Monthly Archives: March 2012

Workout Friday

This blog is quickly devolving into my workout journal, and I will remedy that next week.

For now, please share my glee in the following products which arrived in the mail today!!!


That’s right! Brand new sports bra and two highly peer-recommended strengthening dvds. Yay!!!


Filed under 5-100

Granite and Brioche

Nothing indicates warm weather in Sicily more than granite and Brioche in the morning…


…and this delicious version features a rich dark chocolate granite topped with pistacchio granite, the Brioche was warmed through. The hot cold contrast mimicked the hot sun slicing through the cool spring breezes.

Granite is icier than gelato, but still manages to convey creaminess in the chocolate and pistacchio flavors. Rich, refreshing and right around the corner.


Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo.

Princess Poopy-pants

Tonight, we had dinner with a new couple and their daughter, who I hope become our friends – they are lovely, funny, and super-duper intelligent. A great combo.

The best exchange of the night went a little something like this.

Little T (4-year-old daughter): I wish I had a REAL magic wand.

Jill: What would you do with a REAL magic wand?

Little T: (with a knowingly devilish grin)

I would

(looks around to make sure everyone, including her parents, is listening)…

I would

(starts giggling to herself)

I wouldturnyouinto Princess Poopy-pants! (she squeaks out with a gleeful squeal)

I am not sure how I qualified to become Princess Poopy-pants, though I am honored to have earned it once the REAL magic wand appears. If I ever did become a princess, I really wouldn’t know where to start since The Princess Diaries made me barf whenever Julie Andrews was off screen (which was altogether too much). I am pretty sure this dazzling beauty with chola eyebrows could give me some great advice, I mean once she’s done working at the circus in Catania, of course.


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The Diary of a Young Girl

Finally sitting down after a busy day on the go. Doctor visited, work worked, run ran, pot luck salad prepared (though not fully assembled til tomorrow)…whew!

Now, just to finish the most recent version of Anne Frank’s diary before book club on Thursday.


I have read the book a few times. I spent time talking with young Ecuadoreans about the significance of the book after “que es El Holocaust” was part of a conversation. I have visited the museum in Amsterdam several times, including our most recent trip.


The story has always fascinated me, much for the typical thrill at the horror of the situation. However, after that thrill fades and the Frank family comes to life, I came to admire Anne’s spirit. I could identify with her in so many of her descriptions about not fitting in and trying to etch out a life of your own. Of course, she faced immeasurably different challenges than I did in the late 20th century Wisconsin. Yet, her prose was and is universal. I am looking forward to new revelations in this version…

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Filed under 5-100, Awesomeness

Frank Bruni is Rethinking His Religion, and you can too

It isn’t every day that we have the space and opportunity to put our minds to the task of deep thinking. Yet, so many wonderful changes in life come from the sparks of insight we gain when we stop to think things through from time to time.

The Cinquecento Project began as a multi-faceted attempt to inform friends and family about life in Sicily; to educate myself about my new culture – both military and Sicilian; to give me an excuse to order a new food, take another picture, or trek to Cefalu for gelato (no regrets!!!); to focus on the positive perks of daily life; and so much more.

Frank Bruni over at the New York Times shares a touching story about changing perspectives through deep thinking. Rethinking His Religion begins as a coming of age story. Immediately, Mr. Bruni encounters a deeply religious student, and Bruni is turned off.

This man attended Catholic services every Sunday in a jacket and tie, feeling that church deserved such respect. I kept a certain distance from him.

Over the years, they had some interactions, but nothing could have prepared Bruni for the turnaround achieved by his former classmate.

About two years ago, out of nowhere, he found me. His life, he wanted me to know, had taken interesting turns. He’d gone into medicine, just as he’d always planned. He’d married and had kids. But he’d also strayed from his onetime script. As a doctor, he has spent a part of his time providing abortions.

Bruni goes on to describe the journey his classmate underwent to reach the point where he reached out to Bruni. The classmate attributed college with opening his eyes to just how diverse and far-reaching this world is, to the injustices and prejudices practiced and coveted by those in power, to the constant fragility underlying even our most successful achievements.

Questioning his church’s position on homosexuality made him question more. He read the Bible “front to back and took notes of everything I liked and didn’t like,” he said.

“There’s a lot of wisdom there,” he added, “but it’s a real mistake not to think about it critically.

Then, Bruni highlights the crux of how this gentleman bridged his Catholic upbringing with his decision to perform abortions. For many in our nation, abortion is a touchstone issue prompting knee-jerk reactions. Bruni’s classmate had followed the beliefs preached to him only so far.

He has thought a lot about how customs, laws and religion do and don’t jibe with women’s actions and autonomy.

“In all centuries, through all history, women have ended pregnancies somehow,” he said. “They feel so strongly about this that they will attempt abortion even when it’s illegal, unsafe and often lethal.

The discord between the ideal and the real is apparent to all of us. Every time we wish for another hour in the day, we are recognizing the limitations that prevent us from reaching our ideals. Not only in finishing the dishes in time to enjoy 30 pages of your book before bed, but limitations that prevent us from flying across the country to tend a fragile friendship, or the limitations that lead to the choice between a time with your kids or a second job to fund their college dreams. On the ways religion falls short, Bruni speaks through his classmates thoughts:

And in too many religious people he sees inconsistencies. They speak of life’s preciousness when railing against abortion but fail to acknowledge how they let other values override that concern when they support war, the death penalty or governments that do nothing for people in perilous need.

He has not raised his young children in any church, or told them that God exists, because he no longer believes that. But he wants them to have the community-minded values and altruism that he indeed credits many religions with fostering. He wants them to be soulful, philosophical.

While this article touched on many areas worthy of deep thought, what especially touched a chord with me is the emphasis on “community-minded values and altruism.” As a non-religious person, I have faced the question about what role I have in our overwhelmingly religious society. How much credibility do I have in the eyes of a strict Catholic, a Mormon, or evangelical (of any religion)? Would they trust me to doctor, guide or legislate for their community?

These deep thoughts are the stuff of mind wanderings on a still evening, and they are also the questions that pull me along. I look forward to finding time in my day to think about crunchy problems like how do I justify disagreeing with policies that are paying for my life (military)? How much have I changed my opinions as I have learned more about the mission of the military, particularly in this overseas station?

Turning over the events of the day in my mind and selecting five highlights was skimming the surface of the ever churning thoughts, questions and doubts swirling within me. I am re-entering engagement with these thoughts, it is a little scary, but like Bruni’s classmate – I hope I have the courage and wisdom to continue on the journey.


Filed under 5-100

Run Week: Seabee

The end of run week brings a familiar image that marks the end of my go-to running route on base – a Seabee sculpture (statue?). When I see this statue I am either stopping or my cool down or pushing for my last surge.


The statue’s inspiration is clear when you know that the technical term “Seabee” arose from the command’s title “Construction Battalion” (CB). This command is full of up and coming mechanics, engineers and all around smart and handy women and men. They also have the best mascot in the entire history of military mascots.

Yesterday, with my love of running abuzz from Run Week, I achieved my fastest repeats ever! There’s nothing better than reaching for a previously unthinkable goal, struggling along the way and finding yourself capable of even more than you had hoped for.

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Filed under 5-100, Running

Run Week

Here are some more photos from the Base 2 Base race on Sigonella last Saturday. It was a little over 7.6 miles, with little elevation, lots of sunshine and camaraderie, and green beer at the finish line (for cash – MWR can’t give away beer!).


Several colleagues from my office and from Dave’s office were also running the race. Here is a legalmen running alongside Dave as we make our start!


The luck of the Irish was well represented, even by the artwork of this runner’s child.


Mt. Etna looked down benevolently on the runners.


All’s well that ends well.


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Filed under 5-100, Running