Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Ti chiedo.

It can't rain forever, where do you live?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

T was supposed to go to visit the orthodontist on Wednesday. On a last minute run up the stairs, she slipped and fell on her knee. Her foot swung out to the side and hit the metal railing. She got a huge swollen bump on the top of her foot. After five minutes she said that it didn't hurt that badly, but with our vacation coming up and everything, I thought she had better get it checked out. F took her to the emergency room. I really didn't think they would find anything so I didn't worry about going to the closest hospital. It wasn't as swollen yet as it is in the photo below, but when T showed me where she hit it on the railing, I started to worry. She hit it on the pointiest nastiest little metal cube in the world, the one that just happens to decorate our stair railing. 

During the next five hours of waiting, my brain started to play back all of the bad stories I had heard about people getting casts on at the Lucca hospital. In fact, they had their legal right to put casts on taken away from them after they put my former student's grandson's elbow cast on backwards. When he got to the children's hospital in Florence the doctors were appalled. Now Lucca has a new hospital building with fancier equipment and so I could only hope there would be more competent cast putter-on-ers. 

Here's a sight no mother ever wants to see.

Here is T in a full cast. Sorry Natasha. We take blogging seriously.
 Five hours later T came home with a cast that reaches all the way to her knee. This has not made her want to wash her waist length hair any less often. The good news is that they said that they will let her take off the cast and use a boot starting next week. The bad news is that we leave for our American vacation in less than a week.

My friend Ian sent me this cool link to a website where they offer a hands free crutch. So my mom ordered her one that will be waiting for us in America. In the meantime, one of F's students brought a regular pair of crutches for her that she hates. 

Here is T and Giorgia before T fractured her foot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Non so che dire
Well, change is not always fun. After my health scare of the other week, things have calmed down a lot. Well, things have calmed down, and I have calmed down, but my skin is a real wreck. I believe that it is a temporary situation. I have read Tracy Raftl at The Love Vitamin's blog post about one million times to keep myself calm:

"It has many different names… healing crisis, detox symptoms, herxheimer reaction.

It’s what sometimes happens when you start making a lot of big health changes all at once, and for a while, things get worse. That means that all the symptoms you decided to get healthier in order to heal, are actually getting worse. Or you’re getting new symptoms you’ve never had before. Or you just plain feel like garbage.

Or, maybe you’re getting more acne and more breakouts!!! (yes, this happened to me at the beginning of my journey to clear skin)

What gives? Why would getting healthy make me feel worse and cause me to break out?

How is this fair?

Well, this is actually normal, and it’s actually a good sign that the changes you are making are having a positive impact on your body. Your body is releasing a lot of toxins all at once, and it’s making you feel bad.

However, it’s terribly alarming. Especially if it involves more acne. So it’s not really a wonder that some of the most common emails I get are from people wondering if the breakouts and other symptoms they are experiencing are just detox reactions or if they’re something to be concerned about. 

If it’s a real detox reaction, it should start anywhere from a day or two to a week after making significant positive health changes. 

And it really shouldn’t last for more than two to three weeks at the most. there it should continue to get better and better.

Detox reactions will never get steadily worse and worse over time. And they always go in waves.

In other words, on the onset of the detox reaction, that should be the height of its intensity. After that, you should find that the intensity and occurrence of the symptoms will come and go (from day to day, or even hour to hour), with each wave getting less intense until it’s gone."

This seems to describe my current situation to a tee. The other day I got about a dozen huge cysts all over my jaw line, drawing an arc from my right ear to my chin. This has a lot to do with the lymphatic system and the liver, and is to be expected when you take Estroblock. I figure having terrible acne for a few weeks is a small price to pay if it is then going to disappear for the rest of my life. Nevertheless, I do not leave the house a lot. My students and my Bioenergy clients come to the house. I have more and more clients as my friend Alessandro who is going to go into business with me in October after he takes the course in London has talked up the method a lot at his bagnino/beach club in Viareggio. 

After I came clean so to speak about having overdone it with the saw palmetto which did reduce my testosterone levels, but then worked too well and left me with lower levels than I should have, my friends started trying to express their concern and started giving me advice. In fact a little pack of them even staged an intervention telling me that I had to start going out with them and being more active again OR ELSE. After I got over the shock of it, I realized that it was very sweet. In fact I have started working out again, and my rear end is so sore that I have trouble sitting on it. In addition to Tracy Anderson's program I have also added in this completely insane ballerina chick who counts in this very nursery school teacher like way while you follow her through these excruciating repetitions of thigh circles which make you want to beg for mercy. I think it's called Ballet Beautiful. OUCH. 
Thank you Serena, Bianca, Francesca, Micol, Anna, Patrizia, and Elena for your concern. I am going to get my act together. I promise.

Given my determination to heal my skin, I am officially among the palest people in all of Tuscany. I may be vitamin D deficient and the moment, but it still amazes me how my Italian friends and neighbors fry their faces off every season. They just refuse to connect the sun with skin cancer and wrinkles and stubbornly hold on to the idea that a massive tan makes them look thinner, healthier and younger. Most don't even use adequate sun protection or avoid the strongest hours of daylight at lunchtime. 

Meanwhile we continue to fix up the house for the summer exchange. T is living a double life, trying to get a chunk of her summer homework out of the way while still making time for her friends and going out in the evenings. F has been working nonstop on this website he is making so I spend a lot of time watching an Italian miniseries called Elisa di Rivombrosa which is a period drama that has slowly but pulled me in and I have now watched a full 39 episodes so far with 13 to go.
Elisa di Rivombrosa has the clearest skin in the world, btw. Sigh.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Do you love . . . 
Do you love the new removable mismatched chair covers that F made us for the dining room chairs?

I was inspired by the Free People office photo that always makes it seem like creative ideas will flow out of you if you sit at that table and get beaten down by Kelly Cutrone.

I guess that it's better than this idea:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The skin I'm In
So far this is what I've tried to do to clear up my cystic acne which when I was younger made me miss out on many a fun party, date, rainstorm, and kiss:


Then as you know the other day I discovered that I had hyperpigmentation on my gums.

(I forgot to tell you the part where my dear, dear student Micol kept me company for hours at the family doctor's office so that I could get a prescription for my blood test. We had our English lesson there and then when the hour was up we checked with my peeps at the pharmacy to see if I had understood the schedule correctly. It turned out that they were an hour off and then that the doctor got held up in traffic. He is very sweet, although he looks to be in terrible health himself. He looks more like Santa Claus/Babbo Natale every time I see him and this time his belly button was peeking out between a gap in his shirt. Anyway, Micol kept me calm and we got the magic ticket.)

We woke up at the crack of dawn and went to the hospital in order to get me the blood tests. When we got there a dozen people were already on line in front of us. The lady at the reception desk who I remember seeing four years ago there and who looks like a crazy flamingo of some kind with her plume like hair, beak like nose, and bulging eyes told me that I was slated for riposo/rest which led me to believe that they were going to take so much blood that they were afraid I would faint afterwards. I filled out the modulo/form and the nice (!) lady at the window told me to go pay and then come back to her. F and I went to the bank/slot machine looking computerized pay centers to try to pay, but it was a time sensitive operation and we had about eight goes at that scary robot before we were able to make a payment successfully. At one point instead of paying 76 euro we were about to pay 7,776 euro and the other times the operation timed out before we could make out the directions in Italian. The line behind us was getting antsy so in order to make the people laugh, when the machine finally spit out the long tongue like paper receipt that is called a scontrino, I grabbed it and jumped up and down shouting, "I won, I won/ Ho vinto, Ho vinto!" One lady had to chuckle.

Then we went to the waiting area where a bunch of people who weren't allowed to eat that morning were grimly playing Italian Bingo, that is, waiting for their ticket numbers to be called on the overhead television screens. A cute girl next to me asked her boyrfriend playfully if she should worry because all of the tickets being called started with the letter C and hers started with the letter P. I told her not to worry because mine started with the letter O, but she told me that I was in the wrong place. The Riposo ticket people had to go to lie down in the lie down room for twenty minutes before anyone would take your blood. GOOD TO KNOW. So I laid down and the lady next to me said she would check the time if she were me because the nurse was a bit disorganized. As soon as I lay down, my head started to spin. Only the hilarity of the situation of the four of us reclining ladies waiting for this crazy nurse of a certain age and her Marilyn Monroe hair style helped me get through it. Luckily Marilyn was enamored of New York and when I complimented her on her quick vein finding abilities she all but turned pink with pleasure. My roommates enjoyed our banter and everyone said arrivederci to me like they meant it. Now I have to wait two weeks to find out if I'm in hormonal purgatory or not. Meanwhile my face is looking ever more pizza like.

I bought these new bandaids from Asia that suck the gross stuff out of the acne for you so you don't have to pop your pimples. You've got to laugh, if you don't want to cry.

Tracy, from the Love Vitamin blog, you better be right about this estroblock sh*t, honey . . . .

These cute twins have a health blog and have acne spotted pasts. Hang in there, twinnies.
Meanwhile we spent more money on ebay Italy for what is supposed to be a more effective brand of the supplement DIM which is called Estroblock and has been the winning move for lots of women in my shoes. Fingers crossed.

Festivities & Furniture/Feste e Mobili
So, we made this for my student Tommaso's mother and auntie and his girlfriend Sylvia's auntie when they came to dinner:

Photos from aromasfromapartment5.wordpress.com

But F's version looked identical to this and it was a huge hit with our guests!
 Tommaso's family are the ones who sold us our NEW COUCH:

I LOVE it.

The kids wanted their own party so the next night we did this:

We made vegetable sushi, summer rolls, bread and tapenade and lemon souffles baked in the lemon peels.

I love my students so much.

This is Tommaso and Silvia on his birthday having their first taste of S'mores birthday cake which is chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownie, and marshmallow filling smothered in chocolate.

Silvia is gorgeous. Get over it.
They totally freaked out over it.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

= A really crap day.
Giornataccia :(
Last night as I was flossing my teeth, I realized that I had dark spots all over my gums. I dreamt about them. I woke up depressed. I went to an emergency appointment at the dentist.

But wait. First F told me that the city plumber people who are called G.E.A.L were working outside our house and that they wanted to have access to turn off our water for twenty minutes. I told him that I didn't trust them and not to let them go away without checking that we had water. He brought them into the house where they told me that now that they had done their job and left me with no water their job was done. I blockaded the door and called the building owner. His son told me that the water valve was where the television used to be. Fantastic. I have no idea where they kept their television five years ago. I called the plumber. He said he would call and talk to the owner and then come by and see if he could take whatever filth G.E.A.L allowed to come up into our plumbing out so we could have water again.

I had to leave to go to the dentist so we left T with instructions and money, but while I was waiting for the dentist she called to say the water was back on so I had to call back the plumber who now hates me. I think he hated me before, but now he hates me more. I always pray that I never have to bother him again. Anyway, we went to the car. On the way to the car I called my doctor friend because I knew that I was going to need blood tests and I don't know the procedure for how to get them. She yelled at me to calm down. With love. Usually I find this Italian mannerism rather charming, but not today. I noticed during our phone conversation that I was following F around in circles. I was just about to ask why he had chosen this particular moment to engage me in a spirited game of duck, duck, goose! when he explained that our car had been towed away for no explicable reason. We borrowed his student's car and went to the dentist.

When we got home we realized that the expensive computer batteries we ordered had been delivered. The important one we need for T's dying battery is the wrong size.

My dentist has a brother who is an endocrinolygist in Florence. She took pictures of my mouth and offered to send him the photos and to send this important professor who wrote a book on mouth diseases the photo. She also offered to call my family doctor to persuade him to prescribe the blood tests for me because, as she explained, if I went to the family doctor with a list of tests recommended by an American doctor, he would be mortally offended and unhelpful.

My only joy today has been watching the inmates on Orange is the New Black who seem to take their misfortune in better stride than I do even though they are in prison and don't have working toilets.

Monday, June 23, 2014

We/ITALY lost against Costa Rica. IT was VERY depressing. (But, on the bright side, at least I didn't have to stay up for three extra hours to enjoy the post-win honking.)

And so . . . Karma

This has been a weird way to start off the summer. After posting a desperate plea for people's used wine corks on Facebook so I could try to make something that looks like this --

 -- I received a message from a cool, new friend who happened to have 50 wine corks just lying around. During our coffee date we got to talking about Karma.

I couldn't help thinking about my drum playing, meat-loving, barbecue addicted, nudist neighbors who have really put a damper on my favorite time of day: MEAL TIME. Their enormous terrace and their extreme selfishness has really challenged my patience and ethical limits.

 I have evil thoughts about them. I have to admit it in order to move on. Sometimes I think . . . .

 And other times I think:

 It doesn't help my mood that every kind of medicina, herb, tea/tisana, lotion or substance that I come into contact with seems out to get me.

Plus ever since I found that giant beetle in bed with me (F was in the bathroom at the time), I spend every night with a creepy crawly feeling and wake up restless and upset. No offense to my ex- coworker pictured in the photo below, but at least, I'm not in bed with that cockroach on her left.

 And no matter what, I did get out of the cult of egoistic bullies that make up the fitness department at a place they couldn't help but call the Ego Wellness Resort; and when I take a look at this year's fruit party photos, I can't help but be drenched in an unsweaty wave of thankfulness. It is so good not to work THERE anymore.

No, really?

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Saggio
I had asked my lovely student Sylvia to pick up a ticket to my other student Andrea's hip hop saggio/recital because she goes to the same school for guitar lessons. She tried her best, but they didn't have the ticket available for some reason. She tried FIVE times to be exact. In the end she handed me a receipt for something that would take the place of the real ticket temporarily and then a minute later decided that it was inacceptable and went back again to get me a real ticket.
The fake ticket and the real one. Oh Italy!
Andrea's mother Lucia offered to give me a ride to the show because it was not at the school which is walking distance from our apartment, but at a theater in another town a good distance away. In the car were two of his best buddies from his middle school, the same one T attended, and one of Andrea's grandmothers. It was very cute.

When we got to the theater and took out our tickets, Lucia noticed that while I was sitting in the same row that she had reserved for their family, they had given us both the same seat number. We went to investigate. The dude, the same one that had given me the director's phone number when I had tried to organize a hip hop party a few weeks ago, told me that I didn't have a real ticket. He tried to dismiss me right then and there. It took FIVE more tries for him to resolve the situation. He gave me a real ticket with the same number on it; a real ticket witha different seat number, but one that Lucia also had; he gave me a seat number that didn't exist; and then finally he gave me a real ticket with a real seat. The whole time he glared at me like I was a troublemaker. He didn't apologize once.
The people in the front our the two grandmas. I wish I had got the not calm ones face, but she never stayed still.

Andrea has a second grandmother who got a ride to the theater in his father's car. They call one the calm grandmother and one the not calm grandmother. The not calm grandmother talked to me throughout the entire three hour performance which displayed every student from three years old to twenty three years old in the genres of ballet, modern, hip hop and breakdancing. The show was held together by a story that recounted the phases of growing up from kindergarten to the old age home. The not-calm grandmother made outrageous statements about the overweight dancers and the "natural" talent of the dances of color and I had to keep politely disagreeing with her. She cheerfully recounted how the other grandmother's cooking is favored by Andrea, but she didn't seem to worried about it.

Here is Andrea's cheering section of friends and family.

Andrea, you star you.
 Andrea was really the star of his group. I can't believe he only started two years ago. He really does have a gift and I hope he sticks with it. He is the kid in front wearing the white hat:

 I gave him a copy of the Divergent book in Italian so that next year we can read it in English and he asked me to pick up some Diary of a Wimpy Kid books in English for him when we are in New York.

So proud.