Thanksgiving is Coming Soon

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

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

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

Day Planner, Task Scheduler, or Calendar Foe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Proverbs 31:10 – 31)

Spring – New Beginnings, New Challenges

March 23, 2011 at 09:31 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Gardening | 3 Comments
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The headlines have been full of ugly scenarios describing TEOTWAWKI – the end of the world as we know it. It’s no longer merely a Fox News or survivalist mentality pushing the meme on blogs. Recent tragedies in Japan and war news in Libya are added to the fuel of the economy not recovering the way the current US Administration would like us to believe. I have no desire to get into the politics of why or how or even who is to blame – seems there is more than enough of all that to go around the world many times over crisscrossing each other on each round! But my basic budget realities tell me the economy is certainly not improving in my household. I have a decided shortfall beginning to appear each time I go the gas station and the grocery store is not helping. What I felt in the wallet is now beginning to be talked about on all the news channels as well as liberal and conservative blogs alike. Food is getting more expensive, the weather is not helping, and the wars and natural disasters both have drastically affected food availability as well as cost.

So like many I have started a garden – much like the Victory Gardens of WWII. Our family laughs a lot that Valentino is a reincarnation of his grandfather Valentino who was the master gardener to beat all gardeners! He was “blessed” with a piece of land that consisted mostly of poorly placed rocks all over the side of the mountain. For whatever family reason that piece was left to him, he chose to do what we now laughingly refer to as “Given lemons, make lemonade!’ He would laboriously till each small plot of dirt between the rocks – all by hand. One certainly could not have used a tractor around all the rocks even if he was able to afford to own or run one! Because he worked each plot separately he was able to compost and till until each little spot became a wonderful raised garden plot. His yield of vegetables to feed his family became the stuff of legend that the old timers who knew him then still talk about today!

So with this in our thoughts, Valentino and I now set about making our garden. We have ample room to both have two fair sized plots – one is 6 by 28 and the other is 12 by 30 feet. In addition we have set pots and other containers everywhere we can fit them.

On our fence we hung aluminum rain gutter fastened into a window box contraption for strawberries and radishes.

The planters at the base of our grape arbor shelter chamomile as well as the grape plants.

Now we are anxiously awaiting the results of all our work – I have been tracking the expense and at this point if we see a 50% germination and crop yield, we will at the minimum break even financially for our first season! This is pretty remarkable considering the expense of buying soil and cow manure our first time out here in addition to some containers to grow in and fences! I have also started a compost heap so that we can perhaps avoid the expense of more dirt. Our future plans are to raise the beds with side boards so that it becomes easier to control the soil content and avoid some of the washout effect of rains here in Florida. We plan on saving many of our seeds to defray that expense also.

One thing for sure – my impatience (a bad trait to be sure) is showing! I cannot wait for the first salad made totally of our own produce! This being strawberry time in Florida, I decided to indulge my impatience just a bit – yesterday was spent in wicked pleasure making homemade strawberry jam and lemon marmalade (from our homegrown lemons!). The tree is still full of lemons but also ready to bring more!

The family pronounced the jam-making a complete success, opening bottles this morning to spread on toast with their espresso!

Italian Bietola Cicoria Collard Greens and Celery Comfrey Zucchini

Italian Fava Italian Loquats Rucola Tomatoes

Sisters

March 4, 2011 at 16:42 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family research, Fragile Family Friday, memories | 4 Comments
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This photo from 1972 shows five of the most beautiful strong women I have been blessed to know – the sixth wasn’t present for this photo when taken. My mom is the woman in the burgundy gown, surrounded by four of her sisters. Each in their own humble way displayed grace and love in all areas of their lives. . Aunt Bessie was never married but she was a devoted aunt. How I enjoyed our times together. When my first son was born, she was a proud great aunt showering him with gifts! Her little sleeper was one of the tucked away and saved for memories items! When she passed away she bequeathed her beautiful platinum and aquamarine ring. We both shared a March birth month and she knew I admired the ring always. Now it is a cherished memory of her. Aunt Jean was a quiet woman devoted to her husband and son. She too was a proud great aunt crocheting colorful baby blankets for my sons. When she learned I regretted not knowing my grandmother (she had passed when I was 9 months old), she gifted me a magnificent crocheted bedspread that had been handmade and gifted to her by grandmother as a wedding gift! How I treasure that spread! Aunt Mary was also a quiet woman who took pride in her family and home. Her delight would be luncheons spent at her table, my mother, she, and I sharing stories of their childhood and old friends. My little one would be entertained feeding her pet squirrels in the backyard and running around in the grass. Aunt Ruth was our world traveler when I was young. She and her husband spent over 20 years in Thailand as church missionaries selflessly giving of themselves to others.

There are only three sisters left now, Ruth, Beatrice, and my mom Lillian. Visits are not as often although they try to catch up often via the phone. Aunt Ruth is still a hoot with her dry sense of quiet humor. We always knew Aunt Bea loved to joke and tease, and of course I grew up enjoying my mom’s sense of humor, but it is Aunt Ruth who surprised us the most. Her lips hardly smile but her bright eyes dance when she starts to joke and tease! Her dry wit is always a surprise!

Mom fell this week and broke her hip so we will be facing surgery for her and a long road to rehab and recovery but even now at 89, her gentle spirit makes her loathe to be a burden or cause anyone worry! She hates to complain so the nurses keep reminding her to not ignore the pain just because she is trying to not annoy anyone! It will be a long recovery period but she is well worth the time!

Is Spring Far Away?

February 10, 2011 at 10:13 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Current Events, family research, Gardening | Leave a comment
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One of the wondrous things about this time of year is how spring fever hits many of us. I realize a goodly portion of the country is now hitting cabin fever levels and are snow weary because you are still digging out while tentatively watching those weather forecasts! But many of you are pouring over those seed catalogues and planning gardens. When we lived up north we longed for the first hibiscus and then daffodils and tulips and crocus. I loved walking in the woods to find lady slippers, jack-in-the-pulpits and my all-time favorite wood violets, especially in yellow! When I no longer lived in the woods I turned to small African violets in every color under the sun to fill all of my window sills. I literally have over 60 plants at one time. When we finally moved to Florida my green thumb became very brown and dried out. I could not get anything approaching flowers to grow. Oh, I went every spring and bought all the pretty petunias and pansies to fill the yard. Then came thorny bougainvilleas that had wonderful flowers but horrid thorns. Eventually I learned that this area loves lots of lush greenery but few flowers. I adjusted and went for the mid-tropical look like everyone else. I attempted vegetables but never reached the bounty that we had enjoyed in the northern climate. Sand does not always like vegetables and they aren’t real thrilled with sand either. So it took me time to adjust once again to another learning curve. I wasn’t willing to give up, I just had to find a new approach.

So it is with our families and genealogy research. Sometimes those ancestors are so buried we don’t see where they are. Sometimes the timeframe is off from what we think it should be. And sometimes an ancestor was thriving where we felt he or she should – so we need to change the soil. We need to change the nutrients perhaps. Or the climate. Or the location because of too much or not enough of whatever it is they don’t want. It is easy to dismiss advice of our elders or those who have gone before us. We even equate those simple comments as the ramblings of an old fool – or the stuff family legends are made of. But stop and think for a quick moment. Maybe that favorite dish – that recipe we make because grandma made it because great grandma also made it. Was it adopted by the family because it was gleaned from an old neighbor or friend? Does it not make sense in that we’re Italian but it seems French or German? Try expanding that view a bit – did they move to Germany to follow a lover or perhaps a new job opportunity? Maybe there you will find a missing ancestor and can start anew to trace another branch?

Lately I have been watching our political unrest and stress with growing concern. I decided to plant the vegetable garden for a few reasons. Obviously I want better food in order to be healthier. I want to protect my family from the growing economical issues and inflation hitting our food budget. Most of all I wanted something, anything to take my mind away from all the stress. I wanted to shut out the world and find some peace and quiet for a few short hours. So I garden. I dug the dirt until muscles ached. But I worked the soil until it was ready for my new plants and seeds. I added things the soil lacked. I turned it and tilled until the soil was blended and accepting for my seeds. I set up little starter pots to plant my seeds. Each little pot holds one of two seeds until they germinate. I started with fancy store bought pots but gradually I ran out and had to adapt with other solutions: used plastic containers, old cans, old washed out flower pots, even old newspaper cones. Each choice is another learning experience of what works or not. Within two weeks I am already seeing seeds sprouting, little green shoots peeking through the dirt. This is how my spring fever is being fed now. I can’t wait for what I can’t hurry. It is a process as old as time but it happens in spite of our best and worst efforts. Spring brings new beginnings. And each generation does the same. As we mess up the world around us, the plants adapt and learn to grow in spite of us. Some call it evolution, others call it survival of the fittest. No matter what we do, life goes on in spite of us.

Family does the same. We may walk away but the family exists anyway. We cannot deny those who have gone before us. So it is with the current world situation. Dictators and presidents and kings may try to change people. They want to control them, maybe even eliminate them at times. Yet the hearts of men continue. The desire to grow, to find something better, to find a way to exist is in the hearts of all men. We may not like the choices or even understand them but ultimately man does continue and does find the better way. That is why instead of fighting the dirt it is better to amend the soil, to give it nutrients and fertilizer and water to let it enable the plants to grow bigger, stronger, more nutritious for us or other living creatures. We need to learn from history, not change it to suit ourselves. There is a reason history repeats itself. The bible puts it another way: there is nothing new under the sun. To every thing there is a season.

For now I am working the garden, pulling weeds, watering new plants, watching the sprouts push through to daylight. Spring means new life. So it is for all of us, for all of the world. It hurts to watch when we cannot stop certain things from happening but we know also that these plants have lived for thousands of years and so has man.

This brave little tomato sprouted off a plant that was brown and dead looking. It was left over from last year and spent the winter outside unprotected even through the freezes that seemed to kill off so many of our tropical plants in the yard. It survived and grew new green shoots, then leaves flowers, and now a small roma tomato! The plant proudly boasts more new flowers too scattered around the brown seemingly dead branches. It has decided to live no matter what my opinion of it was.

Channeling Family, the Master Gardeners

February 6, 2011 at 07:06 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Italian Cooking, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Both my husband and I were blessed with family who could grow anything! My mom was a past president of her local garden club and won awards for her flower arrangements. Taken for a walk, she could identify every flower, tree, and weed. Eventually she also gave public slide presentations of plants of the bible. She guest-lectured in so many churches and schools, we lost count. Ask her how to grow something and her answer was to tap it in the packet of Root Tone ™ and then in dirt! My husband had an equally talented mother. Although she never did guest-lectures, there wasn’t a plant she could not grow. Along with the ability to grow plants came an amazing ability to understand and know how to use herbs to heal. She also was one of those clever folks who knew where and how to find mushrooms safe to eat as well as all other sorts of edible wild foods. She inherited that gift from her father. His skills as a farmer were the stuff legends are made of. Family and friends still tell stories of his farm. The farm was on a mountainside in Italy and many thought he got the worst end of a deal. The acreage was full of stones, large stones. Working the land by hand, he tilled and composted and tilled some more in-between the stones. In time those small patches, worked much like our one yard garden plots would yield the best results of anyone. His children were warned to be careful of his plants when he set them in – after all they were what the family would have to eat.

Now we have decided as a family project to start gardening more aggressively than in the past. Although we have had great gardens we have not done so in many years. We had planters of flowers and container gardens of tomatoes and some herbs but now we have decided to really garden. Rising food costs and a need to pay closer attention to our diet means a vegetable garden is a positive for us!

Our container gardens (some of them – a great way to use old tires – I know some folks are worried about using tires but we have done this for years with great yields and no seeming problems.

Our rosemary bushes here are a year old now. We also have eggplant, green bell peppers and pineapple growing around this small loquat tree. They all seem to be happy together – and this little loquat tree is loaded with fruit already! Behind this established garden plot is our new one – much larger to accommodate lettuce, fava beans, zucchini, Italian greens, and garlic!

This was one of my husband’s more clever ideas executed by our sons. He bought forty foot of 5 inch aluminum rain gutter (approximately $5.60 something at Lowes) and the gutter end caps and brackets – also support brackets for the middle portions. We hung it along our fence line and filled with dirt – plenty of room for strawberries, chamomile, and radishes! Below we have prickly fig cactus and small blueberry bushes! The radishes have already started to sprout in a week’s time.

I will post updates as we go along all season!

The Tongue IS Mightier Than The Sword!

January 30, 2011 at 00:55 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Current Events, family history, genealogy, Political Opinions, Spiritual Walk | 1 Comment
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This is another one of those posts that isn’t sure where it belongs. It is alternating positions from genealogy to politics to religion and back again. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your dear readers (all 1 or 2 of you) could not make it fit elsewhere! Within the families I research there were at various times several family feuds taking place. Seems someone managed to find a reason to be distrustful or even downright hateful over someone or something else. This amongst families who prided themselves on being “god-fearing” decent folks! Consequently researching those families at times I am met with a branch pruned off our tree when it should still be flourishing.

Back on my honeymoon I had a missed opportunity to take a photograph of a family member – an elderly person so I should have known better. Foolishly I thought I would have another opportunity but of course that did not happen. I not only did not get that photograph, no one recalled her correct name. Were there valid reasons for the family rift? Sure. Was it worth not keeping family together? No. Thanks to younger generations learning that painful lesson, we are all benefitting from reuniting the family. I was blessed to have someone find me on a social networking site and even sharing photographs with me. Cousins are getting to reunite and getting to meet newer family members. It’s nice.

One of the other families has a member who took off for an adventure. They never wrote home again or called. Several of us are looking for that person – we have been for a couple years now. No trace, no mentions anywhere. It’s as if they never lived. It is hard to understand why they no longer wanted family. Stranger still that family did not try to keep connected with them because no one could point to a specific problem. Even the family stories never included a remark about this person. Just gone?

One family member decided to marry someone not approved of by the parents for the odd reason of being from another town. “Those” people weren’t as “good”. Or some such foolishness. The marriage lasted through the birth of several children and well into their eighties. Theirs was an incredible love story when men were not so openly professing their devotion to their wives. They stand holding hands in the only known photograph taken just before his death.

I have unfortunately also seen family feuds amongst the church family. Back a few generations most family members didn’t have the option of leaving one church to go to another one. Here in America rural communities usually had one Protestant or one Catholic church. Later there would be more choices and larger cities would also offer others. In Italy most towns only had one parish priest and one church so folks learned to get along or not attend. Sadly now churches seem to splinter frequently or people jump from church to church each time something or someone upsets them. Further those disagreements often take very public and very messy turns especially when the preacher or priest is involved in the disagreement!

And then we come to those public families such as blogs or politics. Nothing sets me on edge, teeth jarring, nerves screeching like fingernails scraping on a blackboard like flame wars on blogs. How is it we can all find ways to banter and chat on a forum, everyone getting along even as they may disagree about problems and solutions until some unknown spark sets off a maelstrom of epic proportions? Suddenly one poster will call out another and off everyone goes huffing and puffing. Name-calling is usually only the least of it. Worse are the threats to drag someone through a “Joe the Plumber” scenario. Google bombs are created to publically harass and humiliate. If Google isn’t enough we can then also subject them to YouTube recordings to live forever in the bowels of the Internet. Some have even had the distinction of driving weaker victims to suicide via the social network. I personally love to read all sorts of blogs and follow all sort of political viewpoints. I tend to lean conservative on most issues but thanks to incidents within my own life, I often understand and even (Horrors! Gasp!) agree with some liberal views also. The last election cycle was a wonder to behold. Members of the conservative family have taken great delight in devouring their own young. The slightest difference of opinion has no room for acceptance.

Granted sometimes we have valid reasons to walk away from a loved one or family member. I just wish we would try to find it in our collective hearts to think long and hard before we say or do things that amount to pruning that branch off the tree. Admittedly I am not a super green thumb but I have learned one lesson over time. When you carelessly whack off branches too aggressively without care or in the wrong season, the tree dies. Soon that branch rots where it was pruned and the whole tree trunk is infected and dies.

Perhaps it was best said long ago – “The tongue is mightier than the sword.”

Genealogy and Politics

January 23, 2011 at 00:26 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Current Events, Political Opinions, Somber Sunday, Spiritual Walk | 5 Comments
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This may seem like a strange blog entry for a blog about genealogy but I felt compelled to not ignore this news story. This doctor was one who wanted to make money and I question his morals given the methods of his clinic. I am not going to recount all the horrific details – you can read here and there and more and still more for yourselves. Yet it is too easy to say he is a mass murderer or that this is about a serial killer saving trophies and not about abortion. But it is all of that and more/worse. Our news outlets are trying to avoid deeper discussions and I understand the political reasons even if I disagree with them. Abortion is a deeply personal issue (or should be) that is often guided by what is politically accepted rather than by spiritual reasons. I would suggest gently here that women should spend more time reflecting on their views in spiritual terms no matter what religion they practice or adhere to. I understand that women wanted control of their bodies and the rights to their freedom of choice – along with increased personal advancement in careers and finances and socially. I really do get it. I was a young college student through the Vietnam era as women began advocating and marching and protesting to gain all those freedoms and rights. I personally have been subjected to the glass ceiling and career choices and all of that because I was a woman. Matter of fact I had a wonderful father who advocated for my rights before it was fashionable to do so. My guidance counselor in high school insisted I had to take a typing course although I wanted another elective in a foreign language. I was taking one language but wanted a second course. The counselor repeated to me over and over that I needed typing. That night at dinner my father and I talked long and hard about my choices and limits. The next morning he went in person to the school and he publically informed the principal and entire staff of his decision for his daughter. Now mind you, dad was a well-known and well-respected local businessman so everyone did give him a listen! He told them all very calmly (no yelling and no obscenities) that his daughter would indeed be taking a second foreign language because she had no need of a typing course to “fall back on”. He wanted them to understand that his daughter would not be falling back on anything – she was going to be the executive hiring the secretary to do her typing and by the way – he would probably be a very nice fellow who would not only type but answer phones politely!

Well years later I have not forgotten the faith my father had in my abilities but I do understand how young women may be brought to a point of feeling they don’t have enough choices or chances. So my point is now not whether or not abortion is a right or a choice or an option. Rather it is that have we become so convinced that it is such a “hot potato” to even discuss, that we now shy away from the bigger questions? Why was no one asking the tough questions about this clinic in Philadelphia? Why was it assumed all those poor women and sadly young gals wanted those abortions? Why were authorities so sure that because it was an abortion clinic there was no need to have health inspections or oversight of any kind? What about licensing for the workers? Why were there no suggestions of follow-up care? It is easy right now to lay blame on liberal politicians and officials in Philadelphia, but really? Does your state regulate and inspect and follow up? What agencies are supposed to be involved? Who actually knows to whom violations are reported? Are there easily found numbers? Are those phone numbers posted where patients and family or friends can see them?

Lest you think it is easy for me to judge without walking in anyone else’s shoes – my husband and I have been there too. We were broke and expecting. A doctor diagnosed me with cancer. We had no health insurance. Well actually we had some but it was rotten self pay insurance. The doctor decided my best alternative under the circumstances was an abortion/hysterectomy. I didn’t agree. Medical insurance got all the “out” they needed to not pay – I was rejecting the doctor’s advice. Second and third opinions matched the first doctor’s choice. Then I went to a doctor who had a spiritual relationship with God that allowed him to offer me another opinion. I had an alternative even if there were no medical guarantees with it. I at least had a choice. I took it and my son was born the day before Christmas 26 years ago. He was our best gift ever! He suffered no ill effects so we were doubly blessed in opposition to what we had been warned to expect. Now he is the father of two beautiful girls himself. So let me bring this back to genealogy. Consider what your family tree and legacy would be if all those women in your family tree chose to not continue a pregnancy? Consider also if you honestly feel they would have been better off if they had? I am not going to tell you what my personal opinions are because that is for each woman to choose for herself. Hopefully it will be a choice she makes after being given all the options. Hopefully she will have someone to pray with, to talk with, and to cry with if need be. Is that then where we need to start this discussion over? Are we throwing more and more money into what is considered politically correct in order to avoid dealing with other issues? Why are we not correcting errors in our educational systems? Why are we not fostering improved parenting? Why are not offering more counseling? Do we want to create a bigger nanny system or do we need to? Lots of questions and I am not setting myself up as an authority with all the answers. But I do have more questions. Have we, are we doing all we can to not shy away from the “hot potato” parts of this discussion? Are we so afraid of what is politically correct that we have forgotten the real people paying the ultimate price for a politician wanting one more vote? I am reminded of one simple verse: “Jesus wept…….”

L’Epifania January 6th Treasure Chest Thursday

January 6, 2011 at 03:46 | Posted in Advent Calendar, Amore di Italia, Carnival of Genealogy, Fun Reminders of Italy, Spiritual Walk, Treasure Chest Thursday | Leave a comment
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Happy L’Epifania!

I brought these treasures home from Italy and Germany – I hate to even take them down, preferring to leave them to grace my kitchen year round. No – they are NOT kitchen witches, although often mistakenly called so. These are replicas of La Befana also called Nona Befana.


She was according to legend an old woman who was constantly cleaning her home, something typically Italian I might add! When the three Magi came by searching the Christ Child she was too busy. Then her heart spoke to her and she began to search too.


Now she roams the earth each January 6th searching as did the Magi for Him! Let her help keep Christmas alive a bit longer for all of us each season!


Christmas Memories

December 22, 2010 at 18:27 | Posted in Amore di Italia, family history, memories | Leave a comment
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Christmas is always my personal favorite – and fortunately I married a man who also loves the holidays. Growing up in Italy Valentino approached the Holiday Season a bit differently than most Americans. The emphasis was never on extravagant gifts but rather on family and sharing love, hospitality, and spiritual values with those around him. He doesn’t remember a tree being the central theme but rather the presepe – nativity – was the center of the family holiday. Later there would also be a tree that family would pose near. But it was the large nativity display that he most eagerly awaited setting up every year. Coins would be saved to buy a figure or two whenever they could afford. These were the old composition figures, many wax-coated to make the colors shine. The display would consist of all of Bethlehem as they thought of it. There would be many shepherds and their sheep scattered all over the mountain on the way to the crèche.

When Valentino and I first married, he was reminiscing about his childhood presepe and my parents were soon interested. We lived with them in Connecticut the first few years. Dad asked if Valentino would build a display for everyone to enjoy. We shopped until we found the perfect set – naturally it was from Italy, a Fontanini! Made of a safe polymer in old fashioned wood tones, it was the perfect choice for an outdoor display. Valentino built a small display right near the front entrance and covered it over with pine boughs and set small twinkly clear lights like stars all throughout them. The ground cover was sand with white flour roads to move the Three Wise Men along their journey day by day closer and closer to the crèche. Scattered about were small wood huts and shepherds with sheep. What a sweet memory – but sadly Florida hurricanes years later would ruin our few photos!

When we made the move to Florida we knew it would be even nicer to build this tradition for our children. The temperate weather here and a big covered entrance meant we could enlarge the display year by year. The boys anxiously awaited their trip to our favorite Christmas store to each choose a new figure to add to the display. It became a family affair to set up the display – usually taking a long weekend to get everything in place. Valentino would take the time to share the wonderful bible stories of Jesus’ birth in simple enough terms for the boys to understand. Soon many of the neighborhood children would want to listen too. Year by year the display grew larger and more elaborate as more shepherds and then angels and townspeople were added. Then we began to find that some smaller children were dropping by when we weren’t home to play with the figures. The Fontanini figures are unbreakable but the money we had invested in them had grown considerably. Fontanini had started a collector’s club and offered special limited edition figures that we had begun to enjoy. Sadly it became obvious we would no longer be able to make the display an outside one. About that time we moved to a newer home and gained a huge family room with plenty of space to set up the display. I discovered a group of collectors online and our involvement with Fontanini and all things Italian nativity related grew into an almost obsessive compulsion! Then we were able to visit the actual Italian factory on a trip to Italy! What a joy! The Fontanini folks are some of the warmest and most enjoyable people. They treated us to a tour of the facilities and gifted us with a few special figures that were never sold in America! Now our display is still huge but inside so we can enjoy it all hours!




May You all have a very Blessed Christmas Season and Happy New Year!

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