27 April 2011

roma, ieri

ANZAC service in Rome, 2011. (Post and more photos on the Legato blog).

eggs, songs and pickle

I had already eaten my Easter egg when the "right" day for it arrived. Dark chocolate, and lots of it. A Cassino friend had brought me an early gift. I wasn't going to buy any eggs. I had baulked at the price (from 12 to 40 euros for a fancy one, smaller ones from 8 to 12 euros) but then found a great one at a reasonable price and relented. I was glad that I did, as it was the first Italian egg for my Kiwi visitor. She was horrified when I said I had already demolished one all by myself, but perhaps my one wasn't quite as big as this...

The mass that I chose to go to (yes, I do go occasionally as it is a normal part of life here) was the lighting of the new light on Saturday night, the mass starting at 9.30pm. I was out shortly after as there was so much incense that I thought I was going to have an asthma attack. Are there no Catholic asthmatics? My lungs were still screaming the next day, and I am not really an asthmatic. Sunday was better, with a slow start to the day. We went exploring by car across the valley and into my favourite church at Aquino, and caught up with German and Italian friends for home-made Colomba and a glass of bubbly.

Yesterday was a trip to Rome for the ANZAC service. We had an early start to catch the 6.10 train, and then took a taxi to the Rome war cemetery. I will write a post about the service on the Legato blog later, and upload some photos. I was very lucky to be standing next to Bonni for the singing as the earlier rain meant that there was no sound system. How wonderful to have a voice like hers in the group at the service. I'm not sure that I was in key, but I did my best to add some volume.

After the morning tea at the NZ Embassy it was sad goodbye to Bonni who was going back to Civitavecchia. We had a lot of fun over Easter, lots of laughter, and I will miss her terribly when she leaves Italy in a few weeks time. I was home by dark and the dogs were delighted to see me as they had been alone all day. It was good to see Piccolina just as excited as Zacchi.

This morning the vet showed me the blood results for Piccolina. They are Ok, not perfect, one level on the high side and one very much on the low side, others a mixture, but all are still in the normal range. Strict diet for her, nothing to put a burden on the kidneys, and lots of skin care too.

The problem is that she is contagious so if she is bitten my those particular mosquitoes (I believe it is actually a sandfly) she will spread the disease to other dogs. I am going to spray outside regularly for sandflies and mosquitoes, I don't think the council did it at all last year but they usually do. I will watch with more attention this year when the mozzies start.

Pickle has three types of tablets, and two different washes for her skin, so her treatment is time consuming but her spirit tonight when we snuck out for a walk in the dark away from curious eyes was most reassuring. (I walked them at night because she is not at her prettiest at the moment).

Walking is a very good idea, as, surprise surprise, Easter is also a time of over-eating here. The 40 egg cake (this being the smallest version, as the recipe is actually for 80 or 100 eggs) from Pontecorvo is very yummy! My own contribution to over-eating was this pineapple upside down cake. Because I used a non-stick pan the sugar turned to toffee when I caramelised it and the result was better than I expected! Bonni and I, with a little help from passing friends, soon demolished the "dolce" so I didn't eat it all by myself. Thankfully my foot is much better the last couple of days, I think I can go bandage free now and also work off a little cake.

This has been more of a letter, not a great post, but at least you are up-to-date with me again. I have a frantically busy time ahead of me with Legato and touring with my friends from Tirau, not to mention trying to keep my students going at the same time. There may be big gaps in postings. It will be great though, as these tourists want to meander in smaller towns and through the countryside, and I have planned a trip with some great places to visit. We are staying in monasteries and apartments, and the first accommodation will be in the trulli houses! I am really keen to see them myself. There will be photos in time, to make you want to come and visit too!

Today I am grateful for dogs that take me walking again.

22 April 2011

a little italian

...is sometimes enough! The words on the telephone "non e' grave" were music to my ears. We go back on Tuesday to start the assault on my wallet (actually, that should read "continue...") so I ducked in and ordered my canvases so there will be an extra couple of special paintings for the Pickle fund!

Life is good, treats for all!

Today I am also grateful for blood tests for dogs.

waiting with hope

Today Piccolina was positively diagnosed as having the nasty disease we have been dreading. Hopefully, because she still seems very well in many ways, it is only the lesser version. The vet is still very optimistic that she doesn't have the worst case scenario on her hands.

This is the most hopeful thing I have yet found on Google. I have to say that Google prepared me for the absolute worst.
The treatment of leishmaniasis depends on the form of the disease (cutaneous, mucocutaneous, or visceral), and may be in the form of tablets or injections. Cutaneous leishmaniasis sometimes heals on its own and may not require treatment.
So, Easter treats it is for everyone, only no chocolate for dogs so I will have to eat all of that myself. Thanks Jack for the yummy dried fish treats you and C brought for me, but I will be giving those to Pickle... :-)

Oh! You mean they weren't for me? Not even the chocolates are mine? (sto scherzando!)

Today I am grateful for two little dogs.

19 April 2011

there will be a path

No, I haven't suddenly "found my way". There is no path, paths are made by walking. But here in my beautiful village "they" are making a footpath. Great news? Or not so great?

One of the things I love about my town is that we walk on the road, not on the footpath. Footpaths are for seating, for checking out the talent, for meeting together. Never, ever, are they for serious walking. In the summer the tables and chairs spill across the footpaths into the parking and onto the road. And so, in a slow waltz with the traffic, we walk, stroll, meander down the road.

But in my part of the village, the tiny hamlet with not a single shop (and long may that status last), we drive in the centre of the road because walkers do, all the time, walk along the verges and on the valley side of the road. To drive where one would expect when travelling south would be to wipe out half the population. But now...?

The question is this: when they have finished putting the footpath and seating along our hillside, on the valley side of the road, where oh where will we park our cars? And if we park them next to the seating on the footpaths, where will the pedestrians walk? They wont be able to walk on the footpaths, cos that's not what footpaths are for, and they wont be able to walk where we eventually park (legally or not). I guess that leaves the middle of the road for pedestrians, and that happens to be where we drive.

And so, no matter which direction you are heading, I suspect that we will all soon be driving on the rock-face side of the road, as pedestrians seldom walk on that side. Our slow traffic waltzes might have to become polkas and quicksteps and there could be a few "bumps a daisys".

Today I am grateful for lost items found.

16 April 2011

without words

I have been trying to find the words to write about last night's performance of La Passione at the Grotto of Tiberius, Sperlonga. Like so many things here in Italy it was a paradox, a wonderful paradox that works.

Our weather has been terrible, so I dressed warmly for an outdoor performance by the sea. I thought that maybe we would be sitting on rocks, so the plastic chairs were a welcome surprise. How I love this place. It is absolutely normal to be sitting on plastic chairs amongst the Roman ruins that in New Zealand would be "don't touch, eyes only" museum pieces.

I happily took an end of row seat, my usual preference so I can take photographs without blocking another's view. That put me near the speaker; not a problem, but yet another delightful contradiction. 21st century facilities emerging from 2000+ year old history.

For a while the weather seemed kind, but I secretly hoped that my hosts had put in an extra umbrella as I had neglected to bring mine.

The wind lifted, usually at moments of high drama, and fell again. The rain almost came, raindrops touching us all, mingling with tears, right when Christ was crying out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and then was lifted on his cross.

Here it seems even the weather knows how to play its part in a real life drama.

I think what left me without words was that, for the first time, I could really picture what it was like, all those centuries ago when Christ was crucified. I wasn't in a church, or a theatre, or a cinema. I was sitting in the remains of the buildings of that very time, where some of the key players had been, and was watching as though the crucifixion was happening right then, in real time. We had no control of the elements. There was no "set stage". We had to watch the hillside to see where things were happening. There was real angst as the cross was carried by Jesus, driven by flailing whips. The long wait, wondering quite what was going on as the body was abused prior to the cross being raised. And then, when all the other players had returned to the lower level directly in front of us, and had taken their bows, that huge moment of relief when further up the hillside the player representing Christ, the risen Christ, was illuminated, for me for all too short a time.

It made me aware also of my protestant upbringing. I remember being told as a child (in answer to my question) that one of the differences between my faith and the Roman Catholic faith was that we worshipped the risen Christ, while the Catholic religion focused more on the crucified Christ. Certainly at the time the churches seemed to display this. I was protected as a child from such terrible scenes. For the children with us last night it was emotional, but not unexpected, witnessing these acts of inhumanity against man.

I didn't cry, and that too amazed me. I think it was because I was so involved in feeling present, as a witness, in a way I hadn't felt before. This was something that was not about my enjoyment or pain or how I was responding to it from my point of view. It was as though I were a participant, compelled in some way to be a part of this shocking history. Perhaps it was really the first time the grim reality of this story had come fully alive for me.

It was a reminder of what we still do to one another today.

Today I am grateful for a sense of awakening.

man's inhumanity to man

Tonight's hour long performance of La Passione was a powerful yet sobering experience. This video clip is just a tiny sample.
I went to the seaside resort of Sperlonga with friends to see The Passion of Christ. This was enacted on the beachfront hillside amongst the ruins of Roman villas, where Emperor Tiberius and other wealthy Romans had villas by the sea. Tiberius was the emperor when Christ was crucified.
Although I couldn't see this in the dark, these ruins extend out into the water.

It was a very emotional performance, and more than once I felt young eyes on me - was it to avoid crying, or to see if I was shedding a tear? The children were visibly moved, and like me had very little to say at the end of the performance. What a rich environment these children are growing up in.

(If someone can tell me how to upload a 7 minute video I will put it on here).

Today I am grateful for friendship.

14 April 2011

piccolina again

Well, Zacchi, the yummy treats are all yours. The vet suggested that if it is not the REALLY serious disease I was so worried about, then Piccolina's bad case of hair loss and irritated skin could be an allergic and overly sensitive reaction to a lesser complaint that ails her. And that means a very strict change of diet. For Pickle. At considerable cost, I might add! Soooooo...

Piccolina gets caviar, and Zacchi gets the treats. OK? (Right on, says Zacchi!)

In the meantime, I think back to teaching fourth form girls who insisted on squeezing one another's zits at lunchtime, or cutting off the split ends of their hair in class, (yes, I remember you well!) and I sit and pick at Piccolina's head and neck... Eeewww! The scabs have to come off, and leave the wounds to the air. Zacchi was trying to do this for her two days ago and I stopped him, even though I could see that he was being gentle as he scraped at her face. He knew more than I did.

I finally got back to Italian class today. Travel and then a rather painful foot injury kept me away. It felt so good to be driving without problems (staying in neutral at the traffic lights rather than hovering in gear with foot on the clutch but otherwise managing well) and back into some sort of routine.

Now to be more productive in the studio, and life will be great again!

Today I am grateful for Italian lessons.

13 April 2011

piccolina update

Pickle greeted me at the door again this morning, looking well but with puffy eyes. She is very happy for me to put ointment in them, and I do wonder if the light bothers her sometimes.

When there is any disturbance at night only Zacchi barks now, and that is a bad sign. Joining the fracas is one of her favourite roles.

She is loving her treats and the antibiotic goes down well in sausage. Zacchi looks quite amazed... Mum was never this generous with tidbits before! Yum!

It's still too hard to say how she is really. We must go back to the vet tomorrow or Friday, or at least on or before 15th.

Today I am grateful for veterinary medicines.

12 April 2011

so who was a clever girl then?

Washing and putting away all her winter clothes? This is the forecast for later in the week: AWFUL!

The sun and spring weather has been wonderful; may it reappear again soon!

Just how many "stings in the tail" can one winter have?

Today I am grateful for clean warm clothes.

literature? i think so :-)


From "archys life of mehitabel" by Don Marquis.

the stuff of literature

thank your friends for me for
all their good advice about how to
work your typewriter but what i have
always claimed is that manners and methods
are no great matter compared
with thoughts in poetry you can't hide
gems of thought so they wont flash
on the world on the other hand if you press
agent poor stuff that wont make it live
my ego will express itself in spite of
all mechanical obstacles having something
to say is the thing being sincere
counts for more than forms of expression thanks
for the doughnuts



11 April 2011

i was sorting out papers in the studio

when I came across "the stuff of literature" by archy the cockroach. It remains one of my favourite pieces of writing and my poster of it (a gift from TC many years ago) travelled to Italy with me from NZ in one of the earlier "moving from NZ 20kgs at a time" trips. While searching for it on the web I got as far as this work, and hope I am not breaking copyright by reproducing it here. (You'll have to wait for "the stuff of literature"). After yesterday's post this seems apt:

archy protests

By Don Marquis, in "archys life of mehitabel," 1933

say comma boss comma capital
i apostrophe m getting tired of
being joshed about my
punctuation period capital t followed by
he idea seems to be
that capital i apostrophe m
ignorant where punctuation
is concerned period capital n followed by
o such thing semi
colon the fact is that
the mechanical exigencies of
the case prevent my use of
all the characters on the
typewriter keyboard period
capital i apostrophe m
doing the best capital
i can under difficulties semi colon
and capital i apostrophe m
grieved at the unkindness
of the criticism period please
consider that my name
is signed in small
caps period

archy period

(source: http://www.donmarquis.com/readingroom/archybooks/archyprotests.html)

To find more of this delightful work click here for the reading room index.

Today I am grateful for spring weather.

10 April 2011

aaaah this language thing!

Today I blogged for Legato, and tied myself up in knots with the English language. Here is the introduction to the post:
Peace - an Uncommon Concept?

A people sacrificed for peaceful principles recover their identity and lead by example even in these troubled times:

So deeply committed to their pacifist beliefs and their covenant of peace, that just over 170 years ago, they deliberately refused to abandon their principles in the face of unwarranted aggression, with horrendous consequences. The last "full-blooded" Moriori died in 1933. The Moriori story and Nunuku's covenant of peace, provides a vital message for today's turbulent world.

Peace is not a new concept in the world, just an uncommon one.

(Source: http://www.education-resources.co.nz/)
Where, oh where, does common usage take over from semantic correctness?

My problem today was using the word "people" as a collective noun. I have opted to leave it as I think it flows best, but deep down is that sneaking suspicion that I have erred, unforgivingly, and ignored the rules of syntax.

And then there was the colon. No, not an irritable bowel type of colon, but the one used in punctuation. In my blog post it began as a full stop, but as the text being quoted was technically not a full sentence a colon seemed to work better. The writer had, either for effect or inadvertently, delayed naming the subject of the sentence until the next sentence by using a pronoun in place of a noun in the introductory sentence to the paragraph.

Yesterday I learned (thanks to the BBC) that Lol (laughing out loud) is now in the dictionary as a word in its own right. I used to shudder in horror at such additions. Now I simply sigh, and appreciate the fact that all those who were mistakenly using it for Lots of Love, often at most inappropriate times, can now "Look it up in the dictionary!"

Language. Love it or hate it. Sometimes, in fact quite often these days, I suspect that I am losing it.

Today I am grateful for contemplation.

thank you Jack

Thank you from Piccolina, Zacchi and me!

PS The tulip bulbs were given to me by children from Pontecorvo who purchased the bulbs when on holiday in Holland, or, as my Italian map labels it, Paesi Bassi.

that's what friends are for...

This morning Zacchi woke me to get help for Piccolina. He ran from her kennel to the door, one bark for her and several for me. He was clearly concerned that she wasn't moving.

I checked on the trembling form at the back of the kennel, but couldn't make her even look at me, let alone coax her out. Yesterday she had seemed strong, but her paws were pink and swelling a little.

I sent out an SOS. Maybe their favourite "dog minder", famous for having pockets full of treats, could coax her out.

Nature, however, intervened first. Yesterday the gate between me and the fountain had been left unlocked,. Zacchi had pushed through and was chasing the neighbour's chooks that stray regularly into the semi-abandoned area between us. The squawking of the hens was enough to rouse Pickle, and when I called Zacchi home Pickle was out of the kennel and about to join the chase.

When our friend arrived I knew ahead of time that he was near the door. Pickle was telling me that the car was on its way and she wanted to be inside the house to greet our visitor. From the moment he came downstairs her tail wagged, and didn't stop until he left. Now, of course, it really has stopped wagging, as only boring old mum who hands out antibiotics, sprays and ointments and has said enough of the sausages until the next medicine time, is left here.

The verdict? Pickle is still strong, is eating well, is demanding and bossy, and so is likely to survive this affliction whatever it is.

The early stages:Alternately too still and reclusive or noisy, demanding, and being the boss, poor Pickle is not photogenic now!

Tomorrow is bath time again, with a focus on getting the scabs off her face. Good friend has volunteered to assist. The test will be to see if their friendship will survive that!
Today I am grateful for the good health of a demanding dog.

8 April 2011

on water, dogs and independence

Piccolina says that she would far rather go to the vet for an injection than have a bath!

Zacchi, seeing the bath tub being washed and warmed, simply flattened himself into the concrete, turned his head away, looked miserable and waited for the inevitable. He allowed himself to be trimmed, lathered, doused, dunked and dried. This time there was not even a growl. Even without his collar on I had complete control of the bath time.

Piccolina fought, pulled, twisted and turned, yelped and was generally uncooperative. I had to hold her collar and keep her under control. In the end I think I was as wet as she was.

Zacchi, after his bath, shook himself and ran around trying to rub off the smell of the shampoo, keeping an eye out for the treat he knew would come. Piccolina, after her bath, sulked so much that she wouldn't even take a delicious treat from me. So much for my post about "Brava Piccolina!"

Zacchi has taken on board my dog-bath mantra, "This is what love looks like", but Piccolina says "you can keep your affection, that water is WET!"

Ah well, you can't win them all. (The bad news, Pickle, is that there is another bath with that shampoo scheduled for Monday...)


Kiwi visitor went on her way early this morning; we miss her already. I miss the animated conversation, the dogs are still whimpering for her to walk them.

The birds are even louder than last year, I am sure. The bees and blowflies herald spring and approaching summer. Messages from New Zealand tell me it is getting cold there. This is a good place to be!


Yesterday I was severely reprimanded for not letting a friend know when I fell and damaged my foot. "Kay, you've got to learn to be more Italian. Don't make me angry. Call me!" Don't worry, if it is a real emergency I will call; friend's wife is an emergency doctor at a hospital not too far away.

Instead of calling her I had simply had my foot x-rayed at the closest hospital and then gladly taken the advice to keep the foot up for ten days. There were times I needed to drive though, and perhaps I would have been more comfortable with more attentive care and strapping. Stubborn Kiwi independence is not always a blessing, much as I try to increase, rather than lose, my independence here.

Today I am grateful for caring friends.

5 April 2011

brava piccolina

Today we went to the vet; kiwi visitor, Piccolina and I.

Piccolina is a super dog! Three skin scrapings, one dose of something, two injections, and not a wince or a whine. I held her muzzle when any of these things were done, and really didn't need to at all.

Looking at the obedient and docile creature on the surgery table you wouldn't recognise the crazy dog who only yesterday was pulling at the lead wanting to chase cats and who is now barking at motorbikes; evidently there is a behaviour for every setting! What a star!

Now to see some improvement in the skin condition... we go back to the vet for more shots in ten days time.

Today I am grateful for my helpful visitor.

2 April 2011

out and about

Some of the places we stopped at when following the trail of the Kiwi soldiers. Thanks to Shirley for allowing me to join/hi-jack her personal tour.


Today I am grateful for the chance to be a passenger.

feeling a little poorly

But I am getting better now. (And yes, of course I claimed the newly renovated house, I'm not THAT sick!)

Mum says I should be grateful for eye drops and antibiotic sprays...

in the dog house

One day we had some pretty cool visitors.They arrived in their own funny house that had traces of "Royal Mail" on the side. They were self-contained and independent... but we did let them sleep inside in Mum's studio.Then one fine day they set about water-proofing my house (OK, who am I kidding? Pickle calls all the shots when it comes to accommodation).It was all very technical and neat and tidy, but really I have to say
...that camping is best!

Today mum is grateful for her breakfast spot in the sun.

1 April 2011

pickle update and bits and bobs

Piccolina is now well enough to avoid me even when I try to show her that there is no can of spray, only a treat, in my hands. She joined in the barking last night and kept me awake - what was outside at 4am? They drove me nuts with the noise! Hope the neighbours slept through it all.


Yesterday was an adventure into new territory, discovering ancient places along the way. Photos when I am more awake (this time I promise, I know I have been lazy on the photo side of things lately). The aim of the trip was to go to Raviscanina, where the NZ Divisional Cavalry (senza horses) was based prior to the battle of Cassino, new territory and mountainside villages for me. Dinner with the Kiwi visitor last night, and I have to admit that at 84 she has more stamina than I do! There's a lesson in there somewhere.


Now it's back under the covers, planning today's lesson for the kids who have got please mastered, so now it's thank you time. One word or two? Or shall I throw in a hyphen, just becau(s)e I can? Ummm... should that have been an hyphen?

Today I am grateful for new vistas and birdsong.