Thursday, June 28

Come With Your Dancing Shoes On!

My birthday do is a mere two days away and the prep is getting a little hectic...that aside, I am looking forward to a night of celebration, seeing mates from all walks of life and DANCE MY LITTLE SOCKS OFF!!! (Thanks to la Cayetana Altovoltaje for putting the music together!) So, got your dancing shoes ready?

Tuesday, June 26

Water Every Growing Seed

You have heard me say that journeys, and bus journeys especially, offer me an opportunity to reflect. Sometimes it is as shallow a thought as "did I take the chicken out of the freezer this morning" or "how about capers and black olives in the sauteed aubergines?"(I am a deep kinda lady, ya see)..sometimes I read a book, and totally get absorbed by it. Other times, I simply sit there, observing strangers' every move. I often wonder whether I have a 'stalker's strike' in my genes, I am a good observer of life or I am plain nosey. I sit there - normally on the luggage storage box - don't ask: I know I am weird.. Guess Freud would have something to say about that one too! I observe people coming in, people walking out, how they relate to the bus driver, how they smile, how they graciously squeeze in, how frantically they push their way in, how happy they look, how weary their eyes are, the boys listening to their i-pods out loud, the girls talking on their mobile phones. Last night the bus home was rather empty. I sat down, just on the chair near the entrance. At the next stop a seven year old, a five year old and a one year old boy in a pram got in followed by their young father. Shaved head, track-suit-bottoms, heavily tattooed arms, bitten nails, hoarse voice, unsteady pace. Sits the five year old, still wearing his school uniform (happy-faced because his daddy had just bought him a small bottle of pop and a chewing-gum with a sticker in it), places the pram by a group of senior men; the seven year old maturely makes his own way to an empty seat. The dad goes and sits at the back, engrossed in his text-writing. The youngest one is a little smiler: smiles at every face in his sight. Smiles a little more. The middle one observes the world around him, often calling for his father's attention. The eldest brother offers them both the attention they crave: experience has taught him that their father will not respond. He has seen him like this before. As soon as those boys get a little attention from us, mere spectators, their eyes brighten up ever brighter than they had before. Bright lads indeed; craving for an attention that they may never receive and may constraint them to follow the same path, the same self-destructive pattern, the same destiny. I wish they could see how wonderful they are. I wish they could make the most of the life that has been given to them. I have worked with children all around the world. More and less disadvantaged ones. It always saddens me when in a world of plenty, not all growing seeds are watered.

Monday, June 25

Caught Up in a Bigger Story

Flicking through the various channels at dinner time, I often wonder why are there so many soap operas, why are people so bothered to actually watch them. Although there may be a hundred different psychological, marketing and cultural reasons behind it, I generally get a feel that we all like stories. Whether it is a little child sitting by their grandfather's armchair opposite the fire on a rainy winter night, a teenager texting her best mate with all the details of last nights date, two mothers telling each other of their toddlers progress standing at a bus stop, a school boy telling his mom about his day at school as she prepares dinner, an old lady reading a gossip column in a magazine as she is waiting for her hair dye to dry at the salon; it is undoubted: we all love stories. Stories you hear, stories you tell, stories you make up, stories you want to forget, stories you make sound funnier, stories that make you laugh, stories that make you cry. Stories that make you react, stories that make you frown. Stories that bring back memories of a much bigger story. Stories that bring you hope: because, after all, if you have made it through it once, you surely will do it again! Stories you learn from, stories that scar you. Stories that scare you, stories that strengthen you. I love suitcases because the older and more used they are the more stories they tell you. My father once bought a beige thin leather hard back suitcase at an antique fair in the early Eighties to use in a window display. Over the years, the antique suitcase has been used for a variety of purposes. When I was a young girl I used to love passing the suitcase over to my dad, touching the soft skin, smelling the old leather, imagining who it may have belonged to, where would have it travelled, what happened. I have a bit of a thing for second hand stuff (especially books). That air of mystery that comes from the freedom to imagine a past story behind something which is now beginning a new story which I am part of.
Sophisticated cigar smoking thin tall men in Paris sipping coffee in Montmatre, like freshly stepped out of a Hemingway novel. Career women smelling of expensive perfumes quickly and composedly checking in for their next connection to New York. Nuns on a train with a little baby who has finally found a welcoming family to look after him. Young suffragettes cycling to their next protest with a bag full of leaflets and a heart full of dreams. Then coming caledoscopically back to a young woman's journal. A precious, sheltered tale of life. She thinks she is alone in the world, that nobody can possibly go through what she goes through, feel what she feels. Yet keeps on reading stories others wrote to express similar emotions to her own.

Hurray! Even I Finally Did It!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen! Having tried pretty much everything in life, I am proud to announce you that today I have had my first ever taste of MUSHY PEAS! I used to think I'd reached an all times low with "fish 'n' chips, shocked myself enough with Scottish Haggis, proven my point by eating Croccodille meat, experienced a true 'taste-sensation' with beans on toast, but no, oh no: there behold -lunch time on a gloomy and rainy day I was sitting in a traditional chippy in Manchester city centre with a pot of tea and plate full of fish 'n' chips and mushy peas with buttered white bread...(I am really praying Matt will never find out about today's lunch..doh!)
***I am now officially ready to leave the country.***

Sunday, June 24


"Release Me" (Oh Laura,2007
I am the wilderness locked in a cage
I am a growing force you kept in place
I am a tree reaching for the sun, please don't hold me down
I am a rolling wave without a motion
A glass of water longing for the ocean
I am a nice flower breaking free, but you keep stopping me, release me, release me.
I am the rain that's coming down on you that you shielded yourself from with a roof

I am the fire burning desperately, but you are controlling me
Release me, release me

Wednesday, June 20

Harvest Justice

That's it: tomorrow summer officially begins. June 21st, the longest day of the year. Summer: the sunshine, the trees in bloom, succulent water melons, water games, the beach. I love it, I love it, I love it. I love the zest of lime squeeze on grilled fish. The sun on my skin. The smell of mature yellow peaches in sweet white wine. The taste of apricots that melt on your tongue ever so slowly. My grandad used to call me, and often still does, 'the little apricot lady'. He delights in telling the tale of the day I was born. A hot summer day when they were picking apricots in the fields and they had to rush to the hospital because little baby me was born - with a two week delay... Then growing up, in the shadow of my grandparents, spending my summers playing about around convivial apricot pickers. Then making jams and fruit juices in my grandma's kitchen out of the more ripen ones. In goes the sugar, the hot water bubbling away in the scorching sun, the stench of chicken's poo (which God knows why you are told 'is good for ya'!) mixed to the fragrant aroma of blended fruits..a cheeky little finger stealing a taste of the precious nectar..Nana telling you off, then my little hurt frown, then her heartily laugh; she chocks a little from too much laughing, her voluptuous figure fluttering, then brings her wrist to her face and one at a time swiftly dries her eyes from tears of joy. There is no-one in the whole wide world like my nana! I started off writing this post with a completely different agenda in mind - now, having stumbled upon some beautiful memories, I realize how lucky and blessed I have been. I received some of the most precious gifts in this world: life, a great family and, above all, the gift of a truly happy childhood. I wonder how many people can count on that.

Too Stingy for a Card..

Hi folks! I forgot to wish happy birthday to John O yesterday - sorry!!!!- HAPPY Birthday, mate! And of course, today it is Lili' and Susanna's birthday...oh, then it will be Pablo's on Monday, Smeedy's on Wednesday, wee Joshua's is on Thursday next week, Laura and Matthew's birthdays are next Saturday and then, of course, it is mine on the following Sunday... may be I am trying to save the environment by avoiding sending cards, maybe I am too disorganized at this moment of chaos to remember to post them on time or have I become PLAIN STINGY!?!?!?! A joke apart, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you all! Lots of love xx

Sunday, June 17


"If you tell life what it has to be, you limit it; but if you let it show you what it wants to be it will open doors you never knew existed."

Nice quote, isn't it? This is actually a line from a bit of a girlie movie called "Tortilla Soup". Back home we often say "never say never", which, when you are young and it is your grandmother telling you that you will end up marrying the spotty, greasy hair son of her next door neighbour, makes you wanna cringe, stump your feet and scream: "never, never, never"...Having said that, there are things in life that I have deliberately chosen to say 'never' to, like doing drugs, tolerate injustice, watch Titanic again..but then again, what makes those never so permanent. When I was in senior high, my classmates would have openly accused me of being retrograde, presumptuous and stuck-in-my-ways, brainwashed, even. I was an opinionated young girl; only problem is that I had no idea what my opinions were really based on. Now nearly 24 (two weeks yesterday to the final count-down) I am an opinionated young woman. The difference, however stands in the fact that I have rolled up my sleeves over the past five years, dug deep down, lived for real, sought to see from a 360 degrees angle, questioned everything I even believed in, dismantled it, shaped it, tried to make sense of it, built it up all over again - with sense, this time, from the foundations. Unwrapping life: some times like an eager child on Christmas day; others, more like an archaeologist carefully and painfully retrieving a precious treasure. "Don't tell life what it should be, let it show you what it wants". I have dismantled, reconstructed, settled. Now I am packing it all up. Figuratively and practically. The picture of the "treehouse" at the top of the page is one of my favourite. It reminds me of me. Isn't it wonderful to have intellectual freedom? The paradox of Free Will: we are free to choose; but we are truly free when we are in tune with the will of God which cries out for all mankind to be freed up from the bondage of slavery to death and sin. Paradoxical, but so liberating. I have dismantled, examined, explored, then built again. I believe: and I now know the reasons why.

Friday, June 15

To Be Brought to the Light

Today, it is a wonderful day! This morning at 6 am (2 pm local time) my best friend Rie gave birth to their second child, Saku Luukas Sinivirta ... ok, ok, I may be biased, but you've gotta admit this baby looks gorgeous and incredibly sweet!!! Mommy and baby are well and daddy and big bro Riku were happy to meet the new addition to the Sinivirta family! So proud of you guys. Love you more than words can tell. Auntie, Ivonne xx
"To be brought to the light" is how the Italians call birth. Never paid much attention to it until I watched "Under the Tuscan Sun"..beautiful expression, isn't it?

"I Don't Care What the Weather Man Says When the Weather Man Says It's Raining"

Another lovely rainy day in Manchester.
Please don't ask me again why I am moving back to Italy, would you?
Here is your answer.

Thursday, June 14

Murphy's Law

People who know me well, always get me books (or music/movies) on special occasion. On my 13th Christmas, my auntie Laura got me my first ever Murphy's Law book - since then, I was hooked. For those of you who have never come across it (shame on ya!), "Murphy's Laws" are a random logical, and less logical, collection of considerations of the cliques on modern life. They include reflections such as "Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment", “If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.” My mate Stefan, who I have recently discovered secretly reads this blog (hi there!), has re-adapted some of those sayings for me, for example: "if there is anything to be walked into, Ivonne will walk into it", "If anything tragic is going to happen, it will happen to Ivonne" . Thing is that: he is right (doh! I hate to say those words!!!). Ivonne could be a dictionary entry under synonyms for clumsiness, dizziness, frequent lack of common sense. Prime example, last night I was training at the gym with my cheeky personal trainer (I swear that guy is getting meaner by the minute!), doing some chest presses on the Swiss-ball; once I finished, I put the weights down and ridiculously fell off on my butt in a rather un-lady-like manner - not once, but twice! Totally Bridget Jones' style (too bad I got my own back when Matt, showing off as he was demonstrating an exercise, fell off the main stairs in front of the whole gym..his face turned raw red and we all laughed loudly!). The story does not end here. As I have previously told you, my departure is only five weeks away and, because my beloved housemate has decided to move out as well (can't blame her: how do you find some one like me to share a house with?! - in a bedlam) I am in the process of selling all of my furniture on e-bay. I am dizzy, but highly organized. So, in order not to waste time and run the risk of going crazy few days before I leave, I have listed pretty much everything on e-bay - somehow thinking that no-one would have wanted to buy my stuff.. so I sat there on Sunday night and made a list of all the pieces of furniture I'll need to sell: fridge, washer, sofas, bedside table, bed.. and what's the first thing that the 'blond' lady puts on the market?! and what's the item that sells within a day?! Moral of the story: as from tomorrow, the wee Italian chick shall be camping in her own home for 4 weeks!
Have a laugh on me.
PS: Stef, can I borrow you air-bed?! (",)

Tuesday, June 12

Anger MaNaGemenT!?! Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Nosing about a number of other blogs, I have noticed that a few of us have been having issues of anger recently. Alongside that, I have also discovered that the lovely Mrs Heasely used to be an "anger management therapist". Ever since I moved to England, I am a changed woman. My friends and neighbours may tell you different, but I truly believe I've come a long way from my fiery, quick-tempered days. Maybe it's got something with God shaping my character, maybe it's all about maturing, growing up, or possibly I have acquired something of that beautiful "English phlegm" as the Italians call it.. together with that, however, I also seem to have acquired an irresistible urge to complain about everything wrong and stump my feet at injustice. Prime example of this is yesterday. I rang up my bank about a week ago to make an appointment with the bank manager to discuss the arrangements related to closing my account when I am gone. 1 o'clock pm on Tuesday 12th June, we established. So at 12.50, I am there, firmly determined not to be late. I cue up at the custumer service desk to be announced to the manager I had an appointment with. The custumer service fresh-faced young lad looked at me blank and politely gave me the same answer he had been giving everyone: "Please take a sit, a customer advisor will be with you shortly". First of all, I had made an appointment so that I wouldn't have to wait together with all the 18 year old foreign students who have only just landed at Manchester airport, hungry, inexperienced, jet-legged and not very fluent in English as the alleged thick Mancunian blond prison-warden-like bank manager bosses them about shouting at them louder and slower ('coz that way they will certainly understand better) ... together with all the old ladies with thousands of penny coins to be counted .. I am sitting there, tapping my right foot on the lilac coloured dirty carpet, drumming my fingers on the table, starring in the empty space, turning my head a heck of a lot, puffing a lot, pulling weird faces and throwing angry looks at every customer that goes before me.. after all, I had booked an appointment!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!! Getting up off the chair, walking up and down, cuing up again to speak to the same clueless guy who gives me the same answer again, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, I am going insane, 12 minutes, 20 minutes, my temperature is raising, I can feel it, raaaahhh. 21 minutes later the manager calls me in to then leave me with the only person who knows what she is talking about in that branch - an unassuming young customer advisor who has always impressed me for her humble professionalism. I am out in 3 minutes. She tells me what to do and I am happy again. I suddenly don't feel like killing the patronising blond manager anymore. Does this make me a rage-aholic?

Miracles Do Happen

Recognise this handsome young man in the picture on the left? He is a little 'plumper' now but indeed, this is Diego Armando Maradona, El Pibe de Oro, "the golden boy" as he is was known in my childhood years, is the man who made Napoli football club, the Neapolitan people and a whole generation feel unforgettable and unrepeatable emotions on a football pitch. Simply sensational. Regardless of other undisputed talents I have come across in my life time (Ronaldo, for Brazil, Christiano Ronaldo in Manchester, David Beckham, etc..), no other player had the same charisma, velocity, tactic, exhibitionism to single-handedly (La Mano de Dios, comes to mind, ahahaha!) **Caution please: Sheer comedian talent at work here** destroy a whole opponent team!!! Pure class. Anyway, those where the good days for our local team, when we won all the time: the scudetto,twice, UEFA Cup, Super Coppa Italiana...good days, good days indeed. Then the decline: between 1990 and now it's been a succession of disastrous events (we went as low as serie C for a couple of years) but Sunday, oh Sunday, was a wonderful day - after 11 years (can't believe it's been that long) NAPOLI is back in SERIE A!!!! Happy days, happy days! Here are a few pictures of the celebrations in Naples - heck do those Neapolitans know how to party!!!

Monday, June 11

The Final Count Down!

Ok, maybe the last post on my imminent departure was a little bit to poetical and way too long for most of you to be bothered enough to read that I am going to return to live in ITALY in a mere five weeks time. On a purely informative level, it is my birthday on July 1st and I will be holding a big birthday/leaving do in Salford (if anyone is around, drop me an e-mail, I'll give ya all the details). Apologies for using this post as a personal information board, but it's so hard to keep everyone informed at once!!!! (Sudden lack of/decrease in posting to be expected)
Ok, forse il mio ultimo articolo sulla mia imminente dipartita era un po' troppo poetico e troppo lungo perche' voi altri vi curaste abbastanza da leggerlo, ma volevo annunciarvi che torno a vivere in Italia tra 5 settimane. Per motivi puramente informativi, il 1 luglio sara' il mio compleanno e daro' una grande festa a Salford (se siete nei dintorni, mandatemi un'e-mail, che vi do tutti i dettagli) Scusatemi per aver utilizzato questo articolo solo per scopi personali, ma e' difficilissimo tenere tutti informati allo stesso tempo!!!

Wednesday, June 6

Would You Please Big it Up for RIKU Superstar! Un Applauso per Riku Superstar!

Meet Riku Marcus Sinivirta, who is turning 3 today!!!!
Riku is Taneli and Rie' s, my best friend, first born. I only met Riku once in person when he was one week old. Flabbergasting to think that that little bundle of joy has now become a gorgeous little man! So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, wee Riku.
Lots of love, auntie Ivonne xx
Vi presento Riku Marcus Sinivirta che compie 3 anni oggi!!!
Riku e' il primogenito di Taneli e Rie, la mia migliore amica. Ho conosciuto Riku in persona una sola vota quando aveva solo una settimana. E' scoinvolgente pensare come quel piccolo batuffolo di gioia sia ora uno stupendo piccolo cucciolo d'uomo! Quindi Tanti auguri, piccolo Riku!
Con tanto amore, zia Ivonne xx

Practicalities, Practicalities, Practicalities!

One of the concepts I feel I have firmily consolidated over the past five years is that women are increadible multitaskers. Be it by nature or circumstances, women have to learn from a very early stage to be many things at once. However, in our postmodern context, this need is even amplified. Females, daughters, mothers,companions, sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law,house-keepers, events organizers, workers, supporters, friends, professional, shrew, caring, beautiful, effortless, strong, weak..I tell ya: being a woman is a right pain in the bottom at the best of times! Having all the same responsabilities as men, times ten, plus periods! What a great calling in life to be a woman! D'oh! Anyway, despite it all, I love being one - I am very proud of being rushed off my feet most of the day and to still be able to do everything with a smile on my face! It's like going to the gym after a hard day's work, have an intense work-out, then showering, mosturising, make-up on, fresh clothes, clean hair and feeling wonderful on the way out! It is all worth that feeling of gorgeousness in the end. With my departure coming up fast and furious, you can imagine I have around about a zillion things to organize...the joys! but I keep on reminding myself it will all be worth it in the end! (I hope so, anyway!).

Tuesday, June 5

Spiraling into Costant Universal Flux

Remember good old uncle Heraclitus? Despite the terrifying nastiness of my classical Greek tutor in school, the woman who made three years of my life an utter misery, I have always manifested a respectful fascination for the ancient Greeks and their philosophical efforts. I don't remember a great deal about Heraclitus really, but his Πανθά ρέϊ (Pantha Rei, apologies to the Greek scholars here present, but I don't have a spell check for Greek characters..) everything changes, everything flows, the universal flux (as some have interpreted it), is a concept that has stayed with me and has acquired increasing significance over the years. At a youth camp few weeks before I left for England and Bible college, a newly met friend gave me a passage of Scripture from Isaiah which loosely translated is "You will set forth with joy and return in peace". At the time, that verse gave me a lot of encouragement because somehow I felt like as if God himself was commissioning my departure and sealing a pact of constant vigil and protection over my experience and development. I look at the past five years and I can so very definitively see that. I left home aged 19, with a great deal of passion, zeal, enthusiasm and, yes, overpowering excitement and blissful happiness. However, I was very much like a caterpillar.. I felt ugly, unworthy of love, crooked,inexperienced, unfinished, arrogant in her ignorance, strong of her smallness, overwhelmed by possibility, scared by opportunity, incredulous of dreams. That ever changing, moving, passing of time forces that caterpillar to shake, shiver, evolve..I wonder if caterpillars actually ever wonder if all that pain is worth it in the many times even when people around us encourage us by giving us a picture of what all the hardship will be "worth in the end", it is still hard! Five years later is still 'me', just an adult version of me. Despite the trials and difficulties, the joys and the sorrows, the good, the bad and the damn right ugly, it is still I, still the ugly caterpillar, now enabled to spread my wings to fly. Many times have I complained over the past five years why had I been endowed with the gift to fathom the possibility of flight, a big blue sky to fly, but no ability to actually fly; how many times have I actually felt that my wings had been cruelly plucked out by some unkind giant..what I had not yet realised is that I was still a caterpillar and my wings had not yet developed enough to fly! "Every thing changes, everything flows", and now grown, reinforced, changed and hopefully matured, I venture back to the parental nest as a daughter, as an adult, as a woman.

Moving back to Italy six weeks from tomorrow, can you believe it?