Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our day in Pavia

The weather is hot here, unseasonably hot I hear. Today we are just "chilling" at home, trying to stay cool before Brandon has a birthday party to go to in a couple of hours.

Yesterday we spent an enjoyable day in Pavia, a town about an hour's drive south from our house. It is a beautiful little town, with some interesting sights to see and a history going back to Roman times. Unfortunately there is not a lot of information on the town in English but Patrick managed to research the history a bit online. Between that and the map we bought of the city when we got there, we saw a lot of interesting things!

As always, visit Patrick's blog for more details on our day and the places we visted, and go here for my photos of the day. I tell my stories more with pictures than words, so that is what you are going to get from my blog. :)

And maybe some comments on the creative process as I explore that more... Like the fact that I noticed yesterday that I am becoming more comfortable with carrying my "big" camera around. Not as in physical comfort, but not feeling or caring that I look odd. I was looking more for the details or the things that strike me. What would tell part of the story of our visit or what just caught my eye. That means that I am taking more pictures these days, and I have more that I like to share with everyone.

So beware, when you visit my albums, it may take a while. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Morning Light

This morning I woke up and couldn't ignore the morning light on the balcony flowers. You see, our bedroom has a set of glass doors that open out onto the balcony and we've been sleeping with them open because it's so hot. So I woke up to the beautiful morning light, and had to get up and get a few pictures.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday in Milano for the Giro d'Italia

Sunday afternoon was Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia in Milan, so we went downtown for the day. Funny how after a couple of trips it's no big deal to get to the Metro station and get into Milan - it seemed like such a project a few weeks ago!

Our plan was to arrive downtown by 9:30am so that we could get in early to see the Monet exhibit at the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace). This exhibit is "Monet: Time of the Water Lilies" and focused on the influences on Monet from Japanese art and gardens. He built a Japanese garden at his home in Giverny and that is where his water lily paintings were painted. There were 20 works of water lilies, weeping willows, reflections in the pond and the Japanese bridge in his garden, along with paintings and photographs of gardens from Japan that influenced Monet.

First off, can I just say, it was incredible to see some original Monet paintings and to enjoy them in person. To see the colors he used first hand - what a range! From soft, dreamy pastels to bold purples and greens, all intermixed to create the image. And then the texture - to see the brushstrokes up close, the places where the paint is thicker or fades out. It was amazing.

It was also fun for Brandon, because in his art class at school they had studied Monet and impressionism a little bit, so he liked to see it. I have to say, it makes me appreciate the Art@Adams program a lot more seeing now what Brandon has learned in art in just a couple of years of elementary school! At age 8 he has an appreciation for art that I am surprised at, but love.

It makes me want to learn how to paint with oils - the colors, the textures... I'm going to have to try it sometime! No pictures of the exhibit though, which is too bad, but also just fine because the pictures just would not do the paintings justice. Looking in the books right after seeing the paintings was disappointing, because the colors were just not right!

From the exhibit we went up on the roof of the Duomo, it was open and Brandon was dying to go up! It's a nice view of the city, and so different from the "downtown" of your average US city. There are no skyscrapers, for one. The streets aren't laid out in the typical grid pattern we are used to. There are all sorts of bell towers and church domes dotting the skyline. Different.

The rest of the day was spent watching the Giro d'Italia! It kicked off about 1:30pm. Mike came down and we wandered from the Duomo and Castello area over to the Porta Venezia area of Milan, following the course and seeing the riders from different locations. We ended up at Mike's new apartment to see it and also the last lap of the race a block or so from his place. From there we took the Metro back and headed home. A long, hot, sunny day but fun! Of course there are pictures - go here.

On days like yesterday, it is just so amazing to think that we live here and can do all of these things in one day!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Shoes

The weather has been warming up and I have no shoes to wear to work that don't require socks. Ugh. Too warm! I hate socks in the summer! My feet need to breathe... In Corvallis, I would be wearing my crop pants and Birkenstocks to work if the weather was this warm, but that just isn't quite right here. :)

Today I was in the city center of Vedano al Lambro to put in my application for residency, and there was a street market. These markets move around, every town has one on certain days of the week. They sell food, plants, household items and clothes too! So as I wandered by I took a look and found these cute shoes, so now I can go to work without socks!

(Taken in the park by our house, where we went to play this afternoon.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Brandon's "Stages of Friendship"

Brandon has a new friend, Naruyuki, who he really likes at school. He and I met his family at the park last Sunday so that they could play together, they get along really well. Naruyuki's Mom is Japanese and his Dad is Italian.

We were talking last night about seeing if they are free for a playdate on Saturday. Brandon started said something like, "Maybe someday we can have a sleepover, but we aren't to that stage yet." He then proceeded to tell us the stages of friendship:
1. Play date at the park
2. Play date at your house for a couple of hours
3. Come over for lunch
4. Come over for dinner
5. Sleep over

We jokingly added Step 6: Visit each other in Oregon or Japan.

Where does he come up with this stuff? He even mentioned it again this morning, something about "we aren't to that stage yet...", I don't even know what he was talking about.

I wonder what detailed process and stages he will come up with once he starts dating!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Latest with the Living Room

I don't know why, but a priority for me here is decorating the apartment to make it ours! We found a great but LARGE picture on our first IKEA trip, so we had to measure the car to see if we could get it home (we have a tiny little Fiat Idea). Turns out, yes, we could, but pretty much only one of us could go because we needed to put the seats down and it would fill the entire back of the car. So yesterday after work I went to IKEA and picked up the pictures along with the cool red clock I wanted that was out of stock last time. Along with a picture frame for the picture of our nephew (thanks Brookie!) I think we are pretty well set in this room.

So, here it is, what do you think?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Relaxing Weekend

This weekend is closer to home for us! Yesterday, we figured out the bus to the city center of Monza, the beautiful city that we almost live in. (We are one street from the city limit.) Monza is famous for the Parco di Monza (largest enclosed park in Europe!) and the Autodromo (for all of your big motor sport needs). The city center is a 10 minute bus ride away. A few Monza pictures are here.We found a nice exhibit of art from prints in a little gallery inside a building in the city center, the exhibit was called "il paesaggio Delieato." Amazing to see these prints, some dating back to the 1500's!!! We wandered around the city center, found our way around town, found the train station, and of course, watched a few trains come through. We had a nice lunch on the Lambro river where I had a fabulous assortment of Italian cheeses with marmalade and honey. Mmmmmmm. We'll be spending a lot of time here since we live so close, I'm sure.

This morning Brandon and I drew some pictures. I've been spending more time in some artistic endeavors. Thanks to my sister for giving me some nice pencils and paper for my birthday last year! I've been wanting some color and our shipment hasn't arrived yet, so we went to the

I love that I see things differently when I draw than when I take pictures. It makes me slow down and see the light and shadows on the object, the color, the angle, everything in a more detailed way. It slows me down. Life doesn't have to always be busy.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saturday in Como

Patrick and Brandon seem to want to see the things I've already seen, maybe because of the pictures I've taken, so Saturday we drove north to the town of Como on Lake Como. We rode up the funicolare (incline train) to Brunate, walked around, took a one hour boat ride on the lake, and found the hobby/model store I had seen on my first visit. Pictures are here.

It was an enjoyable day and we came home tired and thirsty! Patrick promised me that next time we would visit someplace new for me, because I joked that we keep going to places I've already been, and it's hard to come up with new angles for my photos.

One good thing - I was able to buy the tickets for the boat ride completely in Italian! Including asking and answering a couple of questions. A simple thing, but an accomplishment none the less.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A beautiful day in Milan

It may just be that I update my blog here once a week. :) That's about the rate I seem to do it! For the everyday updates Patrick's blog is the place to go, and I'll post more pictures periodically.

It was another busy week this week - with our cultural training and meetings in the mornings for Immigration, taxes, setting up a bank account, ordering TV service. There was something almost every day this week! It makes for a tiring and sometimes overwhelming week, but I made it through ok and we are closer to just having "normal life" all set up.

Friday was a holiday in Italy, and the weather was marvelous, so we went into Milan for the day! Patrick said "I've finally seen something in Italy!" because while we've gone into Milan, it was for a meeting and there was no sightseeing. Brandon had been itching to see the Duomo, his smile was amazing. He really wanted to go up on the roof, but it wasn't open, so we'll have to go back. And hey, we have time!

We visited the Duomo, Galleria, Castello, and had lunch and gelato on Via Dante. See pictures of our day in Milan here. We hardly scratched the surface of the city but we had a fun time, enjoyed the sunshine with all of the Italians, and did it without stress. A beautiful day!