Just got back from a party with 20 preschoolers inside a cramped pub. And yes, that was the SCARIEST Hallowe’en I’ve ever had! But at least the kids had great time. Hallowe’en is relatively new to Italy but I’ve noticed that every year it’s growing in popularity. My son actually went trick-or-treating tonight. And to top it all off, some teenagers poured flour all over our gate and entrance because I didn’t open the door. Nice. How did they know I love to bake?
But not everyone here is in the spooky spirit. A girl in my daughter’s class didn’t attend her pumpkin and witch-themed birthday party because their family “doesn’t celebrate Hallowe’en”. Her mother explained to me how their priest is against this American celebration of witchcraft and all things evil. Then the other day the girl told my daughter that people who like Hallowe’en love the devil. What in the what?!? I almost did a spit take when I heard that!
Who knew that a simple holiday could cause so much pain and suffering? And yet this got me thinking about my own Hallowe’en agony. It happened many years ago and it’s something I haven’t shared but I think I’m ready now. I need… closure.
Picture it: Scarborough, circa 1984. I was super excited about the Girl Guides Hallowe’en party that evening. Even if I only had one stinking badge and feathered hair, I was going to wow them all with my amazing costume. I thought about something made out of a cardboard box, like a giant Rubik’s cube or a package of Kraft Dinner. It was going to be ironic and it was going to be AWESOME. That morning over breakfast I gave my father detailed instructions about what I wanted and how he could make the greatest Hallowe’en costume the Metropolitan Toronto area has ever seen. I could see his mind working and I was positive that I was going to be the corrugated belle of the ball.
I practically ran home from school to get ready for the party and, of course, to see my costume. When I walked in the door and didn’t see it waiting for me in all it’s boxy glory the living room I felt a sort of pang. I couldn’t quite place it, but something didn’t feel right. I called out to my father, asking him where my costume was. He came down the creaky stairs slowly, carrying something that looked unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Would that I could have unseen it! But, oh lord, it was too late!! He held in his hands my little brother’s CHiPs helmet with what seemed to be a paper beak, eyes and feathers glued to it. “Dad! What… is … that? And where’s my costume?!?” He proceeded to tell me that there was no boring Rubik’s cube for me. Oh no! He made his darling daughter a one-of-a-kind, 100% certified original “POLICE BIRD” costume. “WHAT THE HECK IS A POLICE BIRD?!?!?” He then started to explain how he didn’t have any boxes nor time to go out and get one. So he got the brilliant idea to make something so absurd, so nonsensical even Lady Gaga would be embarrassed to wear it. I mean, what kind of sick mind would morph Erik Estrada with a winged beast. Seriously, it was that awful. And I was going to walk into the Girl Guide party with that “thing” on my head. I was going to answer the many “What are you supposed to be?/Are you mental?” questions that were bound to come my way. Yes, I was a pariah and eventually had to leave the GTA (ok, the continent) to find a man. But it’s true what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And this “police bird” flew like an eagle, baby!
Hope you all had an awesome Hallowe’en!!
And no I’m not talking about Betty White. The signora in question is Italy and she’s 150 years young. Today the entire country (except those mean green Leghisti) is waving the green white and red to celebrate Italian unification.
Patriotism has never been an easy sentiment for Italians. They feel more kinship to their own town or region than to their country. This is natural for a relatively new nation with such a fractured past. And these days, most Italians weren’t even in the mood to celebrate the anniversary, what with all the political, economic and cultural turmoil. Up until recently, everyone from politicians to business leaders were debating whether or not March 17 should be declared a national holiday. This was a bit shocking to me even if chronic existential crises over national unity is nothing new to a Canadian.
But in the end hatchets were buried and schools and offices will be closed all over Italy. I tried to get my kids interested in the occasion and taught my daughter the national anthem (as I’m pretty sure they don’t do it at school anymore). The kids also came home with tricolore flags and were very proud when I hung them outside. We also inadvertently celebrated over dinner this evening. Bellie and Diggy insisted on having both tomato sauce and pesto with their gnocchi, because tomato sauce alone would have been just too healthy an option. After I finished serving I noticed that their dishes were in keeping with the patriotic theme.
Then I asked my husband to briefly explain the Risorgimento to the kids but they were more interested in wolfing down taleggio cheese and singing, or rather, screaming the national anthem than hearing about Garibaldi and Mazzini.
Perhaps I’ll let them watch Roberto Benigni’s subdued rendition of the Inno di Mameli from this year’s San Remo festival. It conveys all the strength, elegance and emotion that unites all the citizens of this maddeningly wonderful country.
Crap!! It’s five to four! Late… AGAIN. The baby is always so fussy before I have to pick Diggy up. Impossibile dressing Miss Charlie in her winter clothes without her screaming at the top of her lungs. Or leaving a last-minute present in her diaper. Anyway, she’s in the carriage now so off we go to preschool. Only a few minutes before it closes so I run like an insane mommy jogger. Ah, there’s a mother I’ve seen a few times before on her way back home with her son. I don’t really know her. Do I say hi? Smile? Nod in acknowledgement? Ok, I smile. She pretends to look at her watch. Nice! I haven’t yet deciphered the housewife code here in this small town. Or maybe it’s my smile. I try to look approachable but I’m afraid the effect is quite similar as to what Stephen Fry described in his autobiography: “Every time I pose for a photograph I try and smile a friendly smile, a sort of ‘Hello there! Gosh! Crumbs! Isn’t this jolly!’ sort of smile. Every time the photograph comes out I see a silken smirk on my face that makes me want to wail and shriek.” Rush past the parking lot. Oh the stink of funky fish! Market day today. Ok, quick look at the clock tower ( I, conveniently, don’t wear a watch). It’s already four!! And, yep, there go the church bells. I am officially in ritardissimo. Double crap!!
Sorry for that scatological interlude. It’s just an excerpt from “A Day in the Life of a Desperate Scarberian in Small Town Italy”. Don’t worry, it’s just a working title.
Baby miraculously went to bed early!! Cue Aretha: “Freedom, freedom, freeeeeedoooom!!!” So I finally have time to write after all these months. But to be honest, I didn’t really feel like blogging lately. I’ve been lethargic and comfortably numb when it came to my cyber world. I only turned on my computer to check emails, to waste time on FB or just relax. And I desperately needed to wind down lately. It’s been really busy the past few months, what with the various family commitments, travelling, and just keeping our life in working order. We were in Canada over the Christmas holidays where I spent time with family, friends and donuts (not necessarily in that order). It was great. So great that here’s a list of the highlights:
- the transcontinental flight with three kids. If you’ve never done it, I sincerely urge you to put it on your bucket list.
- Oh, I almost forgot how much fun it was to pack now that we can travel to North America with only ONE SUITCASE PER PERSON!
- ketchup chips. Nuff said. Hmmm, now I’m hungry. I think I’m going downstairs for a midnight snack. To be continued domani.
In the meantime, it’s Carnevale in Italy (except for the Milan area, where we celebrate on Saturday). I found this festive clip of Raffaella Carrà to get you in the carnival spirit. She was my hubster’s favourite back in the day. Yes, she was a very hard act to follow.
Just a quick post to share an ad that clearly shows how “masala” Italy is becoming:
In case you’re wondering what they’re talking about, it’s an engagement party and the South Asian woman offers ginseng (?!?) while insulting the Italian in-laws, expresses happiness that she’s going to have grandchildren (“I become grandma!”) and, as one does at these occasions, starts singing about cleaning products. Of course.
What I’m watching: Just finished watching Vieni Via Con Me. Those of you in Italy know what I’m talking about. Tonight’s episode featured specials guests Gianfranco Fini and Pierluigi Bersani. Speaking of which, the leader of the Partito Democratico bears a scary resemblance to Dharma’s dad, dontcha think? Separated at birth, people!!
Music of the day: I loved Avion Travel‘s cover of the song Vieni Via Con Me on tonight’s show. Actor Toni Servillo (singer Beppe’s brother) guested on vocals. And just listen to that guitar!
Best read of the day: I’m trying to teach my son the English alphabet and he’s making great progress with Thomas the Tank Engine ABC. It’s very basic but there’s something about trains that keeps Diggy hooked. Any other suggestions for teaching bilingual kids would be most appreciated.
What I’m eating: Yesterday I cooked up a storm: a bit of Indian and Italian. My husband bought some cauliflower so I could make aloo gobi.
It was good but not quite perfect. I didn’t have any cumin and I was a bit stingy with the green chilis as I’m a milk dispenser now. My husband did manage to find some coriander/cilantro in the garden, thank goodness. It’s so fragrant and really makes a difference. I also made chick pea and potato samosas (which the kids actually ate!) as well as a dish with borlotti beans, pancetta and red wine.
Best moment of the day: Playing in front of the mirror with the baby. She’s such a giggler now! Oh, cleaning out the lint filter in the dryer was also a highlight, albeit on a different level. Very zen.
Where I’d like to go: To Tim Hortons, baby! In one month I’m going to be in Canada and you know my first stop will not be my Mom’s place but Timmy’s, to get a chocolate dip doughnut and a double double of course.
Ecco un’altra lista:
What I’m watching: Caught Flight of the Conchords for the first time last night, dubbed in Italian mind you. I still enjoyed it immensely! It’s like a cross between Peep Show and Glee. Sigh! I wish Mark and Jez would set their woes to music.
Music of the day: I was thrilled to see Elvis Costello on Letterman the other day. I think he has one of the best voices in music and he was on the show to promote his new album, National Ransom. The title track sounds great and the band is tight, which bodes well for the rest of the album. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Best read of the day: I’m currently reading Stephen Fry’s autobiography, Moab is My Washpot. It chronicles the first 20 years of his life and is at times hilarious and melancholy. If you’re a Fry fan, you’ll definitely enjoy following him on Twitter.* Oh, this video is pretty cool, too.
*Stephen Fry left Twitter for a few days due to criticism he received after being misquoted in a recent article on women and sex. He’s back now, thank goodness!
What I’m eating: Yesterday I had lunch at a Sardinian restaurant and was served a teeny tiny portion of grilled tuna steak and malloreddus gnocchi with tomato sauce. Not bad but I was hungry after an hour! So hungry that I decided to make a good old-fashioned Beef Stew.
I got the recipe from my Canadian Living cookbook. Simple and delicious. I even used some of the San Colombano. The only problem was that the kids were disgusted by the vegetables and took ages to finish dinner, or maybe it was the San Colombano that slowed them down. They were also not impressed by the pumpkin spice muffins I just baked. More for me!
Best moment of the day: Bellie’s first tooth fell out!! And she was paid a visit by the Tooth Fairy, even if in Italy a little mouse (?!) usually does the honours.
Worst moment of the day: Little Charlie puking all over me. She’s ok, her tum tum just doesn’t agree with formula.
Where I’d like to go: The China Power Station contemporary Chinese art exhibition at the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin.
Things that make you go “AWWW!”: Zidane and Materazzi hugging and making up.
I never thought I’d quote Steve Miller (the bane of my university years) but “time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future”. I can’t believe it’s already November and that my little girl is already two months old and my “big” girl just turned seven!
For the last few weeks “time” has been on my mind: the lack of, the speed of, the wasting of, the quality of, etc.
I’ve also been pondering how best to reconcile my need to write with my überbusy existence). Yes, I’m getting used to life with three kiddos but I still have the urge to create things other than babies and clutter. I’d also like to communicate in some way with the outside world because I’m cooped up at home most of the time. But how to do it in between feedings, laundry and sleeping?
The only thing I could think of that would best fit my schedule is a point-form list of what I’m doing, thinking about, reading, etc., because world wants to know! Ideally I’d like to post one every day but, come on, we all know how prolific a writer I’ve been lately I’m also going to write traditional posts (god willing!) from time to time so this new system isn’t set in stone.
Ok, here we go!
What I’m watching: My current obsession is the American version of The Office. I can’t get enough of it and I’m trying to control how many episodes I watch per day because I don’t want it to end! I have Seasons 1-5 (thanks Sue!). I was a huge fan of the UK Office and was doubtful I’d enjoy the US version but I was so wrong. The writers and actors have done a superb job with each and every one of the characters. Maybe in some twisted way it reminds me of work and is a way for me to “escape” to the office every day.
Music of the day: yesterday I enforced a No TV day and played CDs instead. A little bit of Schubert and Vivaldi but my favourite was The Beatles White Album. Perfect for a rainy day, or any day for that matter. That time spent in Rishikesh did them good. It has a bit of everything and will never let you down (well, except for Yoko’s screaming in Revolution #9. It scared the baby.).
Best read of the day: this is actually from a few days ago but I happened to read it now. I had no idea the Japanese were this crazy for doughnuts. They sound like my kind of people!
What I’m eating: I just polished off a heaping plate of spaghetti with sugo di stufato d’asino. That’s just a fancy way of saying “stewed donkey meat sauce”. I know, it doesn’t sound as good in English but let me assure you, it was yum. Oh, and last night the hubster made a divine risotto alla zucca, or pumpkin risotto. He also cooked his famous frittata, this time with turnip tops (cime di rapa). And thank god I can have a glass of wine from time to time because tonight we’re going to open up a bottle of San Colombano, the only DOC wine produced in the province of Milan.
Best moment of the day: Baby and Diggy “talking” to each other. She was even laughing a little bit. So sweet!
Worst moment of the day: My kids overhearing the expression “bunga bunga” and giddily repeating it over and over again. Cringe cringe cringe.
Well, this turned out to be longer than I thought. But it was fun!
Will I keep up with it? Only time will tell.