Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Painting and Trip Musings

Finished another painting! This was almost done before our trip, I just needed to add some of the darker areas of the flower and the shadows. I've realized that a painting is never finished, you just have to declare "Done" and move on. Hmmmm... maybe that's a lesson in life for us perfectionist types!

Our trip to Amsterdam, the Rhine River Valley and Germany was interesting! You can read all of the details on Patrick's blog. An interesting thought, since I don't scrapbook anymore the online albums I post plus Patrick's blog are our new scrapbook. I'll get to pictures eventually but since I took somewhere around 2000 of them it will take me a while. And I need to start a new painting now so that will of course take some of my time away from picture sorting. :)

A few musings on the trip...

- It was so much easier to travel within Europe than I expected! I'm sure part of it is the travel time is short and we didn't have to deal with jet lag, but I think another part is that by living in a foreign country we've learned how to adapt, learn the ways of doing things, etc. A "Europe trip" used to seem like such a big deal but it was as easy as any other vacation.

- You can't really get an idea of culture from a visit to a place. I think living here and experiencing the culture of Italy in a day-to-day way has shown me how little you really learn of a culture by going on vacation and visiting. You get the tourist version of the culture, where you pick and choose the pieces you want to experience and can distance yourself from the parts you don't want. Or the place you visit does it for you, by catering to what a tourist wants. That's not to say that you don't learn something about a place, a culture, a way of life by visiting; that you don't expand your horizons my travelling; that you can't have a different experience by getting off the beaten path - it's just doesn't have the depth of learning that you get by living in a place. I would never have thought that if we weren't living here now.

- My high school German still exists in my brain! I was able to use it quite a bit and more came the longer we were there. Of course, I came back here and for the first day couldn't say a thing in Italian because the German kept coming, but hopefully eventually my brain will get more comfortable switching between the two. It does make it easier to know some things. I'm going to be a mess when we travel to France or Spain... :)

- I am just getting an appreciation for so much more about how culture and geography and history shape all of us in ways we don't even realize. I thought of myself as an individual before, but I'm clearly an American individual. Shaped so much more than I thought by what surrounded me for my whole life. We have such a short history in America compared to other places. A relatively safe and sanitized life. Our whole outlook and psyche and approach to life is shaped by that in ways that I didn't even realize, until I started to see and understand more of other places. Not for good or for bad - it just is. But I think without understanding that we can't have a deeper understanding of the world we live in, the conflicts that exist and how to resolve them. We can't have a deeper understanding of our selves.

Enough musings for today, I hope everyone has a great day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Three months...

Well, today is the official 3 month mark! I have been in Italy for 3 months. If I were visiting or without the appropriate paperwork, I would have to leave now or be illegal. :) Good thing I have the paperwork!

It finally feels like we are settled in, have a routine and things are becoming more normal. Of course, there are still lots of adventures - like the car that was in our garage (which is gone today, by the way) - and I'm sure there will be many more.

I've learned some good stuff so far though... about letting go, going with the flow, and just enjoying things as they come. I've found that I love parmagiana, piadina and barbaresco wine. That I have more hours in my day for things I enjoy than I would have thought. Lots of good stuff!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Interesting end to the day...

I came home from work today, pulled into the parking garage, unlocked our garage and... there was another car in there! Crazy. We don't know how or why or who, but there is another car in our garage. The only thing that we can figure is that I accidentally left it open and someone pulled in thinking it was their garage. Weird.

I posted pics of our visit to the Castello di San Sebastiano da Po. What a beautiful place! It completely inspired my photography. I could have spent all day just in the greenhouse.

I hope you enjoy these!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brandon's project

Brandon was missing Tasha this last week so I helped him work on a project to make a small Tasha scrapbook. Earlier this week we went through our digital photos and picked Brandon's favorites, printed them out and Brandon started to put together the scrapbook using a kit I had brought with me from the US.Today we worked together to put the finishing touches on it, things he couldn't do himself like ribbon and buttons. He did a fantastic job and he is very proud of it! It also served to harness his "sad" energy over Tasha into something positive that he can look at when he is missing her.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Torino Pics

Today I edited and uploaded pictures from our day in Torino. You can find them here. Pictures of Castello San Sebastiano da Po, where we stayed the night after Torino, will follow in a day or two.

On the drive home from this trip, we were all in the car doing our usual road trip things. Patrick was driving, I was looking out the window and Brandon was reading. It was so normal that I got a little jolt when I realized that we were doing these normal things in Italy! I took a picture of the road signs on the Autostrada (highway) just to prove it.
It is amazing to be here and to get to do all of these things. We are very, very lucky.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A good day

Today was a random good day. Lots of good days lately, actually. We got a box of goodies from my Mom (thanks Mom!) that included the quilt she made me with the wonderful cat fabric I fell in love with earlier this year. Now I will smile and think of her whenever I see it! Brandon immediately started to negotiate a joint ownership of the quilt - "I'll share mine with you Mom!" he says with a smile.

Have I mentioned that my Mom is amazingly talented at lots of things? Just look at this...(Mom, if you are reading this, Patrick is a bit jealous of our quilts and would like to order up a quilt with Bronco fabric, when you have a minute or two!)

OK, here's a joke for you...

Q: How many Italians does it take to decipher an Italian power bill?

A: Three, of course!
Here are three of our Italian coworkers Fabio (who actually has moved to Corvallis), Paola and Gianluigi trying to read through Mike's first power bill. It is crazy, the bill says he used 192kWh in 6 days. Even with all of their language skills and advanced degrees they were still trying to figure it out when I left work today. :)

And finally... here is my boy with his "summer" haircut. It's so hot here he sweats like crazy so I finally talked him into a short cut and he'll let it grow out again this year for school. Isn't he getting big?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekend & Pics of Bellagio and Varenna

Wow, where have I been? Sick last week! Had a great day on Monday, everything was normal going to bed, Tuesday woke up totally sick and spent the rest of the week crawling back to health. I finally finished sorting, editing and uploading pics of our little getaway to Bellagio and Varenna in June! Check them out here.

This weekend Becky and Michelle, friends of mine from work, were here from the US. This was the last weekend of their two week trip to Europe and they fly out today. It was so much fun to have them here for a couple of days. (Small plea for others to come do the same!)

Saturday we wandered around downtown Milan, seeing a few sites and generally trying to avoid the heat! Unfortunately, Patrick got sick and he and Brandon didn't come in for the day. Here we are outside the aquarium in Milan - it was free and nicely air conditioned!

Sunday Mike took Becky and Michelle to Como for the day while I hung out at home with Brandon since Patrick was sick. Thankfully he was feeling better, and we all met up for dinner at a fun all-you-can-eat pizza restaurant in Milan, along with a few of our Italian friends that Becky and Michelle know from working on the project last year. A good time was had by all!