Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kindling New the Holy Lamps

As I began writing this I was reminded of a joke my neighbour Sandy told me last week.
WASP Gentleman:  Rabbi, when is Hanukkah this year?

Rabbi:  25 Kislev - same as every year!
Nambe Illume Menorah

And indeed today is the 25 Kislev in the year 5774 on the Jewish calendar and as the second sunset of Hanukkah approaches it is time to wish my friends *Chag Urim Sameach!.   

In a few past postings celebrating the Feast of Light I have included pictures of  antique menorahs from various cultures and times.  This year I thought I'd include a few photos of modern Hanukkah candelabrum.

Olive Branch Menorah by Michael Aram

The menorah is central to the celebration of Hanukkah as a symbol of the eight days that the miracle of the oil lasted at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 2 BCE.  The law required that the lamps be lit at all times during the rededication but only one small flask of sacred oil was found.  Only enough to last a day.  But miraculously the oil burned and lit the temple for the eight days it took to consecrate new oils.

The traditional Temple menorah has only seven branches as does the symbol on the coat of arms of Israel.   The nine branches on the Hanukkah menorah give a place for a light for each day of the miracle and a shamash or "attendant" light.  It is always placed above the others and serves for illumination and in most households is used to light the other candles.  

Two of the rabbinical schools disagreed over the proper order for lighting the candles.  The House of Shammai decreed that all the candles should be lit the first day and then one less candle each day.  Their justification was that the miracle was at its greatest the first day.  The House of Hillel believed that one candle should be lit the first day and one more each succeeding day as the greatness and wonder of the miracle increased.  The later was chosen as the lawful and proper way of commemorating the miracle and is what is observed today.

The Sabra Menorah by Judaica Designs USA
Customs vary from sect to sect:  some Ashkenazi families have a menorah for each member or if only one then each member of the family takes a turn lighting a candle.  In Sephardi households there is one menorah and the head of the household lights the candles.  These customs do vary from household to household and are based more on tradition than any hard and fast rule.

As with all ritual objects the form and design has changed with the times and trends.   Clay and pottery gave way to brass and metal; simple tribal patterns became the elaborate curves and esses of the Barqoue; Art Nouveau tendrils crept around Lions of Judah; and today young artists use metal, ceramic, wood and even plastic in their menorahs.  What was once Mooresque has become Henry-Mooresque.  And, as with their predecessors, sometimes there is a touch of humour in their designs - I can't imagine what sort of household would have Jonathan Adler's dignified hound at the Hanukkah table but you can never tell with people.

Dachshund Menorah by Jonathan Adler
What ever type of menorah you light tonight, where ever you may gather to sing Ma'oz Tzur I wish to all my friends celebrating the Festival of Light all the joy of these days of celebration.

* Wishing you a Hanukkah filled with light

November 28 - 1925:  The Grand Ole Opry begins broadcasting in Nashville, Tennessee, as the WSM Barn Dance.

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Happy American Thanksgiving 2013

These days Norman Rockwell is looked at rather cynically as portraying an Americana that did not exist - an idealized, sanitized version of how things were.  But as with any artist - and make no mistake Rockwell was an artist - behind many of his works lies a message beyond the idealism and sentimentality.  In this 1945 cover for Saturday Evening Post his Thanksgiving message was not about turkey, big family dinners or even giving communal thanks.  Look at the face of this mother and tell me what she is giving thanks for?

I only wish that every mother - no everyone, American, Canadian, British, whatever nationality - could give thanks today for the safe return of their loved ones from one of our modern battlefields.

To my American friends and family Happy Thanksgiving.

November 28 - 1814:  The Times in London is printed by automatic, steam powered presses built by the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer; the beginning of the availability of newspapers to a mass audience.


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mercoledi Musicale

I only wish that I could join Vanessa Williams in singing this great number from Harold Arlen's House of Flowers.

Though nobody beats Diahann Carroll who first sang the song in her 1954 Broadway debut, the combination of Vanessa Williams and the incredible cello obbligato by Martha Babcock is pretty darn fine.  If that doesn't melt the snow, nothing will.

The view from our living room this morning - yeah, yeah it's lovely.  Just a Winter Wonderland!
Talk to me sometime in late February and we'll compare wonderlands!  Okay?

Sadly I "has seen" snow - last night's "first big dump" of the winter wasn't quite as bad as they were predicting but .....   it's only November for heaven's sake!  If this is what we get in November what will we be getting the remaining  122 days before the official beginning of Spring?

November 27 -  1810: The Berners Street Hoax was perpetrated by Theodore Hook in the City of Westminster, London.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Tap... Tap... Tapas!

One of the surprises on this trip was Valencia. I hadn't really done much research into it and other than a vague notion of its place in European history my knowledge of its attractions was scanty.  Given the cost of WiFi on the cruise ship attempts to find out the wonders it was to present proved to be expensive so we relied on the information distributed by the good people at Azamara.  Fortunately it was enough to provide suggestions of a few of the highlights of what proved to be a wonderful city.

I'm currently working on two posts about some quirky little things I found there.  Now that I have better - and free - Internet access it will be easier to do a big of digging to find out more about several of the things that intrigued me there.

Normally I like to see what Lonely Plant and Trip Adviser suggest when planning to eat in a city but as those options proved unavailable we trusted to the kitchen gods to lead us to a good place.  It was a Saturday and the area around the Plaza Real and Mercado was awash with locals and tourists.  As we left the Llotja de la Seda (Silk Market) Laurent suggested that we get away from the crowds so we detoured down a small side street and stumbled upon El Rall (website in Spanish only).  We noticed that two of the senior officers from the cruise ship were at a terrace table (a good sign???) and that there was shade, an interesting tapas menu and available tables.

The Placa in front of the two buildings that make up El Rall serves as a pleasant tree
shaded terrace. Just far enough away from the noise and bustle of the Mercato and tourist
central. Local families having their Saturday lunch was a sign this was a good place to eat.
As our meal progressed we noticed local families taking tables near us - including a large family gathering of some 16 people celebrating the Pater Familias's birthday. Laurent mentioned that it was wonderful to see kids (5-10 year olds) eating black rice, squid and other "exotic" dishes as though this were normal fare - and for them it probably was. Watching the families - and a young courting couple - to the background music of a jazz guitarist seated on a nearby stone bench only added to the entertainment and pleasure of the afternoon.

Comments that appear in several reviews of the restaurant in Trip Adviser mentioned the "slow service" and in truth it was a little on the leisurely side but as we were in no hurry and the food, the wine and the atmosphere were good so we couldn't consider it a problem.

The last time Sidd had tapas was in Amsterdam and he was eager to see
if the "real" stuff measured up.  The meatballs certainly did and the
tomatoey sauce was yummy when sopped up with that crusty bread.

The boar stew wasn't something that Sidd thought he'd like but when he saw
the youngsters at the table next to us dig into theirs' he figured he'd give it a try. 
He wasn't all that fond of it so I had to do the honours.  Fortunately I love boar!

The cod and potato croquettes were a little more to his taste but he would have liked
the outside a bit crispier - some crunch is always good.

When there's ham on the menu Sidd always has to doff his cap to Cecilia and have a slice or two
in her honour.  And when its been cured for 38 months it has that special deep flavour.  Porcine heaven!

My mango sorbet, though good, was of little interest to our Sidd; particularly
when there's cheesecake on offer. The homemade marmalade topping hit his
sweet tooth at just the right angle.  Laurent approved of it too!
After a fine array of tapas and a very nice Spanish red - boy do they do fine fully bodied reds - cafe con leche and a complimentary digestif it was time to head back to the boat. Another day in Valencia would have been more than welcome but all it means is that there will be things to see the next time!

November 25 - 1947: Red Scare: The "Hollywood Ten" are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bloggus Interruptus

It’s been a fantastic trip so far – so many wonderful things, people, foods, wines and places. And as always the Azamara Quest has been a great place to call home – nice cabin, great staff, good food and excellent sailing. Well okay there were those unexpected hiccups – not being able to dock in Sorrento, having to miss Trapani because of an approaching storm and two days at sea spent on the edge of said storm tossing and rolling like a rubber ducky in a kid’s bathtub. But its those little hiccups that give a vacation added fun – well okay those two days weren’t exactly fun so let’s say: give a vacation added dimension.

Sidd and the Quest in Valencia - he's been seriously thinking about that Join the Navy and See the World slogan - provided there aren't too many rough sea days!

This morning at 0400 we docked in Seville – note I said in not near – in one of the most elegant and complicated maneuvers I’ve seen from a ship our size. Yes we were up at 0300 to watch it all: gliding under a bridge with only feet to spare, a pivoting turn in a small basin and an slow, graceful backing-down a two kilometer channel to our berth at one of the main bridges in town. I might add we slid into the berth with nary a bump being felt. Captain Smith is some sailor!

On a calm sea day Sidd enjoyed breakfast on the balcony, strategically place right at the stern of the Quest.

It’s our last day on the Quest and then tomorrow we’re off to a hotel for a few more days in Seville. One of the few things I will complain about on Azamara is the cost of the Internet – frankly its astronomical! They do warn that it is not the fastest in the world but what they don’t mention is that you will have to dip into the kids’ college fund to pay for it – well okay given the age of most of the passengers make that the grand-kids’ college fund.

And they do really fine Bloody Marys up on the Pool Deck - and no that isn't Karl Lagerfeld joining him - just some strange guy who keeps following him around.

As anyone who knows that has read this blog for any length of time my posts tend to be photo, link and reference heavy. The posts I’ve been working on (woodwork at the Monastery of Pedrables, unusual statues in a church in Valencia, memorable food, strange Gothic creatures at the Silk Market et al) are no different. A combination of the slow and the charges make loading most of my blog posts a costly affair while on the ship. Text is no problem – you work in Word, copy and paste. It’s the research, downloading and uploading that eats away at the time and in our case Nick and Nora’s obedience training fund – and let’s admit it with the HFH that fund better be bottomless.

All this to say I’ve got posts in the works however they will have to wait until I get free, or at least less costly, Wi-Fi.

November 12 -1943:YellowDog Granny (our darling JackieSue), one hot Texas pistol, was born.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lest We Forget

For all those who did not return, for those who returned wounded in body, for those who returned wounded or dead in spirit.

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

Wilfred Owen
(b. March 18, 1893 Oswestry, England – d. November 5, 1918 Sambre-Oise Canal, France)

I have written posts on four other Remembrance Days and as I read them once again and I am aware of the debt I owe to those who fought, died, were wounded in body or in spirit. Because of their sacrifice I am able to enjoy a life that is rich in more ways than I ever thought possible, in a country where the freedom to live my life the way I wish to is possible. We must never allow their sacrifice go unrecognized in any way.

Lest We Forget - 2008

Lest We Forget - 2009

Lest We Forget - 2010

Lest We Forget - 2012

11 November - 1918: World War I: Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car in the forest of Compiègne, France.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

To Everything There Is A Season

One of my constant whines – I can only imagine the surprise it must be for many of my friends to think I would actually whine about something – when I first returned from Italy had to do with food. It just wasn’t the same in Canada. Things weren’t fresh picked – they had been shipped in unripened and allowed (or forced chemically) to ripen in the store. There was not flavor! No great variety! And many of the vegetables and fruits were available – if in perhaps a state of tastelessness – year round. There was no seasonality!

Now given the climate in Ottawa the idea of fresh picked does have its seasonal limitations – the probability of anything growing is low and the improbability of anyone harvesting at -32c are reasonably high. But come on now variety? Would that be so hard to do?

Though things are looking up for varieties – particularly heirloom vegetables – but this photo taken at a flower shop in Sorrento will give you an indication of the variety of tomatoes that are grown in Italy.

You say tomato - I say TOMATOES! Eleven!  Count them - eleven types of tomatoes.  You name the occasion and you've got a red (yellow or green) ball of goodness that was made just for Nona's secret recipe.

Eleven – count them eleven different seed packets and none of them are “heirloom” – just your average Italian garden variety. Some for sauce, some for salad, some for roasting (god is there anything closer to heaven than roasted tomatoes?), others for stuffing, yet another for matching with a good Mozzarella di Buffala. I recall buying tomatoes from our local greengrocer (who by the way is still there and greeted us with big smiles and the hope that we were back to stay) and the first question was always: what are you using them for?

And of course what was available depended on the time of year – for everything. The watermelons were sweet and juicy in August but forget finding any on the market in September, artichokes were the last weeks of March and the first week of April, figs (the sweet, pale green skinned Italian variety) in June and July and this time of year: late October early November it’s kaki season!

A type of persimmon, but unlike any from North America I've every tasted, the kaki has a custardy texture with just a touch of astringency.  And apparently you can use it as an instrument to foretell the weather for the coming season.
Sidd joined me at Peter and Joe’s in savouring the joy of a chilled kaki ready to burst its orange skin and deliver creamy, custardy, astringent but sweet goodness.
I’m not sure if they remember my child-like (okay perhaps childish is a better adjective) joy when kaki season arrived but it was the perfect finish to a splendid meal with cherished friends in a place I love.

November 10 - 1871:Henry Morton Stanley locates missing explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika, famously greeting him with the words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Mercoledi Musicale

Well Sidd listen to both Beethoven and Mendelssohn and decided that a bit of choral music wouldn’t go amiss. So Beethoven it is!

Composed with a dedication to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, it uses two of his poems as subjects for a brief cantata. It was premiered in Vienna in 1815 but wasn’t published until 7 years later. That young scamp Felix Mendelssohn was to use the poems as inspiration for his concert overture of the same name. It’s the better know of the two – which could account for Sidd’s choice! He can be a bit perverse that way.

Grosser Chor des Berliner Rundfunks, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin                                    
Helmuth Koch, conductor 1970                                    

Though we’re praying for “calm seas” when Goethe wrote his poem that was the last thing a sailor wanted - sailing ships needed wind.  We could do with a little less.

Calm Seas (Meeres Stille)

Deep stillness rules the water
Without motion lies the sea,
And sadly the sailor observes
Smooth surfaces all around.
No air from any side!
Deathly, terrible stillness!
In the immense distances
not a single wave stirs.

Prosperous Journey (Glückliche Fahrt)

The fog is torn,
The sky is bright,
And Aeolus releases
The fearful bindings.
The winds whisper,
The sailor begins to move.
Swiftly! Swiftly!
The waves divide,
The distance nears;
Already, I see land!
November 6 - 1917: World War I: Third Battle of Ypres ends: After three months of fierce fighting, Canadian forces take Passchendaele in Belgium.
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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Mal de Mer (Sick of the Sea)

One could be forgiven for using a mistranslation of the French phrase for sea-sickness after the past 24 hours and given the forecast for the next 24. So far the state of the Mediterranean has dictated that we not stop in Sorrento but closer to Napoli in a town called Castellammare di Stabia – a place that’s only claim to fame is that Pliny the Elder died there and that it's the home town of Al Capone's family.  It meant that alternate ways had to be found to get to Sorrento and Capri but the Azamara cruise people did a fine job of handling that little hiccup.

Sidd contemplates the rather rough seas from our stateroom and ponders - which version of Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt would be most appropriate - Beethoven or Mendelssohn?

As we were leaving Castellmmare – which looks charming from the sea but proved a sad example of what is happening in this part of Italy when observed close up – the Captain announced that once we had left port we could expect a rather rough overnight voyage to Trapani. The forecast was for 5 metre waves and winds blowing at 40 knots. That translated into 14 hours of rocking and rolling with yours truly loosing his sea legs and a bit else.

After watching a tanker make three attempts to enter the harbour at Trapani our Captain Carl Smith decided that though it would be possible to land there given the forecasted storm it would make our evening departure from Sicily difficult. He made the decision to abort berthing at Trapani and continue on to Barcelona just ahead of what promises to be a nasty spat of weather. Not that the weather we have been heading into was any great shakes. Strangely the sky has been a wonderful Mediterranean blue but again there have been 5 metre waves with winds at 40-50 knots. But at least we may avoid the forecasted 15 metre waves and accompanying winds that are coming down from the Gulf of Lions.

With the aid of a little yellow pill and a sensible lunch – no wine and small portions – have restored my sea legs and kept other symptoms of mal de mer at bay. However as the sun is setting the rocking and rolling seems to be increasing holding promise for another interesting night at sea.

Laurent is holding up well and Sidd – though his expression never changes I’ve noticed a touch of green on his face. Either that or it’s a reflection from mine.

November 5: 1955 -  After being destroyed in World War II, the rebuilt Vienna State Opera reopens with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Faithful of the Faithful

Today (Tuesday) while passing the cash at a great little restaurant in Sorrento (Il Pozzo – one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had!) a very shaggy and very friendly dog peaked his head around the corner of the counter. I said hello and gave him a scratch; the cashier immediately apologized but I assured her it was more than okay and that I wished I could rub my twos’ hairy little heads about now. I guess she was expecting the normal North American reaction of: Oh my god a dog in the restaurant Harry, where are the health authorities? Get the Purettes immediately!

Here of course if you go for pranzo, your morning coffee or shopping it’s not unusual to take the dog with you. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen dogs lying contentedly under a table, occasional looking up to get a table scrap or simply to stretch and see who else has arrived. Or sitting patiently at the counter while their owner had their cappucc and cornetti – maybe catching the odd flake scattered from errant lips that were expressing an opinion of world events and eating at the same time – both with the same gusto. Or dogs attached to the wall fixtures outside shops meant to secure even the strongest leash – most waiting patiently but occasionally giving a sharp bark just to remind their owner who was outside waiting patiently while they argued over the price of arugula!

However I was still surprised, and amused when I opened the window at our B and B on Friday morning and saw:

Obviously his human had gone in to hear an early mass for Ognisanti and buddy was waiting patiently. He remained that way for almost 20 minutes.

Finally mass was over and a stream of people left the church - he only moved to greet his owner with a wagging tail and a few barks.  Maybe asking if she felt better about things now? Or maybe just as a “move along its time for coffee and cornetti”.
November 4 - 1921: The Italian unknown soldier is buried in the Altare della Patria in Rome.

Le Belle Donne di Sidd

As well as allowing Sidd to see some of my favourite places in Roma, this trip gave him the opportunity to meet quite a few of our friends.  Sidd, being Sidd, seemed to gravitate to our lady friends – not that he has anything against men just that it’s a bit harder to get a man to pose in public holding a gnome.  So many men just have no sense of adventure.

The first of our lady friends that Sidd got to know was our Simonetta.  He had heard so much about her – and he wasn’t disappointed.  She was just as fascinating and fun as he had heard she would be. 

In three hours with Nancy Sidd learned so much about Rome and the history of the end of one era and the beginning of another.  As he was taking his leave after a satisfying lunch of caccio e pepe he expressed the hope that she would start writing down all the incredible things she knows.

Dinner at Peter and Joe’s meant a chance for Sidd to say hello to old friends and meet a few new.  Sadly Diana left before we could get a shot of her and Sidd but Gisella and he seemed to hit it off.  I’m not sure what he just said to her – I’m just hoping he remembered his manners and it wasn’t anything untoward.

I met Sidd through Lara, who started off as a colleague at work and became a dear friend.  I was happy to introduce him to two former colleagues who also became valued friends – Gail and Jolka.  He remarked that I always seem to be fortunate in finding great people to work with.  Sidd can be very perceptive.

With a 2100 start time it was a little difficult to wedge dinner in before the Angela Hewitt concert on Thursday so we joined photographer extraordinaire Anna for aperitivo  at a tiny but friendly enoteca.  Sidd was rather partial to the polenta with ragu – and the not unpleasant Tuscan red that went with it.  And Anna took Sidd's picture!

The last day in Rome was a chance to catch up with our darling Linda and Nazareno.  He looks great after his recent hospital adventure and Sidd warmed up to Linda immediately, as indeed who wouldn’t?   It was like old - and good - times.

Later that day he got a chance to have a touch of a Taste of Scotland with out friend Rachel.  Unfortunately only had his photo tasting with the Sidd-sized barrels of grain that are used in the making of Scotch here in Italy.  Scotch making in Italy – who knew?

As we were packing on Saturday Sidd mused about the people he had met over the week and how lucky we were to have been able to spend time with them all.   He was sorry that he had missed Robert and Walter but really enjoyed meeting Larry, Vin, Mark, Johann, Peter, Joe and Nazerano – they were all great guys but he wondered what they had against having their pictures taken with gnomes?  I told him it was a guy thing – he nodded, shrugged and said:  Boh! 

Sidd’s gone native!

November  4 - 1737: The Teatro di San Carlo in Napoli is inaugurated.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Osservazioni di Roma

Well its been two years since I wandered the streets of Rome and the past few days have been like many homecomings after a time away - much has stayed the same and much has changed.  Somethings for the better other things not so much.

Sidd, knowing how bad a flier I am, thought it would be a laugh to count down the "klicks" left during the trip.  Little bugger snickered every time we hit turbulence too!  He keeps that up and he will be traveling with the luggage not in Club Class!
  • For over two years I would keep a medical appointment in Trastevere every Tuesday at 1400.  And every Tuesday at 1350 I would drop into a cafe-bar in Piazza Piscinula and have an espresso - it got to the point where Paolo the bar man would see me coming and start making my coffee.  On Sunday afternoon we sat on the wooden terrace there and Paolo came over - greeted me as if I had never left and brought me my espresso.  We exchanged pleasantries - he joked about the new waitress as being the love of his life and as I left we shook hands with the assurance that we would meet again.
Being a Nature Worshiper it was a bit difficult to explain to Sidd why there are so many churches in Roma - right outside our window was St Pascale Baylon.  Fortunately the church bells didn't disturb Sidd's sleep too much, nor did the midnight Jazz concerts at the cafe below us.
  • The number 8 tram, which ran through Trastevere and ended at Largo Argentina has been extended down to Piazza Venezia.  A big improvement and makes getting into Centro so much easier from where we were.
    After the church stuff it was even more difficult to explain the whole Kosher food schtick to Sidd; however he took one look at the roasted tomatoes and grilled chicken at Taverna del Ghetto and decided it was a good thing!
    • Tropical Ice - our favourite Gelatoria - is still open and the wonderful fresh flavours are still being served up by the charmingly handsome owner.  And he remembered that I take my coppetta neat - no whipped cream.  The sad news is that he has sold the business and will be moving on to other things.   It seems to be a story that is repeating itself over and over again here.
    Okay now this was a bit more to Sidd's taste - just some of the wonderful flavours at Tropical Ice.  And they were just as delicious as I remember them being - and with the intense taste that only natural ingredients bring to Marco's gelati.
    • It looks like other businesses in our old neighbourhood have closed:  Stella Maris, so often our Friday night local, has been replaced by a pizza chain.  And where the Bifteka, a very good streak house, once stood is now a very large McDonald's.  A few other stores have disappeared as have several of the coffee shops - fortunately none have been replaced by Starbucks.
    Sidd gets his first taste of water from one of Roma's famous Nasone or water fountains.  As they have done since Roman times they deliver cold, pure water to refresh the local populace.  Who would bother with the bottled tap water they sell in stores under fancy names when you can get this for free?

      • There are more beggars on the streets and not just the regular crew of gypsies - though amongst the lame, the halt and the maimed most of the faces were familiar ones.  Older people here have seen their pensions cut and, in a repeat of something I recall from Poland in the late 1990s, some of them seem to have taken to begging.  Hunger has no pride.
      Sidd admires the Mostra della Acqua Felice which I wrote about extensively a few years ago.  He noticed that though it was only cleaned three years ago, the exhaust from the traffic is starting to blacken the stone already. 

        • Many of the restaurants in our old neighbourhood stood mostly empty on Monday at lunch time though I was happy to see that by Wednesday business had picked up at Checco e Lina, an old haunt of my friend Dario and I.  It was the fullest I had ever seen it at pranzo.  The food is still dependable solid cucina Romana and the service as welcoming as ever.
        November 3 - 1868:  John Willis Menard was the first African American elected to the United States Congress. Because of an electoral challenge, he was never seated.

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