New adventures await those who keep their eyes open; I like to think I am doing so. One of my colleagues recently passed her Lit exit exams along with passing a TESOL course and now lives in Italy where she will be teaching English. While attending Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with her at CSUS, she shared the opportunity for me to go to Italy also.

And I am now off to my dream location on June 15, 2010. Following will be a blog of what I hope to be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life!

June 15, 2010

Oakdale CA. Up at 4:30 am because I couldn’t sleep until 5:00 am. Since I spent the past month packing, really, I actually had everything laid out and ready to pop (haha) into my suitcase and large red purse. My bag was popping shut, but I only needed to take a few things out in order to zip it up. Then I made an overflow bag for things like my cleanser, curling iron, flip flops, well, you get the pic. I even put a few irregular items inside my laptop case, hoping that no one would be looking when I pulled out my Dell.

As Vic and I drove to SFO, I reconsidered my packing and felt strongly that I needed to get it down to one bag, my computer, and my purse. There is an extra zipper area that makes the suitcase larger. After we arrived at the airport, Vic unzipped it and it was like a fatman undoing his belt after Thanksgiving dinner; everything kinda blobbed. But that was a good thing because the extra items I stashed in my purse and computer now fit in my suitcase. Nice.

It was cold in SF this morning. And the wind was whipping in front of the terminal. Vic had been trying to take my picture all morning, but you know me, I am all about business when I have a schedule to keep. He kept telling me that this moment was historical. Yes, I agree. But not now. So, he took a quick pic where I probably was grimacing , and I hurried into the terminal.

Being inside is always a relief after driving to catch a plane, The stress and worry of being caught in traffic always blows me away. But now I am here. The terminal seems empty and cavernous. However, I followed the signs and found Virgin America check-in . I had already printed my boarding pass from home so just needed to check my bag. They told me it would cost $25.00. I asked if I could take it on board; no, it weighed 40 lbs. The guy seemed surprised that I would want to keep such a heavy bag. Did I miss something?

Waiting to get on the plane was no problem. SFO is much more chill than Oakland Airport, and classier. My seat ended up being way in the back of the plane. I chose that seat because I have heard that the back of the plane is the safest place to be if the plane crashes. Ahem. It turned out that I was sharing the back row with a lovely young couple. Their names are Craig, Pam, and baby Cooper. They asked me if I was okay with sitting near them. No worries here; I have children. They are really sweet in that they are truly concerned about keeping Cooper quiet. They will be worn out by the end of the trip to visit her parents in Boston.

Meanwhile, they have shown me the ropes for flying this airline. There is a TV on the back of the seat in front of me where I can dial in to chat, TV, order food, play games, and other such things. They suggested that I order my food early as the best things tend to disappear. They recommended the snack platter that had a variety of sliced vegetables and cheeses with avocado humus. The dessert on the tray was grapes, dried pear, and dried fig slice. I enjoyed the grapes all the way down to the last one which turned out to be an olive! What a nice surprise! Really. Talk about no preconceived notions (that works well with the ethnography class I just had last semester…hi Dr. P:)

Wi-Fi is an extra charge and my iPhone is blocked. Oh well….

After flying in a holding pattern over Boston for an extra 20 minutes or so after a good 5 hour flight, we landed. I found the Silverline Shuttle that took me to Amtrak. The driver was not a luggage helper and chuckled as I tried to navigate my bag on board. Gratefully, a younger man with a british accent gave me a hand. Thank you. It was at that point that I realized how many angels there are out there in the world. When I got to Amtrak, the lady behind the counter helped me get my ticket and directions. I met another women on Amtrak who I talked with while we traveled. She was on her way to Maryland where her son had just had surgery. He was 45. She looked 45. She helped me know when I should get off at Providence. By now the time was 10:15 EST. It felt like 10:15 PST. As I walked to the station, another angel let me follow her to the elevator and aimed me toward the information counter. The police officer there told me that at that late hour there were no more shuttles. We talked as we walked about unemployment in CA. He retires in 3 years. He escorted me outside because it was well after dark and showed me where to get a cab. I was happy to oblige. A row of dark yellow cabbie cars waited to whisk people to their destinations. As I walked to hail one, another brodied in front of that cab and the driver jumped out and opened his trunk. I said whoa and asked before I get in, how much are you charging to go to…. (I had been suckered in NY before). He said about $29.00. Sounded good to me.

After I buckled up, I began a conversation. How are you? Where are you from? Etc. Turns out he is from Egypt. Speaks Arabic. A beautiful conversation followed and I learned even more to appreciate middle eastern culture. He told me how he met his wife when she lived in Egypt, an American. His home was actually across the street from the pyramids. He came to visit her here, she ended up pregnant. He sighed and commented that he did not know how that happened. We both chuckled. He was 44 at that time. So, even though a college grad, he drives a cab; and loves his family.

So nice to be at the hotel.

June 16, 2010

Oh dear. Someone forgot to tell my body that just because the clock says it is 6 am doesn’s mean it is 6am PST. I got up and started a new exciting day. After picking up my rental car, I drove into Providence. Quite proud of myself as I am not a comfortable new place driver. However, with mapquest, I can do anything!:) I took some photos at the cemetery at Swan Point.

The neighborhood was lovely, older homes.

My next stop was to be the State Archives in Providence. I had directions but missed my turn and so I spotted Carcieri Law Firm on Broadway. It looked like a safe place to ask directions, and so in I went. The reception was quite helpful and then a young attorney walked up and added some direction. He told me that he was heading to the courthouse if I would like to follow him. Great! As we walked to the parking lot, we introduced ourselves, I believe he said his name was Joe Russo. I could be wrong. However, I followed his Mercedes into town. What a gentleman! As we got nearer to the location, he stopped and came back to tell me where the building was and where I could park. Then I turned and he waved as he drove on.

As I pulled into the public parking, the parking attendant asked me how much time I needed, and I told him 2 hours at the Archives. He told me parking was free then. Too Sweet!

Once in the archives, I was directed as to how to do research after locking my valuables in a locker.

While going through research, I noticed a gentleman looking intently at an extremely old document. I couldn’t resist and went over and asked what great find he had. He smiled and told me the story of Moses Hayes. On July 11, 1776, numerous men in Newport were accused of being Tories and told they had to sign a document (the one he was looking at) similiar to the Declaration of Indepence, stating such. Hayes refused on the grounds that as a Jew, he was treated as less than a citizen and so was not governed by the same rules as everyone else, therefore did not need to sign. And long story short, the first civil rights case in American history! Great story.

Here (I need to add their names) are signing the book that they wrote together for the Touro Synagogue in Newport RI. They gave it to me for no charge:)

June 17, 2010

Today I drove back into Providence to have lunch with my cousin, Jon. I had never met him before except through mail and on Facebook. He had sent me genealogy information nearly 20 years ago. We ate at a cute sidewalk cafe in old Providence call Spats. It was Italian sandwiches…love it! We talked non-stop about our genealogy experiences. He is amazing.

My Italian cousin:) We have the same great –great grandparents.
As we walked back up the street, we made a game plan for working on family history.

Then, I drove directly up to Boston. I am not excited about driving and so am pretty pleased with that accomplishment. Yvonne and Iaon Keeping, my other cousins, were flying in from Cheshire, England. Iwaited at the Huntington Hotel until they arrived.

Eian and Yvonne Keeping

****i am struggling with european technology. now in pragelato, my best access is the internet cafe paying 20 euros for 8 hours. i had begun saving my blogs in word so that i could transfer. well, guess what, this cafe does not sport the latest software. so, i had to save my files as rich text and export them via memory stick. i thought i could just use email, but even when i saved them as rich text from email, they copy paste into the blog as egyptian characters 😉 however, i have sworn to beat this system; so far so good. i have most text up, but will add images as i get time to edit. please excuse typos. sometimes this internet has a mind of its own…honest, it’s not all me…. 🙂 ***

June 18-19, 2010
 Well the date may not be totally accurate. I got up on the 18th and had an enjoyable time getting ready to fly to Turin. My flight was not until 1:25 pm from Providence. As I am sitting at the airport, I suddenly realized that it was 1:30 pm and my flight had not been called. I frantically ran to another gate clerk and asked her for help. Turns out, my flight had been moved to another gate and I totally missed it. There was no loud speaker announcement. So, as the news sunk in that I may not be getting to Europe today, I began to panic, even though the clerks told me I was taking this calmly. As US Airways searched their data base for flights, the man and woman both kept shaking their heads no. I was worried. Then, the man found a flight out of Boston to Frankfurt that would skip Philadelphia. The flight I had to Turin already would still connect at Frankfurt. Therefore, even though my luggage went to Philly, it would end up in Turin. I hoped so. US Airways wrote a voucher for me to have an airport taxi drive me the 60 miles to Logan Airport in Boston. He even was going to drop me off at US Airways, but this wasn’t going to happen to me twice and so I kept telling him it was Lufthansa International flight. Even though we both were concerned about Boston traffic, we made the trip in 1 hour and 17 minutes. In Boston, there is this awesome lane for traffic heading to the airport for cars with more than one passenger. We passed everyone as they sat in stalled traffic. Yay us.  
The flight to Franfurt was on Lufthansa. I sat near the middle in the back of the plane next to a nice younger man and an older woman and her daughter. I introduced myself to all of them seeing as how we would be best buddies for 6 hours. The younger man, Pavra, conversed with me now and again, but the other two never said a word. Hm.

In flight to Frankfurt, the stewardesses brought us warm clothes to wash and then a snack and then dinner. Sky Chef prepares the meals and this one was a bi-pasta with alfredo on one side and tomato topping on the other. There was an oregano roll, intense chocolate brownie triangle with a strawberry and dab of whipped cream. A vegetable dish included broccoli, olives, and tomato pieces along with a side of oriental dressing. Nice. I ate about half.

After that, I was able to choose the movies I wanted to watch from a selection of 18. I watched /Up in the Air/, /Sherlock Holmes/, and /It’s Complicated/. I also slept. The flight actually went by quickly. Once at the Frankfurt airport, I hiked it briskly through the terminal around many corners and up and down many escalators to get to my next gate for Turin. When it was time to load, we were bused out to a waiting plane, kinda felt like the scene from Ocean’s Eleven.  

This tiny plane took maybe 50 passengers to Turin. They served a soft drink and an Italian cookie that looked like a miniature open dish pie. Way sweet. I slept on that flight too. I was awakened by turbulence that turned out to be the plane touching down! But following is the landscape between Frankfurt and Turin:

Karrie met me at the airport and we caught a bus to her apartment. The ride cost 5.50 euro. I had my first negative experience with an Italian at a sidewalk cafe. I bought a glass of water, thanked her and received no smile. Oh well. We got our tickets though and Karrie tells me that if you speak English, Italians don’t like you. Anyway, it was warm and humid in Turin. 

We walked to Karrie’s apartment which serves also as a painting studio for Karrie’s past employer. It is a loft type studio apartment with wooden floors. The building is from the 18th century and the key that opens the door looks like something out of a fairy tale. It is huge! There is one single sofa bed and a double off to the side. The ceiling is low vaulted with two windows cut in it that over look the Po River.




Currently, there is a thunder storm that should subside soon. I think it rains every afternoon in Italy.

Karrie left to go pick up Mariana from the airport. She told me I could get my shower, so I napped and then bathed. The shower serves as a shower and toilet as the toilet is the drain in the floor with a small pallet over it. The hot water is extremely hot coming out of a tubed shower head above. The whole shower area is white tiled and the small window in the shower sports one of those windows with the wood frame that we pay big bucks for now to hang in our living rooms.

I warned Karrie that I do funny things and I have not let myself down. After dressing, I went to do my hair and plugged my curling iron into the wall plug. It blew a fuse for the whole apartment. Karrie is not back yet. Not looking forward to telling her. I hope we can go buy some candles and that will need to do. We will be in Pragelato for 3 weeks and so maybe someone can fix it by then.

While Karrie was gone, I napped, showered, napped, and used the restroom. Okay, that may sound funny, but the toilet is in the shower and kind of weird going in this hole in the floor that instantly turns into a shower when you lay a pallet over the hole!

Karrie and Mariana came back quite later as Mariana’s plane was nearly an hour delayed and almost rerouted to Milan. Funny thing is that when Karrie locked the door, she actually locked me in! But I did not realize that until I went to open the door when they came up the stairs. Mariana had traveled on 4 planes that day.

After a quick pasta dinner, we went to a place where food and drink were being served. Lots of younger people were there and so I felt funny, but we laughed and talked and had a great time. I ordered a strawberry, coconut pineapple drink with whipped cream. It was great and everyone commented on it. Lol.

During the conversation, we got on to the topic of la toilette. Everyone was interested in Karrie’s antiquated bath situation. Quite unique. During that conversation, I learned that there was a pull cord to flush and I thought you just turned on the shower! It turns out that several of the girls are nannies and the parents expect these girls to hand wash the backsides of the children in the bidel! It seems that the Italians spoil their children terribly and coddle them into their early elementary school years. These girls being from the US and Australia do not put up with that.

About 10:00pm we decided that we should get back and get some sleep. Upon returning to the apt. we remembered that we had no lighting. Karrie called her friends who came to check things out, but no luck. Seems there is a fuse burned out in her apt. only. Good thing we will be gone for 3 weeks. Just maybe it will be fixed by then. (Italians are not known for quick repair work

After having some heart to heart therapy sessions, lol, we hit the hay so that we could get up at 5:30am.

June 20, 2010
Early came quickly and we all got up cheerfully to a dawning apt., that is, the sun was coming up and shining in through the window. We planned to be out the door by 6:30 am so that we cold catch a bus to Pragelato. We stopped at a cafe and I purchased bottled water and a brioche. I was a marmalade filled croissant just baked. Talk about melting in your mouth. Karrie and Mariana bought the demitasse coffee with a caffeine kick. They felt it right away…lol.
(Image Pending:)
The two hour ride to Pragelato took us from Torino city to Torino country to country to mountains. The view reminded me of Orange Blossom Road and Yosemite. The country drive like in /Under the Tuscan Sun/ ran with a close view of the Alps. Now I understand sublime. As we moved into Yosemite like terrain with river and mountains, we moved up and up and up even into whispery clouds. I was getting a bit nervous as I did not bring many warm clothes.

In  the resort aspect of being up here as an upper-class retreat. Absolutely beautiful!
When the bus stopped, Karrie asked the driver in Italian if we were in the correct place. He helped us unload and smiled at us. Nice. But boy is it cold outside!
 The four of us rolled our suitcases down the lovely mountain road from
the street into the camp. None of us really knew what to expect for
accommodations. As good things turn out we have a warm cabin with
actual toilets and heat. We claimed our beds and I borrowed Karrie’s
curling iron to straighten my frizzed ot hair. Ahhh time for a pic

 Not too long after encamping, Ricardo and Samantha with Susanna excitedly came to get us so that we could meet the parents.
We walked out to an opening between the cabins and watched as a group of interested parents gathered with their young campers. We stood up in front with the leaders to be introduced as “the teachers from California.” We had no idea that the three of us was it! lololol. We felt both humble and not as they truly look up to instructors, and especially for their children at this prestigeous summer camp for learning English.

As we walked out to the gathering place there were lots of parents and young children. And it turned out that we were the only teachers!!! Jesse signed on as an animator. They introduced us as from CA and there were alot of ohhhs and ahhhs and then someone said en Englais
that we must be cold. Lol. True that.

As the parents hugged and kissed their children I took pics. Many parents turned my way and gave me what I perceived as grateful smiles.As soon as the parents left we walked with the kids thru the camp and out to the road and over to a nearby meadow. Here we ate lunch and we
introduced ourselves and stated where we are from and what our dream is. I already began to make friends with the children by smiling with them and just being with them. One boy fell and I put out my hand to help him up. His hand reached out to mine and I was pleased with this first
Italian contact.

For the rest of the evening we basically got used to camp. Everyone was to watch football…or so I thought. As I alone joined the group watching tv I realized that there were only boys and men here and the young boys hollered at the game just like everyone else. It felt like
an all male club. Three girls walked through the lodge where I sat behind the boys and I asked them why they did not join us. They said they did not like football. Okay.
It was then that Richardo turned and he gave me instructions for the
evening. I asked him if I would be teaching three weeks of English now as they
said seventy students would be here on the third week. Long story short is that week I will be teacher and animator.  I think it is going to be tough staying here….

After administering a test to the students that evening, we gathered for dinner with each of us sitting at a different table.I broke bread with four young men. We ate pasta and bread and water. I was surprised with the simplicity of the meal. Oh wait. Then there was
pork ribs and buttered potato pieces. And then dessert. Oh my. Karrie assures me I will still lose weight up here as there are no fat Italians.

During dinner I asked these boys questions en englais and we worked through discussion. Then I brought in my iPhone translator to help communicate. I liked what came forth. They liked using my phone. No different than in the US. People like technology. We toasted one
another and enjoyed a wonderful dinner experience.Mariana Karrie and I were given some workbooks to choose from and sat down in the lodge to assess our choices.
Then we enjoyed two scoops of gelato:) I had chocolate and vanilla strawberry. Love this culture!

That night, the leaders issued an assessment test to the children. There was a test for the older and a test for the younger. We were then to divide the children into three groups. Firstly, the test might have been more effective if all children were given the same test. Secondly, the materials we were to teach from should have matched the information tested for. Just saying.

June 21, 2010

The food here is amazing. Too me it is amazing; I do not have to cook it for one thing. But in truth, it is simple, but good italian food. Lunch and dinner are always 2 course meals beginning with a pasta dish and lots of bakery bread. The 2nd course is a meat sliced thinly and a vegetable cooked in olive oil. A dessert always follows. Karrie swears that eating three squares a day here will cause weight loss as the food does not contain any preservatives. Hmmm.
Breakfast consisted of butter cookies, croissants, bakery bread, a juice mix of papaya and orange, latte, hot cocoa that is not sweet, and water. Truly a carb feast, a delectable carb feast…lol.

Sweet David loves the ladies and even brought me dessert:)
We sat at the table with the children and we were to mostly speak English. Not a problem as I do not know Italian, yet. I am teaching the older 11 year old students, I have eight: Jacopo, Jacopo, Federico, Ottavia, Lodovica, Alessandro, Carola, and Anarita. Fun and smart and “rich” young Italian children. I am enjoying them immensely. We covered the first secton of the workbook in the first 1.5 hours. Then we took a half hour break. When we resumed, we resumed by having a friendly competition answering questions about what we learned.  A good first day.  A good day to get a pulse on the school and my responsibilies.
June 22, 2010
Interesting day. Teaching was great as we made great progress in the workbook. We focused on behind, next, to, in front of, and opposite.


After break, we went for a walk and named things. Then we stopped by archery and sat at the tables. I named words for them to write, spelling them as they wrote them down. Then they had to use “a” or “an.” Great fun. Then they wanted to color their green chickens. They love their chicken drawings.


For free time, Karrie and I went and sunbathed by the pool. It was then that Samantha came to get us to be in the video promoting the camp. The parents of our students love these videos as it is an overview for the kids who came to camp. We read pre-written lines to the camera. Too funny. I think I will buy one; we will have three to choose from.






I felt sunburn coming on and so went back to the room. Mariana agreed to go for a walk with me. We went a little ways through town and decided to do a better hike tomorrow. Karrie met up with us and we discovered that she had never seen /Under the Tuscan Sun/. We headed back to our cabin to remedy that.
June 23, 2010
Teaching as usual. My students enjoyed a treasure hunt where there were cookies at the end of the hunt. Good times. 
After classes, Mariana, Karrie, and I took a walkabout uptown Pragelato: 






Last night, we practiced our presentation for Friday night, all fun. They have chosen to do the macarena to Thriller and then sing the ABC’s, Happy Birthday to You, and Forever Young to their peers. David taught a dance from Lady Gaga. The following is the video: (TBA)
Here are some shots as we played on the mechanical toys after practice:



 F. Jacopa


T.   Jacopa


Annarita and Federica


June 24, 2010    


Taught again. Still fun. However, the kids are getting tired because they stay up to late and get up too early and we are working to brainstorm for creative outlets.   


in time to greet a new group of students on Sunday. Loving all of this:)     Pragelato apt. and then catch an early bus back into Karrie’sis putting together a trip for us into Turin this weekend. We will enjoy an evening out on Saturday catching an awesome Italian dinner, the site of the Shroud of Turin, and who knows what else. We will spend the night again at  Karrie So,


June 25, 2010    



I taught this morning. It was the most difficult lesson for my students. We completed their workbook with the “to be” verb and “can” and “have.” It was tedious, but they stayed on task. After our first break, they took the final test at the end of the chapter. These children are the brilliant future Italian leaders, no doubt. It has been a pleasure teaching them and I will miss them.

I spent this afternoon filling out certicates and writing a note to each student. It is interesting being so close with young people who I will probably never see again….

We do our skit tonight…that should be a fun time! 🙂

Oh, yes, Ricardo asked me if I would do double-duty next week by teaching and helping the leaders with the activities. Going to be a long week 🙂

ok…lol…i like this image, so it is extra large 😉
Karrie took this for us at her apartment in Turin just before we went out Friday night. This was June 25th. We took several buses to get downtown where we shopped at the Mall and then went to dinner. This creepy small Italian man followed us on two buses. Karrie got rid of him though in the “Italian way.” Don’t even ask me…. No worries, if he didn’t bug off soon, we planned to hop a taxi. We were in the city with lots of people out for Friday night. Too bad some jerk had to try and ruin our fun.

Turin at night

After dinner, we spent the night at Karrie’s only to get up 6 hours later to catch our bus for the 2.5 hour ride back up to the mountains. It was a good time, though:)

Following are some pics of my class this week:

Federica and Chiara

Martina and Giada

Umberto, Alessandro, Alfredo, and Leonardo

One of the activites here was tennis. And, I played tennis here twice with the two young brothers who come to teach the children. Good times. I kicked hiney. Seriously. I think I should actually play more when I get back to the states! Okay, yeah, it was funny beating an Italian man 😉 …they tend to be arrogant about winning. How do I know this? Last week when World Cup Soccer was on, the lodge put the event on their TV. When I went in to watch, I soon realized that I was the only female in the room. Long, short…women are to be cooking in the kitchen and have no interest in “football.” Ahem.

And, more food!!! And friends:)

I have more things to say, but might wait until I get home to update this post. I am keeping a list of topics on my iphone.

But, parents came today and here are three of the families whose children I taught:

This next week will bring in 70 new students. As I teach English, I have learned quite a bit of conversational Italian. Love this stuff!

I will try and post asap. Ciao!

July 5, 2010

Today I would like to introduce to you some of my newest friends. It has been wonderful meeting people who I know I will stay connected with in the years to come:)

This is Emanuela. She is from Torino and graduated from the University of Torino. She teaches history, geography, and Italian at a middle school. She wants me to come next summer so she can give me a tour of Torino:)

This is Morag on the left. She is Australian and has been traveling around Europe for a few months. She walked the Pilgrimage in Portugal and is now in London.

Yes, I am the only one drinking pure pineapple juice:)

This is Susanna. She was the nurse the past two weeks here in Pragelato. She works in Oncology the rest of the year.

And I cannot forget my very young friend, Alfredo, who did not like Harry Potter and kept saying, “I killed Harry Potter!” in his Italian lilted English. Okay, it is one of those time you had to be there. But he was adorable:)




  1. Victor Rowley says:

    Sounds like a sweet adventure. Looking foreward to stories of your flight to Italy and your first days.

  2. Lindsay al-Sweedy says:

    I am sharing your blog with my co-workers and we all wish we were there with you, even if it is a little cold. We are excited to see pictures.

  3. kurt says:

    Looks like things are going well. I am enjoying your travel blog. Judging by the pictures I certainly wouldn’t lose weight. Although, I would enjoy the culinary experience. The town looks charming and mountains full of trails.

  4. Lindsay Al-Sweedy says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun to teach classes, eat Italian food, sun bathe, and take walks through the city. Wish I was there with you. 🙂

  5. Donna Rowley says:

    Kathy, I am so proud of you. What an adventure. Great successes to you and have lots of fun.
    If you don’t gain weight from that fabulous food, then you have to share how you did it with me

  6. Melody says:

    Sounds wonderful! Good food, nice people, gorgeous environment, fun activities…what else could you ask for. Very happy you have this opportunity. Enjoy reading your blog.

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