Hello world!

January 5, 2009 at 23:00 | Posted in Administration Sticky Notes | 5 Comments
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Welcome to my blog for and about our Family or anyone who loves Itri and Campodimele, Italy! Entra, siedi e goditi una bella tazza di cafe metre navighi! Come in and sit for awhile! Enjoy a cup of espresso and browse! Read a little history of Itri and of our family. Mostly this blog will concern ourselves about family – and our passions, joys, tears, sadness – as we journey back in time to research our family roots and as we share the joys of our expanding family.

Rabbits Rabbits and More Rabbits

March 19, 2013 at 11:32 | Posted in Amore di Italia | Leave a comment

Rabbits Rabbits and More Rabbits.

Itri, Village of My Heart

December 3, 2012 at 22:46 | Posted in Amore di Italia | Leave a comment

I’m very happy to announce that my book is finally available on Amazon! It has been a labor of love for my family and for myself – a love of this special place. It features many many beautiful photos taken over the last thirty some years of our visits back to Itri along with some from the DVD available in Itri called Itri Ieri e Oggi. It is a book that many folks who love Itri will enjoy looking through and reading over and over again. I share both some of the history and some of the legends of Itri that many will recognize. For those who have never been able to visit, it is an invitation to see her and encourage you to visit here! Hope you all enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed putting it together for all of you! Visit Amazon here to purchase – it’s a great Christmas gift for those who dream of returning or those wishing they could visit!

Thanksgiving is Coming Soon

November 18, 2011 at 04:53 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Italy, Political Opinions, Spiritual Walk | Leave a comment
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In only a mere week Thanksgiving will be upon us again. Already preparations are under way – house cleaning is in my forefront of necessary evils! Thanksgiving is of course, an American holiday. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated back in 1621 by the Pilgrims with their new Indian friends who helped them survive the first harsh year in a new land. At least that’s the nice story we were always taught in school. The sad reality is that the story is not quite the accurate – or should I say – the full story! Governor William Bradford documented in his diary (Freedomworks) that the original Plymouth Colony was set up to be worked and shared equally amongst all of the Puritans. However that didn’t go quite as planned. It took about 3 years but by 1623 a simple change enacted by the Governor changed the outcome. A parcel of land was given to each family for them to work and use as they saw fit. What they yielded was their own instead of having to split amongst everyone. As a result folks began to want to produce more and to succeed. As a result 1623 was a year to be grateful for most of the Pilgrims and their friends. In my opinion this is actually a better story than the whitewashed one. Funny how history repeats itself – now if we could just learn those hard lessons?

But I digress – this is about how we see Thanksgiving in our family. It is not an Italian holiday in the sense of the American one but October 4th was the Italian harvest Festival Cerelia named for Ceres. She was the goddess of agriculture, grain, and fertility. La Festa del Ringraziamento (Festival of Thanks) is the reference to many religious days for various patron saints in Italy. These are all usually celebrated with family, friends, food, parades – and originally offerings such as first fruits of a harvest in thanks to the saint. The menu choices might not be quite the same but the joy of family and friends together over a splendid table is the same! For example they might offer ravioli con la zucca (pumpkin ravioli). Our family loves the wonderful roasted or smoked turkey – but our stuffing is made with Italian sausage. One of our favorite side dishes is lasagna! And of course we set out a huge antipasto for everyone to indulge themselves with. This week I will work on starting to make some of the cakes ahead of time – we enjoy several different ones all made with the great shaped pans I brought home from Italy. There are fancy fluted ones, tall layer cake pans in pyramid shapes, and fancy bundt style pans. Each lends itself to a shape that matches well with the type of cake batter and ultimate frosting or decorations used. Some are doused with Italian liquors or others sprinkled with sweet confetti candy. These line up next to the traditional pumpkin or mince pies in addition to an apple and a key lime pie! For myself, I cannot bear Thanksgiving without my mom’s creamed onions – and I am so grateful she is still with us to celebrate and well enough to make another batch of creamed onions!

So as I am cleaning house all week, knowing in no time the muss and fuss of cooking will begin, I find myself complaining that I have so much stuff to clean and so many rooms too! Then I realize how grateful I am that I have a home large enough to accommodate all of us when so many are homeless through no fault of their own. And then I resent that I have to work the night before instead of being home to get enough sleep before I start on the turkey and all the vegetables. And then I realize how blessed I am to have a job when so many do not. I think about how much food I must prepare and for how many people ( usually 26). Then I count again my blessings – I have enough food to feed my family and extended family! I have a beautiful family – and they all want to be together out of love, not obligation. And then I know the reality of my story – Count it ALL joy! I am truly and wondrously blessed!

Memories New and Old

October 28, 2011 at 09:24 | Posted in Fragile Family Friday, Gardening, Italian Cooking, memories | Leave a comment
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I have begun to read a favorite book The Lost Ravioli Recipes Of Hoboken. Once again it stirs emotions and memories. I’m not Italian but my husband is. Yet in spite of not being Italian something deep inside me calls me to the kitchen in search of special flavors to treat my family to. Like the authoress I did not learn to make ravioli as a child but I did learn to cook many other meals at my mother’s side. Years later it was my sister in law who undertook the task of teaching me to make pasta and the family’s favorite ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach smothered in rich thick tomato sauce.

   

While others thought me foolish because it is so simple to buy prepackaged pasta in neat cellophane-wrapped containers, she understood me.

But somewhere deeper inside me has been a yearning to explore further, not willing to settle. Time has been spent making our yard over into a large garden.

And when the first harvests this spring and summer brought us a huge bounty of lush vegetables, I found myself not yet satisfied.

The garden was redesigned; huge raised garden beds were added and the area enlarged. More detail went into our planting layout to maximize the yields.

It’s not that I want a farm by any means. Nor am I giving into wild fantasies of no food available to eat. But something compels me to continue this quest. Next came the challenges of preserving my own fruit jams and marmalades. Then it was homemade pickles and those followed by huge beautiful jars of lush roma tomatoes.

Our sons laugh and tease – they want to know how I am going to hide the herd of beef cattle here in our suburb yard. Yet they enjoy the jokes as they sit together over a meal of big plates brimming to overflowing with pasta and homemade sauce and fresh baked bread warm from the oven!

So it is now that my granddaughters want to linger in the kitchen with me as I cook. One of them has taken to watching cooking shows on TV but she admonishes her mom that none of those cooks are as good as her nona and nono! Juliana is fascinated with the jars of marmalade and had to help with the pickles and tomatoes. She watched as I started to prepare to can them. Soon she was wrapped in one of my aprons and standing on the stepstool at the sink helping.

Together we filed the jars with the tomatoes and fresh basil she helped pick from the garden. Nono lit the fire and set the big pots of water to boil. When the jars were finished boiling in the hot water bath, we listened intently for the magic “ping” of the jar lids to tell us they were set. Juliana was so content, so happy – and then she turned to me and said, “We’re cooking great memories together, aren’t we?” How is this six year old so wise beyond her years? She got it when I wasn’t sure what it was I have been seeking. Memories. Those fleeting wisps, fragile ties to family now gone from our lives. When I was young, my father every year would bring home bushels of pickling cucumbers. I would watch as he pickled them, boiling them with wonderful smelling spices in hot brine. How I loved the crunch of those pickles! How much more I loved watching him, being with him in the kitchen. Memories. I would watch my mother enjoy her gardens, digging in the rich Connecticut soil. She could make anything grow from gentle lady slippers to the sturdy patch of rhubarb tucked behind the garage. The aroma of her fresh baked rhubarb pie would fill the house! My mother in law, too, could make a garden grow to incredible harvests. She grew everything from artichokes to eggplants. At her elbow I learned to pickle eggplants and crack green olives! We picked dandelions for salads and mushrooms for sauce. And we made fresh ricotta cheese and solid cheese for grating from fresh goats milk.

Memories. I realize it is family I have been seeking. I yearn for the family of my past …. And I want to share it with my family that they can also pass it on, my sons and their children. Through the richness of the earth to the pleasures of the food as we sit together at the table eating. Amore e’ Sapore di famiglia. May it always be so……

Mothers’ Day 2011

May 7, 2011 at 03:16 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, memories, Spiritual Walk | 2 Comments

As many of you know my mother has a difficult time the last two months combating a broken femur/hip that needed surgery, then a heart cath and stent, and that followed by small bowel surgery. At her age, recovery is slow and her energy levels are low. But through it all she worries more of others and how she is causing them problems rather than dwelling on herself. So while I wrote this a while back for her, I think too of all the moms out there – and with all of the manmade turmoil and natural disasters, I pray for all of you!

This shows my mom (left standing) with most of her siblings when all were still living. Most were either ordained minister/missionaries or married to one or active laypersons in their church! What a glorious legacy they have all left for my generation!

I Am My Mother’s Daughter

I am my mother’s daughter

Sitting at her knee

Too young life’s twists and turns to see

Now young and yes so strong

Easily lost in the throng

Holding ever so tightly to her hand

Anxious to be off exploring all the land.

I am my mother’s daughter

Walking by her side

This is the day long awaited

I’ll be my intended’s bride

No longer very young, still strong

No longer lost in the throng

Holding ever so tightly to his hand

Anxious to meet the future we plan.

I am my mother’s daughter

Sitting now next to me

Proudly holding her grandchild for all to see

No longer young nor strong

Seeing in her grandchild only perfection, non wrong

Holding ever so tightly to the tiny hand

Anxious to share a life so grand.

I am my mother’s daughter

Sitting now at her knee

She’s now so very far from young and not strong

Eager to be a part of the angels’ throng

All life twists and turns able to see

Holding so tightly to my hand

Tells me again of His Plan

She’s read to the end of the bible story

He’s awaiting her in Glory

The angels too her await

Soon she’ll be at heaven’s gate

It’s not the ending to this life

Always full of fear and strife

It’s only the beginning

To eternal life so bright

Full of joy, and no more night.

©Bonnie DiCrocco 2007

Lord, Do You Hear?

April 23, 2011 at 05:42 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Somber Sunday, Spiritual Walk | 2 Comments
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Lord, Do You Hear?

Lord, I spend my days and nights in tears,

The pain is so unbearable.

The darkness ushers in my fears.

Lord, I cry to You and cry.

I try to listen but hear no answers to my why.

Lord – Lord – do You hear?

Lord – Lord – do You hear?

Twas then in silence You answered,

Twas then my tears were dried.

It was the touch of an angel’s wing

That my wet cheek brushed.

“Child – My Child – of course I heard.”

Lord – Lord – is that You?

Twas then in silence You came to me.

Twas then You gave a vision to see.

A crown of thorns, a spear thrust deep.

A crumpled body taken off a cross in a heap.

An empty tomb – dark yet never bleak.

For the sun shown brightly,

A warmth enveloped me so tightly.

“Yes, child, I am here –

I heard your cries those years ago –

And now I’m here My Unending Love to show.

Give Me your pain – your agony – and your fear –

I am the Rose of Sharon,

The Perfect One, Your Healer, the Comforter –

I am because I was, and evermore will be.

I am the King of Kings, and Lord of Hosts,

I am the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

For now and all eternity.”

Now I no longer cry both day and night,

The time is spent in precious praise.

My life is now so joyous and so bright.

I have the Perfect Peace, the Joy of Joy,

He filled my heart, He saved my life,

He’s given me eternity to see.

He is the Son of God, King of Kings,

Yes, the Lord of Lords,

And Mary’s sweet Baby.

 

©2009 Bonnie Jean DiCrocco

Random Easter Photos

April 23, 2011 at 04:56 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, family history, Fun Reminders of Italy, memories, Spiritual Walk | Leave a comment
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Easter 1957 – There I am on left wearing a dress I still remember because I loved it so much – blue and white soft stripes!

Typical Easter fare sold in stores in Italy – huge chocolate eggs wrapped in glossy foil colors – the eggs are hollow and filled with small toys!

Easter Sunday passagiata in Sperlonga

Easter flowers for Padre Pio, Itri, Italy

Easter Egg Hunt, Melbourne

Blessings of Easter

April 22, 2011 at 02:58 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Italy, Spiritual Walk | Leave a comment
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This picture hangs on the hallway wall of my sister-in-law’s home. It is a depiction of a wonderful wood carved statue that resides in Tarquinia. Each Easter the town’s people and those from surrounding areas crowd into the old streets to herald the procession of this statue being carried up and down and around the steep cobblestone streets in adoration of the Risen Christ.

Town officials, the carabinieri, and townsfolk alike are not ashamed to show their praise for Him, none of the politically correctness scenarios hold them back. Some of the story of the statue is lost to me in translation but the story basically is that the town commissioned this beautiful statue of the Risen and Triumphant Christ. When completed, the statue was so magnificent that no one wanted the artist to ever again create such a masterpiece for anyone else. Here the story of the beauty of Easter is lost to me – the town blinded the artist so he was unable to see to create anything else! No one is sure how much legend and myth is mingled with fact in this story but one fact is for sure. The statue is magnificent and the town is devoted to it.





I don’t mean to sound as if I find this silly or foolish in any way. Rather I find it a testament to the townsfolk that in spite of a less than Christian-like beginning to the acquisition of the statue, they stand proudly and in joy and in sorrow for all that it means to them to celebrate Easter. In the midst of this there is not a carnival or other foolish trappings of a street party going on. The complete festival is a parade to showcase this staute, a reminder to the faithful of the true meaning of Easter. They have not forgotten but instead choose to honor Him openly joyously for al the world to see and partake with them. What inspires me even more is the total joy they worship with – not of fear or habit or sorrow – but complete unabashed joy at the Spirit of the Day – they rejoice in the Risen Christ and all that His Triumph signifies for all men. They have celebrated year after year for a century or more now, in good times and bad, war and peace, economic upturns and depressions, in feast and famine. What has happened to us here in a land that has been so mightily blessed, that we have lost that joy, that zeal? May our hearts return once again to that place of joy in Him as give thanks and praise for His Triumphant Resurrection.



Day Planner, Task Scheduler, or Calendar Foe

April 15, 2011 at 02:43 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, Fragile Family Friday, Spiritual Walk | Leave a comment
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Many times in life I have found myself questioning if I am doing enough … enough as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, employee, and witness to others. It begins to feel as though storm clouds are rolling in about to burst over and around me while I am powerless to halt them! During many of those times I have received feedback from family or others to keep me focused. This previous month has been a difficult one. I found myself disappearing from many areas as I dealt with pressing family issues. My mother broke her hip and from the surgery and subsequent rehab, we have been pulling together as family. We saw a small setback as she was readmitted to the hospital to have testing where it was found she needed to have a cardiac stent – surgery that she came through wonderfully. We are all so grateful to the Lord for seeing her through and back on track with all of her rehab!

Once again though I find myself exhausted as I try to be enough for everyone. Working nights means so many lost days sleeping instead of being with family. Days off are spent with my mother or trying to clean the house or work in the garden. My granddaughter seeks my company as do my husband and sons. Friends are relegated to snatches of conversations here and there mostly via cell phone as I hurry to the next appointment. I think of my own grandmother and how she managed without dishwasher or microwave! It feels as though my house is gaining its own life separate from me no matter how I try to clean and organize. I find myself overjoyed at times as I accomplish a basic cleaning of the kitchen and washing dishes….I actually finished a task!

I find myself again in awe of the women in my life, my ancestors who lived such full lives. How did my mother in law accomplish all she did? Every day she cleaned her home, cooked for a large family, cared for elderly parents and parents in law (even as one battled a broken hip), and successfully farmed to feed her family. It was often necessary to walk the two miles to the farm each day. During the WWII years, she maintained her family living in a cave after the home and most of the town were bombed away. It was what most of the folks around her did too. So many women who saw this as nothing beyond what they were capable of – after all everyone else was also doing the same things. Church was a vital part of her life too, as was her witness to others. All of this without the conveniences of automated farm equipment, modern fertilizers, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, or even an automobile much of the time! Certainly there was no physical therapist or rehabilitation center to aid in the care of an elderly parent! How did she manage to schedule this life on a daily basis and still be the incredible wife, mother, friend she was?

So here I am at a crossroads learning to balance too many tasks to find my way. Why with all the extra conveniences and support do we women find ourselves overworked and tired and complaining? What is it that we seek? I know what the deep desire of my own heart is….

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

(Proverbs 31:10 – 31)

Beginnings of the Harvest to Come

April 12, 2011 at 22:18 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Gardening | 5 Comments
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It has been a challenge to get our garden going this year. Florida presents a different gardening experience for someone from New England and rich brown dirt. Valentino is from Italy where he too grew with a different soil and climate. We have always had small containers or tomatoes and herbs but this year we have gone full fledged backyard gardener. I won’t use the now hotly contested term but I will admit I am “one of those” homesteaders! Nothing is more special than a day in our yard enjoying what it is becoming for us!

We splurged on some baby chicks and are looking forward to fresh eggs in a few months. And we have planted one of the largest gardens ever for us as a married couple. Even our sons are enjoying the prospects of a garden harvest. They too spend most of their free time in the backyard with us planning and working and planning some more!

We have had koi ponds for about twenty years or so. We started with a basic one back at our previous home that was simply a square pond with wooden seating benches framing it. From there we have come to a simple pond near our back door, It is framed by my rubber tree plant that is more tree than plant . It is a peaceful place when I need somewhere to sit and meditate and pray. The sound of trickling waterfalls is like music!

The plants are beginning to blossom now, promises of harvests to come. It appears that we will have plenty of pumpkins by fall too.

My son’s iguana will be enjoying plenty of fresh collard greens in his diet too!

Comfrey is growing! So is the rest of the garden!

This then is what we are looking forward to…. A harvest of our garden, feeding our family, being nourished by all we have accomplished together. Today we sat out back and sipped Liquori di Zecca – mint liquor made from our fresh mint! Sipped over ice, it was refreshingly sweet knowing it was only the harbinger of our harvest yet to come!

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