Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Embellished Errors

I’ve been working on some pages for the “Sketchbook Project 2013” that are a visual way of digesting my experience as an emigrant from Texas to Italy. Click on the links in the captions below each image to read the essay/story that goes with it and find links connecting the images with poetry.

Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Embellished Errors – (Pax Texana)
Pax Texana (detail)
Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: El Pescador / Fingerprint:Ring

Got hot?

It finally got to 95 degrees today! I’m sure that doesn’t sound like much to my Texas friends and family (yes, Dallasites, I know, 105/105/105/105….all week long) but, I have no AC. Not because it’s busted but because there is none. Still, it feels good to close the thick wooden shutters in the house, feel the still air and the stickiness of my skin.
The southern wall of the house is soaking up the heat, in preparation for winter. Sometime in January it will all have leached out and the cold seeped in, weaseled through the brick, mortar, and plaster so that I can feel the winter pushing in the house and the little wood-stove pushing back.

For now I’m enjoying the brief summer here in Northern Italy, especially the light….

More views from a rainy garden…

Lemon Thyme, Dwarf Marigolds, Basil

First let me say that I am from Texas, July is supposed to be hot. The warmest it’s been here since the summer started is the upper 80’s. I miss my summer, the one where you start to bead up in sweat when sitting outside in the shade.
My Texas friends and family are all suffering in the rainless heat of their summer…the grass always looks greener/more parched on the other side of the Atlantic.
I will say that despite the chill and damp of the weather, there’s been just enough sun to keep the garden happy and interesting. I suppose I should just put on another sweater and be happy with what I have.

My coriander (cilantro) went quickly to seed.
Don’t know what the flower
spike is?
perhaps ‘Catalognia’?
Another mystery plant, I like the way
the leaves look like a swirling

Greater Celendine

Has an orange sap that an Italian friend explained could
cure warts and it’s true. Apparently it’s also used as a dye.

I’m not surprised! I quickly found that this orange sap WILL stain clothes a DARK olive
green. You can also use it as ink and it gets
darker in the sun rather than fading!

Finding good bread in my own house

Rustic and olive breads from “Artisan Bread in 5min. a Day

My mom gave me this book when I was visiting in Texas. I’d tried their basic recipe before but now that I have the book I’m experimenting with some of the ‘fancy’ things like olive bread. I have successfully halved the recipe since I have a half-sized fridge and it works great! It’s faster than the sourdough that I had been making and the loaves can be tiny if you want them to be (I divided the olive dough into 4 ‘rolls’). Even without the baking stone and the pizza peel  – I let mine rise directly in a pie tin dusted with a thick layer of corn meal and then pop it right in my little oven when it’s hot enough  – and I’ve had not one bad loaf.
If you’re thinking of making bread at home but worried about having time, then try this one just as easy and much prettier than bread-machine bread.

Buon appittito!

Caffetieria, American Coffee and the consolation of Artichokes.

I’m thinking about coffee; I’m making coffee. I love Italian coffee made in my caffetiera (a la moka). It’s fast and easy and doesn’t require filters. It tastes like something. The only down side is that I can’t just keep drinking it all day long…
As much as I love Italian coffee, every once and a while I find myself longing for a big mug of watery American coffee, a box of Krispy Kremes, and a thick newspaper printed in English.
Then I console myself with red wine and plentiful Artichokes….


1530s, from articiocco Northern Italian variant of It. arcicioffo ,from O.Sp. alcarchofa from Arabic alhursufa  “artichoke.” TheNorthern Italian variation probably is from influence of ciocco “stump.” Folk-etymology has twisted the word in Eng.; the endingis probably influenced by choke and early forms of the word inEnglish include archecokk, hortichock, artychough, hartichoake .The plant was known in Italy by 1450s, brought to Florence fromNaples in 1466, and introduced in England in the reign of HenryVIII. Fr. artichaut  (16c.), Ger. Artischocke  (16c.) both are alsofrom Italian.
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