Taking a step to the side


(Uno) 1. Signor Messina! My lovely landlord is hilarious. We make each other giggle with his efforts to speak slowly and my attempts to interpret the words I don’t yet understand, no matter how clearly he speaks. He wanted a sponge (“spugna” – say it “spoo-nay” like you say lasagna) – and I didn’t know that word. We worked out it was something you use to wash plates (words I know, people! lavare = wash, piatti = plates). Then, I showed him several towels of varying sizes. No, no, no. He kept emphasizing washing plates, so finally I figured it out! But we don’t have any sponges because I use dishrags, washcloths and loofah balls for scrubbing. Ha ha ha. We had a good laugh at that one.

(Due) 2. Ricotta salata – mmmm, we’ve been stocking the fridge with a variety of soft cheeses embedded with peperoni (the Italian word has one “p” and refers to peppers, not meat), black peppercorns, fresh herbs, etc. We just returned to the salty simplicity of ricotta salata. Oh, life is good.

(Tre) 3. Electronic/digital correspondence and banking. I know that part of the fun of moving overseas is figuring out all the difficult challenges living abroad creates. HOWEVER – doing so with the ease of online banking, using skype to call our insurance company from home (not to mention keeping in touch on the holidays), and knowing Amazon is there to fulfill any needs for which I have not found Italian substitutes. Thank you innovators.

(Quattro) 4. Crisp, clear autumn mornings tinted pink and orange by the sun rising over the sea. I will try to capture this in photo to share with you soon. We spent a few days in Geneva recently and it was clouded over, so I am really appreciating the Sicilian sunshine now that we’re back!

(Cinque) 5. Books! I have not kept up on my book reviews (there is a stack of books full of sticky notes waiting…) – but I am still reading for leisure. For book club, I just completed Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I am still digesting the book. To me, that means I haven’t decided if it is worth recommending to others. It was a really interesting book and it has a surprising betrayal that is causing me to withhold my opinion.


Feeling out of place is expected when you move to a new city, take a new job, join a new club. As you assimilate, you find your place. On the flip side, upon leaving your current culture, you are relieved of the chaffing against certain cultural practices you had learned to endure. I was happy to avoid this year’s “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” build up and execution. Now, I’m joining Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative, continuing my personal pledge since 2003 to reduce my clothing purchases. Now I am joining a group of like-minded people who still like to look cute!

Take the Pledge!

A lovely display of oranges in one of the many orange groves in the rural area around base.

WE make useful gear
that lasts a long time
YOU don’t buy what
you don’t need

WE help you repair
your Patagonia gear
YOU pledge to fix
what’s broken

WE help find a home
for Patagonia gear
you no longer need
YOU sell or pass it on*

WE will take back your Patagonia gear that
is worn out
YOU pledge to
keep your stuff out
of the landfill
and incinerator

TOGETHER we reimagine
a world where we take
only what nature
can replace



Filed under 5-100, Awesomeness

3 responses to “Taking a step to the side

  1. Katie T.

    I love the Common Threads idea. I have been trying to focus on quality over quantity for awhile now. I’m getting better at it, but still have a lot to work on.

    I wonder if you would like The Tennis Partner better than Cutting for Stone. It has a few similarities, but is really quite different.

    • Yes, I have to work at the clothing thing, too. Right now I am readjusting my wardrobe to the climate and office culture here and I am struggling to only buy things a little at a time as I figure out what I need. Since I am not a big shopper, I would prefer to make one trip to the store and never look back – but when I have tried that, I always have ended up with a bunch of clothes I didn’t really need.

      I remembered your preference for The Tennis Partner when I was about halfway through CFS. It was a good book with interesting characters, but it took a while to hook me and there is something else sort of “off” about it for me. I haven’t been able to identify if I think characters were underdeveloped (Shiva) or their development seemed inconsistent (Hema) or if it was something more macro.

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