Monday, December 28, 2009

And the child was born!!!

One year has gone...so fast.
The last two Christmases I haven't been so much into celebrating or decorating.
This year my baby boy turns one and this is a very special occurrence itself.

And...last year, as you might well imagine, I was very much concentrating on myself and on "how the delivery would be" and - most important - how fast it would be.
If you've ever heard stories of endless deliveries - which are very common with first borns - just forget about that.

Since I had spent about three hours in delivery room for Carlotta, it was for me quite obvious that it would be faster with the second child.
The fast and the furious.

I like to start the story with me having the first contraction while drinking tea and eating cookies but I will spare the details because I don't want to upset your stomach after the feasts.
Let's just say that Bastian was born 2 hours and 15 minutes after that first contraction and again I got tea and cookies as a treat...
The midwife meant I could also have a shower and start off as if it all had been a spa session.


So here are a few pictures of Bastian's first year



one day old



six months old at Grandma's




with "big sister"





first (American) love - you ain't getting any!!!




crawling on the carpet at the lab



sitting and smiling...?




sleepyheads on futon




winter outfit


Happy birthday Bastian, sweetheart!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas is in you...wait, in me....


MERRY CHRISTMAS!



My daughter asked a few days ago if Santa was allowed to go to stores and buy everything without going through the cashiers...Smart girl!

Monday, December 21, 2009

White - and wet- Christmas

On Saturday it was snowing on Long Island, too.
This is probably a snow landscape I hadn't seen before, even if there were snowy winters in Venice when I was a kid - and this year too, to tell the truth.
Have a look at this...isn't it amazing?

Very beautiful pics of the snow on Long Island were posted by Bill Drago on The Long Island Blog.

What am I doing while the snow is still on the ground?
Bake cookies: I took the chance to try a recipe I got from my friend Marge.
Usually I am very experimental with sweet stuff, which means everything turns out a bit different from expected...and actually I did add a secret ingredient.
Still, these cookies will be renamed "Marge's cookies", because I like the idea that there is a person behind every recipe.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mi spiego

Caro XXX

c' era un tempo in cui avevo due mani.
E due occhi, due orecchie, due gambe...solo per me.
Ora niente mi appartiene: qualsiasi cosa io faccia devo essere vigile affinché i bambini non si facciano male, possano essere sazi, riposati, ascoltati...

Ecco, anche ascoltare qualcos'altro che non siano i pianti, le richieste o i loro racconti non è semplice; ció che prima davo per scontato, come poter sentire i miei programmi preferiti alla radio, ora appartiene a un passato quasi dimenticato.
Dico quasi, perché io - pur affetta da una memoria traballante - non ho scordato in quale particolare circostanza le nostre vite si sono incrociate: ascoltando la radio.
Allora, una sera d'estate, ascoltavo musica per consolarmi o per passare il tempo e scrivevo come una dannata per trovare scampo alle mie frustrazioni e per sopportare la tortura che mi pareva allora infinita.
Non è ancora finita del tutto ovviamente, sennó non sarei qui a spiegarti.

Beh, ti diró che di quella particolare circostanza non ho un vero e proprio ricordo, ma una scatola di madelaine proustiane sempre a portata di mano - quella che rimane libera: mi scorrono difronte le immagini del film "Dopo mezzanotte", di una Torino e della sua Mole vista solo piú avanti e mi rimbombano nella testa le canzoni dei Subsonica, anche quelli vissuti solo successivamente.
Anni dopo, a Berlino, scrissi un articolo in tedesco dedicato a quella Torino che conoscevo anche grazie a Culicchia; il mio primo scritto in lingua tedesca convinse l' insegnante a leggere "Tutti giú per terra" - potere delle parole.

Ma l'incrociarsi delle nostre vite non é legato soltanto a questa cittá.
Dici di essere stato piú volte a Venezia, l'isola a forma di pesce, dove incontrare qualcuno che si conosce diventa questione di fondamenta e calli percorse in momenti distinti, parallelamente magari, eppure mai insieme.
Venezia non si conosce mai completamente fosse solo per il suo cambiare colore continuo, perció scelgo ogni volta una calle diversa, pensando di osservare chissá quali volti.
A volte mi sento seguita, non da qualcuno in particolare ma da immagini, ombre, maschere.


Sempre a Venezia ricordo di averti odiato.
Forse é una parola un po' forte...credo di essermi molto arrabbiata, dovendo fotocopiare un mare di fogli che non hanno forse piú ritrovato il lore ordine originale - generalmente leggere una lettera venti o trenta volte va bene, poi peró si mette via e non ci si pensa piú.
Venire a sapere che tutta quella fatica e quel disordine sono stati invano beh...mi fa ancora un po' arrabbiare.
Tanto, dirai tu, siamo sempre su un' isola diversa.

Ora come allora

Wishing well.










Friday, December 11, 2009

Warming up my heart!

In a freezing cold December day, after fighting with my daughter who is - if you ask me what's wrong with her - possessed by evil spirits from time to time...I find support in GUESS WHAT?

CHOCOLATE

I don't necessarily eat kilos of it at once, but I need some.
Thanks to the kind people who know me so well and instead of flowers just bring me a bar of dark chocolate (more than 70% cacao that is) as a present.
Sorry for those who bring flowers, I like them a lot but it obviously ain't enough to keep them alive. Sigh.

Said that, I will post my last Japan pics, those of Shikoku. I wish we had more time to visit this wonderful area of Japan - will there be a next time?I don't know.




In the distance you can se the Seto Ō-hashi bridge 瀬戸大橋 that connects Honshu with Shikoku, namely the beautiful old city of Kurashiki in Okayama-ken and that of Sakaide in Kagawa-ken, stretching for 13 km over five islands on the Seto Sea.






If you ever happen to stop here, there is a Kinokuniya bookstore and the second best gelato - maccha gelato!!! - we had during this trip.



Bicycle parking - why don't we have those in Europe?


We spent two nights in a cheap hotel - tatami room! - in Takamatsu, the capital of Kagawa-ken, which is interesting and odd at the same time. The harbor area isn't that bad, the station is also close, but still the city center is located further south.
Well, it isn't probably so strange. If you think that tsunami 津波 are nothing exceptional here, it is quite reasonable to have a downtown separated from the harbor. Also, the original meaning of tsunami is "harbor wave".

Downtown Takamatsu means a connection of shopping arcades - I love them, you can walk and be kind of outside but you are covered if the weather is bad - under which people ride their bicycles like mad.
Riding a bicycle is very common in Japan.
It's not the lawless riding of Chinese people but nevertheless - being the rules kind of exoteric - it requires a certain wariness.





I do love this ad, isn't it sweet?



View over Takamatsu from Yashima peninsula


This peninsula is nothing but a lava plateau - i.e. a large and rather flat surface formed by a fast outpouring of lava out of the crust.
Looking at the area around Yashima one can observe the layers that form the peninsula itself.




On the peninsula, the Yashimaji, number 84 of 88 pilgrimage temples in Shikoku.




Near the main temple hall you'll find a Tanuki temple.
Tanuki are Japanese raccoons, famous in folk tales for their mischievous attitude and ability to disguise themselves.
Some seem to be naughtier than other, but mostly those you find outside restaurants are benevolent ones - don't worry!


view of the islands in front of Takamatsu from the observation point


After two days in Takamatsu, where we also visited the city museum and the exhibition "It's a Rumic world", we took the ferry to Ikeda port in Shodoshima, also called Olive Island because of the olive cultivation, that was actually the first in Japan.
As you'd expect from a place where olives can grow, the climate was very pleasant, still warm during the day and just a bit fresher in the evening - I can never get enough of it!!!

The Ikeda ferry terminal area was pretty much a ghost town: no restaurants, no convenient stores...sure enough there were vending machines - is there a vending machine goddess yet?

Anyway, we took the east-bound bus and, after couple of adventurous stops, we landed in a dismissed bikers hotel where we got a room with a view on the harbor.

Not bad!


But this was also in a very sleepy area, namely Sakate, where the ferry to Osaka only run in summer and where all shops were closed.
Very odd, but very beautiful anyway.



You can judge the dimensions of the house looking at the stroller on the right side...



We had - at least - a bus station in walking distance...



After visiting Shōdoshima we returned on our steps in direction of Tōkyō with a short stop in Himeji - which I didn't really like - and a night in Kōbe.
Should you ever need an hotel in Kōbe, you can ask me anytime for advice..(I guess I know most of them NOW because we had to find a room and had no reservation on a week-end where they were all booked out - what a pain!!).

Our last night we were in a hotel in Tōkyō, Asakusa, where we had the top best maccha gelato!!!
But not before having dinner, of course.

The soup that makes us soo happy!!



And of course a stroll around Asakusa Temple and to the Kaminarimon.
-sigh- Japan, how beautiful!!!

Despite all her contradictions and the obvious diversity with any western country, this is for me still a land to fall in love with.

With that I won't bother you anymore and will go on telling about the life on the other Island.

Ruggito del Coniglio - La Bella e la Bestia - Atto III

una favola per mia figlia

Thursday, December 10, 2009

9 and 10

As much as I promised myself NOT to follow the Advent Calendar tradition, as much as I tried to avoid stuffing my daughter with presents she doesn't need, you can be sure that she is having this year too a nice treatment. Which she doesn't deserve, because she doesn't do anything to make ME happy. But is it the role of kids or the role of parents to make one happy?

Bet you know the answer.

And it's nice to see her smiling face every morning when she gets up - usually she would be in a very bad mood, no matter if she has slept 7 or 12 hours!!! - because she knows there is a small packet waiting to be open by her anxious hands.

She really gets small stuff, like Xmas stamps, a colorful soap, small books, stickers...

But this year I've got a present too. We. No, me. It's me the "at home" parent, so I am the one using that more often. It's an internet radio, so I can listen to my favorite programs.
I love some Italian radio programs.
Some.
Some I hate.
The noisy kind irritates me.
Besides there are radio speakers who talk like dockers. Seriously, why do I have to listen to that language even when they are talking about important issues?
And why on hell is this happening during the day when lot of kids are home and listen to such crap?

Aren't we earning already a bad reputation abroad?Aren't we trying to get rid of this bad reputation?
Well, yes, if there is radio SOMEONE out of their own little bunker is listening!

I get angry about that, because this offensive language is one reason Italians aren't taken seriously and guess what?Here there are a lot of second or third generation Italians who are proud or at least want to be proud of their background. So I am getting angry for them too.
Obviously I don't listen to this kind of programs, if not by accident, and I don't want to promote censorship, just...are good manners really so unimportant?Aren't non-said words often funnier than those that are repeated until we drop?

Maybe I am an old lady inside, anyway it suits to my habit of looking for coins out of my purse 'till the cashier cries.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

6, 7, 8 busy bee.

On Sunday we did make it to the City, managed to find a free parking spot not far from Moma and we enjoyed the Bauhaus exhibit...Carlotta was busy eating her candy necklace and she didn't complain much and Bastian was fine.
Visiting museums with kids isn't always a piece of cake - and if you add to it that in winter you need half an hour to get dress, then undress and maybe go to the restroom just when you would like to see the last rooms or the last work of art then it all becomes more a stress than a pleasure.

I am very glad though that Carlotta liked at least one of the works of Bauhaus: a stained glass composition of Albers, that is.
Well, it was colorful and very pretty and not so strict like many of the other works of art.

No, let's don't start a discussion about art, I am trying to think with the mind of a four year old girl.

To turn this a bit, I'll tell you about the game she wanted to play yesterday afternoon: she said we were supposed to play "mom with son and daughter". She was to be the mom.
It was very interesting, 'cause she asked me where I wanted to go and so I started acting like she would sometimes - maybe exaggerating a bit.
"I want to go to NYC, no...I want to go to the library...no, I want to go eat ice-cream". She was kind of surprised but accepted the "eat ice-cream" option"saying "OK, but one scoop chocolate ice-cream in a small cone" and on I went "No, two scoops in a large cone" and she "A small cone for you and a big one for me"..."No, I will be eating ice-cream, not you!!!".

And there she pull out the lesson: "If you are acting like this, then you won't eat any ice-cream".

Did I ever complain she is not listening to me?There you go, "mom".

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Three, four and five...

I am very bad at counting, very bad in sticking to plans and schedules, in a word...busy mom of two kids.
We had a quite intense week, even though we didn't do unusual things.
Bastian is very active, which means he tries to walk along any walls, or just crawls away to be found in the most inappropriate places of the house, so whatever I am doing there are interruptions and lot of running around involved.
It's fun, but it always seems there is no way to finish what one begins.

The weather was also kind of crazy lately, one day you needed to wear just a sweat-shirt, the next day you needed a winter coat, so we had to plan our activities accordingly.
Yesterday was a wonderful day, one of those that makes you want to walk along the beach and collect pebbles - how many did I collect in the last months I don't know - but the wind was so strong that in the end I decided to just have a walk in Port Jefferson, which is one of the nicest towns on the North Shore, with a harbor and some nice shops.

Without the wind it was very enjoyable.

Today we were forced to stay home being unpleasantly rainy, windy and very cold.

Anyway, the weather forecast is good for tomorrow: it should be cold but sunny and we plan to go to NYC, hopefully it will work.
We'd like to visit the Museum of Natural History or the Moma: if Nikolaus is bringing enough diversions for Carlotta then even modern art is fine.
Don't know what she will think about Bauhaus, but maybe the Tim Burton exhibition could amuse her for a while.

Ralph has bought a second car - how bad is it that we got to this?
But truth is that he needs a car to go to work and I need a car to go around with the kids.
With that I like driving less than before, but there is no escape....

Happy Nikolaus!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

TWO

Two, like two shots against the flu...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ONE

December OMG!!!
That's my blog-advent calendar.

Traditionally, I would have a Xmas Tree...
But when I moved to Berlin I had a brilliant idea, look at that!!!For Ralph's happiness.