Monthly Archives: January 2012



Italian language day!!!

(Uno) 1. Il viso = face.

(Due) 2. Il occhio = eye.

(Tre) 3. La bocca = mouth.

(Quattro) 4. Il naso = nose.

(Cinque) 5. Il sorriso = smile.


Our faces are windows into our inner minds and hearts. Our eyes and mouths reveal hesitation, excitement and suspicion. Italians use the word “occhio” to indicate “watch out” or “look!” or “check that out.” If you hear “occhio” on a crowded bus or train, you may want to check your wallet pocket or your purse – the Italian might be warning you of a pickpocket. A “bocca negra” is a rich chocolate mousse-like dessert that leaves one with a black (negra) mouth. It was a favorite dessert item on the menu at Lombardino’s in Madison, Wisconsin. Ciao, ciao to all my special friends there right now!!!

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La Caverna

Tonight, La Caverna comes to life!

Top Five Caverna photos:

(Uno) 1. The table was set before we arrived. The communal taps provided a welcoming invitation.

(Due) 2. The choices were few, but delicious.

(Tre) 3. The blues band with tie-t-shirts (ties painted into their t-shirts).

(Quattro) 4. The ubiquitous cave arch in such cavernas, shadowy and suggestive, rough and primal.

(Cinque) 5. Finally, an IPA!

“They” say that the sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory-holders in our brains. As I notice all of the smells in Sicily, this mythic truth comes alive as my nose to works the streets. Every time I catch a new smell, I try it out. I swirl it around in my nose, my lungs and my mouth. What does it taste like? What am I feeling? Surprisingly, I often find myself linking up memories, playing in the garden dirt (childhood), sweating on the beach (kinda smells the same everywhere), certain garbage/fish smells (Ecuador/Mexico/Seattle), and fresh rosemary (endless possibilities).

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The Woman

La donna. Cinquecento is dedicated to women today (in no particular order)!

(Uno) 1. Thinking about how women are used as objects in advertising, including corpses. This really interests me as I believe visual images are as/more powerful as/than living with power-neutral gender dynamics in your home/work life. Social groupthink and all.

(Due) 2. A great checklist if you feel you are on the receiving end of gender bias or out-and-out harassment at work. Social bullying often stays under the radar and rarely rises to the level of direct harassment that would lead to a lawsuit, but it still limits the positive effects of gender equality in the workplace.

(Tre) 3. Woman hunter, gatherer, and chef Georgia Pellegrini.

(Quattro) 4. My mom, Sharon. She is an amazing woman! She fixed stuff when we were growing up, she took care of the house, fed us, clothed us, and delighted in sharing special moments with us. Meanwhile, she worked full-time, paid attention to her health and wellness, and socked away enough money to give us special treats for no reason other than to please us. She has also served as an inspiration to me. I love you Mom!

(Cinque) 5. [ ___________ __________________]. Like the portrait monument in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, I recognize the unidentified women who are working hard for equality, and inspiring other women to stand tall and strong in this world. The monument at the Capitol features Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and an un-sculpted bust. The un-sculpted bust served as a reminder of the women who must carry on the work of these three pioneers.


“I am women hear me roar,” (uh??? next line?) “…as I go running out my front door!” Cat-calls still exists in Sicily. A common gesture is a man’s head dramatically swiveling to follow the ass of a woman walking by; as his gaze remains zeroed in on her ass, he shakes his hand so that it flops around the way American guys shake a can of snuff to pack the tobacco. It is so old-fashioned! I got cat-called on my run tonight for the first time since I arrived. Sigh. I adopted a Sicilian reaction – I openly glared at him!


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A New Sicilian Smell


(Uno) 1. Swedish fish. Dave’s dad Ken included some in a package he mailed to us and I am popping them in my mouth all weekend!

(Due) 2. La Caverna was great. It has a German theme, and reminded me more of the Essen Haus in Madison, Wisconsin, than anything else. They make a decent IPA, to boot! (Essen Haus pun, there).

(Tre) 3. Friendly enthusiasm bringing me back to hosting an Oscar party. My friend Sara wants a party, I want to throw a party – my Oscar tradition lives on! Tenth anniversary, whoo hoo.

Now to figure out our dvr…

(Quattro) 4. Watching an Italian blues singer work her thang at La Caverna. She sang mostly in English, the band had tie-t-shirts, and the piano was rocking.

(Cinque) 5. Feeling the love from my family – dual back pain article, and another email asking after me. I’m doing well – pain free, and getting my running and yoga on all the same. Yay!


“What’s that smell?” The last time we played, Big Daddy was smelling mendacity. Before that, I smelled the burning clutch of our rental car. The game originated in August when I was smelling my own sweat in that stinky Punto. Yesterday and today, I have had the distinct pleasure of smelling freshly overturned earth, rich with decay and ripe with the promise of spring. Both times, I was out for a run just as the sun set and twilight descended. The smell touches a primal nerve in me, invigorating my spirit, my soul and my innermost desires to Live, Live, Live!


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There ain’t no party like a Sicilia Party…

…cuz the Sicilia Party don’t stop!

That’s right, it’s Cinquecento Friday here in Acireale and this chica (what is the Italian equivalent of THAT?) is getting her groove on at the Caverna. Oh YEA, after all the previous hopes and attempts to make it to the only local brewery I’ve heard about, it is finally happening! I love strong and bitter pale ales, and IPAs (India pale ales; British-made, called “India” because the India-bound brew had extra hops to be able to ferment all the way to India). I can’t wait to see what Sicilian beer has to offer me.

(Uno) 1. Book club! Yay – last night I went to Borgo Antico to wine, dine, and discuss Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom.”

(Due) 2. Piggy backing on Uno, Borgo Antico ROCKED! I will return with camera to share the pleasures with you. For now, just imagine these fine antipasti delights: rich-yet-tangy sun-dried tomatoes, a hard white cheese with eggplant marmalade on top, grilled endive, and more! “Melanzane marmalade” rolls off the tongue more smoothly, so that’s what I’ll call it from now on.

(Tre) 3. Piggy backing on Uno, AGAIN, I’m giving props to the “Freedom” discussion that we had. Franzen is a gifted writer. Many of us agree that the book is like a roller coaster – lots of ups and downs, a few seemingly-dull moments that suddenly nose-dived into a stomach-twisting turn. We clashed and merged opinions on characters, motivations and the book’s overall message, though. It was a great discussion!

(Quattro) 4. Strike relief. The sciopero threat seems to have passed, despite ongoing protests on the mainland.

(Cinque) 5. Running! I had a GREAT speedwork training run – I literally felt like I was floating along and I just had to tippy-tap my toes to keep my body moving along. One of those magical runs that I will attempt to emulate over and over again until I get it just right.

Buon fine settimana, tutti!

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Warm Winter Afternoon

…though not as poetic as “warm summer afternoon,” the warm winter afternoons are gratifying in Sicily. As much of a winter and snow aficionado as I am, I do appreciate the temperate Sicilian winter thus far. I have maximized my opportunities for spending time outdoors mostly through our roof terrace, though I have also had a few occasions to partake in a sidewalk cafe on a particularly sunny day. Recently, Dave and I met up with my brother Jim while he was staying in Siracusa. We all meandered over the bridge into Ortigia and enjoyed cannoli and caffe. Buon appetito!


Uno (1). Buon Appetito! Time for yumminess.

Due (2). Hello, brother.

Tre (3). Hmmmm…ancient ruins amidst modern cafe.

Quattro (4). Helpful tools in a friendly paper bag!

Cinque (5). Is it just me or is this sky incredibly brilliantly blue?


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A touch risque



Ciao tutti! Tonight’s post comes with a special dose of articles and links. Linkity link, link, link, as I like to say. Although I love to ooze positivity, pun the punniest puns around, and generally chuckle when others might cringe, I do have to say that I like to be serious, too. So, take a look around and see what sparks your interest. Not many words or topics spike my radar, politics inspire verve, I am quite tolerant and fluent in curse words and swearing, I delight in conversations about sexuality and gender, and discussing medically related bodily functions or occurrences piques my interest – so consider yourself warned.

(Uno) 1. First – from my home state and my homey (Uncle Michael), comes a scathing op-ed of the deplorable Justice Michael Gableman.

(Due) 2. Yay Cynthia Nixon – She is such a badass! Now, she’s reframing the discussion of “choice” (not the choice you think)…
“In immensely awkward studies measuring men’s hard-ons while viewing various sexual stimuli, most guys have a strong response to either males or females; and their sexual orientation generally predicts their physical reaction. On the other hand, Bailey explains, “Women’s genital sexual arousal pattern is much less predictive of their sexual identity and their stated preferences,” he says.”

(Tre) 3. See Numero Due. Okay, Seriously??? I just made a dukey joke, AND I referenced an article that measured men’s hard-ons. See previous posts about my juvenile sense of humor and laugh with me.

(Quattro) 4. Taking a turn, a heart-warming account of a Grandfather’s love for his grandson.

(Cinque) 5. Butterflies are pretty.

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Baciami! Kiss me! (And, yes, a trucker strike update)


(Uno) 1. Leslie and the Ly’s. You really can’t go wrong with any of their songs, Gem Sweater was my first introduction. Inspiration and adoration sparked and I continued down that goldsuited road.

(Due) 2. “Ci vediamo” (see ya later)! I’ve been saying this for weeks and finally looked up how to spell it.

(Tre) 3. Oscar Nominations released today!!! I will be ceasing my Oscar party tradition this year, but I am still going to fill out a ballot, DVR the awards show and watch it Monday night after work. I will have a media black-out until I view the awards program.

(Quattro) 4. Nicosia wine for table wine (goes with anything). It’s always good, especially when chilling with Dave and my brother. We’ve been sharing our wine notes with my brother-in-law Jerry and here’s another one for the books.

(Cinque) 5. Bacio! (Kiss!) – Here is a delectable Italian chocolate treat. Mmmmm…


The Sicilian Trucker Strike is still going on as the Forza d’Urto, but it has moved on to the mainland. Additionally, I heard from colleagues in Naples that the truckers there blocked autostrade on-ramps and exits, causing major traffic delays. The disruptions that were blocking our Sicilian ports last week are at work in Naples and Salerno now, slowing or preventing shipments from entering or departing the port. The truckers are protesting upcoming austerity measures from Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Monti. Taxis in Naples crowded Piazza del Plebiscito in protest of liberalizing the taxi guild. Tough times for Italians everywhere.

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O Benzina, Where art Thou?


The title is my joke, mimicking the title of the ironic movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The inspiration is two-fold: first, my brother is back! second, where o where can I find some benzina (unleaded gas)? Yes, the trucker strike of 2012 is over pending. I have heard rumors that Salerno and Napoli (Naples) have been having protester-inspired delays at their ports. Along with this, rumors suggest that the gas shortages are following the protesters north, and Sicily’s truck distribution could resume its strike on Thursday. These are exciting times – mitigated by amazing cats, loving husband and adorable brother.


(Uno) 1. Spending the day talking about how many cars were lined up for gas (30+ at 6:45am), the longest we’d heard of someone waiting for fuel (5:30 hours), and where benzina or gasolio (diesel) was currently available. I did get some work done, but it was around these all important conversations.

(Due) 2. Oh yea, did I mention the strike might resume on Thursday? There is a big meeting scheduled on Wednesday. I don’t really know who is meeting who, maybe Monti will be involved, after all, he is the new Prime Minister of Italy (yes, Berlusconi finally retired). In any case, the hoarders are already half the problem with the lines at the gas station, and their frenzy will only increase if the strike resumes.

(Tre) 3. Feeling trite for worrying about gas and whether I’ll have to take time off of work when the dairy farmers and other producers of perishable goods lost their inventory DAILY, other shop-owners lost revenues with reduced foot and car traffic. After all, we purposefully avoided driving this weekend and we’re looking to make a couple of big purchases (kitchen table, couch for the den).

(Quattro) 4. My brother’s back in town! We get him for a few days before he heads to Spain for a WWOOFing experience.

(Cinque) 5. Jones! Jones! Jones! If you love personal liberties, privacy or just knowing you’re riding solo, you can join me in cheering the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Jones – the court ruled that cops MUST have a warrant in order to put a GPS tracking device on your car. Phew! (Seriously, this is a reason to cheer!)

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Viva Sicilia



Sicilians are breathing more easily (even me!): gas stations refilled their tanks (!!!), then refilled Sicilians’ tanks…and are empty again. Yes, many of the gas stations pumped out the balance of their refill, but in the coming days and weeks normalcy should return. Lines at the gas stations were hours long, and many waited only to be turned away when the supply ran dry. I ran past this gas station, and it was still “esaurito.” Yet, the trucks on Viale Cristoforo Colombo are gone, a clear indicator that the strike is over and protesters are turning their attention to Rome.


(Uno) 1. While I’ve enjoyed the drama of the sciopero, as well as the additional vocabulary lessons it has offered, I am happy that there is some reprieve offered. I fear nothing will come of the truckers’ efforts, however that remains to be seen. At the very least, these workers were heard by the public, if not by the state of Italy up in Rome.

(Due) 2. Maureen O’Hara! I know her as Maggie in The Parent Trap (original). She co-stars in Rio Grande, which we watched tonight (a Western, and didn’t do much for me, but then again, Westerns aren’t my thang).

(Tre) 3. The prospect of more Italian sciopero drama! Office rumors tell me that a national fuel strike is supposed to start sometime this week, and there is a transportation strike scheduled for tomorrow (???), and a national transportation strike scheduled for Friday (27 January). That means that airport personnel are scheduling four hour chunks of time when they will not be working. Of course, this will wreak havoc on the flight schedules. I’m glad I am not traveling next weekend. La Sicilia says there will be no more fuel strikes for at least a few weeks.

(Quattro) 4. Fuori! This means “outdoors” or “outside” – and I spent most of the daylight hours “fuori” today. The sun was out all day, so I made the most of it by reading in the sun, playing with the cats on the terrace and going for my long run around the neighborhood. I checked out the gas station (still “esaurito”), and ran down to the duomo (main church) in Acireale. (Say it “ah-shee-ray-all-lay”).

(Cinque) 5. New military jargon. Pencil-whip. It is perhaps specific to the Air Force (?) – and it essentially means “rubber-stamped.” As in, “Captain Tomas pencil whipped the contract” – meaning he signed it without really reading it. Throw it into your next office water-cooler-convo and let me know how it goes. If you’re really daring, you might say “Pencil whip that shit!” the next time you pass something to your boss for a signature.


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