Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Wedding, Part 4

So, the flower girl recovered her composure, the ringbearer was a rock of responsibility and I think someone told them that Grandpa had candy in his pockets waiting for them at the end of the aisle! They zoomed by in a blur... and performed like troopers.
Of course, we have no photos of bride walking down the aisle here because her face was so puffy from her crying... or in the receiving line... As my Dad is not too churchy, the bride and groom kept the wedding vows short and simple. The minister was charming and gracious and even put his tie back on when we went outside to take more wedding photos. Oh, here it is all done, the groom kissing the bride.
See the silly, deliriously happy look on the bride's face? Yep, made the whole wedding.
Who couldn't be happy for her?Posted by Picasa
Then, it was time to chow down and have some of that cake!

So, back to the usual theme, the Italian words of the day:
1. matrimonio - wedding
2. sposa - bride
3. sposo - groom
4. gli sposi - the newlyweds
5. marito - husband
6. moglie - wife
7. anello - ring
8. patrimonio - heritage
9. benedetto - blessed
10. brindisi - toast

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Bride - Wedding Part 3

Here is the bride! She is being fussed over by her professional dresser. Thankfully, she hired a "dresser" to get her in her wedding kimono. When, she first decided to get married in a kimono, I was to be her dresser along with being the wedding photographer, assistant florist, seamstress and whatever else needed getting done. (There's some good English.) She mentioned someone needed to vacuum the chapel after the ceremony ...

But as the wedding date got closer and closer, we (I) couldn't figure out how to tie the obi which is the sash or belt that goes around the waist. My sister bought a video, we had books and eventually we found a Youtube video on the web. We spent a good part of a day trying to figure this out and discussed kind of loudly, each one of us, how it should be tied. Although everything we read never said it, the obi needed to be folded in half, with the fold on the bottom and the obi acting as a large pocket for the fan, and ceremonial knife. (Don't even ask me about the ceremonial bridal knife, to protect the honor of the bride's new family. We spent alot of time looking for one and all the Japanese ladies we asked thought we were, um, well, nuts. She finally bought one, but I think it's a letter opener!)

BTW, kimono just means clothes. Each style of kimono has its own name depending on if it is an unlined summer kimono (yukata), a bathrobe/pajama kimono (nemaki) and is dependent on sleeve length and occasion, a furisode is the most formal kimono for unmarried women with long flowing sleeves. Here is the bride in her uchikake which is an ornate wedding coat with a long trail. The uchikake is worn like a robe without obi over another kimono, called kakeshita that is tied with the obi. My sister's kakeshita is made with shibori fabric which is a Japanese tie-die.

Then there is the "boat". That is what we jokingly called the white bridal hat. Yes, we went from store to store in San Francisco, San Jose and websites asking if anyone had the "boat". My sister just wasn't going to be happy unless she looked a little more authentic although, we didn't follow a lot of the Japanese customs. We couldn't find zori or sandals to fit her americanized feet and they are not very comfortable to wear. We couldn't find my mom's zori and, I think she threw them away because they just hurt too much to wear. Finding all the gear we needed, and we were not even sure that we had all of the gear was just too difficult. We finally decided that it was okay. We were a blend of cultures and the wedding would also be a blend of our cultures.

But, while we were in San Jose buying the an under-kimono, yes, she is wearing 3 layers of kimono, well 4, if you consider the under, under kimono, she picked up a business card of a lady who did hair and was Japanese. After some frantic calling on my sister's part, she made an appointment to bring all of her stuff and do a trial run. Her name was Sachiko, which is the name of my mom's best friend and amazingly enough, she was from a town in Japan next to the town where my mom was from. She asked us our family name and the deal was done. She was going to fill in the missing parts of my sister's wedding gear and do some sewing and bring it all when she came to do the hair, dress and makeup.

And, she had the boat! After, she had dressed my sister and tied her obi, she wanted to know if my sister wanted her to do the hair and makeup. Then, she hauled out this huge case with a proper wig and all the combs and decorations. My sister waivered. But, after Sachi, put the wig on her she got this big smile on her face from ear to ear. Oh yeah. It was happening. When we were done, we hugged Sachi goodbye and breathed a sigh of relief.
A side note: The Japanese consider the nape of the neck the sexiest part of the body and unmarried women expose there bare, naked necks while married women wear there collars so that their necks are covered up. Unmarried women also wear their kimono with long sleeves and married women cut the length of their sleeves down, so as to not drive the men wild. Of course, this tradition is from a long time ago. But then, my sister wanted to honor tradition. I don't think that until that day when I saw how happy my sister was, that I realized how much her wedding meant to her. (I know, duh!) Here they are, the bride and groom, getting ready to march down the aisle, one last practice run with the music before it all becomes official.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Wedding, Part Two

My younger sister decorated the party favor table. She did a beautiful job. We filled the little bags with Japanese candies, seven (7) of them. We're not sure what the Japanese tradition is. But, we followed Italian tradition and they require seven. Oh yeah, and you can see the bulldozers in the background. (Editors correction: when I re-read the post from Shelley of At Home in Rome, it was 5 and not 7 candies that is the Italian tradition. Oops!)

My only reqret is that I didn't take a photo of the entire room before the guests arrived because it really turned out nicely. But, I was taking photos of the bride and groom back at the chapel and I couldn't do everything and they haven't invented self-cloning yet.

And, the chocolate cake is our favorite. My sister first ordered one for the 90th birthday party of our great-aunt seven years ago (Yes, that made her 97 this June). It is chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting and fudge between the layers from Olde Tyme Pastries in Turlock. The bride and groom hauled it to Monterey and it was appreciated by all.

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A Thousand Cranes

A thousand cranes was the theme of my sister's recent wedding. She is a woman of a certain age and it was not her first marriage. But, she wanted her wedding to be special, different and to honor our mom who is no longer with us.
Yes, we made all these origami cranes. We figurativly. Mostly my niece and my sister's future daughter-in-law. All with the most beautiful washi (Japanese paper). We're not really sure that we made it to the thousand origami cranes ... even though I hosted a crane making party for the bride. Cranes are supposed to bring good luck and my sister wanted for us to share in her good luck in finding someone to love and marry.
The wedding chapel was large, there was not going to be a large wedding party to sort of fill the stage, as it were so we decided we needed a focal point so all people would notice were the bride and groom. Keeping with the Japanese theme, the groom decided he could build a tori gate to frame them, then decided he couldn't, then decided maybe, he'd better. (My sister said, I was getting sort of bossy, but hey, it paid off! Someone had to crack the whip.) Here they are assembling it in the chapel under the watchful eye of the groom's grandson. We also did the flowers for the reception room. Notice, the orange construction barrier in the background of the photo below? The country club forgot to tell the bride and groom that the grounds would be under construction during their reception! My sister handled it well. I don't think people really noticed.

Flower girl having her own mini-meltdown.
Yes, flower girl, I've known how you feel.Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Still Life, Italian in 10 Words a Day

I haven't really been happy with the lighting for my still life photos and I have been wanting to try a different view or location to see if I could get more natural light. But first I have to, err, tidy up a bit so you couldn't see the pile(s) of books, Italian lessons and dust in the background!
This vase of my garden zinnias is my favorite. They are about a week old and have held up pretty well. I used the soft focus feature of Picasa on the photo below.
I'm still working on the Italian words in some of my previous posts, but here are a few Italian words for the day:
1. polvere - dust
2. aspirapolvere - vacuum cleaner
3. mettere in ordine - to tidy up
4. riordinare - to tidy up, reorganize
5. organizzarsi - to get organized (reflexive verb)
6. mettere via - to put away
7. sporco/a - dirty
8. pulito/a - clean
9. pulire - to clean
10. assai - a lot

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Still Life, Italian in 10 Words a Day

I love these spiky, white hydrangea (paniculata) flowers.

Words of the day:
vetro - glass
vaso - vase
un vaso da vetro - a glass vase
un vaso d'aqua - a vase of water
l'ortensia - hydrangea
un ramo - branch
cogliere - to pick, gather
mirtilli - blueberries
pantano - bog
torba - peat

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Il Corpo in plurale and conversations with Dante Alighieri - Italian in 10 Words a Day

In English, we don't label nouns as feminine or masculine. Sometimes, inanimate objects are referred to as him or a her like ships so I sometimes wonder how it is that some things are masculine and some are feminine in the Italian language. Yes, some words are obvious like girl and boy, man and woman but what about words like, il cuore which is masculine. The heart is the universal symbol of love. Being a woman, I am prejudiced but who loves more? A man or a woman. A mother or a father? A husband or a wife? My thoughts on this matter? I guess it just depends.

Sometimes I would like to have a conversation with Dante Alighieri and ask him, just what were you thinking? But, some things I have figured out in my own head conversations with Dante. The brain, that sexist pig, he made it masculine. But, he did make the head that holds the brain, la testa, feminine. Maybe it was out of some respect for women. Then there are all the irregular words for the body. Masculine nouns end in o if singular and i, if plural, in general. The definite articles are il for singular nouns and and i for plural nouns. Feminine nouns end in a, if singular, and e if plural, in general having definite articles of la for singular nouns and le for plural nouns.

Of course, there are exceptions. But with the body, Dante decided that, (if he is to blame) the hand, ending in o should be irregular and make the definite article, la not il. So the hand is feminine and masculine. Maybe that says something about how Dante felt about men and women. Maybe he wasn't the sexist pig I think he was sometimes. And the same is true for the word problem. Il problema. So, I think that Dante (if he was the one who chose) was pretty philosophical when standardizing the Italian language. But frankly, I think, Dante might have had some personal problems with women because shouldn't it really be la problemo? But, maybe, I should give him a break because the word for love, amore, is masculine and to me that makes him a romantic. Hence, his (il) problema. So here are the words for the day, a mix of feminine and masculine singular and plural body parts.

Singolare > Plurale
1. il braccio > le braccia - arm, arms
2. il dito > le dita - finger, fingers
3. il ginocchio > le ginocchia - knee, knees
4. la mano > le mani - hand, hands
5. l'orecchio > le orecchie - ear, ears
6. l'osso > le ossa - bone, bones
7. il labbro > le labbra - lip, lips
8. il corpo - the body
9. maniglie dell'amore - love handles (they usually come in pairs hence they are plural)
10. un abbraccio - a hug

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Still Life - Italian in 10 words a day

My latest treasure... I wanted a jug for flower arranging so was pretty pleased when I found this majolica jug (and yes, at a thrift store, it just has a few nicks but good enough for flowers) ... God knows there would be no way to haul something this heavy back on the plane especially now they are going to start charging for checked luggage.
I bought the little bowls in Amalfi, I think that they are olive pit bowls. And, the dishtowel is from Tuscany, I think when I was in Montepulciano. This was my mock up photo. I try to play around with colors to see what is brought out by the background. Here I used Japanese silk shibori scarves and a fake sunflower.

Words of the day:
1. ceramica - ceramic
2. ceramiche - ceramics (plural)
3. brocca - jug
4. brocche - jugs (plural)
5. asciugamano - towel
6. strofinaccio dei piatti - dish towel
7. sciarpa - scarf
8. ciotola - bowl
9. scodella - bowl
10. paniere - basket (with a handle)

I have trouble with some plural words. In Italian, masculine words generally end in o or a. Masculine/feminine words like ragazzo/ragazza are easily pluralized to ragazzi/ragazze but I need to work on the irregular pluralization like brocca to brocche and ceramica to ceramiche.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Keeping Cool - Italian in 10 words a day

It has been over one-hundred degrees here the last few days (and it's supposed to be for the next few days) and I have been practicing being Italian - which means I haven't turned on the air conditioning. Yet. So I decided to re-post this photo from the Villa d'Este to keep cool thoughts....I can just feel the lovely, cool water spraying me now...
And, I can think of myself maybe on my next vacation on the sailboat in the lower left-hand corner of the photo near Positano...
Or, perhaps just jetting down to Sorrento or Capri from Rome on this James Bond like speedboat ...
So, here are the words of the day:
1. il sogno - dream
2. Una barca a vela - sailboat
3. il mare - sea
4. la spiaggia - beach
5. la sabbia - sand
6. insieme - together
7. tonno - tuna (I forgot this the other day for seafood, and you want to know what this is just so you can/or don't want to order it on your pizza with onions)
8. mai - never
9. forse - maybe
10. carino/a-dear, sweetie or cute, use at your own discretion
And as Meg of Dolce and Nutella pointed out to me the other day, a mora, in addition to being a blackberry can also be a brunette.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why I love reading blogs/The hunter and gatherer in me

I haven't posted much lately and for good reason. I've always been a very happy person my entire life. When I was a little girl, I would laugh and sing all of the time. So much so, that even my own mom made comments on what a happy girl I was. Pretty much all the time. Even going through breakups and divorce and bad jobs, I have always managed to keep a sense of humor and joy in my life. But, lately, well a lot of this year, things just went to heck after a pretty decent start. I noticed in college that I suffered bouts of depression linked to that seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So, I bought the special light bulbs to simulate sunlight. And endless days of fog that we have in winter, can make me go crazy and paint parts of my house very bright colors.

But this sadness was getting worse and worse and really, nothing is that terrible in my life right now, except for... I am not in Italy. I've discussed this for some time with my sister and a good friend. Geographically, I don't particularly care for my current location. It is hot in summer. It is foggy in winter. It is always dusty and frankly, really noisy. Fire/police sirens seem constantly responding to car accidents on the highway. The cool and quiet of having a cup of tea on the porch on Saturday and Sunday mornings are ruined by the cacophony of lawnmowers, weed eaters and blowers. Trucks, cars and motorcycles are modified so they can rumble, whine and grumble through town with the most possible noise to impress other.... males. (My own sister's ex-husband tricked her into changing the muffler on her brand new truck to "Flowmasters". For the un-informed, non-rednecks, theses mufflers make a rumbling noise. He told her that he wanted to change the muffler on the truck to "save on gas". She was appalled when her male co-workers oohed, and awed when they heard the truck and said, oh, you have Flowmasters! Then, she new she had been hoodwinked.)

Whenever real estate agents talk about the town I live in they say it is centrally located (real estate translation: there ain't nothing here, but we have a highway were you can get to somewhere else). But the cost of gas has made every trip to San Francisco or other interesting places very costly. Money, I would prefer to save for a plane trip you know where.

Then, I just finished reading Marlena De Blasi's third book, The Lady in the Palazzo. I love reading her books but I am always saddened by them. I like them way more than Frances Mayes books. I guess her people connect with me more. I like her outlook on life. She says they are poor, but poor can be a relative thing. She seems to have a lot of money for fabric and remodelling when she needs to and as one who has remodelled and sews, I know that none of that stuff is cheap.

So after reading her book, I realized that several things had been bothering me about my life. In her books, Italians are always out gathering wild garlic, grasses, nuts, whatever. These are things that my family did when we were younger. We went fishing, we used to go for crabs off the pier in San Francisco and clamming at the beach. If we went to the mountains, we would look for Indian arrowheads, pretty rocks, or old bottles, pine cones and other pleasing things from nature. Even in San Francisco, when we were little kids, we would go to our local park and pick blackberries and make jam and pie! These are the things that Marlena (we are on a first name basis) enjoys so much in her books about Italy. (Now, I try to limit my recreational hunting and gathering to the thrift store and garden shops. Are there thrift stores in Italy and garden shops except those by the roadside? Sorry, another digression.)

But here? Sorry, the thought of even going into the mountains with a few pals seems to be too inviting to serial killers or predators (and not the 4-legged ones). Picking up pine cones and rocks? Need a permit. Any wild nuts and berries, look out they are probably sprayed with chemicals.

Frankly, I think that is why Americans are such mass consumers. What is shopping but hunting and gathering except you need money. But, I digress again.

So, this brings me to my other dilemma. As my friend pointed out to me, I am a very project oriented person. I can't help it. It is how I have made my living. It is how I have segmented my life and accomplished what I have in life. College, job, hobbies, buying a house, remodelling a house. Everything is broken down into the components and lists in order to accomplish the ultimate task. But moving to Italy has stumped me. Tortured me. Depressed me. And even made me question the meaning of life. I can hardly get up in the morning to face life. My job, which has normally been the source of stress in my life, is now a safe-haven. Eight and a half hours not to wonder about the meaning of life. and oh yeah, I've gotten help. So, I can stare at the ceiling in my bedroom and wonder about the meaning of life, it's just that I'm not sad about it like before. But, for God's sake, this is not the meaning of living. To exist.

But, I know that the real problem is that I have not figured out a way to move to Italy and live. My job here pays decently, I own a home and I actually have health benefits and a pension (calculated every Monday morning and each Monday morning not enough to move to Italy). I don't think I would be very happy living in Italy if I were homeless (plus, I know the authorities frown on this). I'm not a writer, at least of too much fiction. My writing is more technical stuff even though I do it almost every day. I could re-learn programming but sitting on my rear all day long doesn't appeal much to me either, running a B&B, hmm, not really my cup of tea either since I want to be among the ruins and stones.

So, I run through the list. Tour guide? Maybe? The thought of needing to survive on tips horrifies me. Run a business? Never have so far and don't know if I'd be good at it. Import export? What products? And so it goes on. Do I need a life coach? Should I get another degree? Take a class in floral arranging? I buy a lotto ticket every now and then, when I think of it and ask the Lord, surely, wouldn't you want my dreams to come true? Should I seek professional help? I don't think that falls under mental illness although, it could be obsessive compulsive behavior. My sister who has never been to Italy cannot understand.

But, I don't seem to be the only person with the disorder and they seem fine once they move to Italy. I don't feel crazy. Sometimes I want to give up the dream but then what would I have? A job, a house, a truck, possessions, a better pension but no dream. (Yeah okay, I have family and friends, too.) So, I read your blogs. Thank you, it helps. I know it is possible, that I might be able to do it someday, I just wish I could do it sooner than later. But when I read the blogs, I know it wasn't all the easy, it didn't happen overnight and that I just have to keep working at it. Lord help me.