Yesterday I was chatting on Facebook with my cousin in Italy, Eleonora. Ele is 19 years old. She is a beautiful, bright girl. She’s studying occupational therapy at a university in Rome. She types English really well, which makes it easy to chat with her because I write pretty much no Italian. Oh, I write SOME, but not enough to converse. Ele converses really well in English. She has mentioned before how nice it would be if I had a webcam so we could see each other using Skype. At work, I don’t have one, but this MacBook does. I had kind of forgotten that. While we were chatting, I had her log into the RileyCam to see if she could access it. She could, and she was excited to see me sitting on the sofa typing to her. I asked if she had a webcam, and she said she did but she only knew how to use it with Skype. Well, brilliant idea – I went to and found out they have a Mac version! I installed it, and within minutes I was TALKING to her AND SEEING her, and vice versa!!! It was AWESOME! I was in my bathrobe, no makeup, hair uncombed, but what did it matter? I was talking to my cousin in Italy!! She has a BEAUTIFUL voice and a really enchanting accent. She got her mom to come to the camera, and I got to say hello to Antonella, then to Ele’s younger brother, Matteo. Finally, Pino, her dad, and the brother of Edvige (Edy), the cousin I wrote to in high school, came home from work and I got to see him too!!!! It was SOOOOO great! I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was, and am, to have this technology available. How cool is it that I can SEE my family in Rome and TALK to them? They all speak such great English, and they’re helping me with my Italian. I really need to step up my studies now so that I can talk to them in Italian. Pino has to keep reminding me to slow down – I do speak quickly, even for Americans. He said “if you do not slow down, I will speak in Italian.” We both got a good laugh out of that. In order to make it easier to talk to them when they are most available (11 or 12PM for them, which is 2 or 3PM for me) I ordered a webcam and headset for using on my PC at work. I can’t extoll the virtues of Skype enough. If you don’t have it, you need to get it. You can talk to your family and friends anywhere in the world for free from computer to computer. Calls to landlines are just pennies a minute. It really is an amazing service!!!

Oh yeah….

I posted photos on my Picasa photo site of my family in Italy and my niece. Check out the “Photos” page on my blog for small versions, and a link to the Picasa album.

Oh, and one more thing. I may have mentioned here, or not, that I’m addicted to Scrabble. I have it on my cell phone. I play it with my kids and grandkids the old-fashioned way – on a board with wooden tiles – when they’re visiting. I also have it on my iPod Touch, and play as much as I can on Facebook. I love Scrabble. On Facebook, I’ve pretty much kicked the butt of everyone I’ve played – with one notable, frustrating exception. Remember Dan of Dan’s Blah Blah Bog? He is a Scrabble prodigy! I hate him. I started off beating him. Then, in short order, I lost to him, not once, but twice in a row. And I’m working on my third consecutive loss. I don’t lose by a lot usually – 20 or 30 points or less. But I lose. I HATE losing at anything, but I really hate losing at Scrabble. We both have stellar plays, but Dan has amazing luck. In our current game, he has gotten, not one, not two, but THREE bingos (when you play all 7 letters in one turn). THREE!!!! Who DOES that? I did it once on my iPod against the computer, but in real life??? He’s really killing my win/loss record. I want to hate him, but how can I? He’s such a nice guy who just happens to be as good as I am at Scrabble but with even better luck. Grrrrr!

No catchy title

I can’t think of anything catchy or interesting for this post title, so that’s the title. So, to catch up….

As you know from Rosemary’s blog, we’ve had snow, snow, snow, and snow. Now we’re in the annual January warm up phase… temps in the 30’s to 40’s, snow melting and flooding streets, and in some cases, crawl spaces and basements. Of course, Winter Carnival is starting, now that the snow is melting. It happens every year. You’d think they’d reschedule it. We used to have a snow sculpture competition. We used to always have plenty of snow in mid-January and it would be the perfect amount of cold. There would be awesome snow sculptures all around town, on almost every corner. Then we started getting the Chinooks, the meltdowns. At first they trucked snow in from all around town and put it in big heaps on the street corners so they could make their sculptures. But pretty soon there wasn’t enough snow for that, and the temps were too warm anyway. So, the competition ended. If only they’d moved the date up a week or so…. And so, here we are. We’ve had record snowfall. We have mountains of snow all around town. Last week we could have had a snow sculpture competition. This week it’s melting, quickly. The berms are brown and ugly instead of the picturesque, clean, fluffy, white they were a week ago. It’s sad.

On another note, YS and “the girl” are finished, finally. They’ve been on again, off again for the past six months. I kept praying YS would just see her for what she was and move on. But he has really strong feelings for her, so he kept taking the blame when things would go wrong, kept trying to be the person she wanted him to be. Yesterday it all finally blew up, and it looks like it’s for good this time. He’s heartbroken – again. I’m just praying that it IS for good, because despite his heartbreak now, it will be best in the long run. I just pray he doesn’t let this latest breakup derail him again. He has two weeks left in Jan Term, then just two classes next semester, and he’ll have his degree. Please, God, let him stick to the plan….please!

Finally, my niece has been in Italy for about a week. She spent 5 days in Rome, and will spend 10 days in Florence, with day trips to Siena, Pisa, Assisi, and other places. Before she left, I hooked her up with our cousins in Rome via Facebook. They were wonderful!!! Before she arrived, my cousin Giuseppe, took a cell phone to the hotel she’d be staying at, so she could call them when she arrived. They let her use the phone during her stay in Rome! How cool is that? The first night she had free, they took her to a ristorante to have authentic, Roman pizza and gelato. They then went on a little sightseeing walk around Rome. They adored her! She is the sweetest girl in the world, so of course they adored her. Giuseppe has a daughter, Ele, who is 19 1/2. My niece is 20. They hit it off. Ele speaks some English, and she said despite the language barrier, they had no problem communicating and talked and talked and talked. I knew they would! My cousin, Edy, Giuseppe’s sister, and the one I wrote to in high school, came with her two sons and daughter, from the town they live in about 15 miles outside Rome, to share the evening. The next day, they all had dinner at Giuseppe’s house. My niece said she learned how to twirl her spaghetti really well. I didn’t know she didn’t already know that. Gosh, I think that was one of the first things I learned as a little kid. Not the lame twirling Americans do – on their plate. No – real twirling, using a spoon and fork… THAT’S Italian! 🙂 The next night, Ele took her out with her friends to a pub. According to Ele, her friends adored her too. All in all, my niece had an amazing time in Rome meeting our family and seeing Rome with them. I am so envious, but so happy that they got to meet each other. It just makes me feel even more connected to them. I can’t wait until it’s my turn! I am urging YS to do well, get his degree, save some money, and maybe plan on spending at least a month, maybe longer, in Rome this summer. I think it would be so good for him. Edy has a son close to his age, and an older son who is a computer science major too, so he’d have a lot in common. He’s great with languages, so I know he’d pick up Italian quickly. He loved Italy when he visited during his France trip. How much more will he love it when he’s with family? Too bad I hadn’t found my family before he visited in 2007. But I know he’ll go again, hopefully this summer.

And lastly, sadly this year we will not be participating in the Adult Spelling Bee. The team last year was comprised of three of us from the library and one non-library person. We found a fourth from the library for this year’s team, and I was really excited about it. Then we learned that they were holding it three weeks later than they did last year, which meant one of our most important team members would not be here. She will be in Hawaii (poor girl). We were going to go on without her. I even suggested making a full-sized cardboard cutout of her to take up with us each time we went up to spell. But I wasn’t happy about not having her there. She and I are really the two best spellers on the team, so it would have all fallen on me, which I could have handled, but it wouldn’t be the same. Yesterday, the other gal from the team said she was just too busy and wouldn’t have time to study, so she couldn’t be on the team. Rather than try to find a replacement, I decided we should just forgo it this year. I’m sad, but next year S and C will both be able to participate, which is how it needs to be. I’ve got a great idea for our team – The Spelling Beatles. We’ll dress up like the Fab Four and rock the competition. Next year.