24 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I wish all friends and family peace and happiness this Christmas. Zacchi has presents under the tree (and in the fridge) and my guests have loaded the season with laughter and goodies.

I have no internet at home but will be back on-line as soon as I can get my connection repaired.

For now though, I am well, Zacchi being thoroughly spoilt, and I am enjoying my first Christmas in Italy.

25 November 2008

from beach to ballroom...

This weekend was more catching up, this time with South Island relatives. It has been just under two years since I have seen the two beanstalks down there, and how they have changed! I watched with envy and pride as they dipped and twirled around the dance floor, footwork and posture I would love to learn.

Flying around New Zealand is fun. The tiny Beech plane from Tauranga to Auckland, the short and efficient hop between Auckland and Christchurch, it is all so easy! Driving is another story, beautiful countryside, empty roads, large modern cars.

The painting is progressing slowly but surely, but time is running fast. And now, at last, summer has arrived. With it come text messages and phone calls from Italy telling me how cold it is... I'll be looking for my winter coat and wearing that out of summertime NZ to get me warmly home from Rome!

19 November 2008

seagulls, surf and surfies

Today was a day to paint, catch up with friends, then visit family. And while the fish and chips are being collected it is Blog time!

I am sitting where I can hear the surf, see the waves, and somewhere out there in wet-suits are my nephews, surfing. The birdsong is melodic; even where I am staying on the outskirts of the city the birdsong is more varied and melodic than in Europe. I don't miss it when I am in Italy, but I really appreciate hearing it now.

The kitten that thinks the best seat in the house is on the shoulder of whomever is at the computer is playing in my hair. The purring is delightful. Zacchi, you must learn to purr. Or to play gently with kittens.

I hear the surfers return. The fish and chips will arrive in a few minutes. "Oh sweet!" says the first surfer in, when I answer that Mum has gone to pick up fish and chips... the smile is wide, the sun-bleached hair hiding any hint of the ancestry that allows this surfer to compete in the Maori competition.

Surf boards and wet suits discarded, the kitten is now the centre of attention. It's a great place to grow up, coastal New Zealand. But for Aunty Kay, much as I love the place, three weeks is enough time away from the place I call home.

PS: Dad and sister might prefer to use plates, but for nostalgia's sake my fish and chips were eaten out of the paper, of course!

18 November 2008

under the grill

The week in review:

The sun here (when it decides to come out) is lethal. It feels like being under the grill. I think in future I will come to NZ in the winter, renting my house out for the Italian summer...

Zacchi received a gift this week from a Kiwi fan he hasn't even met... a gorgeous kiwiana quilt with doggy paw prints on the reverse side! Talk about spoilt... so last night I let Bonnie sleep on the carpet in my room, can't have her feeling neglected!

I am loving the avocadoes, the feijoa drink (added that just for homesick Kiwis), the home baking and the flower gardens. The other night I breathed deeply all the way home from my sister's house, dwelling on the scents of the gardens, the freshly cut grass, the smell of the sea coming in on a gentle breeze... all that was lacking was Zacchi on a lead!

The supermarkets seem to have a huge range of foods. I guess everything is relative; I am staying in a city, not in a hillside village so choice is to be expected. But there is just so much to choose from, it makes shopping even more of a chore. So far my NZ shopping has extended to buying a pair of jeans that fit the antipodean figure, some art supplies, and now two trips to the supermarket. I am drawn to the olives and the salami, wanting a taste of home. I miss the bread of my Italian town. Sorry New Zealand, this wonderful soft bread just doesn't do it for me! And the cost of wine here - shock horror! It's enough to turn a girl teetotal! Unless it is a special occasion the most I pay in Italy for a bottle of very pleasant red wine is 1.89 euro.

The painting is progressing well enough but still a lot to do... using oils I am pushing my luck time-wise, it is 40 inches by 60 inches, that's a lot of paint and a lot of detail. I have cancelled my early December holiday at the timeshare, there isn't enough time to share at the moment; perhaps I can use the week in Scotland next year. I would rather have more time getting the painting to the level I know it can be, rather than rush to meet social commitments. This is a work and family trip, after all.

However, that said, etc etc, there are lots of people I intend catching up with. It's only the beach and the spa pool and sauna I have cancelled!

This coming weekend it is off to Christchurch. I see that the temperature range is from 7 at night to 31 in the day... crazy! Summer isn't really here. It comes and goes, sun beating relentlessly if you are unlucky enough to have to be out in it, then rain and a coldish wind the next day. It's true, the world, climate and all, really has gone mad!

11 November 2008

underway

The painting is underway. No photos, sorry, but so far I am happy with the shape it is taking.

The sky here is so blue, the greens so bright, the gardens so pretty. I love the smell of the freshly cut lawns. The houses are attractive, spacious, with wonderful views and windows; the furniture is comfortable, the clothing available fits well. Why don't I want to live here? There is no logic in my decision, but that is just the way it is!

Shhh... don't tell Zacchi, but my dear old Bonnie (aged Springer Spaniel) has been getting lots of cuddles and tummy rubs. She loves living with my dad, but she is certainly happy to have me home. Oddly enough she doesn't understand Italian when I talk to her... or has she just gone deaf in her old age? She is much aged now, more than I had expected, although the truth is that I didn't think she would still be with us. On Friday she gets her summer haircut, and that will make her look younger. Her head is on the angle after an illness, but she still enjoys life as tablets take care of her arthritic pains.

Tomorrow it is off to the Waikato to the bank, the accountant, more check-ups in a language I understand, then hopefully a cuppa... Jan and Alison, are you free after school?

10 November 2008

I guess I should be pleased...

I drove yesterday. It was awful. I had to think, check, recheck, think again, and really felt like a learner driver. I was in an automatic car. Mine is manual. I was on an almost empty road. I don't think they exist in my part of Italy. I feel far safer zooming up Montecassino with its huge buses and hairpin bends or zapping amongst the traffic in the chaos that is Cassino than I do on a Sunday drive in Bethlehem, Tauranga. Half of me thinks that my reflexes should kick in again to this driving on the left, the other half of me is very happy that my Italian driving is so firmly entrenched that driving here is difficult.

Today was MoleMap day. I have been photographed at extremely close range, have viewed the offending blemishes on the computer screen, and am resigned to going home to Italy with scabs and scars. I am lucky, they don't look dangerous. So once the official recommendation arrives it's off to the surgery for a bit of knife work and some more dry ice. There isn't a lot of spare skin on my forehead, hopefully one or two of the worry lines will disappear with the offending pieces of skin! That's as close to plastic surgery as I intend getting!

One of the things I really enjoy about living in Italy is being able to go out into the sun. Just now, however, I wouldn't mind seeing a little New Zealand sun, this is far colder than I expected it to be!!!!

7 November 2008

feijoa juice

hot water bottles
peanut butter on toast
vegemite and marmite
ocean views
wooden floors
books in English
flower gardens

airport announcers I can understand without particularly listening
supermarket products I recognise
clothing sizes and shapes that fit
being short or average height again

all good


but....

here they drive on the WRONG side of the road!
I think I'll stay being a passenger for a while...

5 November 2008

elections

I am back in time to vote. I need to study NZ politics as some boundaries have changed. I don't imagine the NZ elections will have the oratory of the winning and losing speeches I watched last night. The drama will be there though, this election is going to be interesting.

I wasn't going to vote, I felt too disconnected. But then it felt irresponsible not voting. I have three choices. I can choose not to vote, claiming that I am too far removed to make an educated vote. I can vote in my old electorate, which has had boundary changes, or I could change my electoral place and vote where my cottage is. My task this morning is to watch the (recorded) leaders' debate, and do some other research via the media and conversations with friends.

My home is Italy, I feel that Lazio is my turangawaewae at least for now. As we flew into Auckland I heard a man with an Indian accent say "look, I can see my home from here". It made me feel OK about saying Italy, not New Zealand, is now my home.

This time when I re-entered New Zealand I had to fill out the entry card differently. It felt strange but not wrong when I noticed that I was now officially returning for a short time, no longer a resident coming home. But in customs, after checking my passport and entry card, the man looked up, smiled, and said "Welcome home, Jocelyn". The welcome from an official was warm, as though to him any other place away from here had to be some kind of exile.

I don't feel torn between two countries, just torn between far-flung people. We teach our children to fly, so must celebrate when they do. Home is not so much an empty nest but a tree with many branches. When the distances seem great I remind myself that many of my childhood playtime hours were spent climbing trees, testing out those far reaching branches. Now I move more slowly, less lightly, but the will to climb and to reach out remains.

I have elected where I wish to be resident. Now I must choose for elections here. My two worlds are far apart but for me they sit side by side.
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3 November 2008

ihaven'tdisappeared

i lostmy internetconnection last Tuesday night,andnow have had thestrangeexperienceof going "cold turkey" fromitat a timewhenIreally neededit formy work,and formy olivepickerguests who are jobhuntingin Londonand were needingto make appointmenttimes etc.

I amnow inBangkokairport,first emailaccess fornearly a week and I get a most erratic keyboard. Still, you willhavefun workingthis out,a bit like a code really! Not so goodformy ESL readers.

14 hour stop-overs are not my favourites,but i havedone somereally rewarding readingandnow need to go for a walk and find someway of entertainingmyself for thenext few hours. People watchingisfun... I play the gameof "who needs a smile,and willI getoneback?"

RealemailwhenI wake up in NZ...

Oh yes,IphonedZacchi from the airportinRomeand he is fine,hadbeenhometo check the houseand trotted knowingly back to his temporary homenextdoor whenI wasn't to be found. he'llbe fine. he loves the foodnextdoor...

27 October 2008

zacchi the great hunter

It's hard work picking olives...but a guy has to get involved.

The girls helped too, and a few other people... many hands, and all that stuff...and at the end of the daynobody's stealing these olives...

today I learnt


* that it takes four people a long time to pick 23 kilos of olives off a tall tree
* that Zacchi is a very good watch dog but is overly protective at times
* that it is really good having young folk in the house again

I also learnt how a land mine works, how heavy a New Zealand winter tank uniform is, and how intimidating weapons can be 65 years on from the battles they were used in.

Today I have written to Veterans Associations, to veterans, to other volunteers. I have studied menacing weapons, I have picked olives, and contemplated olive branches.

In my home I have an olive branch that looks tired, dusty and dry. It has been there since Palm Sunday. It was blessed before the ritualistic procession through this parish. I am not Catholic, but I too took an olive branch and carried it home.

In our work for peace we must begin at home. There are plenty of olive branches to share.

Who was it who said something like "We must be the change we want to see in the world"?

*****

PS added Tuesday, borrowed from another blog:

Once you begin to acknowledge random acts of kindness - both the ones you have received and the ones you have given - you can no longer believe that what you do does not matter -Dawna Markova

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26 October 2008

end of the day

Daylight saving ended today.

Sperlonga at sunset... we watch the changing coloursas the fishermen return to the shore.
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25 October 2008

crop cropped


No rain means little oil, but the picking was fun anyway.

24 October 2008

scratches



There's something very satisfying about a day of physical work. I was never really a gardener, but I have always had a large garden. In New Zealand, I must admit, much of the work was done by my dad.

Today, in preparation for the olive picking, all the grass was cut, the weeds trimmed back, the place given a really good spruce-up. Carried away by this, I took the loppers and the secateurs next door and attacked the ivy and the weeds there too.

Now, covered in scratches, itching and bleeding, (blackberry in the ivy, rose thorns in the hedge) and fighting the snuffles from pollen allergies, it feels like a good day's work has been done! It is only 5p.m, but in another life in another country that was time to close the doors and head for home. Here it is time to take a break, freshen up, and head out with friends for an evening of sight-seeing and fun.

My dream life?
No.
A good life?
Yes!
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23 October 2008

breaking boundaries

Aotearoa...
just

playing in the sand
.

I saw a news report of this some time ago and really loved the concept. OK, so it is nowhere near Waitangi Day, but I guess as election day is approaching rapidly one should think about what being am ex-pat Kiwi really means.
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trendsetter?

I'm not so good at following fashion. I tend to buy multiples of whatever fits and is comfortable. I wear the same things year after year. Yes, of course I like to look my best on occasions, but mostly comfort takes priority.

But here, for once, I would like to be a trend setter.

We walk along our mountainside road. Often. We are among the hundreds who make a daily trip (or several trips) at varying times of the day. One of the things I love about living here is that I can walk home from a concert at midnight and feel perfectly safe, knowing there are others walking ahead and behind.

I try to wear light colours at night, and encourage my guests to do the same. Lately though, when walking Zacchi at random evening hours, I have taken to wearing the most glamorous of garbs, a fluorescent safety vest. I like life, you see, and as a driver I know how very difficult it is to see pedestrians dressed in black walking along certain unlit stretches of our road.

Regular walkers have noticed. I heard one say "Look at la signora, she is wearing a vest". The tone was one of approval.

I hope we are trend setters, Zacchi and I. Life is too short as it is.

Long live fluoro orange with reflective strips!

***

By the way, here it is compulsory to have a reflective vest and a safety triangle in the car within reach of the driver. With the amount of traffic on these roads there are a few accidents, mostly minor, and traffic must be slowed. It's a good rule.

22 October 2008

happiness is...

beautiful white stucco!

Grazie, Alberto. I do believe my house will become a home, and I will be living here, not merely camping in the rubble!

My favourite thing for now? Workmen who arrive on time, who smoke outside, and who are thoroughly pleasant and professional!

Even Zacchi was impressed, and didn't bark once!
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21 October 2008

a timely gift

When the going gets tough it is easy to think the glass is half empty.

This morning as I packed my life into a corner of the room, watched by an anxious and (quite justifiably) mistrusting Zacchi, the dusty task was depressingly lonely. Until...

I was given a reminderthat actuallymy cup runneth over!
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20 October 2008

beauty

...is in the eye of the beholder. Zacchi was totally unimpressed with my find, refusing to pose by the yellow stuff!

19 October 2008

rations

65 years on a mountain top

18 October 2008

fishing

At the market, Wednesday
Fishing, as I prefer it, has nothing to do with catching fish.
Eating, however, is a different story altogether.
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17 October 2008

no school today

There is a strike. Zacchi and I saw school children heading away from school before 10am yesterday and we were confused. I have yet to understand why there is a strike. This is unfortunate for children who already feel the need to get regular private tuition to reach the standards essential for university study.

The bonus is, of course, that I may have extra Italian lessons from my most patient teacher, the rascal. A couple of years ago his nick-name was "the tsunami", but when it comes to helping me with pronunciation he becomes as persistent yet gentle as the rolling waves of the incoming tide lapping on the shore. I hope I was equally dedicated when he was my English student :-)

For almost a year I taught two young rascals together. Among my teaching "aids" were a ladder, a fire, a kitchen... anything to make it memorable and interesting! When it comes to requesting food in English these two have the most perfect manners and appealing smiles. If you were to turn my winter floor mats over you would find an alphabet game drawn on the back. The game involved competition and lots of physical agility! Learning the alphabet is crucial... the letters might look the same, but they are actually very different.

Back to the beginning I go...

16 October 2008

fast learner

A couple of times recently when Zacchi has been wanting to come out with me, because of his cunning and devious plans to avoid being put outside, he has been locked in the house instead of being free to run and play.

This morning we had a lengthy walk and he was reasonably content with most of this, not doing his "stubborn mule" impersonation until we got to the school. It had its funny moments though! He was rather irked when, in trying to put it across me and get extra freedom (he was off the leash along the road so that he could enjoy the speed that he loves), he ended up snookering himself.

He runs off just before I get close enough to bend down and snip on the lead. Mostly it is a game, but occasionally he is naughty and I do get a little cross with him when I think he might be in danger. This morning when I decided that we were getting too close to the corner for drivers to spot us and slow down (which is of course what we expect!) he ducked down under a gate and sprinted away.

If only you could have seen the look on his face when he realised that he had to come back through that same gap to get back onto the road, and mum was waiting with the lead! He flattened himself into the ground just out of reach on the other side of the gate, but it was no use! Eventually he had to come through, and be controlled again.

Luckily he doesn't hold grudges, and soon we were trotting happily again. However, when I was going to pop out - great expression that is - I was going to pop out to buy some more storage boxes, Zacchi weighed up his options and decided to take himself outside. I didn't get off that lightly though, he still managed to flatten himself into the step, look up at me reprovingly, and make me feel a heel for leaving him behind.

That's it! I'm through with emotional blackmail! From now on in it is "tough love" everywhere!

15 October 2008

hunkering down...

Recent email correspondences with two very different people have had me looking more closely at the wide range of dictionary definitions available in hard copy and on line. If life is not fraught enough already, try adding a little long-distance banter or cultural differences and sort them out by email with conflicting dictionary definitions!

I playfully called a friend a "roué or cad" recently (as sung by Rolf in Sixteen Going on Seventeen, from The Sound of Music) and THEN, after he had equally airily accepted the adjectives, looked up the meanings. (Yes, he did offer me food and wine when I was 16 or 17, and it is possible he thought he deserved the descriptors!) The definitions were harsher than I had intended, the etymology fascinating!

Roué
Etymology: French, literally, broken on the wheel, from past participle of rouer to break on the wheel, from Medieval Latin rotare, from Latin, to rotate; from the feeling that such a person deserves this punishment
Date: 1800
: a man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure

Cad
Etymology: English dialect, unskilled assistant, short for Scots caddie
Date: 1833
1 : an omnibus conductor
2 : a man who acts with deliberate disregard for another's feelings or rights

The other word, not used in jest so it did cause me some problems of definition, was "novelette".

I mention these only because, after spending some time packing away summer clothes and preparing part of my house for plaster and paint, I typed in the title "hunkering down". I felt as though I was hunkering down for the winter, although protective more than squirrel-like perhaps. But... after "novelette", I decided to google the phrase "hunkering down". I'm not sure that that is what I am doing at all!

However, I am going to continue "hunkering down", but this post title means only what *I* intend it to mean, in my very own interpretation of the phrase.

14 October 2008

a little adventure

...as Zacchi may have seen it.

Today was sooooo exciting! This afternoon mum took me out in the car with her NZ friends. While the friends climbed up to the little church in the cave in the Melfa Gorge mum and I went to visit my other holiday home where I stayed when mum was in America. I got lots of attention, but I wasn't allowed to chase the cats. Oh, that was so frustrating!

On the way home mum decided that the kiwis had been well enough behaved to allow them to have a drink at the local bar and be real villagers for the evening. I came too. I was so scared because she parked the car right by the butchers shop, the scene of my REALLY big adventure (remember that terrible time?)

Well, I trembled and shook and told her I didn't want to come with her, I would just stay in the car thanks, with the doors locked. She said no. She asked the men sitting on the seats if the big dogs were around, and they said no, it was safe for me. (Some friends they turned out to be!)

Well, we went to the bar and a cute little dog came along. I didn't want to play even though it wagged its tail, just in case it was a spy for the big dogs, so finally it sat at another table. Then a bigger dog came. Mum kept me under the table and I hugged her soooo close! I didn't move an inch! Nobody could tell I was even there!

When we went home I didn't want to cross to the car. Mum pulled and pulled on my lead, but she refused to pick me up. Mum's friend lifted me into the car. She said my heart was beating like anything, and I was a poor wee mite. (I think she likes me!) At home I was so incredibly happy, a different dog they reckoned!

Now when I see mum I just grovel at her feet, I am so cute. I roll over to have my tummy scratched, I put my head on the side, I look up appealingly. I am "growing up" they say. I am learning my manners and being more sensible. I can (mostly) be trusted to run free.

I thought that if I did everything right mum would take me out more often. Now I think that I will do everything right and hope she lets me stay at home!

the moon


The moon was early over the castle ruins tonight. A walk up to catch the sunset was a little disappointing, smoke from hillside and garden fires spoiling the atmosphere and creating a thick haze, but the early moon made up for it a little.

The work on the ruins of the castle of the family of Thomas Aquinas continues. There are very strong wooden "board-walks" which make access safer and easier, but which dominate in their new splendour and detract from the site. The magic has gone.

The weather has warmed up again. Good for picking olives but worrying for the winter. We need rain, and later snow; we need water. Life is about balance, and somehow the seasons are no longer balanced. Autumn is here after a long hot summer, but it hasn't bought the October rain.

Zacchi was doing his best to charm the visitors today, being so well behaved when we went up to the little church in the cave, showing how fast he can run, bound and skip, and even being good near all those terrible cats. It was hard work trying to contain himself as the steaks cooked for dinner tonight, but he remembered his table manners after some strong reminders and was rewarded with tidbits, finally settling to sleep after a long and exciting day.

It's tough being a dog when you have to win over each lot of Kiwis. This pair is beginning to melt, falling for the waif-like pleas. Ann, you knew it, they couldn't resist. Try as they might to be stern, Zacchi wins again... gosh darn it!

ZZzzzzzzzz.....

12 October 2008

a mixed day

Not a game of two halves, but a day of many parts.

Finally... today after a month of "keeping an eye out", and a few days of real searching, I found the vineyard composition I was looking for. I am getting braver about asking folk if I can walk amongst their vines looking for the right light, the perfect background, returning at different times of the day. Now amongst my photos I think I have everything I need. A little bit from here, a little from there... taking care to keep the light source genuine and the background a mix of Italy and New Zealand. In this search I was constantly reminded of the similarities between the two countries. Only the man-made structures give away the origin of the photographs.

Using the reference photos I have compiled over the last two weeks it is on with the drawing... the composition is a challenge as to get the pickers in the scene I need the ends of the rows, and they don't sit well with the rest of the composition. However, I do like a challenge!

This painting will be completed in New Zealand, it is too large to transport easily. Now it is off to the drawing board ... well no, actually, it's out to dinner with visiting Kiwis... I have done enough work for the day, it's time to stop. As my grandmother would say,
"It is Sunday, after all".
.

11 October 2008

last night...

Last night was the auction of artworks at NZ House in London, the NZ Society fundraiser to help save the New Zealand Plover. Check this out! There were not so many of us represented... it must have been some night out! The last auction raised over £7,000, this one over £10,000. Convert that into the poor little $NZ and that's a useful amount of money for the project. ($NZ1.00 buys .44 cents Euro... or 100 euro buys $NZ 226.00 ... ouch!)

***

While the auction took place I sat up on the roof, in one of my favourite thinking places, wondering how it was going. Did my works sell? Did they sell well? All those doubts and insecurities. I was glad I wasn't there to watch.

I may have said recently that Les Miserables was my favourite musical. Fiddler on the Roof must equal it. As I sat up on the roof, (yes, literally) and watched the village lights go off one by one I hummed the music and I wondered yet again what it is that makes me want to be "up". Up a tree, up a mountain, up on a roof, or alternatively looking up while flying a kite... always up. I lived in a river valley as a child. I loved playing under trees, building fairy houses in mossy banks, swimming in the river. But the pull of the hills was strong. After our first house in town we bought on a little hilly rise. Then it was to a bigger hill. And now, a hillside with a wonderful view over the valley.

I still want to fly. One day I will learn, and then I will really be up.
A friend who loves to fly is passionate about flying solo after dark, hurtling into the unknown, a tiny capsule in a huge black space. I think I'll stick to daytime... for starters, anyway!
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the South Pacific

Happy birthday mate :-)

*****

And also, from the other side of the world, a quotation from a Creative New Zealand poster to wake up to. Thanks TK.

"I think it's hard for a lot of Pacific Islanders to understand art, in the European sense, because it's taken aside and kept separate. Art isn't a separate thing in our culture. It's one and the same. It's everything you do."
Lily Laita.

I can't think of Lily's work without remembering with delight the lectures on Pacific art by curator Giles Peterson, and then of course the mind wanders back to Urban Pacific. Click on the circles to see the art works... I particularly enjoy the subtleties of Niu by Taylor Kingi.

Of course, New Zealand does come to Italy. Join me in Venice for the 2009 Biennale, my Kiwi artist friends? Incidentally, well done yet again, Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. Another excellent "end of year" review!
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10 October 2008

slightly incredulous

Today I am feeling 'ever-so-slightly incredulous'. That's probably an oxymoron, but never mind. I am forgetting more than I am learning at the moment.

There are some interesting words when we stop to think about them. In my opinion incredulous is one of them. I was going to give you a dictionary reference but found that I don't like any of the on-line definitions. I've always been a Collins English Dictionary girl myself (hardcover, well-thumbed volume). On-line definitions all include "skeptical", but my use of the word incredulous is less negative. No, OK, I will stop here and not explain why... but language really is fascinating!

***

I have finally accepted that I have to learn Italian from scratch rather than attempt to translate from English, so that takes me back to about the "Janet and John" level... or possibly "Peter and Sally". In terms of understanding I have probably got as far as "Hungry Lambs", or maybe could try "Sliding and Flying". You simply cannot translate into English a lot of Italian expressions, so it is back to the school books and junior readers for me...

***

It is not a day for nostalgia, but an email this morning proclaimed that Wairoa has the second biggest movie screen in New Zealand. It is not that I doubted the source, but... one does have to check these things oneself, really! In the process I found a lovely site, advertising locum positions. Sorry, none available in Wairoa, but you could check out my "old home town" which still "looks the same..." although the last time I was there the trains had stopped running.

Home is not a place, home is where the heart is. It's true.
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red onions

The farmer sells vegetables at the door on a Friday. My kindly neighbour always lets me know, pushes me to the front of the queue, makes sure I am not short-changed. This morning she also gave me a very welcome gift, a bag of newspapers to light my fire. Very few buy newspapers here, they are not so easy to come by.

Today I wanted white onions, but happily settled for red. Everyone around the village is feeling down. One has vertigo, and fears a bad prognosis. Another fears a stomach ulcer, too much stress. The young one upstairs has the flu, aches and fever. Two elderly ladies hobble about, seeking company to stay "up". Another good friend said to me last week "Kay, winter is always sad. We need the sun".
I think we need a good helping of Tiramisu ("pull me up" - tirare = to pull, mi = me, su = up).

I guess I look very lucky to them, able to fly to New Zealand as winter approaches. But I will be back, and will share the worst of the winter with them. It wasn't so bad, last year, I expected worse. People still went walking, bundled up in jackets, carrying umbrellas.

The rapid change of seasons is affecting us, after a summer that was too long, too hot. So now, in autumn, it seemed appropriate that the onions were red, although I did reduce my order by half. We need colour, we need light, we need the sun.

I bought myself a bright pink jacket in London. I think it was to satisfy the inner child. I will wear it happily, when it is too cold for my bright vest, to scare away the gloom.

This afternoon I shall steal more golden moments, earl grey tea with Zacchi in the shafts of sunlight. We will savour the change of season, and think of things past. This morning, however, I am the lady with the bag of red onions in her studio. I like that. Who said we should always have exactly what we want? Sometimes, when we don't think clearly, we want the wrong things!
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9 October 2008

loose ends

It's time to be more thorough. There are too many loose ends needing attention before I trip on some of them. It's list time!

Yes, I am procrastinating, I don't want to see the length of the list!

No, I wont write the list here, I am going to write it in Italian. Maybe. But the first things on it will be paintings needing just that little bit more attention before they go to their new homes. Three of them are portraits, and the other a poppy one. Once they are out of my creative space the next will be easy, wont it?

But first, a good old cup of tea. Jan, will you put the kettle on? Or shall I? Best bone china, of course! (Ooooh have you ever tried Betty's Earl Grey Tea from North Yorkshire? It is the BEST!)

This morning (when I returned from my third hunting expedition with the camera) I began to work from photographs taken for a larger painting. But I digress. That's when I decided that the loose ends must be tied, nothing must intrude because this work is going to be fun! Sunshine, grapes, good friends... it might even involve a glass of wine or two. Real, or painted?

I'm not telling!

PS: Did Earl Grey ever go to China? Does it matter? Does the bergamot come from Italy? All I need to know is that the infusion "is believed to keep mind, body and soul in perfect harmony" (that is, according to Bettys label). I'm not arguing with that, as I anticipate my stolen moments in the autumn sun, cup in hand, Zacchi beside me, and only the sound of birds, insects and the fountain next door. Sheer bliss!
.

really really truly...

Do you remember when we were young - yes, we were once - that if we wanted to check that something was real we would say "Really truly? Really really truly?" and sometimes even "Really really RE..ally truly?"

An affirmative meant "really, truly!"

It is 10 past midnight. I am just home from dinner by the sea. It was good. Very good. Very very good. Even very very VE..ry good.

But please, when I say I can't eat four courses after 8pm, please believe me. I mean it. Really truly. Really really truly. Yes, really, really, RE..ally truly!

Now I need to go for a long long walk. But I wont. I will stay home with a delighted Zacchi. I am tired. I have eaten too much. It doesn't matter how good it was. Enough is enough. Really, really truly!

7 October 2008

not a still life

How many times have I waited, or arrived, at the Cassino railway station? Only today did this register with me. Beautiful, tranquil; out of place or where it is needed?


Why did it register with me today, when I have walked past it so many times before? Where was my head those other times?

6 October 2008

in New Zealand

PRESS RELEASE

Make Your Mark For Mental Health:
Mental Health Awareness Week
October 6 – 12, 2008

Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off on October 6 this year, with “Make Your Mark For Mental Health” as the theme.

The Mental Health Foundation, who organises the annual event, says the theme is all about taking action, working with friends, family and work colleagues to promote wellbeing, celebrate difference and value diversity.

“We all have a role to play in making our mark for mental health,” says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. “We can start by making good mental health a priority in our lives, which is just as important as looking after our physical health. In fact, the two are quite strongly linked.

“In the workplace, employers should be looking for ways to reduce stress and work with employees to promote wellbeing. For those experiencing mental illness, we’d like to see the health sector focusing on recovery rather than symptoms, and for mental health service users themselves to feel empowered to lead that recovery.”

With one in five New Zealanders experiencing some form of mental illness in any one year, the Foundation also hopes that people will be encouraged to talk about their own recovery journeys, in order to inspire others.

Sophia Elise, Manager of the New Zealand Art Guild, is one person who has decided to speak publicly about her experience of post-natal depression. Sophia was one of 88 artists who contributed to ‘Reach Out’, a collaborative Guild artwork which has been used as the main image for Mental Health Awareness Week this year.

“It really illustrates the importance of making connections,” Sophia says. “The one thing I wished I had been able to do when I had post-natal depression was to reach out, to be able to tell people without fear of judgement.”

The Foundation is encouraging New Zealanders to speak up for diversity and social inclusion and realise that what they do makes a difference.

“We’d like to see people challenging any stigma and discrimination about mental illness they encounter, whether it’s at work, among friends and family, online, or in the media,” Judi Clements concludes.

Mental Health Awareness Week begins on Monday October 6, culminating on World Mental Health Day on Friday October 10; endorsed by the World Federation for Mental Health and marked in over 150 countries.

A calendar of events planned for the week throughout New Zealand and supporting information about the theme can be found at www.mentalhealth.org.nz .
.

5 October 2008

4 October 2008

the beach

Today... the seaside. (Click on photos for a larger image, especially the one of the seagulls. Aren't they wonderful?).
I walked too slowly, ate too much... AND I said no to a gelato!
Lately all I seem to do is eat... I am adapting far too well to this place. Luckily, tomorrow there is a mountain to climb!




'Growing' against the flow? Mmmm... I wonder if that is a metaphor?

Click here to see the same beach in mid-July.

.

3 October 2008

following her passion


in Alabama this weekend.

from fun to... love

It struck me as being interesting that a lot of the things I love to do did not make it to my list of "fun" things.

I love to play the piano, albeit very simply. I love to go to musicals. I love to sing, I love to listen to music. I love to paint in watercolours, I love to read. I love to debate, I love to write. I love to swim in a pool, walk along a beach, watch the sun go down, watch the sun rise...

These things are not "fun", light hearted diversions. These things fill different needs. (I wrote "mere fun", then deleted the "mere").

Music fills my soul, lifts my spirits, changes my mood. Playing the piano soothes me, calms me, takes me away from myself. I could go on, but that's enough about me. It is much more important that you write your own lists. What is fun, what is essential for your well-being, what keeps your life in balance?

I turned on the television to listen to some Italian. Instead I got a song in English, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love, that's the only thing that there's just too little of..." (see Wikipedia entry).

It makes you think a bit, really. If we were all doing more of the things we love we would be far too busy and far too happy to be down in spirit, to be weary in step, to be gloomy. Why can't we all say "Sorry, no time to be miserable now, I am far too busy doing something I love!" How did the movie "Gloomy Sunday" become such a hit? Give me "happy-ever-after"s every time!

Once upon a time... (fill in your own script) ... and they all lived happily ever after.


(Zacchi says "I LOVE chasing cats... is that OK?" No, Zacchi, no, the cats LOVE to be left in peace... now that's a debate we must have some day!)

2 October 2008

on having fun

A conversation with my life coach (yes, my daughter) this evening left me wondering what my definition of fun is. OK, here goes. No, this is not a definition, but a list of some of the things that are fun for me:

flying my kite
blowing bubbles
friendly banter and laughter with good mates
riding in a landrover over seemingly impossible terrain
balancing on a wall
climbing trees
playing scrabble
singing "rounds"
dancing
clambering from rock to rock beside a river.

It has just occurred to me that all of these things are from my childhood. Move over, Peter Pan. I don't want to grow up either.

Rob Guest

A very special man.

Born in England, essentially a Kiwi, but latterly lost to Australia with its bigger entertainment scene, Rob Guest died today, aged 58.

From "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" in Matamata, with Angela Taverner as narrator, to Phantom of the Opera, Rob Guest was more than a singer, more than a star. His pleasant voice was perhaps less than great; his interpretation of the roles superb.

He had charisma, was special. Dare I say that I thought he was a simple, good person? To see him off stage, to watch him mix with children, was to see a genuinely decent, ordinary but charismatic person who happened to have a wonderful voice and the gift of being an entertainer.

My favourite performance in any musical or opera I have ever seen has to be Rob Guest as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables". "Music of the Night " might be more famous, but the songs from "Les Mis" carry much more content for me.

The world needs more people like him; how sad that he was taken from us too soon.

1 October 2008

wednesday

banana cake day.
ate too much.

capital letters are not important.
did I say that? or did i say that?

a "pinch and a punch" for you-know-who...

it is bath time, zacchi, and time for the treatment. you know the rules... first of the month and all that it entails. speaking of tails, don't shower me with water this time.

we are tired, zacchi and i. we think it is time to smell the roses, or the mint, or the rosemary, or anything else growing in those pots on the step. ok? that's good, we knew you would agree.

we are ok really, just need to rest a bit; too much food, not enough exercise, too much driving, not enough walking, too much talking, not enough sleeping.

this week the mosquitoes have become monsters, and suck blood through clothing. in this peaceful home it is time for war.


Later:

I went out to get my new tyres. Apparently the brand I had could not be found. It has been over a week, and I have nagged almost daily, so I guess maybe it is so. So, remembering what I learnt all those years ago before I left home at the tender age of 17 (ooh... that's a really long time ago), I purchased two new tyres, can't drive safely on unmatched treads. I should be really safe for the winter on brand new front tyres.

As I drove down the hill a big orange ball bounced across the road, bounced a little more, settled and rolled... crossed the road and rolled some more... not a child or youth in sight, it was dancing alone. I followed carefully, it made me smile. The sky had been particularly blue today, the ball was a rich red-orange, and somehow it reminded me that the simple things in life are the best. Opposites on the colour wheel, blue and orange. It reminded me of a song...

wait for it...

the mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball.

Oh, I think it's gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball

***
Sometimes I let other people take all my strength, sap my energy. I must remember to bounce a ball, fly my kite, and keep my spirits up. I called in on the rascal and watched him playing ball with another young friend. It was good for me, but would have been even better if I had joined in too. Grandma was happy with the banana cake.

I think it is time for a day at the beach. I need to reconnect with nature. The beach on Saturday, a mountain on Sunday? Sounds OK to me!

OH! I nearly forgot. As I neared the town a figure was standing on the road, leaning on his staff, watching two separate flocks of sheep and goats grazing in the paddock. The traffic slowed to go around him, he didn't move. I was torn between looking at the way the sunlight was catching the animals, or soaking up the beams from the shepherd's smile. Time slowed also for me. I really do love living here.
.

30 September 2008

early siesta

My upstairs neighbour is snoring, loudly. In a strange kind of way I like it! She stays awake half the night then sleeps at her table during the day. But the snoring suggests she has given in and is taking a real nap.

Too much information, I hear you say? No, you asked me to write about my village life.

We are a family, in this village. Absolutely no privacy here!
.

tuesday morning

Not finished but nearly...fine tuning of features and skin tones still to come.

29 September 2008

i preferred


the unfinished background.
Time to take a break and let this dry before I work on it further.

(Adding the hair made a difference, but I think I prefer the pale background against the face).

good painting light


I am making the most of the morning light. When winter comes I will lose a lot of my painting time.

28 September 2008

an interesting thought

Love songs are always sad songs, aren't they?

That was the discussion after a pizza dinner across on the other side of the Liri valley tonight. Our trio managed to come up with some happy songs, but sad songs seem to be the language of love.

My favourite love song has to be from Fiddler on the Roof. No, I don't need a Matchmaker, matchmaker, although there is no shortage of volunteers here, but I can't think of love songs without thinking of Tevye's question to his wife Golde, "Do you Love me?" Listen to Tevye as he ponders the young romantic love of his daughter and his own arranged marriage. (You might have to let it play through once with the sound down, then replay it once it has loaded. Some of these take a while to download).

From STLyrics.com: Do You Love Me?
(Tevye)
Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel.

(Golde)
What??? He's poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!

(Tevye)
He's a good man, Golde.
I like him. And what's more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him.
So what can we do?
It's a new world... A new world. Love. Golde...

Do you love me?

(Golde)
Do I what?

(Tevye)
Do you love me?

(Golde)
Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You're upset, you're worn out
Go inside, go lie down!
Maybe it's indigestion

(Tevye)
Golde I'm asking you a question...

Do you love me?

(Golde)
You're a fool

(Tevye)
I know...

But do you love me?

(Golde)
Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

(Tevye)
Golde, The first time I met you
Was on our wedding day
I was scared

(Golde)
I was shy

(Tevye)
I was nervous

(Golde)
So was I

(Tevye)
But my father and my mother
Said we'd learn to love each other
And now I'm asking, Golde
Do you love me?

(Golde)
I'm your wife

(Tevye)
I know...
But do you love me?

(Golde)
Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought with him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?

(Tevye)
Then you love me?

(Golde)
I suppose I do

(Tevye)
And I suppose I love you too

(Both)
It doesn't change a thing
But even so
After twenty-five years
It's nice to know

the gift

Every morning we have the gift of a new day. Zacchi says that I should spend the first part of it walking him. We have to sneak out, not waking our guest. It is so tempting to stay in bed that little bit longer.

But oh, the bounce in the step, the spring in the dog... and soon he imparts that to me. The air is fresh, not too hot, the view always wonderful. How could we have considered staying in bed? The day is for living.

Yes Zacchi, you were right. In fact, you have always been a wise little dog.
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27 September 2008

goodbye Paul


Paul Newman died yesterday. One of the most powerful movies I saw as a teenager was "Cool Hand Luke". I am not a movie goer, but that one made a real impression. Don't read the reference if you don't like sad stories. I choose to remember the film as being a commentary on human dignity. I guess that's my way of coping with things too awful to remember.

Thank you Paul. I was 15 or 16 when I became a fan. You really were a star.

when visitors don't understand

When visitors come and go my life is under scrutiny, usually kindly, sometimes a little too frankly for comfort. A recent visitor didn't take the time to ask about my choices, but simply volunteered how my life should be changed, improved. I found myself defending my choices. In the process I clarified a few things for myself.

My bathroom tiles are fine, thankyou. No, I would never have chosen them myself, but they are functional, easy to clean, unimportant in the grander scheme of things. In fact, until my visitor said "Well those bathroom tiles have got to go" I had even forgotten that I didn't particularly like them. They are a part of my home, they are comfortable in their ordinary ugliness.

It could be that my paintings are "cr.p", not what you perceive to be "fine art". I know that with time constraints they can be of variable quality. They are not what I was painting in NZ., but they bring a lot of pleasure to people. There is no path for antipodean artists here. I am walking, taking tiny steps. And if that means painting outside my field, painting commissions, learning new skills, then that is what I will do. When you learn to walk balance is important. I am still finding mine, but I think I am almost there. I will defend my position, and paint what I think is right for me now, an antipodean artist in a tiny mountain hamlet in Italy.

My "kitchen" cupboards DO have a system, they are organised. The organisation may be a little unconventional, with paints in the cupboards and food in plastic bins, but it works for me. Where things appear to be double-ups it is because the most used things are in the most convenient place - for me - while the surplus objects are down below where I have to bend to get them. Until my house is fully developed, things will remain a little unconventional, and most of the time that suits me just fine.

Yes, my cantina work is taking a long time. It should have been finished by now. But no, I will not complain, I will not sack my worker. I will appreciate how difficult the task is. I will value the care the worker is taking. I will enjoy each little step along the way. And, when I move in to my new rooms, I will rejoice all the more for having had to wait.

Yes, Zacchi is a scruff. There is not a doubt in my mind. But I do keep him clean, I do groom him, I do annoint his wounds. I purchase ointments, treatments, and even the occasional bone for him. I talk to him, I pat him. I do not, as so many on meeting him for the first time have assumed, neglect the little blighter. He is a mutt, a character, not a showpony. It is not I who rolls him in the sticky burrs, swishes his tail into dread-locks, ruffles his mixture of fur and dry stringy hair. The doors and gates are open, he is free to run. Yet right now he chooses to be curled up on his mat beside me; dishevelled, not neglected.

Yes, I choose to be less social at times, I decline interesting invitations. But that is because I am aware of how easy it would be to make a mistake, to offend, to get something wrong. If I am unsure, I err on the side of caution. I watch, I listen, I try to learn. Cultural difference is huge, and this village is small. I want to get it right. Respectful and submissive are different words, have different meanings. Assertion and aggression are different concepts too.

This afternoon I looked at some of my favourite quotes, important to me two years ago. Useful, but not so important to me now. I am in a very different place in my self-awareness.

Travellers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.
- Antonio Machado

Just living is not enough, said the Butterfly.
One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
- Hans Christian Anderson (1805-1875)

How does one become a butterfly?" she asked pensively. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."
- Trina Paulus, Hope for the Flowers

I am walking, creating my own path. Sometimes butterflies accompany me. On the surface it may appear that I have gone back twenty years. That's OK too.

I may not know where I am going, but I know where I am. I am here, where the little flowers grow in the wild; bright colours emerging shyly from the rocks.

.

old books, good people, good places

(Photo 2007, a rare privilege to be in this room).
There is an exhibition of ancient books at the Abbey on Montecassino at the moment. I saw it yesterday. Most of the books were in leather covers, some in silver. There were no wooden volumes. I looked for one in particular, that was not there.

The exhibition made me think of the "family Bible" that I loved so dearly as a child. It had a wooden cover, heavily carved and embossed. I would dust it, tracing my fingers over it.

I remember the sadness I felt when I saw that deaths had been entered in my mother's hand, written quietly, probably after we were sleeping.

It was very large, very beautiful. I don't even have a photograph of it. I always dreamed that one day I would be the keeper of this treasure, but my mother insisted that it must go to a family member with the family surname.

That Bible holds records of our births and deaths, not his. I wonder if he treasures it as much as I did. I hope so. It records my birth, but wont record my death. I guess that means that I must live forever. Perhaps my mother was right; It was a part of my colonial New Zealand life. I wouldn't have bought the heavy wooden Bible to Italy.


*****


Two visitors left this morning. It is a privilege to share time with good people. We chewed the metaphorical fat, re-wrote other friends' lives for them, patted ourselves on the back for being strong independent women, and wondered how our lives ended up the way they have. Parallel lives. Not one of us is living the dream we held when we were young.

People change.

One of the things we discussed had me expounding on the theory that post-menopausal women become more assertive and less accommodating, less "biddable" and nurturing, because the hormonal changes drive an apparent personality change. I don't think that think our personalities do actually change, but we no longer subjugate parts of our personalities in the interests of a calm and safe homelife for our children. What our nearest and dearest might see as us becoming selfish is actually women standing up and saying "I am more than a mother". That can rock the boat and occasionally someone tips out.

It is good to have a lifeline nearby, but learning to swim and to enjoy the water, choosing when to splash out, and knowing when to rest are better options than grasping at a rope and hoping for dry land.
.

26 September 2008

next...

I forgot to photograph stage one, so here is stage two

I am working from a casual snapshot I took back in May.

This child has fair skin and the most beautiful eyes. I think I will paint the eyes next, then work out from this. This time I am working in oils, a mixed blessing as I manage to smudge as I lean on the work but can also blend the youthful skin much better.

25 September 2008

idly grazing

After paying some bills and clearing the dreaded post-London credit card I idly meandered back to my emails. An article about America's worst breakfast foods caught my eye as I clicked on the green back button.

I am incredulous! Not only are the statistics incredible, but I had no idea that people really did eat such a big range of unhealthy things for breakfast.

It reminded me of the number of finger-lickin cooked chickens eaten in south Auckland for breakfast.

Here in Italy the country runs on caffeine and sugar, with the fat from the cornetti to keep the wolf from the door until lunch time. Eaten to excess, our breakfasts are not a lot better than the large American meals. I was a custard-filled cornetto fan until I baked my own and watched the fat running out of the pastry and onto the oven tray.

My mother insisted that we eat mince on toast, baked beans, scrambled eggs or even porridge before we set off for school. If we had been successful eeling at the river then eels were our preferred "brain food" and we skinned them as they hung out under the water tank, anticipating a good breakfast the following morning. That's my idea of a good start to the day. Mothers do know best!

Dear Mum,
How do I reconcile dining so late at night and waking in the morning still feeling replete with re-establishing in my diet those good healthy breakfasts you made?
.

sorting it all

Today we put the world to rights. Four women, a lot of heated discussion, some laughter, some tears. Good friends can speak the truth, even when the truth hurts. At the end of the day we are all a bit wiser, hopefully none of us hurting too much, and still friends, possibly better friends than before.

I have the feeling that trust and respect for one another comes into it somewhere. Oh, and just a little wine and some good food.

Were we really putting the world to rights?

If only it were so easy!
.

24 September 2008

kiwis

...do fly. There are four of us here now, all roughly the same age, each with four children, each now living alone. One is talking of moving here.

I fear for my Italian, with this ongoing English language. One of the visiting kiwis has studied Italian for longer than I have. We try to converse in Italian. Before I had so many visitors I would wake thinking in Italian, simple phrases to greet the day and the dog. That has gone. My sentence structure is going. It has been several months of English over the summer. It is time to protect myself.

I will not speak in English if this visitor returns to stay. The young folk here who refuse to speak in English with me are right. Kay will never learn Italian if we use our English with her, they say. They put my learning ahead of their own.

Thankyou, my Italian English speaking young friends, for showing me tough love.

22 September 2008

all by myself

I went to buy a new tyre, all by myself. They couldn't give me the same tyre today. I could have one that was a different type. I asked for a matching tyre... that was safer, right? Yes, that was safer. But I would have to wait until tomorrow, it wouldn't arrive for today.

I said that I would return at lunchtime tomorrow. If there were any problems with delivery would they please call the friend whose wife speaks English.

Did they want my name or number? The young man looked at me as though I was crazy. Why on earth would they need that?
.

slow learner

While dropping some photographs into an earlier post I noticed that it was only a week ago I was saying that my life had been too busy and I was going to concentrate on nesting, among other things.

Yes.

Well.


At least I got the part about people being important back up the priority order :-)

*******

Today I heard that France is going to put a tax on things plastic. Hooray! If only Italy and the rest of the world would too.


*******

Fancy a pizza, anyone? I can buy an excellent pizza for 4 euros or less. In Harrods you can pay £18 for the same pizza!
(Click on photo to enlarge and read... drool on!)
.

21 September 2008

life got too busy

It has been hectic. Time to slow down again.
Zacchi has decided that having two houses is pretty good, because when mum is out there is always a welcome next door. They have more interesting food too, so even when Mum is home... and that's how he came to miss out on the birthday party!
My first puppet show in Italian... Punch and Judy translate well.


*****

Last night my visiting friend and I went to the notte bianca, "white night", in the neighbouring village. This was an all night festival (from sunset to sunrise) and attracted hundreds of people. The village is magical at night, with displays of by-gone days set up in the ancient houses. I was far too tired to enjoy it, but next year I will mark it on the calendar and give it priority.
Someone in my village had offered me and my paintings, and it was rather a rush to get anything there. I am glad that I went though, I met another local artist and we chatted a while. Margaret enjoyed the festival and sang to the crowd. I was with my paintings when I heard a familiar voice coming from the piazza above, soaring above the bustle. Unexpected, impromptu, just beautiful.

The festa had food, wine, music, dancing, and some rather odd fireworks. The display began with sparklers down her arms, and obvious anticipation of more from the crowd. This was the front view... and the rear emissions were equally "un-PC".
I learnt also that I am too tired to do everything; rushing to fill my obligations I managed to scrape the curb and burst a tyre. Just what a girl doesn't need at 10pm. Fortunately two white knights rode to my rescue, I would never have got the nuts on the wheel loosened myself. They took turns and found it hard enough.

Pian piano, life is not supposed to be this busy! Time to reflect, slow down, and tick a few things off the list before I tackle anything new.

Work recommenced in my cantina... big smiles from me!

19 September 2008

a dog's life

Last night Mum took me to two restaurants and the railway station. WOW!

The first restaurant was great, that is where Mum gets the deep fried pizza with salami balls for me. I don't understand why she wont eat them.

The manager of the restaurant has a dog he says is exactly like me. It is called Pinocchio. He thought I was just great, and the waitresses made a huge fuss of me too. Mum took Kiwi and American friends to the restaurant.

Next we dashed to the railway station to get another friend. She likes dogs too. More pats and hugs. We dropped her at the restaurant as well. Then we ran to another restaurant.

This was pretty posh, and Mum didn't think she should take me inside. She tied me to a table on the balcony. She was there a long time, talking to German and Polish people. I barked twice, and the waitress ran out to pat me. Mum came and told me she was still there, I just had to be patient. She hadn't forgotten me really.

When this dinner was over all the people made a huge fuss of me.

Mum says I did well, she was happy with me even if she says I am a mixed blessing.

I think I am a star!
.

18 September 2008

Zacchi says

Life is great. Wounds have healed, I'm mostly being good, and Mum's cousin is just the softest touch for cuddles and attention! I taught her how to play "take Mum's socks and drop them out of sight at the neighbour's house - I was trying to teach her Penny's games. She tells me I am a scruff, Mum says I look moth-eaten, she wants her socks back, and really, what did she ever do to deserve a dog like me?

Really, the mixed messages a guy gets around here!

If only they would just stay home though...

I am being obedient but they still don't take me out. Grrrrr! Still, the tidbits from the restaurant are good, there is always an up side to things.

Mountain climb


Monte Cassino with Monte Cairo behind, from Mt Trocchio, the Allied Observation Post