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Month: January, 2012

Happy Birthday AA


It seems almost impossible, but this little baby is my niece AA and today is celebrating her 9th birthday.

AA (as she liked to call herself) is now in 3rd grade and has even a boyfriend T. I adore this girl, and Doc and I are so proud of being her uncle and aunt (as we are of our other nephews P. and T.). However, AA is the only niece we have, and in these 9 years, Doc and I have been laughing at remembering episodes about AA like these:

In May 2005, AA is 2 years and a half. On a Saturday, we are about to go out and AA is all well dressed with capri pants, a colorful Tshirt, sandals and sunglasses that give her a lovely look. Keen to teach my niece some English words, I look at her and say “AA, you’re so COOL.” Now, for non Italian, COOL sounds like the word “CULO” that means A$$, not a word you want to teach to a toddler… Obviously, she thought I told her “You’re an A$$” and she promptly looked at me and reply “No, you A$$.” My jaw dropped, and it took me a few seconds to recover and explain her the real meaning of COOL.

A few months later, I go home with K. my assistant who does not speak a word of Italian. K. loves children and spends time playing with AA but surely does not understand what AA says or wants her to do. At a certain point AA looks at me and asks “If I speak out loud, will she understand me?”

During the same trip to Italy, I am about to go out with AA and K. Because K. is American, she has different taste in dressing and does not really know that wearing a coat and flip flops to go around Turin in October is a little “unusual.” Nonetheless, she is ready to go out like that. My sister is trying to convince AA to get dressed.
“Go and get your shoes because we need to leave” tells her, but AA doesn’t comply.
“Come on AA, go and put your shoes on” she keeps telling her. Still AA is not convinced.
“GET YOUR SHOOOOEEEES!!! You can’t go out with slippers” bursts my sister with little patient left in her voice.
AA without being intimidated looked at her mom, points her finger to K’s flip flops, and comments “And why is she wearing those?”

About a year ago, AA is doing her math homeworks
5-5=5
“WHHHHAT? 5-5=5????” comments in disbelieve  her grandma looking at the math book “but if you have 5 tomatoes and you eat 5 tomatoes, how many tomatoes do you have?”
AA without hesitation replies “5, in my belly.”
At the young age of 7, AA has discovered the Law of Conservation of Mass

AA is having a conversation with one of her classmates who is a little pain in the butt and tries to get AA jealous of her.
“You know” she tells AA “At my house, I have a doll room where my mom and dad put all the dolls they buy for me. And you, do you have a doll room in your house?”
Promptly AA replies “No, I don’t have a doll room in my house; however, I have a whole bedroom in California”

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1000 Querce B&B

On December 24th, the 1000 Querce Bed & Breakfast officially opened. On that day, our first guests I & I arrived from Italy. They stayed with us for about 10 days and left on Jan 2nd.

Lots of work was done in the days and weekends prior to their arrival, because our mansion was still in an advanced state of entropic chaos (particularly my craft room where entropy is still not under control yet); however, Doc and I have been able to fix the mansion and make it reasonably acceptable. The only flaw: the lack of the bed in the guest bedroom; therefore, I & I had to sleep on the couch in the wide but bare living room.

I & I are a lovely young couple. I have been knowing Mr I since he was born, but at times life has other plans, and I lost him when he was about 15 years old to find him a few years ago thanks to Facebook (actually, he found me) older and married with Mrs I. Mr I is a musician, plays the guitar, and composes music for singers and jingle for advertisements; Mrs I is works in IT and obviosly Doc became instantly his admired not only  because Doc has an insane passion for women who understand and can operate computers, but also because Mrs I has seredipitously found a wire that Doc looked for around the mansion without success. When Mrs I timidly suggested “Look in that cabinet,”   Doc was about to laugh out loud but because he is a gentleman and will never do that in front of a woman, he skeptically opened that cabinet and to his amazement found the wire; hence, his devoted admiration for Mrs I grew esponentially.

Our guests loved our mansion still smelling new, and even more the peace of 1000 Querce and the Conejo Valley that Doc would happily trade for 10% of the action he saw in Dubai last December… Yes, Doc has still not adapted to life in the suburbs…

Anyway… in those 10 days with our guests, we celebrated Xmas and the New Year, laughed out loud, spoke an impossible and improbable Italian language, watched low-budget (and questionable) soap operas on YouTube, ate in fancy restaurants, enjoyed the warm weather of Southern California, drove up and down the canyons, visited Los Angeles, Malibu, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, and even made a 3-day trip to San Francisco. Basically, we had 10 days of pure fun.

For Mr I and Mrs I, this was their first trip to the US, and to quote them “almost unforgettable.” Thanks Mr I and Mrs I to have visited us and spent with Doc and I our first Californian Xmas and New Year . We loved having your around; we miss you, and we hope you’ll visit us again soon. However, next time, please leave the flu virus in Italy, otherwise Doc will keep you in quarantine before letting you in the mansion.

I wish you a safe journey back home, and I hope you’ll be greeted as in this lovely video (which I love and still laugh and cry EVERY SINGLE  time I watch it…)

PS: A big THANK YOU to Alison Manning from New England Stamper who granted me permission to use the picture of her beautiful daisy wreath I posted at the beginning of this story. Her web site is full of lovely ideas and cards… check it out!

Rules and Regulations

There is a particular topic that worries Doc, that afflicts his neurons and forces them to work all the time, that torments his sleep, that tortures his thinking, that interferes with his innate peace: THE TRASH

In fact, living in your own house is quite different than living in a condo where you exit your door, walk in the hallway, open the trash room, and throw the trash bag in the trash chute. Oh well, nothing like that when you live in a house and when the city has strict rules on which day to pick up your trash.

Garbage is collected in two different bins, one for recycle trash (indeed, California is one of the states that mostly supports recycling) consisting of plastic, paper, and metal; and the other for non-recyclable trash. Both bins are emptied once a week.

Doc is worried like no other regarding the non-recyclable bin being emptied once a week. Usually, the majority of biological garbage is disposed by the sinkerator, a tool placed in the kitchen sink equipped with sharp and revolving blades that mince and grind all vegetable and fruit waste, and that are then eliminated with running water. However, being Italians, we’re not used to this way of disposing biological garbage, and in addition to that, some waste, such as potatoes and onion skins, can go around the blades, block them and break the sinkerator leading to an expense of at least $400 to replace it. Therefore, we decided not to use it too much but for disposing lemon or orange peels that not only make a good smell, but they’re also supposed to disinfect the sink (and we all know by now how much Doc loves to disinfect…).

Considering that Doc is a human being particularly receptive to perfumes and extremely intolerant of unpleasant smells such as decaying of organic material, the idea to store the trash for about a week before releasing it terrifies him. In addition, the two bins are located in the garage because it’s easier to take them out the night before the scheduled pick-up date.

“Do these two bins need to stay here?” asked Doc as soon he realized where they were located.
“Of course they do. In this way, we can take them out on Tuesday evening” I said
“I don’t like the idea that they pick up the trash only once a week” continued Doc “I don’t like it at all…”
“What’s wrong with that?” I asked knowing the answer
“These two bins in the garage!!! Who knows what’s going to happen here in the Summer. Microbes and bacteria will proliferate at a super-speed rate and the garage will be filled with unpleasant smells of rotten food. Perhaps the smell will even go up the stairs and fill the kitchen…”

With such a detailed description of a biological war occurring every Summer, I start imaging a green and smelly jelly material taking over my house.

“See, they could have installed air conditioning in the garage to cool it” added Doc
“Come on Doc, such an idea is not cost-effective. On the other hand, we can consider installing a chest freezer where we could store the trash” I proposed “or, in alternative, we should build or buy a compost bin and put it in our little patio”
“NOOOOOO, we can’t have a compost bin in our patio, are you crazy? My parents have one, and it’s located at the end of the garden because it stinks like crazy” replies a worried Doc “I am worried about other trash, such as meat or fish remains, or worst chicken bones. We can’t dispose them with the sinkerator, and when they decay, they stink and produce an exorbitant amount of disgusting bacteria…”

After about 30 seconds of silence and thinking, Doc made his final and irrevocable verdict “We’re going to eat roasted chicken ONLY on Tuesday for dinner.”

So, in our home in 1000 Querce we have one new rule: roasted chicken can be eaten only the day before the trash is picked up day. As of today, the day dedicated to this dinner is Tuesday evening, but such day can change if Waste Management, the company responsible for disposing our trash, decides to change the day the garbage is taken from our trash bins.

If, for any reason, garbage from animal waste and organic waste in general will be produced in a day different than Tuesdays, such waste will be immediately bagged and sealed and deposited in the gigantic waste bin in a complex not far from our house. Such rule will be followed also when we’re traveling, and we don’t want to leave our waste decaying in the garage for two or more weeks. We only hope that California doesn’t treat people dropping waste in other garbage bins as criminals…