1. solfeggio (learning to count the different notes in time) and 2. basic exercises on the instrument getting me comfortable with using the bow properly (basically, pulling the bow from top to bottom, or dal punto al tallone as we say here, on one string over and over and over again).

We sat down and she set in front of me some sheet music that she had hand written for me.

M: please count this out using the proper note names, in time.

L: um, well...

M: what's wrong?

L: I actually spent a lot of time trying to learn the note names this week. Remember I told you that in America the notes have letter names, not do re mi, etc.

M: Ah...ok, forget the counting in time, just sing the names of these notes for me.

L: sing the names?

M: yeah, sing the note names.

L: um yeah, that's going to be a little difficult. I started memorizing the names but I'm not 100% yet.

M: oh, fine, just start.

L: La, Re, Do, Mi, Mi,,

M: sol. And why aren't you singing?

L: That's the other thing. I can't sing.

Little interruption in the story here. In beautiful, easy english we have the word "can" which means "able to" "permitted to" "allowed to" "capable of", etc. In italian they have different words for all these things. I haven't really mastered the difference yet in my conversational usage of the language. As it turns out, what I actually told the Maestra was, "I'm not permitted to sing".

M: What do you mean you aren't permitted to sing?

ok, 20 minutes pass while we try to figure out the miscommunication and the fact that I'm not tone deaf but, well, that I just can't sing (in the "not capable" sense).

M: Ok. Learn this counting, with the names of the notes, so you can sing it to me next time. Let's get our instruments. Show me the work you did with the bow.

Feeling ready to redeem myself by showing her how great I had become at using the bow through the inane, um, I mean really useful, exercises she had given me, that I mastered, by the way in 2 10 minutes practise sessions, I start playing.

M: Um, excuse me, Lynn. I'm sorry, maybe I misunderstood. Did you say that you DID practice this?

So it goes. My homework this week looks a lot like that of last week, but from a much more humble perspective.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jell-o. The universal snack.

So, today I was hanging out with the son of a friend of mine. We were making some play-dough together with flour, salt, water, oil, and cream of tartar.

L: Do you want to make it COLORFUL?!


My friend is french. Her partner is Italian. Their son speaks french, italian, and, well, with me, some english.

I run to the larder. I should be embarrassed to admit, but I'm not, that David and I have a considerable collection of jell-o - in every flavor. I grab lime and raspberry.

We rip open the little bags of powdered magic. I start dumping the lime in my lump of dough. My little friend rips open the raspberry, looks in, looks at me, then instinctively licks his index finger and makes the plunge. Needless to say, my young pal took a break from kneading the flour concoction in front of him to go to that heavenly place that only raw jell-o directly from packet to mouth can take you.

Immediately I was transported to 1977 when jello packets were the preferred after school snack of my sister and me. If I had a tv, I would have instinctively searched the channels to find a rerun of Emergency or Gillian's Island.

The moral of the story...a)American culture is so easily exported, or, my preferred, b) the allure of jell-o is freakin' universal. I don't doubt that if I had a little Aborigine boy from the Outback in my kitchen today, he would have done the EXACT same thing.

Ok, full disclosure, when the kid's parents came to pick him up I didn't disclose the exact product that he had eaten, even though they noticed and commented on his neon red lips. I don't really feel badly about that. I do, however feel a little bad that the little dude was finger dip-sticking in sugar-free jell-o and I didn't tell him that there's an even better version out there in the big world.

Vive le Jell-O!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I can't post today. I'm in the bath...all day.

Water's back on.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Life in Maberga

Someone decided that it would be fun or funny to dismantle the water tubes from the aqueduct to Maberga. That's just freakin' hilarious, no? No. No, it's not.

Casa Cornwell has been without running water since Wednesday. WEDNESDAY. A little reminder, today is SATURDAY. I smell really good.

Wednesday evening, after "working" for 3 hours in the orto with Augusto I came back to the house looking very much forward to a hot bath. Opening the tap, I noticed my aqueduct pressure was not present. There was a small trickle coming out. "Hmmmm?"

Knowing that Augusto left my orto to go up to the neighbor to have a beer, I called him.

L: "Augusto?"

A: "Si"

L: "I don't have water in my house. Is someone doing work? Did they shut it off?"

A: "No."

L: "Hmmmm?"

Augusto came by. He checked all the same things I had already checked at my house. Everything here is fine.

8.30 next morning I get a call.

A: "Ciao, Lina."

L" "Hi, Augusto. What's happening?"

A: "Someone has fu#&^d us"

As it turns out, the tubes that connect the city water with the Maberga tubes have been cut. WHO WOULD DO THAT?!

Just a little aside here....would any of you readers EVER think of someone cutting off your water supply, just for fun? EVER?

Well, it's happened here in Maberga.

By disconnecting a tube, the big containers that fill, through which our water passes, were completely emptied. We aren't talking a vasca ala my swimming pool, we are talking big big big vascas. Two of them. Empty. Which means that not only do we not have water but that we now will be paying for the water lost from the vascas, as well as all the water that was continuing to pump through a non-connected tube when we didn't know it was disconnected, plus the water to refill the vascas.

The vascas are now full and we still don't have water flowing into our houses. This is some serious sabotage. I hope this trickster had a really good laugh.

Did I mention that these tube are on the top of the mountain? The TOP. One has to be determined or highly motivated to do something like this.

So now it's Saturday afternoon and I still don't have water. I've been washing, myself and everything else, by the garden hose, which is attached to the swimming pool vasca. This, of course, is the one that is systematically emptied...and that the dogs swim in.

I have a dinner party to go to tonight. I'm thinking about calling to see if I can arrive early and have a shower before dinner.

Life in Maberga.

DO, a deer..

For Christmas David and my parents gave me this

How awesome is that?!

It's a viola, in case you didn't know.

For a very long time I've been wanting to take up the viola. As a child, I played in the famous Denison Jr High Orchestra. And ever since then, I've felt a hole in the existence of my life that the viola once filled.

No, actually not. A couple years ago, after noticing that my knitting and jewelry making had put me in production mode, I decided that I wanted something just for fun. Something creative to do that had no product. I remembered my viola playing and got fixated.

Since Christmas I'd been looking for a viola teacher. I tried the local music schools. "Viola? No." was always the response. Then I remember a friend who I had helped with some english several years ago. This friend plays the cello in the San Remo orchestra. This friend called another friend from the orchestra (San Remo, not Denison Jr High). And last week, I had my first lesson.

Here's what I've learned so far...

1. in Italy the notes don't have letter names, they are called DO RE MI, etc. Well, not "etc", like we all learned from Maria on the top of the mountain. In Italy TI is not a drink with jam and bread because it is SI which would make it something we do with our eyes when they are open. And SO is not a needle pulling thread because it is SOL, which I guess would make it a patch of hair growing on the chin.

2. Holding a stiff wooden object between your chin and collar bone for any period of time is really really not comfortable.

3. Learning to play the viola after 40 is way harder than learning a language after 40. Well, actually, I don't know that to be true. I learned Italian before I was 40 and all I've learned through my german studies so far is "Was wollen Sie trinken?" Whilst that is an incredibly useful phrase and I find myself saying it a lot, I would not really count it as having learned a language after 40.

So, for now, I will be adding "playing the viola" to that list of things that I did better when I was 10 than I do today. Here are the other things on that list, in case you were wondering:
--the splits
--saying the alphabet while belching
--talking back to authority figures

Next lesson on Friday. I can't wait.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Catch Up

Whoa, I've left so many loose ends dangling on this blog that if it were knitting it would be a 1970's poncho.

1. Water. You may remember that someone stole my vasca water. I guessed that it would take two weeks to refill. Remember? Well, I was wrong, and I was right. It actually only took 4 days to refill. Cool! But then, 3 days later, same person emptied the it again. Darn.

2. Orto. Double darn about the empty vasca given that my orto now looks like this.

Yep -- zucchini, basil, cucumbers, eggplants, chili peppers, leeks, onions, beans, lettuce and chard! Obviously, I'm going to have to get a little more vocal with the neighbor who is hogging the water.

Is anyone wondering how I went from an orto like this...

to this?

Yeah, that's because a week ago I went up to the orto to do a little cleaning and to build my tomato trellace when I promptly had a total melt down. I just sat down in the dirt paralyzed and tramatized at the amount of land that I own and have totally been neglecting. After I watered the tomatoes with my tears, I pulled myself together, "Lynn, you are a strong, capable, young woman who has done many things more difficult in life than managing a little bit of land. AND, that land isn't going to clean itself so, stop crying, grab your tools and get to work!" And that's exactly what I did.

"Hello, Augusto?"

Yep, I did what all strong, capable (and intelligent) woman do...I hired someone who actually knows what they are doing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Venice 2011

"Hey, David! Look over there!"

Just kidding, that's not a photo of us standing in the middle of the water. Even with my wooden platform Steve Maddens I can't walk on water...yet.

Venice... it's still awesome. Even in the rain. Which it did for 38 of the 44 hours we were there.

That's ok, it doesn't rain in the bead shops.

Remember Alessandro?

He makes most of the beads that I use in my jewelry.

This year I got to design my own beads. It was an almost paralyzing experience.

I know, it should have been fun beyond recognition but I, well, I started to panic. Some of you may know from personal experience, or heard me talk about my lack of decisiveness. Only my mom can go shoe shopping with me because she has the patience of a saint/life time teacher (same thing) and, well, she's my mom. And then there is junk food shopping when I'm in the States. It really does me in. I stand there in the soda and the snack food aisles knowing that I have only so many days to fill my body with fizzy drink varieties and fried corn and potato products. I can't have them all in all their wonderful combinations, so I have to decide. Root beer and cheese popcorn? Vanilla soda and sea salt potato chips (don't knock it 'til you've tried it)? Cream soda and sour cream and onion pretzels? Or do I stick with the classics, cherry 7-up and nacho Doritos? Whoa, I'm losing my breath just thinking about it. EXACTLY how it was with Alessandro.

"What color?" (there are about 1 million)
"Crystal or opaque?"
"And what color for the accents?" (same 1 million)
"Crystal or opaque?"
"What shape?" (any you can think of...about 100 million)
"What size?" (well, infinite possibilities here)
"Acid washed or polished?"

Totally paralyzed by choices. Finally, David gently said to me, "honey, decide. Alessandro needs to go to lunch."

I guess it was the thought of holding an Italian back from a meal, but I did make some decisions. We'll see how I did when my beads arrive in a couple weeks. If you never hear me mention these beads again, just imagine that I'm eating some plain chips drinking a diet coke, drowning the sorrows of my poor decisions.

We stayed, as usual on the island of Murano. Here are a couple views from the balcony of our room.

We also caught up with the artisan Giovanni, who I get a lot of stuff from.

He did a demo for us to do a photo shoot. Here's the process, if you've never seen it...

Yeah, ok. I left a few photos out of the process. Anyway, you get the idea.

Then we found a new (to us) group who makes these amazing pendants


We also ate and drank a little

Not such a bad way to spend 44 hours out of the rain.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Hi Friends,

My dad has recently asked for some photos of my garden. He wants to see if the grape vines will reach 100% this year. Since I haven't posted in a while, I figured I'd share these photos also with you guys. As always, wagers are welcome for whether we will reach 100% coverage on our pergola with the grape vines this year. As those of you who have been following....David predicted 5 years ago that we would get 100% coverage that year, well...

Here's June of 2011:

Be careful when you are making your bets. June foliage is about as foliage-ish as it gets. So, a little clue to you, if we aren't there in June, we won't get there by August. Look closely at the photos before you place your bet.

So, Dad, here are the photos. As I did for mom, letting her know about her mother's day non-gift before mother's day just in case I forgot....which, as it happens, I did forget, here is your father's day gift. Photos of my garden. Wow. This must be so disappointing. So good that you guys made two kids.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm going to Venice. Some friends, really really good friends, are coming to stay with my dogs so I can go shop for beautiful glass beads and see my husband for our anniversary. Which means, of course that this weekend I'm cleaning my house to a level that I never know when I'm staying here myself. Photos to come...of Venice, of course, not of my house being clean.