Tag Archives: base living

Big news. Big. HUGE.


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Filed under 5-100, Adjusting



  1. Picked up DAVE from the airport!!! He had been at a training in the U.S. and then he visited some family (Hi MB, D, A and M!).
  2. Prior to that, I SIGNED THE LEASE on our condo! See photos with our landlord Filippo and real estate agent Salvo, below.
  3. Did I mention that Dave was back? We got caught up on sharing our news and such and took a sweet little nap. Although the time passed quickly, life is better with Dave in it.
  4. Had a productive skype session with my therapist B. B and I started working together in Madison, Wisconsin, and although I see her much less frequently now, she is invaluable for me when I’m coming up against a sticky emotional thread in my life. Luckily, technology is awesome and B is willing to skype with long-time clients when they move away. B is the best!
  5. Dave and I watched Zodiac. Er, Dave and I started watching Zodiac and then one of us fell asleep. I won’t tell you which one, just like I won’t tell you which one is the Zodiac.

Resiliency: ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy. From the sixth grade on, I tried to choose experiences that would push me out of my comfort zone. A basketball coach had preached that “adaptability” was a great virtue. Since I admired this coach, and more importantly Grandma Smith agreed, so I bought in to the idea. The approach has served me well. However, the last few years of navigating post-graduate employment in an economic crisis was probably the most difficult experience, yet. And, my spirit was down; I was suffering. But, baby; now I’m back!


Lease Signing 2011

First, there was some paperwork that I had to sign. Then, Filippo and I took turns signing five originals of the lease agreement. He is a congenial guy, we’re so lucky to have him for our landlord!

Then we got a group shot before leaving the housing office. Salvo is on the left of me and Filippo is on the right. Guess what? They make jokes about “breaking the camera” in Italian, too. I almost thought the guys were seriously going to decline a picture, but you can see what good sports they are. Grazie Salvo e Filippo!  It was a happy day, only missing Dave, who  was still en route to Catania from his training expedition in the states.

Buona Giornata, people, I love ya!

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1. Realized that many Italians pull over to talk on their cell phones. Sweet!
2. Enjoyed an easy-like-Saturday-morning with Dave.
3. Knocked out chores and tasks.
4. Watched one terrible movie “The Open Road” (more on that later) and one brilliant movie “Gates of Heaven” (Thank you Errol Morris).
5. Soaked up more Sicilian sunshine; I am grateful daily for this beautiful sunshine.

Courtesy is highly valued on base. Signs in the locker room request courtesy, a sign posted in the commissary’s common area pleads “No offensive gestures or language.” Since these seem like basic courtesies,the mere presence of the signs makes me wonder what happened to necessitate the signs. Then, I spend two minutes in the middle of a group of sailors and hear “f**k” used nine times in as many ways, and I think “aha!” I like to use expletives for emphasis, too, but these sailors take it to another level. I am left only to wonder about the gestures…

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The Housing Inspection


  1.  Rememberance Run 5k.
  2. Got through all of my errands and connected with oodles of friends and family on skype!
  3. Felt extra super-duper ALIVE the whole day.
  4. Cozied in for the night with Dave and watched Change of Plans. It was a good movie with a thoughtful balance between action and dialog; fun enough to pull you along and make you laugh, yet serious enough to inspire contemplation and conversation.
  5. Finally uploaded the Pandora app to my iphone!

What is this business about a housing inspection? The military provides housing; in Sicily there is base housing at Marinai and another option is to live “on the economy.” When you live on the economy, the house/villa/apartment/condo must be inspected (unless it is already in the system). Inspection addresses two issues: rental standards (light fixtures, kitchen cabinets) and fraud prevention (overcharging and pocketing the difference). Standards verification is necessary because Italian renting differs from the U.S.: e.g., leases are a minimum of four years, lighting fixtures and kitchen cabinets are not provided. Fraud prevention is necessary because some people suck.

P.S. That’s the short and sweet on the housing inspection. Let me know in the comments or by email if you have more questions and I will answer them in future posts.

P.P.S. (this is starting to feel like a teenage note passed in class) If you have a Theme suggestion for a post, let me know!


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Running and POW/MIA/9-11 Rememberance Run


In honor of the POW/MIA 9-11 Rememberance Run 5k I ran this morning, the first in the Base-2-Base race series, I am going to list the top 5 reasons I love running:

  1. Setting goals, prioritizing my health, and achieving goals empowers me.
  2. I LOVE to sweat (this came after years of taking calculated measures to avoid sweating, but it finally happened).
  3. The aerobic activity helps the wheezing I sometimes suffer from allergies.
  4. Endorphins, baby! Running keeps me Jill-mellow, which is sort of glowing and shiny.
  5. Running presents extra opportunities to connect with: nature, my community, other runners, spirituality, my inner-Jill.

Sigonella 2011 POW/MIA 9-11 Rememberance Run 5k

The sun was just edging over the horizon in the east, Mt. Etna looked down on us from the north; she was spewing a steady stream of smoke this morning which formed the only cloud in the sky. Up ahead, I could see the streams of runners coming together at the registration booth. The air was nearly crisp, hinting at an autumn that is still weeks away. After we registered, we chose a slip of paper from the basket bearing the name of a POW, MIA or 9-11 responder. The run’s theme was a “Rememberance Run,” and we were running in honor of the dead, lost, and imprisoned who bravely put their duty ahead of their safety.

Police dogs and their trainers getting ready for the Sigonella 2011 Rememberance Run 5k.

I pinned the tag to my shirt, read the name Ronnie Gies and wondered who he might have been.  My heart caught in my throat and I could feel tears rising in my eyes. The feelings caught me off guard since I had been focused on light stretching, loosening my joints and planning my mental race. The announcer called for a moment of collective silence and a calm descended on me. “I will run hard for those who can no longer run.” This simple thought would return to me throughout the run.

Jill before the run.

We were still meditating in silence when nearby sprinklers sprung out of the ground and started squirting water. This was as good of a start signal as any, and the group took off. The “Chief” selectees lead the way, running in formation. (History of Chiefs here: http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq46-1.htm). The great turn-out of about 500 people clogged the narrow pathway and it was a slow jog for the first half-mile or so as the runners stretched out on the road.

The sunlight was getting stronger, but was not yet hot, and it produced beautiful orange and yellow tones as it struck the tall grass on either side of the path. As Dave and I came up alongside the Chief formation, I listened in shock to the highly offensive stanzas they were calling and repeating, “killing commies” was one glorified activity included in the chant. I shrugged and felt more strongly than ever that I would not fit in with such a group. Though I respect the heck out of the work Chiefs do, I still can’t stomach lines such as those. Perhaps the sailors, soldiers and first-responders being honored had trained to such cadences. It occurred to me that I do not understand much about the training of the very people I was honoring during this run. Perhaps such lines are cues to seek out the enemy, and naming “commies” is just antiquated language from the caller’s training runs. “I will run hard for those who can no longer run.”

Here we are in the soft morning sunlight. At the very front of the pack pictured here, you can see the tops of the flags at the head of the Chief’s formation.

Refocusing on my mantra, I settled into a steady pace, I felt amazing: quick, light steps on the ground; a straight line from my hips to my temples; and a slight pitch forward as I leaned in and let my legs propel me ahead. We rounded the last corner and had just under a half mile to the finish. I turned up my exertion another notch, and then another, my cadence and breath increasing with my acceleration.

As we neared the finish line, I realized there was no finish line. This race wasn’t about setting a PR or even knowing your time, it was about community, camaraderie, and remembering those who couldn’t run with us. The benefit of the run was recognizing the collaborative efforts of all different kinds of people who agree to work toward a common goal. I may not understand those who put their lives in harm’s way to protect me, and they may not understand me, but they go out there to fight for me all the same. In honor of all Ronnie Gies and all of the POWs, MIAs and 9-11 responders, and for those who continue to put yourselves in harm’s way, thank you for your service.

Sigonella 2011 Rememberance Run 5k tag honoring Ronnie Gies.

Read about Mr. Ronnie Gies, of FDNY, here: http://longisland.newsday.com/911-anniversary/victims/Ronnie-Gies.


Filed under 5-100, Running

How to Order Italian Style

I’m adjusting to the Italian life. During my visit to Catania yesterday, I remembered the first lesson in snacking at a bar. The first lesson was to go inside the bar attached to the outdoor tables in the Piazza del Duomo (http://www.siciliainfoto.it/Monumenti%20a%20catania.htm) and request a table, which I did in Italian! (Remember here, a “bar” is a cafe, and you need to check in with the host before claiming your outdoor table). However, I quickly slipped away from emulating Italians and gave in to my first instinct. My first instinct was to order everything I wanted right away, and it all came out at the same time.

It all came at the same time, but I couldn’t eat it all at the same time. So, naturally, I started with the arancino. As you can see, an arancino is a fried rice ball, stuffed with some yummy filling. You might not be able to see the accompanying breadcrumbs on the outside crust. This one had tomato and eggplant inside and it was good and filling without being rich and heavy. This surprised me a little since it was fried.

After the arancino, I quickly downed my espresso, which was just warm enough to say it was still drinkable. Then, I turned to my granita. Ruh-roh. In the time it took me to get to the granita, it had already started to melt considerably. With the hot Sicilian sun, granita always melts before you finish it, and even moreso when I gave the melting a head start.

As I progressed through my lunch, I noticed that the Italians surrounding me ordered in bits and pieces. An espresso here, a pastry there, maybe another espresso to finish, or a bottle of water as an afterthought. In retrospect, I could easily have started with the arancino, then flagged down the server for the espresso, sipped and enjoyed that, and finally ordered the granita when I was ready for it. The good news is, I’m ready for next time! The better news is, the granita was still incredibly delicious and refreshing.



Filed under Adjusting, Food. Cibo.

Base Living


  1. Explored the beautiful city of Siracusa.
  2. Found another tiny and gorgeous beach, next to the Grand Hotel Minareto and en route to Punta Castellucio Lighthouse.
  3. Navigated ordering a sandwich and espresso in Italian at the AutoGrill.
  4. Enjoyed listening to the Italians at the beach, just soaking up the sun and the language.
  5. Other than posting to the blog, spent the day internet-free (feels good one day a week!).

Being attached to a military base is unique, no matter where it is. My introduction in Bremerton (NBK) was pleasant: tax-free shopping, a great gym, buying alcohol at the “package store,” and showing my military ID at every turn. Sigonella offers nearly the same services, and many more. In order to host service member families, there is a K-12 Department of Defense school, a gorgeous pool complete with water slide and baby pool, 2-screen movie theater, daycare facilities, resource center and human resources office. While it feels a little “Stepford” at times, overall it is a warm and welcoming community.

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