martedì 24 febbraio 2015

The silent sounds of London

Each time I'm leaving for a small journey around Europe, I normally take into account some things that have by now become accepted truths: the first one is that I will always leave home as somebody who's running away from it. I'll normally postpone getting the luggage ready till the last possible millisecond and leave home at the last minute, giving me an overall aura of a pinkish hair runaway madwoman.
The second truth is that in the moment I land I'll be temporarily deaf. My ears pressure has always behaved like an anarchist and after a bad infection some years ago (note to readers: if your ear ever starts bleeding after a flight, don't believe the A&E doctor telling you to take an aspirin and go to sleep, ok? You'd have to be highly dysfunctional, stupid or both to believe him) alongside the pain my hearing capabilities drops badly.
The feeling is the one you get when your ears are full of water but there is no sound whatsoever. I see people opening and closing their mouths but I hear nothing. Hearing eventually comes back, slowly and gradually and the day after I'm as good as new.

To say I freaked out the first time it happened is an understatement, but now I got used to it and I somehow appreciate it. First of all it's a good excuse to play dumb if situation arises. And, it allows me a whole different look on what's around me and strips me of some of my habits, like having the iPod constantly on. I've grown up listening to music in every song moment of my life: I listen to music first thing in the morning, sing along some of my favourites at work and one of my he last thing before turning the lights off at night is to close the turntable. By if I can't hear it makes no sense to try and listen to music at inhuman high volume. So no music for me today, in my ears at least. Because walking in central London, I could see all the sounds and noises of the city: the different accents English is spoken here, the screeching of the tube vagons on the tracks, the service announcements over intercom, the gulls calling each other and the Thames water that hits the pillar of the bridges, the Caribbean duo playing near Waterloo and the busker at Green Park.

I walked around while my brain was singing to the Clash, switching to Billy Bragg around Charing Cross, the music plays in shuffle mode, from the Pogues to Nick Lowe, from R.E.M. to Césaria Evora, till the sun set down and Ella accompanied me home. Well, to the bed and breakfast...

domenica 8 febbraio 2015

staring at the oil bottle

As I already wrote, last Friday I woke up with a huge stye in my eye. I went to the eye-doctor and then to the pharmacy to get some medicines.
When I told some of my friends, I was surprised by how many (almost all!) of them replied advising me to stare at a bottle of oil.


A bottle of oil. Everybody knows it, apparently. Well, everybody but me. I'm apparently very ignorant of any notion of popular remedy.
But as the stye is still happily squatting my eyes, I thought I could give it a try and immediately faced some issues.

First of all, I bet none of my ancestors stared into a bottle of oil with a plastic cap: you can't really take a good look at the oil from it; plus, this "bottle of oil" sounds too generic to me: olive oil? corn oil? Quick search on Google and I learned it's extra-virgin olive oil bottle I need. And so I stared at it, thinking I've however done much stupider things and making a mental note to add olive oil to the grocery list for the week.

venerdì 6 febbraio 2015

Friday night multitasking

The eye doctor said that snow might have something to do with my stye: dirt gets easier into your eyes by means of snow or rain, he said.
He might be right, I don't know. What I know is that I got a stye the size of Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Architecturally a great achievement, esthetically however what's the point of it? I scare myself well enough each time I stare into the mirror in the morning, without extra help.

Instead of calling in sick, I decided to work anyway and stare at different displays with different resolution all day long. Why? Because I'm an idiot, that's why.
So tonight I was pretty much knackered to do anything. Not that I had really big plans anyway.

But hey! Six Nations was starting tonight and it was on free tv!
So I set myself to watch the first match of the tournament, but immediately realized there were some problems with it. First of all, the Italian commentary grates on my nerves after about 1 milliseconds.
Second, I just found out that there are several audiobooks on Spotify and I had started listening to "Pride and Prejudice" while having dinner. Third, I felt my world would be very unbalanced unless I started knitting a new pair of socks.
How could I possibly solve the dilemma I was in?
I poured myself an extra glass of tea and wondered how come my tea tasted so much like whisky (it was my 2nd cup you know...) and then applied my best multitasking skills

That's how I found myself muting the tv, watching Wales loosing to England while casting on a new pair of socks that will probably be ready for next winter and listening to the account of the Netherfield ball.
All done in Cyclops mode.


giovedì 15 gennaio 2015


I sent a message to my friend Flavia during Christmas break. She was way over busy back then: she and Rob had decided that there was nothing better to do in the middle of Australian summer than becoming parents, moving to a new house and celebrate Christmas in a timespan of barely 4 weeks.
When she told me she was tired, I did believe her, fully.
Yet, she took the time to share some of my puzzled bewilderment and laughters.

Back in Hoofddorp we would scan our company canteen, despair at the food selection, then one of us would go: "mmmh, lekker!"
The other one (and anybody else around) would crack up laughing in return.

Of course she had to something to say when I sent her photographic proof of the new food hype in Italy is: chips. Duch chips.
They are basically everywhere: no more kebabs, or pizza, or focaccia or burgers. It seems we turned into the Van Gogh's potato eaters v. 2.0
So far I've counted 3 different chips shop chains. And each one of those has a big queue in front of each one of them. I just can't believe it!

I used to say to my curious niece that in order to understand food in Holland, you have to take into account that Belgian chips are the national Dutch food and now they're everywhere, masked as "Amsterdam" chips.

My friend Franceschina says is the perfect business: you don't need a lot of space, material is cheap, you get a good income (at least until a new food fashion comes along), still I can't understand it. Chips with some mayo and everybody around me goes... "Mmmmh, lekker!"

Where did we all go wrong?

martedì 6 gennaio 2015

A morning stroll into town

What a difference a year made
365 little days
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to me rain

One year ago I was fighting to get away.
Now I’m finding hard not to stay.

What happened?
It happened I got a flat I feel my own: it’s so nice, warm and there’s so much light coming in from the window right now.
I've put an armchair in front of the window: it’s not an amazing landscape the one I can admire from there, the courtyard of the building in front of mine and the buildings on the street after; yet it’s so nice and quiet, and it’s nice to just sit there knitting or reading, while I listen to the Wilco’s opera omnia.

It happened I still struggle at crying most of the time, but found moments when I can do it freely and I’ve started calling my problems by their proper names, rather than looking for excuses.

The combination of these 2 facts brought me to a dreadful Sunday afternoon when I started feeling a familiar sense of anguish creeping up. I used to call it the "Sunday afternoon-Monday morning school angst". It’s that horrible feeling I used to get on Sunday afternoon, when I knew it was time to get the school backpack ready for the morning after and I just thought that if I didn’t do anything, denial would have taken all my worries away and it would be Sunday afternoon forever.

Yesterday the feeling was so strong and I felt so bad, I had to do something. And instead of hiding under the bed cover to resurface only tomorrow morning (when I’ll have to go back to Milan), I went out.

I took a bus to the city center early in the morning and basked in how beautiful everything around me was.
Monday before Epiphany is a weird day: sales are on, kids still on holiday, some people were returning to work while, at the same time, there were still a lot of tourist around.
First stop, the Mole Antonelliana: there was an exhibition dedicated to Sergio Leone I wanted to see and after that I spent some time watching the movie rolls they broadcast at its base.
The Mole is magic in bricks, now lovingly watching over the magic of movies.

I never get tired of walking around it, discovering bits and pieces I missed in the previous visit, or finding mementos of past exhibitions.


I left after having watched Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman dancing a couple of times, not before spending some time in the shop, just to listen to Lou Reed singing "Perfect day".

I strolled up to Piazza Castello, under the portici of Via Po, and then got into Palazzo Madama. I took the stairs up to the tower: not many tourists get on top of the tower, most of the people get their share of panoramic beauty from the top of the Mole but in front of me I could see why it’s so damn hard to leave. I could see the Alps faraway covered in snow, I could see Superga in the distance and the Gran Madre church still partially covered by the mist coming from the river.

And the sky was so blue and the city below me so beautiful, I couldn’t help but smile; and dry some small tears.

Before heading back home I decided to try my luck and went to queue for the Russian Avantguardes exhibition. And lo and behold, there was no queue! Actually there was nobody, just me and the girls at the cashier.

I ended up enjoying a private tour of the exhibition; there were my favorite Rodchenko and Popova and I also discovered some new names I’ll have to google to know more about. I didn’t understand everything I saw (especially the portion about painting the sound), but I enjoyed it and I liked what I saw so much I’m pretty sure I’ll queue one more time for an encore before the exhibition closes next month.

This is basically the most advanced form of art review I’ll ever be able to give, but also what will put me through the doom and gloom of returning to Milan tomorrow. No better way to fight back but booking some train tickets first thing in the morning.

domenica 4 gennaio 2015

The sweater fairytale

When I was a kid I inherited a lot of my parents childhood books. Well, it was more of a long-term loan, to be honest. I liked most of them more than the new books I received: they had a physical presence that was more fascinating than the new ones, not to mention the pictures looked nicer and seemed to promise more fun, adventures and enchantment than newer editions.

There were a lot of Jules Verne’s novels, children literature authors now long forgotten and collections of classical fables and folklore tales.We had a series of books by the Grimm brothers and H.C. Andersen.

I enjoyed reading them a lot, even though I found most of them quite sad, if not depressing. In hindsight, I wonder what possessed my parents to allow me read those books; that was pure psychological terror in prints, not to mention the predecessor of pulp literature: kids eaten alive, witches roasted in the oven (alive), murders and misery; and now I hear people wondering whether Harry Potter saga isn’t a bit to violent for kids… seriously?

One of my favorite fable was "The Wild Swans". It’s a tale of misery, social injustice, persecutions and how petty and ugly people can be, not to mention a yet-another-feable excuse of a king. Still the princess marries him at the end, when she should have just dumped him and go away with her brothers.

Anyway, as a child, I didn’t really read that much into it. I just liked the story, and even more so the illustrations that came with it. There was this drawing of the princess throwing into the sky the shirts she knitted out to the her brothers, while standing on this already lit and burning pire. But worry do not, everybody lived happily ever after, also the brother that got the uncompleted shirt; Elisa had not enough time to complete knitting the last sleeve, so one of the brothers was left with one wing, instead of an arm.

The tale of the poor brother of Elisa is something that resonates a lot with me recently, because it looks like I am like Elisa right now and all my knitting projects lack something to be completed: scarves left halfway through, single-sock pair of socks and sweater that look knitted out just for Elisa’s brother.

When I go and browse on Ravelry the finished project section, I can’t help but feeling a little envious: how can people can be so good at finishing projects? Why can’t I manage to complete one single work, before casting on a couple of new ones?

And how can people find the time to knit so many nice things?

I have been asking myself these question for a really long time now and without any result: I can’t find the answers I’m looking for.

So instead I decided to not look for answers, but count rounds: I’ve taken up again knitting my sweatrrr!

After taking the class with Åsa Tricosa back in Brighton I had wanted to start it straight away, but then I broke my arm and everything went on hold, until the cast was removed and my left arm started cooperating once more. So at the end of August, I picked some nice Albozzi yarn and casted on: the project grew quickly and easily under my eyes… Until I reached sleeve #2. Once I picked up the stitches for that sleeve, everything seemed to slow down to a complete stop.

It was frustrating yet I couldn’t resolve to pick it up and finish it. Instead I finished 2 shawls, 3 hats and started other 3 projects.

I put the project bag on the sofa, thinking that if I saw it there, it’d be easier to pick it at the end of the day and knit some rounds. The project bag stayed on the sofa for almost 2 months, looking at me as accusingly and offended as a project bag can do. And trust me, it can do it pretty well for an inanimate object.

I then moved the project bag into the suitcase and brought it with me to Torino… this time around, however, I prevailed over my own idiocy and picked it up again! I even hold some hope to finish it before my break is over and I return to work.




sabato 3 gennaio 2015

The small houses

I think it's because I've been talking so much about houses, flat, home and apartments... It must have somehow got into some of my friends subconsciousness.

How to explain otherwise this pair of earrings I got from Franceschina??!

She told me she immediately thought of me when she saw them. And now I literally got two houses I carry around with me, while travelling and living in between my Milan flat and Turin home.

I hope I will solve this situation as soon as possible, but there's very little I can do now (aside calling the furniture shop to get my table and chair delivered before the next ice age!). In the meantime I must start obsessing my friends about Malabrigo yarns as much as I can.