West Melbourne, FL Home Saga Ongoing

August 14, 2009 at 17:13 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, citizens fighting city or towns, property values, taxpayers can you fight city hall, West Melbourne, FL | Leave a comment
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There is some hope for life returning to a degree of normalcy at our home. I had written a letter to a local TV station (I will not name until they make a decision) and posted several posts here on the conditions as a result of the sewer lift station construction. The amount of hits I have received is encouraging that word is out. I hope it helps anyone else facing such a mess and disruption to their lives in addition to the financial pain. I am also perfectly aware that much of the tracking is by the folks at City Hall wanting to see what exactly I am posting and therefore forcing them to prepare for the inevitable. I am not someone who wanted to be a political activist. I never was such a person but obviously I have been forced to become one. The photos show the landscaping and clean up of our yard. I have to state here that the gentlemen assigned to us to be responsible for getting the project done have gone out of their way to get it done. I realize that much of this big push is due to my speaking at the City Council meetings, posting here and on Twitter, as well as a letter of inquiry from the TV station to City Hall. The cypress trees were a more expensive alternative to what they intended to put there but it was acknowledged that maintaining hedges would be expensive over the long run – something I brought up. I suggested the trees would be less likely to have branches that might damage the antenna system also. I also admit that when the bulldozer broke a large section of our driveway, they poured a new one the same day without us having to mention or discuss it even with anyone. Again I attribute this to the new attitude of actually supervising the job — and again the two men assigned to do this have done their jobs well. For all of the folks who hate to see certain ethnic workers on a job site, I want to refute some of those issues here. These fellows were all legal and they were gentlemen. They were also very hard workers with no swearing, no raudy behavior, and they cleaned up after themselves daily! I believe in giving credit and Kudos where owed.

All of that said, the bottom line is a financial one to us. How the project was handled originally was a publicity nightmare, a lesson in rude, obnoxious city employee attitudes, and an elitist attitude also by a city mangement. None of that can be changed. What was done was done. And unfortunately no amount of landscaping will change that we now have the view from our front windows of a sewer lift station. Stand in the street and look at our house and you see a sewer lift station. Trees and hedges only go so far, curb appeal is now destroyed. Given a choice of the same house with a sewer station or without, obviously buyers will not choose the sewer lift station. The reality is that our finances are therefore impacted by the City’s decisions. We had no voice in the decision and now we are the ones whose future is impacted. Our home was like most Americans a big portion of our lives. After all, our governments claim home ownership is a major part of the American Dream. This is now our nightmare we get to live and relive every day.

Finished Landscaping of the Front Yard and Sewer Lift Station

Finished Landscaping of the Front Yard and Sewer Lift Station

VAngled iew of House

Angled View of House

Furry Friends Friday

August 14, 2009 at 08:38 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, Furry Friends Friday, genealogy | Leave a comment
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It’s Furry Friends Friday – and these photos of my grandchildren with their best friends is prime example! How many of us remember a special friend like one of these? It’s a great topic to bring up with an elderly relative too as you research family stories – it is a subject tht will give your readers a real chance to “know” an elderly relative they may not ever have a chance to know in reality!
Best Friends

Best Friends

Where You Go, I Go

Where You Go, I Go

Black Sheep Sunday

August 9, 2009 at 03:36 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Black Sheep Sunday, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, genealogy | 2 Comments
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I have had a difficult time trying to decide who fits the bill for this post this week. I finally settled on: MYSELF!

I’m the one in our family who has always been “out there in front” getting myself into hot water or being noticed or just having fun. Fortunately I never got into real trouble as in breaking the law or being arrested or kicked out of school – too much of a people pleaser for that! When I was younger I was the baby sister to the older quieter smarter and even prettier sister. I was always hearing the admonition to “please try to be more like your sister!” My parents loved me – I never doubted that. My sister and I are friends. But I do believe I aged my parents in comparison to my sister!

I was always looking for fun and more friends. I would rather smile than cry and always had another story to tell. Along the way I remember my grandmother always having her Brownie camera handy. She would line everyone up here or there for one more photo. She drove most of the family crazy then but we love those old photos now. Advance it a bit forward and my father was the one with the camera. Around the war years he took great sepia toned portraits that my mother lovingly hand tinted. They then sold them for extra money. Later he invested in a Kodak Retina Reflex 35mm camera. He took incredible floral and landscape photography and made a slide presentation that my mother gave professionally for years. By the time I was ready for college I owned the same 35mm camera and took studies in black and white everywhere I went.

Soon I was busy raising children and being a wife. I was engaged in all the usual activities with the boys as they grew. Our lives were a series of tall mountain peaks and lowly dark caverns too low to be called valleys. We marked those early years by one family crisis (mostly medical) after another. I was usually embroiled in being the medical advocate for one family member or another, always the vocal out in front one.

Fast forward to the camcorder era. Suddenly there I was again with a camera in hand taking the videos this time. We would travel overseas and strangers would gather to watch me film, marveling in the LCD on the back of the camcorder. Finally one of my sons took the camcorder from me in self defense. He became the videographer – and a very good one at that! Then came those interesting APS cameras. That was too short an era for me! I loved those long long photos great for landscapes and for family shots. They reminded me of those old fashioned photos years ago that rolled out 2 or 3 foot long in the dark sepia tones of my great grandparents’ era. Soon they were gone along with the special frames and photos albums they used to sell for the photos.

Then life changed again for us. My oldest son became a martial arts pro. He has the keen ability to make incredibly high jumps up into midair. And every one (or 90% anyway) of my photos blurred. This son began doing photo shoots professionally and introduced me to the world of Nikon SLR. He’s a little sorry about that now as he feels he’s created a monster of sorts. Once more I am out in the thick of things with a camera in hand. Our last trip to Italy resulted in over 1500 raw photos. And of course there’s this blog and my family history books and other books I write. There’s always one more story to tell or one more experience to share. Our life is probably crazier than most reality TV shows. I used to say I was practicing a script for a soap opera because no one believed half of our trials and travails! I always figured I would share it because to laugh is more fun than to cry.

So I attend City Council meetings where I have become politically but politely vocal. I write books and detail our family history on various websites. And finally I have taken to writing blogs. Am I officially the black sheep of the family? I am certainly the noisiest one. My in-laws laugh and encourage me although I am not sure they always understand me. My sons do not embarrass easily so they too usually encourage or even come up with one more idea. (I have a son helping me to grow my online presence.) And my husband? He winks and says he ‘knew’ I was crazy enough the night he met me. He smiles and tells me thanks for not changing ever. SO I may not be the totally black sheep of the family but I am one of the messier ones!

Furry Friends Friday

August 7, 2009 at 01:52 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Fun Reminders of Italy, Furry Friends Friday | Leave a comment
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For some if not many of us, our furry friends are beloved companions and members of the family. So in honor of the too often forgotten members who I think should deserve honorable mention on our family trees, I have started a Furry Friend Friday posting here too!

cats of Tollo

cats of Tollo

While visiting my sister-in-law in Tollo, Italy I was struck how her cats loved to bask in the warm sun near her brick ovens. When we returned home, I snapped this photo of our cat Java enjoying a similar sunny day!

Java in Oven

Java in Oven

This beauty is 19 years old and still as frisky as a kitten! My sons have grown up with him and he has been boss over all of our dogs as well as us — and most cats of the neighborhood too!

Treasure Chest Thursday

August 6, 2009 at 00:02 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, family history, Fun Reminders of Italy, genealogy, Italy, Treasure Chest Thursday | 5 Comments
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Don Camillo Series by Giovanni Guareschi 

Original by Giovanni Guareschi for Don Camillo
Original by Giovanni Guareschi for Don Camillo

(copyrighted to Giovanni Guareschi)

I grew up in the small village of Easton, Connecticut.  Once a week, Samuel Staples Elementary School would walk a class over to the Town Hall basement to the town library. I would check out the maximum number of books allowed because I so loved to read. Soon I was through all of the books in my own division and the librarian made the decision to permit me more mature books. I discovered Don Camillo! Written by the Italian author Giovanni Guareschi, they were wonderfully written simple vignettes of Italian life in a Po River Valley town. The communist mayor was constantly battling the local parish priest. Aside from the flavorful way Guareschi presented an ageless moral and political struggle, this series seeped deep into my soul. I so loved these books, I hated to return them and would renew them over and over. Recently I was able to purchase old fragile copies of a few of them online and fell in love all over again. As a child they burned a dream into my heart of living in Italy but in time I got caught up in life and the dream was buried until I met Valentino. The visits to Itri awakened those dreams again. It was as if I had always known these familiar little villages and towns.

So this series of wonderful books is my offering to this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday. Make an effort to read these books and discover as I did the lure they have. They’re my treasure because they led me to a desire to know Italy. When I met and fell in love with my husband, it was the icing on my cake to fall in love with a native Italian! He is my real tresure and the reason my heart bursts and sings!

Addition to Wordless Wednesday

August 5, 2009 at 10:54 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, DiCrocco, family history, genealogy | Leave a comment
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Favorite Photo Ever - 1977 Italy

Favorite Photo Ever - 1977 Italy


I am blessed! It’s still the same!

West Melbourne, FL City Council August 4, 2009 Ongoing Saga of Our Home

August 4, 2009 at 22:51 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, citizens fighting city or towns, property values, taxpayers can you fight city hall, West Melbourne, FL | Leave a comment
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We again attended a City Council Meeting for the West Melbourne, Florida City Council. I was asked by one of the City Council members to keep them apprised of the situation at our home. At the last meeting, some photographs of our home were shown that did not clarify our position fairly or properly along with incorrect statements being put out there that we were inconveniencing others and costing delays with our complaints. So I felt it imperative to set the record straight on several issues and felt a few photographs of what transpired would say more than mere words. With that in mind I showed proof that equipment needed could not fit in between the two houses and that the tanks themselves would also not fit. More importantly I showed our house before and now. Remember this was a 2600+ square foot home that is now a mess no matter how many shrubs they try to plant. I don’t think a 20+ foot antenna on tripod stand will be covered by some flowers or hedges. And none of it helps the value of our home now. Watch the presentation for yourself – it was well received and most of the citizens came up to us after the meeting to agree with us.

 

View this document on Scribd

It’s Tombstone Tuesday!!

August 4, 2009 at 15:19 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Tombstone Tuesday | Leave a comment
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In honor of Tombstone Tuesday here in Genealogy Blog-ville, and in honor of A. Coffin’s blog (great reading I might add!) at  We Tree   I am posting just a few photos of graveyards in Italy. It is interesting how the Italians have compensated for lack of available ground to bury their dead. Aside from the wall crypts, they also have chapels in each cemetery where after so many years, they remove the bones from graves and transfer them to bone rooms under the chapels. This too is consecrated area and where families place flowers and say prayers. Sadly the result is that not enough of the old graves exist for families to use then to track their ancestors. Records of those graveyards tend to also not be complete.

Memorial to Victims of Bombing Raids, WWII in Itri, Italy

Memorial to Victims of Bombing Raids, WWII in Itri, Italy

Just about every city in Italy has its own cemetery usually walled off with the chapel as in Itri.
Sidewall Itri, Italy Cemetary

Sidewall Itri, Italy Cemetary

Entrance to Cemetary Itri, Italy

Entrance to Cemetary Itri, Italy

Closeup Entrance to Itri Cemetary

Closeup Entrance to Itri Cemetary

Sadly many of the gravestones to the older existing graves are falling into disrepair due to lack of funds or to local family there to tend to them. Many localities are trying now to preserve the older graves. Interestingly many graves have simple flat metal crosses, many without names. Most gravestones will have photos of the deceased. I am not posting those closeups because Italy has been enforcing stricter privacy laws and it would not be fair to disrespect them by ignoring their wishes.
Broken Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Broken Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Old Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Old Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

West Melbourne, Fl City Council Meeting July 7th, 2009 with New Update

July 8, 2009 at 16:02 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, citizens fighting city or towns, property values, taxpayers can you fight city hall, West Melbourne, FL | 1 Comment
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I posted HERE previously a post concerning what West Melbourne, FL has done to our home.  They have added a sewer lift station directly in the street sidewalk area of my home – see large photos before and after on the West Melbourne, FL Photo page on this blog – tab is at top of the page. Consider the land was plotted for a subdivision in 1960 but the very first house was not built until 1976 in this neighborhood. Obviously they never took into account since then how to redesign a sewer system to service the neighborhood or surrounding areas. I find it shocking the City of West Melbourne, FL is now forcing homeowners to accept the attempts to bubble gum the sytems together in this manner. I say bubble gum because engineers have had to redraw this lift station in front of my house three times because they did not measure anything correctly nor pay attention to houses that exist where they wanted to put the lift station. I am not sure the St Johns Water Management folks have any idea this project has been handled this way but the sewers need to conform to new water service standards. I am also not sure if anyone else ever approved the redesign of the road right of way.

Front Yard Before This Started

Front Yard Before This Started

 Last night the City of West Melbourne, FL had a city council meeting – regularly scheduled. It seems that last night the “Haven Drive Lift Station Rehabilitation” (doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?) was added to the agenda. I found it interesting that this subject was not mentioned to us ahead of time  – but no matter – we have found it “interesting” to attend these meetings lately, so we were there. I went with my laptop and proceeded to take notes all evening. I don’t think our presence was fully appreciated at that meeting. The Public Works Director went by the job site (in front of our house) yesterday and took a few photographs – they look pretty close to my own although the full angle view was one that most of the city officers were not happy to have on the screen.  Several of the council members mentioned they were by the house and were appalled or shocked at the mess and what was done. 

New View Of Front Yard

New View Of Front Yard

The mayor of West Melbourne, FL felt this was not the proper time or forum to discuss the issue. As it was a public forum, when best to discuss it? After all West Melbourne, FL – this is a sunshine state – and the taxpayers, property owners, citizens have a right to know the full steam ahead attitude of its city in spite of the consequences to anyone.

The implicatons continue to be that West Melbourne, Fl is trying to please me and that they have compromised with us. We interrupted that train of thought more than once – I emphasized that the engineer and the building inspector on both redesigns realized that the project could not fit within a twenty  foot wide easement that is actually only 18 foot wide. See why that is below.

Hole In Side Front

Hole In Side Front

  They could not remove the underground cement box  (inside that orange fencing) of the manhole cover housing the force main until ready to switch into the new force main. That limited their room pushing everything closer to the houses. That meant compromising the foundations by having to place wet well points to draw off the water -the holes to place all of the tanks go over 15 foot deep – almost 20 at places. 

Depth West Melbourne, FL had to dig to put in pipes and tanks

Depth West Melbourne, FL had to dig to put in pipes and tanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two houses are only 18 foot apart due to a building error because  the City of West Melbourne, Fl allowed the neighbor’s house thirty years ago to be built into the easement. Take a look at the photos I’ve added today. It is pretty obvious this hole and equipment would not fit in an 18 foot wide area without completely crashing the house foundation! They had no way to do anything but move it from that easement.

Installation of Two Six Foot Each Tanks

Installation of Two Six Foot Each Tanks

 

 

 
Generator to Power Pumps to Pull off Water

Generator to Power Pumps to Pull off Water

Equipment to Dig

Equipment to Dig

They did what they did because they could and they expect me to accept it. Was it “right”?  You be the judge – what would you like to have out your front windows? Do you feel the actions of the City of West Melbourne, FL are how you want your city to treat you? Because a city has the right to do something, should they? Was it right to crush one family emotionally and financially because it saved the City of West Melbourne, FL time and money? Remember they feel they are not obligated to do anything to correct this with us financially – we are expected to accept — move along folks, nothing else to see here – we did it because we can! Thanks West Melbourne, FL. That’s a city that has the best interests of its citizens, its taxpayers at heart!

 

UPDATED JULY 21st, 2009 –

Incredible as it may seem, NO ONE has done any work on this project yet! Nothing has changed since my last photographs (although I do have plenty more dated ones to prove that) and our lovely eco-friendly(?) orange plastic fence still complements the lare hole and mud in our front yard. The promised landscaping has never been done. The road remains unpaved and still barricaded. We still drag our garbage cans down the street and walk to the corner for our mail every day – nice when it rains! I am not convinced that this isn’t a ‘get even’ compaign at this point. But that is fine – I have contacted a couple of TV stations locally and sent photos to them so we will see who is afraid of the local government or not.

A Funny Happened on the Way To……

July 5, 2009 at 18:18 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips | Leave a comment
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So here I am “wasting a day” reading all my favorite blogs and I get introduced to another one (thanks to Generations Gone By - again I might add!) who set me to  Genealogue which is one of the funniest sites with still offering great tips and information alike. Admittedly they also offer political commentary as befitting the subject but even if you do not agree, you will enjoy the humor! The information is great though and we should all want to be informed even if we end up disagreeing!

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