When minds think alike …

Met for breakfast this morning…one of those incredible gastronomical events in Sicily …and Heidi and I mentioned that we had each written a Blog entry last night.  Seems like we were both on somewhat the same sheet of music.  It’s a bit of a read but I think you won’t be disappointed.  You will have NO difficulty whatsoever in figuring out the authors.  Trust me!

“Old MacDonald had a Farm ….”

You know this part of that “memorable” song …   “with a quack-quack here, and a quack-quack there, here a quack, there a quack, everywhere a quack-quack.” I don’t know if you realize that it would clearly be possible for a well-intended tour throughout Sicily to become something akin to “with a temple here, and a temple there, here a temple, there a temple, everywhere a temple-temple.” And so it would go on as a parade of historical sites whizz by. But that is certainly not where we are. Signora Lucia and Dr. Dave are going to accuse me of patronizing them but all I can say is … sticks and stone can break my bones but names will never hurt me. The bottom line is … you’ve just got to see both of them in action on these sites. They are relentless … in as great a way as I can possibly describe. Each one provide key pieces of the puzzle that is so…so…so very complex. Agrigento (Valley of the Temples’) is one temple, tomb, “whatever” …after another. Without the framework that the Pollio’s provide it would have easily been … “here a temple ..there a temple etc.. What the Odyssey participants would have missed is the essence of “purpose” in these structures, and how they fit into the fabric of history, development of civilizations, religion …and the list goes on. And ..and ..and then! This entire web of exquisitely delivered background sets the stage for iPad challenges directly related to what the “dynamic duo” have conveyed.

Weaving the "fabric" near Temple of Castor and Pollux
Weaving the “fabric” near Temple of Castor and Pollux
Dr. Dave building a foundation
Dr. Dave building a foundation

I simply had to say something. I snap a few pictures. I bring up the rear with Dr. Dave for some Odyssey security, put on my ugly face and make sure we’re all good Bulldogs and “represent” appropriately … but the magic of this trip is not simply in these spectacular structures thousands of years old … the magic truly lies in the way that Signora Lucia and Dr. Dave put a “face” and a “story” on each piece of the puzzle.

Trust me …I don’t sit back and watch. I take notes.

 

“Agrigento”

We were about three days into our adventure, and our intrepid explorers were presented with another set of Greek temples.  They had already learned the basic architectural vocabulary from their pre-departure lectures–triglyph, metope, stereobate, stylobate, raking sima, etc., etc..  They knew the difference between the three types of temples-Doric, Ionic, Corinthian. They had puzzled out some questions about the temples at Segesta and Selinunte. So, when we came upon our third set of temples in Agrigento, called ‘the Valley of the Temples,’ we were ready to put them in context.  Why so many temples? Why were they dedicated to these gods, and why are we here visiting them?  These are important questions that deserve serious consideration.
We asked Salvatore, our fearless bus driver, to drop us off at the bottom of the valley instead of the top, which no one does, and he thought we were pozzu (this means crazy in Sicilian dialect).  Everyone arriving by bus gets out at the top of the hill where the most well-preserved temples are located and then make their way down hill, the easiest route.  But we wanted to give the story of Greek ‘religion’ in its developmental context–I put religion in quotation marks because the Greeks had no word that means what we think of when we speak of religion.
So we start off in the sanctuary of the chthonic gods and the remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Castor and PolluxThese are not the most well known or well-preserved structures in Agrigento, but they give us that context that makes the whole thing understandable.
Chthonic comes from the Greek word for ‘earth, ground,’ and these very ancient gods were the first allies and adversaries in the very earliest lives of the Greeks of pre-history.  They represented the awesome and inexplicable power of the natural world and were the most intimate and, in some ways,  most terrifying forces in the lives of every man, woman, and child.  This sanctuary has almost nothing left to look at, which is why every tourist marches past without looking as he heads to the parking lot to rendezvous with the mega-tour bus that had dropped him off at the top of the hill.  But what he misses by over-looking this area,  is the meaning, significance, and context which would have made this treasure of human history prove its worth and the greatest argument for our reason for visiting and preserving these places in the first place.  For, knowing that the sanctuary next door houses the remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest Doric temple ever constructed in the Greek world (the bulk of which now tragically forms the commercial Porto Empedocle nearby) was built to establish the sky god’s dominance over the earlier, more connected-to-the-earth, chthonic powers–this would help him understand just how truly remarkable the physical manifestation of man’s struggle with divinity and his relationship with that divinity has been.
The Greek example of respecting the past but having the courage to envision a different future is a lesson worth remembering.

 

BWIIC …see you next time

 

“Greetings from Syracuse”

[From the pen of Dr. Dave]

Yesterday, our intrepid explorers visited a Greek theater at Syracuse. Founded by Greeks from Corinth in 733 BCE, Syracuse would rival Athens in both size and importance by the 5th century, the time when the theater was originally built by the tyrant Hieron I. The theater, which was cut out of a rocky hillside and seated about 15,000 spectators, was second in size only to Athens’ Theater of Dionysus. In this very theater – whose spectators included such luminaries of the ancient world as the playwright Aeschylus, the philosopher Plato, and the mathematician Archimedes – the Syracusans would regularly assemble to witness the performance of tragic plays.

These spectators, however, were not simply passive viewers, but instead used what they had seen on the stage to actively reflect on their own lives, by contemplating the ethical dilemmas and impossible situations faced by the protagonists of these performances. Naturally, this process sounds familiar, as we ourselves are often prompted by what we view on stage or screen to re-examine our own sense of right and wrong – a vital process for us and especially for our children, whom we are encouraging to grow into self-aware, just, and sympathetic individuals.

If you look closely at the accompanying pictures, you will see a tangible reminder of this remarkable legacy bequeathed to us by the Greeks: the Syracusans of today – like the Syracusans of yesterday – are preparing the stage for a performance of Euripides’ Alcestis, which was first performed nearly 2,500 years ago. Just as the contemporary scenery and spotlights are sharing the same space with the ancient stones, our children are sharing the same space with men like Plato and Archimedes, individuals whose characters were, in part, shaped by what they saw on this very stage … individuals who would later go on to re-shape our understanding of the universe and our place therein.

Full stage

Side View

Both seats

Deja Vu …. all over again

Admin Note:  No doubt it’s operator error … but … what I try to create visually (layout) in the “draft” portion of this software is “not always” what shows up in the “published” version.  Photography can simply “zip” all over the place.  Gaps of “blank space” can appear.  I’ll always try to close a BLOG post with “until next time” (or something similar) …so …scroll until you find that and you’ll know you’re done.  

It happened last year many thousands of feet above sea level…atop Mt. Etna while I was watching the “teams” work on a volcanic challenge.   So … there we were about 500 meters underground, in the depths of a seemingly endless salt deposit that was formed some 6 million years ago (so…so…sooooo very hard to wrap your mind, let alone your arms around the magnitude of that number) and WHAMMO…right out of left field … like being hit in the head by a pop fly while you’re not paying attention to the game because you’re admiring the hotdog you just decorated with a with some sort of “Expressionism” cacophony of condiments …WHAMMO .. my “long gone from this Earth” mother shows up for another impromptu reunion.   My mom was a bit of a 1930’s enigma/rebel/out-of-the-box kinda gal.   A valedictorian “geologist” from Bryn Mawr.   Growing up with mom …whether walking down a city street … or tromping around anywhere …just because tromping around is what you do … she always made sure that I didn’t miss the little things.  So … she stooped by just to make sure I didn’t miss anything in this fascinating geological marvel.  She asked me to remember to “always touch,” “try to smell,” “rub or scrape” ..and so on.  So for a few moments …in a torrent of flashbacks I was in a couple hundred different places at the same time …”reaching to do what my mom always asked me to do.”  (If this makes any sense).   I ran my hand on these walls that were some kind of geological tapestry of light and dark colors salt and clay … I touched, rubbed, scraped … and smelled (yes, you could actually “smell” the salt) … I did my best, mom.  Without getting to soppy here, I had to choke it back for a couple of minutes.  (Signora Lucia is a mom ..somehow sensed it … and provided a reassuring hand on the back)   Mom pulled this stunt on me last year…. but I was sitting on the lip of a crater…all by my lonesome …so the “watershed” event was completely personal.  This time … I’m in the “essence of claustrophobia”  … 1,500 feet underground … in a salt mine …really! …. “not” alone by any means.  It’s simply amazing how much pain you must inflict on yourself by biting your tongue to stem the “flood” of emotions during a Deja Vu.   Mom … you are, were, and always will be  … the Salt of the Earth.   Make no mistake … although there was no way to circumvent the obvious “pun” … none was intended.

Ok …. so how are the “studenti” …in a word … fabulous.  Attacking challenges with vigor … representing “mom, apple pie, and the girl/by next door” about as well as anyone could imagine.  Yesterday’s trip to the Piazza Armerina (4th century CE Roman villa) was almost and “impossible dream.”  18 … rising 9th graders exploring one of the greatest displays of mosaics on this planet, referring to iPad maps and background, searching a particular scene on the Piazza floor.  Wow!  And …get this!!  … You almost could have heard a pin drop.  FOR REAL!   One of many … makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck moments that seem to be “just another day” normalities on the Odissea Italiana.  A few captioned photos to follow:

Suspended on catwalks above the mosaics ... they solved challenge upon challenge.
Suspended on catwalks above the mosaics … they solved challenge upon challenge.
Words serve little purpose.
Words serve little purpose.
Did I mention there was a full blown cathedral made by miners...complete with ornate carvings and sculpture in salt?
Did I mention there was a full blown cathedral made by miners…complete with ornate carvings and sculpture in salt?
6 million years old! BAM!
6 million years old! BAM!
Agrigento ... Valley of Temples
Agrigento … Valley of Temples
"Telemon" simulation. (Oh go ahead ...look it up)
“Telemon” simulation. (Oh go ahead …look it up)
No day is complete without ... ?
No day is complete without … ?
Gelato man at "Ragno D'Oro" (Golden Spider) Gelateria
Gelato man at “Ragno D’Oro” (Golden Spider) Gelateria
OBTW ...She's maybe 5 or 6...the rider on the back...you know you're in Italy/Sicily!
OBTW …She’s maybe 5 or 6…the rider on the back…you know you’re in Italy/Sicily!
Who needs a caption here!
Who needs a caption here!                         ”  UNTIL NEXT TIME “

 

“Only the Shadow Knows”

It’s very difficult to get a feel for what’s running through your son’s/daughter’s mind at this point. I’m not sure that it will ever become “transparent,” (Yikes! what am I saying … not sure that doesn’t fall under the category of … “be careful what you wish for”). But … he or she is smack-dab in the middle of ….. ONE ….overwhelming …tangible …palpable … in-your-face “contact” with what I can only describe as “History you can touch …and feel … and breathe … and absorb” … AFTER ANOTHER.  What I can see (so far) is a degree of engagement, and fascination, and “buy-in” that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. At Cave di Cusa, the look on her face, the movement of his hand, probing into the cracks and crevices of a partially “cut-out” (by whom and with what I might ask) column piece (… a huge monolith … a chunk of history … 2,500 year’s old! …2,500 year’s old!!!) that was destined to be moved (somehow … and it wasn’t in the back of a large truck) miles and miles to Selinunte to be used to construct the array of temples … that “look” on her face, and “touch of his hand” speak volumes. It’s hard to convey in words … you’re just going to have to roll with me on this … it’s simply a thing of beauty.  Okay ..okay … I’m going to get off my pedagogical horse (I know … my horse is more of a pony) and return to a more BWIIC”ish” persona.

Did I tell you how much fun your Bulldog was having.  So … put this one away in your bag of “questions” for the future.  See if your son /daughter can confirm that it’s a really good idea that they do “not” allow pets (“dogs” in particular) into eating establishments in the the good ole’ land of the fee and the home of the brave?  My sense is that you’ll get a long and quite humorous (at least I think it was humorous) earful from the breakfast scene at the Crystal Hotel.  It’s the best part of international travel (ok … “a” part … I’d be crazy to say “best”) … seeing life from another angle.

Hey! … Did I tell you that we wrapped up the day with a “swim call” in the Mediterranean Sea … and make no mistake … there wasn’t an Italian for 50 kilometers that was even “thinking” about “thinking” about getting into the water … it was jusssssst a little “brisk” by Mediterranean standards.  I’m here to tell you … that “brisk” ranks right up there with “Our current presidential election scene is just fine” …as an understatement of epic proportions.   So …  captioned pics will follow to try and keep the “feel” going for you.

Ready to start the day.
Ready to start the day.
Breakfast ...and yes .... that's a hint of chocolate under the smiles.
Breakfast …and yes …. that’s a hint of chocolate under the smiles.
Segesta
Segesta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iconic Italian Odyssey photo (Segesta Temple)
Iconic Italian Odyssey photo (Segesta Temple)
Segesta Greek Theater ... preparing for the live drama
Segesta Greek Theater … preparing for the live drama
Cave di Cusa ... such an enigma... how was it cut ... how was it moved?
Cave di Cusa … such an enigma… how was it cut … how was it moved?
Lunch at Cave di Cusa ...among the monoliths.
Lunch at Cave di Cusa …among the monoliths.
A familiar sight ... the entourage
A familiar sight … the entourage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A funny thing happened on the way to .... Selinunte
A funny thing happened on the way to …. Selinunte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's the "sign" of Gamma team ... success on a tough "teamwork" challenge.
That’s the “sign” of Gamma team … success on a tough “teamwork” challenge.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sort of like “Polar Plunge” training … only different.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Of course there were Chicken Fights … why would you even ask !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time … xoxox

 

 

 

 

What a start! The Energizer Bunny was cheering.

It’s hard to know where to begin.  It’s 2230 Trapani (Sicily) time and your Bulldogs have been working hard, let me repeat for effect…working hard since whenever he/she woke up on Sunday morning until this very moment.  They’ve been “at it” for … well in excess of 30 hours.

It looked smooth on the monitor. Go figure!
It looked smooth on the monitor. Go figure!

I suppose I should sugar coat it and avoid mentioning “turbulence” on the transatlantic hop…but in keeping with the spirit of the Academy Honor Code … I’m coming clean.  It was jussssssst a little bumpy for in excess of 4 of the 8 hours of flight time across the big pond.

Turbulent enough the make the “sleeping on an airplane event” …that much more challenging.  But, that was then and this is now.  Your son/daughter is in Sicily!  They’ve been fed, watered, and put to bed.

A few pictures (with captions) will follow.  Perhaps you’ll be able to get a feel for the “character,” the “personality” of the day!  They were so good!  They were so competitive (in a healthy way).  Sorry for what sounds like some kind of touchy-feely love fest.  I’m not “Mr. Feel Good.”  What you see is what you get.  I saw it…and you’re getting it.

A well-timed KAHOOT quiz (basic Italy knowledge) on iPads in Charlotte.
A well-timed KAHOOT quiz (basic Italy knowledge) on iPads in Charlotte.
Their eyes were "WIDE" open for these first glimpses of Sicilian splendor.
Their eyes were “WIDE” open for these first glimpses of Sicilian splendor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You only need to mention the words "Road to Erice" to Signora Lucia ...and she begins to tremble.
You only need to mention the words “Road to Erice” to Signora Lucia …and she begins to tremble.
Nothing helps a Navigation Challenge get off to a "good " start like a "good" map.
Nothing helps a Navigation Challenge get off to a “good ” start like a “good” map.
The background...the foreground...wow!
The background…the foreground…wow!
Sometimes "zooming in" misses the mark ... look to the next picture.
Sometimes “zooming in” misses the mark … look to the next picture.
Venus Castle - Sanctuary of Venus Erycina  (see what I mean)
Venus Castle – Sanctuary of Venus Erycina (see what I mean)
Crystal Hotel, Trapani, Sicily.  Nice digs, all around.
Crystal Hotel, Trapani, Sicily. Nice digs, all around.
It's all about "waving the flag!" .... err ...uhhh ...I mean flags.
It’s all about “waving the flag!” …. err …uhhh …I mean flags.
"Pasta alla Norma" rocked the house for "one" of the dinner courses.
“Pasta alla Norma” rocked the house for “one” of the dinner courses.

Till next time … BWIIC is headed for a little slumber.

In Sicilia e oltre ! 2016

“To Sicily and beyond!  2016”

It's all in your mind's eye.
It’s all in your mind’s eye.

Welcome to the Odyssey Blog.   Typically, a majority of the Blogs will be written (I prefer the terms…woven, spun, concocted, fabricated, bunches of words hastily slapped together at random…etc.)  by The BWIIC (Blogger What Is In Charge).   Please feel free to hold Signora Professoressa  Lucia (Mrs. Pollio) personally responsible for assigning me Signore Professore Alfredo (Mr. Poole)  the BWIIC responsibilities last year, and then choosing to ignore the relentless public outcry to have me removed and then …. yes and THEN …. allowing me to have “one last try” to redeem myself.   So … I’m back…  in all  “stream of consciousness” … lot’s of little dots between phrases … fasten your seat belts … no one ever accused me of being terse … really! … you need a sense of humor … there’s always the delete key …. g-l-o-r-y!    If you start reading a Blog entry and it seems  … strangely readable … or flows with some degree of logic … follows basic rules of grammar… and/or simply seems “different” …then it’s your first clue that Professoressa Lucia could not “take it” any longer,  has taken corrective action, and temporarily assumed BWIIC while I sit in “time out.”

“It’s hard to tell a Ham from a Spam without a program Maam!”

To keep you on your toes, your Bulldog has assumed a new Italian/Sicilian identity.  Typically your daughter/son will be referred to by her/his Odyssey name.   So that we are all on the same sheet of music  here is a “roll call” broken down by “teams.”   Your son/daughter will work within his/her respective team to complete various “challenges” throughout the Odyssey.

  • Alpha – Gracie=Anna Grazia    Julian=Giulio   Courtney=Cordelia Ainsleigh=Arianna      Wyatt=Lorenzo      Connor=Luigi
  • Beta – Ells=Alessandro      Kacey=Katerina      Sammi=Sabina    Meghan=Margherita    Audrey=Aurelia   Nikolas=Nicolo
  • Gamma – Sydney=Silvia        Sahib=Salvo         Cole=Carlo       Rachael=Rachele     Kerri-Chiara       Guil=Giovanni

We (Pollio, Pollio, and Poole) hope that between the Blog entries and the Twitter/Instagram feeds that we can keep you at least “somewhat” connected to your daughter/son that you have so kindly agreed    to   share   with   us    for   this    capstone   adventure   ………    “In  Siclia  e  oltre!”               Next stop …..  “Erice!”

Next Stop .... "Erice!"

 

 

 

The 2015 8th Grade Odyssey

Announcing the Inaugural Voyage of the ‘Eighth Grade Odyssey’

glasses 1    glasses 2

Sicily was colonized by the Greeks in the Eighth century BCE and invaded by the Eighth Grade on June 7.  15 students in Royster Middle School participated in a study abroad adventure in Sicily and southern Italy as part of Norfolk Academy’s Global Classroom initiative.

The objective was to give students an up close and personal view of the ancient world. 

By the end of Eighth Grade, they have studied Greek mythology, Greek drama, ancient history, the laws of physics as described by Greek philosophers and scientists, the mathematics of Pythagoras and Euclid, the literature of Homer, and, of course, they have studied the Latin language of the Romans-the direct heirs and innovators of the Greek genius.

So they left the books in the classroom and made antiquity their playground as they climbed on the ruins of ancient temples, sat in the theater where Plato sat, leapt from the altar of the largest Doric temple ever constructed, re-enacted the Roman invasion of Greek Syracuse, confronted philosophers, poets, and playwrights on their own ground, swam in three different seas, hiked in the craters of Mt Etna, and ate their weight in gelato. 

Their guides on the journey were a Latin teacher (Heidi Pollio), a science teacher (Woody Poole), a professor of Classics (Dr. David Pollio), their leadership skills, their imagination, and their own sense of adventure.

They brought iPads and used them as resources for research, for challenges at sites, for documenting their journey, and will ultimately use them for creating a work of art describing what they have learned.

It was a ten day Odyssey of mind, body, and spirit, and an adventure of a lifetime.

Is this year’s rising Eighth Grade up for an adventure?  We’ll have to wait and see.  Stay tuned for next year’s installment, ‘Odyssey 2016,’ accepting applications this fall from the class of 2020.

Out of the Mouths of Babes Comes …… “Stuff.”

BWIIC editorial note … be it jet lag… lack of computer acumen …or simple ignorance … I have been unable to master the photo within text formatting mysteries of this software.  What looks letter perfect in draft … has no relation to appearance in the preview or published version.   So …if it looks a bit out of whack … in the final product ..you can rest assured that it looked borderline perfect prior to hitting the publish button.  

 

 

It’s 2144  (Wed. back in Norfolk / Va. Beach) and I’m reeling a bit from the cumulative effects of an Odyssey …as well as …. the horizontal rain and (believe it or not) hail that literally erupted (no Etna/Vesuvius pun intended) with a horizontal

a
Hail ?    ….. Really !

and high kinetic energy vengeance about 30 seconds before we stepped from the safety of the intra-terminal bus at Leonardo da Vinci airport and made our way to the covered safety of the terminal 5 approach covered walkway.  There’s a lot of “glad to be home” punctuated by the frequent “I can’t believe it’s over” refrain.

Allora! …. So there we were on Tuesday night.  The Bulldog Team was enjoying his/her last full Italian dinner in all it’s splendor (5.7 lbs. in 10 days of splendor for the BWIIC that is ….yikes!) when a classic wedding reception”ish” ring of metal rapping on crystal broke the silence 130 db (110 db is the threshold of pain) din.

a
Villa Vergiliana

The BWIIC asked each team mate to take a moment and write a “word or fifty” into a file on the laptop.  I originally thought I would use names but opted to remove any suggestion that the thoughts would be part of  some  comparative event where the most eloquently crafted (albeit less than heartfelt) paragraph of “solving world peace,” “epiphanies,” and “cathartic moments” would garner a few final points toward total victory on Mt. Midoryama.  The team responded well and within a few hours…. the guts of this final post (from the BWICC at least) were typed, saved, and ready for compilation/publication.

What follows are the thoughts, reflections, humor, and perspective that each member of the team chose to express.  Whether it be two or three words (my favorite being “gelato is very good”… profound by any measure)  or a 100+ word carefully crafted paragraph …. each one is a gem… a jewel …a legitimate treasure.  In no particular order and scattered amongst a collection of pics …. here we you go:  (fyi … photos are low calorie eye-candy,  and most likely have little to do with the important part of this posting… “The Mouths of Babes …. Stuff.”

“Gelato is really good.”

Lucia, Francesco, and Josephina ... hospitality Italian Style
Lucia, Francesco, and Josephina … hospitality Italian Style

The Odyssey trip was absolutely incredible. Before this journey I had never seen ancient Greek and Roman structures before. I have a new perspective of these amazing civilizations and how truly spectacular their work was. Before I only knew of their cultures through pages in a book, but now I have personal experience with their creations and ideas. To genuinely understand their genius, I had to remind myself that these people were humans just like myself, with ability similar to mine. To see a complete city like Pompeii, It gave me a personal perspective on how amazing the Romans were and why these two cultures continue to spread influence to this day.

Segesta with my friend.
Segesta with my friend.
The "Selfie" ...a worldwide event.
The “Selfie” …a global phenomena.

These past 9 days have been an experience of a lifetime. These are some of the inside joke-quotes that have made the trip extra special:

“Hi, welcome to chili’s”

Just another epic day.
Just another epic day.

“gelater”

“look at all those ruins”

“schemaaa”

“ooooh….spicy”

“somebody come get her, she’s dancing like a lizard”

“we gucci”

Greek Theater in prep for annual Greek Tragedies series.
Greek Theater in prep for annual Greek Tragedies series.

“I’m in Italy, just caught a lizard, I’m in Italy, having fun”

“Coach Poole, are you wearing my shirt?”

Taormina ... a "decked-out"  couple on the way to a film festival premier.
Taormina … a “decked-out” couple on the way to a film festival premier

Despite hours of driving, losing my phone,scraping up my elbow and knee, and the constant packing and unpacking, this trip has been an amazing experience. I have grown much closer to so many people and learned so much in a new and exciting way. seeing lessons taught in school applied to the real world was incredible and i am so happy to have had this experience!

"Let me tell ya ...'bout the birds and da bees and da...."
” P e r f e t t o !”

My favorite quote? Probably “It should be Schema, not Scopa” – (Scopa player …late at night)

The Boot of Italy awaits the Team.
The Boot of Italy awaits the Team.

This is the story of the time we went to Italy. it was scary at first but we …olived . 

 Caption Not Required
Caption Not Required
Just another day on The Italian Odyssey.
Just another day on The Italian Odyssey.
Hi Mom !
Hi Mom

What a trip… (I will not try to emulate Mr. Poole’s style of writing) This “Odyssey” has given me a needle to pop the protective bubble of N.A. and the U.S.A. Venturing into a different society, where weird customs (pickpocketing/bartering), amazing food (gelato, pasta, and coffee), and a odd language are present, have opened my eyes to the amazing nature of the world we live in.

Gelato .... Taormina Style!
Gelato …. Taormina Style!

I always thought that other countries would have incredibly different traditions that would blow me away, but I didn’t realize their true gravity. Also, underneath this new experience, my interest in the ancient civilization that has made the modern society we live in was given more food than it could

At the top ... despite the "film festival" accoutrements ... the view was staggering.
At the top … despite the “film festival” accoutrements … the view was staggering.

handle, in the whirlwind of temples, amphitheaters, and 2,000 year old cities. This trip would be categorized as a delve into the world of “different”, and has opened my eyes to the beauty of what was, what is, and what could be.

Somehow ... despite OSHA and still throwing real dirt clods at her friends in the piazza ... la bambina will somehow survive to see her 82nd birthday.
Somehow … despite  the lack of OSHA and throwing real dirt clods at her friends in the piazza … this young woman will somehow survive to see her 82nd birthday.

Today was day 9 without food or water, Mrs. Pollio and Mr. Poole are continuing to starve us. I’ve just managed to take Mr. Poole’s laptop to contact the outside world for one minute while he’s asleep. All 15 of us have been locked inside a dark cage for the past couple days. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I’m starting to miss my parents. Sometimes, just sometimes, I think I can

If your Bulldog brought home something monogrammed ... it was the work of "Valentina."
If your Bulldog brought home something monogrammed … it was the work of “Valentina.”

see the light, but it’s just my brain playing tricks on me, I’m hallucinating. J-joshing (just joshing).  These past 9 days have been magnificent, with all of the temples, ruins, volcanoes, and hiking, I never want to leave. With Alastair’s sense of humor, “someones” schemyness on every single girl, and getting to know other people better, I’ve had the best experience.

Literally 2 pico secs after this shutter snapped ... this unidentified "Blue" carpet dignitary pulled off a "9's" across the board cartwheel.   Even the Bulgarian judge could not gave credit where credit was due.  You just HAD to be there.
Literally 2 pico secs after thi shutter snapped … this unidentified “Blue” carpet dignitary pulled off a “9’s across the board” cartwheel. Even the Bulgarian judge gave credit where credit was due. You just HAD to be there.

Aleas Jace (Throw the dice).  -me

Pointing at a Latin I staple ... the residence of one ....
Pointing at a Latin I staple … the residence of one ….

Despite the number of times I have hit my head, I still remember some parts of this trip. This trip has been such an amazing adventure, and I have become so much closer with these 18 great people. I will always remember this wonderful trip to Montana, or wait…was it Italy…I can’t remember 🙂

Every moment was a labor ... "of love."
Every moment was a labor … “of love.”
Countless perished in the infamous quarries!  The source of the building blocks of history.
Countless perished in the infamous quarries! The source of the building blocks of history.

This trip has been phenomenal and I can’t wait to tell my family about it.

Sure-footed as a Dall sheep.  Senora Lucia.
Sure-footed as a Dall sheep. BravoSenora Lucia.

Piece of Advice:

When walking down Mt. Etna, Mrs. Pollio is great at holding your hand for stability.

New meaning to hands-on learning.
New meaning to hands-on learning.
Around every corner.
Around every corner.
Taormina high street ... jusssssst a little more crowded.
Taormina high street … jusssssst a little more crowded.

“Two roads diverged in an Italian wood, and I, I took the one traveled by the hungry American, and that has made all the difference (in my stomach).”

-Myself

A photographer's fantasyland.
A photographer’s fantasyland.

Just say "mosaic" or "Roman Villa" and let your Bulldog take it from there.
Just say “mosaic” or “Roman Villa” and let your Bulldog take it from there.

“Italian coffee is really good”

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Love that ticker tape parade atmosphere.
Love that ticker tape parade atmosphere.
Really ?
Really ?
Probably the winning catapult shot ... then again ...there's always that pesky little azimuth adjustment.
Probably the winning catapult shot … then again …there’s always that pesky little azimuth adjustment.
What time is it ? ..... "Time to greet each other as friends."
What time is it ? …..
“Time to greet each other as friends.”
Where else but Sicily does a Sophia Loren"ish" looking bride pull up in a rigatoni (or was that a Bugatti) with some Odd-Job hat wearing kinda guy driving and .....
Where else but Sicily does a Sophia Loren”ish” looking bride pull up in a rigatoni (or was that a Bugatti) with some Odd-Job hat wearing kinda guy driving and …..
 You could have heard a pin drop.
You could have heard a pin drop.
 Put me in coach ....
Put me in coach ….
 No point in trying to write anything.
No point in trying to write anything.
 On the way "from" the forum.
On the way “from” the forum.
 Yep!  Memories were truly made.
Yep! Memories were truly made.
Every team needs a captain.
Every team needs a captain.

and when it was all said and done …

 Everyone was so happy to be home ... but sometimes ...if you looked real close ...you could almost see that ... "I wanna go back" look.
Everyone was so happy to be home … but sometimes …if you looked real close …you could almost see that … “I wanna go back” look.

Love you all … BWIIC…

Note:  There is no way whatsoever that I could say the right words to put a capstone comment on this capstone event.  For one … this was not my gig …. this was the product of Senora Lucia’s passion, drive, commitment, execution …(you get it).   I can only offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks that this opportunity to share something of this magnitude with your Bulldog fell into my lap.  Wow!  

At some point after I hit the “publish” key …. Senora Lucia will put the finishing touches on the Blog …   Arrivederci !     

Mt. Etna ….. though the lens

 

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Morning (&Mt. Etna) greeted the Bulldogs.
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Salvo (passionate vulcanologist) adjacent to an impact crater …. spins some chemistry and physics into the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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There is a lot going on in what seems to the layman to be “just another” lava bomb.
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Each hue, each texture, each bump and/or depression tell part of the story of this particular lava bomb.

 

 

 

 

 

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The moments after the challenge begins. The challenge is to use small lava bombs to fashion  “something” NA.

 

 

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Senora Luchia watches in silence.

 

 

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“Beta”
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“Alpha”
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Top (for this challenge) “Gamma”
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Salvo continues to work his magic.
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Same lava bomb material … but …. dramatically different densities.  One porous …one dense.
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“No my friends … the lava cave is not too far.  An “easy” walk of only a few hundred meters.

 

 

 

 

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And a “few very interesting hundred meters” it was.  Almost a scree slope (only this was made of lava bomb fragments).  Very interesting footing.
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And so it began!

 

 

 

 

 

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The “lava cave.”
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Dogs come to learn that Etna provides a porous surface upon which plants can make a new start.

 

 

 

 

 

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They made it “look” easy.  From personal experience …. it only “looks” that way.
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Pizza with my friends!
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Descending into the 2nd longest lava tube in Italy.

 

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Senora Luchia provides a little more than moral support to Angelina.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lava tube primer inside the first chamber.

 

 

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A little limbo would have helped with the entry into the second area.
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Dante and Mario  testing their  L5S1 stability.
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The “numinous” nine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “scheming” six  …. err…uhhh …. I mean … The “sagacious” six.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allora … So there we were …

We came …We saw …We touched…We descended …We climbed (uggh!) …. We listened, watched, and all became part of a very special experience.

Grazie mille Salvo!

 

Ciao,   Alfredo

 

 

 

 

The Personification of Mt. Etna.

Before this post gets to the “spin around Etna” photo portion … I am compelled  by feelings both obligatory as BWIIC and personally (we’ll get to that) to “try” and paint a picture of Mt. Etna (“who!” and I am intentionally using “who” …I will refer to from this point on as simply “Etna”) in words.

Salvo, our Vulcanologist (yep!     I…the BWIIC am 62 years old … a science guy …and had never met a Vulcanologist …a real one until a day or so ago…. as a matter of fact …every time I heard Senora Lucia or Dr. Donato mention the word I would have an inner smile and visions of some Leonard Nimoy”phile” at a Trekkie gathering in Sioux Falls, SD) was the real deal.   And by “real deal … I am not referring to his expertise in the field of Vulcanology.  Without question …it was epic..titanic… (fill in your own word if needed).  The “real deal” aspect of Salvo was this “infectious” passion about Etna that seemed to emanate from him …as if ….  we were watching some computer generated portion of an episode of Ancient Aliens (these would be …really good ancient aliens) on the Nat Geo channel.

Salvo introduced your Bulldog to not only “appropriately complex” technical data, facts, timeline, and historical significance …. but he was able to weave this very hard to describe “relationship that clearly exists” between Etna and the people who live around her, work with her, and breathe the air she breathes.  To Salvo ..(and countless others) his life is shaped by his personal relationship her.  At times … it was palpable …good palpable…great palpable.

On a couple of occasions for the BWIIC it was very close to tear-up uncontrollably and break down in front of your son/daughter …palpable.  Both my parents have been hanging around with God and all the other Mom’s and Dad’s who boarded that train …for a long time.  I chat with them …. when you least expect it.   So … there we were …. nope … there “I” was calmly snapping pics and listening to Salvo describe the different nuances of her personality that can be learned by what hue of make-up she has chosen to wear.  A brown-ish smokey-eye shadow for iron II (or III) oxide) … a lively, fun shade of “blondes have more fun” yellow for a sulphur (when in Europe ..spell as the Europeans) compound.  So there I was … and WHAMMO … “Oh hi Alfred” … Muriel Humbert Poole shows up on one of the lava bombs next to me …hits me in the head with a 2″ x 4″ (with a Big Pappy sort of swing) and I go from the inside of one of her (Etna’s) craters to tromping around with mom in some sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic … area of geologic significance.  Mom (in 1939) graduated valedictorian from Bryn Mawr with a degree in …yep … g-e-o-l-o-g-y.  1939 … clearly the “path less traveled.”  She always traveled with her geologist’s hammer (sits in a drawer near my desk for the emergency mom fix as needed) and talked…and taught …. and questioned .. my sister and me through countless walks, hikes, treks all over the planet.  She (Etna) had made it abundantly clear … that she truly was a far more than a simple volcano …she was part of so many lives of so many people…. a almost intimate part that is almost impossible for me to even begin describe … a part that shapes perspectives, thoughts, interactions, choices … virtually every aspect of the unique culture that exists in her sphere of influence.  In any event … thank you Etna.

I “know” that you daughter/son felt something ..at some point … most likely they don’t even know that it happened or that they felt it …but at some point it will peek out and say “Hi.”  Salvo was so full of passion …passion…passion ..and more passion.  He was so full of passion that he “had to” take us on a jaunt down the outside of a huge crater to a lava cave/hole/thingy surrounded by incredibly beautiful flora …some backlit by the rays of the sun.  (FYI … Senora Luchia, Dr. Donato and the BWIIC will never …e-v-e-r!  forget the climb back “up” the side of the crater… as a memory it will bring a smile … but as a current event on the day … it was as close to being “voted off the island” as you could get.)

Although I’ve digressed (significantly) and blabbed about Mom …way too much …I’ll reign it in and state for the record … YOUR VERY OWN BULLDOG was treated to an experience that will remain with them for the rest of her/his life.  Talk is cheap!  I get that.  But this is anything but simple talk …and cheap at that.  This is as real as something so intangible can get.  The energy was overwhelming.  There was far more than the simple energy of the molten magma.  It was Etna’s energy that touched your Bulldog.  “Her energy.”

I’m throwing in the towel … I’m beginning to feel like Richard Dreyfus in “Close Encounters of a……”  I don’t want to be found in the lobby in a few minutes making a model of her out of pastries, mortadella, and pasta.

Just a couple of teaser Etna pics for now …. DSC_0029 DSC_0038 DSC_0156 DSC_0167

To embark on an interdisciplinary, capstone study-abroad program in southern Italy and Sicily for Norfolk Academy 8th grade students.