Tuesday, March 21, 2006

wise words from Miss Adventure:

If you have anchovies in the cupboard, you can surely improvise something for dinner.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


some observations on behaviors that have shocked and scandalized the Bolognesi

Apparently wearing my bicycle chain around my neck when it isn't in use is a very New York thing to do. It makes sense to me -- I unlock the bike and rather than clumsily winding it under the seat, where it interferes with my pedalling, I just toss it over my head and I'm off. This is apparently eccentricism approaching lunacy. People stop, stare, point me out to their friends, laugh, and/or comment on my lovely necklace. Let me point out that this is a bicycle town - only with special permits are cars even allowed in the city center during the day. Bikes and bike locks are an everyday part of life in Bologna. Ladies of a certain age pedal along in full length furs, but look at this crazy American!

More serious objections, including threats of being forcibly blow-dried, follow a shampooing. Not using a hair dryer is considered a grave health risk. I am fully aware that my wet head lowers my temperature. My curls cannot withstand the heat damage and so I let them dry naturally. at home. indoors. wearing a sweater, and scarf when I'm chilled. I've been threatened with arthritis, colds and flus, headaches, and sudden death as a result of this behavior. It is not done. Serious arguments insue...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

all in a day's work

for anyone who has ever wondered, "What exactly does Miss Adventure do?":

a historian at work

I sit here in this room in an office building with stacks of papers and my laptop. The papers are the remains of the archives of ARCI, the Italian Association for Recreation and Culture. This institution began in the 1950's to create a national network of social circles, clubs, community centers, recreation leagues... anything from bocce ball clubs to local concert series. And it is the subject of my research.

I leaf through folders, loosely organized by year and topic. There is no catalog. In order to find documents that will help me comprehend and write a history I look page by page at most folders. Anything of import gets noted; I make a digital photo of the page. I keep databases of the sources, of events and dates, people, statistics, etc. I organize carefully, since I'm generating thousands of pages of data. Everything must be searchable, clear, retreivable.

The office is the national headquarters of UISP, the Italian Union for Sports for Everyone. They were at one time united with ARCI so wound up with the archives. "Archives" in this case meaning boxes full of office documents, correspondence, leaflets, etc. piled into the basement. Today I found an actual bookworm. I hope that's what it was.

The office is strange, but most of the employees are really great. Note the wine bottle in the picture above. Not mine. Though it doesn't seem like a bad idea when I'm digitizing the upteen thousandth page of the week.

I'm left mostly to myself with the folders. Beeping along on my digital camera -- why does it have to beep?

Friday, March 10, 2006

language immersion requires a healthy sense of humor

my favorite linguisitic goofs of late:

"I remembered to bring my 'cavoletto' so I can connect to the internet."

cavoletto = little cabbage
cavetto = cable

"This cheese is drying out; I'll put some 'pellicia' on it and get it back in the fridge."

pellicia = fur
pelicola = film / plastic wrap

"I need to stop by the pharmacy and get some 'crema idrante' for my dry skin."

idrante = hydrant, as in fire hydrant
idratatante = hydrating

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Happy festa delle donne, or women's day. It is an international holiday, though you'd never know it in the U.S. Italian women receive puffed yellow bunches of mimosa flowers just for being women. There will be ladies-only parties and events tonight, and fluffy yellow cakes to resemble mimosas. Yellow flowers everywhere!

Google, which usually adds those goofy illustrations to the main page on any holiday, has not today. Curiously. points off for the megalith.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A sunny spring day in Bologna

Today is perfect for an afternoon playing in the garden at via Broccaindosso. I hauled most of the my finds from the mysterious garden shed out into the sun to take photographs:

la cabana, the shed, hidden under ivy

how long has this vine been here? it's ordinary ivy but the effect is romantic and spooky

marvelous object #1 leaning against the bay tree: a shovel? but not just a shovel...

object #1 detail: .... a WWII helmet! (swords into plowshares)

marvelous object #2: la casetta degli uccellini

#3: antique tool collection
not rusty, vintage

antique tools: the handles hewn from small trees

the pomegranate tree: this photo doesn't do it justice, the trunk is about a foot and a half in circumference

the via Broccaindosso residence: S. on the balcony and laundry drying in the sun

Not shown: a massive 19th c. chest of drawers; a fascist chamberpot with inflatable seat by Pirelli, the logo includes a map of Italy that includes present-day Croatia and framed by fasci; another birdhouse, constructed of a wooden beer crate (pre-war); more tools; terracotta pots and planters.

The Fascist piss-pot is my favorite find, particular enough to be a collector's item but such a strange object. There's talk of putting it all up on Ebay and buying the household a new washing machine. Any offers?

blog back log

I've not been connected lately; some recent offline thoughts:

Lots going on…

First, I bought a bicycle, a very exciting purchase that I’ve postponed for too long. I finished in the library earlier than I expected on Friday and stopped in at the biciclettaio that A. recommended. I cruised past the front window trying to figure out if he was open, but it was grimy and covered in signs, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s bici”, “If the door is locked come look for me at the bar”, etc. I paused there a moment, only to have him scream at me from behind a frame he was repairing, “What, what are you looking at?!” I persisted, stuck my head in the door and asked if he was open. He continued a tough guy routine that softened the longer I stuck around – unless I was really going to buy a bike he wasn’t going to waste any time on me. I admired a few fancy bikes he pointed out and then pointed to the ugly 1970’s model out front and made an offer. From there, we entered a back and forth: “No, that one’s not for you, look at this one”… “Are you sure the lights work? What’s this rust here?” … finally agreeing on a much nicer bike than I’d originally picked out for a great price. As I was leaving with the bike I could hardly get away; he had to tell me all about bicycle thieves in Bologna and, ‘because I like you and you have such pretty eyes’ had to add an extra security measure. Escaping after a half hour’s post-purchase conversation, I rode off to have him yell, “Don’t forget to turn on the lights” down the dim street.
Another great character and great salesperson is the lady at the San Lorenzo pharmacy in the cosmetics section. The polar opposite of the biciclettaio. She speaks very carefully, melodically, soft but exactingly articulated formal Italian. While it’s conceivable for one to walk to the shelf, pick out products and pay at the counter, she preserves an old style of service in which one looks around but waits for her attention. She knows all the products, offers recommendations (which of course involve more purchases than originally intended). And she uses the samples and gifts that typically accompany cosmetics and skincare purchases as if they were really gifts, “For you, I have a special treat, a present, just for you.” It’s an amazing talent; her customers leave beaming and feeling very special and well-looked after.