September 29, 2005

沉潛期Slowing Down

My blogging speed is slowing down along with the coming of autumn. Comparing to the “production” of the passed few months, September is just slow. The autumn atmosphere makes people lazy? Well, honestly speaking, it’s all because I’m way behind my working schedule. Looking at the book and then the calendar, I really have to speed up, otherwise I won’t be able to hand it in by the end of the month. Besides, there’s a piano to “divide” the very few leisure time I’ve got, I just have to give up something to gain something… So the surfing time and writing time is sacrificed.

Thinking back, I seem to step into hibernation every autumn and winter. Since I moved to Italy, I spent every winter on translating books…

September 22, 2005

家裡那個被遺忘的角落The Forgotten Corner at Home

In every house, there’s always a rarely touched corner that one cleans once a year or even longer. In our place, it should be the space under the stairs where we use for storing miscellaneous articles.

“Allergic to dust” is a good reason for not doing housekeeping and cleaning job. I always try to avoid anything that will raise the dust. When I’m really forced to do it, I could only take out my N95 mask… I can only choose to suffocate myself or itch to die.

Last week, we discovered that there’re cat fleas at home! We thought that we only needed to get the medicine and apply the drops, but after reading the instructions we found a huge task in front of us. Every corner that the cat could arrive needs to be cleaned… Italians normally do yearly cleaning in spring. We’ve never imagined that we had to do a big cleaning in autumn because of cat fleas. I looked at my delayed work schedule, and then the tiny little red spots on my body left by these little bastards. No matter what we had to do it. So today we took the chance when Michele could take a break from work. My N95 was ready for work.

We started after lunch. I’ve only cleaned the desk in the living room and some shelves, plus cleaning all the cat hair on all the chairs and sofa with vacuum cleaner. It took me four hours to do it and I was exhausted after I finished. Michele was in charge of the garage and stairs. It’s also a must to clean the cat litter and change the cat sand.

There’re two pots of cat sand at home, one in the garage and the other under the stairs. I’ve always wanted to find another place for the one under the stairs. After all, it’s not a nice feeling to smell the cat litter once you enter the house. Taking the chance, Michele decided to find another place for it. It’s also for this reason that he suddenly decided to mess around the forgotten corner.

I’ve moved here for five years and have never touched that corner. So it’s natural that I didn’t know what kind of “collections” lied inside. However, because of Michele’s “selectively forgetful character” and busy work, everything that only he can do has to queue for its chance for months. If he didn’t promise to do something, I can only hope that someday the mission would be completed… Cleaning that forgotten corner, it’s like a present fallen from heaven to me…

It seemed to discover a new world! More than thirty bottles of wine including some twenty-year-old red wine, a box of passata that my in-laws made few years ago, two big bottles of extra-virgin olive oil from Puglia, two boxes of home-made jam, and some boxes of empty bottles for passata and jam.

It took a while to tidy things up. Coming out of the void is five-year quantity of passata bottles, three-year quantity of jam, and bottles of passata enough for the whole winter (if they’re still eatable) and a collection of good wine. It seemed to me that I’ve found a treasure box at home.

I just wish that things like this could happen everyday…

September 20, 2005

新玩具New Toy

We’re so busy as we’ve expected during the past two weeks. There’re weddings and birthday party, so many events that I didn’t even have time to sit down and blog. Luckily everything went smoothly, and I also received a new “toy” by accident.

Everything started at the wedding of Cristian and Silvia.

The day of their wedding started with the ceremony in church, continues with the feast in the restaurant and then the party in a pub. To celebrate with all friends, they booked the pub for the whole night, providing some light foods and “all you can drink” beverages. They’ve got some friends who play some music. There’re some DJs, a drummer and some pianists. Cristian asked them to provide the DJ tools and the set drum, and also went to rent a digital piano so that people can play a jamming session together.

Everything went well and the party continued until 3AM in the morning. The newly wed would leave for honeymoon the next day and didn’t have time to return the instrument. So they asked us to return the piano. Michele knows the owner of the store well and happily said “yes”. So we took the piano home after the party.

We put it in the living room and I got the initiative to try it. Then I discovered that there’s been quite some advancement of digital piano no matter in hardware or software since I last touched it ten years ago. I used to dislike digital piano because the weight of the keys is normally too light for me and my fingers started to hurt in ten minutes or so. That’s why I didn’t accept Michele’s proposal to get one when I just moved to Italy.

I only said “the keys are much heavier than anything I’ve tried before, and maybe it’s playable for me…” Michele was so happy to hear this: “I’ll ask how much it costs tomorrow. It’s a second hand and shouldn’t be too expensive…”

Michele went to return the piano the next day. After he came back, he said, “there’re many models and I think you’d better try before we make any decision… the secondhand one is about 600 euro but the price is negotiable. There’re some new Clavinova models from Yamaha and they sound nice…” He continued to talk and insist that I should spare some time to go there and try them myself.

I was still hesitant about buying a digital piano, but Michele was so enthusiastic that I just didn’t feel like saying no to him. Two days later, we went to visit the shop.

I’ve tried more than ten ditigal pianos in one and half hour. At the end the more acceptable ones are still Yamaha products that I’m used to since I was a kid, and two models remained in the list. Price-wise I prefer the cheaper one. In any case I’ll just use it for moving my fingers… For me, electric pianos cannot replace a real piano. And the decision is made only because we can not afford to get a good piano at the moment.

However, when it came to Michele’s decision he became picky. The cheaper model only uses one kind of sound sample. The expensive one applies three samples and sounds more natural. The latter also has recording function and USB for file transfer between piano and computer. At the end, I followed his decision and chose the more expensive one. The owner is a good friend and gave us really good discount, from the listed price of about 2300 euro down to 1400 euro that we can pay in several installment without interests.

We bought the piano home immediately and there’s one more new “task” now for my life in Italy… Honestly… I still can’t believe that I’ve got a piano now…

September 11, 2005









September 02, 2005

網誌也有個性?! Blogging Personality?!

Your Blogging Type Is the Private Performer
Your blog is your stage - with your visitors your adoring fans.
At least, that's how you write with your witty one liners.
And while you like attention, you value your privacy.
You're likely to have an anonymous blog - or turn off comments.

個人舞台? 粉絲? 機智巧言? 這我倒是不知道, 隨手寫寫自己的經驗而已, 這樣的評語未免言重... 不過享受注意力和注重隱私倒是真的, 一開始也曾經考慮過要匿名. 有關最後一個評語, 我就得大力否認了, 我絕對不會把"評論"的功能關掉, 超喜歡看看路過的網友有些什麼意見, 只是我的讀者們似乎都是沉默的大眾...

September 01, 2005

造訪威尼斯的理由 A Reason to Visit Venice

Venice, a place that I never get tired of.

I’ve moved to Italy for almost five years. Venice is not far from Vicenza and is always one of my favorites if I want to go out for some fresh air. At the first two years, I went there to experience her beauty in various seasons, the romantic spring, the hottish summer, the fascinating autumn and chilly winter. There’s always something new every time I went to Venice. When I started to get to know the city, the must-do list of my Venice visit also started to grow.

I especially enjoy wandering around in Venice. Apart from window-shopping, I fell in love with the get-lost feeling. Every part of Venice brings me a different kind of feeling.

About three years ago, a sunny day around late spring early summer, Michele and I arrived Venice Santa Lucia around 10AM, nothing too different from our usual visit. I remembered that we went on purpose to see a museum. We’ve got plenty of time, so we decided to walk around, find a place for lunch, and then go to the museum in the afternoon. We turned left after we got out of the train station and kept walking along the main street. Passing the first bridge we arrived a small open-air market where locals and tourists do their grocery shopping. Along with the wind came a very nice smell of coffee. “Did you smell it? It smells so nice. Let’s go and check.” So, following our nose, we arrived a tiny and old coffee shop.

威尼斯的咖啡,向來都比其他地方的咖啡來得更甘甜。你也許會問我,為什麼?也許是水質,也許亦是水都風情所引發的感受,不過來到Caf? Costarica,甘醇的濃縮咖啡,讓刁嘴的我第一次感到驚艷!走近店裡,濃郁的咖啡香迎面而來,小小的吧台前,滿滿是一袋袋的咖啡豆,向前望去,店主正在另一個角落忙著烘培咖啡豆。點了兩杯濃縮咖啡,啜了一小口,口感竟是如此地甘醇柔順,比起我所鍾愛的I牌咖啡還要順口,這下子,好奇心旺盛又健談的外子,不由地與店主攀談了起來。
For some unknown reason, coffee in Venice tastes nicer than any other place. It’s probably the water, or the feeling induced by one’s emotion. But when I first came to Caf?’ Costarica, the sweet and smooth espresso was just a marvel. Entering the shop, a strong smell of coffee came to my face. Sacks of coffee beans piled in front of the bar. Looking forward, someone was busy toasting coffee at a corner. I thought he must be the owner. We ordered two espressos. A small sip of it, the smoothness and sweetness of the coffee spread in our mouth, much better than Illy. When I was still wondering about the coffee, Michele already started talking to the owner.
這家咖啡店開設於30年代,在威尼斯當地是很有口碑的老店。店主卡米羅對咖啡有著一股熱忱,原本就在咖啡業裡打轉的他,即使在退休以後,仍然靠著之前的人脈關係,從各地篩選、進口咖啡豆,而店裡的咖啡,全部由卡米羅烘培而成,絕對不假外人之手。店裡出售的幾種配方,又以「Caff? della Sposa」這種直譯為「新娘咖啡」,係由八種頂級阿拉比卡豆調配而成的配方最為出名,也是我的最愛;據店主表示,之所以如此命名,乃因為混合各種阿拉比卡豆而呈現的甘甜,就如新嫁娘般地甜美柔順。新娘咖啡無疑是這家店的招牌特色,店裡的某個角落,放著各式各樣的報導與獎狀,慕名而來者不在少數,甚至有人為了她特地從奧地利南下採購。
The caf? was open in the 1930s. It’s quite a famous old caf? in Venice. The owner Camillo is very enthusiastic about coffee that even when he got retired from the coffee industry he makes used of the network he built to select and import coffee beans. He bakes and toasts the coffee beans on his own. There’re several blends in Caf? Costarica, and the “caff? della sposa” is for sure the most famous one (and of course my favorite). It’s a blend of eight different kinds of arabica beans of supreme quality. It was named “the coffee of the bride” to imply its sweet and smooth quality. It is for sure the specialty of Caf? Costarica, and at one corner of the caf? lie various newspaper cuttings and reports from all over the world. Some people even come all the way from Austria just to purchase its coffee.

After that day, Caf? Costarica has become one of my must-go whenever I go to Venice, and the caff? della sposa has become one of our necessities at home. When we’re about to finish coffee, we will always remind each other “it’s time to go to Venice!”