Dear Barb

Today, I bought the ingredients to practice making a healthy dish during your stay with me in Rome.

It is very simple, needing only spelt*, onion, pumpkin and stock. And, a few herbs. 

I hope you’ll like it, I licked my dish clean. But then, I was very hungry!

Have you ever seen such a brilliant orange pumpkin? I surely haven’t, back in Australia.


  • To quote this site cereals  “Spelt is a variety of grain or cereal that is closely related to wheat. In fact, spelt likely developed from a hybridization of emmer wheat and wild goat-grass. It is closely related to normal “bread” wheat, but the popularity of bread wheat soon made spelt obsolete, which is why it is considered a “relic” crop“. It seems to be making a comeback in many parts of the world.

At the request of John, here is the recipe:

Spelt with pumpkin (Thanks to Francesca

300 gr of spelt

200 gr of pumpkin

1 shallot

1/2 teaspoon of dried sage

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

vegetable broth to taste

Salt to taste

In a saucepan boil the spelt in abundant salted water for about 30 minutes.

Peel the pumpkin and cut it into cubes.

Chop the shallot.

In a large pan heat the oil and add the shallot and the pumpkin.

Brown for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Drain the spellt and add it to the pan.

Cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes adding the vegetable stock a little at a time.

Add sage, pepper and salt to taste.

Serve warm.




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Something is afoot in Naples

This morning I headed for the National Archeological Museum of Naples, with the express purpose of seeing the splendid Meridian Room. Wouldn’t you just know it, the room was closed to the public, as they prepared it for a special display. I don’t look very glamorous when I cry!

Here’s what I should have seen, courtesy of an online image.


I wandered around for a while, admiring the many excellent sculptures on display. Then, for some reason, I began to study the feet of the statues. The artists must have had such a variety of models, every foot revealed some difference in their appearance. Compare these two examples. Their toes, and also the footwear are so detailed and make the statues more human somehow. (They both must have had good manicurists.)



This was Hermes, the winged messenger. His little toe looks somewhat deformed.


Here are a few more, including a couple from different branches of the animal world.

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If you were a sculptor, how would you present these modern day examples?


In response to a request for you, turtlefoodandbeyond. She hasn’t moved much since you last saw her.


And, for you Jane, a stemma.



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Ciao a tutti, da Napoli

I landed with my usual thud, yesterday, and am now established in a most comfortable apartment in Napoli. Unbeknownst to the landlord, I have changed the lock on the door, and the deed of title now belongs to me. 

Here is the big front door to the apartment complex. At night, it is closed, and we enter via a little door in the big door. I like that, it’s rather Alice in Wonderland territory.


Light switches in Italy continue to puzzle me. There are several panels such as this scattered through the apartment. By the time I have sorted out which switch controls which light, I have given up the need for a light, as well as the will to live!


It has been raining off and on since I got here, quite a contrast to the dry conditions back home. But, one has to get out and do stuff, eat things and explore a little. Naples could be a rather drab city if it weren’t for the street art/graffiti that abounds. Vesuvius remains a popular theme.


And then there was this:


Porci maledetti roughly translates to “damn pigs”. Don’t ask me, I only report on what I see.

I want all politicians in Australia to read this and act accordingly in their treatment of refugees.


I feel a nap coming on. See you later.


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These hands

The other night I was propped up in bed, playing one last game of Mahjong before turning off the lights, when my eye was caught by the one redeeming feature of my whole being … my left index fingernail. Truly, I should insure that little beauty! But then, in that weird way our brains have of darting to another subject entirely, I was taken back to the mid-1950s, without benefit of a time machine.

I was reminded of an experience during my period of training to be a nurse and how we were often thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool without benefit of the lessons which would enable us to swim, or a life vest in the form of a more qualified person to supervise and help us.

The scene was the public medical ward, and one of my patients had a tracheostomy. For those of you who may not know, that is where they’ve had a hole cut into their trachea (the tube in their throat that carries air into and out of the lungs), with a tube inserted into that hole, as a temporary passage for air flow. I can’t recall why the patient had a tracheostomy, but he couldn’t breathe normally through his nose (or mouth). 


The pieces looked a lot like the image above. The care of a patient with this in place included keeping the tube free of mucus, hence, a lot of suctioning took place. This carried the risk of introducing infection into the lower respiratory tract, and that alone was a worrying thought to a student in her first year. But what my brain had dredged up for my pre-sleep entertainment was the absolute terror of having to change that tube. 

I will go into some detail, to share the experience with you! The new, sterile tube was all ready at the bedside, with tapes in the slots on either side of the tube, their purpose was to hold the tube in place. Then, the area surrounding the hole in the patient’s neck was cleansed, and the old tapes cut. With freshly washed hands, the old tube was removed and  the new one inserted. Sounds easy, eh? I can still recall how my hands shook as I undertook this procedure. What if the trachea collapsed when I took the tube out? What if I couldn’t get the new one in? What if I somehow damaged the trachea? What if I fainted! It seems that both the patient and I survived, but I wonder if it was as traumatic for that patient as it was for me. 

And here I am, 2 and 1/2 years later, ready to unleash my nursing skills onto an unknowing populace!


People sometimes criticise the University based courses for nurses, but the old method wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. I’m sure many of my classmates would have gone through one or more experiences that left them shaking. We did learn to become quite self-sufficient, anyhow!


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Well, I never!

A not-so-idle remark from an inquisitive friend (thanks, Bert) led me on an interesting chase through Google.

Bert asked about the words that were visible on the pink cape of my previous post, the subject of which I had attributed to Clet. How wrong I was!

Here is the image from that post.

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After enlarging the image, I could discern that the words were yipiyipiyeah. A search for this revealed that Clet probably had nothing to do with this alteration of a street sign. It’s another artist (or a group thereof) from Madrid!

To quote their website (translation from Spanish by Signor Google) “The collective Yipi Yipi Yeah has painted the traffic signals of the capital in a vindictive and ironic gesture.” Vindictive makes it sound rather edgy, doesn’t it?

There are numerous examples of their work on this site:  yipi

Do yourself a favour, and have a look at the site, if you’re at all interested in being vindictive or ironic. There seem to be hundreds of Yipi Yipi Yeah’s works, so if you visit Madrid, you should be able to spot at least a few of them. I wonder what the authorities in Madrid think of all of this?

This one appealed to me, for some reason.



And, here is the Madrid version of the one I saw in Naples.




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We haven’t seen much from Clet* lately

So, I’m about to remedy that.

I spotted this in Naples. You can bet your bottom dollar I won’t be able to find it again.

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* Clet is an artist who lives in Florence. He uses removable stickers to alter traffic signs into whimsical statements. I like Clet. 🙂


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Someone left the irony on

I was taught to share, and I’ll happily do that, with another winner from BoB!

bluebird of bitterness

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