Friday, December 28, 2007

No Photos

A little post in the middle of the holidays. I went out shopping for the stuff that people in Italy want. I have a good list this time. On my way back I drove by the house I grew up in (it's about 30 minutes from my parents' current house). It was so spooky because when I drove by the curtains were open and the light was on in MY old room. It just didn't seem right that somebody else was in there. I wonder if there's still a ton of hooks in the ceiling for all model planes I hung up on fishing line? Or is the hopscotch still drawn on the basement floor? Either way the old neighborhood seemed so spread out. I went by the houses of my old friends on the way. Faces popped into my head but the names escaped me. You think about the past a lot being back home. Adding to this is watching my nephew grow up. What experiences will he have in 2008? For me this new year may be fun and interesting but to him it's going to change by leaps and bounds.

Back to the stuff for Italians. Marco my phone is dead so I can't message you but they only have your coat in brown. Are you sure you gave me the right model. They had one with a model number J162 that had a hood and look like what you wanted and even in the right color for 110 dollars. Leave a message if the J162 is the same.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

That Time of the Year

Merry Christmas!!!!!
It's Christmas and things have been a whirlwind of activity. The trip back actually went very well and even my luggage made it this year. The parents` house is full of activity like never before. Kyle is nice enough to get us all up early so we can spend more time together. I'm joking because it's fun to hang out with the little one. I'll post some photos of him in later. I wish you all the best during this happy time of the year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stereotypes and Lecce

I need to do an update while I can. Whoever says that southern Italians are lazy is just making a stupid stereotype. I thought this week would be really slow at work but that hasn’t been case. We’re still plugging away and getting as much done as possible. I think in the US I saw more of a ramp down of work when a long holiday approaches. Along with this point I would like to point out my friend Marco Russo. He’s commented on the blog several times. He has a full time job here with the Italian company and he has another job in a store. When he’s working 2nd shift here (2:00 PM to 10:00 PM) then he works in the store in the morning. On those days he’ll put in over 10 hours easy. Then just last night my neighbor had a problem with the Christmas lights I put up. They weren’t working so I went over to find the problem light, which I did because I'm handy like that. While I was there she was working on the computer and talking to her boss on the phone. It just seems like I know a lot of people that are hard working. Most of the people that have their own small business are working 6 days a week. When I first arrived I tried to go out with a waitress in one of the bars. It just didn’t work because she worked 6 nights a week from 7:30 in the evening until they closed, which on some nights it wasn’t until 3:00 AM. Anyway I guess I’m just trying to make a case against stereotypes. Enough preaching.
Tonight I’m going to Lecce for second time this week. I went Tuesday after work to get the special Olive oil from Olio Claudio. My family and friends have grown attached to their oil, but if I’m such a good customer then why I didn’t know they were closed on Tuesdays? UGHH. I never even imagined that Tuesday would be closing day. I drove down thinking the day they are closed must be Monday or Thursday. That’s much more normal but nooooo I was wrong. Then I called a friend who lives in Lecce to see what he was up to and he was still at work here in Brindisi, which again reflects the point I made above. At this point I’m really regretting this trip to Lecce. I thought maybe I’ll get some photos of big nativity scene in Lecce. Every year they make a big life-sized scene in the remains of a Roman theater in Piazza Sant’Oronzo. And also every year it’s a little different. When I arrived at the theater I found that I forgot to put my memory card back in the camera. AAHHH. I was going to get something out of this trip so I walked all the way back to the car (luckily I had a spare card in my computer bag for work) and then back to get these photos below.

The Whole Scene for 2007! There's orange and olive trees down there. Keep in mind usually it's as bare as parking lot down there. Everything you see has been added just for Christmas.

Close up of the Manger part. Notice that the baby Jesus isn't there yet.

This is what they had two years ago.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lemon Macros

I brought the lemon tree inside this weekend because it was sooo cold. It could have probably taken the temperature but I didn’t want to risk it. While it was inside I decided to try some macro shots. Look at all those flowers getting ready to bloom. Unfortunately my interest in the lemon tree means the cats have stepped up their interest in it and I’ve seen a few buds knocked off already. They can’t leave anything alone. I did get some fun shots of Nello yawning just like Kent did last time they were here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More Christmasy

I have a tree like I mentioned so how could things get more Christmasy. Well it would take a little help from Mother Nature and we got it. For the first time I saw snow in Brindisi.This photo below is from Friday night.

It only lasted about 10 minutes but Maurizio at the pizzeria said he hadn't seen anything like this in at least 6 years so this appears to be our "once in a decade snow". I heard about this thing when I first moved here and now I've ived through it. I walked into the center of town with my camera ready. I was hoping the snow would start falling again. I sat down and took the first picture in this post. This Christmas tree in the center of town and I thought it woud be great to have a photo of it with snow in air but it didn't happen. It was frickin' cold and not many people were out (as you can see). I gave up and went home to get something warm to eat. We had on and off flurries all night so I went to bed dreaming of a white blanket of fresh snow greeting me in the morning. I didn't get a blanket of snow but I did see this Saturday morning at 9:30 AM

I was lucky to get this because if I would have slept to 11 or 11:30 the snow would have been completely gone. It never did "stick". I saw a few kids making snowballs from the snow on cars. It was hilarious because it seemed like good fun but most of cars were filthy so the snowballs were dirty brown and they quickly realized this wasn't a good mix with their nice jackets.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I got a tree today and I'm so bubbling with Christmas spirit I had to post again today. It was a complete surprise because as I was coming in the building after work I saw my neighbor putting her tree up. I knocked on her door to applaud her holiday spirit and more importantly to make fun of her because she still doesn't have the required white lights on her balcony. I'm pretty sure from the looks of it that you are only allowed to have white lights in my building. To this joke I was greeted by two strings of white lights and spent the next half an hour zip tying them to her balcony. She was impressed (but not surprised) that I had a stash of zip tyes that were perfect for the occasion. We were talking as I worked and naturally I started to whine about how I didn't have a tree. She immediately offered her old little one. So now I have the display you see in the photo. The tree is only about 1.5 feet tall but it's the spirit that counts. Do you see the little clay manager scene under the tree? And I have Santa. I need to get some ornaments or I could use cat toys because I have feeling that's what anything I put on that tree will become!

Back to Normal...for now...

For those of you who don’t read other Italian blogs then you may be surprised to learn that all the truck drivers in Italy were on strike from Monday thru Wednesday. It was a madhouse, at least from what I saw on TV, because here in Brindisi very little actually happened. On TV I saw store shelves empty of fruits, vegetables, and other perishable goods but here in Brindisi I went shopping last night at Mino’s then the local veggie place and I didn’t notice a thing out of place. Maybe they were a little low on castagne nuts and Mino didn’t have any mozzarella di bufula (he did have regular mozzarella) but then he never has it on Wednesdays. He’s closed on Thursday so it doesn’t make sense to stock up, as he wouldn’t want it to sit around for a day. It’s nice being so close to the food and goods you buy because even without trucks we get by. It’s funny because Rosalba’s husband was leaving the veggie place as I came in. He was smiling ear to ear as he was going to deliver food to the big supermarket outside of town. I’m sure he screwed them on price AND quality because there isn’t a lot of love between the big supermarkets and the mom and pop grocery store.
One part of the strike that we were not immune to was the gas shortage. There were huge lines for people filling up their cars but that was just the panic buying that surrounds any sciopero (if you don’t know that means “strike” then you haven’t be reading an Italian blog for very long!). Tuesday night I was driving my boss to the airport and there were already these lines surrounding gas stations. I’m thinking I’m sure the gas stations have a few days of gas stocked up. Of course I was wrong because almost all were out of gas last night and today. But still this doesn’t affect me because I go for weeks on tank of gas. I walked to work today because there is hardly a cloud in the sky and on the way home I want to harass Lucia at the cafe because today is the saint’s day for Santa Lucia. If we had a Lucia at work then we would have cornetti but nooo. Maybe on the way home I’ll get a free coffee from her. That may be asking a bit too much.
Still this strike was pretty amazing as strikes go. I’m just lucky in that there isn’t much that I need and there wasn’t any place I needed to go. The trucks were trying to make life hell for as many people as they could. Not only did they not deliver goods but they also blocked the highways. So what was the deal? They were upset about high gas prices and abusive (illegal) trucks. There is nothing that can be done about high gas prices and I see the police pulling over trucks all the time checking their "paperwork". So I really don't know what they are crying about. The government promised to work on some new law that will limit out of country trucks from going more than 120 km into Italy and they will spend more money on roads. Big riggin deal. All this chaos for nothing really. A friend at work says that this strike was also politically inspired as the political right is trying to get the left out of power. If the country is “out of control” then the political right can call for a new government, which they have been doing ever since the day Prodi was sworn in. This political bickering is amazing. It's just getting going in the US and the election is just under a year away.

Monday, December 10, 2007


You wanna be where everyone knows your name… Actually Brindisi does mean Cheers in Italian, sort of... Anyway, the story will explain the title. But first I’m sorry about the photo above. It was the best I could do given the situation.
I looked out my window Saturday night and I saw this Ape in front of the building with a Christmas tree. I immediately thought that my sister would love this. I’m still working on bringing an Ape home for Christmas, sis. The first thing I think to do is grab my camera and race out the door because I don’t know how long it will be there. As I bound down the stairs and I hear voices in the stairwell that are getting louder as go down and sure enough I passed the Christmas tree delivery guy on the second floor. Crap, I can tell from the chitchat, as I sneak by, that he’s done and on his way down too. I’m walking out the building and thinking, “Now where can I rest the camera to get the photo” but a strange thing happens. I start getting wet! Crap it’s raining. I didn’t even notice that. I retreated back to the cover of the building. So it’s raining, the guy’s coming, and I really have no way or time to get the photo like I want. No time to think, I just decide to do the best I can and see what I can do with it on the computer.
By now the guy is coming out of the building so I thought I should ask before taking a photo. We went through the usual stuff about me being a foreigner etc, etc. Then he said, “I know you. You’re the American that came in to buy flowers once. I’m from the florist next to the pharmacy.” Now that’s like saying the gas station next to the McDonalds in the USA. It doesn’t give you ANY idea where he’s talking about. Then I remembered where he meant. Yeah, yeah, he’s not the guy that’s usually there but his assistant and there was one day when the owner or head guy wasn’t there and this guy was manning the store. He wasn’t allowed to sell anything so I had to wait until the other guy returned. That was months ago. How can Italians have such good memories about meeting me? Anyway he said, “Yes, yes get a photo to send back to America” So we ran out into the rain and I snapped a few photos as best I could. He said he really needed to get this last delivery done and I said don’t stay for me. And so he putted off into the rainy night with one last tree to deliver. So it stands that this little town can still amaze me.
It also reminds me. That’s the place where I bought my lemon tree. I’m happy to report that it didn’t die in August like I thought. In fact, it has a ton of blooms that are just getting ready to open. If half of these turn into lemons then I’ll be having homemade limoncello next year. Because we all know that when life gives you lemons, make limoncello. Stay tuned.

This isn't my lemon tree but I hope it will be like this some day.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Gianna e i Rinoplastici

Last night "Gianna e i Rinoplastici" (Gianna and the Nosejobs) rocked the Big Ben. This is the Rino Geatano Tribute band I told you about last month. The photo above is the lead singer getting into it. The guy in the back, you only see his head, is key to the band as he also plays the accordion for some of the songs. Last night he put his keyboard on some crazy steel drums setting for the song "Ahi Maria" to give it a more "Latino flavor".

Below is the bass and drums part of the band. The drummer is Marielena's brother so she always lets up know when they are playing. She probably has some good photos over on her Flickr page.

What's a band without fans? Nothing! And this band is lucky to have the best fans in Brindisi.

This last picture is left over from November and NaBloPoMo. I was trying some wines back then and therefore it was a bad month for wine glasses in my apartment. One was broken in the usual way, while washing it! This second one however broke spectacularly. I saw Nello and Mara playing while I was eating and I decided I would try to scare them when they weren't looking. I started to get up when I barely touched the glass and it glently fell over. It didn't break then so it casually rolled towards the opposite edge of the table. I lunged over the table to try to stop it and got their just in time to catch nothing but air. The glass fell on to the cold hard tile floor. Needless to say the cats were sufficiently scared at the end of this commotion and the following string of curse words. I hope Santa wasn't listening.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Some Christmas and news

I need some Christmas stuff in the blog!! How about a photo or two. This is photo of my house back in the US when I would decorate it. I haven't put up the lights on my balcony here in Brindisi yet. I assume this weekend everyone in my building will and then I will too.

Below is my parents tree from a year or two ago. See with the new portable hard drive I have all my photos ALL the time.

This week has been pretty routine except for a few things. Monday morning I almost fell out of my chair at work laughing. My mom sent out an email about Christmas and at the end she reminded use to forward anything we wanted from Santa to her. My sister replyed back.

Dear Santa,
Tell your reindeer to quit eatin’ my garden or I’m going to shoot the sonsabitches

Maybe you have to know my sister to understand how funny that is. Anyway it really made my Monday morning. Also on Monday Greenpeace was at work again and painted climate killer and stop coal on some of the ships that were off loading coal at the Cerano plant they attacked this weekend. I don’t think this made into the news except around here.
Tuesday was the start of the windy days. It’s been howling windy for three days now. In fact on Tuesday we had a “Tromba d’aria” or tornado. I could look out the window at work and see a perfectly formed funnel cloud. There was no warnings or panic like there would be in the Midwest. Davide and I have discussed this before. They just don’t have the power here that they have in Tornado Alley in the US. We're on a peninsula surrounded by sea that tends to equalize out the temperature. So Tuesday had just enough wind and a difference in temperature to make a tornado but not enough to fuel it to destructive levels. As far as I know no one around here has an experience with a real destructive level tornado.
Tuesday also started our current string of days with cornetti. Somebody has brought in cornetti, Pasticciotto, and graffie (doughnuts) everyday since Tuesday. In fact Tuesday we had two people bring in these treats. It seems that this is the time of year when the Italian company announces promotions and raises. If you move up a level at work or get a raise then it’s assumed you’ll bring something for everyone. I guess I’m starting to put on those Christmas pounds.
Tomorrow is the day we in Brindisi eat puccia. Let’s hope there isn’t a repeat of my incident last year.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I'm back after doing it!

Well there’s some news from this weekend. I was excited to see that Greenpeace “attacked” our local power station. Attacked is strong word (used by one newspaper) but what they did do is hang huge banners on the plant. The biggest (20m by 25m) said “1st Climate Killer In Italy”. This is to signify that the coal-fired power plant at Cerano was the biggest polluter of CO2 for 2006 in Italy. They also say that the 2nd place plant is in Taranto. Finally we beat Taranto! First of all, it’s a little scary that about a dozen Greenpeace activists could break into the plant and hang banners all over the place. I mean it's not easy to sneak in carrying huge banners. We all know the security at tourist sites is tight but not at the big power plant! It was done this weekend because the UN is meeting in Bali to talk about climate change. Greenpeace wanted to remind people the problem is right here in Europe, not just someone else’s fault. I also will go on record that I had nothing to do with this protest but I applaud their efforts. I hope Enel does something to improve this plant. In related news Enel is talking about merging with EDF an energy giant in France. The funny thing about this is that France is big in nuclear power and Italy is against nuclear power BUT Italy buys power from nuclear plants in France. This new merger would probably only increase the amount of nuclear energy in Italy.
I bought something electronic this weekend that I’ve been dreaming about. A Wii, or maybe an Xbox360? No, for me it was an external hard drive. I was giddy driving home with it (yes I’m that much of geek). This little baby is USB powered so it’s incredibly portable and it’s 160 GB! Now these days that’s not a lot but it’s more than all the other hard drives I own, together. My ancient laptop has a 30 GB hard drive. My iPod was the best of the time but only 40 GB and my work laptop is 60 GB. So I can save more stuff on this little new thing then all my old things together. I love it because now I’ll have all my music and photos with me when I travel back to the USA. If my sister wants a Francesco Renga song that I have then, BAM, we copy it over to their computer. If my Keith and Pam like one of the photos I took of Kyle then, BAM, we copy it to their computer. You get the point. I don’t need to carry my computer because everyone I know and everywhere I go, somebody has one. The really strange thing is that I tried to buy one of these hard drives in the US when I was there in October but nobody had them. I went to Best Buy, Circuit City and etc… they all “carried” them but didn’t have any in stock. I went to an electronics store here on a whim and they had several sizes and three different brands! I ended up getting a Packard Bell model because the physical size of the device was smaller than the Toshiba. I can’t help but wonder why in the world I couldn’t get this in the USA but I could here. It’s not just this as there are Wii shortages in the UK but plenty here. Are the businesses that bad and getting stock to right places or is there something else going on?