Home-made limoncello. Click for credits

These are confusing days in my life for no apparent reason. A project started a few years ago, possibly one of the most important in my life, is now finally reaching its conclusion. I should feel happy, I should feel like one with a stronger grip on reality, but I feel vague instead, with things to do escaping my control and piling up in messy ways while quake aftershocks accompany our days and nights.


A few days ago, in Destination Infinity‘s stimulating blog, I read about 5 Japanese concepts (the 5 Jap Ss) useful for managing anything, from our storeroom to our daily work. I’ll quote DI and highlight the words I found more beneficial to my present state of mind:

“Seiri – Put things in order. Arrange, sort. Keep only the essential itemsDiscard the unessential ones.

Seiton – Proper arrangement. Set in order. There should be a place for everything and everything should be in their place. They should be reached easily when needed.

SeisoClean. Keep things clean and polished so that you would love to work with them. This cleaning should be a part of daily work – not after things get messed up!

Seiketsu – Purity and Standardization. Operate in consistent fashion to yield consistent results.

ShitsukeSustaining the discipline. Maintaining and reviewing standards. Once the previous 4 Ss have been established, they become a new way to operate. But if there is a suggested improvement or a new tool, then a review of the 4 Ss is appropriate.”


This weird period of stress is probably the reason why almost every evening, on our small terrace overlooking the roofs of Rome, I have one or two shots of limoncello. As Lola put it, “it is Italy’s most famous after dinner liqueur. I like mine tart, zesty, not too sugary, ice cold and dreamy – she says, and adds:

“The homemade booze is always a million times better than the bottled, so here’s the secret to lavish limoncello.”

I’ll let you read her recipe and post on limoncello. Learn the art of Italian cooking from a creative woman whose roots are both from Italy and the US.

38 thoughts on “Asking the Japanese and Limoncello for Some Help

  1. The end of project blahs or blues, well known and painful. In the 60s I worked in a juvenile offenders rehab facility. One of my favorite activity was “project theater”. With my group of 16 boys ranging in age from 15 to 18 or 19 we set up a gala. The boys picked the program, with some help of course, learned and played the parts, produced decors and costumes over a 3 month period. At the end, families and friends came to attend a theatre evening. Some came from several hundred kilometers away. It was all very exhilarating. In the two or three following weeks our boys required much tender loving care. When the adrenaline subsided they had a tough period…very reeducating but also very challenging for them and for us.


    1. Yes, you are right Paul, it’s the end of project blues. This thing has kept me with bated breath for years, because of the risk, its ups and downs: only one year ago all seemed failed. Now that all is about to end well in one month’s time maximum I just can’t believe it’s over, and yes, I feel a bit confused.

      The story of those boys is interesting and moving.


    1. Thank you for the link scerir. These concepts are impressive. One understands how these Japanese could/can fight in life to attain no matter which goal. I was struck by the concepts you indicated and other stuff like the ability to be calm in all situations (Heijoshin), the nobility, dignity, grace, and elegance displayed by a technically and spiritually mature archer (Shahin) and especially their total belief that a spiritually and technically correct shot will *always* hit the target.


  2. I so needed to hear this today! I have been struggling with organization. What has helped me more so recently has been exercise. Today I ran 4 miles for the March of Dimes. While I run it seems like I can think much clearer, and put together the pieces of what I need to be doing. Thanks for this. Now I’m off to go explore that little bit of heaven, known as limoncello ;o)


    1. Don’t talk to me about that, I’ve always struggled with organization lol! Yes, exercise is excellent, it brings oxygen thence clarity to the brain. I’ve stopped jogging because it’s not good for my knees but I walk a lot and do bicycle, plus I never use elevators and climb stairs many times a day. Also music has great effects. And limoncello? Well, yes, also, but one gotta be more careful there 😉

      I’m glad you popped in, Janet!


      1. Oh you are so right… my husband loves the curves! My doctor, however, didn’t like my cholesterol, nor my foray into the land of diabetes! So I had the choice: live as I was and take many medicines on a daily basis for life, or lose a few curves and live longer- I’m liking this living longer gig ;-)So while I bake daily, I share more with others instead of eating it all myself! What a shame you aren’t here- I’d make you a cheesecake!


        1. Ah you women. This curves thing apart, which is certainly a men killer, you also have this food thing. I don’t know, giving good food to a man is surely a way of conquering his soul. Well, yes, I think you did the right choice. But I’ll go once in a while watch that cheesecake at your blog 🙂

          You made me laugh Janet!


  3. Actually I saw this concept in some Japanese Factory and also some Korean factories run in India. They have made a poster of it and pasted it in each department. I was inquisitive from that time. And these concepts couldn’t have come at a better time for me! So, thanks for the songs and the mention – it helped me to refresh my memory.

    Destination Infinity


    1. I can say the same. These concepts have come right at a moment when I needed them, so it’s me thanking you! I think I have neglected the Japanese. They can be a good source of inspiration. Also scerir has helped. He has provided a good link on Jap concepts. Ciao



  4. Hi MoR. Projects are like birthing babies. I remember this feeling when I used to paint. I never wanted to sell the finished project. Sell my baby?! But I have so much invested in it! I’ve nurtured it and most of my thoughts and energy have been expended there.
    But then it’s time to let go. Your work is done. There’s a little bit of the “baby blues” that follow.
    Then we do it again! haha
    In the meanwhile, sipping limoncello sounds like a nice little comfort. And music too! Doing both at the same time? Yes!
    What you feel is natural. Go with the flow 🙂


    1. Maryann, you are such a sweet person, I know you only from the blogosphere but I feel you expand your warmth around in all you say and do.
      I’ll go with the flow.
      A painter too? So you add this to being already a wonderful cook & photographer and surely a wonderful wife & mother!

      I forgot to mention that you are also a wonderful writer!


  5. Perfect. I was looking for a new foreign language to begin studying and here you are presenting it to me on a silver platter. Now I know how why we love Japanese culture.

    Are the aftershocks still rattling your nerves? It takes years to get over these experiences. We lost a house in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The house was the visible loss. Life was never the same.

    Good visiting with you.


    1. You mean you want to study Japanese now? Wow, that really seems something. Dear Rosaria, no, the shocks are not getting too much on my nerves, they just add a bit to the confusion.

      Oh, you mean that terrible earthquake a few km from downtown LA? It must have been awful. I’m so sorry you were involved Rosaria. Be well dear, and may life smile on you.


  6. Giorgio, sei un mito. Grazie! Sai che mi ero dimenticata che avresti parlato del limoncello? E che avresti messo i link al mio blog… un tocco di classe, di cui tu sei maestro. Thank you so much, I’m blushing. Magari una volta possiamo vederci da qualche bujaccaro per una cena?

    What enchanted rooftops do you stare out from, blessed by Roman spring skies? Non ricordo se mi hai mai detto se sei rimasto fedele al cuore Trasteverino oppure… dove?

    Le pulizie di Pasqua nipponiche sono da provare.


    1. Beh, una promessa è una promessa. Perché no, potrebbe essere un’idea creativa, ma ti avverto cara che un po’ di orsaggine aleggia, come venticello, in questa fase della mia vita.

      No, I didn’t stick to Trastevere. I live not very far from the Colosseum, even though I cannot see it from my terrace or windows. This rione, Caelius, is now more authentic in my view. But all is questionable.
      I wish you wonderful weeks of cinema work dear Lola!


  7. Cher Romain, j’imagine que vous vous apprêtez à faire dodo et que le Limoncello, la musique et peut-^être un bon repas ont pu calmer la détresse du post-partum.
    Tous ces amis virtuels devraient avoir eu un effet lénifiant.


    1. Kalemera cher Greco-Romain de Canada!

      Faire dodo? Comme ‘go to beddy-byes’? Une expression mignonne que je ne connaissais pas (on l’étudiait pas à l’Institut Européen.) ‘Annassene a dormi’ we say in Romanaccio. La détresse du post-partum … it’s a pity we cannot always speak French here (or Latin, it’s the same.) It’d do me good and if your English prose is so intriguing I can just figure your French one!

      Virtual friends …are they, you all, that virtual? You are real people, aren’t you?

      I still have to answer you on ‘continuity and change’. I didn’t forget. I’ll let you know when I do. I will be short, don’t worry 🙂


  8. Good morning Man in Roma
    It is nice to meet you and I will enjoy coming to your place and hearing stories from your neck of the woods.

    As you may have noticed I have a bit of a fascination with all things Japanese so your post today intrigues me.
    Discipline is an extraordinary element of Japanese culture – there are so many diverse pressures to conform and tow the line. Perhaps this tendency to follow regimented pathways and practices has enabled a country with a huge population to function effectively. I wonder now how much these old practices and theories are changing. I am thinking of the problem they have with aging farmers.

    Good luck with the completion of your project, maybe there will be a grieving period as you adjust to the loss, before you move to another project??

    Happy Days


    1. Thank you Delwyn, welcome here!

      I have in fact noticed all those images from Japan. It seems you are from Australia. Fascinating place! My piano teacher was from Perth, such an outstanding musician. You people there might probably have a connection with nature we have lost here in crowded Europe. I have neglected in my ramblings the Japanese, a folk that show to have a spine in all they do. I know so little about them. Their language and writing is putting off a bit, I’ll confess.

      Thank you for your wishes. I’ll come back to your place soon.

      All the best


  9. That was a nice post and i read DI’s too! Really there’s alot to learn from japanese. Hope i am able to imbibe atleast a few of these1 🙂


    1. Yes, dear Sakhi, a lot to learn from them. Their language is so difficult though, as I just said above. This is one of the reason why the connection with the Indians is much easier!

      All the best
      From south West



  10. Well, limoncello must be better than sambuca. Perhaps not quite so poisonous (although some home-made stuff I had was pretty lethal, I felt).



    1. I confess I don’t know what can make a home-made liquor poisonous. Some ingredients used in homemade alcoholic beverages can be extremely harmful, I’ve heard. But Lola’s recipe seems healthy to me: organic lemons, sugar, 95% alcohol (or alternatively very good quality Russian vodka) and mineral water. Sambuca also doesn’t seem that poisonous, much depending on the quantity and concentration. Varieties of it in fact people mix with water. Richard or Pastis, the French variety of Sambuca, I also like. I used to drink Richard in Tunis, a place very influenced by French culture.


      1. LOL. No, MoR, not literally poisonous but you may remember my post about Sambuca being a ‘poison’ drink. It’s so tasty that you just have one more and one more until, well, the next morning you find out why it is so poisonous! Home-made liquors tend to be a little stronger and sweeter and go down even more easily making them the worst (and, also, the best, of course).


  11. Sambuca black – dee-lish. Andy, grappa: now THAT’S poisonous. Or worse yet, Cent’Herbe! I hope I spelled it right. My parents came back from Calabria two years ago with a few bottles of cent herbe and Calabrese limoncello.

    Personally, Averna is my preferred drink.

    As for projects, I hear you. I recently completed a pretty intensive TV script writing course with a Hollywood legend. When it ended I was lost. I yearn to write.

    He loved my work so maybe I want to hang on that.


    1. I saw you writing on Sambuca black, but never tried it. Centerbe is all right, and there are many kinds. Amari (after-dinner bitter liqueurs) I like but in my view Averna is a just a bit too sweet (tho it’s very good.) I like real bitter stuff, like Hungary’s Unicum or our Fernet. I tho drink amari no more.

      So you had the after-course blues. I wish you all the best about your scripting future. Seems an interesting thing. And I know you can write, although the Hollywood milieu is a tough one.

      I regret I didn’t comment on your post about writing, but I didn’t have time.

      Home-made grappa I heard can be poisonous. I don’t dislike good grappas tho, like the ones made of super wines like Tuscan Brunello. I love all that is related to wine, while the German-type strong drinks (like Schnapps, fruit-flavoured) I find boring, flat-flavoured. Vodka? A mystery to me how they succeeded to created an absolutely tasteless drink. A miracle of technology. Russians told me: ‘This is why we drink it in fast-drunk shots: to forget its tastelessness.” Good for cocktails tho.


      1. The irony is writers are indeed in demand but yet getting a break is next to impossible. You need one big horse shoe in your culo.

        It’s purely for personal reasons. I don’t kid myself. It’s a moral victory that my script is well-received by a man who wrote many great TV programs.

        I’m surprised no one mentioned Saki yet!


  12. Saki is a rice-based alcohol from Japan. I got wasted it on it a couple of times. Tastes like medicine but great with teriyaki. ;<)


    1. Exposrip/the Commentator got so lost on the liquor that he even forgot how to write the name: Sake not Saki.


    2. Ok, I’ve tried it a few times, but I’ll confess that another thing I’ve neglected about the Japanese is the food also, while I adore Indian, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Thai food.


  13. E allora vediamo se riesco a far uscire l’orso dalla sua tana x un bicchiere di vino da Cavour 313 (anche io sono molto orsa).

    In the meantime, I’ve tagged you for a meme over at my blog. Play along if you feel the inclination… Ciao


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