Monday, April 27, 2009

April showers - basta!

I promise to post the Vienna photos this week. Andrea downloaded them on an external drive so I have to get around to connecting it to my computer to access them. I am also having problems downloading in general - the site, I think, so here are the only three that were able to come through. Will try again this afternoon.

This past Saturday, it was so beautiful out that we went on a hillside picnic. Fortunately, as we lack a garden (or yard, as they say in NJ), Bologna provides a lot of open green space in the hills surrounding the southern part of the city. We live on the first hill outside the center, so it takes only about 5 minutes in the car to reach some lovely, public yet private areas where we can spread a blanket and have some spectacular views.

(I am glad Andrea is not looking at me with that queer look on his face.)

We also have the little field at the end of our street where I took Ray last week, but the farmer was there that day (he actually lives on our street and is probably a retired lawyer or something who works this piece of land for fun) and told me that what we were told when we moved here - that he welcomed locals to use his hillside- was far from true. If it wasn't for the legal responsibilities he held, he wouldn't mind but he has this big, fat, sweet dalmation that he lets run around and a dog is a dog, however you want to put it, and kids can be annoying to even the sweetest of them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A good friend, Kathryn Purdy, came for a surprise visit to see the old gang last week. We were all together for a kid birthday party when she walked into the room. She was in Bologna for a few years but now lives in California, so we were really shocked to see her. Kathryn does some interesting work - I keep trying to uncover her secrets for the weight loss program, but she laughs at me. Here is her website, and, as you can see, Ray acting a little flirty around her.
Kathryn has two daughters - their father is Chinese American and when we used to go out and around Bologna, people thought I was the girls' mother and Kathryn was Ray's mother (one daughter in particular really was a mini-me). When Kathryn was out with her girls alone, people asked her if she was their nanny. When I was out alone with Ray, I was asked if I was his nanny - we just couldn't win.

Monday, April 13, 2009


We are just back from 6 days in Vienna - an amazing city. I will write about it and post a lot of photos as soon as possible.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Earthquake in Abruzzo Region

April 6, 2009
This Warden Message is being issued to alert U.S. citizens to the earthquake in central Italy on April 6, 2009.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake occurred in central Italy at 3:32 a.m. local time (1:32 a.m. GMT) on April 6, 2009. The epicenter of the earthquake was 60 miles northeast of Rome in the region of Abruzzo. Damage from the earthquake is concentrated around the city of L'Aquila, the capital of the Abruzzo region, as well as other small towns near L’Aquila in Abruzzo.
According to media reports, the earthquake has disrupted electricity, phone service, and other utilities. Widespread damage to buildings is reported in and around L’Aquila. Italian civil protection authorities have requested that people avoid traveling to the L’Aquila area. Americans should strongly consider deferring any travel plans to the area affected by the earthquake. Americans traveling in Italy should also consider contacting family in the U.S. to let family members know they are unharmed. U.S. citizens traveling to or through Italy are encouraged to follow post-earthquake developments in the media.

The footage in t.v. is just awful. Somehow, that this is the week leading into Easter makes it all the more devastating. Having visited so many medieval hilltop towns in Italy, I visualize the ancient piazzas full of old men leaning on their canes and chatting - the women hovering near their doorways, often knitting or snapping the ends off green beans as they gossip. That this hit when they were all sleeping in their beds seems like a curse or a blessing. Watching one of those old men being interviewed this morning while waiting to be reunited with his son, then filmed walking aimlessly and crying later in the afternoon coverage when the reunion still hadn't happened was heartbreaking. I don't know how a town begins to recover.

Apparently, there was an earlier quake 35 miles south of Bologna late last evening, but I didn't feel it.
Update: Andrea's mom felt the earthquake in Lugo and she said that her hanging light fixture was swaying quite a bit. Maybe it was those two beers that stole that experience from me. ha.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dog loving and goings on

I haven't had a dog now for almost 6 years - after a lifetime of no less than two dogs at any one time. I hope that one day we will be in a home where I can manage one (or two).

Andrea returns home on Monday after almost two weeks in the US. He has been a shopaholic - picking up odds and ends (q-tips, vanilla extract, bisquick, shampoos, Spiderman books in English) that are not available here. Fortunately, he took a soft suitcase inside his larger one and can stuff it since the international flights allow two bags. Two years ago the US postal service eliminated freight shipping and everything has to mailed first-class, so the care packages from family have dropped off as the shipping often costs more than the contents.

It has been tough getting Ray to school in the mornings so that I can be at work by 8:30. Especially since it rained (pouring, torrential, non-stopping) for nine days in a row. But I have to admit it was nice to hog all of his attention and needs to myself.

We pick up the Honda on Tuesday and then take off for Vienna through Easter. Unfortunately, Andrea's mother who has had her house for sale this past year just got an offer that has to be considered and she is talking about buying a small apartment in Bologna. Fortunately, we will have a lot of time to talk on our seven hour road trip to Austria. Her living nearby would be nice for Ray and she isn't the typical Italian mother-in-law. She is pretty hands-off but in any case, the obligations become greater. At the moment, she lives an hour away and we see her maybe twice a month.

Happy Easter to all: I hope the spring offers you a light heart and warm sunshine.