Saturday, December 31, 2011

Festa Tempesta - (just 'cause it rhymes) 

A lovely dinner with delle mie amiche/girls this evening! A bucket list what I always wanted kind of a night, despite having misjudged the paper plate/potato chip/sandwich situation because everyone arrived very elegantly decked out. Luckily Melissa brought fancy antipasti of melt in your mouth hot peppers stuffed with deliciousness and topped with breadcrumbs. I thought if I wore jeans and didn't make fusses about things (like washing dishes) people would feel more relaxed and have more fun. However, I tend to always be early and overdress for things so my precendents preceded me. There was a panic moments before the guests arrived as is usual around here, but I have to thank my daughter for having convinced me to go ahead and celebrate and for having made all the phone calls for me. Also F gets many a thank you for having prepared all of the sandwich fixings.

Just randomly, I also want to acknowledge that when T starts a sentence with siccome, which is very Italian of her, I feel like I would pretty much say yes to almost anything she wants, but sssh don't tell her.

We brought out some old photos after dinner because the ladies wanted to see what F used to look like with long hair.  Dinner conversation touched on exotic cuisines and spices, shopping the sales, and different customs in various regions of Italy.  I opened presents in front of people because that is what I usually see at Italian parties and it was peter-pan-I-can-fly level of fun for me. It stems from having received seven mugs on my ninth birthday, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't heal my old wounds retroactively.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What did you say?
Our electrician Mauri wears a red coat and actually does speak in Italian muppet language. We were so happy that he gave us a door buzzer -- the kind that lets people in from outside so that we don't have to run down the steep stone stairs for every visitor -- that we didn't even mind the fact that he discovered our stove's spark plugs could blow the place sky high at any moment since they were supposed to be replaced in 2007. He recommends we turn the gas off when we sleep. Also he fixed the clicking burner by removing it. I love him, but let's face it, his electrician's certificate is red and furry.

Today I had a play date with Sofia. She is four. Occasionally she chooses not to enunciate and to add -ina  to every Italian word thus making it smaller and cuter than it was originally. She is super cute-ina. She chose me to be her Special Adult Person, or SAP, in Lucca. Today we made a pink princess cake, rode on the carousel, drank hot chocolate with pink marshmellows, did her nails and makeup which included stickers, sparkles, and using lip stain in unusual places, bought six small horses and then went on a treasure hunt. We got two extra rides on the carousel because Sofia is betwitching and casts spells on everyone to make her give her stuff and obey her every command. She is a keeper, I tell you.

I have no idea how this got on my plate . . .

There are a lot of myths floating around out there. One is that I turned 42 this week. Okay, that much is true. T and F spoiled me with presents and yummy delights including cupcakes filled with lemoncurd and covered in salted caramel and whipped cream. Another myth is that people sleep at night. I seem to have heart palpitations, nightmares, and weird panic attacks but not so much sleep so I am not sure about that one. This has made exercising constantly just slightly more of a challenge. Which is why I was in bed when I knew that Mauri the electrician was stopping by. I'll explain later, but he never actually fixes anything so I couldn't really motivate to get out of pajamas for him when F is just as good at pointing and nodding as I am.

When you turn 42 you can have popcorn for dinner too.
All good pastry chefs wear curlers in their hair. Duh!

Oh and I have been wanting to tell you that my private client Alessia has lost five and a half chilos and two dress sizes in just three weeks of working with me. She hasn't changed her diet at all and has a weakness for potato chips, but she does do an hour of hard work with me before taking the group lesson twice a week. She is so much fun to work with and I enjoy her personality so much. I have invited her and her whole family to dinner next week. Her mom Isabella is really sweet and she also takes class with us and her brother works out with a guy trainer. He is allegedly 17 years old, but his manners are so delightful that I suspect foul play.

Today another one of my student's asked me to meet her because she wanted to tell me about this health drink she sells which made of Mangosteen fruit. Allegedly it has a tonellata of antioxidants in it. Barbara tends to speak super softly for a saleswoman so I didn't catch her whole sales pitch, but free radicals are definitely bad for you. I'll tell you that. She is like an Avon lady since this drink is sold on an individual basis instead of to stores. It was mildly better than being sold a vacuum cleaner for ten hours that you could never ever afford, see the Folletto post from last year at this time if you don't remember.  The funny thing about Barbara is that she can barely rotate her legs due to her tight hips from sitting glued to a desk selling Xango for a jillion hours a week. So she is in pain during most of my class and looks fairly miserable.  If she doesn't come back, I am on the verge of not having enough people to continue at Happy gym which is not so happy. In any event, I don't think I'll be able to pay 30 euros a month for juice unless I start working nights or stripping or both.

 Our electrician Mauri is friends with our landlord's son. He never answers his cell because he probably hates doing favors for his friend's dad. I don't know. But you have to trick him into answering. His other big trick is coming to the first appointment with no tools whatsoever just to have a look.  What the heck is he looking at? The oven burner doesn't light, another burner clicks incessantly, and we have no door opener. Whatever. He's coming back tomorrow. Allegedly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santo Stefano
Today we had a carbohydrate loading extravaganza with Paola and Stefano. We gave Stefano a Superman sweatshirt because it has the big S on the front and also a loaf of F's homemade bread in the shape of an S. Just so you don't think I'm exaggerating the vegetarian menu of the day was: pasta with traditional pesto; pasta with a nutty parmagiano pesto, vegetable lasagne that was moaning with bechemel sauce, bread, roasted potatoes, and, oh yeah, cake.  This was followed with a light, just kidding, smattering of a hundred kinds of biscotti and chocolates at Stefano's parents' house.

My fabulous eight year old fidanzato has learned how to read for himself! We continue to do Bioenergy treatments for his autism and he continues to make amazing steps forward in his development. He is sounding out words like crazy. He is also very taken with airplanes, and I believe that he will become an extremely literate pilot who will whisk me away to exotic ports of call between romantic interludes of sounding out to me from his Pimpa books and, you know, Proust.

He looks just  like his papa' in this photo.
I know Lorenzo loves me, but it was helped along by the fact that his parents said that he could finally eat the Pandoro that he waits all year to gobble up once I arrived. I had a fun moment teasing him by wearing the cake box on my head. After he finished his portion he swooped into the room like a bird of prey and finished off any other remaining bits from the rest of our plates. It made my heart pitter patter.

Go get us those free air miles, amore mio.

Stefano's parents back when
We also got to see newborn bunnies that Grandpa Luigi has been tending to in his little shed.

I'm not making this cuteness up.

Later at Grandma Franca's one of the Uncles told Fraser that in Italy you say that someone is lucky by saying that they discovered America. Since he is from Pisa he said that when he got to Lucca. But then he chuckled heartily and observed that we found America by leaving America. Go figure.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sweet Real Estate
Today we made a gingerbread house. T thought we should write one of those Toddler & Tiaras type blog posts about how super talented we are, but I think you should know that the production of this edifice was as seeped in controversy, as necessitating of blood pressure medicine, and as entrenched in back room dirty dealing and desperate final hour negotiations as Trump Tower back in New York.

Luckily, afterwards we were invited to have a drinky-poo at Melissa and Mirko's where Tatia played with their three kids, including this cutie pa-tutie in the photos with the Christmas tutu and new Italian Ikea kitchen set. She is fond of me because she recognizes my naughty side and I, in turn, have agreed to rock her little world on Friday morning when we have a fake auntie and favorite fake niece kind of girl-date. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

peace out,
Buon Natale & Arrivederci Brooklyn!

We march to our own drummer (not a Justin Bieber reference) and we wouldn't have it any other way. Last night we had pad thai for dinner and this morning we had piping hot chocolate chip muffins. This year is so much better than last year, and it feels twice as sweet because all of our hard work to make a new life here has showed up in this beautiful day. T loved her presents, but her favorite was Lee's mother-in-law's D&G weekend bag that I came away with from the Xmas swap. Lee, I really hope that I didn't just take your mother-in-law's bag that she accidentally left on the swap table, but you did make xmas x-tra special.
glamour girl!

My true love,

her true love.




My favorite moments so far were T running back down the stairs last night because she forgot to leave cookies for Santa about 14 seconds after I thought to myself how sad it was that she no longer wanted to leave cookies for Santa -- and a carrot for the reindeer.  I love that she appreciated the gold glitter wrapping paper and noticed how presents were hidden inside of presents, and how she made F a little paper tree with a list of chores on the branches that she is willing to do when he checks them off. One of my favorite gifts was the card from Anna Maria & Fabio which was written with so much care that it would just spezzare il cuore di anyone with a pulse. My tennis club gig tomorrow got canceled so Merry Christmas to me. And we wish our friends & readers all over the world so much joy today and for 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

il 23 Dicembre
This afternoon I taught my last pre-holiday class for one person who my BFF in NY fittingly nicknamed the Grinch. We gave out chocohotopots alla Nigella Lawson at the ortofrutta to nine employees and one man who was looking hopeful and selling batteries right outside. Our friends at the store really appreciated the sweet treats and it is my favorite Christmas tradition. One of the ladies told me that she still has her sachet from last year. Mi fa tenerezza I told her.

little T
Crazy Roberto the client stalker from Happy Gym is calling me again and wants to pay me something for the Bioenergy treatment he received and to talk to me about his health. Allegedly. He plans to just stop by on Christmas Eve. I guess I will have to get dressed at some point.

T, age 5, I think
F got in trouble for putting his chocolate volcano cake masquerading as a traditional Lucchese chocolate pie in the laticed crust in one of his student's sample boxes at the paper making factory. He thought it would be a fun way to present the present but his client got sweetly anxious about the whole thing and quickly put the empty box back in the display.

T and Savana 2009
T did last minute xmas shopping with Natasha (on Natasha's birthday) for her tutors Gabrielle and Lucia. I have been taken off guard by some of the sweet little notes and gifts I have been getting from my students and coworkers as the week goes on. We have crispy vegetarian (meat)balls with spaghetti for dinner and watched the last Harry Potter movie. And in the morning I am planning to have a milky American coffee with a bite of chocolate covered panettone.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

High School: A long series of mistakes
1. I had a triple espresso at the crack of crack this morning which later gave me dry mouth, dehydration and a serious case of the jitters.
The stronzo in the middle holding the plaque is who I'm talking about.
2. I arrived on time to the freezing cold, drafty castle of a high school known as the Istituto Civitali. When oh when will I learn that Italians are always always late?
2,5. We had to go on third which meant waiting for way over half an hour in the icy anticamera.
2,75. I had to pee and my drawstring got knotted, forcing me to do a Houdini like maneuver in the bagno not recommended for people my age.
3. I changed the routine to make it go with the music, thus making my colleagues really mad at me.
4. They had an animator MC guy who entertained the mostly female audience between numbers, thus making this fifteen minute routine go on for, I kid you not, more than four hours.
5. The Samurai karate guy who had slapped me across the face during a free class we took with T four years ago was there.
6. He thought the dirty looks I were giving him were a kind of romantic overture.
7. He caught on and asked me why I was giving him that "face."
8. I told him why.
9. He smiled and slapped me lightly.
10. I slapped him back. Not so lightly.
11. He apologized.
12. I did not accept his apology.
13. My colleagues forgot to tell me we were alternating turns on the punching bag.
14. We were supposed to step up on the ledge of the punching bag to give the top of it an elbow slam.
15. Due to my lack of comprehension, I kept popping over that thing like a drunk, overly caffeinated, cuckoo clock.
16. Zumba was canceled due to the large number of Zumba people from other gyms.
17. Zumba was un-canceled and I kind of blacked out after that.
18. I gave the Samurai guy my special NY handshake and wished him a happy Christmas.
19. I forgot to say goodbye to my boss, thus erasing all good will of the season.
20. She gave me a hurt and offended look, but it was too late to turn back.
21. I looked over my shoulder at the Samurai guy and said, "Now, we're even."

This has nothing to do with anything. Welcome to my life.