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Opinions

Misconception confession

Food for Thought

A recent television program that included wonderful views of Mt. Rushmore reminded me of a niece who once confessed that, for years, she believed that the carvings on that mountain were a natural phenomenon. We all had a good laugh at the time and recalled some of the equally silly mistaken beliefs we held as children.

Suzzie and Sicily

Walkin'

We travelled to Sicily to attend the wedding of Katrina, the daughter of my cousin Suzzie and her husband Vic.

Bread and beer, the wonder of yeast

food for thought

Early mankind gathered grains, pounded the kernels to flour with stones, mixed it with water, sometimes adding other ingredients such as fat and salt, and baked it on a rock in the heat of the sun. The Egyptians were the first to bake leavened bread, and that was probably more or less by accident. We speculate that some Egyptian housewife left her bowl of bread dough sitting too long before baking it, and it collected wild yeast from the air, causing it to form bubbles and swell up a bit.

Final days in Rome

walkin'

Ancient walls flanked us as we rolled out of Rome and then into Acquedotti Park. Here we passed along the remains of Aqua Claudia, an aqueduct commissioned by the Emperor Gaius in 38 A.D. Gaius is also known as Caligula. He is infamous, among many things, for ordering his guards to throw an entire coliseum section of the crowd into the arena during intermission to be eaten by animals because he was bored.

The world of make-believe

food for thought

As I was surfing my way through the dearth of summer television choices one Saturday evening not long ago, I came upon an old black and white Lawrence Welk program that had been taped in the 1960s. A wholesome-looking young couple was dancing and singing a love song about how nice it was to be holding each other close, feeling safe and cherished, while they danced. And, for some reason, that song took me right back to the late 1940s and early 1950s when I was a daydreaming, romantic teenager myself.

Lake Gandolfo

food for thought

“That’s why there’s fence,” our guide Emanuele pointed to a pile of rocks across the trail in front of us, “there’s, how do you say in English, avalanches in this area.”
The area was on the shore of Lake Gandolfo, about 15 miles southeast of Rome. Among the 8,000 residents that live near the lake are two rather famous ones: Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis (in the summer).

The invisible They

Food for Thought

All my life I’ve been mystified by the knowledge and expertise of that enigmatic, all-knowing being known as They. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They say teenagers need more sleep than adults because their bodies are growing and changing so fast. They say it is better to give than to receive. They seem to have an answer for everything and we seldom question their authority. Yet, nobody ever says just who They are. Why do we put so much faith in someone nobody seems to actually know personally?

Luck and love in Rome

Walkin'

Our second bike tour, a panoramic cruise of Rome, began at 5 p.m., and we were determined to use public transportation to get to the start.
With the help of several strangers, we were able to get on the correct bus, transfer twice onto the correct trains and select the correct direction to walk from the last station to the tour beginning. As I’ve attested many times in this space, Sabra and I have made getting lost into an art so it was with some gratitude for blind luck that we arrived at the beginning of the bike tour two hours early.

The demise of magic

Food for Thought

For centuries, magicians have guarded their secrets from the rest of us on the principle that, once we know how the trick is done, it loses its entertainment value. They were right, of course, and as we gain an understanding of those little mysteries, we lose our sense of wonder and the pleasure of being mystified by the cleverness of it all.

Driving, Italian style

Walkin'

There are no traffic laws in Italy, just polite suggestions.
It’s like going to a tavern and ordering a Margarita. The bartender might suggest Jose Cuervo, but he won’t think twice if you ask for Don Julio.

Rhubarb by any other name …

food for thought

My mother called it “pie plant,” and my dad, by example, taught me that all treats don’t necessarily have to be sweet-tasting. Dad was big on what I came to think of as “grazing” in the garden. He’d pull up a radish, baby carrot, or little green onion, brush off the soil and eat it right there, standing amid the rows of growing vegetables he’d planted weeks earlier.

Only in Italy!

walkin'

After an evening of sharing beers and swapping stories with Udo and Trixie, the German motorcycle riders in Rome for the Harley convention, we called it a night.
The bed in our bungalow was thin but very comfortable, so we slept well. Nevertheless, jet lag left us– or, at least me– a little off-center in the morning. Besides messing up my sleep cycle, mal de Lufthansa plays havoc with my dietary routine. Basically, I want to eat six meals a day, three on Iowa time and three Roman. So it was with a little weariness and a lot of hunger that we made our way to the camp restaurant.