Day After Mother’s Day Monday

May 10, 2010 at 12:08 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Madness Monday | Leave a comment
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It’s Monday morning and I am sitting outside enjoying the morning after Mother’s Day almost as much if not more than yesterday. Yesterday we had one of those glorious days where I knew I was a very spoiled woman! All week my sons had worked tirelessly, endlessly to clean the yard and re-landscape sections that had been neglected for too long. Valentino was not up to doing yard work the last several months and my work hours were long and tiring for me to be able to do as much as I wanted alone. My poor koi pond suffered from a pump that no longer worked and storms last year had killed the fish. Our sons bought a new pump with upgraded filter system – and hooked up all the fountains and waterfall again! They even got a birdbath fountain working that used to leak – now it no longer does. Sophia, our newest addition to the family is enjoying the perks of a huge backyard to play in.

Of course our little Sophia needed a warm sweater for chilly nights so I knitted her a sweater last week – showing off Italian pride!

Naturally Tyson also enjoys the backyard – but takes a more relaxed approach to all the commotion of a BBQ. He’s a Catahoula Hound – with one amber and one blue (called a glass eye) eye.

Sophia seems to want to share a secret with Tyson – probably plotting how to get table scraps from us!

Normally this would be a Furry Friends Friday post but today is a day of enjoying the weekend memories. I worked all night Saturday and so naturally had to take a short nap when I arrived home at 7:30 AM. I woke to find my sons had the brick oven/grill cleaned and ready to cook with wood already heating. They had vacuumed the entire house and washed 2500 square foot of tile throughout the house – and polished the marble countertops. It was pure heaven to not have to sacrifice a precious day off cleaning house.

So here it is Monday morning and I am sitting out on the patio listening to Andre Bocelli drinking a cappuccino and listening to the birds. A magnificent peacock has been wandering the neighborhood showing off his fine feathers too! All is right in my world!

Monday Madness – La Befana

November 23, 2009 at 15:18 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Fun Reminders of Italy, Italy, Madness Monday, memories, Spiritual Walk | 4 Comments
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It may seem a bit early to many but for me it is typical. It is the week of Thanksgiving – and while I am thinking of all the blessings in my life in anticipation of Thursday, I am also thinking about Christmas. Like most Christians, I realize I am blessed most because of God’s gift of His Son – the Babe who was born Christmas morn!

So now you ask what this possibly has to do with Monday Madness or La Befana. Well, to be honest, I am feeling a lot like La Befana this year, more than ever as a matter of fact! La Befana is the Italian version of Santa Claus – although children also know Babo Natale. The Italian children all anxiously await the visit of La Befana. La Befana was an older woman who spent her life cleaning and cooking with her broom not far away from her grasp. Finally came the evening that 3 Wise Men stopped at her door. Greeting them with her broom in hand, she refused to go with them on their search for the Babe. After all she had cleaning and sweeping to do! Suddenly a few moments after they left, she realized what she had been asked. They were searching for the Baby Jesus! How could sweeping possibly be more important than that?! She ran after them, fast as she was able. Suddenly her broom took her aloft and she flew over rooftops searching to no avail. So now year after year she flies out again in search leaving small gifts in children’s stockings in hopes she finds the Babe!

Monday Madness? Yes indeed. See, it is holiday time and I am in full meltdown mode already. I am the world’s best list maker. I think I’ve mentioned before how writing lists helps me to calm through organization. Seeing it in writing means I can manage in smaller bites, crossing off as I go along. So here I am. List Time. The Thanksgiving menu has been rewritten at least three times and I have no idea why. It never varies from year to year. I suspect that is the problem. I really REALLY want to add something new. This year we decided to eliminate one item. I KNOW that will be a mistake that we will hear about for years to come – 2009 was the Thanksgiving WITHOUT lasagna. There ARE two turkeys and a ham though! Course there’s also half the friend’s list to feed! Why should I feel so frazzled, already worrying about decorating for Christmas? It is family tradition here in the Di Crocco household: the Saturday after Thanksgiving is DECORATE DAY! Out come boxes and boxes of decorations. Everything is unwrapped from the tissue paper and Bubblewrap™, lovingly placed out to think about Christmases past and people associated with each decoration. So many were from my grandmother and mother or from special friends. Every year meant a new ornament for each child, dated and signed with their name.

But back to Monday Madness. This year I am thinking more in terms of how blessed we are as a family. We have had our share of tragedies and sorrows along with the joy. We have family members out of work and struggling. Bills go up while paychecks remain static. Yet, I do have a job. It is one that gives me pride. It’s not one that pays enough to cover what I want covered but I am so much more blessed than others. In the midst of all the holiday frenzy and complaining about how much I have to do without enough time or money, I suddenly am forced to stop. Have I become lost like La Befana? Has sweeping the cobwebs become more important than remembering what the upcoming season is really about and what is really important? This year I want Monday Madness to settle to Calm, Peace, and Tranquility. Not just for me but for everyone. If I must rush from place to place, task to task. Let it be to share the Gift I have been blessed with. Not just to witness of my personal spiritual walk by testifying verbally. Rather, let me share my faith and my values by my deeds, my actions, my sense of peace, by love. Let me show love instead of, in spite of, and in the very face of hatred. Let me now unlike La Befana be willing and able to drop my broom.

Looking Back – Monday Madness 9/28/09

September 28, 2009 at 00:01 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Madness Monday, memories | Leave a comment
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One of the hardest things for me in blogging is to look back over my life objectively. It’s not that I don’t – especially every time we hear another horror story or train wreck of a celeb life story. I consider myself normal (most of the time anyway) and reasonably attractive (except if you catch me sans makeup and curling iron). I even consider myself relatively intelligent (although my sons will swear in every argument that I am not, convinced I know NOTHING). I’m even friendly and mostly happy so why is it so difficult to look backwards objectively?

My childhood was an extremely happy one. By most standards it was a blessed one too. The only thing I was ever denied was a horse of my own and my parents were probably right about that! My toy box was full, my book shelves, over full, my closet over stuffed, and the food pantry was too.

My mother was more than just a stay at home mom. She kept an immaculate home that I still can’t match even at her age now. She was a sensational cook. Her cooking skills were written up in the newspapers on more than one occasion and her parties were the ones everyone wanted an invite to. She was an award winning floral arranger and an artist. Her poetry was honored and treasured. Name the organization and she served in some official capacity at least once for them. All of this while never neglecting her family or husband. I still wonder how she found the time and the energy to accomplish half of what she did so effortlessly and unselfishly. Amazingly she was not one to toot her own horn; rather, she was humble and gentle. Her friends adored her and her enemies? Well I doubt she had any – at least no one admitted to being one!

I’m not sure I can say the same about myself although I am embarrassed to call attention to myself usually. I’m sure I have managed to make a few enemies along the way although I do have wonderful friendships that I have kept since childhood. I wasn’t a perfect child by any means and I know I tested my parents and their limits. My parents gave us limits and standards and moral codes and spiritual values to live by. My grandmother passed one gentle spiritual statement on to her children that my mother in turn passed to us: If the Lord were to walk in the room right now, would you be embarrassed? Well, He’s already here! That pretty much settled most issues for me before they became issues.

I am willing to brag about being a good wife and mother. I’m learning to be a good grandmother and a decent mother in law too. I’m a very good sister in law. But all of those titles are the result of having a great husband, good sons, darling granddaughters, precious daughters in law, and awesome in laws. As I look back it is hard to find anything to complain about. Rather I am astonished at how it all sounds unreal when I find the truth is more impressive even than my memories. I have been and continue to be blessed and grateful for those blessings!

Monday Madness Puzzle Madness

August 17, 2009 at 09:16 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Madness Monday | 2 Comments
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When we were married I wasn’t terribly young but I was naive. I foolishly believed life would be happily forever after, the stuff of fairy tales. We  were in love, what could go wrong? I had no idea my life would  take to so many twists and turns, it would rival soap operas and reality TV. In his early 40’s Valentino was on his way to work one morning when he was rear ended in an auto accident. Although he walked away appearing unscathed, he ended in many surgeries and permanently disabled. We were grateful he was alive and not paralyzed. More importantly our sons still had their dad! Then one early morning a few years later my world crumbled still further. My cousin was her way home from work the evening before. Stopped to make a left turn to her street, she was broadsided by an individual on house arrest (and wearing an ankle bracelet) who passed a line of cars on the wrong side of the road at over 100 miles an hour. She was rushed to the trauma center, into surgery, and into ICU. That morning I planned on visiting her only to be summoning the ambulance for Valentino! It seemed he had what we at first thought was a blood clot but later learned was a calcified piece of a heart valve that broke loose. We then were totally decimated to learn he needed immediate further surgery to repair and replace the heart valves but that the doctors gave him only a 10% chance of surviving! So now family went from ICU to CICU, back and forth in total shock as we watched, waited, and prayed for these two young and vital people to respond and pull through!

Once the immediate crisis passed and we knew both would survive, we helped them begin the long road to recovery. It was during this time I realied not only how blessed we were but also how horribly fragile life is. And then I realized it was long distance calls to family overseas in Italy that sustained me much of the time. Yet our sons did not know most of this extended family even though Valentino and I did. So began a new chapter of my life. I bought software to start work on a family tree for the boys. I wanted to put names and faces to the extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens literally for them. Then almost without realizing it, I was moving sideways into collateral lines and adding more people to the tree. We often referred to people as cousins but I knew they weren’t really the children of an aunt or uncle. Instead I would soon discover they were in reality second or third cousins! For me this was like working on a giant jigsaw puzzle. I wanted to fit all of the names and faces together into a bigger picture so to speak. Except now this puzzle had a lot more than a mere 1000 pieces and the borders weren’t straight edges of a rectangle – these were irregular and growing wider in some places while not in others! Here and there I would have two or three pieces that fit together nicely but I was (and still am) missing connecting pieces in many places. When you try to pick up a puzzle it usually falls apart unless you use some puzzle fixative or glue. The neat part about this family puzzle is that it doesn’t fall apart! The glue that holds it together is love, unending, unwavering love!

Monday Madness

August 10, 2009 at 03:19 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Carnival of Genealogy, Madness Monday | 2 Comments
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The Name that drove me to Distraction!

I am changing a few names here because of Italian very strict privacy laws. A few relatives are still alive to this family that might object to parts of the story but suffice it to say, it is all true to the best of family members’ memories who recounted to me!

His mother had passed away when he was a young boy. His father was a butcher who, according to family accounts, was well-to-do. Being a widower with young children, he sought a new wife to help him. He found her in the seaside town of Sperlonga where his butcher shop was located. She was only fourteen but her family was happy to have a well-to-do son in law and agreed to the marriage. The boy was already out of the house as a teenager when his sister came to him to complain. His stepmother was feeding her own children and her brothers, but not feeding their siblings. He felt obliged to pay his stepmother a visit – he warned her to feed the children or he would kill her. She must have taken the threat quite seriously because everyone lived. No one could explain how it was the father did not interfere himself.

The day of the Italian Wedding reception for our new couple was a wonderful sunny day with lots of activity bustling about. Family and neighbors were coming and going bringing gifts for the young couple. The women were cooking in preparation for the reception. Suddenly a commotion was heard – another had arrived – a tiny wizened old woman dressed head to toe in black. She looked so terrified. Even the groom seemed upset and finally explained this ‘person’ was Sperlonga – everyone began chattering at once – they called her an ostrega (witch) who would bring bad luck or curses to the couple. She had heard about the party and was hoping for food. All the family money had been gone for a long time and she was hungry. Mama’s eyes were filled with sadness and compassion. She tried to speak quietly to the groom but the bride already understood. Mama, a devout woman, wanted to feed the woman; she was not worried about curses. The bride touched her groom’s arm –”Feed her. To refuse will put a greater curse on us in God’s eyes.” So a compromise was reached – the tables in the dining room practically groaned with food and a dish was brought to Sperlonga in the kitchen where Mama and the bride sat with her while she ate. That was the only time the young couple saw her and regrettably took no photos.

By 1996 the bride was working on the family genealogy and wanted to enter information about the grandparents. Visiting with family in Rhode Island and Italy she attempted to find out about Sperlonga but no one could remember her name! She had been so despised that no one ever referred to her as anything but Sperlonga. Yet some of the siblings were friendly with cousins and half-siblings. Every year the family tree grew but without Sperlonga’s information.

The Italian branches found it amusing that the crazy American was able to add so much information each year. They were soon enjoying adding new names too. All that time Sperlonga remained a mystery. They traveled with family on vacation in 2005. While in Itri, they had a chance to visit with a cousin through Zio, Mama’s brother. The cousin and his wife came to dinner one evening. While relaxing with coffee, the family tree banner was unrolled and she asked the cousin to help fill in missing names. He read the eight foot banner and began to laugh.” Why do you still call that poor dead old woman Sperlonga? Hasn’t it been long enough to let her rest in peace?” She looked up suddenly – everyone else was staring at him. “Do you know her name?” “Of course, it’s ….!” She happily wrote as he spelled it!

That weekend, everyone made the trip to Tarquinia to visit another sister and family. One more time the banner was unrolled and everyone had fun checking out new names. Two nieces both excitedly noted Sperlonga had a name – the sister was in the kitchen and heard them. She called out, “that’s not her name! It’s ….!” Now it was the girls’ turns to be shocked! “For five years you did not know. What happened?” The sister laughed that hearing it said wrong triggered her long buried memory! So finally, poor old Sperlonga has been given her name. Maybe this will afford her a bit of peace.

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