Monday, May 31, 2010

Sometimes I am

Sometimes I am like the wind
gusting with rage against the trees,
not to stop, not out of malice, just earthly harmful
and sometimes I am like the pillar supporting a Greek temple,
there to sustain and hold, simple and pale.
...I am like the window through which you look at the rain
and through which you let the sun come in.
Sometimes I am like a bee,
busy searching for sweetness, a bit here and a bit there.
...I am like the shell, a protection for a less strong being,
scattered among thousands of shells which have an answer to every question of the wave.

Sometimes I am an airplane which cheerfully greets from above
to land in dark runways,
a pen you'd use to write special words ,
the crossword you can't solve right away,
the childish laughter you'd never expect.

Sometimes I am the fast pace and the slow breathing
to keep going ahead, no matter how steep the path.

An arm deprived Khali, an early morning thought, a tiny grain of sand,
the cup without any lid, sometimes I am.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Now for some relax...


I know it might sound quite utopian, but I promise to look as relaxed as in this picture for these days alone with the monsters kids.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wading River - Long Island


The big pond on North Country Road


Since my sister mentioned she is spending all of her time in Venice, and I know that springtime is the most beautiful season to be there, plus Sunday was wrapped by a mist so familiar (and so unhealthy!) I got a bit into a Venice-mood - which brought to my mind some of the things Long Island and Venice have in common.
Did you know that Venice is also fish-shaped?

Little digression.

On Sunday I ended up (literally, I was just trying to get out of the way) visiting Wading River.
Until few weeks ago, this place meant for me not more than the Wildwood State Park and the trailer park you'd see driving to there.
I thought of Wading River more or less as an abandoned place.
Truth is that the Park is great - even though, after the last nor'easter, erosion damaged a lot of its beach, so the concession stand on the deck overlooking the shore was (at least until last week) not accessible and it seemed to me nobody was going to take care of the problem. (Costs' cut?Unconcern?).

But, after more than a play-date at the Wading River beach's playground, I know there is more than the park.
On Sunday, in coincidence with a little craft-fair around the Duck Pond, I took the kids to this little hamlet and since the streets were closed to traffic I had my chance to have a quiet walk.
In particular, I decided to visit the Olivers Hill Cemetery - see, the mist was bringing some creepy thoughts.
I had been driving by it a couple of times and didn't want to believe the inscription saying "1696".
But then, I realized there were other signs mentioning that Wading River belonged to the town of Southold for some time, in the XVII and XVIII century.



Old tombstones at Olivers Hill Cemetery




So, together with Cutchogue and Greenport, Wading River was also settled by puritan families*. (You know I have an issue with religion, so some day I am going to write how this influences and shapes the spirit of a place).
The fact that this hamlet is indeed so old doesn't mean it is abandoned: there are a number of spots that remind me of those towns with no present and no future, but on Sunday I actually had the impression its community is very lively.

My usual destination is anyway very quiet and relaxed, as if it had been forgotten but by some wild child.
The beach (with the playground my kids love) is located on Creek Road (I love these old pictures), just few feet away from the creek that makes this place so appealing; although walking eastbound you might have the chance to cover more length, walking westbound you will come across its estuary.
And of course you'd view the ignominy that's the Shoreham power plant.
(And probably think "what the hell is this huge, colorless metal chunk doing there?")

The creek, with its meandering shape and its tidal moods is nevertheless attractive: if you take a look at it on a map, it will tell you "come". At least this is what it told me (and I am not hearing voices!).

As for the history of Wading River in more recent times, it is related with that of the nearby Camp Upton, the army's camp where soldiers were being trained for WWI and WWII - back then it was a compulsory conscription -a nd that became the site of the Brookhaven National Lab, where Ralph works and where we used to live during the first six weeks of our stay.
Sometimes I eat in the bunker-like cafeteria, just to mention one of the few oddities.

After the war, when the Camp didn't have any reason to exist anymore, and BNL was officially born (1947), some of the returning soldiers began creating a larger community in Wading River.


*Religion and the founding of the American Republic
is an interesting overview on the topic.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Talking to an Angel-o.

When I was telling you I would have had a more interesting conversation with my dad, I was being ironic.

I don't even have to wait until I call to know what we'll be saying: it's the standard exchange of two people who totally suck at phone calling:

"Hey!"
"Hey!"
"So?"
"So?"
"Congrats!"
"Thank you"
"How's everything?"
"Fine!" break.
"Good!" meditative break.
"How are the kiddos?"
"They are fine..." thinking break.
"Is it warm?"
"Well, it is warmer than last week..."
"Sorry, I didn't hear"
"It is warmer!"
Embarrassing break.

"Should I call your mother?"
"Alright"
"See you for Christmas, thank you, bye bye".

And that's it.

If I want to tease him I'll ask if he could eat some cake - which due to his hyperglycemia might sound insulting.

No way I am pushing him into real talking, it would be counterproductive.
After more than three decades I know better; and I've learned to read every sign, tone and expression.

Like when I do something he - in my place - would have done too and that my mother wouldn't approve of: his reaction wouldn't be more than a smile (puffing under his mustache), which is never supposed to be out of joy; it's more or less the "stamp of approval", the "ego te absolvo" and go in peace.

My mom would get a bit mad, as if we were allied in a silent battle and then she would just let go - because of all things she is not trying to change two donkeys into pleasing pets.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

When parents act unreasonably

May is phone-call month: most of the people in my family and also a good number of friends (and also my husband) decided they had to be born in May. 
How blame them?After June, this is a perfect month to come to the world.
Point is that I don't quite like phone-calls; if it wasn't for the kids I'd probably feel entitled to just call my family once a month. 
Why?
Because sometimes, talking with my mom, I have the impression she's got so many more important things to do...
"Sorry, I got to go out with my friends" or "Ok, now I'll do something useful" or "The pan is on the stove and my roast-beef must be burning" are some of the typical sentences my mom would use to quit our conversations. 
As if she was annoyed and as if I would be calling her every day.

Hey, what's the matter???

One of the things that make me hate calling is that she would always mention how much space our house has. What???
Did she see that?Nope.
Did I ever tell her we have a huge house?Nope.

Just because we were living in an apartment in Berlin, this doesn't mean that now we have lot more space. Not at all!
True, we have an upper floor, which we don't use because we don't need more bedrooms. Unless we have guests.
And it seems to me she is pissed because even though we have "so much room" she isn't our guest. That's ridiculous. And unfair!
I spent more than a phone-call trying to convince her to come over but no, no, no...excuses after excuses she doesn't want to.
What can I do about it?I won't be able to have her and someone else (because this is what she needs, someone to hang out with while I am busy doing something else). And this all "If you could just have come back sooner" doesn't sound so true. It sounds more like "At least, when you are in Berlin you can come over every two or three months and I don't have to do the effort to come visit myself".

Guess it wouldn't make sense to have an argument with her (which is a favorite past time when we spend more than one hour together) and trying even more to convince her to come over wouldn't bring much.

I suppose my sister would have a more reasonable opinion on the matter, but me...I don't get it.
And in the end I am ok...well, at least I wouldn't have too feel guilty in case she's either bored or too tired or just not interested in doing things other than turning my underpants on the drying line so they can be dry faster - I don't do that, why should my mother do it?!!!
And no, I don't give a damn if the lamp has dust, as long as my brain hasn't!!!

So, when next week I'll call home to congratulate my dad I'll certainly have a more interesting conversation.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Favorite Song

Once in a while you'd hear me say "that's my favorite song".
And I'd say that about way more than a dozen songs, so the truth is that I love lot of songs and that they are all number one.

But songs, like seasons, are coming and going: as for now I really like "When I go Away" by Levon Helm and can't get tired of it.


Levon Helm's voice is a sand-paper caress and...wow, what an energy this guy!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts about Pregnancy

No revelation here: I am not thinking about having a third child!!!

A dear friend of mine on LI is going to have her second child; the due date is around mid-January, which means I am not going to see the baby.

This is triggering a lot of feelings of course.
In the first place because I know how a pregnant woman feels about babies: suddenly there is nothing more important, more beautiful, more precious and delicate than your child, even if it's just as big as a tennis ball and even if it makes you feel sick from morning to evening or tired as if constantly jet-legged. Or too sensitive or just freaked out. Even pathetic at times.

When a good friend has a baby, I respect her need for rest but I am very glad to get to see her and the new-born and maybe do something together that might help her feel not too lonely without making her too tired.
It's a very intense and very emotional phase of a woman's life.

And I AM NOT GOING TO BE THERE.

It is clear to me that - at least in this life - my timing isn't too good.
That if I had taken that train or not have waited for that damn bus or just hadn't done laundry on that very day, it wouldn't be so hard to get used to the thought of losing another friend.

Is there a place I miss, I wonder sometimes.
Well, no. And I can't say I would live somewhere forever, not even Berlin. This was supposed to be temporary, in my mind it still is.
But temporary is - be it a couple of months or some year - a fist in the stomach when it comes to say goodbye.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

(Some of the) Things I do not understand

I might as well go straight to the point, but then it would be unfair to my target.

Let's start with things I really don't have a clue about like chemistry; although I am certainly interested in the structure and behavior of matter, I just don't think in terms of atoms and molecules and I do have a problem with learning formulae.

Along with that goes physics. It might even reach the boundaries of ridiculous, because I know what is meant with force and the difference between push and pull but I keep mixing the things up - yes, in any language I at least read.

Another embarrassing thing is that I don't understand what men mean when they use codes, so if I am asked "Would you like to have a coffee together?" my answer would most likely be "Thanks, but I'd miss the 5:30 bus".
Now, being married, I feel relieved I don't have to care anymore about this.


I also don't understand envy.
Sure, there are people who have more advantages (and not always justified) than others, but I don't hate them and I wouldn't change place with them. I've got a satisfied  mind and even though there are things I wish in my life, they are pretty much depending on myself and self-improvement, so anybody else is just not responsible for my periodical pissed mood.

If there happen to be one person who's responsible for that, than I am avoiding him or her. As simple as that: I don't understand why people stick around  someone they could as well do without - if it's not strictly necessary as in case of  colleagues. That's not me. (Just picture me in a western setting saying "There is not enough room for the two of us in this town").
That said, the number of people I deeply dislike is very limited.

So, here I come, to the point I mentioned before.
What I DO NOT understand is men and motors. I could mention the two separated, but it wouldn't be fair to myself, because I have good men-friends and I understand them quite well (I don't always have to agree with them, of course) and I have a basic understanding of motors (just try to get a drivers license in Italy and you won't go around that!).
But men&motors it's just as puzzling as man-on-the-moon.

There is some reason why I am mentioning this. Recently I noticed that a father in Carlotta's pre-school is coming to pick up his child with his sporty car. Nothing against that, if he wasn't driving at the same speed he's driving on a town street with speed limit 30 (which means he's driving 40mph).

Does he want to be noticed?Well, he managed to be.
Let me be mean: when I see a man driving like that, my first thought is that he has to compensate some lack.
I am really sorry I didn't talk to him (yet): I am always trying to get out of his way not to get hit...

But what pisses me most is that he is doing his miserable manly show in a school's parking lot, during pick-up time, when moms and kids are around.
There is a racing circuit not too far, doesn't he want to try it there?

...of course the list of things I don't understand is much longer and includes other important issues, but as for now I'll stay focused on that and try to talk friendly to this guy - something tells me that people like this aren't open to criticism but I might be wrong.

Frogs and Turkeys - not a batrachomyomachia!


I know it's not Thanksgiving yet, but I have to smile every time I look at this drawing Carlotta did yesterday; turkeys are a  tiny bit strange, but frogs are...well, mutations.
Carlotta is learning about tadpoles, caterpillars and metamorphosis ("Mom, can you say that?Meta - mmorphosiss!") and she is concentrated on teeth - that explains the big smiles.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Tea

In this post I won't be writing anything about motherhood - which rhymes with Robin Hood, did you ever think about that?
Here are the pictures from the Mother's Day Tea at Carlotta's pre-school: I did enjoy it. I do believe that my four year old understands what it's meant with the words "I love you, mommy!"...
 

I had to bring my favorite cup of tea


Cookies, love of mine!


 
And enjoy the treats my daughter was getting for me


It was hard to keep the tears from falling (tears of joy, damn cookies what are you doing to me?!).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Greenport - the Boss Goes East

The weather is getting more summer-like with somewhat sticky days, which are OK  if you are used to live in a former swampy area - and I am; with the summer at our doors - my doors at least - I feel it is good and right to be at the seashore and breath that special watery smell - is it the seaweed?the crab-shells?the salt?...
As my spouse has to concentrate a lot in his work, during the weekend he puts  his brain in the stand-by mode and lets me boss around and decide where to go and what to do (with cheap excuses  like "men need directions" or "no matter what I decide, it will be wrong", followed by "do I need to have an opinion about everything?").

After the usual discussion (let's spare the details, or we won't celebrate our anniversary this year...) last Saturday we spent our morning  in Greenport, which turned out to be a good decision, because there was a bit of fun for everyone of us: the nice village with lot of old buildings, the jail (where I promise to put my kids if they don't behave), the brewery, a good ice-cream parlor, the little harbor in front of Shelter Island, the famous carousel  - that isn't anybody's cup of tea but it was made in the 20s, so it is almost antique! 



 Merry-go-round



From one of the pier facing  Claudio's clam restaurant



Some old building on Main Street



At the corner with Bay Avenue



And more on Bay Avenue



The Jail and Police Museum (1917)


We liked Greenport a lot; it is actually one of those place where we both could live - if BNL was a bit closer - and the fact that there is such a nice harbor is obviously one of the main reasons.
And aren't those buildings gorgeous?
Even driving to Greenport was beautiful (and generally I am not a fan of driving): cruising through the wineries and the old villages of  Aquebogue, Catchogue, Southold made it relaxing; I noticed many antique stores, a number of signs for "historical sites" and definitely some old church.

This should be no wonder, because Greenport - and the villages that consitute the city of Southold - are the first English settlements on Long Island, dating back to the early 1640s, not so long after the Dutch had settled (and bought) what would be Manhattan.

Some puritans were coming to the eastern part of Long Island from New Haven, Connecticut,  to establish their own settlements, purchasing the land from  the Indian Corchaugs; those villages (including Greenport) stayed under the jurisdiction of Connecticut for about thirty years, while English and Dutch colonists were owning back and forth New York and  claiming all colonies for themselves - until eventually the Duke of York forced these  puritan settlers to submit,  somehow annihilating their religious identity - which makes the big sign at the Orient Point Ferry Terminal welcoming people to the Empire State quite ironic - that must have been lot later, though.
And yes, once we were done with Greenport, we thought it  interesting to check out the Orient Point Ferry Terminal - which was boring - but we went to the Orient Beach State Park and this was quite an amazing place; not so much for the beach or the playground, which of course were the most important thing for the kids and were nice; I really liked this piece of land between two Bays.
It must be a very fragile environment, probably flooded very often...I don't know if it stays in its shape of peninsula for a long time or if it becomes an island itself.



Bastian having fun with one pebble - which he keeps all day long!



Orient Beach, looking south-west

The park was still quiet, but not empty; a number of family were there, some people were trying to have a bath...and not making it: the water is still too cold, or better, the wind makes coming out of the water not so nice. 
We'll certainly go back to this place sometime, why? Because I am the boss and I say so!!!