journal 2001


hovie - april 2001

April 11
Had goodbye drinks with Manu's friend Sahar who was in town for the furniture shows from Israel. Another friend of Manu's from Israel, Eyal, who's here studying joined us. Mija had a good time grilling the two Isralies about the Hebrew language. Where did it come from? Did Jesus speak it? Is it simialr to Arabic? Didn't come to any final conclusion. Sahar thought it was only about 100 years old but that it had come from the ancient unspoken language that the Torah was written in. Both did agree though that Jesus must have spoke Arabic. Culture in a bar in Milan.

April 8
Went to Manu's home in the country side again with the usual gang. Manu wanted to go for a hike through the woods, and since it was a beautiful day, we all agreed. Well it was fun at first, great sceenery, birds, trees, etc. Then Manu got the great idea to follow this creek into the woods. If you ever are given this option, just walk away, don't even ask, just walk away. Of course we didn't and about half a mile into the woods we hit mud. Nothing too bad so we continued. About a mile and a half into the forrest the mud became pretty bad, not really any dry spots, and none of us had hiking boots. Well you'd think at that point we'd turn back and call it a day. Wrong. We continued through the mud and muck. Then, about 3 miles into the forest the brush became so thick that we were haking our way through it, all the while being 6 inches deep in the muck. Oh yes, one more thing, Natasha was with us. Now she was really loving all of this, every last dripping, soaking, dark brown, mudding, mucky inch of her. She soon became two toned with everything from her shoulders down brown and her head still white. But wait, there's more. About 4 miles into the walk I hear Mija laughing and saying "oh my god." Now she was probably only 25 yards ahead of me but I could not see a thing through the brush. When I finally came upon the scene, I saw her with one shoe off and one arm elbow deep in mud. Yes, she was trying to retrieve her missing shoe which had been sucked off in the mud. She finally got it back but it was soaking wet and muddy. Luckily, at that point we were only about 200 yards from a clearing. Problem was that it was 200 yards up the side of a hill. To make a long story short, we made it up the hill, hiked the 5 miles back to Manu's home (on the road this time, much easier), cleaned up, and drove back to Milan... Exhausted. And Nappy (Natasha) was given a long, long bath.

April 6
Went to an opening for one of Manu's friends who designs bizarre chairs as part of the week long furniture shows. The whole show was pictures of famous Milanese people with the chair, and then, at the end of the exhibition is the actual chair. Interesting but not a chair I'd want. Good treats though, expecially the ice cream bon bons. Afterward about 10 of us went to a cool tratoria in the Navigli district and met up with an ex co-worker of Andy's who was in town for the shows. He's now living and working in New York city but worked here for 3 years. Had way too much food as we ordered 3 giant platters of various risottos: mushroom, red wine, ham. Didn't like the red wine one but the other two were fabulous.

April 4
Got to experience the Milan furniture design art walk with Andy, Manu, and a bunch of other friends. Very cool and hi brow and most places had free drinks and appitizers. It was actually more of a social event than actually looking at the furniture (isn't that what art walks are for though?). Loved the Baffi stuff. Knew I would though since they are a constant in my favorite magazine, Wallpaper. Very sleek, modern stuff for the kitchen and bathroom. Also got to see some weird stuff like an easychair made of rocks and rubber. It looked like one of those stone exposed park benches but it was soft and comfortable. Strange.

April 1
Had a fun Mexican dinner at Igrid and Ben's place. Got to meet friends of there's from Canada, California, and Italy. The girl from Canada had a 5 year old boy who has only been here for 5 months and talks constantly in Italian. He'd keep asking me things in Italian and when I didn't understand he'd look at his mom like "why is this guy so dumb?"


mija - april 2001

April 30

Today we took a drive through Piedmont's wine area. We planned our destination to be the small town of Barola where they produce very famous white wine. Barola is so tiny that we almost missed it in fact. The winery is in an old summer palace that also has a museum in it. We tried a number of the red wines but weren't really taken with any of them. From Barola we went to ?? and tried some there their wines. Hovie and Mom both liked this wineyard enough to each buy a bottle. From there, we were given the name of a very fancy, world renowned chef owned restaurant in a little town not far from where we were. However, it was much too early to begin to think of dinner so we stopped in ?? first to have a walk around the town and have an aparativo. As it started to get dark, we decided to head for the restarant. It really wasn't far away but up in the hills a bit. Unfortunately, the fog started to roll in and before we got to the town, visibility was about 10 feet. It was bad enough that I was all in favor of turning around and getting out of the fog. As we were getting to where we could see again, mom said that she was a little disappointed that we didn't get to go to that restarant and she thought that on the way home, she and Hovie would walk next to the car and make sure that I didn't drive off a cliff. She is always up for an adventure. But, we found a little out of the way, family run restarant that was actually really good and unbelievably inexpensive.

April 27
Friday we headed to Venice for 2 days. Amber was nice enough to let us stay at her place so we headed straight for Murano and the workshop. We wanted to see Amber and Pino working. Amber met us for lunch and it was one of the best meals we would have during Mom's visit to Italy. Amber picked a really great spot and the food was yummy. After lunch we went into the factory and watched Pino make a sculpture of an Anne Geddes design. It was amazing to watch this baby inside a flower take shape. Absolutely amazing.

While Amber was showering, we went shopping in Murano. Mom bought a couple of gifts for people. I told her that when she sees something she likes, to buy it then because she may never get another chance! Dinner was at one of Amber's favorite restaurants. Everybody there knows her and all the waiters stop by to say hi or at the very least to pat her shoulder as they walk by. It's very cute.

Saturday we got up and went shopping. It's strange that I've been shopping enough in Venice that I know where the good shops are and can find what I'm looking for better there than in Milan. Mom bought a pair of shoes (a huge purchase on her part) and a few more gifts. Then we went into the Basilica di San Marco. This was the first time that I had ever been in. The church is completely decorated in mosaics. It's goregous and very intricate. There is one area where you can see the mosaics up close that it's unbelievable that the huge pictures on the walls are actually made from little tiny pieces of glass or stone. It's interesting to see how a shade dark stone here will add the necessary shadow to make the picture look real. Very cool!

Before we left, we went back to Murano to pick up our sculpture that we've been waiting to bring back to Milan. Amber had it roped to a cart for us because we had to walk it from the studio to the vaporetto and from the vaporetto to the car. It was actually a very heavy, large box. It barely fit in the trunk. When we got home, we opened it up and it's awesome. It's a lot bigger than we thought and reflects the light in a really cool way. We put it in the living room and it's definitely the thing that you notice when you come in the room.

April 26
After class, Mom and I went to the outdoor market. She has decided that my planter boxes need to be filled with flowers to make everything prettier. However, she couldn't believe the prices for flowers at the market and was flabbergasted that there was no bartering done. No, this isn't a flea market, this is a market where people actually shop for their food and goods everyweek. It's much more like a supermarket/department store. She was also very picky about which vegetable vendors she would patron. I am too but for different reasons. I look for a vendor that seems nice. She looks for one that doesn't smoke.

April 25
Mom arrived today. She was quite the trooper. After an incredibly long flight, she was tough and didn't go to bed until about 1:00 am. We went to a local restaurant that we go to a lot for dinner. We have apparently gotten used to the smoke in Italy but since this was Mom's first outing, she spent the meal with her napkin over her face, moaning about the smell. Well, that's something that she will just have to get used to!

April 19

Pat and Chardie arrived in Milan and are planning to spend 2 days with us. They are our first visitors and it's very exciting. I realized how little I actually know about Milan as we were trying to figure out what we should do. Since they were kinda museumed out, they opted for shopping. And that is something that I know about! We planned to meet Hovie for dinner at a restaurant that we go to frequently after Hovie finished his Italian class. In theory, it was foolproof. However... I forgot to bring my cell phone which made contacting Hovie difficult and there was a sudden, vicious downpour that drove us out of the streets sooner than we had planned. I had to call Hovie before his class was over and he hung up on me rather than talk during his class and it went downhill from there. I was not able to reach to him (which was frustrating since I had to run into the storm to use the pay phone), his phone just kept going to voicemail and unbeknownst to me, he didn't remember where the restaurant was (one metro stop away). Needless to say, he missed out on a really yummy dinner. We finally met up with him at the bus stop on the way home. He had been roaming the streets of Milan hoping to run into the restaurant.

April 13-16
Easter weekend
We (Manu, Andy, Dave and us) spent the weekend skiing in Switzerland. It only took about 3 hours to drive up there. However there had been a landslide and part of the road was closed. They detoured us through what appeared to be a large construction site, the kind you find is Issaquah where they are building acres of new houses. It was pitch black and a little disconcerting. To get us back onto the road, we had to make a sharp, narrow right turn through someone's backyard. And the roads in general were comprised of hairpin turns that made everyone car sick.

Saturday we headed up the mountain. It was very interesting to see the difference between the slopes here versus in Washington or Whistler. There are no trees so pretty much you can ski anywhere that you can see. The groomed slopes are also about the same as green slopes. It was only off the groomed slopes that there was any difficulty. However, there is absolutely no signage so you never really know how difficult that non-groomed sections will be.

Now, anybody that has skied with me knows that I hate my ski boots. They reached an all time level of hate by the time we were done sking. Not only was it nearly impossible for me to get my feet into the boots, they were so tight that I couldn't buckle them without losing the cirulation in my feet immediately so I didn't buckle them. I tried to make the most of a bad foot situation and was determined to ski everywhere that everyone else was. Skiing down a very!! powdery, steep, ungroomed slope, I lifted my ski, which had gotten buried in the powder and when I raised my foot, my boot and ski stayed in the snow. Yes, I only had the liner on my foot. Luckily Dave, the best snowboarder in the group, was still above me and he came down to provide assistance. Now remember that I could barely get my boots on in the best of circumstances and the probablility of my boot going on in knee high powder was nonexistant. So, Dave carried my skies and I walked with my boot in one hand and poles in the other down the slope. However, it was steep and thick and I spent most of the time rolling down the slope. I was totally exhausted by the time I got back to the groomed run. The decision was unanimous that I would rent boots the rest of the trip.

We met a friend of Dave's for dinner in the village, which was about a 20 minute drive from our hotel. We decided to take a short cut which would cut our time in half. The short cut was really just a dirt road full of hairpin turns up the mountain. I'm really all about a paved road!

Sunday we awoke to a mini blizzard with zero visibility and decided not to try skiing. So, we went to the funplex and bowled. Such an odd thing to do in Switzerland but we were in a very rural area without a lot going on on Easter Sunday.

Monday was a little foggy but we decided to ski anyway. I rented boots (so much more comfortable but the bindings were far too loose). And, on the same troublesome run (I know, what was I thinking), I fell, my ski fell off, buried itself into the snow and I kept going. Unfortunatley, this time there was nobody above me that could collect my ski. I walked about 10 feet back up the mountain to try to uncover my ski. I was absolutely exhausted and did not try that run again.

April 8
It was a beautiful day and a bunch of us went to the country to go for a nice walk. I decided to take Natasha because I knew she would think it was fun. Our stroll started out innocent enough: walking on paved roads, then dirt roads, then through vineyards, until Manu decided it would be fun to walk through the woods. The woods was actually a dry river bed that wasn't that dry because it had been raining. It was also very overgorwn with trees, brambles, and fallen trees. Everyone started out being very careful not to get their shoes muddy but it soon became obvious that that was not going to be possible. Our route became more and more treacherous, juming from one side of the riverbank to another. By the time we realized this wasn't the greatest idea, it just seemed easier to keep going. Natasha was having a great time. She was following my every step but was mud from her neck down. She couldn't keep out of the river and the banks were just as wet and muddy. The entire hike was also uphill, going on and on, farther and farther. After a couple of hours we reached an area that we could no longer traverse and we needed to climb a very steep slope to get out of the river bank. We also had to jump over a wide expanse of river. I was in about the middle of the pack, between Dave and Chris. I jumped and landed in deep, soft mud and when I pulled my left foot out of the mud, my shoe didn't come. Looking back at the place that my shoe should have been was only mud. There had been the quicksand effect and my shoe was gone. Chris came over to poke the area with his walking stick from his side of the river and then Dave came down the slope to prod the area as well. It appeared that my shoe was gone. It was then that Dave, trying not to laugh, informed me that I was going to have to dig for it. Until now I had the faint hope that I would not have to get the foot I was carefully holding up (balancing on one foot) muddy. But, to get my shoe, I had to stand in the river, reach down and dig in the mud until it covered my wrist. When I pulled my shoe out, it was completed encased in mud and made that awful sucking noise and then pop as it was pulled free. I then had to rinse the whole thing in the river before putting it back on my cold, wet foot. Finally reaching the top, we were dismayed to see that we were at the bottom of a steep vineyard that we had to walk up and then dismayed further to realize we were about 3 miles from where we had left our cars. A beer has never tasted as good as when we finally got back to civilazation and found a bar to stop at. I think that even Natasha, now covered in a hard casing of dried mud, was tired.

April 1

Today we went to St. Ambrosio. This church is 1000 years old and very neat inside. Luckily (sarcasm) for us, we got there in time for the Latin service. It really made me appreciate Vatican II. I much prefer to have at least a vague idea of what is happening during the service. Hovie, of course, thought it was the greatest thing ever and why don't we go to that service every week. There was certainly a lot of incense and choir singing.

Since we have confirmed reports that we are going to be receiving our first visitors from the US, we decided that we better make the guest room habitable. We cleaned out the storage closet and put all our extra things in there. Now all the room needs is a bed, sheets, and blanket.


© Copyright 2001 Hovie Hawk and Mija Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.