We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

What a difference a year makes!

Ciao, tutti!

I'm thinking I need to dedicate this blog to my Italian teacher, Francesca, who works with me tirelessly every week.  

One year ago, I had a conversation on the beach at Lido with the woman I have nicknamed La Contessa. Looking back on that conversation I am mighty embarrassed, because my ability to get a decent conversation out of my mouth was nearly non-existent. I was talking Italian baby talk!

Flash forward to this morning.  

My morning ritual on days when I get to the beach is to set up my chair, spend a few hours enjoying the sun and surf relaxing, then pack up to head home. On my way off the beach I stop for a coffee at the bar at our beach. 

Today, I reversed my routine, stopping first for that coffee.  I carried my cup to my usual table and discovered La Contessa and a group of friends were also having coffee at the next table. I hadn't been there in a few weeks due to a nasty cold, so hadn't seen La Contessa since the last visit. She introduced me to her friends, and we proceeded to get into a lively conversation about a variety of topics. 

Just thinking about the range of topics has me laughing still now, hours after having come back from the beach. La Contessa had recently read a book in Italian called A Brief History of America, or something like that, in which she learned about the settlement at Jamestown, and the war of 1812, and the Civil War. She commented that of all the American presidents, she likes Lincoln. So we talked about Lincoln. And Jamestown. Jamestown, of all things!

The Lido coffee bunch had an assortment of questions for me. Tops on the list, of course, were all things Trump. Seems I can not avoid that topic anywhere these days, although I would love to. I got asked about food in New Orleans, the weather in Seattle, and the mafia in New Jersey.  Cracks me up.

But what amazes me even more than the choice of topics is that I am holding my own in these conversations this year. Not bumbling, but actually getting  information shared, thoughts conveyed, opinions expressed.

Language-wise, it's a whole different year. Karen is happy.

 So, thanks Francesca, for tolerating me, pushing me, encouraging me and never giving up on me.


Kaye said...

Hello Karen! Just today my husband and I were driving north in Winchester, VA, on I81 and were passed by a truck towing 6 Dragon Boats! I knew what they were, thanks to you!! Are you still one of "The Pink ladies?" I haven't checked in with you for a while-Hope all is well! I hope to return sometime...! Have a spritz with me when I do?

Kaye James

Michelle said...

Practice ....an a great teacher make perfect. I can hardly wait to get back into my Italian class next month. She will force me to talk which will really help me for my trip to Venice in March. I should be able to get in two more quarters between now and then!

Although I don't envy you having to answer questions about a certain presidential candidate (whose name I refuse to invoke).

karen said...

Hi Kaye!

Oh it warms my heart to know that you recognized the dragonboats because of me! I hope those boats were headed to a race run by other breast cancer survivors like my Lionesses. Lots of other people are rowing dragonboat too- my old company in Baltimore does a dragonboat race in the Inner harbor every summer to raise money for a favorite charity.

My Lionesses are mostly off to the mountains for their summer holiday. We haven't rowed since late July and I miss it! We'll start back in SEpt, our first event will be rowing in the parade for Regatta STorica on Sept 4.

All is well. Summer has been sort of up and down weather wise. Some days really hot and unbearable humidity, and then we'll catch a few days where it's 75 and breezy. Chilly almost. odd, but I'll take it. I've been able to get to the beach at the Lido quite regularly for a few hours in the mornings.

I think I mentioned I know Winchester. My ex-mother-in-law lives in Culpeper, so I'd drive through Winchester on my way from Alexandria to visit with them. A long time ago!!

Hope all is well with you!

Please let me know when you are back. We will definitely do that spritz (although for me it will need to be a prosecco, I'm not a spritz girl!)


karen said...


You are so right.This teacher has really pushed me, and all of a sudden I can see the results. I can't tell you how many people have stopped me recently and commented on how much improved my speaking is. And that makes me smile, and is enough encouragement to keep me back at the books.

I know you must be very eager to get back to your classes. Can't wait to hear you speaking in March! WE can speak together even.

Oh you would not believe the kinds of comments we are dealing with about the upcoming US election. Italians are very opinionated on this. It's sad and embarrassing for us.