Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
So each year, about 20 of us make some kind of dessert . I have been involved for the past five or six years and, since I'm not a brilliant dessert maker, I prepare my usual standby, a ricotta cheesecake. I find a cheesecake made totally from cream cheese to be too heavy and I much prefer the lighter texture of ricotta, however I do add one block of cream cheese to give it a little firmness.
I'm giving you a little rest from the Italian posts, although, as we all know, ricotta is originally Italian. When I first used to make this recipe it was difficult to find ricotta cheese, but now it's in every supermarket.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
When my daughter was married, in 1996, Grazia bought her a beautiful decorative wall plate which had two hands entwined, from Faenza. She said it was a plate designed especially as a wedding present.
Of course we did go to the Uffizi, the Accademia, the Ponte Vecchio and the Pitti Palace with the Boboli Gardens, but I won't bore you with the details.
We also went up to Fiesole to look around and found a beautiful first century AD roman theatre where they were doing the preparatory work for the staging of a play. We sat in the terraced stone seats and watched and enjoyed the view of the surrounding hills.
The next time we came to Italy was 1984, when we introduced our 17 year old daughter to its charms, not knowing that 12 years later, she would marry an Italian.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
While there I visited all the sites, mostly churches, including the one above which is the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of San Luca, with its famous 13th century Byzantine painting, the Black Madonna. This church is on a hill and you can see it from almost any part of Bologna. The wonderful covered walkway, with 666 arches running for 3.6 km, starts in the town and goes all the way to the Sanctuary. Supposedly the devout pilgrims ascended on their knees, stopping to pray at each of the Stations of the Cross depicted on the walls of the walkway. However, I decided to walk it instead.
Bologna is well known for many things but probably the unique thing about the city is the porticoes (or portici), which run for 36 km and make it possible to walk about the city sheltered from rain or sun or snow. It is recognized as having the the oldest university in Europe and for that it is called la Dotta, the Learned. In academic processions, the faculty always walk in order of the foundation of the university from where they graduated, so Bologna graduates always walk ahead of Paris, Oxford or Cambridge graduates, although they are relegated to second place by any Cairo graduates. For its renowned cuisine it is called La Grassa, the Fat, which I cannot attest to, since we always ate dinner with our friends and are not allowed to go to restaurants, because they think they are too expensive. Because of its left wing, actually communist, government it is sometimes called La Rossa, the Red and our friend Carlo was a member of the Communist Party of Italy, which many Italians were, but he has moved more to the centre over the years.
Carlo may live in Bologna but he is from Siena and still considers himself Sienese, even after so many years in Bologna. So we went with them to Siena to meet his parents and to attend the Palio. Siena is divided into 17 contrade or districts and a famous horse race, competing for the Palio banner, has been run in the square, the Piazza del Campo, once on July 2nd and once on August 16th, since 1656. Each contrada is represented by a horse ridden bareback, although there is only enough room for 10 horses to race safely so there is a draw for a place. The horse can win even if he completes the race without a jockey and it is a very rough and ready race with a lot of injuries to horses and jockies. Each horse is taken to the church in the contrada to be blessed before the race and if the horse drops manure in the church, it is a very lucky sign.
Carlo and his father belong to the contrada represented by Istrice, the Porcupine, while his mother is a Montone or Ram. Carlo had arranged for us to watch the race from a balcony over the square. Although we went to the blessing in the church the day before, unfortunately it rained on race day and with the danger being too great in the rain, the race was postponed. We had arranged to go to Pisa to stay with friends on sabbatical there, so we had to leave and did not see the Palio race run a day later. However we have attended the race since then, but only with the huge crowds in the square.
There is a spectacular parade before the race with the participants in colourful medieval dress and special flag waving displays. Carlo's father played the chiarina, a special long trumpet with a flag hanging down, and dressed in costume he accompanied the Palio, which is the painted banner, on it's special wagon in the parade. He participated in every Palio for more than 50 years, well into his late seventies, and received a citation from the city for his efforts.
Mario and Caterina, Carlo's parents, always showed us great hospitality when we went to Siena, as we did on other occasions as well. He would always run to his cellar to get special wine which he bought in big flagons directly from the vintner and rebottled himself. On one occasion I took a photo of the table. There were eleven different bottles of wine which he had opened and not for me, because I am astemia, teetotal, but my husband enjoyed the special wines. Sadly, now in his nineties, he suffers from Alzheimer's disease and Caterina, his delightful wife, passed away in her late eighties, after a fall, just before last Christmas.
So once again, I had returned to Italy. Before I took this trip, I had taken a three-month intensive Italian course. So this time I could communicate a little, with what I called my "hotel-shopping" Italian. Italians appreciate it when you speak Italian, no matter how badly.
Next time, a little vignette of a scientific trip to Bologna and my first visit to Florence.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Finally, we reached Rome, which has always been for me one of the best cities in the world. When I was in university I had converted to Catholicism, so to go to the centre of my religion was an unbelievable experience. To see all the wonderful churches, St Peter's, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, St Paul's outside the Walls, was a joy for me. All this was capped by seeing Pope John XXXIII, probably the most popular pope, give the noon papal blessing at the window above the square at St Peter's .
But added to this, was the opportunity to see the Forum, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Temples and all the remnants of Ancient Rome that I had learned so much about, when I studied the Latin. The visit to rome became for me one of the most enchanting experiences of my life.
This really is me, 46 years ago, inside the Colosseum.
We camped near the Olympic Stadium, site of the Summer Olympics the year before, in 1960. I remember visiting the Spanish Steps and the Fontana di Trevi and buying a pair of Italian sandals nearby. Of course, I tossed a coin into the fountain and it worked because I did return to Rome.
But how can I not mention the people of Italy who seemed to me the most friendly people that I had ever met, despite the language barrier? A noisy people, a fun-loving people, a sociable people.
And so began my love affair with Italy. It was not to be renewed for quite a few years but I never forgot that first visit to Italy. I always wanted to return and finally I did. In fact, I've probably made at least 8 or 9 visits to Italy, including three when I've attended language school at various centres. But all that is for another day. Please come back again for a further episode.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
But, you say, what is your interest in Alzheimer's disease? Well for the past twenty years I have acted as "next of kin" for a widower friend who has no relatives at all. His wife was one of my best friends and when she died of a brain tumour he said, sadly, to me, "I have no one's name to put in my wallet." I told him that he was to put my name there. So, besides making him part of our family, over the years I've been called several times to the emergency room or to the hospital when he has been there for one reason or another and I have been his "next of kin".
About seven years ago, although he had been concealing it very well, it was obvious that he was having severe memory problems and finally he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Legal documents were drawn up and I became his "next of kin" or representative, with power over his bank accounts and health and welfare decisions, and with a trust company handling his major finances. I also promised that I would keep him at home as long as possible. As he declined, I hired caregivers part time, then full time and basically, for four years, I was running two households. Finally, after a stint in hospital for a medical condition, it was obvious that he would receive more stimulation and company and be better cared for in a facility. So I found a very exclusive private nursing home, with a wonderful program for the cognitively impaired and he transitioned there easily and lived there quite happily for almost two years. Unfortunately he broke his hip and was taken to the hospital, where, after surgery, he was compelled to use a wheelchair. The private home, an intermediate care facility, could not take him back since he could not weight bear and I transferred him to the extended care facility at the hospital where I worked for so many years.
This has been the saddest journey for me. To see this man, who was a professor of Pharmacy at the university, decline so completely over these past seven years has been tragic. His world is so narrow now: he can't read or watch TV. He no longer has any interest in music, which was his greatest pleasure. He spends his days propelling himself around in his wheelchair, using his feet. He is 83 years of age but, although he has arthritis, all his vital organs function extremely well for his age. Although there is no physical reason why he cannot walk, he has forgotten how and now he has become too weak to do so. How soon is he going to forget how to eat, how to swallow? He has to be fed, for he is no longer able to do this for himself.
I am very fortunate in that I still know people at the hospital from my working days there, so they go the extra mile for him. Although he normally has the sweetest disposition, he is very combative with the aides when they do his personal care and he also swears at them a lot during this process. Fortunately they are very understanding. The other day, when I went to see him, he wheeled right past me, even when I spoke to him. He doesn't know who I am. This was the first time that this had happened. He has long forgotten my name, although we have been friends for 46 years. But he always knew that he knew me and gave me a big smile. Funnily enough, he is still relatively articulate, although what he says makes no sense.
Every time I can't remember something, I worry that maybe I am developing Alzheimer's disease and it makes me afraid. People toss the phrase around jokingly, "I must be getting Alzheimer's." But if you have a close personal relationship with anyone who has it, you do not joke about it. You have seen first hand the devastation that this disease causes and it is no joking matter.
I said to my husband the other day, if I get Alzheimer's I'm not going to be like my friend, with a pleasant disposition on the whole. I'm going to be a cranky, cantankerous, difficult patient. You know, I fear that might be true and that nobody will want to care for me.
Cathy at Cathy's Rants and Ramblin's lost her mother to Alzheimer's five years ago and has posted a round on everything about Alzheimer's disease.
I hope that someday this disease will be conquered for, in truth, it is one that you would not wish on your worst enemy.
Friday, March 23, 2007
This is Duso's , maker of fresh pasta and purveyor of Italian fine cheeses and foods
How about these yummy cakes and pastries, a little fuzzy from the reflection of the glass
Thursday, March 22, 2007
You see my twin was born in Macao and she's Chinese and she's very tiny and I'm quite a bit taller. Oh, and Caucasian too, and born in Australia.
I met her in the Thursday Walking Group, about nine years ago and we became friends apart from the group. So we go out to lunch now and then and sometimes go to Chinatown to check out things Chinese and have Dim Sum and generally we like being in each other's company.
In 2005, I told everyone I was officially a "little old lady" since I was turning 70.
She said: "Me, too."
I said: " What, you can't be 70, your husband is still working."
She said: "He's 7 years younger than me."
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I'd like to make a few comments on this editor:
I can't see any option to change the date of posting which I use all the time in Blogger.
I could see no way to edit the post after it is published, which I also sometimes do to make a correction.
There is no spell check that I can see.
So Scan Man, if you drop by, do you have any answers?
Regular programming will resume sooner or later, in the Blogger format for now.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
- Write well.
- Say something.
- Mix it up.
Now how do I stack up against the Dino rules:
- Write well---Dino's rule 1 is clarified to be about grammar, spelling and proofreading and I think I conform pretty well there. Maybe dull, but grammatically correct on the whole.
- Say something--Well I might think I have something to say, but you might not agree. I'd like to think some of the posts have been interesting to someone.
- Mix it up--I definitely have done that, my posts are all over the ship, but mostly things connected to me. But Dino would like one to vary the tone, he says: serious; funny; strident; indignant; whiney. That I haven't done. I think my tone is mostly detached with sometimes a light touch of humour. I think that's who I want to be on the blog. Yes, in person, I'm strident, indignant, whiney. But not here. Yet.
Update: When I posted this in Scribefire it was a disaster. So luckily I did copy this to Blogger which I have now used to post this. I will post a separate criticism of Scribefire which everyone uninterested can skip. Note the change in font size and spacing. How frustrating!
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Finally, when I convinced A to buy a new desktop computer, I moved into Windows XP and an iPod became possible. The hard drive minis were being phased out due to the arrival of the flash memory iPods, so I quickly snapped up a 6GB silver mini, just like the one shown here. I could not believe how superb iTunes was and so easy to use. After a 512mb it seemed I would never fill the 6 Gig, but after a conversation with a young student in my Italian class I discovered podcasts. What a revelation. In no time flat, I had half filled my mini with podcasts, the other half with music and I had run out of space.
Those podcasts are insidious. Once you subscribe to a few they keep downloading new stuff every day into your computer and your iPod is full before you can turn around! So I had to get much more selective and unsubscribe from three quarters of the places which were streaming files daily into my computer. Finally I am down to a couple now.
Of course being the book person that I am, I had to get one or two from the library, eventually buying iPod and iTunes for Dummies. In the library catalogue I noticed one called iPod, therefore I am by Dylan Jones. Assuming it was a how-to book I placed it on hold. When it arrived I found it to be an entirely different kettle of fish
Dylan Jones, now the editor of British GQ magazine and a former music journalist, has a huge collection of albums, audio tapes, CDs. He became totally addicted to his iPod and in this book he alternates chapters of his own iPod experiences with chapters on the Apple story and the development of the iPod.
He made me realize what an important and revolutionary advance the invention of the iPod has been, changing completely the way we deal with music; the way we play it, own it, store it, buy it, download it. And all this has happened in a short time, since 2001, when the first iPods "rolled off the assembly line".
Look around you. People of all ages are hooked up to a music player. Everyone, wherever they are, can enjoy music or the spoken word, for let's not forget audio books or podcasts. Walking, jogging, on the bus or train, in their car, at the gym. But not only do they have iPods, they have all the accessories that you can imagine. The accessory industry built around the iPod is huge: holders, skins and cases, remotes, earphones, docks, chargers, speakers, clock radios, accessories for the car. You name it, someone has thought of it for the iPod.
I came late to the iPod party, but like Dylan Jones, I love mine. When you are my age, things do not excite you so much. But I am excited about my iPod. After my laptop, it's the toy I love best of all. If you have the computer capability and love music, do yourself a favour and buy one. I guarantee you won't regret it.
Cathy's life has taken a different direction for the moment and she has postponed the round until Sunday March 25th so I shall keep my post until then.
In the meantime please enjoy this beautiful image of Forget me nots, the symbol of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, borrowed from the cheapseeds.com site. Regular programming will resume tomorrow.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
|You torture me with distance.|
Beyond my touch,
Except for your voice
And my petulant whine.
Do you want me
As much as I desire you?
Or do you play my heart
With mock intention
Tell me the truth, Precious
With your beautiful eyes,
Or tell me a lie
That will not break my soul
For the sake of my crazy love
Over you :*
Friday, March 16, 2007
This is an unusual blog meme that was born here and there are some simple rules.
- If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
- Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme
- Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).
1. Dr Dork (who is passing his medical and non medical wisdom to his readers, along with his wonderful poetry)
2. Dr Sid Schwab ( who is passing his surgical wisdom to doctors and patients with wonder and with some exceptional writing skills)
3. Dr Michelle Tempest (who makes us think about the human condition with her thought- provoking daily posts)
4. Karen Ventii ( a young scientist who elucidates for her readers current and interesting scientific news which affects people's lives)
5. ipanema ( a young woman who gathers articles from all over and writes thought-provokingly about the content, mixed with her own whimsical thinking posts)
Congratulations Winners. Please pass this on to other ‘deserving bloggers’ . Should you choose to accept this mission or not, no matter. But in my opinion each of you deserve the Thinking Blogger Award much more than I.
unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a blog.”
(The original quote by Edward Gibbon uses ‘book’ instead of ‘blog’)
Thank you Scan Man and I apologize for cannibalizing your post with my copy and paste sword in order to make mine and for pinching the quote as well. I had to take the gold version of the button whether it matches my blog or not because I always wanted a gold medal for something.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
As we start our walk, we pass by a wonderful marina, with some gorgeous boats: some sail, others powerboats. Even a few fishing schooners. Beyond Granville Island we walk past some attractive condominium buildings which have wonderful gardens, bordering the walk. So there is always something to see for the person who is interested in plants.
I apologize for the spacing which looks fine in the preview. I will think on it and hopefully solve the problem. I'll probably have to mess around with the html again!
So how does he get his cricket fix these days? Why via the computer, from Cricinfo, home of Cricket on the Internet, with live scores and ball by ball coverage. Not video you understand, just words on the screen, refreshing every 60 seconds! To get full video coverage you have to pay $200 for the series and he's too cheap to do that. I told him he was crazy, he should just pay the money. But I think he worries that he'd just sit in front of the computer all day long so that he'd get his money's worth.
When we were at the gym this morning, an Indian lady, who works out there, was telling him that her father was watching the games on Satellite TV, with all his old pals. So I had to listen to him complaining all the way home, because we have cable TV instead of Satellite. Luckily BBC World TV has a fifteen minute coverage every day, so he watches that and he constantly emails his brother in Australia and all they discuss is the cricket, which he is lucky enough to see on TV.
Oh well, it only goes on for another six weeks and we are rooting for the Aussies to pull off an unprecedented third victory in a row. Go Aussies, go!
The two photos above are the Australian team in action and with the World Cup, from the cricket.com.au website.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
But let me tell you something amusing. My husband has the same size foot as I do. It's not that I have a large foot, but that he has a small foot. Size 6 1/2, except you can't buy those here, so he wears size 7, with thick socks. I sport ladies size 9 = mens size 7. Normally the differences between ladies' and men's shoes are enough to distinguish mine from his but with walking shoes, no way José. The walking shoes are stored in the laundry, which is also our mudroom and usually they are lying about drying, well not all seven pairs, just the current ones. He only has one pair of walking shoes, so he never confuses his with mine but I have been known to wear his on occasion and he's left searching the house and wondering what the heck he did with his shoes. Those black New Balance all look alike, well to me apparently.
I guess I really should throw some shoes out, or not buy any more, or something. Maybe I should move. I mean really how can one have a fetish for sensible shoes? It's just not natural!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The novel shows how the lives of the rich and the poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and vividly captures how the bonds of womanhood are pitted against the divisions of class and culture.
Monday, March 12, 2007
The bagpiper is Jimmy Mitchell, from Texas, who plays Amazing Grace at funerals.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
I found this over at ipanema's site and decided to try it. She must have lots of readers because the site was too slow so I gave up. Next I saw it at Cathy's on the sidebar so decided to give it another go. This time I was successful. I rather liked my profile elucidated from the choice of photos that I picked. However, I have to say that often there was no choice that suited me, eg. no tea in the drink category so I went with milk. Well I do drink milk, but it was just my choice because the rest of them were even less appropriate. Oh no, I think the cup and saucer is tea but I can't see how to edit the profile over at the site. I don't think shopping is my vice but nothing else suited, I didn't want to use chocolate again! Besides I don't dare have it in the house. Chocolate, that is.
Well you can go over and give it a whirl. See what you think.
Friday, March 9, 2007
The scholastic offerings were very good for the day: English, French, German, Latin, History, Geography, Science, Biology, Mathematics. The subjects were very academic, with Art and Music classes for the cultural side. All the teachers were women and the whole program seemed to be designed to herd the students toward Teachers' Training College. Guidance counselling consisted of an annual meeting between counsellor (the teachers' other roll) and student, with the counsellor's idea of the successful woman of the future being a teacher. Now I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew for sure that I didn't want to be a teacher.
In my day, there were about 450 students and I think most of us enjoyed the years we spent there and we were very proud to be St Georgians.
But I'm sure, with no exceptions, that we all hated the school uniform. The school didn't have a summer uniform then and you must remember that this was Sydney, Australia. A very hot place indeed for long periods of the school year. So the uniform: a navy, pleated wool serge, sleeveless, belted tunic over a long-sleeved white blouse; red and white striped tie; for winter, a navy blazer with emblem on pocket (reproduced right); long black lisle stockings; black laced-up shoes; navy velour hat in winter replaced by panama hat in summer; black gloves. The uniform had to be complete at all times off the school grounds, which we could not leave from the time we arrived until the time we left after school. In first year, the twelve year olds could wear white sox, but after that, the black stockings were de riguer. Quite regularly we had uniform parades when we lined up and the teachers and the prefects checked that we were correctly attired and that we wore no colourless nail polish or rings.
But the gym uniform really took the prize. Made of thick navy cotton, it was similar to the serge tunic, that is pleated and belted but with short sleeves, for modesty no doubt. And separate navy bloomers, same thick navy cotton. It was ghastly. Every student belonged to one of four houses for competitive sports, each with a distinct colour which we wore as a stripe on the gym uniform. I belonged to Allunga house, with a yellow stripe. These gym uniforms were usually stuffed in our lockers and probably only taken home to wash at the end of the school year. Oh, pew! Luckily, for the last two years, I was on the tennis team so I got to skip gym and to practise tennis instead.
Just like any other school, then or now, the periods were marked by bells. But before school, at the bell, we lined up, by class, in the courtyard and marched into school in single file, overseen by the prefects. Just like kindergarten children or boot camp!
Well, somehow, we all survived and yes, 90 per cent of my fellow graduates became teachers. No, I wasn't one of them. After a couple of years working, I went to Sydney University to do Pharmacy and so escaped the teacher corral.
I still keep in touch with several friends from my school years and in 1998 I went to Australia for the fiftieth reunion of our class. In our school, reunions are counted from the year you came together as a class, not the graduation year. Next year is the 60th reunion of my class. Hopefully I'll be able to attend that. I wonder how many are left of the ninety who finished their high school education in 1952 at St George Girls' High School, which celebrated its ninetieth anniversary last year.
The young lady above left is the Head Girl of the Narrogin Senior High School in Western Australia. Substitute a red and white striped tie, a red and white emblem on her blazer and add a hat, then she is wearing a uniform similar to the one I once wore for my School Days.