Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bonding With the X Man.

With the wife and Luca gone, it's just me and the X Man here. Unfortunately my work schedule makes it impossible for me to bring him to school in the morning and pick him up in the afternoon so he's staying with Giampi and Agnese during the week and I see him after work. I have him all to myself on the weekends though and I am really enjoying the time alone with him. He really is such a great kid, well behaved and very polite. Giampi tells me that the people around town are so impressed by him and his good manners, always saying please and thank you and such. He's also very affectionate and often says "I love you daddy" right out of the blue. Just melts my heart. He constantly cracks me up with the things he says too, you never know what he's going to come up with next. For instance, we had this exchange on the way back from the airport last weekend:

X: Daddy, do you like the day or the night?
Me: Umm...I like the night because I can sleep.
X: I like the day because I can learn stuff and go to school and have a lot of adventures.

Anyway, I was hoping to take a few trips on the weekends while the wife is away but I think I'm just going to hang out with the X Man instead...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wife and Kid Arrived Safely

There were a few nervous moments for me after reading about and seeing video of the flooding in Manila this weekend but I got an email from the wife this morning saying the flooding had gotten better by the time they arrived yesterday. Her aunt picked them up and they should be at her family's place in Pangasinan by now so I guess there's not much to worry about anymore unless another tropical storm hits. Apparently the flooding was some of the worst ever there with over 100 people dead, over 2,000 missing and hundreds of thousands without homes or electricity.

On the homefront things are fine. Had a great day with the X Man yesterday, just a couple of guys hanging out. He left for Giampi and Agnese's house last night and will staying with them during the week as my work schedule will not allow me to bring him to school or pick him up. Since Giampi and Agnese will be bringing him to school in the morning and picking him up in the afternoon, they said it's easier if he just sleeps there each night. I'll probably go over after work to see him and maybe have dinner. They are very excited about it too, they really adore him as if he is their own grandchild and especially now that he is fluent in Italian. The X Man is thrilled too, he absolutely loves staying with Giampi and Agnese. For my part, I'm completely ecstatic to have the entire house to myself. I cherish the peace and quiet. Don't have to close the door when I go to the bathroom, I can walk around's faaaaaaaaaaaaaaantastic....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Wife and Baby are Away...

The wife and Luca left out of Milan last night headed for Manila with a layover in Abu Dhabi. Her family decided to hold a huge family reunion so her and Luca will be there about 5 weeks, returning on October 31st. Unfortunately the timing could not have been worse as Manila is currently suffering from some of the worst flooding in its history due to tropical storm Ketsana that dumped the equivalent of an entire month of rain on the area in 6 hours. I've been very worried as the situation in Manila is extremely dangerous right now - estimates say that 80% of the city is underwater - but the last thing I read was the the airports in Manila and northern Philippines have been reopened so hopefully the situation is improving. As I write this, their flight from Abu Dhabi is waiting to take off so there's still several hours until they arrive in Manila. I've got status updates on the flight being sent to me as they occur so I'll be tracking closely.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Favorite Pizza

I've had dozens of different kinds of pizza during my time in Italy. When I first arrived in 2000, the first pizza that I was addicted to was "spinaci e ricotta" (spinach and ricotta cheese). Eventually I started experimenting with different toppings and combinations. For a while I was partial to "proscuitto e funghi" (Italian ham and mushrooms) and then after that I discovered just plain old pizza con olivi (pizza with olives).

Then a few years ago while we were living in Germany and visiting Giampietro and Agnese, we took them out for dinner. They suggested going to a nearby restaurant called La Fenice, (Italian for "The Phoenix"). Normally when we go out to eat with them I've noticed that they usually each order a different pizza, eat half, then switch. However on this night they both ordered the same pizza. It looked liked nothing more than just cheese and cherry tomatoes so I paid it no mind but at one point Giampi told me about the pizza - it was called "Estate del Sud", which means "summer in the south". The south of Italy, particularly in the Naples area, is known for great pizza and great food in general featuring delicious produce and ingredients. So on the Estate del Sud pizza was just tomato sauce, mozzarella di buffala (mozzarella cheese made with the milk of a water buffalo which is only made in the south) and some kind of special cherry tomatos that are only grown in Sicily and only in the summer months so the only time you can get this pizza is when the tomatoes are in season in Sicily. The finishing touch is a bit of basilico (basil).

Anyway, Giampi had me try a bite and I can't even describe my reaction. I'd never tasted anything like it, the flavor was just indescribable. I've since ordered pizza with mozzarella di buffala and cherry tomatoes at other places but the taste doesn't even come close. I've not found any other pizza like the Estate del Sud at La Fenice. It is far and away the best pizza I've ever had in my life. Unfortunately summer is over now so we have to wait til next summer to enjoy it again.

Here's a couple pics of the Estate del Sud (click to enlarge):

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn is upon us.

You may have heard me say it many times before but autumn is far and away my favorite time of the year. For most people spring is the time of year that represents renewal but for me it's the fall. For me, the fall is when everything is coming back to life. For the first 22 years of my life it meant that the school year was starting up again. It means that the football, soccer, basketball and hockey seasons are starting up again. This was always the best time of year for me growing up because I was such a soccer nut - nothing made me happier than playing soccer and so the fall was the best time of the year for me. The fall meant Saturday mornings at Brickyard Field in Litchfield. Later on it meant soccer practices after school and bus rides to places like Milford, Derry and Merrimack for games.

I guess I don't really know exactly what it is that makes autumn my favorite time of year. There's just something comforting in it, something that brings back all the fondest memories of years gone by. Growing up in New England, fall was always magical if for no other reason than because of the leaves changing. My brother has traveled all over the world and seen more places than anyone I know and he says that New England during peak foliage season, when the leaves are at their most colorful, is still the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. I'm inclined to agree. I was fortunate to attend college at a small, private school tucked away in the mountains in southwest New Hampshire called Franklin Pierce College (Now called Franklin Pierce University). It sits at the base of Mt. Monadnock, the second most climbed mountain in the world after Mt Fuji, and is right in the heart of leaf-peeper territory. "Leaf-peeper" is the term that refers to the droves of tourists that flock to the area in the fall to admire and photograph the vibrant foliage colors, many of whom come from as far away as Europe and Asia.

It's not that often that I find myself missing home. But seeing pictures of the foliage definitely brings back some very fond memories.

By the way, here's a great one-stop website for New England foliage:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fatherhood Moment

Luca falls asleep sitting on my lap...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm growing a beard.

I'm a lefty. And my surgery a couple weeks ago was on my left shoulder. One result of the surgery is that I'm not able to lift my left arm much higher than my shoulder which makes simple things like brushing my teeth, combing my hair and shaving nigh impossible. So here it is a couple weeks after my surgery and I haven't even attempted to shave so I've got a pretty good beard started. Although I've done the goatee thing a few times since getting out of the Army, I've never attempted to grow a full beard so since I had a good two week start I figured I'd keep going and see how it looks. It's coming in pretty nicely so far and although I had planned on shaving it off in a week or two, I have received a few compliments on it and I kind of like the way it looks. I guess you could say it's growing on me - literally and figuratively. So I'm keeping it for now. When it starts getting unmanageable in another week or two I might end up shaving it off but until then I'm kind of digging it. Here's a few pics...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Update, Part 2

Shoulder is coming along slowly but surely. I'm getting quite a bit of my old range of motion back although I've still got a ways to go until I'm back to normal. I had my follow up appointment with the orthopedist yesterday and he told me that, looking a tthe post-surgery reort, the doctor ended up doing a lot of other stuff than what was originally planned so once he got in there he must have seen something that didn't show up on the MRI. But I'm out of the sling for good now, all the bandages are off and I'm able to do a little more each day with my left arm/hand. It is still very sore when i move it though and I still pop a couple percocet when I'm at home, assuming I'm not driving anywhere. I start physical therapy this coming Monday so hopefully I'll be back to normal soon and I'll be able to start back up with my kettlebells before the end of the year...

Friday, September 11, 2009


Well, it's been over a week now, my shoulder is getting better, the bandages are off but I still don't have very good range of motion. I am going to attempt to drive to the base for the grocery shopping in a couple days. If that goes well then I will be going back to work on Monday as scheduled. While I'm not looking forward to going back to hell work, I am going absolutely crazy sitting at home with nothing to do. I ran out of movies/tv shows after about 4 days so mostly I sit on the couch watching stuff on Youtube or wasting time on Facebook. This is not how I prefer using my vacation time I can assure you.

Anyway, nothing else to say except I'm glad that September is here and the cooler weather. With it come soccer and football season so I am a happy boy...

Monday, September 07, 2009

My wife is leaving me.

Well, for a month anyway. Her family is having a huge family reunion back in the Philippines in October so she is headed back for a little over a month to spend time with her friends and family. She is taking Luca with her as her family hasn't seen him yet but the X Man will be staying here with me since he will be in school and 5 weeks is too much time to miss.

They'll be leaving out of Milan (much cheaper than Venice) September 26th and returning October 31st and the wife is very excited to see family members she hasn't seen in many years. As for me, I doubt I'll be doing much while they're gone as the X Man will still be here but I'm hoping to do a trip or two if possible. The hardest thing will of course be working around the kid's school hours. My work schedule will make it difficult if not damned near impossible to bring him to school in the morning and pick him up afterward but fortunately Giampietro and Agnese will be around to help. Not only that but our neighbor Giorgia is a teacher at his school and will be helping out as well. It'll be difficult but it should work out somehow. I'm also considering hiring a part time maid to help out with the housework. Unless there's someone out there who wants to come stay with us for a month...anyone?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Surgery report

This will be short as it's hard to type with only one hand...

Surgery yesterday went fine. It was obviously not a pleasant experience but thank God it's done and I can look forward to a healthy shoulder again once it heals.

The surgery itself went good but it was not without incident. When I woke up I wasn't feeling any pain except my throat which hurt like hell. The nurse explained that I had stopped breathing in the middle of the operation for some reason and they to shove some kind of tube down my throat to get me breathing again. Other than it was routine but then in recovery my blood pressure shot up and I ended up staying an extra couple hours until it came down to acceptable levels.

Right now I'm home with some kind of strange, futuristic, uncomfortable sling on, I can't shower for the next 4 or 5 days (sponge bath!) and I've got a bunch of percocet to deal with the pain although it hasn't been too bad yet. I'm off of work until the end of next week and I'm bored already...