Friday, November 29, 2013


My first year to live in Italy, (around 1999) working for the US Department of Defense on an Air Force Base, away from friends and family in the states a couple of male friends and I decided to have our own Thanksgiving meal. I was still getting well from an injury that caused ‘severed nerves and tendons in my right hand’ so, due to this injury- I wasn’t able to lift heavy things or do as much ‘cooking/stirring/etc.’ that I usually would be able to. One friend said that he’d bake the turkey at home and bring it to my house and then we’d assemble the rest of the meal at my house.

I had baked a couple of pies: Pecan and Pumpkin.

I had made green beans and the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. (I’m from the south) I had also assembled the cornbread stuffing. They had to do any stirring and lift the pans and put them in/out of the oven. My oven was tiny- so, we were cooking the foods in shifts.

I asked them if they wanted regular mashed potatoes too and they did. We did always serve both types when I was growing up.
So, off we go to the local small Italian grocery store, less than 2 blocks away, to pick up some regular white potatoes. This was in 1999 and at this little store, you weren’t allowed to ‘touch’ or pick out your own produce. You had to point or tell them what you wanted and they (the produce guy) selected and bagged up your items. We pointed to the regular potatoes that had lots of dirt on the skins and he bagged them up for us.

Off we walk back home and we send my friend’s visiting ‘and non-cooking’ friend to the little balcony off my kitchen, to peel the potatoes, since my kitchen was too small for 3 people to work in it. His friend peeled the potatoes and then mentioned how dirty they looked. We told him that it was probably because he didn’t wash them first and remember that they did have a lot of dirt on the skins of the potatoes. So, he brought them into the kitchen washed them really well under the running water and we told him to put some clean water in the pot to cook the chunks of potatoes.

After about 25 minutes… the potatoes were done. We told him to drain the water and to add some butter and milk to the potatoes and mash them up. My friend, told him to just pour the water out in the sink and to rinse the potatoes before he added the butter and milk. My friend told me that his friend really didn’t know anything about cooking and that this was a big step for him to be helping with the meal. So, my friend and I continued putting together our meal as we cooked the items almost one by one due to my tiny oven.

We set out our feast, carved the turkey, filled out plates with food… and then for the first time … we noticed that the ‘regular mashed potatoes’ were GREY IN COLOR… like a very dirty white sock that has been worn outside in the dirt and won’t ever come clean. Like they had been cooked and sitting in mop water. We again questioned my friend’s friend to make sure that he had washed the potatoes before he cooked them and again he told us that he had.

They did not look appealing or appetizing at all. No one was brave enough to try them. I finally tasted them. They were some sort of sweet potatoes. So, not only did we not get our mashed potatoes (I had also made some homemade gravy for the ‘expected mashed potatoes.’) but, we had two types of sweet potatoes:
Orange Sweet potatoes with melted browned marshmallows on the top and…

We laughed so much that day at our ‘very ugly’ dirty, but tasty, potatoes.

I always remember that meal that was made fun by a new and very casual friend and his visiting friend… a meal that I would not have been able to prepare alone due to my injury and without each other… that none of us would have had a Thanksgiving meal at all. And, especially not one as full of laughter as that particular meal was that day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday... (not rainy at least not right now)

I cancelled my physical therapy session today after school- or at least I had the school secretary call and cancel for me.  I don't know enough Italian to be able to cancel anything on the phone.   I stayed at school and worked until after 6pm.  I got there about 6:30am this morning.   Yes, a long day it was.   I had a lot of things to do at school.   When you teach second graders there is very little that you can do while the students are in the classroom.   I decided that since it was after 6pm- that I would stop at one of the really good pizza places, that I haven't been to since my return from the states, on my way home.   MONDAY = CLOSED  = NO PIZZA

NO PIZZA   I am sad.  I really wanted the one with the great HAM that he had made for me once before.  I knew that I could find it on the menu- even if there are over 70 different types of pizzas on the menu.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Another rainy day... but, I like rain better than the endless never melting 6 month long snow of Germany...

  1.   Not much is going on in my life- thus nothing to write about.  I am just trying to make it through the days and get everything done.  I try to go to work a couple of hours early so that I can do some things before the children come to school at 8am.  I leave after work and go to physical therapy for 3 hours and I get home with about an hour to an hour and 30 minutes before it is bedtime... to just do it all over again.   My knee still hurts A LOT!   I know it is because, I'm standing on it too much, doing too much.. but, hey.. no choice when you live alone and are the only one working.  
  1. I'm out of sick leave and was already out of sick leave and not being paid when I got back to Italy-- so, I really don't have a choice.   It's the way life is sometimes.   That's when being a grown-up isn't always as much fun as you thought it looked like when you were a kid.    No time for knitting.  (Oh, I see that my blogger is going to do the 'you can't make paragraphs' hissy fit again?   Please forgive me for the 'run together' sentences- I can't do anything about it.)  
  3. I go off base to an Italian physical therapy place.  It's interesting the differences between the place that I went to in the states and here.  Some things are the same and in some ways they 'baby' you way more here.  I was surprised about that.  My knee is able to be 'straight' much more than it was a month ago.  I'm proud of that.  I can now walk 'up' stairs in a normal way.  Going downstairs is still done the way that little kids do it- with the same foot leading on each step.  It's not safe any other way at this point.  It will come in time though.   I had no idea that a 'knee replacement' changed things this much.   It's been a learning experience.  I am looking forward to being able to 'walk' at my normal pace again.  I was not a slow rambling walker.
  4. Ok, it seems that I can at least 'number' my paragraphs (to a degree) and that at least can break up the sentences making it easier to read.
  6. I did buy some new yarn the other day.   Yes, the person who went a month in 'no pay' status... bought new yarn.   Sigh.   Oh well, I haven't bought anything since I got back except for:  food, gasoline, and paying for my physical therapy sessions.
  8. A question for you.  Do you mostly like rainy days?  Or do rainy days make you remember sad times?  Or Make you wish that you had other things to do?  I sometimes think that 'everyone else' has all of these wonderful home moments... you know like on the commercials... putting puzzles together around the fireplace, wrapped in afghans, laughing/joking with each other, smiles across the room, and drinking hot chocolate with their nearest and dearest around them.   The truth is... there is probably either people at home alone (like me) with house cleaning and laundry that needs to be done or in a house full of people... with loud tv's blaring from the other room, kids throwing toys at each other, people wrapped in their own thoughts... wishing that they also had something fun to do -- just like me. 
What songs do you like to listen to on rainy days? 

Here's one you might not have ever heard.  I found this song (album:  Face Up in the Rain) when I was living in the Philippines in 1990.  I saw the CD and read the song titles and bought it-- having never have heard this guy's name.   I was quite pleased with my 'mystery' album/cd.   The guy had a nice voice and wrote this song and many others on the CD.  His name is:  Michael Tomlinson

Here are the song lyrics and I'll try to find a youtube video of the song.  If you go to this website you can hear the song:  (click on the listen button)
I've Got Dreams (name of song)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The foods of Italy

I haven't been out to eat since I returned to Italy.  I think it is time.  I'm hungry for pizza too.

This is a photo of fresh spider crab pasta.  I got this in June when my friend was here visiting before I went to the states. 

I don't know what they do to make the green beans taste so good- but they do!