Saturday, August 30, 2008

The end of summer

I apologize for not writing more frequently these days. The month of August was busy with an unexpectedly delightful vacation, a couple of job offers to sort through, and getting Ray potty trained. In addition, I was able to finally finish some home projects: I sewed new curtains for Ray’s bedroom window (which is a very odd shape that includes an angle and is very high, so I had to concoct a series of pull strings and hooks to pull them up towards the ceiling to open them); painted his ceilings blue with gold stars on one section and the sun on the other (it's divided by a beam); stripped and refinished the two double front doors; ditto on the front metal railings; trimmed out those huge, glass, interior doors that pass through the kitchen to Andrea’s study; hung a couple more curtains on our veranda and so on and so on.

But in between, I was invited to use Philippa and James’ house in the Marche for nine days (with Poppy) while they took their vacation (in rainy London) and so did the 3 hour drive down with Ray. Andrea came later on his motorbike for a few nights. It was a blissful nine days of warm, sunny days, cool night breezes, mountainous views and swimming (and watching the Olympics). I have never seen saw many shooting stars in my life, and to watch Ray crouching down to inspect insects, dig holes and make mud pies, and run through the laundry drying on the clothes line was just so sweet and simple – I just loved it (more on these thoughts in a later post…).

So, this week I started my new job as an assistant teacher to first graders at the International School of Bologna ( I am having a great time with it but I’ll wait for the kids to return this Wednesday before I say more. But it is down the street from where I live and the others I work with (there are 6 newcomers this year) are a hoot. This job will allow me to drop some of my private students so that will free up more of my evenings. Ray doesn’t start school until the 8th, so it has been a juggle on trying to have his care covered, and he is a bit unhappy about me leaving every morning.

Andrea’s students have arrived now and last night we had the annual newcomer’s pizza party at home – they are a really nice group; very focused on speaking Italian and embracing the whole study abroad experience. I gave them an open invitation for tea and cheesecake at any time, so I hope to get to know some of them better. Next Saturday, Ray and I will join them on the day trip to Ravenna, then on the Urbino a week later. This brings me to say that last weekend, Andrea and I had lunch with Ray at a Chinese restaurant, and he sat and ate and behaved beautifully the entire hour. We are so happy (well, more just me I suppose) that we have moved on to this next step with Ray that opens so many more doors in being able to take him out socially. He is such a tesoro (treasure).

By the way, here is the link to Andrea's program's website: (see under events, student parties for the photos of the pizza party)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Language School

I attended language school for the month of July at Cultura Italiana ( It is located in the very center of town, very close to the two leaning towers and convenient enough that I could commute by Vespa every day (and then zoom home after with Keiko on the back during the first two weeks of classes). I enjoyed the course - two hours of grammar and two hours of conversation every morning – though it moved along more slowly than I hoped, and I didn’t study as hard as I should have, though I did attempt to speak at least a couple of hours of Italian daily outside of school. But it covered enough material for me to build upon what I know, and the instructors there are very nice. I had attended a class there for two weeks when I was nine months pregnant, and was happy to have one or two favorite teachers again (they circulate instructors which is a positive and negative feature). Anyway, they take photos of the class every week so you can fondly remember your teacher and classmates – getting to know the other students was actually the highlight of the course. Being in a room together and feeling humiliated in attempting to express oneself in another language makes for some fast, intense bonding and we socialized outside of school as well. Here are some photos of a couple of dinners we had at our apartment – one with Japanese students, Yoshi, Ai and Chika, while Keiko was here (photo forthcoming), and another a few weeks into class. We also met at a park for a picnic where Julia, who is a chef, cooked some nice dishes (and carted it all over to the park) and a few nights ago, we met at a restaurant to bid farewell to a few outgoing posse members.

How often does one get tossed into the air by a rugby player named Scott? Ray had a great time at the picnic - lots of attention. Yoshi, always the most popular-guy-at-the-party, learned how to juggle in just a couple of hours.

It was fun to have Father Michele in class with us. He is a retired Franciscan priest from France who had Andrea teach him how to play Italian cards ( and was quite the class clown.
Chika had her mother send this nice gift from Japan after I told her how much I loooove osembe!