Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I like this one and find it atmospheric.

Paolo Amati - Nel mio quartiere

Monday, September 29, 2008


... and other difficulties for the Italian student learning English:

With regard to pronunciation, how to pronounce - ed when added to a verb has to top the list; it is nearly always enunciated as a separate syllable here. Then we have difficulties with the pronunciation of th as in the and th as in think. Constant work on both of these does, eventually, lead to success, though.

Much harder to correct are misconceptions about used to: it is not understood that use to has no meaning in the present tenses and that it cannot translate usarsi = "to be in the habit of". Teach this 100 times to a group and no matter, reader, for you will have to teach it 100 times more! And then, poor dears, your students also have to grapple with the complications of get used to / be used to.

What is worrying, to me, is that these incorrect usages are actually being taught in certain State schools here. Mind you, in Britain I have even witnessed native speaker teachers of English [but not ESOL] instructing students that the negative of used to is didn't used to, instead of didn't use to! And that brings me to my final point this evening; I have 2 other "pet hates" when it comes to incorrect grammar use by native speakers. They are:
- incorrect use of apostrophe in general, but in particular with its
- of for have as in should/could/would have.

What are yours?

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Off out with Irma last night, for serious girl-chat and a lovely meal at the Caffè Consorzio. An autumn menu was in store and I felt I needed it, though it is still "warm" at 19 C in the daytime.

We partook of:
the usual dish of complimentary antipasti
cucuzza [a type of long, green, squash] soup
lamb chops - Irma was good and had roast pumpkin as a contorno, whereas I can never resist patate al forno!
beautifully presented dishes of fruit, with melting lemon ice cream beneath

The fruit and ice cream were offered "on the house" so the price of all these delights came to just €38.50 for the two of us, including drinks.

Friday, September 26, 2008


And now for something cheery: here is today's pretty ice cream, as presented at the Altro Posto.


A young woman whose exact age has not been given – but she is definitely a minor – has narrowly escaped a life of slavery of the worst kind.

She arrived on Lampedusa in August, along with a Nigerian couple purporting to be her parents, according to Il Giornale di Sicilia [not available online] today. They had apparently “trained” her in the “arts” of prostitution.

The girl, however, was courageous enough to tell the police the truth and now the couple, who allegedly received $30, 000 for bringing the girl to Europe, have been arrested.

What kind of society, I keep asking myself, can give rise to such brutality? And what had happened to the girl before she began her enforced journey? Did her real parents sell her and if so, what were the circumstances? Or was she stolen from them? May God help them in either case, because they will probably never hear from her again.

We can only hope that she will now receive the care that she needs and deserves and that she will continue to avoid the fate previously in store for her.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Believe me, I have thought long and hard about posting this, and upon in what manner to post it, too. Should I quote directly the words of Lampedusa's Mayor, on September 12th? I am damned if I do, and would be damned for cowardice, if I do not. Here are the alleged words, then: "Negro flesh stinks, even after it is washed". The Mayor says that the words have been taken out of context and that he was referring to the awful conditions at sea for those trying desperately to reach Italy in the heat of summer.
Let me say here that I understand, to a point, the frustration of those whose home is Lampedusa: their island is now better known as a Cpa ["First Welcome Centre"] for clandestini [would-be illegal immigrants] than as the beautiful island it is. And public services on the island are in a desperate state, as money has to be diverted from these to aiding the sad boatloads of sorrow that arrive almost hourly during this period of clear moons [but often unexpectedly rough seas].
Now the Regional Councillor for Culture has resigned, saying that he, too, "stinks": he agrees that the island finds itself in a terrible situation, but adds that one cannot attack the dignity of those who come to Italy for help in such a way.
I will not judge, here, the remarks of the Mayor, but I will say that if such a thing had been said in the UK, there would have been not only a local, but a nationwide outcry. Those who attack political correctness there would do well to remember why the concept ever saw light.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Lemon-flavoured pork chops:

I find this recipe effortless, aromatically entirely satisfying and comforting! In this case, I have made it for 2 people. If you make it for 4, you will, of course, need 2 more chops and a few more potatoes, but you will also have to increase the quantity of oil used to about 5 tablespoons.

Sprinkle a little plain flour over 2 pork chops and brown them in about 3 tablesp groundnut or sunflower oil. Chuck in a teaspoon or so of whole peppercorns of different colours [if you like, you can crush these into the pork chops using a potato masher but I don't usually bother], some coarse seasalt, a whole, peeled garlic clove, a bay leaf [preferably fresh], a branch of rosemary and some fresh sage leaves. Now add about 1 lb thinly sliced potatoes [you can peel them if you like but I'm too lazy], the grated zest of a lemon and the juice of 2. Turn the chops over and add a wineglass of water. When you think the chops are sealed, tip the whole lot into a small roasting dish and put into a 200 C oven for about 50 minutes.

Buon appetito!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I was interested to learn about this possible link between the use of parecetamol and the incidence of childhood asthma yesterday. Yet I had terrible asthma as a child, long before anyone had heard of paracetamol and my mother ended her days feeling guilty and convinced that I had contracted the condition because, like almost everyone in that era, I had been brough up in a "smoky" atmosphere.
Here in Italy, according to a report in La Sicilia today, chest disorders are on the increase and now affect some 10 million people. The fact that Italy has an ageing population is one of the major factors in this rise, with mortality resulting from these illnesses increasing with extreme old age, as one would expect.
Geographic factors come into play, too, with more people in Central Italy and the South suffering from chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema than in the North. The highest figure for this is reached in Umbria. The incidence of bronchial asthma, however, is less in the South and the Italian islands.
The main cause of these illnesses is still thought to be smoking and more people smoke heavily on the Italian islands than on the mainland. The secondary cause is exposure to toxins at work and constantly increasing air pollution is the third reason, with a diet low in fruit and vegetables, along with alcohol abuse, being a contributary factor.
For my part, I must say that my use of asthma-relief inhalers has halved since I have been here and - touch wood - in 3 years I have not once had to take any of the "emergency pills" I have been prescribed for use in the event of a really bad attack.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Leaving aside the religious significance of the phrase, “breaking bread”, I have been pondering, tonight, on its origin and upon why some types of bread are so much easier to “break” than others!

There must, I imagine, be a reason why the Mediterranean area has so many types of flat breads, just as there must be a reason why traditional British loaves are shaped as they are. I have , of course, looked up the doyenne, Elizabeth David, in English Bread and Yeast Cookery and what she tells us should be no surprise, ie., that it is all to do with the type of grain grown in the country. Yet I cannot help thinking that another reason for the shape of what most of us woud recognise as “British” bread today goes back to the need to “fuel” ourselves [remember “dripping sandwiches”? – I do!] until at least the 1960s.

Sicily, of course, has the Arab influence to thank for many of its breads to this day: add to this the fact that olive oil was the one ingredient not lacking in the poorest of households and you begin to understand its preponderance as an ingredient in the breads of the region. The tradtional hard bread of Sicily, as I’ve mentioned before, was originally made that way so that the shepherd could put it in his pocket and be away from home for many days, without the bread going “off”.

Anyway, I didn’t make the bread in the photo, but I was very glad to find it – still hot – in the supermarket a couple of hours ago. It is the simplest kind of pane condito – seasoned flat bread – containing, apart from its basic ingredients, just more olive oil, some origano and a goodly quantity of wonderful Sicilian seasalt. It’s so easy to share with friends, each just breaking off the quantity that they want!

This bread is related to sfincione [the name deriving from the Greek for “soft”] and for this bread the filling can be more complicated.

Do not, by the way, imagine that “flat” breads turn out so because there is no yeast: there is usually just as much yeast as in other types of bread, but most flat breads are prodded with a fork before baking so that over-rising is avoided.

Now, why not “break bread” with your best friends tonight?

Friday, September 19, 2008


No particular theme tonight, readers.

G - - - - - - - - - , the "onion town" of this part of Sicily.

I - - - - - - , the nearest ski resort to Palermo.

A - - - - - - - - da Messina, Sicilian artist [c. 1430 - 1479].

R - - - - - - di ricotta, pasta dish containing sugar - a speciality of Ragusa.

R - - - - - - - Lombardo, President of the Sicilian Region. This first name is also that of my much-blogged-about hairdresser!

A Sicily became an - - - - - - - - - - region of Italy in 1946.

T - - - - - - - - , early Roman name for Sicily.

A The Spanish House of - - - - - - ruled Sicily for 4 centuries.

N 8 towns in the Val di - - - - are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A Nero d' - - - - - , Sicily's most popular red wine grape.

Highlight below for answers:
Giarratana; Isnello: Antonello; ravioli; Raffaele; autonomous; Trinacria; Aragon; Noto; Avola.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Answer tomorrow.


"Quant' è piccolo il mondo!" [= "What a small world it is!"] exclaimed my wonderful hairdresser, Raffaele, as I entered the salon this morning. It turns out that Raffaele has a friend whose daughter is studying in London and that she stumbled upon my blog. "Who's this famous Raffaele?" she asked her father, never dreaming for one moment that it was the very Raffaele she has known all her life!

Then my former boss in a Cardiff college suddenly turned up on Messenger.

And over in Vancouver, my blogging friends jmb, Leslie and Liz have met for lunch. How I wish I could have been there!

"Quant'è piccolo il mondo", indeed, yet it is a world that seems more divided than ever at the moment. Let us hope that little acts like blogging friends meeting up, across continents and cultures, can help save it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I am posting this on behalf of the English International School in Modica.

Since I last wrote about the School's services, we have received many enquiries regarding our prices, the cost of accommodation, transport and so on. I hope that the following information will be helpful:

The School offers individual, semi-individual [2 students] and group courses and can tailor a course to your needs. All teachers are mother tongue.

We organise our courses according to the level of students' knowledge of Italian: elementary, intermediate or advanced.

Courses last a minimum of one week (Monday to Friday) but we can extend the number of weeks at students' request.

Course structure
Semi-standard [2 hours per day]
Standard [4 hours per day]
Intensive [6 hours per day]

We can also organise personalised courses for students enrolling for individual lessons: students can decide, with the teacher, how many hours and how many days of tuition they require during the week. Students who enrol for semi-individual or group courses can also request some individual lessons to clarify certain points or for extra practice.

Lesson content
Analysis and comprehension of descriptive, narrative and poetic texts where appropriate.
Italian and Sicilian traditions and customs.

Students will also be able to see some Italian films and plays.

On request we will organise excursions so that students can see some of the architectural and natural wonders of Sicily, such as the Baroque heritage of the Val di Noto, the nature reserve at Vendicari, Greek monuments at Syracuse and Agrigento and those of the Arab-Norman period in Palermo.

Course fees
There is an enrolment fee ( which also covers the cost of course materials) of € 50 for all courses.

Fees for a one -hour lesson
Individual - € 25
Semi-individual - € 15
Group - € 10

Fees for one week of individual tuition
Semi-standard course [2 hours per day] - € 225
Standard course [4 hours per day] - € 500
Intensive course [6 hours per day] - € 750

Fees for one week of semi-individual tuition [2 students]
Semi-standard course [2 hours per day] - € 150
Standard course [4 hours per day] - € 300
Intensive course [6 hours per day] - € 450

Fees for one week of group tuition
Semi-standard course [2 hours per day] - € 100
Standard course [4 hours per day] - € 200
Intensive course [6 hours per day] - € 300

These prices do not include excursions, cinema or theatre tickets.
Booking procedure
The € 50 enrolment fee is payable upon registering for the course. The balance must be paid, by bank transfer, 3 weeks before your course commences.

To get to Modica you need to fly into Fontanarossa Airport, Catania as Palermo is a 4- hour bus journey away. Direct flights are operated from the UK and you can also fly to Catania from Rome, Milan or Pisa. From the airport the AST company operates an efficient and direct bus service to Modica. A taxi to Modica for up to 3 people would cost € 130, whilst a minibus for 6 people would cost € 160 [prices valid until 31.12.08].

Here are 2 examples of bed and breakfast prices in Modica: Bed and breakfast at the Luna Blu, in historic Modica Bassa would cost € 25 per person per night. Bed and breakfast at The Garden, Modica [within walking distance of the School] would cost € 40 - 50 per person per night. It is also possible to rent a modern, self-catering apartment for 2 people in Modica Bassa from € 25 per person per night.

You can find information about car hire and other services in Modica here.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Contact: Catherine Ciancio, Director of Studies
Tel: +39 0932456613
Fax: +39 0932456613
Email: english_int.school@virgilio.it

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I enjoyed these spiedini of pork and roasted peppers, followed by this cleverly colour-coordinated ice cream, at the Altro Posto today.


An historical theme, tonight:

S - - - - - - - - - - , the first Neolithic culture in Sicily.

T - - - - - - - , ruler of Siracusa from 343 BC. He brought stability to the whole of Sicily.

E The - - - - - - - - settled in Siracusa and Segesta, building the temple at Segesta.

N The - - - - - - - conquered Sicily in 1061.

T - - - - - - [there is an extra letter in Italian], an illegitimate grandson of Roger 11, was crowned King of Sicily in 1189.

I In World War 11, the - - - - - - - Campaign was launched by the Sicily Landings.

N - - - - - was created Duke of Bronte in 1799.

E When - - - - erupted in 1669, much of Catania was destroyed.

L - - - - - , island off Sicily first inhabited in the 5th millennium BC.

L - - - - - - , where Frederick 11 's falconer , Iacopo [to give his surname would be to give you the answer!] was born. Dante credits him with the invention of the sonnet form.

O - - - - - -, historic island of Siracusa.

Highlight below for answers:

Stentinello; Timoleon; Elymians; Normans; Tancred / Tancredi; Italian; Nelson; Etna; Lipari; Lentini [Iacopo da Lentini]; Ortigia / Ortygia.

Friday, September 12, 2008


There was another tragedy in the Sicilian Channel yesterday morning: at 7 am, an 11-metre boat crammed full of clandestini [would-be illegal immigrants] was spotted by the Maltese authorities off Portopalo. The Italian police and coastguard went to its rescue but already, during a 10-day nightmare voyage, 13 of the 72 passengers had died of dehydration and their bodies had been thrown overboard.
Some of the survivors were in a pitiful state, having suffered bleeding caused by knocking against the frames holding the keel. 2 pregnant women, a 2-year-old child and a man were admitted to hospital.
I am often asked, on this blog, which countries these poor souls come from: in this case I can tell you that they were from Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Sudan. Their sad voyage began in Libya and they had paid $1000 each for the "privilege" of travelling in this maritime coffin. One of the Nigerian men has said that he was forced to work for the criminal organisation that planned the trip; this may seem far-fetched but I have taught asylum seekers in Britain and know from their stories that such things happen. Many remain traumatised for a long time or have become brutalised by these experiences.
At least I can tell you that, in this case, 3 of the odious people smugglers have been arrested.
Once again, my heart goes out to those without hope and I am thinking about the way in which, through no fault of your own, your life can be destined to be potentially successful or tragic, simply because of where you are geographically in a certain period of history.
My source for this story is the Giornale di Sicilia, which is unavailable online.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This article, about the Italians voting for their least favourite English incursions into their language, has amused me.

I have always rather admired the French for their fervour in trying to protect their language but the Italians, though concerned, do not take themselves so seriously: “OK” or “buon weekend” are shorter and snappier than the Italian equivalents, so that is “OK” with them! All languages have their fascinating characteristics and the genius of English often lies in its economy. Perhaps the Italians have an inner confidence , too, knowing full well that the language of Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio and of most opera would be hard to eradicate.

It is, of course, utterly mad to attempt to control language: the Dante Alighieri Society, which commissioned the poll, ironically exists precisely because what we now recognise as modern Italian evolved from Latin. These days, language is changing so fast that dictionaries have to be updated every 2 years.

Esperanto and other “invented” languages never really took off because “real” language contains thousands of cultural overtones which they cannot hope to reproduce: English, for instance, is full of references to Shakespeare which most of us do not realise we are using on a daily basis.

A friend of mine back in old Cardiff disapproves entirely of “text” language, though I keep trying to persuade her that this is just an adapatation of language for a specific purpose. What else are all abbreviations, codes and job-specific jargon? [I would agree, though, that it all gets a bit much when teachers have to “instruct” students not to use “text style” in their GCSE English exams!]

Language, as I am always telling my students, is a living form, always changing and evolving with its users. It changes first and later – usually much later – someone writes the rules! No one just “decided“ that a “book” would be “masculine” and a “pen” “feminine” in Italian and French: people started using whichever definite or indefinite article seemed easier to them and afterwards the grammatical rules were written as a way of explaining the usage.

Incidentally, long ago my Italian professor told me that his favourite English word was “conglomeration”!


And who would have used it?

Answer tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I just love this. Hope you enjoy it, too


Monday, September 08, 2008


That's what this dish turned out to be, though I say it myself and it is a trionfo brought to you much later than planned, tonight. My keyboard has gone funny, acting as though it is encypted or something. Yes, I know I have pressed some silly button, but I don't know which! All advice welcome. [Doing this now on the older, slower computer.] Back to the dish, which is from Claudia Roden's Arabesque so I can't give you the copyright recipe, but I can describe it! Basically the dish consists of chicken pieces cooked slowly in a sauce containing ginger and saffron. There is something homely and comforting about the aroma of chicken cooking with saffron, you know.
I have 3 other reasons - or excuses - for including this dish here:
1. Those are my very own bashed olives in there! [I didn't grow the olives, but I sure bashed and preserved them!]
2. I have prepared Middle Eastern preserved lemons many times, but did not get around to it this week. So I chucked in some lovely strips of Sicilian green lemons and they made a very good substitute indeed.
3. CR suggests adding frozen artichoke hearts and, as these are readily available here, I did. You sort of tuck them below the chicken and sauce and they are an extra surprise!

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Serious stuff tonight, folks, as yet again I need to decide how to redeem my supermarket card points! A new "gift" catalogue was thrust into my hands as I left the establishment yesterday and ever since then I have been pondering [not that the bedcover I ordered last time has yet appeared - there is a notice apologising for the delay in the delivery of "gifts" and we are assured they will arrive within 6 months, as required by Italian law]. There is the best part of a year to go before the current catalogue expires but, as I have over 2000 points already, a girl might as well be prepared!
Well, the first item to catch my eye is one of those friezes for a child's room, from which you can hang things. This one has Winnie the Pooh motifs! Yes, I am well aware that I am 58, not 8, but to see such a thing might cheer me up in the mornings [which takes some doing!]
Next up, at 3000 points plus 16 euros is a spaghetteria [special pot for cooking spaghetti]. I can, of course, cook spaghetti in an ordinary saucepan like everybody else but here we are talking about the Ritz Hotel of spaghetterie: it is made of stainless steel and is elongated, so that you can lay the spaghetti down in it immediately, has a gadget for measuring the salt [though I'd probably just chuck it in anyway, as always] and a lid which doubles as a drainer. The problem would be storage space for the thing.
Then there are various pretty terracotta pans, starting at 1500 points. Again, the problem would be storage.
If I were to save 4000 points and pay 28 euros, I could have an electric pizza maker. There would be storage problems here, too, and I don't think I would use it that often. Besides, I would probably be wanting the oven on for other dishes when I did use it and you must remember that we can only use 3 kw of electricity at a time here.
There is a battery-operated parmesan grater for 1750 points, but I usually use my procesor for this job, and a very elegant ice bucket for 3750 [or 2750 plus 16 euros]. Elegance always appeals!
For 1000 points I could have an antipasto server set consisting of heart-shaped little dishes on a sort of "lazy Susan" wheel and a glass teapot - very elegant - for 750. Oh! And a set of really pretty cheese plates for 1250.
Hmmm... Winnie the Pooh still tempts... What do you think, readers?

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I will start with my very own fatto di cronaca, for I, at least, deem it newsworthy: I am late posting because I have spent the last 3 hours having a fight with the glass doors in my bedroom. These, for some reason known to glass-door-gremlins, are resolutely stuck and will not open – and you need them open in the evenings in this heat [still 36 C at lunchtime and 30 C as I walked home from work last night at 7]. This could not, of course, happen during all the weeks when I had a man, in the form of James, staying with me – oh, no! The doors had to pick their moment. Yes, I have made with the screwdriver, had the lock off and back on but nothing will budge the things! I am reminded of some lines by U A Fanthorpe:
"There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it."

Let us move on:

The Agrigento water shortage continues and the splendid woman mayor of the town of Naro has, in the company of law enforcement officers, visited the water plant herself, to find that the gate had been tampered with. It has now been sealed. The townsfolk, it seems, have now been without running water for 2 weeks.

In June, I mentioned the initiative in Castelbuono [Palermo province] to have rubbish collected by a team of donkeys, now numbering 5. They collect the different types of rubbish from door to door and the town has achieved the national recycling target and saved money. I am delighted to tell you that now that comune has won a government prize.

Finally, just to reassure you that the credit crunch is hitting everywhere, there was this in the Telegraph the other day, informing us that the Mayor of Salemi [Trapani] is offering houses for 1 euro. So why aren’t I at the front of the queue? [1] I’m sure Salemi is charming but it is not the area in which I wish to live. [2] I might be able to come up with the 1 euro but I do not have the many more thousands of euros that it would take to restore such a dwelling. [3] Even if I did, I can’t sort the bedroom doors, let alone supervise a team of workmen on a restoration project!

Friday, September 05, 2008


An easier and "saintly" one tonight!

A Sant' - - - - - . Catania's saint.

G San - - - - - - - , the saint of Modica, Ragusa Ibla, Ferrara, Genova [Genoa] and England! In addition , about 58 Italian towns are named for him.

A San - - - - - - - , the saint of Trapani.

T San Pancrazio is the saint of - - - - - - - - .

A La notte di san Lorenzo, the night of shooting stars, happens on 1oth - - - - - .

Highlight below for answers:

Agata; Giorgio; Alberto; Taormina; April.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


And the first two words are more than I can say about my living room at present!
Visit a Sicilian hospital at about 8.45 am and you will find many more people milling about than you would in a British one at that time: relatives have arrived to bring food for their loved ones who are in-patients, extended family have come to keep an eye on the closer relatives and absolutely nobody attends an out-patient appointment unaccompanied.
Thus it was with me yesterday morning and I shall be eternally grateful to the friend who came along to offer moral support. First of all, you walk past the Moroccans selling useless goods at the door - why would you need a gas lighter in hospital? - and then you go to pay your "ticket" for your out-patient investigation, in my case, forty euros. [I have explained before that you do not have to pay if you are rushed in or subsequently admitted, so I don't mind paying this fee at all, as it helps to keep the health service going. People on very low incomes are exempt.]
In the relevant department, I am the first to be seen and am treated with immense courtesy and kindness. Just ten minutes or so to wait after the procedure and then I am called in and a doctor talks me through his findings, after which I am presented with the report inside a smart, colourful folder. "Don't forget your photos!" exclaims the doctor, beaming, as I leave and he proudly hands me two rather psychedelic images of bits of me which I'd rather not know about, let alone see. But he is so pleased with this art-work that I manage to smile back and look as if I will promptly display these above the mantelpiece.
Oh! I almost forgot to say that all is well and I only need some medication to sort out this particular condition.
Many thanks to you all for your concern. It is appreciated more than you will ever know.

Monday, September 01, 2008


1st September and the south of Italy is beginning to get back to normal: people are returning from their long sojourn at the sea, the streets are busy again and the smaller shops are reopening after siesta [a lot of them don't bother during August]. My neighbour across the way has arrived back and is enthusiastically hosing everything - but everything- down as I write.

I saw the first fichi d'India [prickly pears] of the season on sale today so decided to personally declare autumn [although it was still 36 C at lunchtime] by displaying my porcelain squash and giving Leonardo the plantholder his autumn load.

Talking of prickly pears, I am quite pleased with the rate of growth of the one on my balcony, planted as a leaf a couple of years ago. And may I introduce you to Simonetta and Claude Cochon, who keep it company out there?

My voting card arrived today. Some of you may remember that I had quite a palaver getting registered to vote in the local elections and was finally issued with a piece of paper, which was torn up by the presiding officer as soon as I'd cast my vote! I couldn't be bothered going through the rigmarole again when we had the subsequent run-off for the position of Mayor so did not vote in that round. Anyway, now I have my permanent tessera [card], which was delivered to me by hand although there are no pending elections. [However, this is Italy so I probably won't have to wait long before using it!] Pazienza.

Blognote: I will probably be offline tomorrow as I have to have a non-serious [I hope!] medical procedure and may be even dopier than usual when I come back.


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