Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh such neglect!

Oh dear blog, I haven't written anything here in way too long! So catching up...

As I mentioned in my last post, I've started working. It's going really well, I like it, but...some of the students (all middle and upper level management in a multinational pharmaceutical company) are overworked and stressed out. Well, speaking English all day and being surrounded by stressed out people sometimes makes me feel like I'm back in NY!

I am struck by how healthy the cafeteria menu is...a choice of two first courses (pasta or risotto), meat, fish and/or frittata, vegetables, salads, fruit, yogurt and to drink: wine or water. No soda or sweets in sight. Employees pay a nominal amount for up to five items and it's really really good (cooked on site). Quite a perk in my opinion. I wish I could bring my family in for lunch everyday:).

Dante started fourth grade on 9/15. Right away the homework started, usually around 2 hours a night (up from 1.5 last year!). He seems to be handling it well with help from his tutor (the mother of the tutor he's had for the past couple of years--his usually tutor is on a semester abroad in Holland...the mother is actually an elementary school teacher in a local school). He does get out at 1 pm every day, so theoretically there is time to do it all. But afterschool activities haven't started yet...

Next Monday starts his "long Mondays", the one day a week when he stays at school until 4:30. Oh, how he used to cry in first grade on the way to school on Mondays! Now there are no more tears and it's OK...and the silver lining is usually there is no or very little homework.

Next week starts music lessons too. While he really wants to learn the guitar, it was explained that for the first year everyone will learn to read and play music on the piano where it's easier. Next year guitar. The lessons will be on Tuesdays from 5-6 p.m. and he will be in a group of four, all from the fourth grade in his school. We'll see how it goes with homework, which he'll have to do afterwards since his tutor doesn't arrive home on Wednesdays until 5 p.m. and I arrive home even later.

Also starting soon will be karate, Tuesday and Friday evenings, from 6:30-7:30. I'll see if he can only do it on Fridays as otherwise Tuesdays will be too busy. Maybe we'll do swimming instead, which has many different time slots. He HAS to do something, as physical education at school is ONLY once a week.

He's still wearing a dark blue grembuile (smock) with a white collar (but no bow anymore, thank goodness) and has a book and notebook for each subject. Something new this year--he's using a carry-on suitcase, with wheels, for his school bag. It was really too much to carry back and forth everyday on his back, although perhaps it could have counted as weight-lifting exercise!

On the home front we have way too many pets! The two dogs which we've had for a few years now (puppies of my in-law's dog Lea) have grown big. They are outdoor dogs with time to exercise everyday outside their pen. Well, the male, which NO ONE wanted to neuter (too cruel they yelled!) is escaping on a regular basis. We can't figure out how...

I have to be sure to keep the kitten away from him as I don't trust him with small, darting animals, so she's stuck inside more than I'd like, with a kitty litter box.

The turtles are truly low maintenance, just change the water and feed them...not bad.

But our guppies have gotten sick. The other fish in the tank (platties and mollies) seem fine, although one mollly did die while we were away so the theory is that perhaps they introduced a virus to the tank and the guppies, which are more beautiful but more delicate than years ago, caught it. Two have died in the last two weeks and the two remaining ones don't look so good...

Other news...

We had a great potato harvest his year and so I asked my friend to use about 10 pounds worth and make us some gnocci for the freezer. She made them yesterday. Yum!

And that's all that's new over here....(oh, my Folletto vacuum (a German brand I believe) that I've been waiting for FOREVER (well, two months) did arrive last week finally. Yea! I got busy and vacuumed my furniture and rugs, which were looooooooong overdue!

Have a good weekend everyone!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I got a job!

I was feeling a little funky this month with the start of the school year and me not working. Or was it that the bills here have piled up with workers putting down tile around the house, the materials for said job, etc? Pio's retirement check in US $, while going slightly further than last week, doesn't go as far as we need it to. So when I was once again offered a job that I interviewed for back in March, I accepted it without thinking too much. It is 40 minutes by car from home, teaching Business Engish to pharmeutical company professionals. They all seem like nice people, but after only two days (10-6 or 5 pm) I'm wiped out! Good thing tomorrow is my last day until next Tuesday!! And when will the first check arrive? October 11th, I hope!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

New SCHOOL Year, that is! After 18 years of being a full-time student and 20-something of being a full-time teacher, the day after Labor Day is ingrained in me as the REAL beginning of a new year. Today would be full of teacher meetings and setting up ones space (I didn't have a classroom, but rather office space, my last five years.) Lots of air kisses (on only one cheek, not both) and "Hi, how was your summer" going round, and a quick glance at the pay chart to see how much, more or less, I'd be making this year.
Ah, sigh.
Over the summer I turned in my resignation letter (it was either that or go back from my leave-of-absence) after much thought. For me it was the right decision for many reasons, but that doesn't mean it was easy. I worked with the same school system since the mid-eighties and grew up with a lot of people there (most of whom will be retiring at the end of this school year--now how did that happen?!). Next September I can begin to collect a reduced, penalized pension check (don't have 30 years in, won't have 62 years of age), but it's still more than I could make working full time here in Italy! (Which only points our how bad the economic situation is here...while prices for everything are high. But that's another post.)
For all you teachers, and students, out there...have a GREAT NEW YEAR!!
(Dante won't go back until September 15, though most teachers here in Italy started yesterday.)
P.S. The figs as pictured in previous post are literally as sweet as honey! I just wish I could get at least a kilo of them all ripe on the same day so I could make jam...maybe I'll go up and check the tree this morning, early, before I head into Rome. Lots more should have ripened since Sunday. I'm eating them raw rather than baking with honor of my "New Year's" resolution to lose a few pounds!
I haven't been into Rome for months and miss the chaos. Crowds should be slightly diminished, and heat too, so it's time. Visiting a friend for an Indian lunch and a bit of conversation in English.