Monday, August 29, 2011

another year older

So, I survived another birthday party.

I've mentioned before that, because of my awesome parents' child rearing, I have an "I can do anything" sort of view of life. Yeah, my parents instilled in me the attitude that if I really want to do something, of course I can do it. Whilst this belief has led to many super cool experiences like, for example moving to the top of a mountain in Italy with no job, no money and no clue, it is also to blame for many stellar decisions like taking up the viola at age 41.

I've come to realize that while it is true that if I want to do something I certainly can, it's also true that somethings just come a hell of a lot more easily than others. For example, picking up some needles and yarn and turning them into a sweater...EASY. Taking some glass beads and silver wire and turning them into a pair of problem.

Taking 35 italians, some food, wine and music and turning it into a party...well, that doesn't come so naturally for me. In fact, it makes me look like this

Despite my stress, the evening was a lovely celebration with very lovely friends.

Happy Birthday, Love...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

So, David had a birthday on Thursday. We celebrated tonight, with about 30 of our closest friends. Photos to follow.

Really. I promise.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


So, I spend a lot of time thinking about language acquisition. One might say it's a part of my daily life, a big part. Take the other day, for example.

I was giving Ruffino, our 90 lb lamb of a Golden Retriever, a little snack... a nice, juicy piece of meat. We have a little routine for when treats are doled out given that Ruff is a bit of a snatcher. Um, that was really a euphemistic way of saying that feeding Ruff from your hand puts all your fingers at risk, as well as most of your forearm. This is what we do: I say 'sit', Ruff sits. I hold up the tasty treat and say 'gentle, gentle, gentle' and then Ruff "snatches" the morsel of goodness from my hand while a leap backwards, hoping my arm is coming with me.

As we were running through this routine the other day it occurred to me that the only time I say the word "gentle" to Ruffino is just before I give him some cheese, a piece of salami, a bone, something from my plate (I know, I know, bad dog owner). For Ruffino "gentle" doesn't mean "proceed calmly", it means "f%^&ng delicious!".

This kind of makes me wonder how many words and phrases I know in Italian really mean what I think they mean.

On a completely unrelated note, today I harvested a ton of our tomatoes. Augusto's wife, Lina taught me how to can sauce for the winter that doesn't involve large vats of boiling water and all that hassle, so I did.

ok ok. I need to be honest with you...the "ton" of tomatoes I harvested from the orto produced one jar and a half of pasta sauce. Given that the half jar was only, well, half full it didn't seal properly so we'll have to eat that some time in the next couple of days. This, of course leaves us with one jar of sauce for the winter stash. I'm going to save it for a special occation. I'm sure it will be absolutely GENTLE!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

So, one of the first things that our gardener helper did to organize our land was to move this lovely piece onto the land.

Lovely, no? Um. No.

Augusto told me that I need to have a cupboard up on the land to hold "all my tools". He said that I don't want to be carrying everything back and forth from our shed, which is by the house, up to the land every time I need to do work. Actually what he meant was that HE doesn't want to have to carry HIS tools back and forth. Since Augusto has started "helping" me tend to the land, the only tool that I've used have been my garden gloves for weeding.

Since I didn't take action, he did.

It was actually kind of a weird thing. David was home and, as he does when he's here, he took the first run of the day with the dogs up on the land. When I woke that morning I said to David, "whoa. I just had the weirdest dream. I dreamt that Augusto had moved a bunch of old school furniture up here and lined them up against the side of our house to hold tools." David stared at me. "What?" I said. He said, "have you been up to the terraces yet today?"

Sure enough, while I was sleeping in, Augusto had moved an old school locker up to the orto. Weird.

David is home again. This morning we were up on the land having a look around. He noticed some cucumbers that were getting a little big for the vine and went to pick them.

"You want a knife to cut them off?" I asked.

"You got one?"

(I don't know why we've started speaking in truncated sentences...I blame the whole second language acquisition thing).

"Sure! Right here in the locker."

David paused for a minute..."I think it's amazing that you have a locker mate called Augusto."

You think I can find some nice Teen Beat photos to hang in there, like of Andy Gibb, maybe?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Bits and Bobs


Oops I might have left this one on the vine a little too long.

Look at that thing. It weighs like 3 stone.


The Maestra told me that I need one of these

It will help me sing, she says. Fuck the singing. That thing is hours of entertainment. It's a heck of a lot easier to play than the viola and sounds a lot better than my voice. Plus it gives me an awesome drum back up while I play it. AND, if I don't feel like playing, I just hit one button and it plays La Cucaracha all by itself so I can do other things ... like these guys

Have a good weekend.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Water War is over....

And the good guys won!!!!

Check this out

Look at all that beautiful water! So much water comes out now so fast that it takes me about a minute and a half to water the whole orto.

Not only do I have massive amounts of water coming to the terrace with the orto, but now I have water on EVERY terrace. Look

Incredible. Unbelievable, actually. I love my new water system. If I weren't so tall I'd start showering under those shiny new spigots. (Yes, at 5'3" I'm considered "tall" in this country...I love Italy).

So, what's the secret for winning a war...recruit a local professional soldier who speaks the language of the land.

About a week ago Augusto's frustration at people stealing water from me was about at its limit. I went up to water early one morning and I over heard this conversation between Augusto and a neighbor:

N: "She can't take that water!!!!"

A: "This water is overflowing the vasca and is being lost. There's plenty for you and for her. AND it's her land, so, yes, she can take it!"

N: "If she puts in tubes to take this water, I'll cut them!"

A: "NON HAI CAPITO UN CAZZO!!!!" (that means "you haven't understood anything!" but in not such a polite way) "She's going to use it for her orto. Have you SEEN her orto?"

N: "ah. Yes, there's probably enough for both of us. Ho capito."

Now, I have water. Water in the orto, water on the terraces, water in the house. War over...and it only took 8 years.

Monday, August 01, 2011

So it's October, 1985, Elkhorn, Wisconsin a.k.a. EGG NIGHT. If you are not familiar with the Egg Night concept it's, well, just like it sounds...everyone between the ages of 14 and 18 run around town with every egg purchasable in the county and throw them at each other. If it weren't such a completely ridiculous, wasteful, and destructive town tradition I might like to take credit on behalf of Elkhorn teenagers from the 80's for the invention of the more (slightly) evolved Paint Ball game craze.

Back to 1985, so my pals and I are decked out in dark, loose clothes with tons of pockets, we have eggs stashed any where an egg could fit. The majority of my stash was in my shirt, which proved to be a great disguise as one recognized the slight girl with the perky bob hair cut and the massive chest. My more busty friends had to settle for their sleeves. So, I'm hiding in a bush with one of these friends and we hear a car off in the distance. We look at each other and quickly decide that we are more defensive than offensive egg night participants "RUN!". Off we go across an open field, running as fast as we could from this car that we are sure was coming right for us. Of course we knew that this couldn't be possible since we were in a totally open field, which would have made it rather obvious if a car was barreling down after us, which it wasn't. BUT STILL...the eggs were coming down on us. Left and right they were just shooting right past us! We ran faster and faster and faster and the eggs kept coming faster and faster and faster, not one of them actually hitting us. Run run run, egg egg egg. Then, they just stopped. We ran another couple hundred yards until we were sure no more eggs were coming our way. We collapsed in the grass completely exhausted, with our hearts pounding at the near escape.

"Jenn, I don't really like this game. Let's just leave our eggs here and go home. How many eggs do you have left?"

Jenny checks her sleeves, "Ummm, Lynn, I have no eggs left."

"What do mean? You had like 3 dozen in your sleeves!"

"Um, yeah. I DID before we started running."

We walked back home feeling more than slightly embarrassed that we, two prominent members of the math team, didn't come to the rational conclusion that Jenn was shooting her own eggs at us out of her sleeves.

So today I'm hanging in a tree picking apples. Having not had the foresight to bring a bucket, I was stashing apples in my clothes any where an apple could fit. I don't really need to finish this story, do I? Ok. Apples started shooting past me every time I picked another one. I jumped out of the tree (which isn't technically my tree, so technically those apples probably aren't technically mine) and I hid. "Shit. Someone just busted me picking these technically not my apples." Heart pounding, I remembered egg night. Sheepishly, I walked back home.

Today's orto haul...

Yesterday's orto haul...

Yesterday's knitting haul...

the "surprise sweater"...which is David's birthday present, completed one month EARLY!...and is no longer a surprise.

A lovely lime and turquoise cardy for me.

PS. If any of you are thinking that I'm a really bad neighbor by stealing someone else's apples, don't worry. Augusto assured me that since the tree is on a common path, the apples belong to everyone. I just maybe took more than my share.