Thursday, October 31, 2013

Italian School; Lingua in Corso

The Stoic One and I have just completed our first week of Italian classes.  I am finally beginning to remember which direct and indirect pronoun to use and the Stoic One is facing the reality of conjugating verbs.  If this sounds too dreadful, we have had a lot of fun.

First the school is in Perugia, which is a beautiful city where there is always something going on.

Next there is a fantastic cafe on the way to our school that has great cappuccino and treats!

But the BEST thing about our school is our teachers!  They are so fun, and patient and focused.  I love working with them. If ever you have a chance you should stop by and meet them.

I have taken a lot of Italian classes and these three women are the best.  They are energetic, and very dedicated.  It is fun to learn with them.

I can hardly wait to jump into the subjunctive tense!

Lingua in Corso

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monte S. Maria Tiberina Festa D'Autunno 2013

For those of you visiting Umbria, Sagre (singular sagra or food festival) are an interesting experience for the visitor.  This time of year, in our part of Umbria, there are many that celebrate a particular type of food, such as chestnuts or mushrooms and then there are others that celebrate medieval times.

The town of Monte S. Maria Tiberina is not too far from Umbertide, and we took a Sunday to go explore one of the hill towns having a celebration. The basket is of chestnuts picked by Lippiano and are for sale for 5 Euros a Kg.

Italians of all ages seem to love to dress up.  Not having a word for self conscious, they don't seen to experience this emotion.  I just love how easy in their skin and their costumes they appear. They start young.

So handsome....

We ate on the terrace with a panoramic view of the valley below the hill town.  The food was of course excellent.

The fall colors are just starting to change.  We have had very warm weather for this time of year, and although it is great to have warm, sunny days, it concerns the Italians that the climate is so messed up.

All the the town people attend these fairs, including the carabiniere.

Italians have the best uniforms in the world.

Not everyone in town was allowed to enjoy the festivities.

It was not all fun and games in medieval times.  There brought out the old instruments of torture to show us how they dealt with the evil doers.
The little girl is laughing so hard that it must be her brother on the wrack!

The torture stuff creeps me out, so I didn't ask any questions about it.  You can use your imagination.

Paul demonstrated the idea in case you didn't get it.

There were also people demonstrating crafts and instructing their children about the old ways.

The results of all this hard work. The intricacy of the carving is amazing.

All in all it was visit back in time, on a beautiful Sunday in October, with our very dear friends.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Umbertide and adjustment disorders

We are finally in Italy.  No more travel for a while except for a local trips, at least that is the current plan.

We had a lovely dinner in the dining room.   My friend Adelle says that you are not really moved into your new house until you have people over for dinner.  I guess we are now officially moved in.

Luca is with us and is now and has become one of the sights that you will see when you walk around Umbertide.

We are adjusting.  The lack of structure and patterns of our day has bothered the Stoic One.  I knew he was a bit over the edge when he started complaining about my recycling habits. In all fairness to me, it is not as easy as you would think.  There are 4 types of recycle according to the Stoic One:

One can is for aluminum, glass and plastic.  The next can is for paper.  The next can is for food and coffee grinds and dead plants the next can is for trash.  I had to label the cans to prevent another major argument.  I am somehow sure we are the ONLY couple in Umbertide that is sorting the trash to this level of detail. Sigh...Gina would be proud of us.

The next day he complained about where I put the electric tooth brush. (I am not even kidding here.) He said it reminded him of when we were first married and I didn't put things where they were "supposed" to be.  It has only been 27 years, so I said, what really is going on and he said, I feel totally out of control and I said, "Hello, we are in Italy."Aware that I was feeling a stronger desire to bop him on the head with my broom, I realized we were both having adjustment disorders! The Stoic One has known for years that it is impossible to try to control my behavior.  I know this about him as well, but we were both in a critical state of mind, of "why don't you...." that newly wed couples go through.  I had had major feelings of restlessness and anxiety.  It isn't a feeling of OMG did we make a mistake, but more, what should I be doing now?  Whatever I am doing, it seems like I should be doing something else.

 Moving to Italy is kind of like working in a start up except I'm not working, I'm living with the Stoci One and Luca; however just as in a start up, we have to figure out everything for the first time.  Simple things....what do we do for breakfast? When do we eat breakfast?  What to have for lunch? What about dinner?  What about all of the things in between? Even with our food obsession, which luckily is shared by every Italian we know, we need to think about our time and what we do.  For the Stoic One, this feels like a lack of control.  For me, it feels like I may be making the wrong choices, establishing the wrong patterns!.  Ugh.

On the positive front, our sofa arrived and it looks beautiful.

I also got flowers to put out on the terrace, realizing that I would be here long enough to enjoy them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Top 10 Reasons to take the transatlantic QM2

10.  There is plenty to do on board between the day time and evening programming.
9.  In spite of the fact there are 2600 people on board, the ship never seems crowded and there are plenty of areas to explore.
8.  The food is very good and there are a variety of places to eat.
7.  The ship is so large that unless the weather is horrible, you won't get sea sick.
6.  There is not limit on the number of bags you can take on board. For people who are relocating, this is a big advantage.
5.  Everyone on board, including the dogs, are treated as if they are the most important beings in the world.
4.  There are no security hassles.  Boarding is organized and easy.
3.  You will arrive in England with no jet lag.
2.  It is an emotional experience to sail past Ellis Island and the Statue of liberty while having a band play and drinking champagne.
1.  You can take your dog with you!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Queen Mary2 Part 2

I was quite curious as to why people chose to take the Queen Mary rather than fly business class, about the same price point.  The main reason that most people mentioned is that you are not jet lagged, or cruise lagged...The time changed gradually, about 1 hour a day and once we arrived in England we were totally in the correct time zone.  People also talked about the hassle of the security lines, taking their shoes off etc. As most of the passengers on the ship were older, the ship was just viewed as a more civilized and convenient way to travel, particularly if there were no time issues.  Most of the people I talked to had made the crossing more than a dozen times. If you ever had the opportunity to take the QM2 across the Atlantic, I would really encourage you to do so.  We all said, it was the trip of a lifetime for us.

Here is our stateroom.
One of the clever things they had, was a rubberized pad on the bed, no not for that! Anyway, it was to put your luggage on so that you did not mess up the bed as you unpacked.  Once our luggage was away the gold bed mat disappeared!

In the next picture, you can see the balcony to the left of the bed.  There were 2 deck chairs and a little table.  We didn't sit out there often, but having the balcony made the stateroom seem much larger.

There are many entertainment things to do while on board.  Because we had Luca, we spent a lot of time on the dog deck but we did go to a few movies and hear a few talks.  The theater, like everything, was elegant and from a time gone by.

And Luca's accommodations?  Not so good.

Still it was better than having him on an airplane, and we could visit him and get him out of his cage during the day.  The other dog people were very entertaining, and had many good suggestions for us.
The captain of the ship came up one day to get his picture taken with each of the dogs.  I'm not sure that Luca was too impressed.

That is the captain and his lovely wife behind him.

Do you think Luca saw the Titanic?  He seems to have the idea of being the masthead.

One of the fun events was the Ascot Ball.  We were told to wear hats, which yours truly did. I dragged the poor hat all the way from Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley to the Queen Mary, much to the consternation of the Stoic One.  It matched my dress perfectly, and I received many comments..

Sarah and Jan decided to have a dance around the floor.

Besides the theater, there will also beautiful bars to sit, relax have a drink or read a book.

One of the exciting things that happened was the Queen Mary 2 was asked to help a solo woman rower who had lost her sea anchor and her satellite radio.  We were all very excited on board about being able to help her.  Here is the story.

Here she is in her little boat.  The containers are in reach.  We pulled away and she said "live your dreams."  Some peoples' dreams are other people's nightmares!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Queen Mary2

Here I am again.  I expected to be able to post from the QM2 but the computer situation was not the easiest in the world.  That is and will be my only complaint about the crossing.  As my sister, Sarah, said, when you are planning something as long as we planned this trip, it is easy to be disappointed.  This was not the case for the four of us.  We fell in love with the ship, the activities and the staff.

Here are some facts about the ship for those of you who are curious.  It is owned by Cunard, a British company. It is 1100 feet long and goes about 28knots although the captain told us it could go up to 40 knots, which seemed to impress the male contingency.  There are 2600 passengers, and the ship was sold out with a waiting list. There are 14 decks, an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa, a casino, a theater,and of course a dog kennel!  It was commissioned in 2003 and refurbished in 2008.  At the end of the crossing, I asked each person to come up with one word to describe the experience and we all said, "elegant."  It was exactly as I had imagined.

Here we are leaving NYC.  It was a beautiful New York day.  As we passed Ellis Island, my sister and I were very emotional thinking of our grandparents who came from Italy to NYC so many years ago.

Our biggest surprise was the sentiment that we felt as we passed by the Statue of Liberty.  My sister and I both cried and the guys were misty eyed.  Symbols become the compass of our lives and passing the Statue summed up all that was and is wonderful in our country and all that I was leaving behind.

We didn't stay sad for long.  There was a band playing and champagne was flowing.

This was the last of our good weather.  After the first day, it was cold and gray, but we really didn't care because the inside of the ship was so magnificent.

This is the grand lobby that you see as you enter the ship.  It is spectacular.

There were shops to tempt us, and many people, not us, bought high end items.

The corridors of the ship are wide giving an extra feeling of luxury and elegance.

To be continued....