Tombstone Tuesday – the Burial of Winter Blues!

May 11, 2010 at 11:39 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Italian Cooking | Leave a comment
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Last night we were treated to a wonderful dinner at the neighbors – our dear friends Anne & Paul. They also adopted a rescue pet recently – the most delightful German Shepherd – what a lover she is! Paul grilled a gorgeous pork loin that wafted through the house with its delicious aroma! We sat outside and shared good food and better friendship! A true pleasure! One of the best parts of this neighborly friendship is enjoying our children – now all young adults. To see each as they have grown up and headed off to their futures has brought us joy and pride. Yet each has maintained their friendships through the years, a wonderful thing to behold!

Anne and I share many common passions in our busy lives. First and foremost – she was the true friend to encourage me on a new career trend when I was worried about Valentino. She sent her husband and me both to class to obtain our certifications in Cardiac Dysrhythmia! That was over ten years ago already. We both love our yards and gardens – and we have both at points in our lives suffered major physical disabilities that we have learned to control and live with or in spite of.




Anne has now also taken herbal classes and like myself is enjoying growing the herbs. Our gardens are not just for looking at but also for good health. We are enjoying the sharing and exchanging of seeds and cuttings. Every spare planter inch is being filled with one exciting new addition or an old time favorite – Sweet Ann, Garlic Dill, German Thyme, Italian Basil, Provence Lavender, Sage, Oregano, and more. The tomatoes and Green Bell Peppers are already showing first blossoms. Soon these will be followed by Fennel, Chives, and Comfrey. Next will be chamomile. Already fresh Rosemary hangs in the kitchen – how I love the aroma! And of course, I can’t imagine cooking potatoes or chicken without it!

My mother in law was one of those fabulous cooks who cooked without the aid of a cookbook. Instinctively she knew what would enhance the flavor of a meal without over-powering the natural flavors of a main ingredient. Concetta was also the village midwife and an unschooled herbalist. Whatever ailed someone, she had the perfect remedy. Chamomile teas or comfrey compresses were common items as well as egg whites and mustard poultices. While on our honeymoon, I watched as Concetta first went out to find wild rosemary. She brought home a huge quantity that she then prepared for us to bring home. She worried about a perfect kitchen not having enough rosemary and she was right! She taught me well! Even now I feel her presence with me in the kitchen as I prepare a favorite meal for our family.

 I have been so enjoying my days off – these 3 or 4 day off weekends have done amazing things to restore my soul – it was a long ugly winter season between work, family stressors, and Valentino’s health issues. But sunlight and greenery with the gentle sounds of water fountains trickling and bubbling have gone a long way to rejuvenating me once again. Nothing is sweeter than sitting pool or pond-side listening to birds come awake at first light! That first cup of cafe latte in early AM is heavenly to be sure!

Ancestor Approved Award 4/4/2010

April 4, 2010 at 19:32 | Posted in ancestry, Awards, Bits and Pieces, family history, family research, genealogy, memories | 3 Comments
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I might be considered too old for a visit from the Easter Bunny but this morning I did indeed find a pleasant surprise: an Ancestor Approved Award thanks to Roots’n’Leaves!

There are a few things, obligations so to speak, that go hand in hand with this award. The first part is to “list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you” and then to “pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.”

My ten:

  1. Humbled: My mother in law Concetta did not learn to read and write until well into her seventies. She wanted to be able to

    read the bible for herself!

  2. Surprised: My father in law Francesco was the cook for the railroad crew he worked with because he cooked better than anyone else in the group! He was quite proud of his cooking skills.
  3. Enlightened: The official in the anagrafe – the office of vital statistics in Campodimele, Italy is a relative of my husband.
  4. Surprised: Facebook is a wonderful social medium to find family members. We have now made contact with several relatives overseas who have also now made additional contacts with extended family. It surprises and humbles me to witness the joy of family reconnecting over such long distances and time.
  5. Enlightened: When I started my family genealogy journey in 1996, I had no idea how passionately I would feel about this quest. What started as a chance to introduce my sons to their dad’s family has become a bigger blessing to me in some respects! I was not sure how my sons would look at all the information. In the beginning they questioned what purpose it would serve. Now they simply enjoy learning about family and meeting them either in person or via the computer and emails.
  6. Surprised: Valentino Pannozzo, my husband’s grandfather wore regular shoes instead of Roman sandals for the first time in a photograph taken two weeks before he died.
  7. Humbled: This same man Valentino Pannozzo in his eighties was still in love with his wife and referred to her as his “little doll” to everyone! How unusual for his era!
  8. Humbled: The love and mutual respect for each other in this family has survived in spite of the separation by distance and has even grown stronger over the years. They are fiercely loyal to one another in all aspects of their lives.
  9. Surprised that once I discovered the name of a grandparent (long forgotten by most in the family) there were suddenly many people (unrelated) I met who knew her and have begun to share stories!
  10. Humbled: I met an elderly gentleman who knew a grandfather well. The day I found his death certificate via the help of an official in Campodimele, I met this elderly man in another town. It was a chance meeting and yet I know there was nothing just luck about it. He regaled us with stories about both the son (a great uncle to us) and father ( the grandfather) that we had never known. And he touched my heart as he cried about the death of his best friend (the son) sixty years earlier. His memories of the incident and how it affected the father touched me profoundly. I understood then how Grandfather Valentino still wore a black armband two years after the death of his son!

Ten Blogs That Also Do Their Ancestors Proud:

  1. Rootdigger
  2. Digging in.. To My Past
  3. Elyse’s Genealogy Blog
  4. Family Tree Writer
  5. Geneapprentice
  6. Keeper Of The Records
  7. Kick-Ass Genealogy
  8. La Mia Famiglia
  9. Our Family Tree Bears Fruit
  10. Sharing Our Family’s Memories

I think you will enjoy these blogs, each nominated for their unique styles. I find something of worth in all their posts each time! I hope you all do too!

Treasure Chest Thursday – Miei Tesori!

March 18, 2010 at 01:43 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, genealogy, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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 My best treasure here on earth? My four sons. Each of them would by themselves would be a blessing to any parent. For me to have been so blessed has been joy beyond belief! Never, not even for one moment have we regretted being their parents! Four decent young adults now – but they were four rambunctious delightful boys growing up. We were never a wealthy family but we were rich in our identity as a family. I began my hobby turned passion of genealogy in order to teach my sons their heritage, to introduce them to family they had not met. When Valentino became disabled, all four understood we had to make changes and adapt. Later when I was forced into a wheelchair due to an injury, again they adapted. Whatever needed to be done, was accepted and done. Yes, of course they had moments they did not agree with or enjoy. We encouraged them to always speak freely and honestly even with complaints. We asked only they do so respectfully. Our lives revolved around home and church. They developed close bonds with one another. Yet they were typical brothers with disagreements, anger, frustrations. Their personalities like their looks were and are totally different. They could hardly be called “four peas in a pod.” Still they loved one another then and now. A shared special bond that nothing will break. Each is opinionated and stubborn in their own ways. They voice those opinions freely to one another. Each is always eager to tell the other right from wrong, how to look, how to act, even how to react. But they are always brothers. They stand for one another against the world when it counts. And they love deeply. They are family, blood. They learned well the lessons of family we wanted them to know. Time, age, none of it matters. Only the bond of family stands the test of time. Nw as they look at the next generation in the eyes of children and nieces, they know well what family means. For me as a mother and grandmother, I could ask for no more. I miei tesori! These are my treasures! I thank God I was and am so blessed!

Treasure Chest Thursday, The Gift of a Ring

March 4, 2010 at 04:11 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, memories, Treasure Chest Thursday | 2 Comments
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Maria and Fernando decided to take the couple on a walking tour of Milano. They would do some shopping and visit the Duomo di Milano. Near their apartment was a small jewelry store where they looked at rings in the store window. There was a beautiful 18KT ring with a fancy vintage appeal. It was like a small flower. Valentino had bought Bonnie a beautiful 18KT cross and chain in Gaeta their first week in Italy as his wedding gift for her. He had made the promise of this gift before they were married so she was not expecting another gift. After all, the entire trip itself was a gift of a lifetime dream for her. All day they gazed in store windows and occasionally she would try a ring on for size and look. She would gently tell Valentino that none were as pretty or unique as the first small ring near the apartment. And then she would remind him she was not expecting a ring because she already had her wedding ring!

The next day they were scheduled to take the train to Germany to visit Carlo and his wife Elsa who were unable to make the trip to Italy. Bonnie spent a lazy morning washing her hair and packing for the train trip. Maria made her a special breakfast while the men took a walk together. Valentino was like a boy when he returned, too excited to hide his surprise for the following week when Bonnie would celebrate her birthday in Germany. He had a beautiful small box with the precious flower ring inside! He and Fernando had gone to the first store and bought that ring as a gift! After thirty years together and many wonderful presents, it was still her favorite because it held so much love!

February 19th, 1977 – 2010

February 19, 2010 at 06:08 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, DiCrocco, family history, memories | 2 Comments
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Today is a special day – at least it is for me! It is my 33rd wedding anniversary to Valentino!

Yes, I really am Valentinoswife – and blessed because of it! It seems that so many folks are rushing to get divorced – or we read the latest statistics that claim over 50% of Italian males and over 60% of Italian females cheat on their spouses! Those are frightening statistics to me. I cannot imagine that many unhappy people – yet it seems I know many of the unhappy ones here in the US. I haven’t seen the latest fidelity stats for the US, but I bet they aren’t much better than Italy’s. I do know that many years ago I made a decision to not watch soap operas on Television. It seemed that the poorest person lived better than most folks I knew – serving tea in from fine china in mid-afternoon while real folks were working. And it seemed most women were engaged in one affair after another. It felt a bit too much as if they were pushing the general idea that it was okay because everyone was doing it! But I wasn’t and I didn’t want to. This week a few of the younger women I worked with asked what my secret was to stay married so long. Another asked what it was like to wake up with the same partner every day for 33 years. I have no answer but I do know marriage is work. It is a state of mind. It is a decision one makes – to stay married and be committed to each other or not. Valentino said there was no point to being married or even getting married if one had not already made those decisions. As for the waking up to the same partner every day: I cannot imagine a time when I would not! I cannot imagine what it would have been like if I lost him during any of the medical crisis we faced over the years. When on our honeymoon we heard a love song played over and over on the radio everywhere we went. It had won the San Remo Music Festival that year right as we arrived in Italy. You can read about that experience here but I have to tell you, we listened today to that song already. It still brings tears to my eyes remembering how romantic and special that time was.

Through my husband, I was blessed to become part of a large extended family and welcomed with open arms. I learned from my mother in law how to share my sons with future daughter in laws as she shared her son with me. Her heart and arms opened wide to accept me and love me unconditionally because her son did. I learned that money did not guarantee happiness but love and respect do! I learned that family stick together no matter what even when upset with one another. I learned that even in spite of disagreements, family pull together to help, to protect, to love one another no matter how far apart they are in miles or years! As I research the family tree, I learn the stories told for years by one another – and I uncover some they did not know before.

This then is the legacy I hope we are passing on to our sons and their children. It is legacy of love, of family. Happy anniversary to me – and to Valentino – I love you know more than ever! For always!

Treasure Chest Thursday Francesco’s Wooden Spoons

February 11, 2010 at 01:52 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Italian Cooking, Treasure Chest Thursday | 3 Comments
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When Concetta needed spoons for cooking she couldn’t just run to a store to buy one. Money was tight and stores weren’t always close by. So Francesco would sit after dinner with a smoke and he would whittle her one from a piece of scrap wood. With just a simple knife he managed to carve beautiful spoons. They were a perfect size for stirring the big pots of sauce for the family dinners.

Along the way Valentino ended up with two of these spoons. They were still in wonderful condition but I did not have the heart to use them. Looking at them I thought often of the wondrous meals Concetta cooked for us using anything at hand. How I loved standing at her elbow watching her and making notes on recipe cards so I would remember every step after she returned to Italy.

On one of our trips to Italy a nephew expressed deep sorrow and disappointment that he had nothing to remember his grandfather by. He had lived with Francesco for several years and loved him dearly. “Not even a stone or brick from the family farm” he exclaimed. Valentino said nothing at that time but when we planned our next trip, Valentino packed one of our two spoons. When we surprised our nephew, he was overcome with emotion. He held that spoon ever so lovingly and then made a special place in the kitchen for it to be displayed. Like us, he did not have the heart to risk using it but rather wanted it always on display as a reminder of this special couple.

But our story does not end here. Back home we went on a visit to cousins in Rhode Island. As we told the story about the spoons, one of the cousins was touched by how we shared with our nephew. So she in turn had a surprise for us. Wrapped in tissue for many years was a spoon carved by Francesco. But this one was a double affair: a large spoon on one end and a fork on the other with a foot rest in the middle of the handle! It’s perfect for spaghetti or noodles as well as the sauce. Francesco had whittled one of these for several in the family as gifts. Our cousin had tucked hers away in tissue unused for over 20 years so it was still the new white pine.

I know this spoon was meant to be used in the kitchen and maybe tossed as it became old. I am sure Francesco thought it would be replaced soon enough. Yet it holds such sweet memories and so much love, that we can’t bear to use it. It is a piece of Francesco with us still, a tangible reminder of how he loved his family. And it evokes many reminders of how much love an Italian family shares through simple every day tasks like whittling a spoon or cooking a pot of sauce!

Wordless Wednesday – January 20th

January 20, 2010 at 18:55 | Posted in ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, memories, Wenz Hammerlee, Wordless Wednesday | 4 Comments
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Bicycle fans

Bicycle fans

This is 3 members of my side of the family. Yesterday I spent an emotional day going through old photos – this is a favorite.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Memories

November 20, 2009 at 03:51 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Treasure Chest Thursday | Leave a comment
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Thursday is always Treasure Chest Day for Carnival of Genealogy fans. This Thursday, November 19th, was bittersweet for me. My own father was born on November 19th – he’s been gone since 1983 and I still miss him as if it were this year! He died way too young with no warning for any of us. None of us had a chance to say goodbye because it was so unexpected. I was blessed in that we spoke about twenty minutes earlier – and to my everlasting horror/macabre sense of humor, our last conversation including mentioning death. He was going to pick up his grandson and go to Dunkin Donuts and then home so they could ‘supervise’ a construction crew together. I laughingly told my dear father, “Oh Dad! Some day I am going to bury you with Dunkin Donuts! They sure are your favorites!” Twenty minutes later I received that awful phone call. As we raced first to my parent’s home and then to the hospital chasing the ambulance, I replayed that conversation a million times over! A few moments later I would go in after he was gone to comb his hair and kiss him goodbye.

But somewhere in this great universe, God still watches over us and knows when we are hurting and He always gives us beauty from ashes. Our tears of sorrow are exchanged for tears of joy. For me that joy came as my beautiful granddaughter Juliana. She was born on her great grandpa’s birthday! Today was her fifth birthday. All five of my granddaughters are beautiful individuals and each gives us immense pleasure. But it is Juliana who helps me see joy and love when my mind courses over sad memories. On a day when I could easily revert to sadness, she is hope for the future! So this Thursday my treasure chest is overflowing with love, memories, and tears!

Day of The Dead – We Remember Il Morti

November 2, 2009 at 11:03 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, DiCrocco, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, memories, Tombstone Tuesday | 2 Comments
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Mama e Papa

Mama e Papa

 In Italy, All Saints Eve or Day of the Dead is  day of remembrance and honoring the dead. There is some slight confusion or mingling of the two days – November 1st celebrates the saints and November 2nd is to actually honor the dead. I figured today I would explain to those not familiar with some of the Italian traditions about cemeteries in Italy. Land is at a premium in Italy – available land is needed for farms and housing. Each town though has a walled cemetery usually set outside the main part of town. Inside the walls of the cemetery are considered consecrated land having been blessed by the priest. There is usually an area where smaller metal or wooden crosses adorn the graves of those who cannot afford larger headstones. Headstones in Italy are often works of art with beautiful sculptures on them. Many also have an encased photograph of the deceased. The walls of the cemetery usually are also crypts for those who choose not to be buried in the ground. After approximately 20 years families will reuse the graves for others in the family. Bones of the buried are moved to what is called a bone room housed in the basement area of the chapel. This may seem morbid but is actually a matter of family honor. On this day once a year, everyone goes to the cemetery and honors their deceased ancestors! Flowers are everywhere including at the chapel. Families visit the graves often and bring flowers but this is a special day for everyone. Mass and prayers are offered up for all of the deceased. Sadly we Americans do not have anything of this nature and it is a shame. Our children are not taught to remember those who have gone before us. There is not an emphasis put on valuing what our ancestors did for us. In a land such as Italy where children understand that land and homes have passed from generation to generation, children learn of the sacrifices of their ancestors on behalf of family. It is the respect for family and history that endears Italy to so many of us. It is the call upon many of us to want to return to this sense of family and remembering with pride and gratitude that we understand forms the underpinnings of a civilization that will survive instead of merely exist until something else comes along to replace it.

So it was for me as my mother in law accepted and welcomed me to her family. I was never treated as only a daughter in law but I was loved as a daughter, a member of the family! Of course family has disagreements and times of strife but they are always family, always there to help, to liten, to offer advicde, to love! Famiglia!

Data Back Up Day November 1st

November 1, 2009 at 04:28 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, memories | Leave a comment
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Today is Data Backup Day. In honor of this Geneabloggers is sponsoring a contest for all bloggers writing on the subject. Whether or not one is interested in contests, one should worry and therefore learn how to back up their data! We live in Florida – home to hurricanes and tornados. Anyone using a computer is running a risk of losing their information if they don’t take time to back it up! My personal desktop computer finally died an unhealthy and untimely death when least expected to. I have had several laptops over the years also die at inopportune moments! This journey became a forced lesson in backing up data for me! My present laptop is obviously a more secure one with hard drive protection against sudden shocks and drops. It is also password and fingertip scanned locked. Those afford a slight security advantage while travelling. However if stolen, my information could conceivably disappear too! SO I have taken time for contingency planning as if I were a major company. After all my genealogy, my books, and my blogs are my life’s work! First I use USB flash drives. Each is labeled and dedicated to a specific file type. Some contain all my photographs, some genealogy files, some research documents, etc. I also back up and save all files to CD. Each CD is labeled and stored away safely. Finally I also use a portable hard drive to back up all files. That is what I keep for myself. But the reality is that if I kept all of this just at my own home, it would be destroyed along with computers in any weather disaster or fire. So I have gone a bit further. Each of our sons also has copies of photographs and genealogy files as does another family member. Also some files are stored online. Recreating all of my work of the last 15 years would not be easy but it could be done as a result of contingency planning. All of this also includes my blogs. Each post is saved along with photographs and accompanying work sources! Printed copies of all my work also exist and copies kept my more than one person. Will I ever need to use any of this? Will I ever need to use any of this? Perhaps not although thanks to computer crashes, I have used it before. Waiting until I did need it would have been too late! I am now actively scanning all older family photographs. I have saved all our children’s photos but now I am scanning older generations. I realized we own some of the only existing photographs of deceased family members. One disaster would mean these would be lost forever to future generations. My scanning will include old 35 mm slides as well as making some digital captures of old movies and VCR tapes. This is of course very time consuming but well worth the memories they will provide for the future generations. They probably will not have access to old 8 mm projectors or 35 mm slide projectors. Even VCRs are disappearing from most homes! Passing on DVD copies of these older relics will allow great greats to hear as well as see ancestors! This will bring family to life for them in ways I can only wish existed for me of those from one or two hundred years ago! In doing this, it will be important to not trust only one original copy. Disaster can strike at any time and it would be a shame to not be able to save these memories! Think in terms of sudden storms or wildfires such as California has suffered through – or perhaps earthquakes! No area of the US is safe from some form of weather or climate emergency – in fact every country has such disasters! Be prepared! BACK UP THOSE PRECIOUS RESEARCH FILES AND PHOTOGRAPHS! Back up all of your work including blogs and remember to save a file with source data too!

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