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Spannocchia

Well, I returned from Italy on Friday night but jetlag has pursued me like a hungry hound.  I’m finally feeling right in the head today so I thought I’d follow up on the goodbye post.

Spannocchia: courtyard view

I had a great time!  My home-sickness was bad in Rome, the first four days of the trip, and that was with constant phone calls and Skype, but then something happened.  I had a great workshop of my two pieces, we left for Tuscany, and I shared more of my work in public readings.  Wallflower no more!  Actually, I was still pretty quiet on the trip, but during workshop I felt comfortable to share my thoughts and in smaller group settings, I was perfectly happy.

The estate where we stayed in Tuscany, Spannocchia, had so much to do with my feelings of ease.  We had time to get to know one another, communal meals, wonderful open-mic-style readings every night,

and dorm life.  Plus, most of us went to the pool after dinner to slough off the heat = more community-building.  Can you sense a theme?  For a program that is low-residency, meaning we don’t see one another for a year and do most of the work on our own at home, feeling part of a community is important (well, at least it is for me).

Community meals with bottomless wine

So, many new friends later, I am home where the heat index is far worse than it was in the middle of the Forum in Rome.  I’m thrilled to spend a month with my kids before school starts, happy to see the Huz when I’m not passed out from exhaustion, and sneaking moments at the computer to start my first writing packet for the semester.

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This month is a little, well a lot, different than previous months, so my resolution will reflect this difference.  Today I leave for a 10-day trip to Italy with my MFA program.  My only resolutions are to be open to experiences, vocal when I need to be and receptive at the right times too, and to be comfortable being myself.  My last residency I fell back into a familiar wallflower pose, but I am going to be conscious of this side of my personality and nurture it when I need to but push it as much as possible.  The biggest part of this resolution is the live in the moment.  I have already started missing my husband and children before packing my bags.  Normal, right.  But, I need to attempt a healthy balance of home-sickness and excitement.  The trick is that I will probably have less contact with the family this go-round because I’m just not sure how much reception my phone will have or if WiFi is even a possibility for Skyping.  I will make contact when I can and try to focus on being a writer in Italy.  Ten days isn’t that long.

Arrivederci!

Parli inglese?

Well, it’s the end of the month, I leave in 3 days, and I can barely speak any Italian.  Summer months are hard for a blogging mom.  The kids are home, we went to Florida for a week, there’s no schedule.  Suffice to say, I haven’t done well with this resolution.  Good thing I have my Italian tutor app installed on the phone for quick help when I need it.  Dov’e il bangno, per favore?  That’s really all I need, right.

Mi Scusi.  It’s already June 6 and I’ve delved into my 6th resolution without introducing it.  How rude!  My intention for this month was to take an Italian language class at Los Monitos, a great language school for adults and kids here in town.  This would prepare me for my upcoming trip to Italy.  However, I should have looked over the Los Monitos website months ago to learn that the courses began in early May.  Had I known that, I would have enrolled with the head of the MFA program and the Summer Semester Abroad Program Coordinator.  They are the only two in the class, which is being taught by the father of one of my son’s friends.  Louisville, the ultimate small town city.  So, that didn’t happen.  I spoke with Gionatan, the instructor, about private lessons, but quickly reached the conclusion that 1-3 classes with him wouldn’t get me very far.  Foreign languages are not my thing.  I had French instruction from grades 1-5, then again in high school.  I comped out of 2 semesters in college (somehow) and ended up with a tutor for the only semester I took.  Then in grad school, I flunked the language test first go-round; passed the second.  When I went to France in 1995, it took me a week to muster the courage to buy a stamp at the post office.  The clerk understood me, I think.  I got the stamp (une timbre, I believe).

So, Italian.  We’ll be in Rome for 3 days then on an organic farm for a week.  The farm is run by a foundation with roots in both Italy and the U.S. so I probably won’t need much Italian while there, but I also think it’s rude to expect everyone to understand English.

Okay, my plan is a wee bit lazy and definitely on the cheap.  I have found a couple of free podcasts that teach basic Italian and am listening to them, sometimes repeatedly. The one I really like is Free Italian School (freeitalianschool.blogspot.com). I also have an app called 24/7 Tutor which has been awesome!  It has multiple choice tests (I scored 96% on the last one and I did it while waiting in carpool last week!) along with flash cards, puzzles, and write-in tests.  It also offers pronunciation.  The categories are basic phrases (which I’m still studying, grazie), questions, town & country, food & dining, and opposites.  Several friends have recommended downloading a translator app for road signs and menus.  I’ll look into that too.  So far, my accent is atrocious and I feel like I’m using way too many hand gestures, but I know more Italian than I did a year ago.  If I can do a little every day, I will have accomplished this resolution.

I’ll leave you with Eddie Izzard because whenever I tell the Huz that I’m learning Italian, he imitates this routine.  Ciao!

Wow, May is over?

So, how did I do?  With a lot of help from the huz, I acquired an Electra Townie bike (my kids picked the color: orange), I shopped for helmets and bike locks with Jennifer, the huz found a cool helmet and cheap bike lock for me, so all of the shopping was strangely accomplished by a man who hates to shop.  Thanks, Huz!

The actual bike riding has been a lot slower.  I’ve toddled around in my backyard several times and almost gotten both feet off the ground, but I probably need to practice in the alley on a flat surface where I can work up a little speed.  Perhaps if I start getting up a little earlier so the alley is deserted and no one can see a grown woman learning to ride her bike, I’ll accomplish this.  Oh, still need to get the handlebars adjusted.  Put it on the list.

As with most of my resolutions, Resolution #5 will be an on-going project.

To be continued . . .

 

The Huz brought home a surprise for me yesterday.  While cleaning out some department at his university, he found a cache of bike helmets that had been sitting around without homes for years (casualties of a now defunct program).

Here is my son modeling the new helmet.  Notice the freakin’ adorable cherry motif!

Not much news on the bike front, sadly. It has been stormy, but that’s a poor excuse.

Good news, however: my huz and I spent all day Sunday in the yard and I’m happy to report that the seedlings – all of which my four-year-old son and I planted from seed – are in the garden and nestled with homemade compost! Whoohoo! It’s very gratifying to create nutrient-rich soil. Never thought I’d utter those words. Also accomplished: irises divided and planted (one row has turned into FIVE), pumpkins planted behind irises, and a brand new bed created around the oak leaf hydrangeas. It looks fab if I do say so myself.

Here are some photos from the garden.

After

Before

Tomatoes planted: Check!

Irises divided (then flattened by storms): Check!