Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I want a better year !

I have been noticeably gone from the blog for a week. I had decided to take a break, and spend some more time with the family. Well, the day I wanted to start to post again, I got a phone call from my sister ... She told me that my mom had a brain blood cloth ( brain stroke ? ) and is at the Hospital in Pula (Croatia) where my parents currently live.

My parents were at the market, getting groceries, and having a coffee, when suddenly my mom felt dizzy, had a short loss of consciousness and lost use of her right hand for several minutes.
The ambulance was called, and she was admitted at the local hospital for what appears to be a transient ischemic attack (ITA) Now, she seems to be doing fine. The doctors are going to run the usual tests for this situation, CatScan, MRI, and attempt to find the blood cloth, and decide the appropriate course of action.

My sister ( who is a volunteer paramedic ) says she thinks the doctors at the Pula hospital seem to be quite good, however she will talk to them again after all the test are done, and decide if a transport to Italy could be needed.

I am stuck here, at the other side of the ocean, and quite worried. I hope she will have a full recovery. January the 17th is going to be their 50th wedding anniversary.

This year has been not a good one, and 2009 better get to work fast, and improve some.
Normal posts will resume soon.

Happy 2009 to all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Food Tuesday: Fusi

If by now you have already said: "Fusi, off course" your taste buds are already salivating, and most likely, we are originally from the same geographical region. Rob, off course, from Trieste Daily Photo already knows fusi, I am sure of that.

By posting about fusi, I completely expose myself and my origins, for fusi originally are from a small area in the northeast of Italy, then over the Italian border, into Istria, a region in northwestern Croatia. Land of simple people, farmers, small towns and villages, along the seas, fishermen.

Of all the food I have ever eaten, fusi is by far, the one with the most evocative power. Home prepared egg-pasta, dressed usually with "old-chicken, sauteed a looong time" sauce, fusi has the power to bring me back into the past, immediately.

My grandma's hands, white with flower, rolling the dough, while the smell of chicken cooking invades her small house. My grandpa, Bepi, the sweetest, kindest grandpa you have ever met, ready with the tool to roll up the small squares of pasta, and obtain fusi. He was the only one trusted with that step of preparing fusi. You roll to little, and the fusi are too big and get loose in boiling. You roll to "tight" and they do not cook well. It's a form of art, and nonno Bepi was a master. Off course, every time there were arguments between nonno Bepi and nonna Roma, but it was their way of being. Yes, my grandma's name was "Roma Italia Libera". I definitely had a great-grandfather with a sense of humor.

Fusi is easy to make, sauce is easy to make. So what all the fuss ? Simple because, as any good cook can tell you, the master of a chef can be seen in how he/she prepars the simplest of the dishes. Never underestimate the complexity of something simple.

Besides, fusi used to be the food of holidays, important events, guests in the house, and ruining the main dish was a smear of shame.

Fusi was the main dish, the we usually had radicchio, a local bitter salad, with hard boiled eggs sliced in it, onion razor-thing sliced in the salad, vinegar and oil.

A simple meal, comfort food, uncomplicated as the times were back then. Nonno Bepi and nonna Roma would be proud to know that their great-grand-children, in a land as far away as Texas, so far they could not even imagine, one day would make fusi, and eat them, while listening to stories of a place far away, the only link, the food they were eating.

Buon appetito.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trieste's Elderly

Trieste is an old city, not only historically, but by its own demographics. The last time I checked, over 50% of the city's population was over 65, and for Italy, that is quite a record.

One interesting characteristic of this segment of Trieste's population is that they so get around, more than their counterparts in other Italian cities. There are ongoing Universities studies that try to understand how is it that Trieste's elderly population, is the healthiest, most socially engaged and more active in most of Italy.

The sure go around. Cars and buses, some on foot, but the city bus is the cheapest, and more convenient mean of transportation they often have. It is fun to meet them, and to observe them. They are almost always quite vocal, so one can hear even if you don't really want to.

We lived in Trieste for a year without a car, so we had to use the city buses quite often, to go around, and we had our share of "close encounters" with "i veci de Trieste".
Old ladies started up conversations with us, every single time we had little Angelina with us.

Trieste must be a city with a big "baby deficit" for everywhere we went, our youngest kids were "old ladies" magnet. There was one, that we met two or three times near Piazzale Rosmini, she was all over us, went to the store and bought candies for Angelina, she was incredible.
She told us the story of her life, in 15 minutes.

Arguing over who is the oldest and who should give the seat to whom, is one of the funniest things you will hear. "No, you see, I was born in '29 so, I am practically young, don't worry, you take my seat" "NO, YOU don't understand, I remember when we had that bad cold winter, Mariuccia, when was that ..? " By the time they have settled the age argument, it's time for them to step off the bus, so you will never know who should have given up the seat to whom. Until they meet the next time on another bus... ;-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quick weekend post.

Today is a dog-day. Fridge broke, and off course it's full of food. Olive oil spilled on the floor tops this Saturday morning. That's why today is going to be a different, quick blog.

I was browsing at pictures from last year, when we where in Italy, and I found my favorite sequence of "clicks". No, they are not technically perfect any way or form.
It's what they represent that counts more than anything. These two in the phots are my Dad and my youngest daughter, Angelina, having a blast of fun at Christmas eve's (Vigilia di Natale ) dinner last year.

They are the oldest and youngest of a the Italian side of the family. I have four kids, my sister has 4 as well, that makes for a respectable size family gathering. Last Christmas, when these pictures where taken, my Dad and Angelina were inseparable.

She adores him, and for my dad, she is the youngest and the last grandchild. No wonder they "sparkle" together.

Memories of a fantastic family reunion, when laugh, smiles, plenty of things to share and remember, in the future, when things will be different.

I will let them have fun, while I clean up the oil ...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Take me out to the Ballgame !

Baseball: per il 99% degli italiani, un mistero. Noi, maestri del calcio, fischietto, zona cesarini, calci d' angolo, arbitri ciechi, palle impazzite, partite roventi su campetti di periferia, fango, polvere, ginocchia sbucciate, ed alla fine, il ghiacciolo (oppure la birra) in oratorio.

Il baseball ? per quanto ne capiamo noi, potrebbe anche essere in cinese, guarda. Abito da 6 anni a due chilometri da uno dei campi di baseball piu' belli e "pro-famiglia" del Texas centrale, ci vado spesso, ma il baseball devo ancora capirlo. E' una filosofia, non uno sport.

L' estate, in America e' sinonimo di baseball. Hotgod, zucchero a velo, fuochi artificiali, una partita che puo' durare anche ore ed ore, con interruzioni praticamente ogni minuto. Non' e tanto un evento sportivo, quanto un avvenimento sociale, una gita. Ecco, una gita. Si parla, litiga, si mangia l' eterno hot-dog (ma quanti ne mangiano gli yankee, di 'ste salsiccette ? ) patatine fritte ricoperte di formaggio fuso ( moooolto dietetico il tutto ) ed ogni tanto si guarda la partia, sperando di acchiappare una palla volante ( occhio, devi saperlo fare, con il guantone, altrimenti ci rimetti le dita...) e di vedere un "home run" ( Ma perche' devono correre a casa... ;-) ?

Poi, ci sono i tifosi. Sanno tutto. Il tifoso americano non puo' vivere senza un armamentario di statistiche da far impallidire un computer, per ogni giocatore. E se le ricordano tutte, questo e' stupefacente. Altro che le nostre discussioni alla Birreria Dreher ( non fatemi pensare a cosa c'e ora li' che mi arrabbio) su sfiga e arbitri fessi, giornate nere e "andra meglio la prossima volta.
Noi, la speranza, una bestemmia, ed un sorso di birra. Loro, le statistiche, precise.

Il fatalismo latino/mediterraneo contro il pensiero quasi matematicamente "binario", preciso come un rasoio.

In ogni caso, andare al ball park, per uno che non e' americano e' uno spasso ed una radiografia sulla societa' americana. Ci si diverte. Hotdogs a parte... ;-) La coreografia e' assicurata da una regia perfetta. Giochi per i bimbi negli intervalli (moltissimi) , pubblicita' , concorsi a premi, spezzoni di film, e' veramente uno spettacolo nello spettacolo. Da non perderlo, se capitate vicino ad un "ballpark"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are we moving yet ?

As a general population, Americans move way more often than Italians. I know something about that...

In the States one moves following a job, a family member, or, sometimes, ... just because, almost for no apparent reason, following a nomad genetic instinct that pushes people to wonder from state to state.

In the last 10 years the general consensus has been that Californian are escaping the high cost of living in California and moving to Texas, where generally speaking, the cost of life not so high.

It's not that simple. I often wondered how can they do it, so easily. Talking to them about it, it' s like nothing. Pack your stuff, rent-a-truck, drive and you are gone. It almost seems like the truck or a trailer has replaced the wagon, from the Old West.
For Europeans, Italians, we see things quite differently. Moving is usually done in the same city, or at most in the same "Regione". More than that, it is a life long trauma. We are so tied to our land, our food, smells, the sound of our dialect, oh my gosh. Just writing "un spritz de bianco e un ovo duro, una de sardoni" makes me salivate. The smell of Bora in winter, the sound of the sea... Don't get too nostalgic here.

A friend told me once, that I need to "bloom where you are planted"
Then, she run to load up her moving truck and moved back to Texas, from Arkansas.
The picture in this post is living proof of that ... ;-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Food Tuesday

I know, I am late.
Hey, here it's 11:33PM, on TUESDAY, so, technically, I am still ok.

Well, food then. I start the food Tuesday with Breakfast, Texas style. Every now and then, my wife's grandparents invite us over for breakfast, and it is a sweet moment. They really enjoy having us and the rest of the (big) family over in the morning to have some coffe, and a full size breakfast.

And while it is really neat to see my youngest daughter ( 2 years old) eating across the table from her great grandfather (84) , if you are on a diet of any sort, this is a breakfast not for the faint of heart. The final result is above, let's see the ingredients one at the time:

Sausage and beacon:

Then we add the eggs:

Now the biscuits:

A little bit of gravy ( Rob, si tratta di besciamella) on them biscuits, a hot cup of coffee, and you are set. It's good if you are a lumberjack, not too good if after this you go and seat at a desk for 8 hours... Either way, for us, dieting consideration aside, "breakfast at (great) grandma is a treat not to miss. It's a moment spent together, as a (big) family, and in this world that seems to be spinning out of control, it's not a small thing, is it ?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ma scherziamo ? - You got to be kidding me.

Me lo permettete uno sfogo ?
Grazie, ora vado...

Insomma, ero a Roma con la famiglia, non mi ricordo piu' nemmeno perche', ma sono andato in farmacia ad acquistare della vitamina C. Fino a qui, semplice, no ?

Arrivato a casa, apro la confezione della vitamina C ( marca Cebion ) e c'e' la prima sorpresa: "oh, ma il tubetto con le compresse effervescenti e' piuttosto piu' piccolo della confezione .... A questo punto le scatole girano gia' , al minimo, ma girano... Apro il tubetto, stupefatto, guardo, controllo, ri-controllo, non c'e' la possibilita' di errore. Mo' le palle girano stile turbina a reazione.

Vedete anche voi dalla foto, non servono commenti, vero ? Non ho rimosso neppure UNA compressa, quello che vedete e il contenuto del tubetto, intonso, senza essere toccato se non per metterlo sul ripiano.

Ma ci prendono veramente per idioti ? E io credevo che Beppe Grillo a volte esagerava !
Questo e' solo un piccolo esempio, ma indicativo. E continueranno a farlo, fino a che noi (fessi) continuiamo a stare zitti. Chi tace acconsente.

Scusate lo sfogo, vi auguro una buona settimana, a tutti voi.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

E mo' ?

E adesso, che cosa faccio ?
Finita la pellicola, finita la batteria, aspetto.

Non so cosa, ma

Il mare davanti, le possibilita' infinite,
io aspetto.

Ci fosse una barca, una vela, a portarmi via,
andrei come il vento.

Aspetto, forse verra'.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Blue Ladder

I don't know what it is, really. We helped some friends to repaint a room in their house, and between painting and chatting, someone took this picture, and since then, I have been looking at it, and I still try to understand what is it that makes it so compelling ( to me )

In short: I like it, but I don't know why....

Any help out there ?

BTW, it's Friday, finally !

Thursday, December 11, 2008

MY bench.

Camping Stoia, just outside of the city of Pola, in Croatia. Place where I was born and lived for the first six years of my life, before moving away.

I came back every summer for many years, until 1997 when I moved (again) to Texas, USA.

This photo was taken last summer, when I had the opportunity to spend a few days there, truly "back home".

I otherwise grew up in Trieste, and for many aspects that city is home as well.

Istria and Pola, however, are encoded in my genes, and I cannot escape my destiny of, someday, going back.
If anyone has read "Gli dei torneranno" by Sgorlon, and its message, then you will know why.

That bench is waiting. That sea is waiting. Someday, I will be back, fishing line, cold beer, smile.

I can almost smell it ...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TT Texas Thursday

Texas, land of big spaces, is a State full of surprises. Last week I was on my way back from camping with some friends, when on the side of the road I saw one of the symbols of Texas: The Texas Longhorns.

In Italy we have the Marchigiana, in Istria there is the "Bue d' Istria", Texas has "Texas Longhorns". No need to explain that name. Off course the pictures are not that clear.

No way I am getting any closer to THOSE horns...

Ciao !

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Food Tuesday

Starting today, every Tuesday I will post about food.
Food is another of those things that has the power to reconnect us with something that is inside us, since childhood. Like the food critic in the movie Ratatouille, at times a smell, a flavor is enough to dig out distant memories. And remember, I said food. You will find recipes, pictures, suggestions and fun stuff like that. We start the "food day" with a picture of my littlest one eating ice cream in Austin, last summer.

When is the last time you had ice cream this way ?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hot Texas ? I don't think so ..

Everybody always says it's hot in Texas, and yes, in the summer you really don't want to have to live without Air Conditioning. Winters are "usually" mild and rather short.

Winter 2003, however was a different one and it brought us a cold spell that lasted a while ( a week of cold in Texas is long and it brought us this ice that was collecting all around.

My daughter Isabella was having fun with the ice !

Friday, December 5, 2008

Best Friends !

With 4 kids, and their friends around quite often, there are plenty of opportunities to observe how they interact, and the dynamics of their relationships, not much different from ours, really.

Here is Isabella (left) , my third child and 2nd daughter, with her best friend Morgan (Morgan is the one with the UT logo painted on her cheek) These two kids are like twins separated at birth, they cling on each other, laugh, argue, spend time, and creating memories that will follow them for a long time.

In these times of uncertainty and depressing news all around us, it is sweet to see how friendship is, pure, loyal, and sweet.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

TT: Texas Thursday

The cows, Texas cows that is.
In Austin, Texas there is a place called "The Arboretum", it's a shopping center with a small park. In the park, there are some cows. Stone cows, that is. Marble, actually. Even better, Italian marble.

These cows have been here for more than 20 years, and they are a favorite "kids portrait" spot.
Next door, a fantastic Ice Cream shop "Amy's Ice Cream" and a fabulous book store ( one of my favorite way to "kill time" is at a bookstore).

My kids have grown between the cows, ice cream, and books. Not bad.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Barcola is a beautiful long seaside walkway in Trieste, as I already posted in this blog, and as Rob from Trieste Daily Photo showed us.

What is not much known to people outside of Trieste is that Triestini are avid "outdoors" people. Hiking, biking, you name it. One of the outdoor activities that triestini do not give up easily, is the "andiamo a Barcola" ( Let's go to Barcola for a walk )

Not cold, rain, sleet or snow will stop them. Last year I was back in Trieste for a while, and off course I too run to Barcola as often as I could, no matter the weather. One of those days, I saw this mom and her little girl walking in a day that usually kids are at home.. It was cold, rainy and just "one of those days" that you think you should have staid home... And here they were, happily walking. My daughter Francesca was with me, she took the camera and "click" ...