Friday, January 26, 2007

When the Moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...


It has been almost two weeks since Meredith left for Italy and it has been a real roller-coaster ride as I suspected it would be. One moment she is high on life, excitedly chattering away about the city of Milan, the amazing architecture, even the great paninis she orders for lunch. A couple of hours later she is choking back tears and listing all the things she is missing from home. Thank God for our discovery of Skype, the free internet phone program. I would be selling pencils on the street corner to pay my phone bill otherwise.

She has sent back some wonderful pictures of Milan, really whetting my appetite for my trip over there in May. (See my countdown box in the sidebar)

This is my favorite one of her, so far:

Gotta love those flying buttresses...and that smile!!!

She has a posted a couple of albums on webshots with some very amazing shots of Milan, including a very healthy dose of pictures from her personal shrines. No, not the cathedrals and churches. I am referring, of course, to Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.

The link to her albums is here

She also included some pictures of her dorm room, including a most amazing bathroom that might even wake HER up in the morning (and that's saying something!) I thought this was wallpaper but she told me it is tile:

It has been both wonderful and agonizing to watch her learn to navigate a completely new culture all by herself. She has learned how to get around in the city and how to communicate in Italian (with a fair amount of gesturing to fill in the language gaps). She has purchased tickets for a soccer game this Sunday and train tickets for a day trip to Parma next weekend. She has discovered the Italian tradition of apertiva, a late afternoon "happy hour" where the purchase of one glass of wine or a mixed drink entitles you to a groaning buffet table of appetizers. She has learned to watch out for the pickpockets and discovered that a little negotiating can drop a posted price on almost any item.

I have a feeling that by the time I get over there in May, she will be a vastly different young adult from the shy, nervous little girl I dropped off at the airport twelve days ago. She's already grown up so much! I can't wait!!!

I promise to get back to writing about my knitting in my next posting. But, be forewarned, there will still be tons of Milano updates!! Fasten your seatbelts, folks, it's going to be a wild ride!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Arrivederci Bambino!

And so the adventure begins! I drove Meredith down to Logan this afternoon to catch a 7PM SwissAir flight to Zurich, then connecting to Milan, where she will arrive tomorrow morning. I held it together until it was time to send her through the security gate and then I couldn't hold back the tears. She was suddenly my little brave baby girl all over again, walking with a mixture of excitement and fear into the new world of kindergarten or her freshman dorm at UVM. I am excited for her even as I feel a huge knot of apprehension and concern. This is what she has wanted for so long and I am grateful for the opportunity to help it happen for her. But she will be SO far away for such a long time. I have never gone as long as I will this semester without seeing her.

It was very helpful that her friend Lexi went with us. Lexi spent fall semester in St. Petersburg, Russia and will go back next week for the spring semester. She was extremely helpful with suggestions about navigating the airport process and she was great company for me on the ride home, not seeming to mind that I talked her ear off for the whole trip.

I have a countdown started on my google homepage for my trip to join Meredith in May. It stands at 123 days today, an interminably long stretch but I know it will go faster than it seems now. In the meantime, I am looking forward to emailed pictures, instant messages, emails and the opportunity to experience Italy vicariously through Meredith's eyes.

Corsa sicuro, cara mia!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

...back from my alien abduction

OK, so I've been missing from the blogging scene for a little while. Funny how life gets in the way of things. My last real entry was sometime in late October. A lot of yarn has flowed over the needles since then ... and do I have spectacular pictures to show for it, excusing me for being so neglectful of my blog? Of course not.

Here's a quick summary of my life over the past 2+ months...

Early November: trip to Vermont to celebrate Meredith's 21st birthday

AMAZING dinner at Butler's Restaurant in Essex (The New England Culinary Institute)

Along with some spectacular scenery along the Kancamagus Highway...

It is a wonderful weekend, even if it seems as if only yesterday that this was my Meredith:

How can she POSSIBLY be 21? There is NO Way!

Mid-November: I am back in Burlington to pick her up for Thanksgiving Break, a luxurious full week at home. We also start bringing some of her things home in preparation for her Spring semester Abroad in Italy. We have a great time with her that week, including our annual Mother/Daughter "Black Friday" 7AM run to the mall. Gotta love the adrenalin rush beating back the sale-crazed masses. We hit the motherlode as we look for dressy grown-up clothes for my little pookie to wear during her stay in Milan since word on the street is that jeans and t-shirts aren't going to cut it. She's thinking Manolo Blanick... I'm thinking bankruptcy court. My Meredith is a fashionista shoeaholic. Sending her to the fashion center of the universe is a bit like sending a hardcore alcoholic on a five month pub crawl.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving has me back on the I-95/101/I-93/I-89 loop up to Burlington and back to bring her back for the final push. I think her RA is beginning to think I've moved into her room. God forbid... those days are but a hazy memory although I love her room!

(By the way, in case you missed it, the Yankees are her life. Pinstriping her room walls with ribbon was the ultimate homage.) Dorm rooms sure have come a LONG way since my undergrad days in the Stone Age. Kinda makes me want to go back to those days...ok, maybe not. I value sleep and peaceful evenings far too much to survive in that world.

Early December: back to Portland for the wild ride that is the holiday season. ("I AM being jolly, dammit!") Time spirals out of control, the "to do" list just keeps getting longer and longer and I have to fight back the urge to get in the car and drive off into the sunset as far as my gas tank will take me. I start to envy people in the Witness Protection Program. They don't have a triple digit Christmas card list to finish. Scrooge has nothing on me as I grouse and grumble. The annual craft fair at work is a chance to showcase (and sell!) some of the knitting projects lying around. Mental Note to self: start building inventory a lot earlier next year (instead of working feverishly the two weeks before!) The Maine-made products baskets are prepared for the out-of-town relatives. I write the annual "year in review" newsletter for the pile of Christmas cards. Errands, lists, parties, decorating the house, baking cookies, delivering cookies to friends, craft fairs, shopping for the family... by mid-December I've developed a nervous tic and the inability to finish a complete sentence as my mind races out of control.

Mid-December: It's time for the final pilgrimage to Burlington to retrieve my finals-weary darlin' and her roomload o' stuff for the final trip home. We schlepp like nobody's business and shoehorn everything into the car for a wild ride home. ("Mirrors? We don't need no stinkin' mirrors!")

It occurs to me that poor Isla still doesn't have her own stocking for the mantle. (We guiltily used Lady's old stocking last year.) So, having so little else on my agenda, I decide to knit her a Christmas stocking. (WHAT was I thinking!?!) Amazingly, I do it and here is the result:

Such a beautiful receptacle for the coal she is on track to get from Santa. The dog has some serious listening issues. Of course, Santa ends up relenting and brings her bags of snacks and toys. What a sucker the old fat man is.

It's now late December and Christmas is breathing down our necks. The Christmas cards are sent off with a sigh of relief. We make our trip up to the Christmas tree mountain to cut down the tree we chose in October. Things start to come together at the house. Here are some pictures to prove we pulled it off:

<=so many cookies

Isla wonders where the coffee-table snacks went. It was such fun to bury her nose in the chex mix =>

<= sideboard splendor

Meredith's "shoe" tree =>

I manage to knit one of the socks I had planned to give Brendan for Christmas. He looks a little puzzled when he opens the package with only one sock. I reassure him that the other one is on its way (I finished it the next day). When Holiday season 2006 went into the history books, we survived another Christmas with only a few ruffled feathers. We took pleasure and comfort in the traditions we have developed over the years and ushered in 2007 with a new tradition: the New Year's Eve Sushi making party! Good times!

Now it's on the next adventure, Meredith's departure on January 14th for a semester in Milan Italy. You have to know there will be some "interesting" posts as that chapter in our lives unfolds. Stay tuned...