Tag Archives: Maki

Speaking of bellwethers…



Did you notice the bellwether reference in yesterday’s post? Either way, I am writing of bellwethers today. I knew “bellwether” as an indicator of a rising trend. “Bellwether” began as a “wether” (lead male sheep), sporting a bell (not by choice, the damn shepherd put it on him). While the goats being shepherded around Sigonella are not sheep, the lead male is still a bellwether, are ya with me? Great. The gentle ding-dong of the bell inevitably brings a smile to my face and the accompanying shepherds return my smiles, which makes goat crossings a welcome delay to my commute.



December (The base housing at Marinai shows in the background)



(Uno) 1. The article sharing continues (gathered from Word Press’s “Freshly Pressed” collection):
11 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Special Needs Parent,
Iraq: What I remember (Excellent read & photos!), and
Five Ways to Find Your Future.


(Due) 2. Coconut oil! Our neighbor Warren recommended coconut oil for cooking and I am interested in trying it out. I found this Runners World forum with comments. Have any of you cooked with coconut oil? Any recommendations or comments?


(Tre) 3. Skype. Got the chance to bring six family members together on four computers across three continents for two hours of conversation.


(Quattro) 4. Making the final payment on an outstanding bill! After a few years of interest free payments, we made the final payment on our furniture. Yippee. “All these little victories…”


(Cinque) 5. Kitty cats! This picture of Maki might help the doubters out there understand just why I would do anything for this guy (like midnight surgery in December 2010). Personality + fluffy goodness +  Hammer pants =  so much love.


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


(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!


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!


Filed under 5-100, Kitties

Ode to Cat People – in Photos and Words

Cinquecento – Theme Day: Cats!

(Uno) 1. The family cats Maki and Panther bring me joy. There is no need to apologize to a society who mocks the “cat lady” figure, even if some people practically demand you explain yourself.

(Due) 2. I was just thinking about how to simultaneously introduce you to the kitty adorableness and speak up for the rationality of cat-lovers when I came across this blog post, over at The Wordy Thirties.

(Tre) 3. Preach, sister! Plus, the November theme at The Wordy Thirties is daily gratitude, similar to what I’m trying to do here. Pets are something to be grateful for – if you don’t agree that the benefits outweigh the resource drain, well, then you’re not a pet person and you shouldn’t have a pet. Cheers to all of the lovely cat people I know and love: Jenny, Claire, Leslie, IBKC, Anisette, Sarah (The Wordy Thirties), and all of you reading, too!

(Quattro) 4. Maki and Panther are not related and are about 9 months apart in age. Maki was my first love and I am reluctant to admit how much I love the “first-born” because I was a middle child myself, and well, I was bitter about the lack of Jill-attention for a time. (Mostly over it now).

(Cinque) 5. Cat fights! These are for real. There are claws, fur flies, and it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. From what we see, Maki and Panther have a healthy fight-love relationship and they enjoy their scuffles.

Cento – photos in place of cento words. (I have dinner reservations!)

Here are some photos depicting the unfolding of a cleaning session turned wrestle-mania (apologies for the poor photo quality…I was using zoom on my iphone, which I should never do again):

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Movie Review: “Gates of Heaven” Errol Morris 1978


Personal Blurb-style Intro (aka “Why I picked up this book”):

Errol Morris made a huge impression on me when I watched “Fog of War” in the former theater at Midvale (Mall?) in Madison Wisconsin. The theater has since been torn down, but the memory lives on.

I have always been sensitive to animals. My mom grew up on a farm, so she was very sensible about animals, though perhaps more matter-of-fact that appealed to me. Though my allergies limited my pet access as I muddled through undergrad, traveled and domineered law school, I shortly thereafter indulged in pet ownership and have never looked back. Maki and Panther are a part of the family, and though I prefer cremation or another natural form of decomposition (as opposed to internment), they will be honored in death as they have been in life. I am grateful that I live in a time and society afforded such luxury.

When I met my husband, Dave, he loved Errol Morris and has been introducing me to his other work over time. The subject matter, a pet cemetery, intrigued me – more or less because I love my pets and because of my 80s fascination with Pet Semetary (remember the little boy, Gage?).  This movie is amazingly brilliant, with a simple and direct display of human understanding, emotion and complexity…ah, but now I’m slipping into review-mode. On we go!


*This is a pretty long review for the relative amount of content in the documentary. However, the bits I’ve included are just a small part of what makes this documentary amazing. For the best results, just rent it /buy it and watch it for yourself. If you still need further persuading, re what I’ve said below.

Errol Morris portrays opposing sides, a rendering company against a simple farmer animal-loving sensitive soul, Floyd “Mac” McClure.

But don’t be mistaken that Floyd is so animal friendly as to be vegetarian, or vegan. In one scene he bitterly describes how the fumes from the rendering company interfered in his dinner;

Then, we slowly watch the plans for McClure’s ideal pet cemetery disintegrate as the financial interests conflict with the sentimental ones. We also see the tensions arising between pet-owners in the community over the status of their pet graves.

One of the most interesting parts of watching this documentary is the way the characters bare their souls, largely without agenda. It is easy to see that even the businessmen are operating without an agenda, especially when the manager of the rendering plant admits they lie about rendering zoo animals. In this day and age of reality TV, it is refreshing to watch these characters. Don’t worry, there are still the eye-roll-inducing characters – like the sons of the California pet cemetery owners. Maybe it was less pathetic back then? Or maybe just less awareness of the way entitled children sound so pathetic? (btw, I actually adore the younger son, he is so earnest.)

Best Lines & Watch for’s:

Floyd “Mac” McClure:  North Dakota guy (with suspenders and red pen in his lapel, scales of justice visible behind him on his right side and the bronzed shoes behind him on the other side) “[That]…was the most beautiful piece of land, as far as I was concerned, in the whole valley. And boy, I knew what to do with it. Make it into a pet cemetary.”

Watch for: Guy with the Coors can and ashtray in front of him every time he’s featured in the documentary.

Rendering Industry Man: “Rendering is one of the oldest industries. It dates back to the time of the Egyptians.  They can trace it back this far. Rendering. In the bible, ya know, way back in the old testament, the guy cut off the sheep skin, right? And put it over’im. Put the lamb fat on’im ta keep ‘im warm. It could be the oldest industry in the world. It could be. It’s possible.” [Jill says: keep an ear out for this guy, all of his words are gems. Probably because of his sunglasses on his desk, his matter-of-fact demeanor, and the amused look on his face. Genius play, Mr. Morris.]

“I want my mama!” (Woman holding dog on lap, singing to prompt dog’s response).

“And the next day you go out, take flowers,  maybe meditate a little bit, think of how often, maybe, you cried into her fur. ” (Woman in green and white, with poodle portrait displayed behind her).

Watch for: Artistic depiction of putting one’s heart over the dollars in a project.

Floyd: “I was not only broke, but broken-hearted.”

Woman in pink apron over blue/brown print housedress: “But you know he (her son) should help me more, he’s all I got. He’s the one who brought me up here. And then put me here by myself among strangers. It’s terrible when you stop ‘n think about it.” [Watch this entire segment! Amazing.]

Successful pet cemetery owner, (Bubbling Well Church of Universal Love, Inc. 1977), in straw hat and blue button-up shirt: ” “I would say that the pill is largely more responsible for the pet explosion than any other factor…It’s very simple…today the husband and wife both work…when the young mother comes home, she has to have something to fondle, something to mother, something to love.”

Watch for: The “R2A2” formula and it’s red-phone poolside inventor.

There are so many other rich characters and moments that I have to pause now and recommend that, if you are hooked by now, you should just go ahead and rent the movie.

Wait! The Eagle trophy guy just said “People never really get negative and they never really get positive.” GEMS, people! I tell you, gems.

Watch for: Prickly pear cacti behind the yellow-shirted and orange-tank topped couple – just like in Sicily!

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077598/

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Enter Panther


  1. After our 5am wake-up call, I got to return to bed from 7:30-9:30am. Something about this rest was reminiscent of home, of Shell Lake, and of Wisconsin, all in one semi-sleepy-but-not-dreamy moment.
  2. Got a great relaxing run in today.
  3. Confronted some mild fears about having too much unscheduled time ahead of me (and scheduled some stuff for the coming days).
  4. Attacked my blogging to-do list.
  5. Loved and cherished my kitties. Our kitties. Yes, our kitties.

Maki “Macchiato” W was a feral kitten abandoned in our Bremerton shed. As we tended him, we fell in love. My understanding and compassionate husband deferred to me the decision of keeping our castaway, for I am allergic to cats. Maki’s tiny mews and ferocious spirit endeared him beyond daily allergy pills, chronic-tho-mild wheezing, and the cat-fur-everywhere effect. Maki soon needed a companion; enter Panther. Panther hails from Tacoma; he was a purrrr-ful shelter kitty from IBKC, who was warmly adopted into our Seattle home. His feisty spirit and agility quickly addressed any bug concerns, and merely raised rooster-imitation concerns.


Maki greets me with the morning sun at his back, and uh, yea, that’s Panther at his side.

Panther is so precious.

It is easy to forgive the early morning rooster cries of such a cute kitty.

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Buon giorno? Ciao? Which is it?


  1. Enjoyed reading “Watership Down”        (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/76620.Watership_Down) while sipping tea with my breakfast. I also learned that the library terrace employs a broadcasted bird call for bird and pest deterrence. It reminded me of the owl statues used in Seattle (http://www.harborfreight.com/Great-Horned-Owl-Garden-Scarecrow-42265.html?utm_medium=cse&utm_source=nextag&hft_adv=40011&mr:referralID=1565c6f8-d3a9-11e0-891e-001b2166c2c0). The owl statues are more quietly effective.
  2. Set up a job interview!
  3. Attempted my speed workout for this week. I got some good speedwork in, and it helped me decide how to structure my running goals; baby steps instead of moon-surface-leaps.
  4. Completed all of the errands on my to-do list!
  5. Got a good snuggle out of Maki, my less-snuggly cat.

Salve, buon giorno! (Hi, good morning!) Here inItaly, it is common to call out a greeting when you enter an office, a store, or someone’s home. Greetings are a polite way to announce your arrival and they show respect, especially to the elder generation. Once you are friendly with someone, or at the very least you are familiar with one another, then you can switch to the less formal greeting “Ciao!” You should never use “ciao” when speaking to an elderly person, always stick to “buon giorno” until about 1-2pm and then switch to “buona sera” (good afternoon/evening). Arrivederci!

***Random photo today***

This woman was waiting at the bus station during my lengthy wait.

Like most Italian women, she seemed to be no-nonsense…

…and then her phone rang.

Her ringtone was Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A



Filed under 5-100, Adjusting, Kitties

Cinquecento Project takes off!


1. Watched and loved the movie “Temple Grandin.”
2. Watched my cats, Maki & Panther gently clean each other.
3. Got new clothes suitable to the hot weather (2 outfits!).
4. Wrote down my goals.
5. I’m in Sicilia!!!

Today was a rough start and tomorrow will likely be the same. Not a lot of sleep and then finally when I do fall asleep, BAM! The alarm is going off. The heat abated a bit, still smoking hot in the afternoon, and nice and cool in the evening. Dave and I caught a beautiful sunset from our balcony. The clouds were glowing pink, purple and orange as they settled over the foothills leading east to Mt. Etna. I have the makings of a first friend. We have exchanged emails and I saw her blog. Calms Forte, take me away!


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