Throwback Thursday

As she has done for centuries tonight La Befana will fly over the roof tops of Italian homes and distribute gifts to children. For the good she has sweets, oranges and toys; for the bad she gives them the lumps of coal they deserve. Over our time in Italy I wrote several pieces about this folk figure and her story including this post from our last Christmas in Rome.

I discovered from friends of Italian heritage that indeed she did visit them in Canada and still does with their children and grandchildren. Viva! Viva La Befana!

Willy Or Won't He

Tonight, possibly for the last time as I’m not sure if she makes trips outside Italy, La Befana will be flying over our rooftops looking for good little boys and girls. The chances of her stopping by here are rather slim unless it to drop of a load of coal.

I’ve written about her and the stories and traditions surrounding her on two previous occasions. Its a tradition which I can only hope will continue and not be undermined by the whole Babo Natale commercialization that seems to be taking over Christmas.

An early celebration of La Befana recorded in an 18th century print.

There are several versions of her story and the details, as with any good folk tale, vary from region to region. I’ve recently read a rather touching addition to the first version I recounted back in 2008. You may recall that in that story she…

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Throwback Thursday

I’ve always been a bit cynical about New Year’s Resolutions and back in 2013 found a whole parcel of people who shared that cynicism. Looking at this post from December 30th of that year I can’t say I have become any less so.

Willy Or Won't He

As the New Year approaches we can only hope to greet it with a smile on our face and laughter on our lips.  Here’s a few New Yorker cartoons* and a handful of quotes to at least start the smile/laugh process for 2014.

New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.

The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year’s Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you’re married to.

New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.


Good resolutions are simply checks that…

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Throwback Thursday

Puppeteer Will in Lisboa 2019.

Yesterday’s trip down memory lane reminded me of the puppet shows I would put on in the church hall.  As these things do it led to me took at past posts I’d written on puppetry. 

I had long been fascinated by the Sicilian rod puppets and the fascinating stories they told. On trips to Palermo I seemed to always miss performances by Massimo Cuticchio and his Teatro dell’Opre dei Pupi. Finally on our vacation to Sicily just before we left Italy in 2011 included a stop in the beautiful city of Siracusa and a performance at the Teatro dei Pupi there. It was as enchanting as I had ever hoped: brave warriors, evil magicians, dragons and the burning of a castle (real fire!) captured the magic of Orlando Paladino.

So faithful reader I thought for today’s throwback I would revisit this post about that tradition from 2011.

Willy Or Won't He

I’ve been fascinated by puppets since I was about 4 years old when my brother bought me my first glove puppet and my father made me a theatre so I could bore present puppet shows at family gatherings. I remember that theatre to this day – a Punch and Judy-like affair, three sided, painted blue with a curtain made from an old apron of my mother’s. I graduated to more elaborate affairs which led to fully staged plays – The Emperor and the Nightengale was a favourite – where I bored entertained at church socials.

A few of the many rod puppets – knights, Kings, Saracens, Ogres and Spirits that make up the characters of the traditional Tales of Orlando presented by the Cuticchio family at their puppet theatre in Palermo.

I became enthralled by the world of puppetry – marionettes, shadows, rod and glove – though I was never…

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He Did! I Did! We Did!

Fifteen years ago today Laurent and I said I do and made our 29 year relationship officially a marriage. Here are some photos from that big day and a few details that I posted at the time.

Photos: (upper left) Lighting a candle to represent our absent family and friends; (right) our Reesie helped us with our vows; (lower left) We did it!

Willy Or Won't He

Roses from Rick and JohnFirst follower: And will the veil of the temple be rent in twain?
Cult Leader: Well the veil of the temple is always dodgy.
The End is Nigh – Beyond the Fringe

Laurent and I will be exchanging our wedding vows at 1545 this afternoon in our friend Joelle’s garden. And despite the warnings of various religious groups we hope that the veil of the temple will remain unrent and the family unit as we know it will not dissolve. That is not our intention – our intention is to consecrate our loving relationship of the past 29 years.

We decided that at this point we probably won’t find anyone else to put up with us so why not make it legal. To be honest our original thoughts behind this step were based on legal and financial reasons; however as planning progressed the event has taken on a deeper meaning…

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A Whitsuntide Remembered

With the approach of Pentecost this coming weekend I got to reminiscing about previous Whitsuntides spent at the Pfinsenfestspeile in Salzburg. I had been in Salzburg for the summer festival several times in younger days but for Laurent that trip in 2008 was a first. He fell in love with the city, as I had done back on my first visit in 1969. We looked forward to our visits and the music that awaited us over the following years.

Laurent on his way to a concert – May 31st 2009

In those first few years (2008-10) the Festival was pricey but affordable as where the hotels, restaurants, and other delights that Salzburg had to offer. Riccardo Muti was the artistic director and the theme was Neapolitan music and featured some top-notch artists in interesting programmes of seldom heard works.

When Cecilia Bartoli took over in 2012 the focus changed and things became more “star” oriented. Many of the top names in classical music were attracted to perform both in the operas and concerts. Prices roses accordingly as did the tariffs at hotels and on cafe and restaurant menus. Though our first visit to a Bartoli festival (2013) was filled with some memorable moments the following year lacked a certain spark. I am a committed Bartoli fan I feel that over the past few years the Festival has simply become an extension of the glitzy Summer season. Nothing in the past few seasons has had me chomping at keyboard to book tickets and I was surprised to see that there were still tickets available for most events this year. However a return visit to the city of Salzburg is much to be desired.

Here are a few thoughts I had on our second visit back May 29-31, 2009.

Willy Or Won't He

The old town of Salzburg is known for its shop signs not only on the famous Getreidegasse but on the side streets leading off the Domplatz and Residenzplatz. Here are a few of them plus some randoms thoughts about the past few days.

  • It’s rather strange that in Italy, where so many rules are ever so gently skirted, the non-smoking policies are strictly observed in bars and restaurants, while in Austria smoking is allowed everywhere. I had forgotten that there are no smoking restrictions in most places in Austria. And boy do those Austrians love to smoke – the air at the Cafe Bazar on a rainy Friday afternoon was a delicate shade of nicotine gray. The other thing that I’ve noticed in Austria is the number of drunks – particularly near the train stations – you see on the streets. A drunk is something you very rarely see in…

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