Category Archives: Kitties

Happy Tax Season 2013 Mom!!!

My mother grew up on a farm. She did chores, missed out on social outings, and was in the middle of eight children who were all trying to hoe a row of their own in this crazy world. She happily said “no pets” while we were growing up (i.e. no pet related chores) and my allergies to anything with fur helped keep that policy in place.

She was slow to warm to the furry family members Dave and I added when we adopted Maki and then Panther. But now she loves them like they are her grandchildren. Just ask her!

Mom, this post is for you. Maki is showing you how to relax, just in case you forgot during tax season.

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Finocchietto Selvatico and frustrated cats

Finocchietto Selvatico is wild fennel – a wonderful Italian addition to the vegetable palate. Say it with me like you say pinocchio “finocchi-et-toe” “sell-vah-tee-koh” – then get ready to say “Mmmmmmmm.”

Tonight, we prepared finocchietto selvatico in a cultural hybrid recipe – incorporating Calabrian sausage, fresh ricotta, and (for me) Sicilian oranges with the fragrant wild fennel. The cultural hybrid was the grain – quinoa. The recipe that sparked this dish called for pasta, but we substituted quinoa and used about half of the recommended meat portion.

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Fresh bundle of finocchietto selvatico, wild fennel

I washed the fennel and snipped the ends of the stems before throwing the fennel into a pot of boiling water for ten minutes. The delicate anise-fennel scent that arose from the snipped ends was intoxicating.

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As I removed the fennel from the water (reserve the water!) – Dave was browning the Calabrian salami (a fresh salami, akin to sausage), and mincing the cooked fennel. In the meantime, I measured out the reserved fennel water for cooking the quinoa (and did the dishes). The quinoa calls for a 2:1 water:quinoa ratio. Eventually, we mixed it all together for a final mesh of flavors in the cast iron – only 1-2 minutes for that final flavor mesh.

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I opted to add a few bites of fresh oranges, too.
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As you might have noticed in the photo above, we also had fresh ricotta on hand – go ahead, hate me now…I will be reading this in two years and will probably shed a tear for the ricotta!!! Anyway, so we added the ricotta tableside.
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It turned into one of those – “uh, yea, let’s go ahead and try this…” dishes into an “oh wow, I’m full but I want more” dishes in the amount of time it took me to chew halfway through my first bite. We managed to set aside enough for lunch tomorrow, but it was tough! Another wonderful gift from the Sicilian countryside – finocchietto selvatico. Yummmmm!

For anyone who is still waiting for a laugh at this point, check out the link below…
While I was typing this post, Dave was giggling at this:

This is Why the Job Search Sucks.

Buona sera a tutti!

Ciao,
Jill

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The Maki-bear

Like other omnivores, the Maki-bear prowls through deep forests foraging for sustenance.

Total immersion is required by the Maki-bear; he was so focused on his task that this is the only full face shot the photographer was able to obtain.

Finally satisfied with his labors, Maki-bear settles down to enjoy his final blade of we-thought-those-were-chives grass.

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I’m a serious artist.

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Hot, hot, hot

For all of you in the U.S. feeling the heat wave, welcome to the pool!

No, I don’t have a pool here! I’m saying c’mon in, because Sicily is hot, hot, hot. July 1st marked three months of non-stop heat and humidity here. Nighttime lows in the upper 70s, midday highs in the 90s and 100s, humidity in the 60% and above. Whoo, hoo! Although I am enduring some growing pains in the way of a very light heat rash (just the prickly feeling, no bumps or red splotches so far).

Maki and Panther have been shedding like crazy over the past few weeks, in a desperate attempt to prepare for this weather. Fortunately, Sicilians build for this kind of weather. The stone walls that were so cool and formidable in winter are now a barrier to the sun and heat. The heavy wooden shutters block out the strong Sicilian sun and keeps the house relatively cool. Okay, it keeps it “not hot” during the day, and it cools off in the evenings when we open things back up to let the breeze push through.

Panther still loves to take in the view, and pose intimidatingly, no matter the weather.

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National Federation of…Affordable Care Cat?

While I was anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision on the Affordable Care Act, I knew that no matter the outcome, this would be an opinion to geek out on just like law school days.

Back then it was more about whether water-boarding is torture (yes) and if John Yoo should be disbarred for ethical absence (what do you think my opinion is?).

Now, I have fewer friends nearby to join the discussion, but I still chat with them via email, skype and facebook, plus my curiosity grew when Chief Justice John Roberts not only penned the opinion (as I expected) but also led the affirming opinion (/”;9’dbapaps – I didn’t see that one coming).

Thus, here I am on Friday afternoon soaking up Sicilian sunshine and digging into the opinion.

20120629-175136.jpg It’s my terrace, and I’ll sunbathe nude if I want to!

Unfortunately, the case title is long, cumbersome, and completely boring. National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al.

Uh, yeaaaaaa, I don’t want to say that a whole bunch of times. I also dislike the commonly used “Obamacare” because it is a misnomer, it is political, and it gives too much credit to one person.

Misnomer because Obama is not actually providing any care and pretty much thousands of people worked for decades to come to a place where this legislation was even plausible.

Political is obvious, I dislike that because despite the acerbic reality of society, this type of move shouldn’t be political at all, it is not only good public policy healthwise, it will also push for innovation and fresh ideas in healthcare industries erected and sustained by crusty wealthy people. The world changes and so should business models and profits. A stagnant nation is a declining nation. Plus, a lot of people say “Obamacare” with a distinct sneer on their face and that just ain’t pretty.

Too much credit to one person – I touched on this in the misnomer section, but it runs deeper than that. Even with all the background legwork by others, some would say, some are already saying and some will say that it was only because of Barack Obama’s unique leadership that the bill was passed. I do not deny the extraordinary role he played, but he is still just one man and we are a nation of the people. I applaud him, I credit his incredible contribution, but I stop short of deifying his name into legislation his way.

After this reflection, I was still without a good shorthand name for the opinion.

Then, I got an email from my law school buddy Mel. She shared this with me:

Catty puns about the affirmation of the Affordable Care Act? That is a trifecta of pleasure!!!

I will think of it as the ACA opinion, or Affordable Care Act opinion out of reverence for its importance; but in my mind, I will be thinking of that “cat a tax” every time.

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The White Idiot…

…looks a lot like Panther.

Thanks Dave & Jac!

Check out Jac’s blog by clicking on the link – she recently explored Istanbul and is an artist living in Sicilia.

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“What will this day be like? I wonder.”

Cinquecento

(Uno) 1. Rocking out four miles this morning! I am still bringing my lungs back into shape, so it was a rough four miles, but I made it. It is surprising the degree to which my lung capacity affects my performance. My muscles were capable, my lungs were the limiting factor.

(Due) 2. Picking up Jimmy from the airport!!! He traveled thousands of miles and he’s here. Shhh…keep it down out there, he’s sleeping now.

(Tre) 3. Speaking of sleeping, I’ve got one Mr. Maki-bear snuggled up next to me on the couch. Those of you who know his alter-ego “Surly Bastard” might be shocked to hear that the big puff ball could snuggle, but it is true. So precious.

(Quattro) 4. Finishing up my Christmas movie marathon with The Sound of Music on while I blog. Um, no, I am not blogging for three hours, though.

(Cinque) 5. Looking at the beautiful cannoli in the Catania airport. We didn’t buy any this time, and (snobbery alert) I prefer the freshly stuffed cannolo; these are lined with chocolate before the ricotta filling is inserted. The chocolate lining successfully prevents the baked shell from getting soggy, yet it is less flaky and delicate than a freshly stuffed cannolo (cannolo = singular, cannoli = plural). These cannoli sure are pretty though!

Cento

Today I leave you with the lyrics of a favorite Sound of Music song. As a youngster, I disliked this song and just wanted to get to the next scene. I was usually watching the movie on televisions before the days of dvrs. Thus, I fortunately was forced to endure the song. It’s wisdom has steadied me while stepping into the unknown. I dedicate this song to everyone who takes a step into discomfort, who risks the unknown to meet your loved one in a foreign land, who believes in themselves enough to show the world your best! Ciao, bella.

“I Have Confidence”

What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed for adventure
To do the things I’ve never dared
And here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared

A captain with seven children
What’s so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don’t I just know I’ll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I’m worthy
And while I show them
I’ll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems
I’ll do better than my best
I have confidence they’ll put me to the test
But I’ll make them see I have confidence in me

Somehow I will impress them
I will be firm but kind
And all those children (Heaven bless them!)
They will look up to me

And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They’ll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn’t lie in numbers
Strength doesn’t lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up — Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

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Mocha balls

Cinquecento Theme day!

Mocha Balls

Early in our courtship Dave made these cookies to woo me. Well, it worked well as part of the overall package goes. I can’t say for sure that the cookies alone would have convinced me, because I was already falling in love with the rest of him. The recipe is a family secret. Although I am not sharing the recipe, you get a few glimpses of the process of making mocha balls, at least the way it went at our house this year.

First, we pulled the recipe up on the computer.

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See, here I am helping.

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Next, arranging the ingredients and starting to mix them together. Dave says this would be easier with a standing mixer. Santa might be listening.

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Panther helped out with this phase. Actually, he is saying “where’s my dinner, bitches?”

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Now putting the balls on the tray.

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Oh yea, did you spot those twinkle lights out of the corner of a previous picture? Here is another view.

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Meanwhile, the cookies are cooking…er, baking.

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The Christmas music kept playing, and Panther moved to a more comfortable waiting spot.

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The first batch is out, second batch is in and that bowl full of another half batch is about to be loaded onto the baking sheet. We let these cool for a few hours and then dust lightly with powdered sugar. Just enough to enhance the mocha ball beauty and to keep them from sticking tougher during storage. Boy, I’m beat! That was a lot of hard work. Time to feed the kitties… Buona notte!

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Mind Mush

Cinquecento

(Uno) 1. Produce trucks! We saw a truck hauling a hundred crates of freshly picked oranges exit the orange farm and get on the highway. Later, we came up behind a truck hauling crates of freshly picked fennel away. Love the late harvest season here in Sicily!

(Due) 2. Seeing a light at the end of the tunnel! The tunnel is the publicity work I took on with the spouses club here. I really enjoy my role and the group (Book Club!) – and we are gearing up with two big events on Saturday and a wonderful holiday party next week – and then I get a breather until January.

(Tre) 3. I successfully navigated around a roadblock at work today and it felt great! I have had a really busy week with a lot of unpleasant tasks (ones that I had a hard time turning into anything positive) – so this was a shiny bright light at the end of the week.

(Quattro) 4. Taking a bath. This is a “highlight” because in the past, I have disliked baths. Too much hot water overwhelms me and I feel claustrophobic. This might be a byproduct of growing up swimming in spring-fed Shell Lake which rarely got warm until the end of August. I have just reached the point where I enjoy a bath – wow.

(Cinque) 5. Giggling at punny snowmen. (A couple photos NSFW, just scroll past them quickly).

Here is one of my favorites: “2) I Snow What You Did Last Winter”

Cento

Growing up, I noticed that without taking care, work will suck away one’s will to enjoy a home life: i.e., sinking into a self-made cave of isolation at home. Along with “saving the world,” my young self decided I would not succumb to such a fate. Since starting this job, I have had some nights where I come home with mind mush and seek a cave of isolation. Instead, I want to re-frame my attitude, re-allocate my energy distribution, and relish the time at home when I can read, chat with Dave, practice Italian and piano, catplay,* and enjoy life.

*Yes, I just made up a word: catplay. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t understand what that means.

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