Tag Archives: what’s that smell

Can you smell what’s cookin’?


(Uno) 1. More thoughts on the “what’s that smell?” effect. The smells of a new place take getting used to and you know, it’s a lot like when you bring a new cat into a home, or take cats into a new home. They are so obviously stressed out, and spend a lot of time sticking their nose into every nook and cranny. Eventually, they relax and only get agitated by smells you bring home with you.

(Due) 2. Okay, here’s the truth, Panther still sticks his nose in your face to smell your breath. I’m not sure if he’s interested in what I had for lunch or if he identifies us humans by our breath-smell. I can tell you for sure he doesn’t like morning breath any better than you or I do. (Does anybody like morning breath?)

(Tre) 3. Bruschetta! Mmmmmm. Okay, first things first, let’s all start saying it correctly, “brews-sket-ta” – yes! Say that “k” sound and say it proudly. You’re not being pretentious now that you’ve heard it here. Plus, a good bruschetta has a bit of a kick to it, so it deserves to be a punchy, dynamic word.

(Quattro) 4. Reading, reading, reading. I started “The Obamas” by Jodi Kantor, I have “Home Fires Burning” on deck, and we are reading the new edition of The Diary of Anne Frank for book club in March. “The Obamas” is told as it centers on Michelle Obama and I like that woman-centric viewpoint; “Home Fires…” is another military spouse book, this time told by a journalist who interviewed many spouses; and “The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)” apparently has some previously unreleased passages that are now available after her father Otto Frank passed away.

(Cinque) 5. Finding the time!!! No matter what we do, we all choose how to spend our time. Better choose wisely the rest of the week cuz I am tuckered out here. Buona notte, tutti!


Changes are brewing at The Cinquecento Project. The six month mark hits on February 11th, email or comment any requests or suggestions. I plan to knock it back to Monday-Friday posts for the next month, and then make another decision. I won’t bother you with the details, instead I’ll give you something to look forward to: seeing Dave! For readers who don’t know my husband, Dave, you may have noticed his face hasn’t appeared on the blog yet. His debut is coming soon – so stay tuned. In the meantime, have a great Wednesday, relax a bit and smell your world.

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Filed under 5-100

A New Sicilian Smell


(Uno) 1. Swedish fish. Dave’s dad Ken included some in a package he mailed to us and I am popping them in my mouth all weekend!

(Due) 2. La Caverna was great. It has a German theme, and reminded me more of the Essen Haus in Madison, Wisconsin, than anything else. They make a decent IPA, to boot! (Essen Haus pun, there).

(Tre) 3. Friendly enthusiasm bringing me back to hosting an Oscar party. My friend Sara wants a party, I want to throw a party – my Oscar tradition lives on! Tenth anniversary, whoo hoo.

Now to figure out our dvr…

(Quattro) 4. Watching an Italian blues singer work her thang at La Caverna. She sang mostly in English, the band had tie-t-shirts, and the piano was rocking.

(Cinque) 5. Feeling the love from my family – dual back pain article, and another email asking after me. I’m doing well – pain free, and getting my running and yoga on all the same. Yay!


“What’s that smell?” The last time we played, Big Daddy was smelling mendacity. Before that, I smelled the burning clutch of our rental car. The game originated in August when I was smelling my own sweat in that stinky Punto. Yesterday and today, I have had the distinct pleasure of smelling freshly overturned earth, rich with decay and ripe with the promise of spring. Both times, I was out for a run just as the sun set and twilight descended. The smell touches a primal nerve in me, invigorating my spirit, my soul and my innermost desires to Live, Live, Live!


Filed under 5-100

Movie Review: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” Richard Brooks 1958

Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives

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

It’s a classic. My Uncle Michael recommended this movie to me. I am recommending it to you. “Recommend” is an understatement in both instances; it is a must-see!


Based on the award winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams, all you need to know about this movie is that the carefully crafted dialog is matched only by the fiery intensity brought to the screen by the stars. Elizabeth Taylor is stunning and effective in her role of “Maggie the Cat.” Paul Newman’s eyes have thirty different shades of blue as his character “Brick” thrashes around inside his youthful physique, daring time to move on to a world he no longer recognizes. Burl Ives commands your attention, if not your oddly placed affection, as “Big Daddy.” The supporting performances are dynamic as well. Judith Anderson holds the family together as “Big Momma,” and is the perfect complement to the tyrannical Big Daddy. Jack Carson and Madeleine Sherwood add color and tension as Brick’s brother “Gooper” and sister-in-law “Mae” or “Sister woman,” respectively.

As I watch this movie, I am mesmerized by Burl Ives. He is so lithe and transformative; at times he melts into the background, acting as the inner voice we wish would guide us more directly. At other times he is commanding and coarse, saying truths cruelly to his most beloved family members. His face displays such open vulnerability, but only in glimpses – the moment of his birthday cake delivery and when he reminisces about his father; yet he has drastically different reactions that follow each moment. Which Big Daddy is the truth? Can we be so multi-faceted and still live with integrity?

Lastly, I really enjoy Elizabeth Taylor and the role she carries. Maggie is a strong, determined woman who acts on what she believes she wants from life; love, a financially secure home, and family. She has a comically contradictory relationship with Gooper and Mae’s antagonizing children – watch for the scene where Maggie smears ice cream into a little girl’s face! Yet, Maggie does want children. For me this is significant because I am a woman who grew up during the third-wave-feminism backlash, and living in the current climate where all women are expected to love all children, it is refreshing to see a portrayal of a woman who wants her own children but doesn’t need to concede defeat to becoming a mother like the orderly, over-bearing mother Mae.

Best Lines:

Maggie: “I’m not living with you! We occupy the same cage, that’s all.”

Dr. Baugh, played by Larry Gates: “Sometimes I wish I had a pill to make people disappear.”

Big Daddy: “I wanna think clear. I wanna see everything and I wanna feel everything. Then I won’t mind goin’. I’ve got the guts to die, what I wanna know is if you’ve got the guts to live!”

Big Daddy (to Brick): “I’ll outlive you. I’ll bury you. I’ll buy your coffin!”

Maggie: “Oh I’m more determined than you think. I’ll win all right.” Brick: “Win what? What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?” Maggie: “Just stayin’ on it, I guess. Long as she can.”

Big Daddy: “But it’s always there in the morning, isn’t it? The Truth! And it’s here now.”

Maggie: “Not looking at a fire doesn’t put it out.”

Big Daddy: “Truth is Pain, and Sweat, and Paying bills, and Making love to a woman you don’t love anymore. The Truth is Dreams that don’t come true and nobody prints your name in the paper until you die.”

Big Daddy: “What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity?”

Big Daddy: “I hate sneakin’ and spyin’. It makes me PUKE!”


Personal Responsibility.


What is love – actions, intentions, feelings?

Truth v. Mendacity: who has control of the truth, how is the idea of truth manipulated. Pretenses and hypocrisy = staying with the same woman and going to church.

Grown-ups v. children.


Fashion of Elizabeth Taylor! No, seriously, she is gorgeous. Women and their figures are actually a theme, though. Also, the role of women in the family, to endure the cruelties of their husbands and all the while holding onto some sense of love. Big Daddy, Gooper and Brick each have at least once scene of significantly cruel dialog to his spouse, and the spouses each show her hurt, but each keeps fighting for her man, too. Pay attention to the scenes where the husband and wife have their backs to one another.

Use of Sound: Music, Children, Radio, Thunder.

Power and Locked Doors.

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051459/

See also:  http://www.filmsite.org/cato.html


Filed under Movie Review

Fiat Punto.

In Spanish, “punto” means point, and is also the word for the period you put at the end of the sentence. Somewhere along the meandering path of my Spanish language studies, I adopted the phrase “Y punto!” to emphasize the end of my point or a story. Essentially I meant it to mean “And, that is that!” (I’ve also tried to insert it into many a Smith story, to little avail.) As many multi-lingual or multi-somewhat-lingual people may be prone to do, I like to insert my favorite phrases across language lines. So, I will sometimes throw “y punto!” into conversation with English speaking friends, and well, they don’t get the cutesie phrase, but it pleases me nonetheless.

Knowing this, you might be able to imagine my pleasure at finding the Fiat Punto waiting for us at our hotel when we arrived in Italy. Not only is it a truly Italian brand, it is a Punto!

Once you see the following photos, you may also be able to imagine how different adjectives sprang to mind as we inspected the vehicle.

Well, it doesn’t look too bad, not too bad at all. I can imagine riding around in this car for weeks as we settle in and get things figured out.

Wait. What’s that you say? This Punto doesn’t have air conditioning, not even on a good day?

And, then we also have the dented door panels. Oh well, guess we don’t have to worry about dinging up the rental car!

What I can say is that it is a manual with a homemade anti-theft system (it’s a secret, don’t ask). Since neither Dave or I have owned a manual transmission automobile, we’ve really enjoyed learning on a rental car’s clutch. It has taken a little bit of abuse from each of us (talk about the “what’s that smell” effect…), and we’ve traded theories about the best way to (a) get into first gear, (b) downshift smoothly, (c) avoid the glug when shifting into second gear. Leave your best advice in the comments, if you have tips!

Italian drivers are both living up to the hype, and surprisingly steady drivers. The key to driving here (anywhere, really) is to view the road as a video game screen and realize that vehicles, people, animals, random flying objects, burning vegetation, bicycles, pedestrians, road workers, etc. can enter into the screen from any direction, at any time; they will expect you to maintain your speed and direction. So, the best way to drive safely is to do just that – maintain the car’s speed and direction as you are aware of what’s going on around you.

For example, cars passing from behind make more of a smooth “S” shape as they pass you, just barely clearing your back bumper on the way into the passing lane, and slipping past your front bumper on the way back into the driving lane. By the way, you might never see this car in your rearview mirror, depending on the curves of the road and the speed of the car. Oh yea, and they pass you just about anywhere. And, that’s legal to do if you are going “slowly” and the pass they made was reasonaly safe for the conditions. (I’m paraphrasing our Italian driving instructor’s comment about legality.) This passing technique is quite different from the U.S. where a car will approach from behind, ride your bumper for a while, peek out a few times to check for traffic, finally move out into the passing lane well behind you and complete the pass in more of a “U” shape.

Right about now, some of you are wondering about the phenomenon of sharing a two-lane road amongst three (or even four) cars. Yes, it happens. No, it doesn’t happen a lot (at least not yet). In the case that during a pass, an oncoming car approaches, the expectation is to make room for all of the cars to fit on the road and complete their maneuvers. That means the oncoming car and the car being passed will move to the shoulder to accommodate the passing car. Well, you move to where you *wish* there was a shoulder, and hope for the best.

Other than the speed racers, the rest of Italian drivers just want to get from point A to point B like the rest of us. They are accustomed to grouping and ungrouping in untidy clumps around the roundabouts, and that is the way all of traffic goes here. Usually, the clump of cars has some amount of forward motion and everyone jostles for position, sometimes letting another car into the clump and other times cutting across the nose of three different vehicles on the way to an exit. The Italians practice a belief in the phrase “Oggi a me, domani a te” (literally: Today to me, tomorrow to you) “Today it may be me, tomorrow it may be you” who needs to cut across the traffic. It is this pragmatic sentiment, and not an overabundance of generosity, that results in relatively few horns being sounded during traffic rush hours.

The horn is more frequently used as a very light beep-beep to alert other drivers, bicyclists and persons on the roadway. The car sounds the horn going around tight corners, or heading into a one-lane tunnel (there are plenty of them here), or when it sees a car poking its nose out of a blind driveway, or at a bicyclist on a narrow road. The horn in these instances means “Hello! Here I am! I’m coming and I’m not slowing down! You look lovely in one piece, please stay where you are! Ciao!”

E punto.


Filed under Adjusting

The “what’s that smell” effect and eyelid sweat.


  1. Picked up a sketch pad, pencils and erasers for an art project.
  2. Completed cleaning chores for the weekend.
  3. Had a great running workout!
  4. Picked up groceries and a bottle of Moretti at a new-to-us neighborhood market; entire transaction in Italian!
  5. Ate the yummiest, most succulent, and flavorful nectarine – from the Catania market.

Sweat; it happens. I have been so busy enjoying the sun and its accompanying heat that I have been too distracted, almost, to notice the humidity and its accompanying sweat. Our rental car lacks air conditioning, magnifying the effect. Two extraordinary sweat mentionables: (i) I ask myself “what’s that smell” only to realize moments later that I’m smelling my own sweat! (ii) eyelid sweat: when my eyes are open, the sweat collects in my eyelid folds, as I start to close my eyes and my eyelids descend, I can feel the air hit the dampness that has accumulated. That’s sweaty.

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Filed under 5-100, Adjusting, Food. Cibo.