Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Conversational Relations

So how do you get to know people in a new city? We have had many different repairmen coming to the house to fix things that probably should have been fixed before we got the apartment. Since we have people coming to us, I have been taking the opportunity to converse with them. Every so often I come up with something specific to talk about, so that I have something to keep the conversation going. The past couple days I have been asking people about Lake Garda. It is a beautiful lake, or so we're told, that is only about 20-30 minutes to the west of Verona. Angie, April and I are going to head to Lake Garda this Saturday to celebrate Independence Day. We'll spend the day of the lake/beach and then return that evening home where we'll grill hamburgers and watch something patriotic. There are dozens upon dozens of cities surrounding the lake, so we have been asking which ones are the best. It depends they say. Do we want colder water that's clean? Or warmer water that is a bit more polluted? Lots of wind in the northern part of the lake, they say, that's why there's lots of sailing, wind surfing and parasailing. There are lots of great restaurants all around the lake. Our electrician told us we should head out between 7:30-8:00AM so that we get around all the traffic. Of course that is just regular traffic, since Italians don't celebrate the Fourth of July! From the suggestions so far, we have several options. I guess over time, we'll just have to try all of them and see which place will become "ours". Ours for going to the beach normally. Our version of a "lakelot" without actually having a "lot" on the lake.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Team Member Arrival

So, in about two hours one of our team members, April Houk, is arriving at the airport in Verona. She is travelling with a friend of ours from college. That way she has help travel and baggage. Once she arrives, we will begin guiding her through her first steps in this new culture in which she finds herself living. It will be an adventure for us together!

Pizzeria at Home

So, did we mention that we live above a pizzeria? There are many other stores too, but I want to focus on this little pizzeria. Some days, the oven smells waft up through our fourth story windows and it makes a little mouthwatering. A new ingredient that this place uses is cream cheese. You might not think it would be good, but it is great! Angie and I have both enjoyed different types with cream cheese on it. Not it's not slathered all over the crust. It is like any other ingredient on an Italian pizza. It is used sparingly. Good stuff, makes me hungry thinking about it, maybe I'll go get one of their "popeye" pizzas. They have spinach, cream cheese and a couple other ingredients. Good Eats!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Main Piazza of Verona, Piazza Bra'

Here are several pictures that I took while sitting in Piazza Bra, the main piazza or square of Verona.

Various Pictures Around Our New Apartment

I couldn't help taking this picture. This bicycle is just sitting outside the door of our apartment.

This is the tree lined street that takes you to many local stores , including our grocery store.

Here's our puppy, Brinkley, sitting in our new apartment buildings' private courtyard.

And here is a picture of our local grocery store. It's called MiGross. It basically translates "Give it to me in bulk!"

This is the walkway on the backside of our building. This covered walkway leads to each of the four stairwells that make up our building.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sick as a Dog

I have been sick as a dog for over a week now. We arrived in Italy a week and three days ago. I was still recovering from three pulled teeth when I started showing cold symptoms. Those quickly turned to a sinus infection, with bronchitis tempting its way in. After a few days in Ancona, we moved to Verona one week ago on June 12th. Angie and I came down and got the keys to the apartment from our rental agents. We then cleaned some, got some pizza from a nearby pizza by the slice place and proceeded to sleep on air mattresses, the kind you go camping on. The next morning around 6:30 AM we got a call that the movers were looking for our building. They arrived and we started the process of getting everything put into rooms around the house. They used the same method as when they moved us out of our apartment in Ancona, that is they used a ladder with a motorized platform. It raised and lowered, bringing all of our stuff from the ground to our fourth floor apartment balcony. The owner, Pino, was at the top of the ladder getting stuff off. After he and I would remove the boxes/furniture from the platform, he would send it down, I would tell him where stuff went, then he and I would carrying to each room. Every once in awhile I had to head to the bathroom to cough up congestion. As the day went on it got worse and worse. After getting all of our stuff moved in, we just crashed. For the first time in over two years we are in a stable living situation. Between my illnesses and our tiredness, we couldn't do much that day. Angie and I have been doing what we could as the week went on. We didn't even unpack the TV until tonight!!! We just watched some stuff on the computer.

The thing is I don't even remember the last time I was this sick, oh wait....yeah I do, it was in March/April 2001 right after we had arrived in Italy the first time. I had stomach issues, got bronchitis and fell down two slippery marble stairwells landing right on the middle of my back. I think the enemy would love to use my sickness as a way to get us off balance from the start here in Verona. It didn't work when we first arrived in Italy and its not going to work now either.

On that note, I am retreating to bed to rest. In six hours we are getting up so that a plumber can fix a few things that should have been fixed before we moved in. But if that would have happened, we would have never met the man we are going to meet tomorrow. Maybe God has something in store for him.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Things Are Going

So, we have not last night, but the night before. Our entire trip has gone really smooth. So much smoother than previous years. Marcus, Emanuela and Ugo met us at the airport and helped us with luggage. Ugo's van carried all our bags and we took most of them to our storage unit, since we move to Verona this Friday. All of our stuff in storage seemed in fine condition. No mold, no dirt. Great! Yesterday, we met our landlord from our storage unit and picked up our car. He had a nearby mechanic do a full onceover, filling fluids and tires, etc... He also changed out most of the filters, which he showed me were a mess. Then we went to check on our car insurance. Our agent wasn't there, but we talked to him and said we could pick up the paperwork today. After that we went out and got new phone numbers for our phones. In the mall, we sat and had a cappucino and some Italian breakfast. Once done, we took off to the pet store to get a few things for Brinkley (check out his blog here). He has been great!! Not barking when we have left him and getting on his regular routine of food and sleep patterns. The funny thing is, as I was writing that last sentence, he let out a loud bark from the other room! After the pet store, we went by the post office and Angie went in to pick up the packets we have to fill out to apply for legal living permits. We have to do that within our first eight days.

Anyway, last night we headed to dinner with several of our friends, Valeria, Luca and two of their kids, Emanuela and her boyfriend, Luca, Daniel and Simona, Maurizio and his girlfriend, Antonetta, Novella and Giulia, Marcus and Kyle (both on the Ancona team). It was a great evening of dinner, laughter and reminiscing. Maurizio's eyes bulged with excitement when I told him OU was listed in the preseason top five and that he was welcome to come visit us in Verona to watch some of the games and have barbecue! He came over many Saturdays here in Ancona and grew to love American Football. He is looking forward to coming.

Really, the only downside to everything has been my health! It's crazy. Because I had three teeth removed last week, I have been dealing with pain and headaches. The oral surgeons' office insisted that the pain would be better next week. Also, apparently, I slept with my right foot in a funny position on the middle and longest flight. It felt like I had a huge internal bruise. For the past two days, I have been practically limping at times. It is feeling much better this morning. The last thing is my reoccuring bronchitis. It is showing its ugly head once more. I can feel it down in my chest and I am having difficulty getting it out. I am praying for it to keep from getting infected and just getting through it. We have a full day ahead for our last full day in Ancona. We make the move to Verona tomorrow.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Three Days To Go

How do I explain the veritible swirling of thoughts and emotions. "To-Do" lists keep flying through my mind. I do one task and then another while making sure we've got time with family and friends too. In three days, we leave for Italy. We'll be gone for over two years. All the things that I love about Tulsa and the USA in general, will out of reach and sight for those two years. We are looking forward to being in Verona, but time is sooo crunched right now it is hard to wade through the feelings.

We heard from the landlord of our storage in Ancona. He has been graciously making sure our car is up to speed for us. This is way above and beyond any repsonsibility he has. He had a nearby mechanic check the fluid levels, the shocks need work and the tag is out of date, all of which the mechanic is doing before we return.

Also, our rental agents in Verona have gone the extra mile for us. They already have our electric and water running. They were going to have it painted and cleaned for us too, but the cost was more than we were willing to pay right now.

We spoke with the manager of our apartment in Tulsa and she said everything looked great and we would be getting our entire deposit back within the next 30 days.

Last night, I found out our first flight had been changed which in turn didn't give us enough time to change planes in Chicago. So this morning, our travel agent got our new reservation for a few hours before. So, now we leave earlier, but still in America the same amount of time. We have a layover in Chicago for four hours!

We found out that excess baggage prices have almost doubled since we last flew internationally. So, we will be going through our previously set aside stuff to determine its "weight in gold" and therefore take it with us.

Lots to think about. Lots to be emotional about. We are metaphorically straddling two continents. My mind bounces back and forth like I'm watching a tennis match in my head. In a week.....things will again begin to sharpen in focus.