Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Per Caso

Oliveri famoso! Just by chance I stumbled upon a film making in progress. While walking to see a friend I noticed the town police rerouting traffic. This isn't uncommon as it is often done for roadwork, funerals, ceremonies and festas. I continued on my way and there in my path was a film crew with boom microphone and all. More town police were doing *crowd* control. There may have been only twenty or so onlookers but they were needed to keep it quiet.
It is always a good thing to be camera ready. A camera takes you right up to the action. Somehow you become part of the crew. The local Media School was having a film made of a story their class had written. The story was about a grandfather telling his granddaughter about the life in this town following WWII. I don't know if this will be something local just for the school or if it is part of a *sfida*(contest) that the school has entered.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


What do I like about this photo? And I do like it alot! Someones laundry. You can imagine all sorts of things about it. Who is this tall and even the shadow makes it seem like a really tall person owns this pair of pantyhose. Who wears pantyhose anymore???Who puts this laundry out on the street leading to the Church of the Madonna Nera? It was just something that wanted to be photographed.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Piccola cosa/ Small thing

Two men carrying a small box enter Andy's shop. I was there talking with Andy.

Man #1-- "Do you know where I can buy a battery?"

Andy-- "What kind of battery are you looking for?"

Man #1--" I don't know. It is for this blood pressure machine."

Man #1 and man #2 take a blood pressure machine out of the small box and look for the battery casing. Man #1 reads instructions while man #2 pulls on the machine with no luck. Roles are reversed. Now man #2 reads the instructions and man #1 attempts to open the battery casing. They ask Andy to read the instructions just in case they have not read something correctly. Andy reads and man #1 and man #2 alternate in the attempt to open and reveal the battery. This goes back and forth and on and on for 15 minutes.
Andy gives me a look and I say that I don't want to be breaking anything.

Man #2 drops the thing into a chair.

So I approach the chair and look over the b/p machine and voila...yessiree open the casing right away. I don't take any personal credit for this as it is something any red blooded American woman could and would do.

What is very Italian man like is that they hustle right out of the shop so that they would not have to spend an extra minute in front of me. Not a peep of gratitude.

Story ends with this question. How many Italian men does it take to open a battery casing?
The answer is none....ask a woman!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Feature: Bibiloteca

The library has a special meaning for me. Since I was a child I have loved the library..any library. Books were always something to forget the present and take you away...much better than Calgon! There was a library just down the street from my family home. Just inside the door was a shelf containing biographies and I must have read each one at least twice.

I did not find the local library here in Oliveri until the second year I was living here. I had brought quite a few books with me to keep me occupied with reading material for over a year. Just who am I kidding...I couldn't read a book in Italian so I was not looking for a library.

One day when doing business in the town hall, I found that the library was located in this building. It occupied two rooms with bookcases in the hallway. Antonella is the librarian. She is welcoming and informative. Her office is one of few places that is toasty warm. Good place to go and have a chat.
The walls are lined with books and magazines and Antonella is always ready to help you find what you need. I have donated many books to the library printed in English. This is done selfishly. I have a small house and the library isn't so far away that I can't go and take out a book to reread. I just hope that others might get some use out of them as well.
Over the years the library has moved location to another floor in the town hall building. Antonella is still there and in charge of things. If you come to Oliveri ...please go and say hello to her and tell her that you saw her here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


My free luggage tags arrived in the mail. A cyber friend led me to a KLM site which offers two free *design your own* luggage labels.
These islands are in this town and are part of a nature preserve. The labels are glossy so the photo isn't as clear as I would want it. But I shall be able to pick my luggage out of the mix with out any trouble.
The site is a UK site but these got to me in record time with no fuss.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


This is a painting done in oil by my son in Media School art class. He was about 12 years old at the time. The scene is of local fishermen repairing their fishing net on the local beach. Since we live on the sea many of the local men have boats and fish for their livelihood.

The first time I saw this painting was during an end of the year theater performance at the Media School. Each class was putting on a play and some art work had been put onto slides for between scenes viewing. I think the kid is talented and the colors and art work deserved the round of applause it got. I am his mother and it is my job to think my kid is especially talented. He doesn't need me though as he is talented on his own.

When the show concluded and we were ready to go home I asked my son where this picture was. It was the final day of school and I did not want it to get lost. He showed me where they had put it on the wall and that he was not allowed to bring it home. Ok! But that did not mean that I wasn't allowed. I removed it from the wall and brought it to a framer who framed it as it looks today. It hangs in my kitchen and we enjoy it every day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Il Postino

From 1992 through 1998 this man was my very best friend in the world! I would look for him every morning and miss him terribly on Sunday. When I first met Postino Mandolia he rode a bike. He has a loud voice and you could hear him before he got to the house. I had mail the very first week I arrived. I think I mailed something to myself and had asked my daughter to send me mail. The mail I received those first years was fantastic. My sister would decorate envelopes with rubber stamping and art work. Each time the art work topping the letter before. The stamps would send the postino over the top. Some packet envelopes would be covered with stamps. His daughter collects stamps so we had a great thing going. I even bought rubber stamps myself and used them on out going mail. I have a great one of an erupting volcano. Add a little color to these things and they are spectacular. One day Postino Mandolia came to the house bearing a special mail bag from the USA with a secure lock on it. Looked like a bag that would be sent to an embassy. Opening it revealed a collection of books sent by a young guest that had stayed with us on his world travel tour. The postino told us to make sure this sack was returned to the post office as it had to be sent back to the USA. This was a first for me and a first for this town. I have since received a second one with those very prized books inside.

So what has happened to this relationship. He still delivers the mail and now rides on this motorcycle with helmet and official uniform. I still have high regards for him but alas...the computer has taken over the communication spot. I still get mail but lots more email than the envelope kind.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

About ME

Conversation 2007
Rosabla: How come you don't speak better Italian?
Me: Mute!
Rosabla: How long have you been here anyway??
Me: Mute!
Rosabla: My cousin was in New York for 6 weeks and he came
back speaking English. What is with you??
Me: Mute!
Take these questions back a year....
Rosabla: How come you don't speak better Italian?
Me: I know I have a problem.
Rosabla: How long have you been here anyway?
Me: I know it certainly is long enough for me to be more fluent in
Rosabla: My cousin was in New York for 6 weeks and he came
back speaking English. What is with you??
Me: Well, when I go to the United States they all marvel at my
Italian skills!
This is my #2 angst here. The obsession with my lack of communication skills in Italian. I shall no longer be bothered about this. I shall try my best and get on with it. Some days are better than others with the language . Andy thinks it has something to do with the weather. I am not above asking for help and I have no fear of going about on my own and delving right in when I want. I am thrilled when a person will try and correct me in a teaching way or assist me with pronouncing a word. When I first landed here, I was known to rip pages out of a sales brochure or a catalog to let a shop clerk know what I wanted. That worked pretty darn good.
In the fall of 2005 I made a valiant effort to learn the language. I asked the local librarian to help me find a teacher. She found a good one. This lady was a retired school teacher. She had been raised in a convent and I think later taught in a convent. She was a teacher of Italian and Latin. The plan was a lesson per week and she would come to my house at 9AM and we would go till 11AM. Did I mention that she is a nubile and around 78 years old? No matter about that. I liked her and still like her. She took out middle school grammar books from the local library and we dug in. She had me reading literature, writing themes and studying verbs and studying verbs and studying more verbs. Memorizing those, I thought my head would blow up. As soon as I got one list memorized I promptly forgot it memorizing the next ones. I was a wreck.
The night before she was to come was a toss and turn sleep depriving experience as I would have those verbs going over and over in my pea brain. Truly the best part of my week was a 11AM when the door shut behind her.
My husband poo pooed my laments. He suggested I go with the program and it might just click in. OK! I kept it up for about 3 months. A friend of mine happened to come for a visit during one lesson and remarked afterwards that I was punishing myself. She had never seen this type of teaching. I thought it was me all along...thick head...not open ...all those things folks on the street are saying about me. After this I called around and found that this was not what I was needing (type of lesson) and my dear husband fired the teacher. Truly the problem is mostly me but I did not like the feeling of midnight cramming for the test of my life every week.
So ...what to do?? I shall keep on reading, watching Italian TV programs and relaxing my brain.
But the answers to any of Rosabla's questions will be no answer. They really don't *give a care*...just something to say. If they cared I think they would offer to help...not just attack.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Feature #2

Friday features the Little Market, a grocery store owned and operated by a young, local couple.
There are several markets of this type in town and each catering to the folks who live close to the store. When I was a kid this was the type of store that you would find in neighborhoods. A store where kids can go buy a sandwich or an ice cream bar. Where housewives could go and buy fresh bread and vegetables. I imagine there aren't many of this kind of shop left in the USA any longer.

Most local women shop daily for fresh ingredients for the day's meal. It amazes me that refrigerators and cabinets aren't stocked. We are used to buying in bulk when the prices lure us into the larger stores. It isn't unusual for our home to have 20+ kilos of pasta. Now, here is an interesting fact. I would guess that a good percentage of shelf space is dedicated to PASTA of all shapes.

You can also purchase beer and liquor at these local shops. The Little Market also sells bottled gas used for both cooking and heating units. We have one of these heaters in our kitchen and it is the best. Altho, the town now has a gas line many still opt to use these *bombolas*. The shop owner will deliver and set up the bombola.
Outside the Little Market is a bench under a tree where folks sit and chat or just watch the scene in the street. This time of year the scene is tranquil but just wait till the summer. Lot's of tourists to watch and the proprietors of the shop have scarcely a moment to themselves.
The BEST thing about the shop is the big smile you get when you come into this store.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Little Street

Here it is! A street named after my husband's family...Barresi. Vico translated to English means alley or lane. This does look like an alley way. My husband never knew of it's existence. When our son was living here we would go for bike rides around the town and we came across it. When we returned home and questioned Andy about it he admitted not ever knowing there was a Vico Barresi.

Barresi is the second most common name in this town. The most common is Gullo. My name doesn't even make it to the chart. In Italy the wife does not take the name of her husband. The name she is born with is the name she uses for life. It gets rather confusing when I have to show documents. In Italy they are all in my maiden name and my USA documents in my married name.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Web Sites and Birthday

I love getting new and different Internet Sites. One of my favorites has been I bought two of these books for my daughter's birthday gift. She has the same humor as I do. In fact all of my kids have this dry wit and humor. I hope she has a nice birthday and enjoys this book. Her husband's birthday was last week and I sent him the 2007 World Almanac. Now he can drive her crazy with facts and interesting stuff. Lot's of pages to mull over.
When I IM with my daughter I am always hoping she comes up with a new Web Site. I heard about one this afternoon that gives free instructions on how to use an iPod or MP3 player. I am thinking about getting one of these. The site is Check it thru Google. It was hard to get into probably because it was given out on a TV news channel.
Happy birthday Rachel.......

Monday, January 15, 2007


This only happens in the movies. About one hour after I posted my love of Starbucks coffee, my doorbell rang. My husband went to the door and it was a *Postal Package* delivery man. So, what was inside the package? Several items one of which I had been wishing for earlier. Not one pound, but three pounds of Starbuck coffee. I shall be happy come tomorrow morning. To make it even better.. included was a box of chocolate donuts.

Since I already had a cup of coffee in hand I popped one of these donuts into the toaster oven and felt like I was back in the good ole USA.

Yes, Sharon...there is a Santa Claus!

I really miss Starbucks coffee. I like strong coffee lightened and no sugar. We buy coffee beans and grind them to make USA type coffee and it is fine but nothing like drinking Starbucks. I used to be a Dunkin Donut fan but got introduced to Starbucks at my daughter's in Ohio. It never fails. NEVER!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Veggie of the Month

My original title of this BLOG was Veggie of the Month. After checking other blogs on the Internet I saw that this title was already overused. In this area Veggie of the Month is not just a title but a reality. You will find certain vegetables that are grown in this area in the markets until you might scream...NO MORE! I now look forward to some vegetables but I have yet to become fond of zucchini. We are fortunate to have wonderful family and neighbors who come to our door on a regular basis offering vegetables. Finnochio is the featured vegetable this month. I suspect broccoli will be edging it out soon.
Finnochio salad is a favorite of mine. I am happy when it comes to the market. We have it several times per week. I do cook it but my favorite recipe is finnochio salad with oranges.
Finocchio Salad
1 finocchio bulb
1 small onion
1 orange
olive oil
Just use the 1 bulb finocchio to 1 orange proportion. Don't add vinegar or lemon juice as the juice from the orange will do the job just fine.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Feature..Barbiere

It is only right that I start a Friday Feature with the local Barbiere!! He has been cutting and shampooing heads and shaving faces way back in the 1950's. He started apprenticing in a local shop when he was 12 years old. Of course he was only allowed to put the shaving cream on faces for the first couple years. Before emigrating to the USA in 1963 he was owner of his own shop and had 4 young fellas working for him. Fast forward 29 years and the barber/barbiere is back in his old shop, in the town where he first started. Some things have changed. The barber is equipped with electric clippers and that was new for lots of the men even in 1992. They wanted scissors and only scissors. What were these clippers anyway??? They are used to them now and clippers are not unusual any longer in most shops.
Business is different in Italy than in the USA. One difference is the men are shorter so the barber's arms don't ache so much. Men tend to get more shaves here than in the USA. The Barber Shop also becomes a hang out in the winter time. Men tend to stand in the streets waiting for noon time to roll around and when the weather is bad the chop is warm and dry.

This shop has a wall for photos of young boys who are good in the barber chair. This really works. One boy told his younger brother that they would take his picture down if he did not sit still. Kids and adults have a choice of "calcio" team colored drapes. Most like yellow and red which are the colors of Messina's team. Others like the blue and black of Inter or the red and black of Milan. You have to be very alert with these choices as the barber will try to slip the black and white drape which are the colors of Juventus!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mission accomplished!!

Check out these flags. They sit above the door of the town hall. Early summer 2006, I made a complaint to the Vice Mayor of this town about the condition of the old flags. They were torn and sun bleached. When I returned (in late summer) from a visit to the USA, nothing had been done. Well, I am happy to be showing this photo of new and brightly colored flags. The one on the left is the EU flag, in the center Italian flag and on the right Sicilian flag. When someone asked the Vice Mayor what I'd said to him he responded that *those* Americans are possessed with their flags! Perhaps I am. When my son first went to the public Media school here I was also shocked to find NO flag ..but each classroom had a picture of the Pope and a cross above the door. I am not upset about the religious symbols but was surprised not to see the Italian flag displayed.

Perhaps these new flags would have been put up without me but a little part of me wants to take some credit!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Growing up in Maine and living there the better part of 18 years did not prepare me for the winter cold in this town. Not that the temperatures drop to below zero like Maine temperatures do but that cold gets right into the cement walls and attack old bones. Probably attack young bones as well but mine aren't young any more. Before we moved here in 1985 we had air conditioner/heat units put in almost every room. These units are high up on the walls and you know that heat rises. I suspect the installers think we might need the ac more than the heat. But, they don't know me very well. I really do not like to be cold. I'd rather be sweating. Each room is heated separately which is a savings on your electric bill but going from room to room is like going from Florida to Alaska in a matter of opening a door. The damp is another thing. Our bathrooms are the rooms that do not have heaters and we have learned to keep the windows opened just a crack to avoid the dreaded mold on the walls because of built up humidity. Cold seating...that is all I will say about that!
Two items are saving me from the cold. The first was a suggested item by another American living in this town, a long sleeved undershirt. This undershirt has a woolen outer side and a cotton inner side. I wear one of these until the end of March. By then I am so tired of all these layers but I cannot live without it.
The second life saver vs the cold is a HOT WATER BOTTLE. Or more honestly several hot water bottles. My younger sister is a hot water bottle *maniac* and she clued me in to these. If I sit on the couch one of these is keeping me company. The hot water bottle does not come without risks. We put a couple in the bed before going to sleep to warm it up and a couple nights ago had a surprise leak...more than a leak ...the thing had burst and now there is a problem. OK, I can deal with this but I would not be without either the undershirt or hot water bottle! We bought a couple more and I am knitting a new sweater for the new *heater*!

Monday, January 8, 2007


We have no local newspaper in this town so items and announcements are posted on walls in different parts of the town. This includes death and funeral notices. You may be looking at the same notice for quite awhile if no one dies for a long period after your name might be posted. I have often felt this is a sad reminder to the family of the deceased. The local church has different bell signals for deaths, funerals, dead person arriving in town, baptisms, weddings and call to church functions. After the Tsunami incident in Asia the town adopted a signal for letting us know that a Tsunami is imminent. The church bells will ring continually and we have 20 minutes to head for high ground ..on foot. One former resident left money for the church to install a clock that chimes the hour and every fifteen minutes of the hour. Try getting to sleep nearby the church on a summer's evening when those bells let you know it is 45 minutes past 12.

Sunday, January 7, 2007


My friend Angela invited me to accompany her and her two daughters to Mazzara'Sant'Andrea for the 12th night Christmas Presepe. This is a village showing what Bethlehem would have looked like when Jesus was presentation. It is a drive up into a mountain village where the old part of the town was transformed into streets of Bethlehem. We walked the narrow steps which formed the narrow street. On both sides you could enter small houses which held village homes and various shops. In the small squares artisans showed their skills and wares. We met up with a cheese maker, cobbler, shepherd, bread vendors, skilled embroiders, pasta shop, a family cooking soup...fishermen..and several others including the mayor, carpenter and a mercato. The walking route was lit by candles and pots of simmering apples in water over open fires. Check out the picture post.

Photo Post/12th day of Christmas

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Sun and Fun

Nope that doesn't mean a day at the beach. For me it means getting the clothes dried on the line. We have been having so much rain the wash gets piled up. Add a little wind to the mix and perhaps they will dry before nightfall.
The *fun* is for the kids who will be getting a gift from La Befana. The commune gives out gifts to the school kids grades 1-5. Of course parents will give the kids (who are good) some candy and a gift. More fun is husband working 1/2 day. Italians do have so many holidays. Today is Epifinia.
Not so good part is NO MAIL and I am waiting for Christmas packages sent to me from the USA to arrive. A friend told me that her sister in Genova is experiencing the same delay. After Christmas extras are nice.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Casa Dolce Casa

My house is in the older part of the town. My husband was born on this property but not in this house. In 1985 the old house was torn down and rebuilt. It is condo like. We have three levels. Most of our neighbors are older folks. The younger couples are building on the outskirts of the town. There are 2000 year round residents. So, my house looks much like the white one in the photo...perhaps a bit wider. It is built out of cement and has three balconies. Not quite like the images you might have of Naples with all the clothes hanging across the streets but not so unlike either. Our ground floor is a dining/kitchen combination. Next level is a small living room and a small bedroom and a bathroom. One more flight up and there is a larger bedroom and a converted terrazzo. We had a roof put onto it and windowed it in to make a laundry and sewing room. We thought the house would be too small but it seems to be a perfect fit for us.
The photo was taken from my first floor window and it was the first photo I took when I got my digital camera. Those cobbles are on a one story structure that houses wine and wood and sometimes familes of mice. This is a reason I love street cats.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Launch Day....

Greetings to my first Blog Post.

It has taken me awhile to get this going and I don't feel ready but then when will that ready feeling begin? So I am giving myself the go signal and will learn along the path of blogging.

For this first post I offer a gift. It is a recipe that was shared with me by my friend's mother-in-law for Limoncello. There are many recipes for this drink on the Web but this is how she has made it for over 50 years.

Antonia's Limoncello

8-10 Lemons

1lt 90% alcohol

600g sugar

1 and 1/4 lt water

Wash and peel underripe lemons. Use of a potato peeler is a great idea as you don't want any of the pith( white of the lemon). Add lemon peel and alcohol to a glass jar. Simmer water with sugar to dissolve. Add sugar water to the jar and store for eight days in a dark place. Drain and bottle.

Many recipes suggest adding the sugar water after the eight days but I am sticking with her recipe on this.

I made it yesterday and will let you know next week how it tastes.

So welcome to my blog...come back often.