Thursday, August 29, 2013

fancy gym angst, luna parks, and cheese avoidance
Sweating torrents of icy fear, I went back to meet with Giacomo, my boss, today. He has gone out of his way to be accomodating in finding a trainer for T at minimum cost, and has gone comparison shopping for the kind of balls (insert ball joke here) I need for this season's mat work, and obviously he went so far as to coach various staff members to hug me on sight. I don't know if you've ever been hugged by people who don't really like you, but it is a fast, tight embrace that becomes terrifying only when you see the anger flash behind their eyes as they quickly turn away from you afterwards and shun any further conversation. Even the gym owner shook my hand, but come to think of it, he probably would have kissed anyone else on both cheeks. It still beats a head lock, if you know what I mean. Ricky.

During the meeting, I took out my trusty yellow notebook, which, as you know, is required for all official meetings, and in which I rewrote properly and in Italian. It was with full on dismay that I jotted down the date of the upcoming all staff meeting from nine o'clock until eleven at night and -even worse- the date for the all day "team building" event which will take place on my one day off and will last twelve hours and will take place in an as of yet undisclosed location. When Giacomo talks about surprises what he really means is something horrendous is going to be laid on me at the last minute. Surprise you have scurvy! Surprise you're standing in quick sand! Surprise . . .you get the point. Also tricky micky that he is, the contract that he said would be identical to my last contract is about ten pages longer and completely different. It is for ten months of work without any vacation time and it says that I could have to pay a penalty if I quit ahead of time. My legal advisor (hi there, legal advisor) assures me that it wouldn't be worth it for them to take me in front of a judge in that case and is only meant to scare me. Good times.

Meanwhile T had a lovely day at the pool with her friend Caoimhe and then at the Luna Park together with Giorgia.

The girls just found out that Caoimhe is relocating to Madrid for this school year and so they are spending a lot of time together before school starts.

Is this the same girl who refuses to ride backwards on the train because she gets car sick???:

I had dinner with my loyal friends Alessandra, Monica, and Giada who call themselves Sex and the City, part 2. We went to a restaurant with a rather grim waitress named The Assassin/L'assassino in Viareggio by the sea. Everything had cheese and poppy seeds in it for some reason and I had to have a grim salad in preparation for my re-entry at work on Sunday. They loved the nail decals I brought back for them from London and it was a really nice night, even though I only understood 50% of what was said, if that.

Food made with cheese covered in cheese.



Sorry I forgot to add these vacation photos before now:
Abundant Irish breakfast!

Those are happy faces. . .

This is T pretending to be in an action film. To be clear: the car is not in motion.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

home dolce home

We made it back without being arrested.

Other families just hope to come home in one piece after a flight. We are a little more complicated. The vultures that do check-in at the gate RyanAir swooped down on our overstuffed luggage, the checked part of which was already reduced in volume by some hair products and some snacks due to the weight requirements. Don't ask me how we were 8 kilograms over the limit, but we were. I apologized to the check-in person at the RyanAir reception desk for not thinking of gifting him the leftovers until it was too late, but he tapped on his well-gelled head and said not to worry since he was awash in hair products as it was. F got into an argument with one of the snotty workers who were obviously charged with earning a certain some extra cash for the company by checking bags that could have fit under the seats if needed. In the end,  F stuffed poor Giorgia's case, to which we had added T's laundry bag, so aggressively into the rack that measures the size of carry-on luggage that he could barely get it out again. We paid and skulked away onto the very booked aircraft.

We came home to find a present of Duvel beer and a beer glass, as well as a huge green stain of magic marker on the couch with a white circle of smacchiatore/stain remover on top of it. Luckily, it did come out. There were also some little foot prints on the wall over the couch, but it was all worth it. Obviously, the absence of toys led to using the couch as both a gymnastic apparatus and a drawing tablet. No biggie. The restaurant owner downstairs has since told us that they were a lovely family.

F and I made it to the bus back to Lucca just as it was about to pull away from the stop, and T got a ride with Giorgia's family in their jeep. We arrived in the city only to find out that it was the notte bianca in which all of Lucca's stores stay open all night long and there is music and entertainment in many of the piazzas. It seemed like everyone was celebrating our return, but we were too tired to participate in full. Then there was a tremendous thunder storm that woke F up in the night and he had to go close all of the skylight windows. The restaurant under our house had to close for the day due to the fact that it was hit by lightening. They are back in business today. We are going to spend the week reconnecting with our friends most of whom are already back to work from their holidays and getting ourselves together for the start of school and the gym and English lessons, respectively.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bits and Bobs
Things I forgot to tell you are that the airport security check in which I had to get my mother and her artificial hip, her husband Jack and his cane and various bionic bits, T and her insulin pump and my illegitimate English daughter from another family through without microwaving T's medicine and getting us all arrested has gone swimmingly up to this point. Cross your fingers for the return trip.

Other fun facts: At the end of Master Chef television broadcast, the production company plays a little audio publicity that says "One potato, two potato" in a very English accent and T has repeated this phrase at least eight times a day since we left Tuscany.


Also whenever I get grumpy due to the enormity of preservatives in my food, the lack of caffeine in my system or the number of lumps in my pillows, T insists that we T-rex box which is the kind of boxing a tyranosauras would do given the length restriction of its arms. See exhibit A:

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Burren Beautiful
The girls came down to breakfast a bit late and in their famous onesies, much to the consternation of our fellow dining companions who were a sweet couple from Milano.

 We stopped off at the farmers' market in Kenvarah where we tasted the best raspberries of our lives along with a questionable pizza bagel that was so unlike a bagel and yet so very Irish that we renamed it a shmagel.

What's a smmagel?

I made a new friend and I apologize for not feeding a lump of sugar to you, new friend, but I wasn't sure how your people would feel about it or if you would bite my hand off.
I feel like you understood my failure to provide the lump of sugar. Next time, though.

I know T and I screwed up this picture, but the sun was inour eyes and it was the best we could do.

Horses made of brown bread or biscuits in Galway. Giddyapp!
Nooks & Deans & Spittle, etc.

We piled into the car with no baggage room, but this time we got the larger suitcases in the front seat and set off to get lost a bunch of times in yet another European country with no real street signs to speak of. From the drive alone, excluding the parts where T was belly-aching about her feet being numb from having no leg room, I knew I would love Ireland very much.

For lunch we did another very un-Jack friendly stop at a lovely restaurant where once again we did not allow him to order from a menu, see a wine list, or sit in a normal chair. He still seems to be speaking to us, which is good news. Nevertheless, I could never be sorry that we chose the Nook as our lunch spot of choice as it has the best veggie crepe in the whole land, and, as a bonus, we got to meet an up and coming celebrity musician by the name of Gavin Dean. If you have never heard of him before, you will now. In a few short weeks The Deans will be coming to New York's Webster Hall and Arlene's Grocery. No one can argue against Gavin working as a waiter in a place where a tall person, when sitting, can literally reach over and touch the kitchen counter, put their own food from the pan onto the plate and then serve their own damn selves on to the tiny little ledge of a bar that encircles the little mini dining area and all of its eight overly tall bar stools because he is very cute and adds a bit of charm to the already very charming place. Julie the owner and crepe chef is very lovely in her own right, but she doesn't have the whole poet with the silky voice thing going for her, which is just as well.

Me & Gavin

Having nooked as long at the Nook as was at all possible or realistic given its girth, we proceded to get very lost due to the whole lack of the signs with names on them issue. When there are signs, the fact that they have a massive amount of consonants in them that we can't pronounce doesn't help matters. When I tried to navigate in Irish I sounded like an angry dog with tourettes' syndrome and so it was really funny when F came back from the gas station laughing his head off. Eventually we got him to blurt out what was so funny. Apparently the gas station attendent had told him that in order to reach our B&B we had to go right through spittle. We made lots of spit jokes until we ran dry and then it started all over again. It turned out the town is actually called Spiddal, but that's a fraction less funny so we won't refer to it as such for the enhanced pleasure of your blog reading experience.

Finally we made it to Tuar Beag, good luck pronouncing that to ya. Siobhan is very lovely and she is the most expert hostess ever, immediately satisflying our need to understand her breakfast menu while simultaneously offering us homemade, glazed muffins. The rooms are adorable. They remind me of being a little girl and wishing that I could live in my dollhouse.

This is one of our beds because we have a choice of two in our room, but one is lightly lumpier.

T and Giorgia insisted in putting their feet in the water at this little beach by the inn. Unfortunately, T did it with her new pair of leather sandals still in tow. I made a lovely impression on the Irish families bathing with their dogs and their freckles as I tumbled over the rocks yelling,"What the F are you doing, you nutbag?" Followed by, "Shall we grab a spot of tea?" But by then it was too late.

We went to an extremely local neighborhood place for dinner where they had wonderful piri piri fries and cobbler for dessert. The highlight of the dinner was when my mom asked me if I remembered the name of that waitress who used to work at our old corner coffee shop growing up and I said, "You mean the one dad used to f--k?" and she said, "Yes, that one" and I said "No, but they made a mean bowl of wheaties." And then we went on to talk about how John F. Kennedy Jr. used to eat there, but he had less table side service. So now you all understand me a bit better.