The entire poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by the wildly abstract Wallace Stevens remains a mystery to me.  Pick any stanza.  Let’s say, V.

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Is it a stretch to say that Stanza V opposes two types of beauty? (Probably, but Ben Huberman’s post led me here. A complex and divergent literary trip, to be sure, not unlike the one through this poem.)



How will-o’-the-ˈwispy Stevens can be. Those opposing beauties?  2116646_orig

Might he mean one distinct and the other suggestive, that the blackbird’s whistling is there to illustrate?






No matter. Just click here to read about the Wallace Stevens Walk in Hartford, CT.    You may even feel compelled to write a ‘Thirteen Ways’ koan. (BTW, a central theme of many koans is the ‘identity of opposites’.)  Have a go, be inscrutable like Wally and his blackbird.  Zen-like, even.

If two wings flap and there is a sound, what is the sound of one wing flapping?

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Toni 7/5/16



In Italy, everyone loves pasta, il primo piatto.  North, south, rich, poor, it’s a shared gastronomical religion.  Each region stakes its claim to a distinctive design. ( I know, I’ve tried them all.)  When I stayed in Trappani, I devoured the local handmade pasta called busiate, Sicily’s most famous pasta lunga. Knobs of dough are formed into ropes and rolled around a ferretto, or thin iron rod, something like a knitting needle.

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The curves hold the pesto Trapanese, one of Sicily’s traditional sauces, that soars with the flavors of garlic, basil, and almonds.

busiate trapanesi con pesto ai capperi

In Sicily, point your car in any direction and you’ll find pasta, it’s such a part of Sicilian life.   As I hiked across the island, I read through Andrea Camilleri’s mystery series. His fictional detective, the astute Montalbano, is always in a state of silent ecstasy while enjoying a dish of busiate.

Sound marvelous?  It is.


What’s your favorite pasta?

Toni 6/24/16





Happy Birthday, Vespa.


Italy marries style and function like no other country I have ever visited.

Think about the coffee, the markets, the meals.  The art, the language, the pasta. Balsamic vinegars, ceramics, gelato. The exquisite fashion, olive oils, wines, and, naturalmente, cars and motorcycles.


Who doesn’t love a Vespa?   Iconic and everywhere, it’s a cult classic with sporting flair.


vespa3Aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio disliked motorcycles (they’re inconvenient, bulky and it’s difficult to change a tire).

Inspired by his experience with airplanes, he designed the Vespa’s driving position based on the drawing of a man sitting comfortably in an armchair.

It has a virtually indestructible motor, a spare tire, a shield that protects legs from the wind and rain. And there’s plenty of room for people and things.


It looks like a wasp!

Italians swoon over its shape and the sound of the engine.


The 1953 movie Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, made the Vespa famous around the world.

Vespa 98 1946

Today, seventy years after the first model was launched, the Vespa continues to charm.

Vespa rides the roads of every continent.

And she looks better than ever. Tuk-tuk.

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Toni 5/12/16