Category Archives: Adjusting

Is this a post about my job or the Packers? It’s kinda tough to tell…


Uno (1). We got internet at the house!!! Yay! Oh happy day!

Due (2). Work lunch – food. I ate a delightful plate of Penne alla Puttanesca. Don’t look up “puttanesca” – just trust me that this spicy tomato-based sauce is delightful when paired with the tart and tangy capers and meaty and flavorful kalamata olives as it was yesterday at Alfio’s. Buonissima!

Tre (3). Work lunch – guest of honor. Yesterday I dined with Lauren Weiner, who founded Wittenberg Weiner Consulting. She started the company in 2004 and you can read more about that process here. I was glad to meet her and to have the opportunity to thank her for starting the company that is helping me find a great job here in Sicily.

Quattro (4). I can see Mt. Etna again! After the heavy rains set in Friday night, I barely saw dear Etna beneath the haze of clouds that was her own weather microclimate. She graced the horizon once again yesterday morning and it was a sight for sore eyes. Gee, can you tell I’m already in love with this mountain?

Cinque (5). Early to bed! I’m not sure if it is the weather or fighting off a bug, but I got into bed at 9:30pm last night and fell asleep almost instantly. It was great.


Work worries have been my quiet companion lately. As regular readers know, I landed a job a month ago. Many have queried me since then, and I have had little to say because I have been doing paperwork and biding my time until the job is ready for me. Being that the nation (U.S.), region (here on base), and much of the planet is facing a depressed job market, insecurity was trying to murmur in my ear. I have been focused on patiently awaiting my start date. More activity is brewing currently; I’m confident a start date is coming soon!

Bonus Aaron Rodgers sighting – enjoy!

Although I am not much of an overall NFL fan, I am a diehard Green Bay Packers fan. No, I can’t tell you many of the offensive, defensive or special teams players. And, NO, I don’t even know for sure who the coach is right now. What I CAN tell you is that I’ve loved the Packers since Sterling Sharpe, through the Brett Favre years, and into the era of Donald Driver and Aaron Rodgers. I’m also a big fan of that dude with the icky blonde hair, Clay Matthews. Go PACK!


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Friendly Friday


Another Theme Day – yay!
The top Five ways I feel part of a community this morning.

Uno (1). Real Fun Food – this wonderful blogger writes about food from London, England. I am still learning about her, but so far I know she is from the U.S. Midwest (represent!) and she has great recipes and wit. And, she cares about GMO food – and so do I! I am pro-labeling.

Due (2). The Occupy Movement (a new twist)
I am pretty sure I fall in the 99%, but I have had a pretty charmed life, truth be told. I don’t mind working hard for my living, and I believe that most people would be happy to have the opportunity to do the same.

Tre (3). Big-time food blogger
This blogger is very famous and has gained a significant and loyal following as well as published articles and achieved her Registered Dietitian certification. Beautiful blog, yummy food, and an overall feel-good attitude.

Quattro (4). Yoga – dare I say it again this week? From the KathEats blog, I got a reference for a new yoga master, Dave Farmar, who produces podcast yoga workouts free to you and me! Check him out and feel the yoga love.

Cinque (5). Another great blogger who I am loving, at Logy Express. This post is pretty emotional and struck a nerve in my gut. Even though I haven’t had this exact experience, she describes the feelings so well, I immediately thought of other moments of ostracism and humiliation I have felt when among who I thought were my friends (maybe they really are, how much is in our own insecurities?).


The Cinquecento Project exists as my deliberate practice of focusing on the positive in life. By remembering five daily highlights, I find myself focused on highlights all day long; very empowering! Yet, I still stumble in life; I feel sorrow, fear, and pain. Here, I can report to you on positively dealing with that pain, instead of wallowing in misery alone. Although we experience life uniquely, sharing our experiences empowers us to continue moving forward. I treasure your feedback and support, so keep the comments and emails coming and feel free to share your struggles and successes. Ciao from Sicilia!


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Photo Edition!

Five photos from our shopping outing to Conforama, a furniture store similar to Ikea.

Uno (1)
Gorgeous microwave. So pretty, so random. Love it!


Due (2)
“Soccer” foosball table. Yes, it says “soccer” and not “calcio” (Italian word for soccer) – weird.


Tre (3)
Awesome discount movie selection. I love, love, love the Flashdance dvd jacket!


Quattro (4)
An entire row dedicated to espresso machines!


Cinque (5)
Lastly, a life-size doll for pre-teens. Creepy, creepy, creepy.


Shopping is the same everywhere. Here in Sicily, they even translate shopping as, wait for it, shopping. Today we dropped another tidy bundle of money at Conforama. During four grueling hours, we made it through the language barrier with good will (theirs), mangled Italian (ours), and a smidgen of help from the itranslate app. Have I mentioned I love my iphone? It is such fun to improve my Italian vocabulary via necessity and experience rather than a book and flashcards. For every second of frustration and anxiety over the language barrier, the thrills of comprehension and learning count for minutes.


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We Are the 99 Percent


Uno (1). Sleeping in. Dave and I designated Wednesday as our “off-day” for morning work-outs. The extra hour of sleep felt delicious.

Due (2). Reading another chapter in La Bella Lingua, by Dianne Hales. She reveals that in Italian “Chicago” (chi – cago) sounds close to “I poop here” – ha ha. I often tell people that I am from Wisconsin, then, when a confused/bemused look appears on their faces, I say “It’s near Chi-cago.” This worked with Spanish speakers over the years. Now I know why Italians laugh when I say it.

Tre (3). Maki is happy, happy, happy in our new home. It is amazing how much happiness pets give us, I am glad to see him happy now.

Quattro (4). Intense dreams. All of my life, my dream world has influenced me. When I am experiencing major changes in my life, my dreams become more intense. Usually, they remind me to savor life – which makes each day more special and meaningful.

Cinque (5). Agriturismo! We dined at the Murgo Winery & Agriturismo last night, also known as la Tenuta di San Michele. One of Dave’s colleagues initiated the dinner and we were thrilled to find out it is about a 15-20 minute drive from our house. Italy subsidizes agriturismos, who in turn promise to serve food that is made from ingredients grown on the farm (at least a prescribed percentage of the ingredients grown there). It is social-rural tourism at its best! (Pics below)

First, a display of locally grown and produced wines.

Vibrant and flavorful extra virgin olive oil grown and produced by Murgo, too!

Olive oils infused with (L to R) “Aglio” (garlic), “Limone” (lemon), “Basilico” (basil), and “Peperoncino” (chile pepper).

The antipasti spread of cured meats and local cheeses to accompany the wine and olive oil tasting that preceded dinner.

I am honored to support the hard-working farmers who planted, nurtured, and harvested the fruits that produced such wonderful products. Italians complain about their government (just like everyone else), but this project shows the beauty and progressive vision of putting people to work on meaningful projects. Delizioso!


The Occupy Wall Street movement got me thinking about U.S. unemployment culture. In Sicily, unemployment is historically and currently high (20-40%). Perhaps because of its ubiquity and longevity, Sicilians accept unemployment as an undesirable, but very real, possibility. In the U.S., unemployment is scorned by employers and peers, and most who endure it battle feelings of shame. How unfortunate. High unemployment rates indicate a social problem, not an individual failing; and, ostracizing the unemployed creates tears in our social fabric. The OWS group “We Are the 99 Percent” is working to mend those tears, and I support them. Do you?


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Uno (1). Running, again, finally. I have sporadically kept up some running during these weeks of upheaval, and I think I am at the point where I can say I have started a routine again – which means I can re-focus on training!

Due (2). Opera! Catania is the hometown of Vincenzo Bellini (renown opera composer) and home to the Massimo Bellini Opera House. Spoke with a friend yesterday about making opera plans, and I am looking forward to learning more about opera while we’re here.

Tre (3). Soggiorno’s Permit. Yes, that is an Italian-English hybrid. Permesso di Soggiorni or Sojourner’s Permit. Either way, to stay in the country, I had to apply for it and get fingerprinted.

Quattro (4). Inkless fingerprinting!!! Who knew!

Cinque (5). Telepass! The feature of yesterday’s cinquecento post is a hit. We zipped through the tolls last night and although the morning toll was busier, we still maintained an edge over the cars in the pay-toll booths.


What is Occupy Wall Street all about?

These articles informed me today:
New York Times. Best line “In effect, the banks socialized risk and privatized profits.”

Washington Post. Prognosis: needs more organization and more pathos.

LA Times. Note: “Polls show perhaps four out of five Americans are unhappy with the political system

A website: and another helpful info site.

I thought it best to check with the, ahem, Wall Street Journal.

They all give a similar report:  people are fed up with corporate greed and taking unorganized action that may or may not lead to a more powerful movement.



What do you think? Can anything stop corporate greed? Or are you comfortable with the status quo?


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Uno (1). Getting our household goods delivery!
Due (2). Finding only minor damages to the majority of our things.
Tre (3). A desk I was not fond of, but was pretty and useful, got destroyed! Filing the claim will be painful, but I can let go of the desk.
Quattro (4). Cooking with our pans (thanks for dinner, Dave).
Cinque (5). Taking one Element-load of boxes and packing paper to the recycling bin; probably two or three more loads to go, and it felt great to make a solid start.



The transponder featured above is the symbol of our commute. To get home, we drive about 20-30 minutes, enter the toll system and one exit later, we leave the autostrada. In our quest to simplify, we opted to buy a Telepass so we can take advantage of the automated lanes. Without an Italian bank account, we got the foreigners version. It is linked to an account we have at the NEX and at the month’s end, we pay the balance. Brilliant! The comvenience comes with a $6 monhly price tag. We think the convenience is worth it; time will tell.


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Moving In


Uno (1). New word! Arredamenti = furniture. Thanks, Ikea.
Due (2). Ikea! Whoa. The 1.5 hours we spent there were likely the most intense shopping hours I have spent. Possibly ever.
Tre (3). Trusting the kitties on our balcony. We are doing our best to teach them the edges and ledges are dangerous. We have a third story wrap-around balcony and fourth story terrace (second and third in European counting). They are responding well so far, meow.
Quattro (4). Calisthenics on the terrace. Fresh breeze, warm sun, inspiring view – invigorating!
Cinque (5). Indulging in reading a book in one night. “Still Missing” by Chevy Stevens. Set in beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia, this page-turner sucked me in. I have to stay home today to moderate the household goods delivery, so I let myself stay up late to read. A chilling tale, with a strong female protagonist who is mostly believable and slightly fantastical (a good balance, reflected by the storyline as well): an overall fun read.


Cento (100)

We officially moved in four days ago. We have six keys to call our own, along with a fob to open the gate and the garage door. Of course we do not have a dishwasher in the kitchen; that’s balance for ya. The military provides temporary furniture (arredamenti) and Sigonella includes temporary kitchen supplies (from the FFSC). Those pieces were crucial, and appreciated, but I am thrilled to accept our household goods delivery today! Boxes and unpacking are a worthy price to pay for the forthcoming utility and comfort of our personal goods. Crossing my fingers against any major damages!

Dave has the sixth key, not pictured here, it is the most special key since we only have one copy.



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Waiting in a line to enter Ikea


Uno. Waking up in our new place, still exciting.
Due. Exploring what ‘kicking ass at life’ means to me, thanks to an awesome blog post by my brother.
Tre. Dining al fresco for every meal!
Quattro. Snuggling with Dave.
Cinque. Watched an interesting topic be mangled and with a good attempt, though boringly produced, dissected: the movie “Princess of Nebraska.”



This is my first trip to Ikea. I had seen the iconic Lego-esque building during many a Madison-to-Chicago trip. Yet, I had never stopped by. Here in Sicily, with new experiences by the handful, a part of me seeks to reconnect with the U.S. That, and a bigger home than I have had since living with my parents, spurred this shopping experience. Little did I know the popularity of Ikea with the Catanese. Now, I will mix a familiar U.S. shopping style with Sicilian compadres and blend familiar and new. Ciao for now, hopefully I will survive, wallet intact!

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Sa sa sa Saturday


Uno. Early morning workout refreshed me after a long week of moving and shaking.
Due. Mad Men Season Four. So much better than Season Three.
Tre. Saw a cruise ship go past at night, pretty lights.
Quattro. Speaking of pretty lights, I saw a gorgeous orange sliver of a harvest moon last night at dusk.
Cinque. As dusk faded to twilight, stars appeared in the night sky above Etna.

Panther enjoying the terrace. Yes, that is our dryer behind him and yes it is permanently outside. We ordered a cover for it today as it already has a fine layer of Etna ash from a recent ash output.


Mac or PC? PC or Mac? I asked, you answered and I bought……..a Mac! Dave’s computer gave the blue screen of death once in the last week as well, so we both bought Macs and we are now an Apple household. It looks strange to see the iconic white cords running into wall sockets in my home. Strange how that cord reminds me of studying with Millie in law school and of my cousin Steph (who has accepted a mutual generation grouping!!!). I hope I have as wonderful a Mac experience as everyone who commented. Thanks for your recommendations.

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Arrivederci Motta Residence Hotel


Uno. Check-in at our new house!
Due. Mangled Italian, hand gestures, and itranslate helping me communicate with my landlord, Filippo.
Tre. Started Season Four of Mad Men. I like pieces of this show and it comes together well, but there is always a point in the episodes when it drags for me. I can’t decide if I care about the characters anymore.
Quattro. Sweet pull-down screens for our terrace doorways.
Cinque. Saying good-bye to Motta Residence Hotel. It was a sweet soft landing and the staff provided us a warm Sicilian welcome.

We lived in Motta Sant’Anastasia for fifty-six days. In many ways it is difficult to believe we have been here that long. Time moves slowly when you are waiting for special moments to arrive. (Remember waiting for Christmas as a kid?!!) Now, I found a job, our U.S. car arrived and we made it through the registration process, roundabouts and Sicilian driving are habitual and we moved into our home for the next three years. We are still waiting for our household goods, my first day of work (and my first paycheck), and terrace furniture; we buy that this weekend!

Hommage to Motta Residence Hotel

A well posted sign is super helpful when you just arrived and the world is whirling around you.


This had become a familiar sight at the end of the day. We usually parked on the street, though the hotel has a garage with a gate. A night-blooming jasmine was in blossom near the pedestrian gate the first several weeks we were there. Lovely smell.


“M” for Motta!


Our Motta kitchenette. Stylish and practical. Perfect for an extended stay.


Good-bye Motta! Grazie Mille!


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