Friday, February 24, 2012

a day in photos

Fridays are for the knitting girls.  We had a big day today.  And oh so informative.

When Christine and I arrived at Mette's she was making us some pancakes, not just any pancakes but  "City Hall Pancakes".  It's a Danish thing.

So, did you all know that the Danish National handball team won the European...cup....of coolness?  Honestly, I don't remember what the competition was (feel free to pipe up in the comments, Mette).  And, if I'm honest, I got delicious danish pancakes this morning because I made fun of Mette's home country....much like people from New York City or people living anywhere in California make fun of the midwest. Yeah, that's exactly what I did to my friend, the Dane. I'm ashamed and embarrassed that I took advantage of the fact that I was born in biggest, richest, greatest, most diverse and wonderful country in the world (or at least it is all those superlatives in my mind) to tease a little country...just because it's little....and in the middle of Europe.  It was terribily hypocritical of me.  Mette, I apologize. But thanks for the pancakes and the lesson in handball and Danish culture.

So, the pancakes were served and we watched the final minute of the handball game in which the Danes beat the Serbs.

Then on to the celebration...the crown prince on the balcony of city hall in Copenhagen with the handball team greeting the people of Denmark.  Then the whole group ate some "City Hall Pancakes". This is why we did too.

Look, little Danish flags on my pancakes.


 After Danish-fest, Christine, who had been in the States recently, brought out gifts for all of us.  Knitterly-themed gifts.

Here's a close up....

In case you can't recognize it, it's a hand-crocheted dish scrubber.  There's a woman in Florida making these.  And they found there way to our appreciative hands.

After all this, we did get to some knitting.  Last summer some time we decided that as a "knitting group" we might try knitting something together.  Not one item, but the same item.  Like a book club.  I think it was Mette who found this pattern

So, like a book club, we all got the proper materials and were going to start together.  Well, most of us.  I showed up today with the fuckers already done.  I couldn't help myself. I cast on and then in like two days the buggers were finished.  I was that girl in the book group who reads beyond the agreed upon chapters to finish the book and who then shows up at the meeting telling everyone how the thing ends.  Yeah, you don't want me in a book club.  Actually, I could be in a book club because even though I would want to read ahead and then spoil the ending for everyone else I can't because I'm a painfully slow reader.  Yeah, you don't want me in a knitting group....except that I'm so much fun.

Mette made me feel so guilty about having finished them by myself last time I saw her that I came prepared today to knit another pair.  So we all cast on our joint knitting project.


Truth be told (can I tell someone else's truth?  Well, I'm gonna...) Mette is casting on her SECOND mitt in that photo above.  She couldn't wait either. And Christine, well, she probably WOULD have finished both mitts without the rest of us except for that small problem that she doesn't know how to read patterns.


We also had some show and tell time.

Christine finished ANOTHER scarf...and it's a dandy.

Mette had this little lovely just sitting quietly on the shelf of our knitting room.

Her name is Harriet, Happy Harriet.  She's a sheep.

Speaking of sheep, I was lookin' hot sporting my new sheep necklace....drawn and painted by Christine and made into wearable art by me.  How cool is that little guy?!

Some day soon Christine and I will have these little gems available for purchase, for now you'll just have to admire them on we do.

And....a knitting group day wouldn't be complete if I didn't ask Mette for some advice about a project that then involved me ripping back already competed work.  Thanks, Mette.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

some random thoughts

1.  Two weeks of carrying water in buckets for use in the house resulted in the use of this much of our water reserve.

5 days of having the water running into the house the usual way through tubes and the faucets and we used this much water.


Think about that a bit. I am.

2. After seeing the fabric I'm using for my friend's baby blanket the shop assistant at the fabric store said to me, "everyone has their own taste".  Was that a slam?

3.  why is it so freakin much more pleasurable buying fruit and veggies at the San Remo fruit and veggie market that at a regular store?

4.  Every since I put the new patchwork duvet cover I made on the bed, it's reminded me of something but I couldn't figure out what. 

Yesterday was Carnival.  I figured it out.  I've dressed my bed like a court jester.


Monday, February 20, 2012

At last...

So I had to mail some letters today.  I figured while I was going to the post office I might as well pay some of the random bills that had been collecting in my drawer.  I try to pay all by bills on time but then there are these random bills that come from the italian national collection agency.  They have long, legalese letters attached to them that I'm sure explain to me what they are for, should I be able to understand them, that is.  I usually just go ahead and pay them without knowing what they are.  The way I figure it is, in a bureaucracy like italy,  there have got to be a few fees and tariffs that I regularly miss, so I pay the bills assuming that these are them.  If they aren't, well, then I'm just doing my bit to help the italian government out of its little financial bind.

So I arrive at the Post Office.  Piss.  The grouchiest, most unfriendly, unhelpful public employee ever is sitting at the only open register servicing the 10 person deep waiting line.  Whilst doing my obligatory 30 minute wait to get to the front, I organize all my bills so I'm ready when Mr. Congeniality calls my turn. I'm actually just kidding myself because for sure I will have done or do something wrong that will make Smiles here pissed off at me and start yelling at me.  Happens every time.

Sure enough.  

I gave Giggles the  bills to be paid and he started processing them.  While he was doing that I got out my debit card with which I planned on paying. 
"You're paying with bancomat?!"
"Yeah.  It's a lot of money, I'm not carrying that kind of cash."
"humph humph humph.  You gotta tell me that FIRST, beFORE I start processing..." blah blah blah he went on.  I used to get all flustered and upset when he would yell at me.  Now I just stand there and wait for him to finish and then redo everything from the beginning to make up for my fuck up. 

This time he wanted me to participate.
"weoirn dlf ciowein s  coiwenf   oweirfn s or should I cancel the transactions?"
"I'm sorry.  I didn't really understand.  could you repeat the question please?" We of course always speak entirely in italian with each other.  I suspect my foreign-ness and lack of command of his language are at least part if not the entire source of his attitude toward me.
"woien doaiod dverfniad  kandoadh  or should I cancel the transactions?"
"um, well, since I didn't understand option number one, I'll go with the second one."
"OR YOU GO TO TAKE THE MONEY FROM THE MACHINE FOR TO PAY ME or I cancel the transaction." He said completely in english.
I smiled and grabbed my purse.
"I wait" he said.

For some strange and I'm sure really secure reason I have a limit on the amount of money I can charge to my debit card in one day.  I knew this to be true for cash withdrawals from my international cards but had no idea that my italian bank applies the same rule to regular payments within the borders of their own country.  Kind of interesting that it took me 8 years to find that out but anyway, that's the way it is.  So 3 debit cards and one credit card later I was able to get enough money from the machine to pay my bills.  Back to the post office and my waiting pal.

Chuckles let me skip to the front of the line where I produced a wad of crisp banknotes.  While he was counting them I said, in english, "you speak english very well."  And happened. Just like that.  Dude stopped counting, looked up at me and said, "not really" with a huge smile on his face. A freakin smile.

We concluded our business and as I was leaving he said, "Good morning." and smiled again.

Friends, 8 years I've waited for that guy to crack.  And probably 8 years that he's waited for me to leave italy.  Or maybe he was just trying to find the courage to practice his english and sure enough my idiocy finally gave him the chance.  What a good morning.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The drought is over. 

Wait, let me try that again...


Yeah, it's true. With amazing determination and persistence, ingenuity and perspiration, David got the water flowing again.  About an hour ago.

Did I tell you guys that I would write every day until the water started flowing again?  Yeah, well, I lied.  It wasn't an intentional lie.  What I should have promised was that I would write every day till the water came back on unless I was a)run over by a bus, b)enthralled with a new knitting project, or c)lost in a fever induced hallucinogenic state for three days.  I'd really like to tell you that it was disclaimer B that kept me away but it was actually disclaimer C which took me down such that I was wishing disclaimer A were actually true.

So, just in case any of you lose water like we know, where first the city water pipes freeze, then they burst, then the tubes from the spring freeze, then they burst, then you rig your big reserve container to your house and still the water doesn't flow, here's what you do:

Start a bon fire on your patio.  Yep, does it every time!

If you'll excuse me now, I'm going to go splash around in my bathroom

Sunday, February 12, 2012

See.  I told ya.

That's an icicle coming out of our garden hose connection.  Good thing we don't need to water the garden.

Here, look at it again.

An unexpected side effect from this time without water is my new found fondness for rubber gloves. I'm wearing a pair now as I type.  They are awesome. Doing dishes with ice cold water, followed by the rinse cycle of boiling water from the stove top has resulted in my having hands that no well educated, 42 year old woman from a well established family in the west should have.  If that sounds snobby that's because it is.  When I chose this life that I'm living I've rolled easily with the jobs I've had to do like repairing poop tubes with duct tape, carrying water so I can wash, and chopping wood so I can stay warm.  But I never imagined that it would involve having hands that are so dry and chapped that they snag my knitting. (I've long ago given up my fondness for manicures.  Now they are just a waste of money...maybe they always have been, but I digress). My friend Christine recently gifted me a box of rubber gloves that have now become all the fashion rage in Maberga.  I started wearing them just to do the dishes, but now I keep them on all the time.  They feel really nice.  Much nicer than my actual hands.  When I told David of my attraction to this new accessory he just said, "and that's when we knew."  When I'm an old woman I shall wear rubber gloves....all the time.

PS.  I've just read this post to david as a check before I hit "publish".  His only comment... "do you chop wood?"  No, dear.  I don't chop wood.  You know I don't chop wood.  Poetic licence exists in blogging too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yeah, yeah...I'm still here.

As many of you have asked me in emails, yes, we are experiencing a terrible cold spell.  And I don't mean the usual Riviera cold spell of "poor me, it's 45 degrees here. I actually had to put a jacket on today"  Nope.  Proper cold.  Wisconsin cold.  Snow cold. Go outside without every bit of skin covered and it freezes cold. And, yep, you guessed it, frozen water tubes cold.

So this time my answer to "Lynn, where have you been since you haven't been blogging?!"  is, I've been carrying water into my house.  My house which hasn't had running water since, well, the last time that I blogged.

But, as my dad aptly pointed out to me when I first explained my situation to him two weeks ago, "ummmm, but Lynn, you DID choose to live there."  I guess that's fair, since I am quick to point out to my parents when they report that they haven't seen the sun for months on end, "there are other places to live, you know."  Touche.

So, as you loyal Olive Knitting readers know, our water tubes that hang from the trees tend to freeze with cold weather.  They do every year. Logically I know this. I even understand the science behind it.  And yet, every time it happens, I'm stupified.  And am left without running water.

Stupified I am, but bummed out I am not (for the most part).  A girl can get a LOT of shit done when she doesn't have to, for example, do laundry, or wash the floors, or cook extensive meals that involve lots of pots and pans and dishes that will need to be washed (we're plastic plating it now), or....bathe.  Just think about the time you spend every day with water related tasks.  Friends, just imagine what else can get done!

So, with all my extra time  (that isn't taken by carrying water and talking with neighbors about fixing city water tubes that have broken and unblocking spring water streams that aren't running) I have:
-- made a patchwork duvet cover
--finished 20 or so knitting projects that just needed final sewing in of ends
--turned my studio upside down to clean and reorganize
--knit several pair of wrist/hand warmers
--sewn curtains for the bedroom
--And, I knit several new washcloths because hope springs eternal in Maberga for the day when the water will run again and I can wash my face.

I'm also a bit superstitious about things.  I believe that there is a direct correlation between the amount I'm blogging and my lack of water.  So I will be blogging every day until I have running water in the house again.  That is, assuming I can lift my stupidly weak spaghetti arms, which are carrying water, to the keyboard to type.  In this vein, please forgive the lack of photos in this post about all the cool new things I've made.  I'm currently having difficulty lifting the camera to make photos.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

my friend Martha gives me an Organizing Tip

So, I got this email from my friend Martha today.  She's always emailing me such helpful and clever ideas for keeping my home beautiful and running at the height of efficiency.  And don't even get me started on the recipes and crafty projects she sends me!  The woman is such a genius and model for me, I really try not to let her down. 

Today I got this :

Martha Stewart - Organizing Tip of the Day

Well, Martha, check THIS OUT!

If that mold is any indicator, ain't gonna be no dead plants in my house!

And given that room, with its ample humidity, shoots the mercury up to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit it is IDEAL for freshly cut flowers.

Just in case any one's been wondering where I've been, eating fish is the answer.

David and I have decided that we want to add more fish to our diet.  You know, living on the Mediterranean and all, it seems like a logical thing to do.  So I did what any person wanting to learn something new would do.  NO, not knitting group.  If you don't belong to a knitting group or know anyone in one, then I'd like to enlighten you -- a group of knitters has the answer to everything. Everything.  Yes, the combined knowledge of a circle of knitters in infinite.  That's just a fact.  Anyway, back to the fish... when David said that he wanted to learn to cook fish (for the record, I only said that I want to eat more fish), I called the girls with Das Needles (one of whom is celebrating her 49th birthday in the photo below!).

And sure enough we had back-to-back Sunday fish cooking lessons with Christine and Valerio and then Mette and Teddy.

So long (for now) and thanks for all the fish...

PS.  I have a video of Valerio talking about preparing sea bass and if someone can tell me how to upload a video to a blog that doesn't take 17 hours to do, I'll happily have that available for you all.  I will of course ask the knitting girls for help with this also, but we won't meet again until the earliest Friday, so...