I love living on the Darling Downs in Queensland, especially in Spring when it seems that everything is budding, blossoming, and greening.
Today is a good day, not just because it’s gorgeously Spring-ish, but because I’m finally recovering from a four-week illness (HOORAY!!!), a dear friend is coming to visit, and I am finally back to my Italian studies.
A few months ago Rocket Languages offered me a free language course in exchange for an honest review. I was delighted, then promptly got sick, then Bear got sick, then I got sick again. Sigh.Isn’t that how life goes sometimes? But now, at last, I feel so much better, my head is clear, and I can begin to wrap my brain around Italian lessons.
Although I’m only on the first level, I am enjoying it so much. Unlike other courses I’ve tried that simply have you sit and listen to rapid-fire conversations while you furiously try to follow along, Rocket Languages in an interesting combination of visual and audio lessons.
One of my first assignments was to find Italian movies to watch – without English subtitles. It’s a little like sitting in a courtyard in Italy, listening to the babble of voices around you, incomprehensible at first, but soon familiar in lilt and diction. Before too long you’re picking out words you know, discovering words that make sense when heard in context, learning slang terms that regular Italians use rather than the textbook phrases that sound stilted and, well, text-bookish.
I like that I can listen to my lessons online, or download them to my computer to listen offline. I will keep you posted on how things go, but so far, Rocket Languages Italian Course is a pleasure.
And now for my crazy story of the week.
Last Wednesday I was minding my own business, innocently waiting to pick up my books at the library counter when a man with wild white hair and piercing blue eyes approached me. In a soft German accent he asked if he could talk to me about something, hastily assuring me he was not trying to sell anything. Politely I nodded for him to continue.
He informed me that he was the leader of a drawing/art class in town, and wondered if I would consider being a paid model for the class for two hours every weekend.
A NUDE model.
Now darlings, I think I should receive an Academy Award for my performance of “woman of the world who gets asked to be a nude model every day of the week”. I was cool, suave, and behaved admirably, especially considering that my friend Ann was only a few steps away, frozen in the act of looking at a book, doing her best not to howl with laughter as he described the modeling schedule, adding that it wouldn’t be difficult work because they would give me regular tea breaks.
I thanked him for his offer, said I’d “give it some thought”, and bid him farewell.
After his departure, silence reigned in the entryway as Ann’s face contorted into all manner of amusement. “I’m not saying a word,” quoth she, “not a single word.”
We managed to make it out to the car before bursting into laughter. Ann said, “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I’d never have believed it!”
And lest you think the story is over, it isn’t.
We made our way to our favorite cafe which is run by a fabulous South African artist. We told her about my encounter thinking she would also find it hilarious.
“Oh!” she gushed. “What a wonderful opportunity for you!” She then proceeded to tell me that when the artists completed their nude portraits of me, she would be thrilled to hang them in her cafe…where we eat every single week.
Now I consider myself a fairly brave person. I’m willing to road trip through Albania, travel solo in the boonies of Vanuatu, or strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere, but pose nude for a crowd of artists and then have those portraits hung in my favorite cafe? NOSIREEBOB!!!! Alas, the Art and Culinary worlds are going to have to miss out on that particular…um…pleasure.
Life is never dull on the Darling Downs.
Now I will leave you with pictures of our darling new Maremma puppies – Apollo and Solar – who arrived safe and sound last night.