Monday, February 18, 2008

No Good Deed Ever Goes Totally Unpunished


Charter members Valeria, on the left and Giordana, on the right, welcome a new Pink Elephant, Roberta, center, to the herd. Roberta and Giordana are cousins. A happy moment just before my "Night of the Shattered Glass".



This is an interesting house I spotted in Aci Trezza on my walk home from church Sunday.



Suddenly horses appeared in the streets of Castiglione di Sicilia as we were trying to find the golf course. "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" takes on a whole new meaning in Catania!

The tenth hole at Il Picciolo Golf Course.

With a cook like ours in white, how could you go wrong eating at Messina's
Fratelli la Bufala?

The Messina Duomo is in the background, it is both large and ornate.

This is the very cool calendar built into the tower of the Messina Duomo, note that the angel's arrow is pointing at Sunday's date.

LUIGI CHALLENGE: It’s over yet again, after only five days, sleep was just too good to pass up after Saturday’s practice. I have given up on the Luigi Challenge and can only admire the monk’s stamina. Never again will I attempt to near his greatness, it is just too great a health risk.


LAURIE IN ROMA: 10 days to go and YES, I am counting!

Well wasn’t that an interesting Friday night?

The boys wanted to cut loose for the first time since we’ve all been together in Catania and I volunteered to be the Designated Driver. At the end of a very late night I decided to go get the car by myself so that they would not have to walk too far…BIG MISTAKE!

As I have mentioned before, driving here is an adventure in and of itself, each and every day. It would seem that an accident is just a matter of time. Little did I know that mine would come at 3:00 a.m., by myself, backing up three feet, going 1 mile per day, sober, into an open glass door of, ironically, The Havana Club. The explosion of glass was loud and alarming but the car has neither a dent nor a scratch to show for it. My air bags didn’t even inflate for goodness sake!

The owner of The Havana Club, a passionate man who probably owns season tickets in the Curva Nord section for Forza Catania calico games, was insane. Italian hand gestures were flying, noise levels jumped drastically and I think he even called on a host of avenging angels to exact revenge on my soul for this incredible crime against humanity. I thought I believe heard someone even mentioned Nuremburg for the tribunal site but I may have been mistaken on this point. Fortunately I go to 8:00 a.m. Mass every Sunday so I think I was covered against all of his incantations! Of course, it was my fault and I readily accepted the full responsibility and said I would pay for the new glass. The owner’s assistant was calm and clear thinking and we were able to come to this agreement several times during about a half an hour of discussions. The great help of two Elefanti , Marco and Tino, who randomly showed up at the scene and mediated the situation in Italian with the crazed owner  was the key to bringing the negotiations to rest. It took so long to reach this simple agreement because everything would be going smoothly and then the drama queen owner would reappear to fan the flames. Finally everyone, owner included, was in agreement as to the solution, which was my repaying him for the replacement glass which is what I offered as the obvious solution from the beginning! We went back by their place on the way to practice Saturday afternoon to check on the progress of the work but they were closed and their metal roll down door was protecting the Club from an impending invasion by the Visigoths.

After telling Davide before practice about the situation, he put Gustavo to work on fixing the problem, the car insurance may cover it, we’ll see. I received a phone call from the calm assistant Saturday night saying that the glass man would be there Monday or Tuesday to repair the door. He and Gustavo got the details worked out quickly and the door should be replaced by Tuesday. The owner wanted 500 euros cash Friday night to settle the situuation, the glass company said the cost of the glass plus labor will be 60 euros! I promise not to bother Gustavo about the lack of an internet connection at Malibu for the next ten working days.

Saturday’s practice was a good one for the defense. We are finally getting competitive with our offense. Usually at the start of a season the defense is ahead of the offense, not so with the Elephants. We have been stressing effort as our number one coaching point. Without effort you just can’t be any good. Both the effort and the technique are starting to really improve and it shows in scrimmages! We put our best players available on defense for the first time for ten plays and I was happy with their performance to say the least.

Sundays have become a big travel day for “Margaret” and me. I drive so that Jason can take full advantage of all potential photo ops and there are many in Sicilia. His trademark shout of glee, “Stop the car, I can get a great shot from here I just need a minute!”

Random Thought for the DayIt should be noted that Jason’s hometown of Puyallup, Washington is famous for their annual Dafodil Parade and Festival. If the people of Puyallup spent more time and effort teaching their youth in the public school system about the time and space continuum instead of worrying about the yearly local flower crop what a better world it would be!

That being said, Jason would be the poster child for The Society for People That Have No Clue About Time, if there were one. His one minute stops on our Sunday excursions usually turn into 10 to 15 minute odysseys. I don’t mind because I admire his passion in search of the perfect photograph, I usually take some shots make me happy and “Margaret” does take some really great pictures. The tradeoff is that a one hour drive to Messina takes about two hours but it is worth it!

Did I mention that Jason drops things?

This Sunday, after a 32 minute Mass in Aci Trezza, Jason And I drove up to Castiglione di Sicilia on the north side of a now venting Mt. Etna, to check out one of only two 18 hole golf courses in Sicily, Il Picciolo Golf Club. The other course is in Cefalu’ on the north coast of Sicilia. Il Picciolo was very nice and very cold, 3 degrees Celsius, as a light dusting of snow was falling as we drove into yet another beautiful hilltop town. We plan on returning Tuesday morning, if it warms up a bit, and play 18 holes.

From there we drove farther north to Messina, which General Patton said has always been the key to Sicily. They have a wonderful Cathedral, which was virtually the only thing open today. You can see the town of Reggio di Calabria on the mainland of Italy across the straights only about two miles away.

We did have an amazing lunch in Messina at a place called Fratelli la Bufala. We ate a great pasta dish with a sauce we lapped up with every piece of bread we could coerce from the waitress. Then we split a meat dish and a bottle of red wine that were equally good followed by a killer cannolini desert. All in all one of the best restaurant meals we have had in Sicily.

After Jason’s working out and my one hour walk this morning we had the usual cornetto and cappuccino breakfast at Mythos and got supplies at the Cityper Market. Back home I cooked us a lunch of filet mignon ravioli with pomodoro sauce. I added a heavy sprinkling of bleu cheese on my portion for flavor. Served on the patio, we enjoyed incredible view from Malibu of the Ionian Sea.

Practice tonight at 8:00 p.m. by the airport was another step forward!

We have seen a lot of this fabulous and somewhat mysterious island in the 47 days since I left California and it continues to surprise me daily, especially the glass door part.

2 comments:

J TWICE said...

George,

Thank you for your gripping tale of the harsh realities of life in Catania. In a sea of trouble, you seem to be the steady ship rolling on.

One question, I noticed no mention of Brandon assisting the "shattered glass" situation. Where was he - as it would be an obvious benefit for the most physical of your companions to step up at a time like this?

Perhaps more investigation is necessary...

In general, I must say that I am a big fan of your blog. Keep up the good work!

(and that Jason guy sounds very interesting... would love to hear more about him...)

George said...

Brandon stood guard quietly, his mere presence had a very calming effect on the situation.