Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Feature

Each town has a facility called *Guardia Medica*. It provides medical care from 8 PM to 8 AM, weekends and holidays for medical needs or first aid care. Any serious emergencies or life threatening situations are sent to an emergency station called Pronto Soccorso which is available 24 hours per day.
One summer when my daughter and her family were visiting, we took our granddaughter to this Guardia Medica facility following a sting from a jelly fish (Medusa). No papers to fill out, no waiting, no asking if you are Italian or any other questions. Just medical care and goodbye! This was not a life threatening situation, but we did not know how to handle this. The staff took care of the problem and helped us to understand just what we could expect to happen with treatment. Also, how we could treat this in the future. It was a good experience and quick.

This facility is fairly new. It used to be located in the City Hall building. This picture was taken in the day time when it is not staffed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


It all began with this lonely tomato. Not just the one but a whole bowl of them. Who would ask anyone to make tomato sauce from tomatoes the size of a demitasse spoon? Well it got worse or better depending on which side of the table you sit.

In the door comes a cuttlefish (seppia) and a sheepish grin asking if I would use this to make a black sauce. I don't like to even look at black sauce. I have never tried it so I don't know if the taste is good or bad but who would want to eat black food that looks squirmy?

I washed and halved each one of those tomatoes and cooked them in onion and garlic to make the sauce. As for the fish it was cut into pieces and simmered in garlic and vino then the the sauce is added along with the black ink. It is at this point that my stomach starts churning. This also simmers for 20 minutes. It is best eaten with linguini..that is what I am told.

I did take the picture of the finished dish but made my exit from the table before it was eaten.

Euro 2008 Qualifying Game

Tonight Italy hosts Scotland in a Euro 2008 qualifying match here in Italy. Scotland has already qualified but this is a must win for Italy. Now do I really care? Not in a big way but Andy sure does. He reasons since Scotland has already qualified it would be good for Italy to win to go thru. This is a must win for Italy. If they lose they are O U T! Not a pretty picture for the World Champion Soccer squad.

Good thing the game is on regular TV and good thing we have two television sets. Wednesday is my lock on television night. Could I give this night up when Boston Legal is running a double header? No way....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Getting Prepared

Getting the house ready for the summer is what I am up to. When the good weather gets here, I am out and at the beach no later than 8AM. I like it when the water is clean and clear and the beach not crowded. So, to prepare I am throwing collected stuff out and re organizing what will remain. After this, I have a couple of rooms to paint and some decorating to do. All my cleaning and decorating has to be done by May15th. That was the date I got into the water last year and I am shooting for it this year. Today, I got my three new swim tops in the mail. Could say I am half prepared with the costume...but I have the bottom half already. I ordered them from Lands'End UK at a very good sale price. Nice lively colors.... come on summer!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rice Krispies Treat

So, I asked another Blogger ( about using Nutella with Rice Krispies and she told me to experiment and give it a try. Sometimes that is all you need ...a little encouragement. She did not think *Nutella would be as sticky as Marshmallow Fluff so I added a bit of corn syrup. I melted the Nutella with a little butter (that is what they list using with the Fluff). Then I added one tablespoon of corn syrup .. stir till smooth. Added the cereal and stirred some more. Pressed the mix into a buttered dish and let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes. It held together and the taste is better than the fluff. I only had a small bite. I made this for Andy who likes some breakfast with his espresso in the morning.

*Notice the picture on the Nutella reusable glass. I will collect these for my Wonder Woman!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Feature

There are three public schools in this town plus one private nursery school. Our son was a student for two years at the Media or Middle School. During our first year, here he did a home school program with the Calvert School located in Baltimore, Maryland. This was not well received by the local school and we compromised by his attending the local school one day per week that first year. As I look back, this year doing home school was a good idea and allowed him to accustom himself to this culture. The one day per week at the Media school was also a good thing for him. He got to choose the day and of course he chose the day that included PE and Art classes. No additional help was given in the language and he toughed it out....doing all classes in Italian. (What did we put that kid through?) He did well and went on to a good High School before returning to the US to finish his final year of High School.

Kids start school in a Nursery School program at 3 years old. Not having a child in either the elementary or nursery programs, I have not much information about either. I have had the pleasure of being invited to watch Christmas and end of year programs at the private nursery school. I have never...never seen a teacher so lovingly discipline youngsters as the teacher at that school. Whenever a mischievous youngster got out of line she would just move him (always a him) to another location with a little hug. That was almost better to watch than the program.

All three of the public schools are gated. No cars are allowed on this road (dead end street) except teacher's or school official's vehicles. When school is let out the local police are on hand to help with traffic and to ensure the safety of the children.

After graduating from the Media School, students decide which High School they would like to attend. There are High Schools differing in programs that lead to future occupations. We choose what was known as a Science High School for our son as the program most identified with a USA High School college directed program. All High Schools are in nearby towns. He took the train to school every day and that is another story!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pill Boxes

This is something I did not know about until I moved here. All along the northern coast line are these *Pill Boxes* which were defensive posts against the Allies in World War 2. The Italian or German soldiers would hide inside with heavy armor and watch the sky or sea for Allied soldiers. They are located all through Sicily but I have only seen those on the shore line. My husband tells me that the tides have moved sand over the years and this particular box has lowered into it. He claims it was much higher. We still have traces of the war in this town. One lady I know carries shrapnel in her leg. In the cemetery there are three graves commemorating the war. One grave for a German soldier who carried no identification. Another for a man who washed up on the shoreline and the third empty, giving remembrance for all war dead.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Feste di Santo Giuseppe

March 19th is as important in Italy as March 17th is in Ireland. Today is St Giuseppe Day and that means Father's Day here. Giuseppe is also the Patron Saint of Oliveri. The kids get to participate in the program today as they are paying special tribute to their fathers. Here are some pictures of the street activity.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Last fall when visiting the town of Nicosia we had a chance to walk the grounds of a Monastery. We had come there to pay homage to one of Sicily's newest Saints, Santo Felice who had been a Brother there. They had gardens and animals and paths to walk. Along the side of one path was this fence obviously built to control the soil erosion around several small trees. I asked the guide about it's construction and he told us that the Brothers have little money and use what is on hand. I thought it was rather clever and served the purpose.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Feature

There are 150 bikes here for sale or rent. That is what *Mario* the bike guy told me. Come summer time I think there may even be some mopeds to rent. We need a bike shop in this town. Everyone rides bicycles. Kids learn how to balance themselves on two wheelers early. Sometimes you might see two on a bike or perhaps three. Kids even stand up behind the guy doing the peddling on a bike. You bike for pleasure and you bike for transportation.

The bike shop also does repairs. Every time I pass, this place is busy. Mario is a one man show.

Tagged 101

My friend Wasp Goddess tagged me and I am supposed to write 5 mindless things. What does that mean? Mindless? Profound? Funny? I have never been tagged nor done this before. I shall give it a go.

1) If my collar is up..leave it alone. I like it that way or don't mind it that way. In other words hands OFF!
2) I have learned to listen.
3) Men should not smell like flowers or fruit. But that is better than being stinky.
4) Grudges aren't helpful. Avoiding unpleasant people is.
5) The best beverages in the whole world are Starbucks and Jacobs coffee and Moxie!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Via Gallo

This is where I live. You can't see the roof line on the Via Gallo side but you get the idea. It is three levels. In Italy that would be ground level, first and second floors. I live in the old part of town and the homes are attached row style. Sorta like a street of condos. I feel fortunate to live on all three levels. Many homes have one family on the street level and others on the first and second levels. Most of the time this involves families. Parents on the street level and son or daughter's families on the others. Can't do a thing without those old folks knowing!

I have doors leading in and out onto two streets. One is quieter and less traveled than the other. But notice there is not a blade of grass. Most families have a garden on the outskirts of town. In fact almost all of them do. We are *johnny come lately* to the scene so we don't have a garden. But we have these neighbors who are very generous, sharing lots of fresh vegetables and fruit with us.
We had our house painted a couple years back and the painter painted the balconies and window trim white. Why? I think he mistook his instructions. He said they couldn't be painted over. What? I painted them the next day. Didn't get paid for it either. Notice my screen door on the back side of the house. I am so happy to have this door and it only took about 9 years to get it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

HAM-Burger with Mozzarella

My culinary minded nephew wants recipes. This one came up on an Italian Food Channel (RaiSat Gambero Rosso), and since it is phase one South Beach friendly, I gave it a try. Very easy to make..has a good taste and all the ingredients are good for you, me and all my diet buddies.

The ingredients include deli baked ham, mozzarella*, apricot sugar free marmalade mixed with mustard and a couple slices of tomato. Since I am from the USA, I super sized it with some lettuce and since I already cut into the tomato ..I put a few slices between the layers.

Cook the baked ham on a grill pan to warm and then start layering. First the mozzarella topped with the mustard/marmalade mix, then a slice of ham, lettuce and tomato. Keep this going until you have two slices of ham and three of mozzarella. Top with more tomato. It was more than I could eat. But, the good part is the taste. It was truly nice. The flavors blended perfectly. Probably this would make a better summer dish but we will have it once more on our 14 day ph1 SBeach diet.

If you try this let me know how you like it.

*We can buy mozzarella in sheets rolled up. This photo shows it rolled and squished as I did not refrigerate it properly.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Year of the Rooster

No, it isn't the year of the Rooster. I know that it is the Chinese year of the Pig. However, I was born in the year of the Rooster. My first year here was in the year of the Rooster. I live on Rooster St and I even have those feathers sticking up on the crown of my head.

It only seemed right to collect Rooster items. My first was a needlepoint rooster made by my daughter and it steamrolled from there. I even have a couple chickens to keep those rooster's happy. I have received so many rooster items...(and thank you to everyone). My son advised me to collect Benjamin Franklin's but I didn't listen. Boy, was I stupid or what?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday Short

A short clip for your viewing pleasure/Bruno Bozzeto!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Friday Feature

The Costanzo brothers have done work in my house. Today, I feature their Metalliche Costruzioni business. This shop constructs and installs windows...doors metal, aluminum, wood and glass. They have the latest in shop equipment and materials. Both brothers will help you decide which items are best for your new construction or replacement windows and doors.

They are located on the outskirts of Oliveri in an industrial zone. Very nice family to work with. You just don't go to Home Depot or Sears to purchase a window or door around here. Most all of them are custom made. I am sure there are stock sizes but ours were made to measure. We had a window installed when we moved here that was an odd size. I was very happy that windows were made to measure. We had a open terrazzo on our third level that we had roofed and windowed by this company. It turned an unused area into my sewing and laundry room.

The very BEST thing I had made at the Costanzo brothers shop is a screen door in my kitchen. Screens and screen doors aren't something we saw in this town in 1992 but they are becoming a common thing today. I love that screen door. Let's in the air but not the insects...not the flying kind anyway.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Women have house parties here just like the rest of the world. Tupperware*, beauty products, underwear and the... Bimby.

I went to a demonstration of this miracle machine. It sure was some engineering marvel. From start to finish you could make a meal in this thing. The cost floored me. I could eat out for several weeks without any clean up for the €950 they were asking for it. I have never been a person who likes those stack pans on the stove to save money nor did I particularly care for the genius of the Bimby. How would you get to see what is in pan #1 without removing pans #2 and #3 from the stack and what would that do to the cooking? As for the Bimby, the machine also has the control.

If you want to know more about the Bimby check out this site in English. The same machine by another name.

* Did the FBI buy new Tupperware for Richard Jewel's mother. I have always thought that was the least they could do.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Art Display

Oliveri is a destination town. You arrive from Via Nazionale or SS 113 , make a right turn, go round a curve and on your right you are greeted by a wall of murals painted by local artists. Today, I am posting a picture post of some of this art work.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Beans with the Bag Open

You don't have to open the bag to know beans anymore as they have these plastic see thru bags now. Well....not knowing *beans with the bag open* is an old saying. About as old as my introduction to Saturday night beans. Beans and franks and some reheated Harris bread rolls were on the table during my child hood every Saturday night. If my Dad was lucky he might have a bit of horseradish on his plate.

Well my bean knowledge has certainly changed. Sometimes, I make Boston Baked beans but mostly they are cooked into a soup with onions, carrots, tomatoes and greens. The ingredients change depending what is in the refrigerator. Every week in the winter I cook up a large pot of this bean concoction and Andy eats it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have become the Regina of bean soup. I used to give it away but now he guards it with his life. I have drawn the line on making this once per week. Many may think of this soup as pasta fagioli but we skip the pasta and just go for the beans.