Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dicembre luce (December lights)

This is the florentine symbol:

December has been a busy and bright month so far. The streets in Florence are decorated beautifully for Christmas (Natale) and light up at night. It definitely makes the cold evenings much more pleasant, although there was a period of a few days last week when it was incredibly warm, up to 18 degrees Celsius! I was shocked when I came out of my apartment on the first warm day, all bundled up for my walk to school.

I've since finished my Level 2 Italian course with 94% on my final exam:) I've also started another, very affordable, and intense 3 1/2 hour lesson on Tuesdays, which for me is incredibly challenging. The students in this class speak and understand Italian SO well! It's a bit of a struggle for me to follow along but the teacher assured me that I belong in the class. Interestingly, although the other students are able to have full conversations at high speed with the teacher in italian ( I can't!) and understand a recording on the first listen (I can't!), when the teacher verbally dictates a passage and instructs us to write it, I make less mistakes than everyone! I guess this shows I understand the rules of grammar, the pronuciation rules, and most of the vocabulary, but the key for me right now is I understand SLOOWWWLY. She speaks slowly when dictating but when the recording is played at normal speed, I can only understand the general idea and not the details. However, I know this is tremendous progress for me and it's only a matter of time!

It's interesting hearing all the accents of the various students when speaking italian. The spanish, the chinese, the german, the thai, the polish, the african, all add their native language spin to italian pronuciation! I didn't think I'd be able to hear the subtleties until having mastered it myself but it is really quite interesting. Of course then there's me with my english accent, the difficulty of rolling rrrr's and making the throaty sound with g + l put together! Thankfully my thursday night tutor, Valentina, helps me work on this:)

Last week I was invited to accompany my friend, Shri, a woman I met at the raw food weekend in Montespertoli, and her 4 year old son to the opening of a furniture store. The store is in such an amazing space with a series of old rooms and big courtyard. Also there's a room in the back packed with shelves of old wallpaper! I would've loved the chance to peek through them all, roll by roll, the patterns are so amazing! The opening doubled as a great christmas party, there was an abundance of food including mandarins and fresh roasted chestnuts, and live music from the owner's teenage nephew's band, so cute!

Shri also took me to the book launch of her italian friend who is a children's book illustrator. I exchanged information with the woman with the intention of arranging a language exchange and also, fingers crossed, to foto take me to the Bologna Children's Book Fair with her in March! This would be amazing as I have interest in also doing illustration for children's books and possibly she could help me make some connections, we shall see! As if Shri hasn't done enough by introducing me to her friend, she has also left her bicycle in my care until she returns next summer and gave me a big bundle of her delicious raw crackers, so generous! I went for my first bicycle ride in Florence on monday night, to the cinema to watch the new Woody Allen film. It felt great, although bumpy with the cobblestone potholes and a little chaotic with the narrow one way streets and crazy drivers, it's such a liberating feeling viewing the world from a bicycle:)
On the weekend I was invited to my cousin Martinho's for dinner where I got to taste his perfected indian dahl. His indian roomate has now entitled him with a black belt in indian cooking after many months of training. I can verify this title is well deserved, it was realllllly good! Us guests also recieved training in how to eat in the proper indian manner, sans untentils! It was strange at first to be scooping up hot rice and dahl (a lentil stew) with your hands, but once I got the hang of it I might say I even prefer this method of eating! You add the sense of touch to the enjoyment of a meal, a whole other level of connecting to food. I might try this on my own more often, I think the key is to just keep a napkin handy;)

So we're on the countdown until Christmas, and I'm on a countdown of one week until I leave for England! My roomate, Rosie, and her family are so generous in inviting me to their beautiful home in Dorset to spend the holiday with them. I'm so appreciative of the opportunity as it will be my first Christmas ever away from my family:_( and also my first time in England. I will also have the chance to explore London for a few days before returning to Florence on new years eve.

I've been spending most of my free time over the past couple weeks, and hence neglecting my blog posts, working on a Wellness Daytimer for 2011, a collaboration with my friend Katie. We were initially intending to test it out for ourselves this year but it's looking so good that we're going to make the pdf available online for people to print and assemble themselves. This is our facebook page and will soon be up and running!

Also this week I'm sitting for a portrait for Rosie and her drawing partner at their art school. It's looking great so far and Rosie has told me I'm the most still model she's ever had!
In other news I'm waiting for package #2 which Firas sent almost a month ago now. It's stuff that I had to abandon at the airport when my luggage was overweight, like my Nana's black boots! I really need them now, they're so warm! The only information available on Canada Post tracking is ' the package is on hold at the postal facitlity (in italy) to verify the address of the recipient'. Firas and I have both called into Canada Post with little use. I'm just hoping it arrives before I leave for england. Also, I've found out the motor of my poor blender has been fried due to incompatible voltage here:( I wish I had known it wasn't compatible before ordering a new 40$ attachment to replace the one confiscated by airport security, however there's still a chance it can be fixed, I'm not giving up on it yet!

A candid photo of this amazingly old and fashionable couple having an argument!