Fall Days – Father and I

It has been a busy month! Father and I first arrived at the Blasi family’s vineyard the second week in October, and now there is only one week left in November. We are leaving in just two days. We have been here a while, and I want to write some things down so I remember them. Father says that’s what a journal is for, so here we go.

On Wednesday morning, Mami, Mrs. Blasi, baby Leo, and I all head to the local market for the weekly shopping. The nearby town is about a 20 minutes drive, the Blasi’s are pretty well out in the country. Mrs. Blasi spent the drive there talking nervously with Mami about what happens when the roads have snow on them. I entertained baby Leo so he wouldn’t cry the whole time, he’s not a big fan of car rides. 

Of all the things I have done in Switzerland, going to the market is my favorite. All the stalls, smells, people, fresh things, it’s wonderful. My favorite stall at the market is the honey stall. All those golden jars of deliciousness (Father says that’s not a word, but it is accurate). Because it’s a market, the honey is not mass produced (meaning, made for lots and lots of people in a factory style way), but made by one local person in small batches. This honey stall has jars of honey from several people actually from several of the local towns. The owner of the stall says that she and another lady have a partnership with a group of local beekeepers.
This is how it works:
The different beekeepers have their own hives, own bees, own flowers for the bees, own jars and labels, but they sell them together at one stall. The owner says that this group all started because her husband used to keep bees, and travel to all the local markets to sell the honey. It was a full-time job! She actually doesn’t know anything about beekeeping, and really never enjoyed it like her husband did, but she loves honey. When her husband died, there was no one to keep the bees, or to collect the honey. She says using up that last jar of honey was like losing her husband all over again, and she couldn’t stand it. So! In honor of her husband she organized a local beekeeping group, and she and her friend gather the jars from the different keepers, and sell them at the markets, so the keepers can stay focused on just one side of the process.
I have three jars of honey ready to go in my case. I love honey.

Mami says it’s too bad I’ll miss the Christmas market, because it’s even better. Fresh baked sweets, gingerbread, steaming mugs of hot drinks for the cold nights, the twinkling lights, the decorations, ah! The way Mami describes it! I wish we were staying for Christmas just so I could visit the Christmas Market, even just once. But, as Father says, “We have a previous engagement” (meaning, something you have promised to do).

One Saturday, a few weeks ago, Mr. and Mrs. Blasi, Gabriel, Laura, baby Leo, and Father and I all went into town for a fun time and a special lunch. We had so much fun! The car ride was the funniest, because we didn’t exactly fit in the car. The Blasi’s have a larger car, but there were still not enough seats for us all. Laura and I sat on the floor on Mrs. Blasi, and Gabriel’s feet, and baby Leo kept throwing his toys on our heads and squealing with laughter. Father and Mr. Blasi were in the front seats with their knees nearly at their shoulders, because they had shifted the seats forward as far as they could. Both Father and Mr. Blasi are about 6 feet tall!

After lunch in town, which was amazing, we wandered around looking in the shop windows. Laura and I loved this, though she kept moving on too quickly. I saw the most beautiful necklace in the window of one shop! It was silver with a little pendant in the shape of Switzerland, and a heart cut out of the shape. There was a little card next to the necklace, and Laura translated it for me. It said, “My heart is in Switzerland” It was too much money for me to buy, since I have already spent so much on delicious honey. Then, we got some ice cream and sweets and headed home. When Laura and I went upstairs to go to bed that night, Gabriel was waiting at the door, with something behind his back. It was the necklace! I was so excited, I kissed his cheek. His face turned bright red, and he muttered something in Italian, then went to his room. Laura laughed until she almost fell off her bed.

So many more things have happened this month, but, like I said, it’s been very busy! I really just want to remember these two things and the feeling of being with the Blasi family. I like being with them, I like their vineyard, I like their home.

But, Father and I leave in a couple days. We are heading to England, to spend the holidays with Father’s side of our family. 

I’m excited for it, but I’m sad to leave my Swiss family.

Mami and Papi – Father and I

When Laura and Gabriel are at school, Father and Mr. Blasi are busy with the vineyard business, Mrs. Blasi is fussing with baby Leo, he’s teething and has been so cranky! I go and talk with Papi and Mami.
They may be Laura and Gabriel’s grandparents, but they insist that since Father and I are such good friends of the family I should call them Mami and Papi too.
They say they are my Swiss grandparents. 

Mami says she likes to keep herself busy by helping around the house. Usually this means, walking around the house, straightening things, sweeping floors, dusting things with her hankie, and carrying food on trays to Papi in his bed. Sometimes she is very wobbly, and I carry the tray for her. Whenever I go into Papi’s room, he asks me to fluff his pillows, sit with him a little while, and read to him. Mami usually feeds him while I read. Mami assures me that Papi knows me, but he never remembers my name.

Papi always has me read the same book to him, Huckleberry Finn. He says it’s his favorite English book. I never finish it, but he doesn’t remember me reading it to him before, so I just end up reading the same part to him over and over again. Papi always falls asleep after he eats, while I’m still reading to him.
Mami says Papi is forgetting because he is old, but she is just as old as he is and she can remember lots of things! I think there may be something wrong with Papi. It makes me sad because he’s still so sweet and kind.

Yesterday, Papi was not his normal self. He was very grumpy and it took him a long time to fall asleep. He kept wanting his pillows fluffed, and he would keep mumbling things in German and Italian. Mami just smiled at him and did whatever he wanted so he would be most comfortable. I actually got through four chapters that day. Just as he was falling asleep, though, he looked over at Mami and asked, “Who are you?”
She cried. 

I left. I didn’t know what to do, I still don’t. Father says sometimes these things happen to old people, they forget. Even the people they love most.

When I was getting ready for bed on yesterday, Mami knocked on the door of the room Laura and I are sharing. She came in and sat on my bed for a while. She said she wanted to explain why Papi’s questioned made her cry (she is a pretty serious woman, so seeing her cry was really weird). 


Mami told me their story:
“Who are you?” was the first thing Papi ever said to her.

Mami is from Italy, but she moved to Switzerland to get away from the bad things (she didn’t tell me what they were, just that there were bad things happening in Italy back then). She had just started working at a bakery in town and one day Papi came in. It’s a small town, so it was easy to see she was a new worker. Mami said Papi was trying to be flirty (I had to ask what that meant), but she said “I wouldn’t have any of it, I was working after all”. But when she got off work that first day, he was waiting for her. He waited for her after work everyday for three months before she finally agreed to go on a date with him.
I guess Mami was serious even back in those days. 

Papi wanted to impress her, but his father only owned a small farm so he didn’t have much money. Their first date was a picnic! Mami said she was shocked that this is what she had waited three months for, but Papi made her laugh so much that by the end of the picnic she didn’t really care. Mami says on that very first picnic date, Papi told her that he would marry her someday. She didn’t believe him.
“Things just don’t work out the way you plan sometimes,” she told me.

Papi was determined as a young man. A year later they were married. 

Mami said they didn’t have a lot of money at first. She was still working at the bakery, though now she was actually helping to bake the breads, and not just sell them. Papi was working on his father’s farm, but the farm wasn’t doing well. It was Papi’s idea to turn the farm into a vineyard, because Mami had told him all about the vineyard she had grown up on in Italy, and Papi was inspired.

Mami said that she had laughed at this as a silly idea! But Papi convinced her, and they started the vineyard.
It was so much harder than they thought, they almost went bankrupt (I think that means they almost lost everything and were homeless).
Finally, everything started working out, and by that time they three kids, Mr. Blasi’s three older siblings.
Mami said that Papi had a way of always making sure things worked out alright, even if it wasn’t always in the way they had originally planned. He would make it work. This made her smile when she said it.

Papi built more rooms for their house, it used to only have two bedrooms, now it has five. Mami said it took him ten years to make the house what it is now (and it’s beautiful now)!
Mami put in the gardens in the front yard, all the flowers and bushes; and in the backyard, all the veggies and herbs. When Papi finally finished the house, Mami found out she was pregnant one last time, with Mr. Blasi! He is ten years younger than his closest sibling (a sister, but I don’t know her name).
Mami patted my knee and said, “I am so happy to have children in her house again.”

Then, Mami showed me her wedding ring. Her hands hurt her now, so she doesn’t wear it on her finger, but on a necklace. It doesn’t have a diamond on it. It’s just a gold band. She says that’s all Papi could afford back in those days, but for their 35th wedding anniversary, Papi took it to a jeweler to have it engraved on the inside with the words “My Forever Love” in Italian (I can’t read it, but Mami told me what it says).
She laughs when she sees it because Papi’s Italian was never very good and one of the words is spelled incorrectly. He also had the outside of the ring etched, which is like engraving, I think. It kind of looks the same as the engraved things I saw in Venice. The outside of the ring has hearts for each one of her children, and in the middle are two hearts that are connected, for she and Papi.
It really is beautiful, and I told her I love it.

She kissed me goodnight and left singing a song in German, swaying back and forth. 


I’ve seen Mother’s wedding ring, Father has it saved for me, it is engraved too, but I don’t know what it says. I don’t ask to see it because it makes him sad, but one day Father says it will be mine to save, and then I will read it. For now, I wait.

I dreamed about Mami and Papi being young again, smiling at each other, with all their kids in their home, dancing to that song Mami sang as she left my room.
I dreamed about golden rings on young hands, and old hands.
About tears and laughter.
About weddings, and baby cradles, and old Papi in his bed with his worn, red quilt. 
I dreamed about Mother.
About her smile.
About Father laughing with her.
About Mother singing.
About her laying in her bed, with her light purple quilt.
About the machines buzzing around her bed.
About Father crying.

I woke up from my dream this morning, before the sun. I was crying. I didn’t want to wake up Laura, since we are sharing a room, so I went downstairs with my journal to the couch in the living room.
I’ve been writing for a while now.
Mr. and Mrs. Blasi is here now. I think they know I was upset. Mr. Blasi is going to carry me out to the field with some blankets, and we are going to watch the sunrise, while Mrs. Blasi gets some breakfast going.

I love my Swiss family.

Over the Mountains – Father and I

I’m so excited!
We are going to the Blasi’s vineyard, farther into Switzerland. I love the Blasi family. Father has known the Blasi family for a long time, even before I was born. My Mother and Mrs. Blasi were friends in college, before Mother and Father met. Our families have been close for a long time. I’m so excited! We are going to spend a few months with them.

I’ve never been to their vineyard, or any vineyard. Father says it is beautiful, but we aren’t actually for any of Father’s work. Mr. Blasi asked Father to come and help him at the vineyard. Apparently, it’s a family business, but Mr. Blasi’s brother and father had been taking care of it on their own. Mr. and Mrs. Blasi have just moved back to the Swiss vineyard from Italy, because Mr. Blasi’s brother died last year, and his parents are too old to handle the vineyard alone. It’s very sad. That part, I am not excited about. Mr. Blasi’s parents are like my grandparents. I call them Mami and Papi, and I love them very much.

I’m mostly excited to spend time with Mami and Papi, and with the Blasi children, Gabriel, Laura, and Leo, especially Laura. She’s 8, just 6 months younger than me. She’s like a cousin. I’m so excited to play with her!

I love traveling with Father, but sometimes I want to around someone else, someone my age, or close to my age. I’m with grown ups a lot. They’re usually very nice to me, some even play with me, but they aren’t kids. Sometimes I wish I had a sister, like Laura. Or a brother, like Gabriel, though he’s 12 and sometimes he’s annoying.

The train is going through the mountains now. It’s magnificent. Father says that word may not mean what I want it to mean in talking about the mountains, but I’m pretty sure it does.
Magnificent means: “impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.”
The Swiss alps are magnificent.

(Father printed this picture out for me once we got to the Blasi’s home, so I could paste it in my journal)

Disclaimer:
The above photo was obtained from this website: (it is not mine, and is in no way property of Gracious Purpose Blog, credit goes entirely to the following site and their gifted photographer)

https://www.muchbetteradventures.com/magazine/10-of-the-best-adventures-in-the-swiss-alps/

Not Disneyland – Father and I

Hello from Switzerland!
Father’s next article, after the one on the snooty fashion lady, is on the Alps, and Father insisted I see the REAL Matterhorn. 

It took us about 6 hours on trains and buses to finally get there, but once we did I can say for sure, it’s not like Disney’s pretend mountain. For one thing, it’s not alone. There are probably thousands of mountains and with it! I mean it is THE ALPS, with an “s”, meaning plural, as in lots of alp.

We are staying in a very tourist-y town called Zermatt. Everything is in German here, and I don’t know German very well. Father and I don’t stay in German speaking places as much, because we don’t have family here, like we do in Milan with the Detti’s. 

We are staying in a tiny hotel room that is decorated in an old style, with lots of dark wood, and dark reds, and pretend oil lamps, and frilly curtains, and that kind of thing. It is all very nice though! There is a little eating-area-thing downstairs where we eat. There is even a balcony where we can sit out and look at the mountains and the town!

Zermatt lake sunnegga - website 800px w-0167

This is a postcard of the Matterhorn. I got in town (but I think the picture was taken somewhere else, not in the town).

The balcony is my favorite. 
Not only can you see all the mountains around, the old style buildings in town, breathe the outdoors-y mountain-y air, but also there are these boxes with flowers everywhere in all the windows! I wish I could take one with me and have a box full of flowers everywhere we went. It would make every place we stay in feel like home. Father and I have a home, but we aren’t there very much, so sometimes it’s hard to think of the-house-we-are-never-in as “home”.

Tomorrow Father and I are taking our cameras and going to climb mountains! I am so excited to get out there! I love hiking and climbing, and I’ll be with Father while he’s working, not like in Milan when I had to stay away from him. I like being with friends and little Camilla is super cute, but I like being with Father the most.

With the Detti's – Father and I

Yesterday, Father and I left Venice. We took the train from Venice to Milan, which was like 5 whole hours of train riding (it was exhausting). Father has to meet up with some fancy fashion lady. I can never remember her name, just what she looks like. She’s tall and skinny with a pinched up face. Her lips are constantly pushed together in what is supposed to be like kissing fish lips, but they are so thin that they just look wrinkled. She has huge eyes, and they peer down at you out of her equally huge glasses. Her hair is probably gray because she colors it all the time, so it’s always a different color whenever Father goes to see her. Father is seeing her today, he left early this morning, before I woke up.

We are staying with our friends, the Detti’s, who live just outside of Milan. I say friends, but I have known them pretty much my whole life. Father says he doesn’t like to just have friends wherever he travels, he likes to have family. Lorenzo Detti is a funny man, with thick, dark hair, glasses, and the loudest voice I have ever heard. Isabella, his wife, has happy, blue eyes, and her fingernails are always painted red. Their little girl’s name is Camilla, she’s almost two with her always in pigtails. She is adorable!

While Father interviews and photographs the pinched-faced fashion lady, I stay the day with the Detti’s. Father will be home tonight, late, way after dinner, just before I go to bed.

Camilla is napping right now, Lorenzo is at work, and Isabella is resting too, so I’m in “my room” writing here in my journal.

Father is staying in their guest bedroom, but I’m staying in the study. It’s a small room, but I love it. The sun comes in the room almost all day, keeping it warm and cheery. One whole wall is just books. A large, brown leather chair sits next to the wall of books. I’m sitting in it now, with my knees all curled up, and there is still plenty of room. It’s a huge chair. There is a nice lamp that comes up over the back of the chair, so in the evening, it’s a great reading spot too. Wall of books, comfy chair, and a lamp. Perfect!

The wall opposite the window is the single murphy bed. The sides of the bed just barely touches everything else in the room, so it’s pretty cozy.

Decided to add a little doodling to my journal entries.

Tomorrow, Father and I plan to spend the day at home with the Detti’s. It’s Saturday, so no work for Lorenzo. I love listening to Father talking with Lorenzo and Isabella. I’m hoping that in the afternoon, we can go downtown to see the sites. I know I’ve seen it before, but there is something about it that is so interesting. Milan almost looks like a big city in America, but the skyline (new vocabulary word this week) is filled with new things and old things. Skyscrapers and cathedrals. Apartment buildings and red tile roof buildings. Construction cranes and marble statues.

The day after tomorrow will be Sunday, which will be our last day with the Detti’s, but we will miss them in the morning. They go to church on Sunday mornings. Father and I don’t. I don’t know why we don’t go with them. I’ve been to church before, but I felt weird, like I didn’t belong there and everyone was looking at me.
Maybe we will do something fun Sunday afternoon before our train to Switzerland Sunday night!

I hear Camilla waking up from her nap! I’m going to go see if I can help Isabella with a snack. I love playing with little Camilla!