Friday, July 31, 2009


It is not easy to remain positive when we imagine the likely outcome of the trial of Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, but we must, for it is her Buddhist faith and the power of positive thought that have carried her through her ordeal thus far.

"The Lady" as she is often called, has been under house arrest for 14 years and is currently being held in the notorious Insein Prison. She faces a possible prison sentence of 5 years which would conveniently prevent her from being able to take part in her country's 2010 elections. A trial verdict was expected today [31st July] but has now been delayed until 11th August.

We who love freedom can take action now by signing the letter to Président Sarkozy here, for France remains the strongest objector to EU sanctions against Burma. We can also keep ourselves updated regarding the situation via the Burma Campaign UK , the US Campaign for Burma and other campaigns in our various countries.

Aung San Suu Kyi herself has something to say about positive friendship:

"According to the teachings of Buddhism, a good friend ..... does not forsake you in times of want and does not condemn you when you are ruined. With such friends, one can travel the roughest road and not be defeated by hardship. Indeed, the rougher the path, the greater the delight in the company of kalyanamitta, good and noble friends who stand by us in times of adversity."

- Aung San Suu Kyi, Letters from Burma [1996].

Let us be good and positive friends to "The Lady" at this time.

Thank you.


Positive Day is the inspiration of a 12-year old girl and you can read all about the idea here. I am delighted to be taking part.

Like everyone else, I've had my troubles, particularly during this past year, so today presents me with a great opportunity to list all the things I am grateful for in this life:

I am grateful to have had a biological mother who gave me a chance.

I am grateful to have been brought up by 4 people who not only taught me how to love, but also how to show love: my Mum, Dad, Great Aunt Mabel and my Grandpa.

I am grateful for wonderful friends in Italy, in Britain and all over the world through blogging and social networking sites.

I am grateful for Rosa, my "cleaning lady" who has become my secretary, my confidante and my close friend. If there is a God, I truly believe He sent me Rosa, for she has made such a difference to my life. She is pictured here with her husband, who also helps me a lot.

I am grateful for books and for being a linguist.

I am grateful that I live in a beautiful part of the wonderful country I fell in love with at 19.

And I am thankful for every moment I spend with my precious Simi.


I wonder what sort of shoes dragons wear.


It's Friday already and time for my friend mountaingirl's Photo Challenge. This week's theme is "Away".

Well, Sicily is home these days, so "over there" [Britain] is now "away" and there's no more British sight than this:

I love the way the chip shop is all decked out for summer but you can see from the pavement that it has been raining. [And I could do with standing under some gentle British rain right now!] I miss the smell of Britain after summer rain....

Thursday, July 30, 2009


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For Silly Week, I have chosen some proverbs which I hope will give you a laugh. For answers and explanations, you have to highlight the seemingly blank space under where it says, "Highlight below for answers" at the end of the quiz. One of the sayings below is an idiom rather than a proverb but I couldn't resist including it! Match the proverbs 1 - 6 with their meanings a - f:

1. Megghiu un colpu di balestra ca un colpu di finestru.

2. O ti manci sta minestra o ti jetti di la finestra.

3. Cui va a donni senza ninni, havi dittu: "Jitivinni".

4. 'Ntempu d'epiremia duttura in alligria.

5. Siri còmu a pèddi re cugghiùna.

6. 'A jaddina fà l'uovu e jaddu ci abbrùsca 'u culu.

a. When there's an epidemic doctors rejoice.

b. The hen lays the egg while the rooster has an itchy bum.

c. To be like the skin of the testicles [clingy].

d. He who goes to women without turkeys will be told to go away.

e. Either eat this soup or throw yourself out of the window.

f. It's better to be hit with a crossbow than a window.

Highlight below for answers and explanations: [There's something written below this - really, there is!]

1f, 2e, 3d, 4a, 5c, 6b. 1f. Because being hit with a window is humiliating! 2e. Means if you don't get used to little troubles, you'll have bigger ones later. 3d. [Not as daft as it seems]. The husband who comes home without meat for the wife to cook will be sent out again. 4a. Because the doctors get rich. [Shows Sicilian contempt for those who profit from others' troubles. ] 5c. Err.... 6b The person who does the work concentrates on what they are doing whilst the idler just criticises.


His Girl Friday has challenged all Silly Week participants to come up with a limerick and James has set a 15-minute time limit for this. Here's mine:

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There once was a lady from Wales
who upped and set off with red sails,
She found a Med isle,
thought, "Here I will while
away all the rest of my days".

Her friends in old Britain all said,
"You really are daft in the head,
With those mafiosi
your life won't be rosy,
Come back to the drizzle instead."

Said she, "And a fat lot I care
for there's nothing but gloom over there,
I'm eating ice cream
and living the dream
in the land of the prickly pear."

Boom - boom!


Again, the Altro Posto's "coppa di frutta" is hard to beat.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I invented this at lunchtime today.

If you ask for one chicken breast in Italy, you will get both halves of the breast. [It will already be boned and skinned and the butcher will trim it automatically for you.] In Britain, you will get one half and you will usually have to ask for it to be boned and skinned. Therefore ask for one breast in Italy and two in Britain!

With regard to the tomato sauce, you need some to which you added some chopped red chilli pepper or chilli seasoning while making it. Failing that, chuck chilli seasoning to taste into just over half a pint of passata.

To serve 4 people you need:

3 tablesp olive oil
2 chicken breast halves [see above], cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
300 gr mushrooms, sliced
1 can or jar of grilled or roasted red and yellow peppers, drained
300 ml [just over half a pint] homemade "hot" tomato sauce [see above]
200 ml white wine
coarse seasalt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a deep, wide pan or wok and add the chicken. Stir it around until browned on all sides. Add the onion and garlic and brown these too. Chuck everything else in, stir around well, bring to boil, slap a cover on the pan and let it all simmer for about 50 mins, stirring occasionally.


I'm always sounding off about translation, so for Silly Week, let's have some translation fun with Lucy:

I Love Lucy - A Matter of Translation

Monday, July 27, 2009



If bargains are to be had in Modica's shops, they are certainly to be had in the market during this period. On Thursday I bought:

This dress. It's in cool cotton and I now have this style in purple and black as well.

These three-quarter-length trousers:

Three bras for 1 euro each and they all fit! [No, I'm not going to take a picture!]

A kitchen curtain for 10 euros [like the one on the right in the video, only green].

An enormous pot of my favourite, locally produced, orange-flower honey.

Here are 13 seconds of the atmosphere:

Finally, I just had to buy this, not in the market but in a shop:

I think I've finally restocked my summer wardrobe!


The Man in a Shed has had the brilliant idea of declaring this "Silly Week" in the blogosphere: In Britain, this is the time of year when our politicians go on holiday and the media, desperate for something to report, come up with the silliest stories imaginable, famously headed, "Cor, what a scorcher!" in the popular press every time the temperature in Britain goes above 20 C. [20C ? - I wish!] As I don't have any trouble being silly, I have decided to join in. I hope to keep you entertained this week!

I am still committed to Positive Day on Friday 31st.


I was surprised and delighted to receive this award from Laura of Ciao, Amalfi last week. I have to pass the award on to 15 bloggers with lovely blogs:

Ardent Observations

Bella Baita

Cherie's Place

Eat Right Tonight

Ellee Seymour


Finding Life Hard?

Girl on the Run


That's 17 but I never could count! Here's what these bloggers have to do:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. [Not all of mine are new.]

3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I hope my lovely readers will visit some of these lovely blogs

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I have my loyal commenter the Winchester Whisperer to thank for this recipe which she left in the comments here:

Here's a squash salad recipe for you - chop the squash into small pieces and roast in some olive oil in a hot oven for 40 minutes. Roast an olive oil smeared Romano pepper in it for 20 mins. Peel and de-seed the roasted pepper and chop into pieces. Allow all to cool. Mix with a tin of butter beans (or pre-cooked butter beans), some chopped coriander, some rocket. Add any dressing that you like et voilà!

With regard to skinning the peppers, I have watched many Italians doing this and I have yet to see one put the peppers in a plastic bag or teatowel once they have been roasted. They don't worry too much about getting every last seed out, either. Here's the way I do it: brush the peppers lightly with olive oil then roast them on an oven tray lined with oiled baking parchment for 40 mins at 200 C. Pick them up with a tongs and run cold water over them. Then just peel off the skin with your fingers. Scoop the seeds away with a teaspoon. If you use elongated peppers, that is half the battle. If you use bell peppers, it will take all day.

I left out the beans, WW, because I didn't have any and I'm not keen on them. I added some halved cherry tomatoes because I have a few to use up and I used a mixture of iceberg, rocket and basil leaves. I made a dressing using 3 tablesp olive oil, 1 of runny honey, the juice of 1 lemon, some oregano and a couple of squirts of my
chilli spray [to give it all a kick] plus seasalt and black pepper.

Many thanks, WW, and thanks to my friend Lucia for the squash.


I was given this pretty bomboniera, or wedding favour, by a newly-married neighbour yesterday. I do not know her well, so I was very pleased to receive it.

My "bah, humbug" approach to convention sometimes shocks poor Rosa. "I shall put it on the kitchen wall" I announced, coming back with my gift. "But people put them in their sitting rooms, in curio cabinets", said Rosa. "I'll be the first to put one on the kitchen wall, then" , said I.

Saturday, July 25, 2009



Toto Cutogno - Gli amori / Io amo


Nine desperate souls were found inside a refrigerated lorry on a catamaran ferry approaching the Port of Pozzallo on Thursday. The men were found by undercover police alerted to their presence by noises coming from inside the lorry. The men, who are thought to have come from India, received their statutory medical checks on board the catamaran and therefore never set foot on Italian soil. Once declared fit, they were sent back to Malta, from where they will presumably be repatriated. [Source: Il Giornale di Sicilia. Not available online.]
There have been many tensions between Malta and Italy regarding who should take responsibility for illegal would-be immigrants rescued from the Sicilian Channel. There have recently been talks between Sicilian and Maltese authorities to try to resolve the situation. Taking a doctor to the ship, instead of detaining the men on Italian soil for a medical check represents a new effort by Italy to keep one step ahead of those who organise such " voyages of hope" [which all too often turn into voyages of despair and tragedy].
How long will it be before this particular group tries again?
Update: La Sicilia Online is reporting that a dinghy carrying 44 Somali clandestini, two of whom are women, docked at Marsascala, Malta during last night. This group departed from Libya four days ago and they claim to have thrown the body of one man, who died of dehydration, into the sea. The Maltese Navy is searching for the body. The survivors have been taken to the Safi Detention Centre in Malta.


I'm late with this, too, but I persist in my logic that it's still Friday somewhere!

Arancini [rice balls, sometimes pyramids] or arancine if you live in Palermo or Agrigento are Sicilian fast food and most Sicilians buy them. There is nothing like the aroma of some of these cooking as you pass a salumeria or rosticceria. I do know one or two people who make them, however, and the other day I felt ashamed to have been in Sicily for four years without putting myself through this procedure, though I have made them in the UK. If your idea of a relaxed afternoon is to make the hell of a mess in your kitchen, this recipe is for you! I should warn you that my arancini are not perfectly formed like the ones you can buy, but they taste just fine! You should make the ragù in advance [I make it and freeze in small quantities] and your risotto a couple of hours before you want to start forming the arancini. Otherwise it will all prove too much and you will get burnt hands into the bargain. Cook your peas a couple of hours before, too. Oh, I knew there was something else: you shouldn't mix metric and imperial measures in a recipe but I have because it's what I do.

Here we go, then. These quantities will make about 8 large arancini:

Small quantity of ragù which you have already made [there's a recipe here]
Small quantity of cooked peas
3 tablesp olive oil
600 gr arborio or other risotto rice - it must be risotto rice!
sachet of saffron powder
seasalt and freshly ground black pepper
just over 1 pint hot water for the risotto
100 gr mozzarella, chopped small
about 2 tablesp flour and water to mix to a loose paste
packet pane grattato or about 8 oz very fine breadcrumbs
groundnut or sunflower oil for deep frying

Make a saffron risotto: heat the olive oil, then add a little of the rice and stir around. When it takes on a little colour, add the rest with the saffron powder, seasalt and freshly ground black pepper and stir well. Lower the heat to simmer and quickly add about one third of the water. Stir until absorbed, then add another third and repeat the process. Add the last third of the water and stir again. Let the rice absorb this. The risotto is ready when the grains look considerably larger and are al dente. [On my hob this takes under 10 mins.] Let the risotto cool completely.

Ready? OK, stir the peas into the ragù. Add about half a pint cold water to the flour and stir. Put the containers of risotto, ragù and peas, mozzarella, flour paste and breadcrumbs on a table:

Now, Sicilian women have a technique of forming a ball of rice, then making a hole in it, spooning in the ragù and cheese and then closing the hole, but I am not that dextrous. Sicilians, look away now! I just dollop some risotto onto the palm of my hand, slap some ragù onto that, add some mozzarella and dollop some more risotto on top of that. Then I form the ball as best I can. Have fun! Next you need to dip the balls into the flour paste to coat them all over and then roll them in the breadcrumbs. Everything will get terribly mucky but it will be worth it! When all the balls are ready, put the groundnut or sunflower oil into a large pan [I use a wok], heat it and fry the balls. Please take care! When they are browned use a slotted spoon to lift them out onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve hot, with a salad if you like. Sicilians, look away again! I nearly forgot to say that these are perfectly OK warmed up. Buon appetito.


I'm a little late with this but it's still Friday in some places in the world, isn't it? Friday is the day for mountaingirl's Photo Challenge and this week's theme is "home".

If you are in the vicinity of the Church of Santa Maria di Betlemme in Modica's historic centre and happen to look up, you might see these caves [above the houses]. These were people's homes within living memory, inhabited until at least the 1950s. Most of the inhabitants just slammed a door on them and made the best of things. You can read more about this here. I haven't personally seen any caves that are still inhabited, as suggested in the article, but I have seen some that are used for storage. I hope the inhabitants of yesteryear were at least reasonably comfortable!

Friday, July 24, 2009


With the help of the man from the local computer shop, I have at last been able to upload the second TV interview about the poetry book translation onto youtube. Well, he did it, really, and it took 3 hours!

Antonio Lonardo and Pat Eggleton interviewed by Fabio Pompeo Iacono on reteiblea, 11.6.09.

English transcript:

FPI: Antonio Lonardo’s poetic adventure having begun almost by chance, it is with great pleasure that we now welcome a fourth paperback volume to this much appreciated series; this volume contains an output which is lyrical in every sense of the word.

He has participated in many national and international literary competitions, for which he has entered single poems, unpublished collections and his first book, Desiderio di Luce [Wishing for Light], which has received no less than ten prizes in just two years.

For Lonardo, writing poetry is a game of chance, as is, for the most part, entering poetry competitions: whenever he takes on the challenge, his work becomes better appreciated in various parts of Italy and it is often listed among the winners in the final results, even when the competition has been fierce.

[From dust cover notes by Antonio Daniele for Le stagioni del Cuore and Il Profumo del Pensiero.]

AL: Well, I'm half a teacher and this literary intention came to me from very far away. I was born in the Province of Avellino and I became a teacher. I've been in Modica since 1983. First I taught middle school and then I taught at the Archimede Economic Liceo [ITCS Archimede]. I started writing in 1977 when I had a bereavement. My fiancée died and I was grieving over this loss. From this all the rest came about. Obviously I couldn't go on crying so I thought about new themes, those that reflected my cultural interests, such as foreign politics, the observation of reality and the heart, my own heart. I dedicated many poems to my family, friends, to others and myself. Obviously all this happened after a lot of observation and deep meditation about my great interests.

I've had the courage to enter many poetry competitions and in 3 years I've won 40 prizes, some of them quite important ones, for single poems, collections and the works I've published since 2005. The highest honour I've received is the President of the Republic's Medal, awarded at Buggiano in Pistoia 2 years ago.

PE: I write a blog about my experiences in Sicily. I happened to be at the launch of AL's second collection and I asked him if I could write about him and translate one of his poems for the blog. He agreed, read the blog article and then contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in translating a new collection. I said I would.

I found the work both interesting and demanding because it's not enough to know the meaning: you have to find the word that is exactly right, let's say the most poetic and musical word. You have to find the right word in all translation but poetry is different. For example, in the poem Metamorfosi we have the word linguaggio. In English , "language" means language in general. We don't have a word to [collectively] describe particular types of language. Finally I decided to use the word "language" in the translation and render its sense in the rest of the verse. There are always decisions like this to make.

Then there are grammatical aspects. English syntax is different, for example . Sometimes I had to change not only the word order but the punctuation - in fact, the entire verse structure.

Il Poeta is read in Italian and in English.


I must say I'm very pleased with these French plates, which I obtained with my supermarket points. Now I have to find somewhere to put them!


I took this photo of the via Sacro Cuore thermometer at 16.30 today, so you can see we really are in an afa [heatwave] emergency. Whilst we swelter, grumble and have countryside fires in Sicily, the situation is even worse in Sardinia, where temperatures have reached 46 C and the island is beset by forest fires. A maestrale [Mistral] wind is expected to return later, rendering conditions more dangerous still. Here we are all advised not to go out between 11.00 and 16.00 and to keep drinking soft drinks, even when we don't feel thirsty. This is just the moment to have a water crisis, don't you think?


The other day I reported that the water service was functioning again and many of my kind commenters were happy and relieved for me. However, last night the supply in the condominio ran out yet again. I wasn't too worried, for as soon as I heard that the lorries were delivering again I rang the Water Office to book our next truckload of 10 cubic meters. This was on Monday.

When I phoned our lorry driver this morning to ask if he could deliver today, he said that, as a delivery had been requested, he thought so. Then a neighbour saw him delivering further up the street and he informed her that the Office had said we wouldn't get any water for another 7 - 10 days! [The temperature has reached over 40 C today.] So there was nothing for it but to ask the lorry driver for a delivery a pagamento and, as of half an hour ago, we have water but I am 35 € poorer. I am going to insist that the other tenants chip in this time!

The driver told me that when he went to the Office to find our bolleta, the note that authorises him to make the delivery, he couldn't locate it because there was a montagna of them, such is the demand on the service in the heat. I understand that and of course, none of this is his fault, but heat in Sicily in July is hardly a new phenomenon, is it?! Ah, well, pazienza.

I loved Tommy Steele as a child and this was the "B" side of "A Handful of Songs" - on 78 rpm vinyl!

Tommy Steele - Water, Water

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Match the Sicilian proverbs 1 - 6 with their meanings a - f. [Where there is a very similar proverb in English, I have used this as the translation.]


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1. Bisogna suffriri lu statu prisenti pri nun aviri lu mali avviniri.

2. Cu' havi terra, havi guerra.

3. Asino curciu 'n porta 'ngroppa.

4. Ama a cui t'ama, rispunni a cui ti chiama.

5. 'U Signùri rùna 'u viscuòttu a cu nùn'avi riènti.

6. 'A pignàta tàliata nun vugghi mai.

a. God gives biscuits to those without teeth.

b. Love the person who loves you, answer the person who is calling you.

c. He who has land has war.

d. A watched pot never boils.

e. You have to put up with your present circumstances to avoid bad times later.

f. A short donkey won't carry you on its back.
Highlight below for answers:
1e, 2c, 3f, 4b, 5a, 6d.


"Positive Day" is the inspiration of a 12-year-old girl and you can read all about it here. I'll be joining in on July 31st and I hope you will, too. If you have a blog, please write about the positive things in your life; if you don't, I hope you'll feel positive after your blog visiting on that day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The water service, I am pleased to relate, appears to be functioning after weeks of being sospeso and the delivery lorries have been darting up and down narrow streets and in and out of queues of cars like vespa scooters in their hurry to get around to some very long-suffering customers. Yesterday I witnessed a fine altercation as a water lorry driver was trying to reverse into this street and found himself blocked by a car whose occupants were waiting to use a nearby ATM. The car driver refused to budge and finally the lorry driver beeped at all the other traffic, turned back into the main road and tore along it at at breakneck speed. I thought, "Oh, no, now someone won't get their water because of the selfish car driver" but the lorry driver did a three-point turn in a very narrow space, sped back, entered our street from the other direction and drove like Enzo Ferrari himself to his delivery address. This time the car driver got out of the way!

Now here's an interesting snippet of information from Rosa, who hears the world's news from her companions on the no. 3 bus. [Forget twitter, the internet and Reuter's - word gets round quicker on Modica's no 3!] There is plenty of work in Italy for donne di servizio or colf [an acronym of collaboratrice familiare - cleaner or domestic helper] and badanti [carers] but it seems that very few of them are willing to work for the elderly, particularly the elderly with dementia-related illnesses. Rosa has heard that people in their forties and fifties are now taking on colf, in the hope that the person will become loyal to their employer and stay on during his or her old age.

There were thought to be about 1 million colf in Italy in June of this year and it is estimated that 500,000-600,000 of these have entered the country illegally. However, under new legislation, from September each family will be able to register 1 non-EU colf and 2 non-EU badanti [provided these are already in Italy and provided the employer meets the income requirement in the case of the former] thus regularising their presence in the country. This will solve the problems of many working women but it isn't going to help the ailing elderly.

On we go: this morning Lucia visited, bearing a jar of asparagi which her husband had picked from their garden and preserved. I'm dreaming of all the nice risotti I am going to make with these and trying not to think of possible after effects!

I would like to be able to show you a photo of Leapy, but he's too fast for me! Leapy is a baby lizard [well, he was a baby when I first encountered him but he's grown some] who lives on the balcony. He darts out from behind my plants when I water them. But at the weekend, when I opened the gas meter cupboard [on another balcony] something moved very fast and I just caught a glimpse of Leapy. I worried myself silly in case he had got trapped in there and it was ages before it occurred to me that he knew the way in [through a grille, presumably] and therefore must know a way out. He didn't appear yesterday and I thought he'd gone back behind the plants but this morning there he was, leaping round the cupboard again. I don't know the first thing about lizards, except that I prefer them to spiders [but then, I prefer King Kong to spiders] so if you do, please could you tell me: is he intelligent enough to get out when he wants to? Is he sleeping in there? Should I put some water in the cupboard for him and, most importantly, should I try to get him out of there?

Raffaele the hairdresser has been working on his publicity again and has come up with a little booklet telling you about your star sign and how you can improve your life [by visiting the salon!] I think it's a neat idea:

As for me, I have at last [thanks to Lancôme] achieved tanned legs! Four years in Sicily and I have not managed this feat previously. I do find it hellishly difficult, if not impossible, to tan, and I really have the sort of skin that you should keep out of the sun. However, dear reader, if you had such pale skin and lived among the bronzed lovelies of Italy, you would want to go out dressed in a bin bag in summer! So this year I braved the tanning booth for 10 x 15-minute sessions [I know it gives you wrinkles and worse!] and the result? A slight tan [a tan on me would be a normal colour on everyone else] everywhere except on my legs and my face [the latter intentionally protected by total sun block and a ton of make-up]. Finally I decided that "the only safe tan is a fake tan" and did the deed this morning, after bathing, exfoliating, moisturising and all the other preparation. I'm quite pleased with the result and can face the world! By the way, in the July edition of Good Housekeeping [to which I have a subscription] a woman has written to the beauty editor to say that her husband hates the smell of fake tan. The editor replies that this "must be a male thing" so do tell me, gentlemen readers, is this true? My theory is that they put something chocolatey in it because I like the smell!

Some of you will know that, after water and the Sicilian post office, the bane of my life is the VBS [visible bra strap] and after that, any kind of inelegant garment strap. So why, oh why, are clothes designers putting straps on every top or sleeveless dress I see, sometimes up to 4 of the things? I could understand it if there was some semblance of a bra within the garment, as the straps would be needed to hold it up, but of course, there isn't and the straps are too flimsy to hold the garment itself up. Most of us will need to wear a strapless bra under these tops or dresses so what is the point of adding any straps at all to them?

Lastly, here is the ice cream of the week - croccantino all'amarena [crunchy stuff with black cherries] at Modica's Gipsy Bar:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Yes, I'm still here! I didn't get around to posting yesterday because I spent the whole day trying to upload the video of the second TV interview about the poetry book onto youtube.

When I was first given the video file [on a memory stick] I couldn't open it, whatever I did. I tried Winzip but to no avail so I took the stick to the computer shop, where they said I needed Winrar ["Win what?"] which they put on for me. I came home, opened the file with that [eventually] then tried to upload it. No, no - not youtube-compatible so then I mucked around for hours with the video converter, which has converted the file [to something or other] twice. Then it helpfully says, "Open file?" and I say, "Yes", my documents come up and guess what? I can't find it! After hours and hours of this game I found something that looked as if it might be the file, so off I hopefully went over to youtube. I pressed "Carica video", that little circle sign that looks like the "cool air" icon on my air conditioner appeared to be going round and doing something, I filled in all the blurb about the video and it told me it had uploaded. So I go to "my videos" and it's there, all right - but with a message informing me it has been "impossibile da convertire il video". What now? I haven't the foggiest. If anyone out there has any ideas at all about this, I'll be grateful to read them!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The soprano Adriana Iozzia is my dear friend Irma's daughter and I have known her since she was 6 years old. So it was with considerable pride that I attended Adriana's operatic recital at Modica's delightful Teatro Garibaldi last night. [Irma had seen to it that my friends and I were allocated a box for the occasion and that made it even more exciting for of course, part of the joy of going to such an intimate and charming theatre is seeing who else is there and what they are wearing!]

Adriana is now a beautiful and confident young woman of 23 who has studied under Mirella Freni and Renata Scotto but I first realised that she had the voice of an angel when I heard her sing in a church during the Christmas festivities of 1995. Many children have pleasing voices but few continue to dedicate themselves to music in the way that Adriana has and when I heard her 10 years later I knew that she was a potential star. She is now completing her musical studies at the Conservatorio "G. Frescobaldi" in Ferrara.

Last night Adriana was accompanied by the Modican pianist Sergio Carrubba and the programme consisted of:

Mozart: An Chloe
Mozart: Giunse alfin il momento...deh vieni non tardar from Le Nozze di Figaro
Gounod: Air des Bijoux from Faust
Donizetti: Regnava nel silenzio...quando rapito in estasi from Lucia di Lammermoor
Verdi: Egli non riede ancora...non so le tetre immagini from Il Corsaro
Rachmaninov: Sogno
Puccini: Quando m'en vo' from La Bohème
Puccini: O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi [always makes me cry!]
Arditi: Il bacio
Tosti: Malìa
Tosti: L'ultima canzone

A well-chosen and interesting programme, I'm sure you'll agree, and how I wish you could all have been there to hear this fresh, lovely young voice! You really would have felt that Adriana was singing just for you, as I did.

Here is a photo of Adriana aged 9, dressed for carnival:

It is not easy to take decent photos under theatre lights so these were the best I could achieve last night of Adriana and Maestro Carrubba:

Grazie per la bella serata, Adri!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Tomato jam may sound odd, but I assure you that it's a good accompaniment to cold meats and cheese and you can even dollop it on bruschette. There's a recipe for green tomato jam in the booklet that came with my miracle machine but as we don't get many green tomatoes here, I 've adapted the recipe for red tomatoes and added some spices:

1 kg plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 kg vanilla sugar [just leave a vanilla pod in the pack of sugar overnight]
juice of 1 lemon
1 teasp ground ginger
1 teasp ground cloves
commercial pectin, liquid or powder

Put the lemon juice in a measuring jug and make up to 200 ml with water. Pour it into the bowl of a jam-making machine or into a preserving pan and chuck everything else in. If you are using the machine, follow the instructions for your chosen programme and stir in the pectin at the end. If you are making this the traditional way, bring the ingredients to the boil then simmer, stirring, till you have a soft set. Add the pectin according to the instructions on the bottle or packet. Pot in the usual way. Refrigerate once opened.


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