Friday, January 30, 2004


Brrrrr. That's Italian for "my left ear froze off on my way to check the mail."

It's COLD in this corner of the globe. After several inches of snow and then a couple days in the single digits, it took me well into the double digits to get my wipers un-stuck from the windshield. I climbed in and out of the only unfrozen door (of course the passenger side) for several errands. Yup, people stared.

But far from minding, I almost enjoyed it. It was a bit of a sweet reminder of life in Italia. We stuck out. People stared. Like entering and exiting through the passenger door, we experienced the sweetest joys of la bella vita, just not in a way that made it easy to blend.

Push/pull doors. Webcams. Running to catch sunsets. Eating gelato for every meal. Le stelle.

Let them stare! If going for the ride means climbing in the passenger door, that's a small price to pay.


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

C'e Posta per Me!

One of the most exciting parts of the day is checking to see if mail has arrived. Our apartment mail system is kind of strange--we don't have individual mail boxes. We just have one slot in the door, and the mailman sort of crams the mail through that, and then we, the tenants, find it lying on the floor and sort through it.

It's not the best system, clearly. Twice so far I have found mail of mine like this--not having any idea it was my own and picking it up just to see. Those were fortunate surprises, but I can imagine some mail you don't want to accidently find--bills, etc. Sometimes I don't know exactly how the Italians do it.

On Tuesday, though, when I got back from checking email, I opened the door to find--a package!!! I barely read the address before taking it downstairs with me. The only thing I noticed was the word "candy" written as part of the list of contents. CANDY! Luckily once I opened the door and started going at the package with a pair of dull scissors, I did happen to notice it was addressed to me. Anyway, I was so excited. It was my first package this year.

My friend Lori, who studied in Italy at the Macerata program a year back, had sent the package all the way from Oregon, and it had arrived pretty much unscathed. Inside I found everything from Just-add-Vinegar-and-Oil Salad Dressing to a pack of Gel-style markers. AND that candy I was so excited about: Reese's Cups! It was a full-fledged package, and it really did make my day.

But maybe the best part of these sort of packages are the pictures. Lori and Corrie and I had all been in Macerata during the summer, and opening the card, a stack of photos fell out, filling the cold, winter apartment with warm weather and sunshine, tans and water-fights. In looking through those pictures, I felt a sense of that time together, and it made me laugh just remembering. It was a full August of water fights on the lawn in Parma in the middle of a heat-wave summer, talking and laughing while waiting an hour for a pizza at the only pizzeria open in Macerata, going to the beach every day. And back then we thought this was all little stuff, as we lapped up gelato and complained about the heat.

In the end, Looking over photos and smiling while eating a Reese's cup in my basement apartment in Macerata--half a year later--perhaps those little moments count the most.

Thanks Lori!

Update: Yesterday evening I got home and found a package from my mom too! It was this huge, refridgerator-box-sized package (not quite, but it was BIG!), and I opened as soon as I got to the kitchen table. Thank you mom! I appreciate everything! Antonello loves it too--especially the three bags of Sour Patch Kids!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Just one reason I love my dad

My dad's the best - he's proven the grocery artist correct. It IS a bluebird! Look what he found in the Stop-n-Go product list!

"Deans Milk and Dairy Products insures quality and freshness for those lactose needs."


Seeing it in color

Jackie, it's funny you should mention Antonello's notice of the little things...I witnessed a similar observation just today.

Far from an art gallery and even further from a ducal palace, I was in O'Malia's grocery this afternoon. We did get that blast of winter weather this weekend and predictions say another 3-5 inches is on the way tonight. Folks in line ahead of me were getting the essentials: bread, milk, eggs. I got to the front of the line and felt a little foolish as I put my one "essential" before the cashier: a half pint of whipping cream.

A little guy stood behind the cashier packing bottled water and frozen dinners into the previous customer's bag. When she passed him my one item, he looked at it closely then put it into bag as carefully as if it were a single egg.

"Have you ever seen that brand's emblem in color?" he asked as he handed me the plastic bag. "I wonder what kind of bird it is sitting on the mailbox," he said.

I looked through the crinkled plastic to see a stylized bird perched on top of a one dimensional mailbox. "I don't know, to tell you the truth," I said, smiling.

"I think it's a blue jay," he said.

What else could I do but agree? Jackie took her shoemaker to the museum and I discovered an artist in the grocery. What a wonderful world!


Monday, January 26, 2004

Snow on Tile Roofs

Yesterday Antonello and I visited Urbino, up in the northern part of Le Marche. Antonello had never been to the Marche Region Gallery of Art (located in Urbino's Palazzo Ducale), so we called several times in advance to see if it was open and, without getting any response, we set off on a prayer that our luck would be good and my guide book wasn't lying. It wasn't (my guidebook, that is. Our luck turned out to be fine), and we got to the picturesque little jewel of a city in time to tour the museum.

As we arrived in Urbino, it was just barely beginning to snow. The ground was still dry, and I snapped a photo of an archway that perfectly framed the duomo's cupola and bell tower, right before the snow began to cover it. Then we hurried on to the palace and the museum, where paintings by Raffaello and Piero della Francesca awaited us.

I had visited the museum before, but seeing it with Antonello was something special. He has a way of looking at things that I have not mastered, and it's wonderful. He notices tiny details--the colors, the way a ring looks on a painting of a woman, a red lilly in the hand of Mary in a Madonna and Child. Then he nods after looking at a painting for a few minutes and turns to me and says "Mi piace." He likes it. As if he's decided, and we can move on.

The snow collected while we were in the museum, and halfway through our tour, I looked out of one of the windows to see Urbino below us, beautiful white with snow covering once orange-tile roofs. It was my first snow fall this year, and it was magical to look down at it like this--from a window in a palace in Italy.

From another window I saw a woman covering up her face with her scarf and running carefully in the just-fallen snow with a bag--groceries maybe--back to wherever she needed to be. And, I knew, in some thirty minutes, that would be Antonello and me--but hurrying together, hand in hand, back to our car and, eventually, back home.

And I smiled slightly and moved on, past the window to another Madonna and Child, where Antonello was looking, with observant eyes, at the gold-leaf halos--patterns pressed into the paint like a stamp.


"Well, my diploma is written in English...does that count?"

Yesterday evening Antonello and I translated Jane's and my English lesson announcement (we are hoping to get work as English language tutors, since it is a University town after all), so now I am just two small steps away from putting up our signs in the various University buildings and student dining areas! Although I do have a degree in English, Jane doesn't, but we thought we could write that we both had degrees in English since, well, as the subject says, at least they are both written IN English! No one will really care, right?

Plus, my skill in teaching the language is so strong that yesterday, after five years of knowing Antonello, he learned how to say "I am hungry." Yes, results are immediate.

Anyway, here it is, my ticket out of factory work:

Due Tutor di madre lingua inglese laureate offrono lezioni in lingua--in grammatica e/o conversazione--in vari livelli della tua preparazione. Puoi chiamare al numero ... o scrivere email:

Still have to make that email adress exist (hopefully it doesn't already, but I have yet to print out the signs, so don't worry too much), but there it is! Anyway, the point is...if you happen to know any Macerata residents who are looking for an English language teacher...


Update: We're going to go around in a bit to put up the signs. The email address turned out to be different (somehow that one was already taken) and is now: