Archive for January, 2008

Seeing red

January 25, 2008

first beet

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

Last night we spent the evening listening to Italian ministers ramble on while I feverishly battled with the internet trying to buy my ticket to New York.

I succeeded in purchasing my ticket, but Prodi didn’t manage to keep his seat as Prime Minister, and the government has fallen.

Here are some details (like background, spitting in faces and fainting) but what they DON’T tell you is that while this has been on the make from the beginning, there being such a narrow majority and all, the real catalyst this time was the minister of justice. He is being investigated for criminal activities, and insisted that if the government didn’t back him completely, he would pull his party’s support. They didn’t, so he did.

So, in line with my current theme of matching political despair and grief with domestic/personal work and satisfaction, I have included a photo of the first beet seed to show its face (neck?) in my egg-carton-planters. He looks sort of skinny and weak, but I know how much strength it took to break through that seed coat and push through the dirt, and I know he isn’t even close to quitting but is rather just getting started. I want to be like that, too.

And, of course, there are cookies in the oven. With grappa, because I figured we need it.

And, surprise! I’m going to Sweden tomorrow for a week. They have a parliamentary government, too, but somehow they manage to keep it from being a joke.


My mom is so cool.

January 24, 2008

Chimney pots 1

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

It’s true.
And I am going to New York!


January 20, 2008


Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

Still here in Terno d’Isola… no Sweden for the time being.

This weekend has been mostly chores and reading, and a bunch of journaling, all combined as a sure sign that some serious inner-reflection is going on.

But inner-reflection gets boring rather quickly- I mean, goodness, how much is there really to reflect about after all? I am not that interesting. And so I began to emerge from my mulling this morning, and am feeling much more peaceful and accepting this evening. Every thing happens for a reason.

Took our regular winter Sunday stroll through town, and then Ilario stopped off at the sports center to play basketball. We attracted some local guys when we got the ball stuck on the rim- started off laughing at us (who wouldn’t?) and ended up helping. They were really nice, speaking a mix of Arabic (I think) and Italian, and one even had a cool bike he had modified himself (guaranteed to impress me). A couple started to play with Ilario, so after some photos I took off for home alone.

I am beginning to think about my balcony garden already- seeded some radishes, am pre-sprouting peas, and starting beets indoors. Spring comes so early here. The Bountiful Container is my bible, of course.

More news from my favorite NPR reporter on Italy here.

making brownies (again) and biscotti

January 17, 2008

roasting nuts for biscotti

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

The sun came out today for the first time in the new year. I don’t think I could bear more rain today, as certain developments are bearing down on me hard enough as it is.

My arrangement to teach in Sweden seems to be crumbling apart, with all kinds of sad and difficult complications including terrible mis-communications due to distance and probably cultural differences. As there is a friendship involved in this arrangement, I am feeling very heavy indeed today.

On top of this, I learned that Ilario will begin working abroad some at the factory in China. It will be two weeks at a go, we don’t know how often. They may also have need for him to make shorter trips as well to places like Finland, on short notice. That flattened me; somehow I hadn’t realized this could be part of his work.

So what can be done when life flattens you like this? How to handle the disappointments and fears?

Of course the first thing to do is to take a nap. A long nap. And then wake up with the sun streaming in the window. Then rustle up some energy to turn on NPR, and pull together the motivation to make brownies. And when the brownies have been made, start on some more complicated orange biscotti. And by then the sun is going down, so haul the body out onto the balcony to soak up the last rays.

That’s about all.

new logo

January 15, 2008

Board meeting

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

We had Aribi’s January board meeting last night. I was all prepared for a depressing experience, as my other meetings have been, where I have gotten tangled up in the language and frustrated beyond belief with the disrespect, fatalism, and general chaos.

But a surprise was awaiting me: We have a new logo! This is the thing I was most agitating for, something that would more clearly show who Aribi is, and a way to contact us (ie our web address). Because of the murky darkness one can often wander in when speaking and listening in a second language, I didn’t even know that this idea had been received and acted upon. Thank you, Remo and thank you Gabriele of StudioCharlie. We now have a clean, clear and useful logo.

I am so surprised that out of all of that mess in October and November some really positive developments emerged. It’s given me some hope. Still no bicycle pump, but at least I am there.

If you are interested in reading or hearing more about the garbage crisis in Naples, you can check out this at NPR. Be forewarned that it’s pretty depressing, and getting worse, despite the intervention of the Italian government and now the EU.

Not just rice

January 13, 2008

Roman temple, Brescia

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

As mentioned yesterday, current events here are dragging me down. This post is another attempt to remind me of wonderful things that are here.

This is an hour and a half train trip from my house, in Bergamo’s lovely twin sister city, Brescia. We went after Christmas to see a big exhibition of American art, and I fell in love with the old center, with it’s castle, strange romanesque church, and narrow streets.

The whole time, Ilario kept muttering under his breath, “Bergamo is better.” There is fierce competition between the two cities, as often happens with cities that have a lot in common (Pittsburgh and Cleveland). But Brescia really is beautiful, though bigger than Bergamo, which inevitably means that it has some ugly modern parts.

Now I’m going to go find other cool things…

Garbage, rice and New York Times articles

January 12, 2008

My new local rice

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

I am feeling pretty depressed about some things happening in Italy right now (garbage in Naples, cars avoiding the new fee for commuters entering Milan by driving on bike paths…), and the continually gloomy and rainy weather isn’t helping.

So I’m trying to perk myself up by thinking about the new rice my buying co-op just found recently and ordered last month. I make risotto a lot, or versions of risotto that I call “farrotto” (spelt), and “orzotto” (barley). I make my own vegetable broth from scraps I save in the fridge, and it’s always really good. So I was feeling puffed-up for awhile, feeling like maybe I am helping the world in my own little way with all my efforts to buy local, eat local, cook whole foods at home, turn off the lights, etc etc.

Then two things happened to burst my bubble.

One was an article from my mom’s collection of New York Time’s articles. Remember those? How happy I was about them. Yeah, well then I read this article. And it just kept eating away at me…

And then finally I figured out what was nagging at me, I put it together with something else I read a long time ago, source lost in the murky past, about how when people feel most powerless to effect change in the world they INVERT, and focus on private, much more personal efforts.

What does this mean? All those people like me, my friends, Shannon Hayes in the article, are we all just so frustrated with what we see around us and so dis-empowered that we convince ourselves that the most important work we can do is personal, and have faith that these intimate efforts will ripple out and change the world? Just because nothing else seems to work? Does all our time and energy spent doing things ourselves, all the rules and guidelines we give ourselves and struggle so hard to follow, does any of that have any value at all?

Can I justifiably be so happy with my rice?

All pieced.

January 6, 2008

All pieced.

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

Well, it’s ALMOST finished. I just have to add a simple border and weave-in all the millions of little ends of yarn…

Lordy, lordy, am I sick of this project! I started it sometime back in July, I think, and have been working on it regularly since. I don’t even know if I like it anymore, but that’s irrelevant because I am determined to finish it.

Happy new year!

January 1, 2008


Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

Ahhh, two thousand and eight…

Spent the end of the year in the mountains again, visions of this past summer overlaid with cold air, bare trees, and frozen ground. Oh, and lots of eating and drinking in a wood stove-heated room.

(Full disclosure: house was full of smoke as our friends are heavy smokers and care not a bit that we are not.)

It’s been a very good holiday for us. I’ll have pictures up on flickr soon.