Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cold, Boxes, coffee...

I have been "missing in action" for11 days, that's a lot to be gone from a blog, in cyberspace !

Our move is 90% done. Right now we are living in a sea of half-opened boxes , with stuff everywhere.. I can hardly find my stuff. Oh, well, just a few more weeks and everything will be back in its proper place, including my blog. I just found my Bialetti Moka, and my coffee.
Life is good.

In the meantime, here in Texas, believe it or not, we are experiencing a cold, arctic air blast that for Central Texas is unusual. What happened to global warming ? Where is our 110 degrees heat when you need it ?

Today there is no going to work in the morning. Just have a look at the (company) truck I drive these days, it's coated in ice. Now, don't laugh. I know in Trieste, my home town, things like this are more the norm, along with the bora. Here, all radio stations are broadcasting special emergency programs becasue the temperature is just below freezing and there *could* be some thin ice on some bridges and overpasses. In Trieste, life as usual.

See you all tomorrow.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Moving !

Yes, we are moving, it is a rather sudden move, it is not fun, but we are moving. I know, I know, I had a post about moving few weeks ago .... don't tell me... At times, life has a weird sense of humor.

I will be off the Internet for a few days, new house, new ISP provider, fighting with boxes, furniture, trucks and stuff. I leave you with two pictures, one of the two items that got put in the moving truck FIRST, as any good Italian would, and one of the moving truck.
Yeah, it's a rather dull, gray day.
Let's go move.

Ciao, ci vediamo tra un paio di giorni.

Ecco a voi, Cowboy !

Vi presento il mio alter-ego, ed il gatto "dietro alla foto" di questo blog.
Cowboy e' il primo gatto nato "qui", sui 20 ettari dove viviamo, ed e' anche il solo sopravvissuto ad una miriade di gatti.
Tra falchi, civette e sciacalli, questo e' un posto dove sopravvive il piu' forte,e lui si e' meritato il titolo di gatto piu' furbo, e svelto, pure.

Cowboy e' un gatto estemamente indipendente, non si lascia ccarezzare quasi da nessuno, all' infuori di me, mia figlia Francesca, ed i bambini piccoli, che sopporta con stoica pazienza .. .felina.

L' altro giorno sono uscito di casa, ed ho trovato Angelina che letteralmente stava sollevando Cowboy per la coda, mentre il poveretto tentava di mangiare ...

Di tanto un tanto e' un cacciatore spietato di scoiattoli, che qui sono onnipresenti ed in quantita' allarmanti.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A small piece of home....

Here we are, in Houston, at the front door of the Italian General Consulate. For most people, a Consulate is a small thing, almost meaningless.

To me, however, it always "triggers" something when I go through those doors. I know that in there, there are people that speaks my language, have the same cultural background, and, that can help me, if needed.

I often got myself in troubles, with documents and deadlines. My own laziness and distraction got me often to the point of calling the Consulate and asking for a "rescue" with bureaucratic deadlines . I got to say, that in the last17 years, the Consulate in Houston, has always come through and did save me from my own stupidity, and they did it with kindness, efficiency, and competence.

Their record was a passport for one of my kids, issued "on the fly" in 20 minutes, as I was going to the airport, and the US passport was lost in the mail.

I know, there are many things in Italy that do not work, but I need to "give credit when credit is due" to the Consulate for doing what they do, and doing it well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On the Road again

Jut like Willie Nelson, today I will be "on the road again" for the entire day.
We are going to Houston, to the Italian Consulate for some bureaucratic things to take care of.

Didn't want to leave my audience (both of them ... ) empty handed, so here is a quick one, my always sweet and smiling Angelina.

Rob, can you tell me where I took this picture ? ( it's easy....)

Ciao !

Monday, January 12, 2009


Venice is an absolute masterpiece. Must see, words cannot really describe it, you just got to go there. It is also a heaven for anyone even remotely interested in photography at all.

I will tell you a secret: in Venice it is really hard to take a bad photo. Go, and try. One advice: try to stay away from the "touristic Venice". As soon as possible, take a left, then the 2nd right, walk 300 meters, then the 1st left. You have, probably, just arrived in the REAL Venice, the one "owned" by venetians. The one they try to hide from tourist, the beautiful Venezia most tourists do not see.

I have been to Venice truly countless times. And there is still stuff to discover. The last time I was there, I was (off course) taking pictures. Lots of them. I found this one, it looked interesting, I made some really minor corrections for colors, and this is what it became (left)

I love this picture because when I clicked, this is exactly what I saw, felt and what I wanted to take away with me.
Perfect. I love Venice.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Quick Friday

Today is very busy, so you have to forgive me for the "shortness" ( is it a real word ? ) of this post.

When I am back home, in Italy, often friends and family, ask me the question I fear the most:

"So, ... (pause) how IS life in America ( or Texas ), anyway ... ?"

This is a super loaded question, and to answer it correctly it would require .. Wikipedia. There is no way to summarize how "life is" in Texas. Then comes the 2nd question, the one I HATE the most: "So, is it true that in Texas everyone has guns ?

Well, ... a lot of people, actually ... do own guns. This is going to be the subject of another topic, I just wanted to introduce it, with a picture.

One day we go and visit some friends, in south Austin, (and for Texans, this alone has a meaning of its own) . I have a cheap digital camera that I wanna test and play with to see how it works. I take a lot of pictures,and the next day, at home, I review them, one at the time, and I come across this one:

It's my girl, Isabella, on the left, with her friend.
I give you three seconds to tell me what's ... peculiar in this picture.
Welcome to Texas.

See you tomorrow...


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Una mattina, mi son svegliato .... Texas Thursday

Una bella mattina, mi son svegliato e ... no, non ho trovato nessun invasore, anche se ci e' mancato poco che mettessi il piede sopra, letteralmente, a questo serpentone qui a destra.

Non chiedetemi che cosa e', so solo che 'e brutto, con i sonagli, e stava acovvacciato sul marciapiede davanti alla porta di entrata di casa mia.

L' incursore e' stato fatto fuori a colpi di pistola, presa a prestito da un vicino per l' occasione (!!)

Siccome non riuscirei e colpire la porta di un fienile, ho dovuto scarica l' intero caricatore prima di centrare il serpente, che a quel punto stava per morire dalle risate.

I miei figli invece se la sono fatta sotto dalle risate a vedere il loro padre tentare di uccidere un serpente a sonagli, ad un metro di distanza, e proprio non riscivo a fare centro !! Il mio vicino di casa, Texano al 100%, con un' armamantario in casa, si e' nascosto nel garage per poter ridere senza offendermi...
Qui in Texas, i serpenti sono (purtroppo) comuni, e dove viviamo abbiamo una fauna abbastanza variegata ed interessante. Si va dalle tartarughe (enormi e bellissime), ai falchi ( ce ne sono circa 5 ) alle civette, che sono piu' grandi di quello che pensavo.

Poi ci sono scoiattoli a migliaia ('na rottura che non vi dico), armadillo (bruttissimi), procioni (orsetti lavatori), opossum, volpi (ne ho vista una in 5 anni) ma so che ci sono...

Gli sciacalli li sentiamo ogni sera, nel boschetto dietro casa, a decine. Aironi blu vicino al torrente e tortorelle e colombe concludono la lista.

A volte e' interessante avere tutta questa fauna, letterlamente alle porte di casa, una specie di lezione di scienze naturali 24 ore al giorno....

Pero' quel serpente, e' proprio brutto ...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lasagne by Flavio - Food Tuesday

There is nothing to do, an image like that triggers anyone's taste buds. Salivating yet ? You should.

My sister is an excellent cook, my brother in law is an outstanding cook, and their 2nd boy, Niccolo' now a teenager, is in chef school.

If you sit at their table for a meal, you are in for a treat. I was there last June, immediately before my trip back to the US.

Flavio had prepared his "lasagne alle polpettine" all done strictly from scratch and "buy hand'. He cooks with music, while singing, with anything from Paolo Conte to Guccini to anything he can dig out from his Cd collections. And he cooks, boy, does he cook, with love, fun and passion, they way it should be done.

Year after year, trip after trip, I have seen some constant differences between the relationship that Italians and Americans have with food. For a host of reasons that I cannot explain here , I strongly believe that Americans seem not to enjoy their food. The overwhelming amount of processed food and junk food that is everywhere, seems to confirm that. Most of the time is just a matter of feeding yourself until the next meal, then repeat.

Italians try to enjoy their food more, at times they do not succeed (work, little time) but as soon as it's possible, eating is an important social event, that must be tasted, savored, and, most importantly, shared with friends, family, and sometimes even with people we do not like much, as well. What better way to know each other, and try to solve differences over a plate of lasagna, and a glass of "red" ?

Italians love food, and this is a big topic to come back to another time.

Movie recommendation: "Mostly Martha" with Sergio Castellito. Watch it, then come back here and let me know.

Buon Appetito.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Feeding a family of 6 without "breaking the bank" is a challenge and recently has become a real necessity to save as much as possible, and still eat good food.

In the USA, the Sunday paper is the gold mine of store coupons, if one wants to spend little time cutting, clipping, slashing, and then going to one or two stores. It is worth it.

So our Sunday afternoons are filled with the sound of scissors "clipping coupons", and my wife is the specialist, the coupons ninja, the Jedi Master of "special of the day" ...

My wife went to the store, tonight, armed with a stash of coupons that would have made a Louisiana gambler cry in shame... When she came home, her total grocery bill was $ 317.40, and the coupons saved $127.18, so she ended up paying $ 190.22. Not bad for one hour of clipping coupons... ;-) Here is the loot:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Back to the box, back to the office.

It's warm in Austin, Texas. Yesterday it was a stunning 82 f. In Celsius that is in the mid 20s, summer temperature, and it is ... January. Today it should get back to almost "winter" normal.

It's the first Sunday of 2009, and it's time to put away all Christmas decorations, back to the box, for the next 11 months.

As for me it's the last Sunday before going back to a normal work schedule. For a while I have been working from home, but now it's time to go back to the office.

I spent most of Saturday working on my wife's car, changing break pads and stuff. Dirty, dusty, smelly and .... fun. I really enjoyed doing it. My car is next.. It saves some money, I have fun getting my hands greasy, and it kills the routine. A very good friend came over to help and very generously, offered his time and know-how, so the project was finished on time. Thanks Kevin !

On another note, I think I will slowly change the feel and object of this blog. Don't know how, yet, but I want to do something different. Not sure if I should ask my audience what they think about it, they could disagree, both of them ;-)

Oh, well. Happy Sunday to all, see you at the other end of Monday !

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fratello e Sorella.

Il mestiere di genitore e' allo stesso tempo il piu' difficile che esista, ma anche quello con piu' ricompense. Noi, con quattro pargoli, e' dal 1993 che non abbiamo avuto una singola notte di sonno ininterrotto. Io, forse qualcuna, grazie a mia moglie che si e' prodigata a dismisura. Lei, no di certo.

Ci sono, come dicevo, i momenti unici e assolutamente da ricordare, ed oggi ve ne presento uno.

Oliver, avra' 14 anni a Febbraio, e Angelina ne fara' 3 a Marzo. Fratellone e sorellina, sono uniti da un legame di amore-adorazione che e' raro. Per lei, Oliver e' il gigante buono, quello che ha sempre una sorpresa in tasca, un abbraccio, ed un sorriso per lei. Per lui, Angelina e' la sorellina piu' piccola, quella che ha preso il posto del fratellino, che lui voleva disperatamente, ma che non e' riuscito a nascere 5 anni fa.

Angelina non potrebbe avere un angelo custode migliore. Per noi genitori, lui e' il migliore baby-sitter che esista, affidabile e con una pazienza infinita.

Oggi, Oliver ci mostrava alcuni trucchetti con le carte, ed Angelina voleva vedere anche lei. Oliver, le ha mostrato il trucco e quando lui ha "indovinato" la carta che lei aveva "scelto", la macchina fotografica era gia' pronta. Un clic, uno solo, ed un momento imperdibile e' stato immortalato, per i posteri. L' espressione che corre tra questi due, e' unica. Cliccate sulla foto per ingrandirla.

"E se la vita continua diventero' vecchio" con la gioia di vederli crescere.

(la frase tra virgolette non e' mia. 100 punti premio a chi la conosce )

Friday, January 2, 2009

To the eyes of a child.

Next to my house, just behind it, there is a wooded area, few acres of trees, and it is used by my kids to play and have fun in it.

My third child, Isabella, loves going out and exploring the "forest". "It's magic, dad, like the Secret Garden... !" she says often.

As an adult it's easy to forget how a child's fantasy can transform the mundane into something extraordinary. I still remember my pure, sheer enjoyment of the "Tigri della Malesia" saga, by Salgari, a "must read" for all Italian boys.

I imagined adventures and dangers around every corner, from my house to the Boschetto behind my house.

Wait, so I had a Boschetto too, just like Isabella does... Go ahead, Isabella, enjoy your adventures, growing up comes too fast anyhow.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome, 2009, FACCI SOGNARE !

Angelina's expression, to the right, summarizes my joy in welcoming 2009 in.

2008 has not been a great year. At least it has not finished good at all.

We all desperately need a 2009 of recovery, hope, change, and better things for all, across the board.

Have a happy, merry, e wonderful 2009 year.
... and if you feel down, just look at this picture to the right... ;-)

Buon Anno Nuovo a tutti voi !
ne abbiamo bisogno...