Hard as it is for me to believe – today’s blog starts my second year of putting out notes to you.
THE most important thing I want to say this week, however, is a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have read this blog during the past year. I’ve heard from many of you, and your kind words have been VERY much appreciated. I was so nervous before I hit the “publish” key the first time that it took me 1/2 an hour to get up the nerve. Armed with your encouragement, I’ve now whittled that down to a mere 10 minutes.
When I began, my goal was to send something “regularly”. That proved to be a bit open-ended for my procrastinating habits, so after a few weeks, I decided I needed to be on a more structured schedule. I chose Wednesday as the day because that’s the day Craig Wilson’s pieces come out in USA Today, and I’ve always enjoyed what he has to say. No – that doesn’t make sense, but believe me – if I had to make up a reason for any other day, that wouldn’t make sense either. It turns out, however, that I’ve darkened your e-mail in-box for only 47 weeks, not all 52, since I cut back during the holidays, my move and a couple of trips.
For the benefit of those of you out there who are number collectors – and thanks to Word Count — I can tell you that if you’ve been with me through all this, you’ve read 41,707 words, not counting today. That’s a rather scary statistic from both your standpoint as the reader and mine as the writer.
As I look back on the topics I’ve discussed, I see that I owe you several corrections and postscripts.
– For instance: The Italian language. I’m back to taking classes again, and I learned that I was semi-wrong when I told you that “ch” is ALWAYS pronounced like our “k”; there is a word where it’s pronounced like our “ch”. The word is chattare, meaning “to chat”. There are a bunch of computer related words that Italians have taken on, giving them a strange, bastardized, not-quite-English, not-quite-Italian air. (A pronunciation hint: “a-r-e” at the end of these words is: ah-reh.) For instance: emailare (to e-mail), scannerizzare (to scan something), facebookkare (I’ll let you guess this one…..and I must say that 2 “k”s together is awfully weird), twittare and my personal favorite, skyppare.
And it’s only fair that I warn you that taking classes again means I’m learning about all kinds of new problems that I’ll feel a need to address in the future. You’ve already read about Problems I, II and III. In anticipation of the number of upcoming frustrations I see before me, I’ve already checked what the Roman numeral for 50 is. It’s L.
– After complaining about the smell of Saturnia’s thermal waters, Lou told me that a friend of his took issue with my whining, saying he didn’t think the odor was that bad. Last month I was there again with my friend Liz and her 12-year old nephew, and it really wasn’t nearly as bad as when I was there with Nancy and Kathy. We couldn’t even notice the rotten egg aroma while driving down the road, and Liz and Adam did not smell up my car on the way home. I don’t know how to explain this, but it obviously means you shouldn’t stay away just because I had 1 super-smelly day. My new theory is to give something at least a second chance, and if it’s as much fun as Saturnia – perhaps even a third.
– You’ll be pleased to learn that my gas problems might be over….for now. The gas company kept billing me sizeable amounts this year for when I wasn’t there and I kept not paying. My fear was that their patience would wear out before they got around to reading my meter on their once-a-year visit, and they’d come disconnect me. But just last week I got notice of a new bill, and bless their little hearts – the amount due is a perfect 0.
– Remember Gordon? Well – right before I left, I found 2 of his cousins in our apartment: 1 upstairs and 1 in the kitchen. They were both a bit bigger than Gordon, but still at the cute stage. Do you think they’ll be as cute when we return in September?
– Just after writing about My House, I had a chance to visit it. Because of Europe’s economic woes, it seems that the project has come to a halt. Only a few of the apartments available have been sold, and the restaurants have closed. They’re keeping up the grounds, so it still looks as lovely as ever from afar. But after living with the idea that new life was being breathed into My House, this was a bit of a disappointment. At least it’s not a parking lot yet!!
So I think that just about takes care of updates. Nancy and Kathy are coming for a few days’ visit this Fall, and I’m hoping we can get into some blog-worthy trouble during their short stay. Alan and I are also hoping to hit either Puglia or Sicilia in October, which should also afford a story or 2.
WordPress has a function where I can see how many people have at least clicked on Half Year Italian, and it also shows the countries where people have looked at it. At first, it was hard to believe that someone in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Nigeria or Brazil would be interested in what I have to say about Italy. And then I quickly realized that it has nothing to do with me; it’s all about Italy. Italy is a place of legends going back thousands of years that manages to still offer people from all over the world the idea of a bit of fantasy and romance. Even though I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time there each year, I must admit that I still feel the same degree of excitement when I see an article in a US publication about Bologna or Palermo….or I hear people talking about their 2-week Rome/Florence/Venice vacation….or I touch down at Fiumicino airport. Let’s face it: in the end, no matter where we’re from, we’re all just Italy groupies. The only difference is that I write it all down.