Three Signs of Fall

November 6, 2010 at 02:43 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, family history, memories, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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There are three signs for me that say Fall is upon us! Nothing says fall like beautiful the beautiful changing colors of leaves and flowers and of course pumpkin patches. When younger I delighted in the crisp piles of leaves we played in – frustrating my dear father who was attempting to rake them! What fun it was to jump and bury ourselves in those leaves. They always had a wonderful unique scent to them. I knew it meant soon we would be having bonfires to roast marshmallows.  We would often go to the local farm where we could choose a wonderful chrysanthemum plant in glorious fall colors. They had rows and rows planted and would dig them up and put in a clay pot, any size you wanted. We would bring home several huge pots to put out near our front door on display until after Thanksgiving. Hanging on the front door would be big bunches of multicolored Indian corn tied with a big straw bow.

But the most fun was to climb over all the pumpkins in every size imaginable until the perfect one was found. It had to be huge of course and just right to carve a face! I am too old to climb over the pumpkins as I did when young but instead I can enjoy my grandchildren as they hunt for their perfect pumpkins!

We always opted for the traditional jack-o-lantern smile with teeth and triangular shaped eyes. Now my own sons are so much more creative than me.

No silly faces for them – now we have wonderful spiders and scary faces as well as BOO!


This is my entry to Three Signs o’ Fall contest by She Who Blogs

Treasure Chest Thursday September 11

September 9, 2010 at 01:04 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, Current Events, family history, memories, Political Opinions, Treasure Chest Thursday | Leave a comment
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This date is a horrid one for most Americans. Where September used to stand for end of summer, back to school, first whiffs of Autumn leaves and bonfires, it has now become a remembrance of the shock for baby boomers to taste a war-like scenario on US soil. Our sense of security, of world power via being loved and ‘right’ has been shaken. For many it has meant a long drawn out process of rethinking who we as a nation and as individuals are. This time has also seen a change in the country’s economic status affecting al of us. It has also meant reassessing what is important to each of us going forward. For me, it has meant a reassessment of our countries politics and policies as well as a reassessment of our place in global issues. It has brought about a deeper commitment to spiritual values and what they should mean on an everyday basis in addition to my own personal internalizing. More importantly it has brought about a deeper appreciation for what family means to me personally as well as a deeper appreciation for what our ancestors went through in their lives.

As a child I grew up hearing stories about my parents growing up during the depression years. My mother talked of her father traveling out of town for work returning home on the weekends. She also told of their wonderful gardens where they grew much of their vegetable and herb needs. My dad told about not being in school yet but following the bigger kids as they collected lumps of coal dropped by trains to take home for family furnaces. He also told how at the same age he followed the bigger kids to bread lines and to get potatoes. His parents hadn’t sent him, but he caught on quickly from other kids and knew it meant more heat or more food if he participated too! Valentino grew up in post war Italy. His family had struggled before, during, and after the war. His mom’s family were farmers so they grew plenty of food whenever and wherever possible. They would work the bits of soil between rocks to plant one plant per spot if necessary. They owned several small pieces of land meaning they would work one area for one crop and go to another for another crop. It meant a several mile walk daily to tend their food supply. Recently the Publics grocery store near our home was torn apart to undergo remodeling. All of us in the neighborhood have complained that it means a drive of an extra two or three miles to the next store. Only one other neighbor and I attempt to grow any vegetables at all – and we are struggling at it! Our herbs are wonderful but we seem not to be too successful at vegetables other than tomatoes or peppers. I suspect my tomatoes grew at some sort of bargain price under ten dollars each but I might be wrong! On the other hand my rosemary is a bumper crop and I have enough to supply most third world nations with rosemary and basil! I think my ancestors would all be mortified – especially my in-law ancestors!

So as I reflect back on the 9/11 tragedies and the lives of my ancestors, I am grateful for what our family passed on to us. I am blessed we lost no one in 9/11 or the subsequent war. I am blessed that our family passed on a spiritual foundation for Valentino and I to pass on to our sons and now to our grandchildren. And as I contemplate the US and her place in the global view, I am grateful that I was raised in a nation that in spite of her faults is still a wonderful place to raise a family without fear of a knock on the door at night or worse.

Terrific Tuesday

August 10, 2010 at 22:52 | Posted in memories, Spiritual Walk | 1 Comment
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When life seems the bleakest or we are at our lowest points, we have only to be quiet long enough to hear God gently speaking to us. I have not been a regular at posting the last couple of months as we have gone through some family issues that needed our full attention. The Lord was there as I felt this pain and feared at times I was alone. He always let me know in small ways that I was not alone. Each time a small prayer was answered, I counted it as a tiny step forward closer to Him.

Indeed He quickened my heart to a simple lesson. We had traveled to Venezia and toured the glass factories. The artisans took a lump of sand onto a long pipe and then put it into the ovens. They would turn the pipes as they blew the wonderful glass sculptures into amazing creations of fragile glass. Every so often they would take the molten glass out of the fire to twist a piece here or there with special tongs and pliers. Finally the beautiful piece would be finished but then surprisingly they would return what seemed a perfect piece back to the fire one last time. And there was the secret of the firey furnace – the glory hole. For it is in this last fire that the glass is perfected, purified so to speak – strengthened so it would not shatter on its own.

So it is with us. We too go through a fire of tribulation at times in our life. How many times do we cry out, “Enough!” At times it seems as if we should not have to bear one more trial, one more bit of pain. It feels as though this fire will never end when once again we feel thrust back into the furnace. But it is there that we are cleansed, purified, yes, even strengthened. If we listen, if we hear, if we learn… there God is sustaining us, prodding and tweaking this lump of sand and clay to a perfect form, a wondrous creation to behold. It is there we find that we have an inner strength to face anything knowing that we know God is there with us and we are not alone.

For our family it has been a long time going through this trial but we have held to each other. Rather than being torn apart and shattered by this experience, we have been strengthened as a family. We have been purified and cleansed in the sense that no matter what the world has thrown at us, no matter how bad things appeared to be, we drew closer together. We found that all the little issues, the dumb things we disagree over, were unimportant in the bigger things. We found a strength as a family that astonished us at times as we found we are better together against the world if need be! Our trials are not over but we have had enough small victories to know that we will survive and be better for all of this. That is the true meaning of family for me. And that is why I share this on a genealogy blog. As I researched back in our family and marveled at this family that made it through wars and worse, I often considered if we could manage to stay together as they did. Now I know that the same courageous genes flow through all of us and that we are truly bound by our love for one another and for family. Tomorrow as we all sit together at the dining room table to share a meal, I will be able to gaze on all the faces of family and know – we will always be bound by this love of family – and I will give thanks to Our Father for gathering us together and holding us there. I pray this for each of you!

Back to School Already?! Or Better Known as School Bells are Tolling!

August 6, 2010 at 00:39 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, family history, memories | Leave a comment
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Here in this part of Florida our little ones (and some not so little ones) start school next week! It used to be those many years ago when I was young (no I am NOT going to count them out loud for you) that we dreaded Labor Day Weekend. That bittersweet holiday was one parents enjoyed and children dreaded as it meant the end to summer fun and time to get ready for school. How I loved though the school shopping with Mom! We would go to the Five and Dime to pick out new notebooks, pencils, a pencil case, crayons, and lots of paper! Best of all I enjoyed agonizing over which lunchbox I wanted. My all time favorite was a shiny red plaid metal one – it made me feel a connection with my Scottish family. Although my mom was born here, most of my aunts and uncles were born in Scotland and obviously my name of Bonnie Jean (I know! I know! A real name because I’m not just Valentinoswife!) was a reminder of my wonderful heritage! Then began the quest for new clothes and of course new shoes.

My aunt told me of how she was ashamed when she did not have enough dresses for school so would turn a collar inside to hide it if soiled. She admitted later that she had more than enough clothes but in her mind she wanted more special things! I suspect she was trying to gently teach me not to be too prideful! My husband and most of the family in Italy recall wearing smocks in school. Their purpose was to protect children from taunts and embarrassment over clothes also. It was post-war Italy and money was tight for most villagers so parents were struggling to feed families. They had little money to send their children to school so extra clothes were a luxury!

How different from the lives of most of our children now. Today we face children like my grandchildren having so many clothes to choose from each morning that they want to change outfits again and again until they achieve “The Look”! One big change for us in all this was new clothes. All of the grand daughters are attending a charter school. This is a public school that is geared to helping the children excel in all areas. They are required to wear uniforms so although we shopped for clothes, we had very specific items to purchase. One positive note – although uniforms are intended to put all children on equal footing instead of competition over name brands, it is also a real help to parents. No more squabbles over what to wear in the mornings when dressing for school. The biggest choice will be skirts or pants but the shirt is standard as are the colors of skirts and pants. This will be plenty of individuality for her as she can choose between scooter skirt, shorts, capris, or long pants! Even the little jackets and cardigans are uniform issue with school logo embroidered on them.

Now as I help a little granddaughter get ready for her first day of kindergarten I am astonished at how things have changed and yet remained the same. My daughter in love and I have share shopping tips helping one another in the search for supplies. The list has expanded since my sons went to school. Now it included the usual notebooks, crayons, pencils, glue sticks, and pencil cases but also a lot more. School budgets have changed and so have teacher needs. Now the list includes plastic sandwich bags and in two sizes, Band-Aids (where did school nurses disappear to?), a change of clothes safely labeled, hand sanitizer, a roll of paper towels, dry erase markers, a box of tissues, and disinfectant wipes! Some of this pleased my granddaughter no end. She loves to clean???? Wonder whose genes those are??? So she is absolutely positive this means she gets to help clean the classroom every day! We did have fun over her choice of backpack and lunchbox. She and her cousins chose Hello Kitty themes so Auntie bought a backpack for each of the girls and we found the insulated lunchbag! Somehow I suspect we will not have escaped all squabbles though. There’s still homework to face!

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!

Spring Memories of Italy March 5th

March 5, 2010 at 05:56 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Italy, Itri, Italy, memories | Leave a comment
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It’s almost spring here in Florida and this is the time of year we normally visit overseas with family. Due to too many commitments here, we won’t be making a trip this year so I am missing Italy. For those of us who love Itri and the surrounding area, I thought a few March photographs might fill the heart for now.

    



Apologies to My Blog Friends – Treasure Chest Thursday

January 7, 2010 at 04:15 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, Spiritual Walk, Treasure Chest Thursday | 2 Comments
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What does this have to do with a Treasure Chest? My most treasured moments have to do with my marriage and family. As I am sure many of you have noticed by now, new posts stopped in December. Please accept my apologies for that but Valentino was hospitalized as an emergency and our holidays took a back seat to his health! 2009 has not been the happiest of years for so many of us – we have argued religion, racism, politics, and so much more. I have preferred to not argue most of that here on this famiy oriented blog but rather to concentrate on the happier thoughts of family.

For those of you who have strong faith or spiritual viewpoints, I feel we  as a family were blessed to not face some of the more serious issues that could have been possible during this latest hospitalization. I am grateful for the caring wonderful staff at Wuesthoff Hospital where I also work. Although I tried to keep up with the holidays at home for family’s sake, it was my work family who surrounded us in love and friendship. I am blessed to not only have a job in these difficult times but to have one with a great team of people at my side!

I will be back to a much more regular blogging schedule now that life is settling back to our usual routine! God bless all – I pray for a blessed and joyous New Year for all of you!

UPDATE: Thanks for the wonderful emails and comments – I appreciate all of you!

Paper Dolls

September 19, 2009 at 03:25 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, memories | 4 Comments
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How many of us played with paper dolls growing up? If we were good, my mother would buy my sister and I books of paper dolls. We would carefully cut out the dolls and all their clothes. Some of the books even had little accessories or animal pets to go along with the dolls. Who could ever forget Betsy McCall from Good Housekeeping Magazine™? How I loved her! I was probably more eager than my mother for each month’s new issue to appear in the grocery stores.

I suspect almost every child in America was required at some point to make a diorama. Remember those? A box would be set up to make a three dimensional display. We would gather shoe boxes usually from my mother to make doll houses for all of our paper dolls. We had a huge screened in porch out front where we would sit by the hour playing. My mother gave us old magazines and Sears catalogues to cut up for paper dolls. We would cut out furnishings and all sorts of exciting things for our paper doll families. The models became our paper dolls and they were able to ‘wear’ all the latest fashions and change as often as they liked! Flat shirt boxes became our storage boxes to protect all of them. We could lay all the dolls out flat along with all of their clothes and furniture!

I’m not sure where all of my paper dolls disappeared to over time but for a few years, that was one of my favorite past times. Although my sister doesn’t remember all the time we spent playing on the porch with them, it is probably one of my favorite memories of the rare things we did together. She was the older sister and I was the pesky younger one. Yet, she would spend time with me especially on rainy days out on the porch cutting out all the catalogues!

September 11

September 11, 2009 at 08:16 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Current Events, Political Opinions | 2 Comments
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Today many of us are recalling where we were that fateful morning. How many times do we do that exercise concerning the extreme events of our lives? Where were we when the call came that so and so died or was in an accident? I remember where I was for the Big Blackout of the 1960′sw, the riots of the Democratic Convention, the assassinations of JFK and RFK, the first Space Shot for the US, the first step on the moon, the Day the Shuttle blew up (both of them, I witnessed the first in person here in Florida) – my list goes on and on.

And I remember 9-11. That particular morning I was at work, alone in the office. I had a little portable 9 inch TV without cable. I was listening and watching The Today Show as background noise instead of the radio. It seemed time stood still as I watched the first video images of the plane hitting the Tower. Over and over it was played and I could not look away. My boss phoned in, he had heard the radio and wanted to know if I was watching it on the TV. We were in shock as then the second plane hit. We knew then it was not merely a tragic accident but something more sinister. And I cried. The decision was made to close the office immediately – we would do no more business that day but go to our families to be together, to hold them, to love them, to pray for others. No one knew if we were at war or what the next steps would be. We never suspected within a short time that we would hear the tragedy of two more planes approaching their destinations. Life as we knew shrieked to a halt!

I’m the mother of four sons. I began to feel a deep pain in me, deep in the pit of my soul that mothers have felt from time eternal. Would my sons be called to go to war, would we hang stars in the front window? Would this be like other wars? Pride and fear mingled as my young sons discussed their futures. Still too young to go into the service, they nevertheless were realistic and willing to serve if needed. No false visions of glory of war blinded them. They had seen the ravages of the family home that had been bombed to almost nothing in WWII before their father was born. Our family did not lose anyone that fateful day and yet it felt as if everyone lost was part of our family. I cried with each poignant story or photo wall or missing person’s poster that was shown. I felt their despair as so many searched for any shred of information about missing family.

I refuse to be pulled into the political fracas of groups such as The 9-11 Truthers. This tragedy was already politics at its worst. It was and is equal to any other war declared or not. I wish, no, I pray that we have had enough lives lost, enough wars. I pray for better solutions, better diplomacy but the reality of life is that wars exist. Mankind is not perfect. People fight, argue, rob, steal, kill. If we cannot convince father to not beat wives, to not rape children, to not kill each other or teenagers to not kill for someone else’s IPhone, war will not cease as men fight over land. War will not go away and men will not be tolerant of the rights of others to live, to exist. When we have zero murders in our small towns and our large cities, then maybe we can share how with other countries to live a better way. Apologizing to them for slights real or imagined will not make them like us or listen to us. Telling another country to stop building bombs will not guarantee them obeying or caring what our opinion is. Have we been a perfect country? No. Do I believe our government is perfect? No. DO I believe our government caused, or even allowed 9-11 to happen? Do I believe they knew and turned a blind eye? No. Is it possible I am wrong? Of course. But our country is still one of the greater ones. Since the beginning people have struggled and been willing to risk death to come here. They still do. They come because they dream of a better life here, convinced that what we offer is better than what they have. Few try to build rafts to sail from her to anywhere else. Our celebrities tell us that other countries are better, that we are wrong. They tell us those other leaders, dictators are really heroes and intelligent individuals. Fine – but then why do they choose to stay here and enjoy the benefits of our evil capitalistic society? Our country has not always been perfect and yes, she has even been wrong. But she has always been willing to give of herself to others and help where ever and whenever she can. She has joined in fights not of her own choosing, not of her own making.

One thing is certain as I reflect back on 9-11. It has been said that for one moment in time, one proud moment we were all Americans, all one family united in our pain and in our resolve. I say we are still one family. All of us. We are united still in our pain and in our pride and resolve. Some of us choose never to forget, to not lay blame at the foot of Lady Liberty. Rather we choose to support her tired arm as she holds up her torch. We are proud of our country – we still grieve for those lost on 9-11 and we will not forget them. We will not let their deaths be in vain to serve other’s agendas. This country is still the home of the brave, the home of the free. We are willing still to rescue those in need.

Sleep well precious souls of 9-11, sleep well. We stand guard still. We will not forget you – we stand united in our resolve, our pride, our love.

It’s Saturday Morning Again

September 4, 2009 at 22:51 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, memories | Leave a comment
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It’s Saturday morning once more. Time to take the old bus downtown. My mother would take my sister and I shopping Saturday mornings in Bridgeport. Lerners was one of my favorite stores. I was always fascinated by the tube system they had to send orders to the office. Easter was always the biggest excursion next to Christmas shopping. We would shop for our new dresses, spring hats with matching shoes and purses and a new spring weight coat. There would be little corsages of silk flowers to match our outfits like bunches of violets that we would pin often to our hats or purses. Those we would shop for at Kresge’s or Woolworths. Then it would be time for lunch. That meant sitting at the counter in Woolworth where my feet would not quite reach to the chrome foot rests. Packages would tuck into the little shelves below the counter. Even now I can remember the fun of a root beer float with a big hamburger platter with yummy French fries smothered in ketchup.

Later the big new Mall would come to Trumbull. That meant easy parking for my mother and we could shop in comfort and safety. The city had begun to deteriorate and my dad worried about crime. We began to shop E J Korvettes and Reid’s Department Store. Later still even Howlands would desert the city for one of the newer strip malls. It was there my mother would purchase that first “basic little black dress” for me before I left for college. It was a classic sheath by Jonathan Logan design that never went out of style. By then my mother was shopping interesting boutiques in Westport such as Ethel Walley’s. My dad was active in the community and there were many functions to attend. At Ethel Walley’s we would sit on long couches and dresses would be brought out for us to see one at a time. My dad would help her choose several to see her through the busy social season. Right before I left for college I too chose several to take with me. The bigger plus for me was that I rated most of her cast offs while I was in college so I was always appropriately attired for all the formal dances and fraternity parties.

Times have changed and we no longer shop fancy boutiques. Ross and Marshall’s are favorites now for great mark downs! Even still, I find myself missing those rides on the bus and those great French fries smothered in ketchup!

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