Monday, December 31, 2012

Slow learner

It took Indy nearly four years to figure out that heat comes out of this "box"
... so laying in front of it is a good thing!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rough day

Indy had a rough day ~a bit stinky and dirty, she had to suffer the indignity of a bath.
She will howl and let everyone know how imposed upon she feels... but she no longer fights the bath (she used to .. but not now ... just be sure the door is shut all the way).  Once she is rinsed off and dried a bit with a towel, I let  her loose in the living room where the heater is so she can finish getting dried and putting her fur in order.

Monterosso Almo

On the 26th, DH and I visited Monterosso Almo (in Ragusa province) to see its Living Navtivity.
Most of the town gets involved, you follow a route that leads you through the lower section of the town, past scenes of life as it was in the 1600-1800's (or so)... cobblers, laundresses, bakers, cantinas, rope-makers and a lot more... it's fun to see and experience. 
Our group was one of the first allowed through .... so we had time after completing the route.  DH and I explored a bit and climbed to the upper church where we were able to look over the Nativity areas.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fond memory ....

While attending a volunteer holiday celebration the other evening ... I overheard two volunteers discussing their children and the difficulty both had getting their children to fall asleep.

I was very fortunate in that regard.

During my first tour in the military, I was stationed here in Sicily at the base my husband works at currently (this is where we met, and we both had very positive memories of the country and the people.. so it was an easy decision to come back here when he found out about the job he now has) ... but I digress ...

my son, Chris, was 8 years old when he got here and he was nearly 12 years old when we left.  Sometime during the second year we were here, my boyfriend (now my husband) and I joined an Friday evening bowling league on-base.  We would pick Chris up from the after school program he attended, have dinner (usually on-base at the bowling alley or the galley... Chris considered either a treat) and then bowl.  Chris would read, listen to the TV in the bowling alley, do homework or other stuff (we kept things in the car that were only brought out while at the bowling league) at the little tables there in the bowling alley. 

If we had the early session on Friday, we could be done and get home before Chris' bedtime at 9:00pm.

However, if we had the later session ... it was a bit different.  Things to keep in mind: this happened nearly twenty-five years  ago - we are in a full bowling alley with all the racket of balls being thrown, pins being knocked down, food orders being called by the fry-cook at the grill in the bowling alley ... it's a Friday night and many of the people are relaxing with "adult beverages" and there are lots of loud cheers or moans from the various teams bowling.  Looking back seems like there were about fifteen lanes .... so there were quite a few people in the room and the bowling alley had those hard plastic chairs set in half-circles for the players on each lane. 

By 9:10pm, Don and I could be assured, that almost without exception, Chris would be stretched out on those hard plastic chairs, with all the noise and commotion going on, and be sound asleep.   His body knew it was bedtime and out he would go. 

Whenever we got done on the nights with the later sessions, Don would pick Chris up off those hard chairs and carry him to the car and then up the stairs to my apt. once we got home.  Sometimes we could get Chris awake enough to walk up the stairs ... but he never really woke up all the way.... it was more a form of sleep-walking.

DH and I still think back on that and smile .... fond memories....

Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey

Silly ... but I think it's cute as well.
Brucoli is a small village south of us in the hills on the other side of the Catania plain.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What I made for dinner the other night

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
serves 6, prep 10 minutes, cook 40 minutes adapted from Chicken Pot Pie
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 8 oz mushroom, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups cooked chicken meat (usually leftover rotassire chicken I put in the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup frozen crinkle cut carrots (I just sliced up a few carrots)
  • 1/4 cup frozen green beans
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels (tossed in a whole can that was on the shelf)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Melt butter in a large soup pot.  Add mushrooms a handful at a time, lightly browning each batch then pushing them to the sides and adding the next handful to the center.
  2. With the last batch of mushrooms, add onion and garlic.
  3. Saute mixture until onion and garlic are soft. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture.  Stir and cook several minutes until flour is golden.
  4. Add chicken stock and milk and heat to a boil.
  5. Simmer soup, stirring frequently until thickened.
  6. Add chicken and frozen vegetables, heat soup until hot, stirring occasionally.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste, serve over a scoop of mashed potatoes.
Serve with biscuits, pie crust, puff pastry, a bread bowl or over baked potatoes instead of mashed.  If you store or freeze the soup, store separately from the mashed potatoes.  Otherwise, when the soup is reheated,  the potatoes will melt and adversely affect the texture.
I generally have to add extra stock and milk ...otherwise it comes out more like a potpie filling for me.
Not a clue where I got this from ... have had it forever.

What a way to wake up...

I woke up this morning to DH calling me to check out the balcony... it was snowing!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

thinking outside the box

Someone had a good idea to paint a normally bland and boring TV antenna and give it some character.  I would have missed this entirely if I had not climbed a staircase to check out a shop window in Taormina.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Farewell Fall!

It's the beginning of December and time to put away my autumn table linens. 
Now that school is over for this term ... time to catch up on other things ... been way too long.

Close up of the embroidery of the coverpiece ... I found this one at a wonderful little shop in Bertchesgaden, Germany ten or fifteen years ago while on holiday. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Spent part of last weekend at a friend's home ... caught Lola (momma cat) snoozing while her kittens were elsewhere.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

It REALLY does exist!

Homer Simpson's legendary beer really does exist ...
a fine German brew (so I am told).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Catanian puppet

DH and I saw this last weekend while at a local festival.  The puppet is known as "Il Catanese" and represents a citizen from Catania, Sicily,  The elephant is the symbol of the city and is a reminder of Hannabal crossing the Alps with his elephants.  The puppet is about two and a half feet tall from shoe soles to top of the feathers. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

On the beach near Giardini-Naxos

Went to the beach two weekends ago with some Sicilian friends ... first time either DH or I have been to the beach in nearly four years.   The beach is lot different than the ones in San Diego ... lots of small rocks rather than sand.  Both DH and I are going to get water shoes before we go again.
I'll need to put on sunscreen as well ... ended up with a second-degree burn.... lots of small blisters.  Oh well ... so life goes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Buying figs in Belpasso

We passed this vendor on the way to work -- haven't seen him before two weeks ago.  Most local vendors set up near the top of town or on the main road coming down from the top.  Others drive through town either in the morning or evening with small (very small) trucks and loud speakers letting people know what is being offered.  This one is closer to the bottom of Belpasso.

The figs were pretty great!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weeding the roof

Results of birds and prickly pears ....
DH was able to remove most of the cacti from the rain gutters... but not all.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Spaceship over Etna

The winds blowing around Etna cause this cloud formation.
Did anyone else think of the movie "Independence Day" when seeing this?

Easy Peasy Turkey dinner tonight

It's hot here .... too hot to be in the kitchen for long.

Tried out a recipe that a friend shared a couple years ago (yup ... it's been hangin out that long waiting to be tried) ... it's a keeper!

Turkey breast
1 package of onion soup mix
1 can cranberry sauce (I used whole-berry, but you can used jellied too)

Put the thawed turkey breast in a slow cooker.
Mix the sauce and the soup mix together and spread over the  turkey.
Cook on high for an hour or two -- then on low for 4 to 6 hours.
Baste occasionally.

Can thicken the juices with cornstarch ... we just drizzled some over the turkey slices.

Made up some top-of-the-stove stuffing mix to go along with the turkey, and added some fresh nectarines from the market.   Works for there's turkey to make into sandwiches for work tomorrow.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

KFC Russian-style

Hey!  It's KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) ... in Moscow, Russia. 
 "It's chicken tonight!"

DH and I spent most of June visiting Berlin and then taking a river cruise up the Volga from Moscow to St. Petersburg. 
DS even managed to get leave approved to join us for the entire trip.
We had a GREAT time!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My guest book

I found this lined journal in the British Museum shop one trip to London.
The flap is magnetized - so it stays closed.

Not long before DH and I married, we had dinner with
one of my high school teachers and his wife.
They had the tradition of having all their guests sign a guest book ...
including notes who the guests were, the meal, the occasion ... whatever they wanted to remember.

I added this quote after an E-sister mentioned it ...
 though for my next guest book,
I think I will modify it to read "home" rather than "house".

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Espresso makers in cars ??

Fiat plans to add in-car espresso makers to its new 500L cars.... only the European editions though. 

I have to wonder about the logic behind the idea ... haven't driven much in the rest of Europe, but here in Sicily drivers have enough distractions without adding in this.  Granted, the announcement said that the espresso maker would only work when the car was stopped .... that's just a challenge for some one to figure out a way  around it.

Here is the link for more information:

My Scenic is a goner!

The after-math of a rainy night and wash-outs on a narrow road.
Mechanic told my husband it will cost more to fix
than to buy a different car.

Farewell my little Renault Scenic.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brotwort seller in Berlin

Visited Berlin (Germany) last month with DH, DS and a co-worker (who lived 11 years there .. our own personal tour guide!)  Saw this guy at a couple of the tourist spots we visited.  Carries all that he needs to sell wonderful German sausages to passers-by. 

Richard Dawson ..

Nope ... I haven't fallen off the ends of the world .... though sure couldn't prove it from the demands in my life.  

Watching "Hogan's Heros" and "Family Feud" were staples in my life for many years ... loved Richard Dawson.  He will be missed greatly.

Saw this online on 3 June 2012 ... when it wa still "yes", no" or "maybe".

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Honoring St Agatha

St Agatha is Catania's (nearest major city) patron saint.
The main Duomo (cathedral) in Catania is dedicated to her.
The last time DH and I visited the Duomo,
 the altar was banked by flowers in honor of St. Agatha.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Looking at her ... I would swear that Indy is boneless
the way she contorts herself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Check out the face!

This is over the main entrance to the Mother Church in Ferla.
I keyed in on the face at the bottom ... didn't even notice the one at the top.
Wish I knew the meaning is behind the emblem....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Good Friday, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows during the Good Friday procession in Ferla, Sicily.
DH and I hadn't seen this procession before.  It was quite impressive.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Such joy ....

Another in St Giuseppe's parade ....I love the joy on the man's face.
The first part of the parade is the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

And out like a lamb ....

Now the wildflowers are beginning to pop out ....

In like a lion ....

We had a freak storm last week ... flooding, roads washed out, power outages, stores closed the next day to recover from wind damages ...
this is our balony about 20 minutes after the storm hit Belpasso.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St Giuseppe parade - Scicli

St Joseph is one of the most important saints here in Sicily.  His saint day is March 17th.

Scicli in the southern part of the island has a fantastic parade every year.

The horses are decorated with huge or elaborate floral displays.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sailing ... sailing ... I think ...

A tropical storm went through last week ....
less than an hour earlier, I had driven through this intersection
 and there was only a couple inches of water.
  Now just about every car in the photo has died due to water intrusion.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fresh orange juice!

Freshly squeezed tarocco (related to blood oranges) juice!  Good stuff!

The first year I was stationed here before, DS was only 8 that year.  He strolled into the kitchen while I was squeezing orange juice and asked what I was doing.   I told him I was making orange juice.
Instant response ... "No you're not!. I know what orange juice looks like!!"
Took some convincing ... but he finally tried the juice .... and liked it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lessons learned

A friend recently reminded me of an experience she had with her ex-husband ... some people need a bit more time to learn some important lessons.   "M" okayed my sharing this with all of you.  Smiles!

"My ex drove me crazy. We had in our first apartment a laundry hamper in the corner, not along a wall, in a corner - this is important to visualize... because even grandma, if need be, could throw a clothing item in the general direction and "make the basket"... everyone could make the basket ... except my ex.

Well, since he was so lazy, he would leave his underwear on the side of the bed... not even try to "shoot". There they lay, day after day - and after much poking and prodding and praying he would just get his
dirty underwear in the basket, I realized something else had to be done, for I was just fed up that he could not get it thru his thick head.

At the time we were both teachers, he was at the high school and I was at an elementary.  My start time was about 2 hours after his.... I was able to get the laundry started, dinner started, house tidied, etc.

I had to figure out something to have him stop irritating me with this... so this is what happened.

I had to go to work (inservice workshop) one day super early, so I was out of the house before him. The inservice was being held at our school, not off site. About 1 hour into the session the secretary comes and gets me - there was a phone call from my husband. I tell her not now, take a message, if important, and I went back to the conference. Shortly after, she returned saying he needed to talk to me.  I was frustrated at that time and I excused myself and went to the office.

On the other end he was just livid... he could not find any of his underwear and he was running late to get to work. He inquired "Did you throw them out?" and I said no, that I had to get back to my meeting... and hung up.

No kidding... about 10 minutes later, she comes back and gets me... I slip out the back and answer the phone. He (who also had a temper) was so ticked at this time... I answer the phone and he asks "I have searched this place from one end to the other and can't find my underwear.. what did you do with them...'

I could tell he was "at the end of his rope" so I said.. you didn't search everywhere... because you would have found them... go check the freezer and don't call me again". I at this point waited in the office, because I knew that phone was going to ring and by now I have told the secretary what was going on. Sure enough.. the phone rang and she said... guess who.... and I answered.

With a screaming person on the other end... I got him to "shut up" long enough to explain. I asked him "How many times have I asked you to put your dirty underwear in the basket?   Since you find it necessary to leave them at your bedside day after day when I have asked nicely for you to pick them up and "make a basket" I decided to fix the problem."

I took my large 5 qt pan, fill it with water, and shoved each pair of his underwear in the pan, and shoved the pan in the freezer. Yes I did.

So he finds this pan, has to take it to the bathtub, start running hot water to break up the block of ice, get one pair "freed" and then wring them out... followed by standing there with my hair dryer to try to dry them so he can yet get to work on time.

He got them "close enough" in his mind... because he was now "super ticked" and running late.

He got dressed and flew out the door....

Only to get to work and have the school secretary there send him home... I guess close enough wasn't - especially when he work Khaki pants and he had the "I wet myself" look upon entering school!!

He never left his underwear on the floor ever again."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hello Birdie!

Magpie (bird) looking (and finding) bugs ... lots of bugs.
Magpies are super common  here and in southern Spain ...
Indy hates them ... they like to dive bomb her

Monday, February 6, 2012

Duck curls ...

Hard to believe DH had gotten a hair cut the day before ...
yup, the barber missed a sector.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Assume your position!

It gets a wee bit chilly in the apt ... especially with the snow level not too far above us.
DH  (of course, I do too, but not as much) spends quite a bit of time this way.

Sunrise on Groundhog Day

woke up really early this morning ... watched the sunrise while Indy drank bird-flavo​red water (from the bird bath)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's the Year of the Dragon!

Gong Xi Fa Ca!
It is the traditional greeting meaning “wishing you prosperity”

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you!

Have been putting together several dishes
 to enjoy for our Chinese dinner.

Store shelves during trucker strike

Cold shelves in a local store ... trucker strike is having quite an effect.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gas lines during trucker strike

A friend waiting for gas during this week's trucker's strike .... DH and I heard a rumor last night that a gas station (not the station in this picture) we go past most days got a delivery last night and was going to open at 7:00am this morning (he's normally not open on Sundays).  So we were up and on our way by 5:30am to sit outside his station and see if the rumor was true.  Another friend joined us in line ... and a few others that drove by joined the line as well.  It was TRUE!!  At 7am, he opened -- there were only about 5 cars in line at that point .. but everyone started calling to let others know gas was available.   The attendant said he got about 2000 liters of gasoline last night ... DH heard this afternoon that the station we gassed up was empty by 9am.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Another side of Indy ....

Indy doesn't cope well with loud noises ...
there were either thunder or fireworks outside ...
here she is burrowing into DH's side

pop ... fizz ... oh ... ah ...

The fireworks DH bought to welcome in New Year's ...
friends hosted a potluck and several guys brought fireworks to share. 
My favorites are the chrystanum ones.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Making Jalapeno Poppers

DH making jalenpeno poppers to take to a friend's for New Year's potluck and fireworks.