I intend to tell you all about the Sicilian hospital experience in a subsequent post but in the meantime I thought you'd like to see this quince marmellata which my friend Gina made and was kind enough to bring to me there. She picked 30 kilos of quinces from her tree last weekend so there is plenty more, she says. This marmellata is of a different consistency to the cotognata [quince paste] that I have shown you before; although it is, as you see, made in moulds, it is spreadable. Both preserves are delicious.
My mummy's been in that hospital kennel across the road, you know. She says it was OK but I don't think it can be a very nice kennel as they wouldn't allow me in! Now, I ask you, what trouble would I have been?! I could have kept everyone in order for them, warmed people's beds while they were off having tests and cheered them up by sitting on their heads.
Never mind: I had quite a pleasant time at my friend Mr Enzo's doggie hotel and I got my usual beauty treatment before I came home. Don't I look pretty? I must take my mummy there so they can do the same for her.
I'm off to read what my pal George has been up to while I've been away - I hope he hasn't let the side down by being obedient or anything! - and then I must look after mummy. She sends love and hopes to be back blogging tomorrow.
Meanwhile, lots of love, kissies, wags and woofs to you all from Simi xxxx
Friends are rallying around and I have been doing very well for lunch invitations, I must say! It is really thoughtful of them all and I appreciate it.
Today Irma made her lumaconi [snail-shaped pasta] stuffed with ricotta, basil and parmesan. The pasta was cooked, in the oven, in a tomato sauce flavoured with pork. The contorno was the pretty salad with fruit.
Then Irma crushed some almonds in the time-honoured way and sprinkled them over gel alla cannella [cinnamon gel].
Most of you will know that I don't often do memes, but I liked this one from nunyaa's site:
The Ageing Meme
At a certain age women should: realise they are fantastic! When I was young, a woman of 50 - 60 was regarded as "old" and often looked and dressed as if this was the case. Now no holds bar us!
At a certain age men should: appreciate fantastic, "real" women and stop going after bimbos!
When I was a kid I thought I would: lead a conventional life.
Now that I'm older I wish: that I had credited my parents with actually knowing something!
You know you are too old to party when: you'd rather put your slippers than your stilettos on; never leave off the lippy, though!
You know you are too young to retire when: you use the internet more than your students.
When I was in high school I listened to the music of [please appreciate here that the UK high school phase is a long one, as you are normally in the same school from when you are 11 to when you are 16 or 18]: Shirley Bassey; Helen Shapiro; Cliff Richard; Elvis; The Beatles; The Searchers; Cilla Black; Tom Jones; the Walker Bros; Dusty Springfield; Mary Hopkin; Engelbert Humperdink [to name but a few and I still have all the vinyl, too!]
On my last birthday I: had a wonderful meal with friends.
On my next birthday I want to: do the same!
The best birthday present I ever got was: my watch, on my 21st, from my Dad. I still wear it.
The first time I felt grown up was: when I wore my first long evening dress.
The last time I felt like a kid was: I always do!
When I read:The Second Sex[de Beauvoir] and The Last of the Just[André Schwarz-Bart] they changed my life, the first because, despite its faults and omissions, which are many, it charts, through history, the ambiguity with which all women struggle and the second because it shows how pernicious racism can be.
Last year was: interesting, challenging and full of new friendships and experiences.
The first thing I noticed as I went out with Simi this morning was how comparatively quiet the streets were and then I remembered why: no students were heading for their schools as today the schools have been on strike all over Italy, in protest against certain cuts and unpopular reforms proposed by the Education Minister. There have been demonstrations everywhere. Probably the most hated of these reforms is the idea of pupils having the same teacher for all subjects in elementary school [at the present time they have subject specialist teachers in most curriculum areas]. I must say that I do admire the way Italian students can mobilise themselves, along with the fact that they care and are politically aware enough to do so.
I am still not well, but have been getting to work and my wonderfully kind friends here are helping a lot. One has run me around everywhere for the past 2 days. Yesterday, I was unable to get over to the Altro Posto from work, but the same friend went over to get me a drink and a sandwich and returned with a lovely fresh fruit salad as well - compliments of the manager. That thoughtfulness cheered me up no end.
Today I did, with some difficulty [for my walking is affected] manage to reach my favourite bar at lunchtime and they made me this especially pretty dish of fruit and ice cream to gladden my heart - and my appetite - during this difficult period.
Blognote: please bear with me regarding blog visiting at present. Hope to be back to normal soon!
I was tackling the knotty problem of saying and writing dates in English with a group this afternoon and quite complicated that can be, you know, what with our st / nd /rd abbreviations, which are often said but not written , the ofs and thes which are said but not written and then the fact that North Americans put the month first , so that the term “9/11” was at first a puzzle to most Brits, as to us it meant the 9th November. [Now that date, in its infamy, as I’m sure a former President would have put it, is known to us all as it is to Americans, of course.]
Towards the end of the session, I asked students to tell me what were the most important dates to them personally and all the men, I’m glad to report, gave the date of their wedding anniversaries as the most important one in their lives. The Anglo-Saxon male famously forgets this date, along with birthdays and other anniversaries, so I thought that was very sweet and again I was reminded of why I love Italians. How is it where you are?
A 35-year-old man from the Ivory Coast, who arrived in Sicily 7 years ago as a clandestino [illegal immigrant] has today become a deacon . The ceremony took place in the beautiful Cathedral of Monreale [Palermo], the diocese which first gave the young man hospitality.
On the day of his arrival, Elisee Ake Brou met and talked to a nun on the train taking him to Palermo and he never forgot this conversation. At first, he worked as a car-park attendant, until one day a couple offered him a lot of money to take part in certain sexual activities . He refused and went to work in a centre for the poor. Soon after, he realised that he had a vocation.
In my opinion, someone who has suffered poverty, hardship and humiliation like this will be able to understand the plight of others and will make a fine priest, so let us be happy for him as he takes this first step towards becoming one.
Kind friends who know I've been a little under the weather invited me to a lovely lunch today: first, there was grana cheese, Modican bread and some British pickle [which I haven't tasted for years], followed by this wonderful, homely dish of cannelloni - oh, you should have been with me, reader, to enjoy the aroma coming from that kitchen! - then a fresh fruit salad flavoured with good, reviving Sicilian honey. Finally, along came this beautifully decorated cassata, which, with its layers of sponge, ricotta and chocolate inside, tasted every bit as delicious as it looked.
You may be interested to know that the gentle saint of Assisi, besides being the patron saint of animals and of Italy, is the protector of: shopkeepers, rope makers, ecologists, floriculturists, merchants, upholsterers and poets.
Yes, I'm back! I wasn't well on Wednesday night and last night the internet connection went down here for hours.
Anyway, as I've mentioned before, there is no prolonged twilight, as we know it in the UK, in Italy, so you only have a moment or two in which to take a photo at dusk. Where do you think I took this one, dear reader? Highlight below for a clue: