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la mia sorella


Summer is way too short in the great northern prairie.  You have to get out before the weather turns or the mosquitoes come out.  In addition to those timing issues, I started a great new job and we had a short but very welcome visit from one of my sisters and her husband who were in the states for a driving trip.  It was fun, but now I miss them very much and have lots of paperwork and housework to catch up on!  I wish they would come back and distract me again…

When the warm weather rolls in, I am thinking, I should say daydreaming about a long walk on a deserted beach…  But not this week.  Hopefully that can become a reality again one of these days.  For now, how  about some beach-y ear rings?

I am having an attack of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) due to the fact that I am not truly a hearty mid-westerner, though I have played one on TV for the past 24 years.  This cold is really getting to me and I need to snap out of it!  I was looking through photos from warmer days so I thought I would share this one from Labor day weekend 2010.  We usually go up to a friend’s cabin and there is lots of time to take walks in the woods, sit down by the lake on the dock etc…  and this year I did a series of these little nature portraits.  There was an abundance of great textures and I came back from a stroll with my pockets FULL.  The first time I made stuff like this was about 10 years ago when I was doing a “portrait a day”  inspired by an artist and teacher named Mimi Holmes.  We were selling work in a local shop and this (project a day or week) was an idea she used with her students.  About a year later I decided to do a self portrait a day for a year and when I was on vacation in Jamaica, I made some portraits from things I found on the beach and photographed them.  Ever since then I have been doing them with stuff I find in the yard or wherever.  My friend Elsa Mora did a book of amazing flower people a couple years ago, check it out, all of her work is spectacular.    It may be time for me to do another project a day to re-focus and get my mind off this weather induced slump because we still have a few more months of winter!  Anyhow, stay warm and keep working, I will do the same.

If food is your first love, this one might be for you, and for those of you in the “I don’t really care what you ate for lunch” camp, just skip over it and FORGIVE ME, please..  No surprise, we had a few stand-out meals along the strada.  One was pictured in an earlier post on Positano.  Until I ate a lemon from the Amalfi coast, I didn’t really understand that kind of flavor!  Some unfortunately we ate before we thought to take a photo of (sorry…it happens).  But here are a few of the notable ones for those of you who asked…

Panna cotta at Di Cecco in Asissi










This caramel drizzle was so dark I thought it was chocolate and almost sent it back.  So glad I didn’t!

Pasta with lemon creme and scampi in Anacapri.










Simple, lemony and the texture of that fresh pasta…perfection.








If you ever find yourself in Sorrento EAT HERE at Inn Bufalito.  Slow, local, seasonal food at its finest.  Thank you Lonely Planet.  Fresh focaccia, pecorino romano, water buffalo sausage and peperoni, artichoke hearts, garlicky greens and a slice of ricotta salata with arugula.  Really, we could have stopped there but no…

Fusilli con zucca e salsiccia at Inn Bufalito

Pacchero al ragu di Bufalo.



















Yup, meat of the water buffalo, the one that gave us the really good mozzarella, slowly cooked in tomato sauce with a little slab of ricotta salata.  Sooooooo good!

The strangest food place yet...










OK, just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.  No we didn’t try it! This is in Rome, who ever would have guessed?

Me and Lou. Saturday we took the boat from Sorrento to Positano.  It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place where we had a wonderful meal, wine and conversation topped off by the spectacular view and quite a few laughs.  One of our classmates joined us, she is from the Toronto area and we have been having a great time.  The restaurant seating was actually across the street from the actual restaurant along the sidewalk and up against the railing overlooking the sea!  It was a perfect day.  The boat back to Sorrento took us much closer to the coastline than on the way there and I am thankful for digital photography because really, who could afford enough film to capture it.  I have taken WAY too many photos but it is hard to stop.  Every time you think you are done you see something more beautiful.  When I went to upload my pics to flickr it told me I have exceeded my monthly limit!  All this beauty is almost overstimulating!

Sorrento Lingue garden view.

Sorrento Lingue, Mount Vesuvius view from classroom window.

Tomorrow is our last day of language classes and then we will have a few days of sightseeing.  My bathing suit has disappeared from the clothes line, hopefully someone grabbed it accidentally and it will re-appear or I will be swimming in Positano in my underwear.  I realise that none of you will have he least bit of sympathy for my plight, just rest assured, there will be NO pictures if I do!  A couple more shots from out the windows at Sorrento Lingue…

Here is how the shops in Norcia, who all sell pork and truffle products distinguish themselves…

Norcia, Umbria

Hunters beware...

Wild boar piglet, chingalini?

Apparently huge things are not just a mid-western fascination.  Here in San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo province, Italy there is a festa going on.  It is a celebration of many things, food predominantly, all kinds of local salamis, porchetta, paninni, local cheeses, cookies, nuts as well as handmade items, antiques, some general flea market stuff, a small midway with cotton candy and bumper cars.  Amidst it all there are a few big things I thought you would enjoy seeing.  Oh yeah, the religious reason for this celebration is so people can ask forgiveness for their sins…gluttony perhaps???   Check out a couple more photos of BIG stuff on my flickr.  Buonanotte!!!

I studenti rode the train to Florence the other afternoon accompanied by Oracio, the father of one of the insegnante from our school.  He is a lovely and knowledgeable gentleman and speaks no English at all so we really wanted to pay attention when he talked.  We took a bus up to piazzale Michaelangelo and enjoyed the amazing panorama of the city.  On the bus ride up to the piazza, the Transportation cops boarded and started checking tickets.  One of the women in our group had forgotten (italian word for forget…dimenticare) to validate her ticket upon boarding.  The cops were about to write her a ticket when Oracio came to the rescue and though it took him about five minutes of discussion, (lots of hand gestures and head shaking) he talked them down.  It would have been a very expensive mistake but, buona fortuna, it all ended well and gave us a truly Italian experience.  Our next stop was a walk up the hill to Basilica de San Miniato where I sketched this little gargoyle, he is much cuter than his pict’cha!  I just couldn’t get a good photo in the bright sunlight…such a problem!

We have been working on adjectives in class and playing games to learn them.  In a group of people from Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Japan, England, Canada, and the states whose common language is one they are barely familiar with it can get pretty funny.  We have a good range in age which also adds to the contextual confusion, 20 to 65.  We are learning a lot but man, I wish I had learned this in a bi-lingual home!  Studying is not as easy as it used to be.  Some of the people are so nice, some learning Italian for pleasure, some for work, some for the mental challenge, all of them interesting.  Attached is a photo of my most serious compadres!  Buonanotte, Marianna.

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January 2022