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!

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!

Treasure Chest Thursday 4/29/10

April 29, 2010 at 02:52 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Treasure Chest Thursday | 1 Comment
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Right after WWII, the family was much too poor to afford random photos so very few exist of Valentino as a very young child. But this is of he and his Papa standing near an old vehicle out near their home.

This expression is one I often still see on his face of intensity and questioning. Almost anticipation of what is to come next. What I love in this photo is the smile on his father’s face. Everyone remembers him as so serious but the hand to his son’s shoulder and smile speak volumes of love and pride to me.

Liberation Day April 25th

April 25, 2010 at 22:00 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Current Events, Itri, Italy, memories, Political Opinions, Somber Sunday | 1 Comment
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Liberation Day is celebrated in Italy on April 25th. This is a day to remember being liberated at the end of WWII. There are wonderful parades in all the small towns as well as the major ones all throughout Italy. We enjoyed watching the parades in Cavezzo, a small town not far from Carpi and Modena in the Emilia-Romagna Region.

Sadly this year saw demonstrations turned nasty even in Rome – people the world over are frustrated with their governments, but let’s not forget that Liberation Day is to commemorate the sacrifices made on behalf of freedom-loving people suffering through WWII. Don’t toss that off lightly because we are unhappy now. Rather let us all remember and appreciate the awful prices our ancestors paid to give us life and for the hope of future generations. I have written before about Valentino’s family and the horrors they went through. I often wonder how they managed. I too often suspect we of this generation would not have the strength of spirit or heart to face those challenges now. How would those who live in 40 and 50 floor apartment buildings manage without electricity to run elevators? How would all those city dwellers manage to grow food without yards? It was a different time, granted. Yet we need to consider how very brave and daring they were – how self-sustaining and independent they were, willing to meet all challenges to bring about the end of the war. They often prayed it would be the war to end all wars. Sadly there are those who are only too willing to forget that. I don’t claim to know the answers to end war or to broker peace. But I do want to say thank you for those ancestors who did play a part to bring about Liberation for Europe (and Asia later) and pray we never become insensitive to their sacrifices on all our behalves!

This memorial stands outside the Church of the Annunziata in the center of Itri. The inscription reads:

revered corpses

Itri

To her heroes of all the wars all who come of the cross without waiting for the resurrection.

So too we offer prayers for all those of all the towns of Europe and everywhere!

Furry Friends Friday 4/23/10

April 23, 2010 at 00:34 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Furry Friends Friday, memories | Leave a comment
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Life has been hectic and filled with sad endings as well as happy new beginnings.

One of the sad occasions was the farewell we had to give our beloved English Bulldog Contessa Bue (Countess Bull for the non-Italian speakers) – or as we called her, Baby. She was with us for ten joyful and love filled years. One of my sons bought her as a new pup and she immediately became the dowager of the family! She controlled and trained us well! Horribly she was the product of a disreputable breeder and pet store – so disreputable, the animal control and licensing folks shut the store down. In spite of her disabilities, she was playful almost to the end and positively gentle and loving. Where I went, she followed. My son claimed I spoiled her rotten and I have to admit I did. What Baby wanted, she got always! What she wanted was tons of affection and her back to be scratched – both easy chores for us! When it was obvious she was suffering too much, we made our final goodbyes. My heart broke watching her suffer and I wanted to spare her any additional pain. Letting her pass quietly at home was no longer an option. She is at peace now but she will always be part of our family and memories!

My dear sons realized I was aching so they took it upon themselves to research a dog breed that would live a long life if properly cared for. We had also lost an English Springer about 3 years previously so I was afraid to lose another pampered pet Sir Bramble Patch also had a long life (ten years) and was a member of the family so we knew we would not want another loss too soon. We love the concepts behind Rescue Pets so that was our first choice to find a new little one. Soon enough my sons found a beautiful 10 week old Rat Terrier pup through one of the local organizations. She is spayed and micro-chipped already and is housebroken. Within moments she was ours as she snuggled with first me and then Valentino. By the first morning she decided it is her job to wake everyone so she makes the rounds from room to room to gently lick faces good morning!

If you have never considered a Rescue Pet, please do so. Some are abused, some were given up because owners could no longer care for them, and some are puppies or kittens that need a good home. Often Rescue Organizations will rescue abandoned animals from kill shelters when they are in danger of being euthanized. Please consider this instead of encouraging puppy mills that subject their “breeder moms” to horrendous conditions. Those pups will often suffer as a result of congenital problems. Most Rescue Organizations try to care for the animals in home settings so they are aware of not only health conditions but also any personality quirks.

Our new little one was one of those special ones as her mama was found in a dumpster with her pups. We are grateful someone took the time to rescue them because we cannot imagine life without her already!

Meet Sophia – named for a famous Italian Sophia, of course!

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 – Concetta’s Earrings

March 26, 2010 at 05:01 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, memories, Treasure Chest Thursday | 2 Comments
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When her son brought his bride home, she gave the newlyweds her bedroom. Every morning she would insist on bringing them the first coffee in bed. She planned a huge party for the couple as a wedding reception. All of the family came from all around Italy for the party. Furniture was cleared out of the main room and huge tables were set around the walls of the room in a big square so no one would feel left out. Neighbors and friends came all day to bring gifts for the couple and take photos of them together. The big table in the front room displayed all of the presents for everyone to view.

It was Concetta’s gift to Bonnie that was the most special of all.

The women all went to the bedroom to help Bonnie prepare. They fingered the beautiful wedding gown and touched the little seed pearls. Laid out on the dresser was a pair of obviously gold antique earrings. The daughters and granddaughters were all talking about them. Each remembered watching Concetta


 

polish these beautiful earrings and replace them in her dresser. Everyone gathered close as Concetta picked them up one at a time to place in Bonnie’s ears. It was then she embraced Bonnie and told her, “Valentino, my tesoro, is my baby son. But now you are my daughter. When the two of you disagree, I will stand beside you so that you will not be divided by me. These earrings are yours now because you are my daughter. You come before nieces and granddaughters.”

And this was the love she gave to the American girl who loved her son. Unquestioning, unwavering, steadfast love for all of her life. Bonnie vowed she would follow the path this woman taught her when it became her turn to be a mother in law 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!

March – Women’s History Month

March 6, 2010 at 05:47 | Posted in ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, DiCrocco, family research, Fragile Family Friday, Italian Cooking, Itri, Italy | 3 Comments
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My mother in law was one of the most incredible women I have ever known. She was raised as a simple farmer’s daughter in Italy and the family did not send her to school. She was in her seventies when she learned to read and write. She decided to learn so that she could study the bible! Incredible!

This photograph was taken only a few months before she passed away but even here, her beautiful spirit shows through! I met my mother in law 3 days after I married her son, the baby of the family – her Tesoro! But from the first day I arrived in Italy, she welcomed me with love and respect and joy. Although the family were unable to travel to the United States for the wedding, she and all of the relatives eagerly waited to greet us.She prepared a beautiful wedding reception for us in her home. The entire month she opened her home to guests from near and far who came to meet me and wish us well.

 As a younger woman she assisted as one of the midwives for her area. If she sent an expectant father for the doctor, the doctor knew he was needed for an emergency. He wanted her to go to school to become an assistant but family obligations prevented that goal. Yet she learned to do many simple first aid techniques and helped where ever needed. During WWII she survived the bombing of her home and evacuation to nearby mountain caves where she cared for her family.


She never had training as a chef or nutritionist but she knew how to prepare nourishing and flavorful meals from meager supplies. She recognized which wild mushrooms were safe to eat. And she raised bountiful garden harvests of all sorts of vegetables. Her farming expertise didn’t stop with plants. During a visit to the us in Connecticut, she taught a woman in our town how to properly milk goats to yield the most milk. I knew she wanted to teach me to make cheese so before she arrived for her visit I went on a hunt for the plastic baskets to use for cheese making. Finally I bought fresh cheese that came in one such small basket and located the manufacturer on the bottom. I called the company in New York to attempt to buy a few. The gentleman listened to my story and laughed – seems the wholesaler only sold in lots of many gross at a time and I hardly needed a couple dozen. Yet he was so impressed that I would do this, he mailed me a few dozen as a gift! Concetta and I spent a happy time making fresh cheese together properly! We found local ‘ pick you own’ fruit farms and then she taught me to make jams and marmalades in addition to putting up vegetables.

During the bad times or when family were in trouble she would take them in and find ways to make do to care for everyone. She helped to raise many of the grandchildren and even great grandchildren as the need arose. Through it all she never complained. This was the meaning of famiglia! Towards the end she cared for first one elderly parent and then elderly in laws. She taught all of us what the meaning of selflessness and humility meant. She taught us love in the face of unpleasantness as well as in the face of love. She walked her faith and shared it with all of us by her deeds and actions as well as her words. Her love for family was so strong that even near the end of her life she had the presence to recognize us and share a hug, a smile, a kiss. As her son sat with her and she held his hand, once again she spoke to her Tesoro and her eyes lit with love! Famiglia! Grazie Concetta – we love you still!

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!

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