Sunday, September 14, 2008

In the home stretch

When we came to Malta, we brought from the States the result of a massive Costco run before our packout almost 2 years ago. This weekend we realized, after fruitless searches for several things we "knew" we still had Costco-sized containers of, that we will soon have to buy cling film (no Saran Wrap here), and sponges. I was delighted last month to see real vanilla showing up on the shelves of the bakery aisle and am no longer panicking about the next-batch-of-cookies end to the vanilla we brought.

The depletion of goods is a tangible reminder that our journey here is ending. Terry will say that 5 months is forever and why am I even thinking about it now. I have been told by those who prefer 3 years to a post that it takes a good year to feel settled and for me, at a year here I had a 4 month old child who didn't sleep. It has only been a month or two since I feel relatively at home here, and it is almost time to uproot. How will Alex take the transition? What will we end up doing with Kirby? What will I regret that we never got around to doing while we were here (I always have a list every time I leave a place - usually the stuff I "saved for later" like the ferris wheel in Chicago, that i could walk to from my apartment)

On a happier note - Alex has for the last 2 days stood up by herself a few times. One more milestone toward her impending walking. As she gets heavier (the girl likes her food!) I am looking forward to no longer lugging her everywhere.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Paintball request.

A Michael had commented earlier about paintballing in Malta. If you are interested I will put you in touch with the person who organizes our events. Shot me an email. My email is listed under my blogger profile.

South Philly is coming to Italy

Apparently Italy's football league president is considering installing a jail in the football stadiums to deter violence. As I heard about this on BBC this morning I instantly thought of the old Vet stadium with its jail. The Italian may want to look at the experience in South Philly. I don't think the jail did a lot to deter people from getting rowdy, although I have no numbers to support my assumption. I do have to say European football hooligans are much worse then anything in American football stadiums. So maybe it will have an effect in Italy.

The International Herald Tribune has and article here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This is what we don't love about Malta

The web site used to have a very helpful jellyfish report. It simply stated which beaches would have jellyfish washing up and therefore you should avoid them. I noted that it existed but never had need of it because we are not beach people.

As I mentioned previously, Alex loved the beach. So we decided instead of doing chores all weekend this weekend we decided to take her to the beach and hopefully we'll all have a good time and she will nap well from the sun and fun. But where to go? I pulled up the trusty web site only to find that the jellyfish report had vanished. Now, I can pay 1 Euro any day I want to get the report SMS'd to my phone at 8:30am. Grrrr.

The handy thing about being married to Terry is the weather report did give the wind direction and he figured which beaches were likely safe and he was right. We really, really love our daughter because we both relived why we don't like beaches but she was so happy we will probably go again, especially as the next 2 weekends are both long holiday weekends. But, next time, she better give us that nap she promised!!!

This is what we love about Malta

On Wednesday - my only totally free day each week since I started working - I ran errands. On Friday afternoon I tried to buy chlorine and discovered my credit card was not in my wallet. I got Terry on the phone and had him check our account - no funky charges. Then he said the last charge was from a pharmacy. I had completely forgotten about that errand! It turns out the pharmacy was on the way home from the pool place so I was passing it anyway. I went in and before I even said anything the pharmacist - who was the same guy who had helped me when I went in Wednesday - said I had left my card there. He went to get it and said he tried to run after me when I left but didn't find me, and that he tried calling the credit card company in the USA to have them contact me to tell me the card was there but he couldn't get through.

THAT'S customer service and I am now a huge fan and lifetime patron of the Balzan Pharmacy, in case anyone in Malta reads this :-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Embassy living is like a small town

As I think about plans for a baby shower I'm co-hosting, and the play group Alex usually half sleeps through, and the welcome get together for new families, it occurs to me this is in my fantasy land what small town living used to be like (having never experienced small town living I can't attest to the veracity of this fantasy). OK, neighbors aren't showing up at doorsteps with baskets of muffins and a casserole, but something pretty close does happen - families do check in with new folks and take them around, help them find the grocery store and the best route to work, etc. There is a real - small - community, with the attendant goods and bads ... someone is always around if you need them, and everyone knows everyone else's business. Making sure people are included is just something you do.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Working girl

After more than a year of unemployment, I am now working part time at the embassy. It is lots of fun - when an employee's spouse pops into my office to chat about schools and finding a piano teacher for her kid, that doesn't take me away from my work, that IS my work. Woo-hoo! It's 3 not-full days at the office, which is for me a perfect amount of time to be away from Alex. When I need to take her in, though, nobody has any problem with it and we have our pack 'n play set up in my office for that purpose.

Alex has a nanny who comes when I am working and the two of them are already pretty attached. She naps better for Jennifer than she does for me and I'm OK with that. Jennifer and Kirby are fast friends too.

With the heat we haven't been doing much fun stuff for a while. We're looking forward to next month when things cool off and we pull out our list of things we want to see and do before we leave the island. Now that we are on our home stretch we really need to get moving!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Village life

After about 1.5 years here, I realized we never posted any photos of our little village. My walking route for most things takes me past the church in Balzan (technically not our village, we live in Attard, but it is close enough) For once, I remembered to bring the camera with me to snap some photos that illuminate our world.

These are traditional Maltese balconies. I have not heard a satisfactory explanation as to why they are designed this way.

You'll find ornate ironwork on many houses, whether it is grillwork, the door knocker, or a gate or fence. You will also often find cats in the most unlikely locations. Here are more photos (and yes that is a fish cart. There are fish stores but most mongering is done on trucks/carts).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The strike is over.

The transportation strike that crippled the island has now ended. Actually, it ended yesterday. In a strange twist the hearse drivers pulled out of strike because they did not like the way the strike was going and how is was handled by the union. The hearse liberalization was the original reason the whole strike started. So the union has now accept that liberalization is the way of the future and the buses are starting to run again. It was very interesting to watch it play out but I am glad that traffic is returning to normal on the island.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Strike on the Island

A transportation strike is on in Malta. The government is liberalizing the license for the hearse companies. Basically they are allowing more companies to get licenses to drive hearse on the island. In a strange twist of fate the bus, taxis, and mini buses drivers are part of the same union as the hearse drivers. The drivers have been blocking road on the island to protest the liberalization of the hearses. This is cause major headaches in with traffic. Also with no public transportation on the island some Maltese are having a tough time getting around. One of the major roads on the island St. Anne Street that runs through Floriana to Valletta was completely blocked yesterday with mini buses and taxis. So far the protests have been mostly peaceful, but very annoying and disruptive. The Transportation Union claims they will not stop striking until the government reverses its position. The government claims it won’t reverse the decision and has removed the subsidies it gives the bus drivers (EU pressure might have something to do with that). Not sure who will break first. In the mean time, it is taking for ever to get to work and leave work since they are blocking the road in front of the embassy. Ah the joys of living overseas. Below are some links to local papers about the fun.

Photo is from the Times of Malta.