Where have I been?

Thank you to my many followers who’ve asked where I have been!  I’ve been absent from my blog because…

I have spent the last five weeks since I returned from my 3 month sojourn to Italy trying to get back to Italy asap.  I’ve got a bad case of Italy fever and it just never lets up!  It’s a great fever to have and I can’t wait to get back.

But before I can return, there are many hoops I must jump through.  I am really tired from all the jumping I’ve been doing!

Image result for jumping through hoops

I borrowed the image above from Google images (thank you Google), but think of me as the woman with the glasses and briefcase jumping through the hoop held by the barefooted woman who in this case represents the Italian government.

What you don’t see is how hard it is to first of all figure out where the hoops are located!  And then once a hoop is located, there are all kinds of complications before you can even think about jumping through it!  Here’s an image to help you visualize how I’ve been spending the past 5 weeks.


Another blogger has written a post that covers some of my issues.  If you want to go to Italy for longer than three months, here’s a great place to start to understand the process:


I’ll be back subito, I promise!

pink hoops

Happiness, part 2.

Yes, yes, of course Michelangelo’s David is a masterpiece!

Image result for david by michelangelo

Certo, certo.

And yes, Botticelli’s La Primavera is a miracle.


Si, si, ragazzi.

And Ferragamo designed fabulously gorgeous shoes.

ferragamo 4

E vero!  Si, si, si.

But, to me today, there is nothing more beautiful than this lovely item.


With an Italy-compatible power cord for il mio computer, the world is my oyster!

Well, almost anyway.


Do you see that spot of light?  It is sent from heaven I am sure.  Do you hear the angels singing?  Ditto.

At any rate, this cord has made me very very very happy! :-))))))))))

The 1,000,001st use for olive oil

IMG_3493 IMG_3494

When your baby (Apple laptop) needs the power cord held in a certain position in order to charge!!

Wow, it doesn’t take long to develop a personal relationship with your computer.  And it takes even less time to become acutely aware of the loss of your partner (i.e. computer).

I’ve been kind of running on borrowed time for a while now with my Apple power cord.  I’ve been relying on it everyday, several times a day, sometimes for a long period of time in each use.  That’s every single day for almost 3 months.  The computer has outlasted the cord by a long shot, tg.

I’ve had the flu or a cold or some minor illness for weeks and yesterday wasn’t a good day.  It was pouring rain outdoors as well.  So I thought it was a good day to write (need computer), read a novel and some other print material (need computer), watch some video (film or tv, need computer), or, if I got bored, clean out my photograph files (need computer).  I hate to be obsessive, but did I mention that I needed my computer for all of these projects? Well, I did need it so it bears repeating.

I could tell that my power cord was fraying at the end with the magnetic plug.  So, I started searching for a replacement all around town.

Now, if  you read my blog, you are already familiar with my dissertation on the scarcity of material goods in direct relationship to perceived need of same material goods. In other words, I’ve already ranted about how hard it is to find that relatively special item you need when you are living in Italy.  It doesn’t matter what the special item is, what category it fits, or anything else.  You simply need an item and you are in Italy and the fun is about to begin.

The more you need said item, the harder you will look for it, and consequently, the more rare it becomes.  It’s simple and it’s logical.

So, as I’ve been going about my business while minding my own business but quizzing every person with whom I have any conversation (be it the grocer, the cobbler, the schoolmate [yes, I have schoolmates at my age :-)) ] or a new friend, I’ve gathered intelligence on where to buy replacement Apple power cords.  And here is my finding.  You can’t get there from here.

Before sojourning to bell’ italia several months ago, I obsessively obsessed about what to do if my laptop crashed, or lost a file that I needed, or some other such issue.  Just outside of Florence, where I’d be living while in Europe, there is an Apple store.  Hooray!  My Seattle MacGeniuses and I obsessed together for months before I left as to whether someone at the Florence Apple store would speak English if I made the trip to it. I will say this in praise of Apple stores: they are a pain in the neck to be in but their guides are pretty empathetic by and large.  Your obsession becomes their obsession, at least for the 55 minutes you are working one on one with them.  It makes you feel really heard. Said sarcastically.

And, like any material goods that you covet or actually need in Italy, the Apple store is within sight but unreachable without a lot of expense, time, energy, or any combination thereof. And when you get there, it will be closed for restoration.  Ha ha.

I seem to spend a lot of time falling down rabbit holes. But, I will say this, if you’ve gotta fly through a rabbit hole, there aren’t any prettier than in Italy.  I still maintain that philosophy and I hope I always will. :-))

I want to add something else which is that I planned to study Italian in Italy.  I’d already been studying it for a few months and hoped to become independently independent, relying only on my own Italian and not a go between of some kind while I was living in Italy.

But even I have managed expectations when it comes to explaining technical electronic problems.  I can barely express my issues in English and I doubt I will live long enough–even if I live 100 more years–to express my electronic issues in italiano.  I just don’t think its gonna happen any time soon and thus I really wanted to know that in Italy I could find an English speaker at the Apple store outside of Florence.

We all know that wishing for something is fine as long as you know its a wish and it may not be met.  And that’s what happened with ascertaining that an English speaking genius would be available for me at the Florence Apple Store.  Because after weeks of inquiring and sending and forwarding emails, Seattle Apple reported to me that Florence Apple could not guarantee an English speaking genius.  They could guarantee special assistance if I were blind or deaf, they said, but only if I made advance reservations.  Va bene, good to know.And could we just take a moment to reflect on the irony of Seattle Apple needing weeks and weeks to communicate with Florence Apple about English?  Doesn’t the internet exist for immediacy? You know, like immediate answers and gratification? Or is it just me? Or is it just this particular rabbit hole that started on the West Coast of the US of A and ended in Tuscany? Somehow I just don’t think this is what Steve Jobs or even Bill Gates had in mind when they changed our lives.

OK, so yesterday, raining, cold, dark, sick, sick of being sick, bored, watched some movies, watched some tv, wrote a little, noticed my power was declining on my laptop, screwed around for an hour or more trying different combinations of adapters and converters because at this point I have about 20 options not to mention as many outlets or more in my apartment.  And all this while–and I am no electrician and I jump when a prosecco cork is released so you can imagine how I react when sparks fly noisily from an outlet–I am for some unknowable reason reasoning that it is the power source that is the issue, but not my power cord.

Which is already upside down because as I’ve said I’ve been noticing my power cord was fraying for weeks and I’ve been looking for a replacement. So I don’t know why yesterday I didn’t presume that was the issue at the get go.  Hell no.  That would have been way too easy and no fun at all.

So, I leaned back and thought I’d better enjoy this movie while I can and so I did until the power ran out.  I was operating with a bit of magical thinking which isn’t like me at all.

And it was 10 pm last evening when I hit the panic button because I realized that I had no fricking way to charge my computer.  I got out every damn cord I’ve been lugging around for 3 months: camera cords, iphone cords, you name it cords, and thinking really hard about how you can transfer power from one device to another, which is hilarious if you know me.  Because I can no more understand a computer power cord than I can explain how a car engine works.  And I’m no dummy.

Tortelli lucchese

Any foods prepared in Lucca, Italy are automatically known as “lucchese.”
Makes sense, right?
 I’ve discovered to my absolute delight that one of the most well-known and delicious primi piatti on many menus in Lucca is special type of meat ravioli. What sets this pasta apart immediately is that has a very bright yellow color, for, as it turns out, it is made with eggs and flour. Typically, pasta in Tuscany isn’t made with eggs; such pastas are more common up north, the traditionally wealthier section of Italy.
But, this lovely pasta fresca is rolled, cut in circles, and stuffed with a mixture of meats often including beef and pork, and served with a meat ragu.

Then there is the whole discussion of ragu. The most popular and widely used sauce in all of Italy is simply known as ragu. Most foreigners think of ragu as a tomato-based sauce, but it is actually a meat-based sauce, with only a small amount of tomato sauce or paste added.

Ragu is usually served with pasta. It often begins with a soffritto, or chopped onions, celery, carrots, and typical seasonings of salt and pepper. Minced beef is added, browned and then the sauce is simmered slowly for several hours to let all the flavors marry, as they say.  I’ve always thought that was a weird use of the word marry, but what do I know?

Italian cuisine is famous for its simplicity and variety with cheese and wine as major components of every Italian food recipe. It is also known for its pasta of different shapes, lengths, and widths and sauces with different ingredients.

Compared to other sauces it is thicker and made creamier by adding milk at the later stage of cooking. It has several different versions, and lamb, poultry, fish, veal, or pork can be used instead of ground beef. Other spices like chilies, peppers, beans, tarragon, and cumin can also be added.

Ragu alla Barese is prepared using horse meat; Ragu alla Napoletana has a lot of tomatoes and uses red wine; Ragu alla Bolognese uses white wine and fewer tomatoes. Ragu alla Bolognese or Bolognese sauce is the most popular version of ragu.

Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy and dates back to the 15th century. It is a pasta sauce that is meat based and contains a small amount of tomato sauce. It is traditionally served with tagliatelle, green lasagna, and other wide-shaped pasta instead of spaghetti pasta because the sauce holds up better with wider pasta.

Its ingredients include beef, soffritto, pancetta, onions, tomato paste, meat broth, white wine, and cream or milk. Like all other food preparations, Bolognese sauce has different variations. Pork, chicken, veal, rabbit, goose, and other meats can be used instead of beef.

The soffritto is made with celery, carrots, and onions cooked in butter or olive oil. Mushrooms, ham, and sausage are also added together with milk or cream to add more flavors and give it more creaminess. It is usually simmered for at least five hours.

I honestly believe:

that you would have to try really, really hard…to eat a bad meal in Italy.

To wit:  At my wit’s end just before New Year’s Eve, I knew I had to make a run to my local supermercato to buy something for my pantry, just in case.  I whipped a few items down from the shelves, up from their cases, in the market and wound up with some fresh fruit, some fresh veg, and these items.  Store brand.  I’ve found I can trust the Coop store brand in everything.


So, sure enough, on the first day of the new year, I wasn’t feeling so hot.  Not from too much partying (although I can’t say the same for the rest of my building: somebody thought the interior courtyard would make the perfect backdrop of a long and loud fireworks display followed by a game of drunken soccer) but from the cold and flu that I was lucky enough to meet up with just before Christmas.

So I heated up some of the creme of asparagus soup, pictured above, and for a brief moment I thought I must have reached Nirvana.  This lovely soup got me through several mealtimes in excellent shape (except for the coughing and sneezing and fever part).

And today I was actually feeling hungry, which has to be a good sign on the road to recovery, no?  I opened this gorgeous package of fresh tagliatelle pasta made with eggs:


And when it was cooked to absolute perfection in a matter of minutes, I doused it in this creamy truffle sauce made with butter, cream, shaved tartufo mushrooms (which comes ready made in the regular grocery store, not that special here in Italia, I swear to you!), added a little of the pasta cooking water (about 1/4 cup), fresh black pepper and shaved parmigiana Reginana:


And then I meant to take a picture of the pasta with the sauce, but first I had to taste it to see if it tasted as good as it smelled and then, poof, before I knew what had happened, I had inhaled the entire bowl full of some of the best pasta I have ever eaten in my life and that is saying something because I am a pasta eater from way back. Only not always with truffles.  But from now on, with truffles because my oh my say hello to heaven in a bowl!

Whew, just writing that and reliving it in the telling, is exhausting to me.  And p.s., it turns out that these devilish little store-bought Coop brand cookies are a mighty fine accompaniement to a slice of gelato or even a nice cup of joe or tea.


I may be buying stock in Coop very soon.