Friday, October 26, 2007

California Fires

Our condo and office were right on the edge of the fire zones. In fact I'm sure our renters had to evacuate and Solana Beach where our office is was also evacuated. The weird thing is that two of the local TV stations broadcast live over the Internet during the crisis and we were tuned in here. It was too much like being there. Normally all live feeds are blocked outside the US, so it was unique. It just was strange seeing all the newscasters we know from the past as if we were still in the area. The Internet never ceases to amaze me. We got updates on the fire coverage from the San Diego emergency services site as well as from my wife's brother in Canada whose wife is from San Diego and worried about her parents. Of course his information was relayed from another brother in law living in Orange county. Then there were the phone calls to cell phones of my daughter to find out how her horses and she were doing and then my sister who also evacuated. She was camped at the beach having a fine time, so much for the misery of evacuation.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fear of the Bidet

So we had someone here renting the apartment of a relative for 6 days, a really nice retired couple. When he saw the bidet his comment was "oh a bidet great for washing the feet". Now I ask you why such a comment or any comment at all. Well I think it's out of fear of something that some people shall we say mostly American type people associate with that other nasty word Sex. To them it's this foreign thing that them darn foreigners use after having sex. And anything to do with sex should not be made so visible. Those things should be hidden like breasts at a Super Bowl game. But then there is the other source of fear that is the fear of the unknown, people just don't know what it's for and therefore they fear it and feel obligated to make some silly comment when they first see one.

So what is that nasty little bowl with the faucet attached? Well it's a sink close to the floor or a mini bath tub. What's it for, it's for washing stuff. Yes of course it's handy after sex. But once one gets used to it being there, one finds all sorts of uses for it. Short people as in kids use it to wash their hands, even dare I say brush their teeth. It is useful for washing feet especially the feet of the little rug rats who would otherwise go to bed with dirt ladden feet. It's good for soaking laundry, and depositing wet bathing suits. As you can see it has many many uses. But it's main use remains that of a good place to wash that area between the legs, Italian kids are taught, more in the past than now, to use it after going poop, and little girls and boys who are too tired to take a bath find it handy to clean themsleves a bit before going to bed keeping mommy at least somewhat satisfied. And finally I'll admit my love of the bidet comes mostly from the mini shower aspect, saving lots of toilet paper.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Another weekend in Milan. Our daughter has regular visits to her orthodontist who is an American trained in the US but practicing in Italy. I am disappointed to say we could not find an Italian orthodontist with the knowledge to treat her problem. We did try.

Anyway I still can't really decide how I feel about Milan. Probably my problem is that I've always been a small city or country person. Milan is an interesting city, and everyone tells me there is a lot to do there. We usually spend most of our time shopping or at least looking at stuff in stores. This weekend we arrived on Friday about an hour before her appointment, since it was early afternoon we had no problem finding a parking space in the private parking area of the condo building where Luisa's parents live. That's a chore that can take an hour on a late evening. The metro takes one right into the center of town which makes that part easy. In the evening we had the typical family dinner with our kids, Luisa's parents and her sister and her kids. It's always nice to sit and eat with all the family at table. Luisa's mom is a great cook. I had a moment when I looked around at the table, with four kids there ranging in age from 5 to 9 all being very polite and quiet, yet not hesitating to talk if they have something to say, when I thought, this is great. What wonderful children we have.

Saturday was mostly spent shopping for clothes for our daughter who is suffering from peer pressure and won't accept almost anything we like, because her school mates don't dress that way. Saturday evening the kids were deposited at the sister's house and Luisa and I went out for Chinese. Amazingly we have found this restaurant mostly frequented by local Chinese and can you believe, Peruvians. They cook Peruvian food on the weekend. Well we really stuffed ourselves for a total of 25 euro. It's not a fancy place, but the food is good and the price especially in Milan is great.

Sunday was mostly the long drive home. Three and a half hours on the autostrada. I'm almost getting used to it, at least on Sunday there are no trucks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sweet Italian Days

I suppose people are more interested in hearing nice things about Italy rather than my political views, which I will write more later. Anyway here is something. Last Sunday, we had started a lazy morning not sure what we would do. A friend who has two kids in school with ours called inviting us to go on a hike with them up on the Nevegal with is a local mountain we can see the top of from our windows. It's also the closest ski area. The hike was supposed to be short and end in time to come home for lunch. So after a bit of debate as I had not felt that good earlier we called them back and said sure we will go. They were by then half way out the door so we only had ten minutes to get ready and off we went.

It takes about 20 minutes to drive to the spot we started hiking from. It's a liesurely hike, that takes manybe an hour to get to the top. But with 4 kids and two chatting women the hike takes much longer. It was one of those perfect days. From that area one can see all of Belluno and the surrounding valley and mountains. The view was beautiful, the air fresh and clean. At the top there is one of those typical refugios, always amazing to see something so rustic and cute in the middle of nowhere. Of course by then we were all hungry so lunch at home yielded to some panini and I had a beer. We sat outside on a long bench facing the view and the sun. One of those moments when life seems like it can't get any better.

The hike down finally after the kids had a great time just rolling around on the grass and playing in the sun, equally beautiful. Form the ridge one can see Lago di Sante Croce and the autostrada on the other side of the mountains. Finally arriving at the starting point there is a restaurant and a playground. On the way down we were joined by another couple who also have a child at the same school and so the kids played in the playground and the adults chatted. The short two hour hike ended finally at 5:30 or so.