Self

Sometimes you need to talk about what is inside be that mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical

Getting Ready

Ciao,

It’s been awhile, though part of me is getting prepared for the start of next term when I am hoping to get 1-2 blog’s in a month I wasn’t quite anticipating starting the slow down just yet.

No excuses really, just life, travel, exhaustion, a little sick time and the holidays coming up. This post isn’t really about any grand adventures (shocking, I know) but more just “hey, life and all”.

I have been anticipating decorating for the holidays, it will be the first time in years that I have been able to have a tree with all the ornaments I have collected from childhood (it is a long standing tradition in our family that each year my mother gives us an ornament, I have passed on this tradition to my own child and now also my grandson). That means I have at least forty something ornaments, but honestly I have a lot more ornaments than forty. Will and I voted for a fake tree, sad I know but we will be vacationing in Florence for a week just as the tree is supposed to be receiving its daily doses of water and I don’t want to come home to a dead tree just days before Christmas. I also want to have my tree up for longer than 3 days. Soooooo non real tree it is.

I also have outside trees and wooden reindeer that I have been dragging from state to state and country to country for roughly ten years. I haven’t had them out since we moved across the ocean and they might be a little worse for wear (plus the reindeer really need new antlers, otherwise known as twigs). I think I can get them through this Christmas season but then I will need to at least pull some of the limbs from the trees and replace them with less shedding ones.

I have also learned that finding craft supplies in European countries is not as easy as going to Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann’s or whatever your favorite craft emporium might be. The crafting bug is not an American thing but America does make it easier for the aspiring decorator.

I have been piecemealing my decorations together from wherever I can find the items I need and I am pretty excited to get it all setup but not until after Thanksgiving. Not because the Europeans celebrate Thanksgiving, that is definitely an American only holiday, but we are headed up to Innsbruck Austria tomorrow morning. While America gorges on turkey and pumpkin pie I will be eating wurst, schnitzel, and waffles with a hot mug of Gluhwein in my hands. See, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) opens early in Austria and I can’t wait to go and start my holiday season.

Because we are in Europe I have been trying to finish up my Christmas shopping to send back to the States. Last weekend we made a quick trip to Venezia to see if the streets were still flooded and grab an item or two I had seen there previously. As we made our way over the main bridge leading us onto the true island I realized I had forgotten my phone. I surprised Will when I decided not to go back to the car and get it. He was less surprised that I kept asking for his phone to take pictures. Honestly, I only asked a couple of times, hence why there was no posts up about our quick Venezia run. It was still a good day, and yes, despite the cool weather we hit up Suso. Our favorite Venezia gelateria. Packages purchased and some of them even ready to mail off I finally feel like I might be getting a handle on the season. Though I am still looking for a couple small things before I send other boxes in to the postal system.

I also made almond croissants. My dad has requested them, though I have no idea how to keep croissants crispy and fresh for more than a couple of hours (this is that moment where suggestions would be welcome. Seriously, if you have any croissant insights let me know!!!)

I think over all my croissant skills are improving but since this is only the third time I have made them (because croissants are really labor intensive, well not so much labor intensive as time intensive and patience intensive) I probably need to make several more batches before I can make that claim. It is okay because my neighbor doesn’t like to bake and her kids and husband lie treats (all my extras go next door and in return they supply me with eggs, plus they are just awesome neighbors)

Yesterday, I began a deep clean of the house in anticipation of my mom and stepdad arriving in December. As I told my husband, cleaning is my own way of procrastinating. He told me most people procrastinate so they don’t have to clean and that I don’t understand how procrastination works. I tried to explain that if I procrastinate by doing something I liked I would feel guilty. He ruefully shook his head at me but there you have it; we have a clean house but I didn’t get the blog out yesterday.

All in all it has been a good November and I am sure I will have adventures to tell you about after we have a weekend in Austria and Germany, so until then.

Ciao miei Amici

Fall is Here

Ciao,

I would love to be giving you all a great glimpse into what I have been doing but the reality is I am not doing anything. Will and I have both been fighting off the crud of Italy and I can definitely say it is not fun. Every time we think we are recovered it comes around and socks us for another loop. So, I will be taking a small hiatus until I am recovered. 

If nothing else, we are going to Austria at the end of the month and I am sure it will be an adventure.

I wish you all great adventures of your own and will be back when my nose stops running.

Ciao miei Amici

Reality can be a Real Downer

Ciao,

After the craziness of September I have had two weeks before Will and I leave to celebrate his birthday. We are headed to London and it is going to be a lot of fun. We have already made plans but not too many so we can sit back and enjoy just being in London. Don’t worry I will tell you all about it next week.

Recovering from our September house guests and preparing to leave didn’t leave a lot of time for fun activities and honestly, we were kind of tired. Plus the house needed so much work, which happens when you neglect it for two plus weeks while you have guests.

So after many days of cleaning and trying to re-normalize our schedules we feel good to leave again.

In between two things of semi noteworthiness happened.

First I had to go to the dentist for some, sort of, major mouth stuff; secondly we went to the Italian version of British Days with R & C.

First let’s talk about what it feels like to go to the dentist, or you could even apply some of this to going to the doctor, in a foreign country. I mean that’s really where my angst is so let me get it all out!

I think it is safe to say nobody, except maybe hypochondriacs, like going to any sort of medical professional. This is not to say that medical professionals are bad people. Nope, one of my favorite cycling friends is a fantastic dentist and if I still lived in Maryland I would be using his services. However, he is a little far away with a small thing like an ocean between us. And, let’s be frank, even though I enjoy cycling with my friend I still hate going to the dentist.

I take pretty good care of my mouth, brushing twice a day (mostly), flossing, using mouthwash, regular cleanings, blah, blah, blah. But I was gifted genetically with crappy teeth (thanks mom and dad!) So I have been visiting the dentist for dental work for most of my teenage into adult life and it doesn’t look like it is going to stop anytime soon.

I admit I get ridiculously nervous anytime I have to go to the dentist, it ranks right up there with other anxiety inducing fears, which I don’t have many of but the ones I do; Oofta! Seriously, one could just threaten to do dental work on me and I would give away any secrets I had (lucky for me I don’t have any and my life is pretty much an open book, you all know this since I write about it.)

So my crown has broken off at the gum line, and I have to get the tooth pulled and two implants put in.

Enter Italian dentist,

I sit as comfortable as I can manage in the chair, my heart rate has already begun to elevate. My eyes dart around the room taking in the “normal” looking dental equipment (I mean, I am in a foreign country for all I know they still use rusty pincer pliers to pull teeth.)

The dentist, a nice normal looking, older gentleman with a soft smile, starts conversing in Italian with his dental assistant. She hasn’t looked at me yet but she doesn’t have the same comforting smile, not a bad smile, just not as comforting. I realize that they are speaking too fast for me to make out any words with my limited, slow paced, elementary Italian. And honestly for all I know they are speaking words that I will never know because unless it is milk, cat, please and thank you it is way out of my realm. (Oh, I probably know how to say bread too.) They glance at me, converse some more, my palms start to sweat and he turns and says in heavily accented english, “we ready to start”

Gulp!

I have had an implant put in before and I understand the rudimentary process, you cut open the gum line, drill into the jaw, screw in a little metal post and then sort of sew the gum line around the post. Then you wait for it to heal before adding the crown. I just have never had it done when the dentist and I speak a different language (not that an english speaking dentist would have made me less anxiety ridden.)

All of the equipment comes out of the usual sterilized sealed packages and I am already covered in one of those weird paper cloth bib things that are supposed to catch your spit or…blood

Another assistant hands me a small plastic cup with pink liquid “rinse 10 seconds and spit” she tells me, I recognize her before as one of the better english speakers in the office and find comfort in having a language ally.

Then they clip a heart monitor on my finger – well I already know my heart is racing but it seems to still be at an acceptable level to them because they continue.

The dentist, who does speak english when he isn’t in a hurry (when he is distracted he only has a couple words, “open, close, relax”) pulls the most dreaded item ever off the tray in front of me. The hated syringe full of anesthesia. I swear to all that is holy fewer things inspire more terror than that long needle with the giant thumb depressor heading towards my already whimpering mouth.

“Relax and open”

I opened my mouth and worked on relaxing it while simultaneously my sphincter tightened, my hands shook and my saliva glands went into overdrive. So out comes the little mouth vacuum to get rid of the pooling, throat choking, extra liquid, produced by my own body, inspired by anxiety, spit. There seemed to be some annoyance about having to suck out my mouth so early in the game but the assistant was mostly capable, only letting me choke a little bit.

OMG! The pink mouth stuff worked. I never felt a thing, well, as far as the shots go.

I need to now mention that America is all about the patient comforts, this applies to doctors and dentists. Somewhere along the line American professionals have begun treating patients with kid gloves. Don’t make them uncomfortable by accidentally touching their face while actually poking around in their mouth doing a dental procedure is the one that comes to mind. (I have other opinions about doctors visits but that is for another day.) I can safely say that dentists in Italy, at least mine, don’t worry too much about the kid gloves; they worry about getting the job done. At one point the assistant was leaning her whole hand on my cheek and the dentists elbow was in my eye while he tried to screw in the metal implant. I realized that despite the anxiety I felt while having my mouth worked on, which was not really a symptom of being in a foreign country but more a symptom of not liking the dentist, I actually had no problem with the fact that they felt they had to touch my face and even use my head for leverage to get the job done.

Hmmmm, score a point for the Italian dentist.

“Open, close, relax…” and on it went but finally we were done and I was mostly not in bad shape.   I mean, other than having metal posts sticking out of my jaw and watching him stitch up my gums.

Ick, having your skin stitched is bad enough but watching that little curved needle with the thread attached going in and out of your mouth is just painful. Even if you can’t really feel it.

It took way less time than I thought it would and my sphincter finally relaxed though I am not sure my gut did. When he was finished he said he didn’t want to give me antibiotics unless it was necessary; to call him if my mouth became inflamed or I had a fever. Thank goodness because I had no idea how to tell him which antibiotics I can take, none of them would have to be my answer. FYI, most antibiotics give me a bad reactions and I try to never take them. Another thing that Europeans seem to do differently than Americans is pain pills, he didn’t offer me any, and I didn’t expect him too. I remember having a conversation with a lady in Germany where she told me that 800 ibuprofen was too much medicine for her.

Wow, most of us can’t live without our tylenol or advil.

Anyway, I am not any fonder of dentistry than I was before and having your dental staff speak in a foreign language does nothing to alleviate those fears. However, they seem to have done a great job, six days after the fact I have been eating whatever I wanted since the procedure. Using salt water rinses regularly and my mouth gets tired and sore from eating or having food poke into the gum line but it could be worse. I was actually hoping to have a painful mouth as an excuse for not eating fish and chips while I am in London this week but I will just skip the fish, yuck, and eat the chips like I always do.

A quick note about Italian British Days (it is almost like a theme), it was what I would call steampunk days more than British Days. Though maybe my UK friends can drop me a note and let me know if the whole Steampunk thing is really a big deal there. I like steampunk, I have steampunk costumes but it was not what I was expecting. They also had a tightrope walker, a car show, a dog show, and a lot of food that was not British. Barely any fish and chips. And no tea! What the heck Italy, you can’t have a British days without tea, what would the Queen say?!

Regardless we had a nice afternoon and evening with R & C.

I will work to get some more authentic “British” pictures this weekend!

Until next week, I hope your adventures are as glorious as mine,

Ciao miei Amici

Life, it’s what gets in the way when you are trying to adventure!

Ciao

Sometimes the biggest adventure lies in just living. I don’t mean the highs and lows; though I know we all have plenty of those. I am talking about the drudgery of life; the house cleaning, meal preparing, laundry hanging, getting up and going to work, then doing it all again for all the days and weeks of your life.

In the spirit of that idea, guess what I did this last week or so?  – and because I always have a Honey-Do list Will was honor bound to join me.

Is my house cleaner? Not really, it is a house, we come and go, we have cats and shoes and a life, hence it is still dirty (always dirty) No, not dirty, lived in.

Laundry is a never ending battle between deciding to go pantless and deciding that I can hang out one more load of laundry today (but only if I don’t have to fold it until the morning).

And let’s be honest Will is awesome for doing the daily grind (it doesn’t matter if you like your job, some days it still means getting out of bed and putting pants on).

Meals are a weird paradox for me. I like food, the very fact that I have to spend so much time riding my bike is a testament to my enjoyment of food. I also like to cook and bake, new ideas, new recipes, a well kept secret is that even though I might make the same food more than once (lasagna, meatloaf, beef stroganoff, etc.) I almost never use the same recipe. Sometimes I think “oh remember that one time I made such and such, it was so good. What recipe was that?” The likelihood of me remembering which recipe I used, let alone finding it again are slim to none.

Baking is a similar problem though I do tend to follow the recipes much more accurately than when I cook. When you cook it is a moment to experiment, to wonder if you should add dill or rosemary and what will that do to the flavor. Was that too much pepper? Should I have added lime juice to the meat when I was tenderizing it? The questions are endless.

Try asking those same questions when baking and you end up with cardboard flavored cake and bread that you can use as a doorstop.

Long story short, cooking/baking is fun but not when I ‘have’ to do it. Too bad we still have to eat and I can’t hire a cook for the days when I don’t feel inspiration strike.

We actually had two good meals (that I didn’t cook) this weekend, one was at Trattoria Cortese. They specialize in less regionally common meat, such as kangaroo or bison steak (not a lot of either of those animals running around northern Italy).

 

Saturday night Will and I wandered downtown and grabbed an aperitif, did a little shopping, had a lovely meal at a restaurant in the plaza, then finished it off with some gelato. We did all that and still managed to be home before the hoards of Italians hit the evening for their dinner and drinks. (Italians eat late!)

This week I am helping my neighbor’s daughter get ready for an English grammar test and getting ready for September, which will be a guest laden month. (Really excited to see everyone that is coming).

And I am trying to survive the last weeks of summer. It is so hot here I am considering grilling all my food on the front walkway.

My life this next week or so is going to be more of the same, not terribly exciting but an adventure because it is life and that is the best adventure.

I know the fall is coming and I am not sure I will be able to keep up with all the blog worthy events that are upcoming.

So until September takes us all by storm (and hopefully some cooler weather) I will leave you all to enjoy your last days of summer. Talk to you in a couple of weeks!

Ciao miei Amici

Baskets and Stuff

Ciao Amici,

I am not sure where the weeks go, I think I am going to get so much done and then the next thing I know the week is over and I haven’t done half of what I thought I was going to. It is maddening; and the crazy part is that we didn’t have any adventures planned this last weekend so it should have lasted longer but, alas, it did not and here it is time to write about my adventures, or lack of them, again.

Did I ever tell you my mother weaves baskets? She has been weaving them for around 25 years. Not just any baskets but beautiful baskets. She has a wonderful teacher in Colorado; where she lives. She and some of her close friends spend many an afternoon making these fantastic beauties.

She has gifted many people with her creations over the years. I jealously guard, carefully pack and unpack, and move my baskets, handcrafted by my mother, from house to house and country to country.

To me baskets are like unique bowls, I love to collect them and fill them with… well if we are talking about bowls then I usually put rocks and shells in them.

Baskets might not get anything in them but I still love them if my mom makes them.

So, I don’t have the experience that my mom does but I tried my hand this week at weaving a basket. A very, very tall shopping basket. 

 

 

I haven’t finished yet but it is coming along.

 It is definitely lopsided but hey, I am 5,000 miles away from my master basket weavers and did the best I could. Just so you know, I am not displeased with my results. Not sure where I will put it but that’s a problem for another day.

I told you we didn’t go anywhere this weekend, which is sort of true, I mean we didn’t spend the whole weekend on the couch bemoaning the lack of a gelato delivery service in Italy. (Which would be awesome, just saying. I mean if you could get a person on a moped scooting around from place to place bringing you gelato…YUM… It would be like an ice cream truck but without the creepy music and over frozen treats).

So, no gelato on the couch but we did go out Friday night to the Taj Mahal, a pretty decent Indian restaurant in Vicenza. They forgot the spices this time so my mango chicken was more sweet than spicy but friends and camaraderie can make up for a lot of spice. The gelato place we hit later wasn’t too bad either. (I had fresh peach and mango) Not as good as the place we went on Sunday but I already knew that place was the superioriest! Sunday I had almond gelato with candied oranges, cherry puree and slivers of chocolate, it was divine.

But back to the time between Friday night and Sunday afternoon gelato. On Saturday, I decided we needed to move some furniture around and get ready for guests that will begin to arrive next week. We ran to the local Home Depot (except in Italy it is called Brico) and bought paint. Our master bedroom came with some uniquely painted walls. I tend to think of the kitchen and living room with their yellow, gold, and coral/orange walls as being fairly mediterranean I have never been quite down with the light blue circles with gold around them like halo’s. I definitely wasn’t about to sleep with one at my head like I was some sort of sleeping angel. That would be awkward and weird. Since we were rearranging our bedroom we painted that wall, or at least where the sleeping halo was. It is always a fun experience to try and conquer what should be an easy task made harder by a foreign language. Not that we really had any problem picking out paint, we even managed to get matte, and yes, it was white. However, there is always this feeling when standing in an aisle covered in your desired product but surrounded by a foreign language (or as they call it here, Italian) that makes your heart thump a little harder and maybe a small bead of sweat break out on your forehead. You know what I am trying to say? Like even after you have done all the translations and you know you picked up white paint you might open it up and find it to be violet. Or even though you think you bought a tomato you get it home and find out it was really an eggplant all the time. Weirder things could happen here but usually the heart pounding brow sweating is just a side effect and nothing is wrong. We did good and Will painted me a nice white wall that I was able to sleep next to Saturday night. Sunday was about Chinese all you can eat (but much better than a buffet because they make everything fresh), guitar lessons with Will’s friend and as I said earlier we topped it all off with a nice gelato.

Nothing too exciting but as I have said before, not every week can be about exotic adventures, some weeks have to be about covering the sleeping halo with white paint and eating Chinese food.

Till next week (I will do my best to finish my basket)

Ciao miei Amici