Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Good morning . .  
So I woke up late because I went to sleep late. F wasn't in bed. He wasn't in the house. I checked the email. Meagan was writing from Colorado about an earthquake. She said everyone was fine. I looked at the New York Times and it turned out the earthquake was in Italy, 100 miles from Rome. Then I remembered that Ian and his family are in Rome! I did a google map search to check on them. I called F. He said not to panic he was with the police. He had been giving Paul some donations from our parked car and a police squad surrounded them and checked their documents. Fraser tried to explain calmly that Paul has a job and a bank account and the right documents and that he was just coming over to check out some winter blankets that someone was donating. Paul got upset and the police searched his bag and started asking more questions. F took the opportunity to speak to the only understanding and English speaking officer about encouraging him to realize how hard our friend is trying to integrate into Italian society. My India Arie ring tone. Tina was calling. She takes a long time to say good morning. It turned out she was not in labor, but wanted to know if I could bring a thing to her house. She did not know the word for stapler, but did a damn good job describing one quiz show style until I guessed it. Note to self: save Tina as a phone friend next time I get invited to participate in a television quiz show (big money).Then I noticed that our boss had written us five emails asking us increasingly more pointed questions. And I noticed an inquiry on the part of a potential student. Then F came home and the buzzer rang. It was just a delivery. Then I had a cup of coffee. The End. 
These photos were brought to you by the letter Oy and the number 9 3/4.
Track number 9 3/4??
Just waiting   
We are just soaking up the last days of summer vacation, waiting for Tina to have her baby. I'm not gonna lie: t is a little nerve wracking waiting for the call. We sleep with the phones charging next to the bed and we have a bag packed and a change of outfit just in case.

In the meanwhile, we went to Fabio's birthday party. I thought that we were finally going to be cool for once and arrive fashionably Italian late, but we got there and it seemed all of the other guests were part of young families with jumpy youngsters who we made wait for the Americans before they could start eating. All that coolness was not wasted because due to the seating plan, I spent the whole night wining and dining a little girl and her littler brother. With me and Matilde it was love at first sight. She not only is very good at hide and seek, but her knowing glances and eye rolls while her brother told me everything about "the ulka" who turns out to be the Hulk for all you Americans out there who are up on the Avengers. He was a cute little dude, made only cuter by his impassioned hand gesturing. Francesca did the most, as she is known love herself a carbohydrate in her kitchen. Dinner was not only appetizers, filo dough everything with Philadelphia cream cheese, but two more main courses including a massive hunk of white lasgna with beans, and three different types of mini pizzas with quiche. I fed F like he was my dog, passing him plate after plate because this was not my first time at this particular kind of Italian rodeo.

Fabio & Francesca

making new friends

You know your Italian is getting better when it passes the seven year old comprehension check!

We also found the motherload of donation givers in singer Vanessa Peters. Here we are looking like we just got roles in Lin Manuel Miranda's updated version of West Side Story:

On set!

I am getting more and more worried that my friend Ian's first visit to Lucca for one day only is going to involve a backdrop of Pistoia's Hospital and Hurricane Tina.

Before I forget, here are some more beautiful photos of T with her new friends from Harvard Summer Program:

T and Jelena

plugged in



the whole group!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

  Arrivederci America!  
T came home from the USA. She had an unforgettable summer and loved Harvard, getting to visit with her Uncle Laurence, seeing Meagan and Stephen and the girls in Colorado, and visiting with her grandparents in New York. 

What a sweet group!
Nobody looks out for you like your uncle!

She went to Harvard, the real one . . just saying.

T and Sally

Sorry, but this all looks so Gilmore Girls .. 

diner situation

adorable (sorry I've never been away from her for two whole months!)

July 4th, it's been so long since we saw something so American!

Jelena, hopefully, will come visit because she is from Serbia.

They don't sleep much at Harvard.

public speaking class!

perhaps it was a bit stressful . . .

Our girl's got solo miles.

super cuties!

Outdoor Beauty

plus they went to TarGET

and hiking!

yup, apparently she met some deer and a 3 ft. long snake.

converted mountain girl



Vivi, designer in training.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

House Party
This isn't the summer I imagined, but it will be a memorable one for sure. Ten days and roughly 1,200 euro later and the house for Tina, Job, Emmanuel and their friends is finished. 

I am thinking that their landlords are on vacation because they never got back to me about the broken heater, which is not surprising, but they did not get back to me about the receipts, which is strange. I sent them these before and after photos, as well. 


Kitchen Electric Stuff

Tina and Job's room



please notice the new shelf paper in the kitchen

Emmanuel's room is so much better!

Today we took Tina to the "good" hospital that is near her house, but is not 80 years old with the last generation equipment like the one nearer to her house to get them to open a file for her so she will be accepted there when she goes into labor. It turns out that the receptionist is in trouble for not taking appointments by phone, but the whole staff seems to be covering for her. The doctor at the women's health clinic told us to go in person. We waited where we were told, but no one every called for us to enter. When F did his tall, clueless American routine and walked in, the lady who we need to do the paperwork said that it wasn't our fault, but that we had been ill advised by this doctor who had the nerve to send people to her. Meanwhile, F saw that she was doing nothing while we were waiting but twiddling her thumbs. We asked her and her coworkers to help us make an appointment and do the right thing because I know enough about Italy to not piss off the very people who will be able to make our lives wonderful or miserable when Tina is in labor. I kissed her ass in a rather impressively expansive way and she opened her magic appointment book, which was largely blank despite all her bellyaching, and she gave us an appointment to come back tomorrow for the magic Italian second-try appointment at . . 8 AM. This means another early 6 AM wake up for us during vacation. The rewards of this refugee aid process are huge but well spaced and hard to locate. It is my version of Pokemon Go, the burnt out social worker edition. 

spying on the new families

me getting how to italian grandma advice

a new babbo

so carino!

We then went to the comune of Montecatini to get Tina her residency papers so she can get a pediatrician and food stamps. I think we inadvertantly might have gotten her housemate in trouble for never paying the garbage tax, but that is a story for another day. We got her magic paper stamped and then dropped her off to go shopping for an overnight bag and pajamas. It turns out that when I advised her to pack a hospital bag, she got stuck at phase one which was not having neither a bag nor pajamas. Then we drove like an extra two hours out of our way to go back to IKEA and drop yet more money on a mattress for Emmanuel who has had a spring sticking into his back for months. There was a weird lottery system where you had to pick up the mattress at an Ikea storage facility outside of the store where there was a pizza tree and other magic delights. I got so punchy that when the pierced, tattooed, and new age mulleted clerk told us that he could not find our mattress, I turned him around and pointed behind the stock room doors and told him that the little guy, meaning the mattress, had just waved at me through the window and wanted to come home, please. That's me. Making bizarre jokes in a second language.

at the comune

bless you, comune di Montecatini, for being relatively efficient

notice the little noose they have at the IKEA pick up center . . not for nothing.

dante's furniture limbo/inferno

the IKEA pizza tree (don't ask)