City of West Melbourne, Florida – Democracy or What???

July 6, 2009 at 18:29 | Posted in Amore di Italia | 3 Comments
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This is one of the most difficult posts to write and as I write, I am in tears. I am shaken to the core to realize that my city government of West Melbourne, Florida could be as callous and undemocratic as it is. Unless one considers the needs of everyone else come before the needs of a homeowner and taxpayer, unless one considers the financial well being of one is unimportant in respect to what the city sees as fair to everyone else. I am making this post in hopes of sharing enough information that others can be forewarned and not face the heartache, disillusionment, and financial ruin that West Melbourne, Florida has “blessed” me with.

My home originally before mess can be seen here – 

Front Yard Before This Started

Front Yard Before This Started

 As many of my loyal readers know, bonnieshusband is permanently disabled. We are not wealthy people. I have worked since he was disabled and like many folks, we planned on the equity in our home to be our retirement base. As with most others we have seen that value decrease due to the housing bubble but we had purchased twelve years ago and did enough improvements that we still felt safe and comfortable with the amount of equity we had realized. This home spanning almost 2700 sq. ft. with pool and originally nice landcaping was market value of over $200,000, a moderate but decent home for us and the area. When we purchased our home we did our research. I had been raised in the construction and real estate business and worked in the field also. The first rule of real estate is location, followed by rule #2 of location, closely followed by rule #3 of location. We knew an easement existed on our side and rear yards for drainage and utilities, something almost every subdivision in this area also has. To the very edge of the property line, clearly visible even in the current Google maps photos there shows a telephone pole with small electric panel box. This was to power a sewer pump underground in the road – visible as a small manhole cover in the road. There was also a small cover in-ground on neighbor’s easement, also visible in the photos. Grass for the most part hid that one. We were told before we agreed to purchase the house that the electric box and pole would be ‘going away’ when the city reworked the system – and all would go under-ground. This was something all of the neighbors then were also told. Based on that information we bought the house. The city for some reason did not use earmarked funds to do the project so it was delayed for several years. In March of this year the surveyors arrived and marked utility lines and well point marks (we were later told that was what the wood stakes were for). Note the photo of the wood stake up against our front window area – it is still there as of tonight and turned out to be where they planned on drilling a well-point. However as a building inspector pointed out, drawing water off so close to the foundation would probably compromise the foundation! Ya think???

Well Point Stake Against House

Well Point Stake Against House

    Next ensued a visit by myself to city hall of West Melbourne, FL to ‘invite’ city officials to actually visit their intended job site. We along with neighbors were informed that obviously they would need to ‘redesign’ the project but that we “were inconveniencing the rest of the neighborhood” and that we should realize how “unfair we were to not do this for the betterment” of our neighbors and the city. Gee – I’m so sorry! I guess if they had given us a Notice of Intent up front or knocked on the door when the pros visited the job site to work on the plans, we might have been able to show them the large cement structure that had been sitting there for thirty years! Well they did the redesign – except they forgot to note the driveways to the houses so they had to go back to the drawing boards again! Professionalism at its finest so far? Their ultimate solution was to now position all of the lift station in the right of way of the roadway. Of course it ended up also in front of my front windows.

My House Now

My House Now

 As the West Melbourne, Fl City Attorney explains it, that is their legal right to position anything such as this anywhere they have a right of way, i.e.: road or easement! So beware – you may be equally blessed, especially if you live in West Melbourne, Fl with one of these in the road directly in front of your front door or windows too! Worse yet, the constant refrain has been that none of them would have bought a house with a sewer in front of it either. Interestingly neither did I per se – but the City Attorney of West Melbourne had also stated it was the city’s prerogative to build this in any road way right of way. 

Hole In Side Front

Hole In Side Front New View Of Front Yard

I have reminded everyone that as a taxpayer I do not expect to be talked to condescendingly as they work for me, a taxpayer and citizen. No one else pays my mortgage or taxes, so this is more than merely inconvenient for me! They have robbed me of my financial security and peace of mind. My faith in our government being there to serve and protect is obviously destroyed! Most municipalities although having the same rights, do not abuse them in such a cavalier manner. Rather they work in an effort to bolster, not destroy property values. Our complaints are also a part of the City Council Records as we have been attending the West Melbourne, Fl meetings. 

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Interestingly most of the Council went on record agreeing with us but it  means nothing but a “Gee, we’re sorry” and no recourse otherwise. This has been a rude awakening. I was raised to believe that one’s town government as well as the federal government were there to serve and protect its citizens. Obviously this is not the policy or general belief of the town of West Melbourne, Florida. I thought this was a great place to raise a family and retire – now I am sure it is not! Any company thinking of relocating here should do so cautiously or they will find corporate property values could be played with and certainly the employees would be taking a huge risk to purchase a home in a place that cares so little about them. No consideration was given to our family’s rights or needs. It may in fact mean my future is ruined, but I would never want to see anyone else go through this type of  heartbreak at the hands of another town the way West Melbourne, Florida has treated us! By the way – our yard is still dug up and a mud hole, our mailbox was relocated down the street, the road is also still dug up. We’ve been promised some flowers around the lift station and they’re going to paint the electric boxes, too. Aren’t we lucky??? 

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

A Funny Happened on the Way To……

July 5, 2009 at 18:18 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips | Leave a comment
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So here I am “wasting a day” reading all my favorite blogs and I get introduced to another one (thanks to Generations Gone By – again I might add!) who set me to  Genealogue which is one of the funniest sites with still offering great tips and information alike. Admittedly they also offer political commentary as befitting the subject but even if you do not agree, you will enjoy the humor! The information is great though and we should all want to be informed even if we end up disagreeing!

Odds and Ends

July 5, 2009 at 14:46 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Fun Reminders of Italy, genealogy, Hints and Tips, Italy | 1 Comment
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Today I just want to offer a few of my favorite sites and blogs. These are places you will find I “hang around” at and use to make life easier for my research – they are also fun blogs to read, and forums that offer useful tips and hints to further your research.

Today I found a great new source while reading a favorite blog: Ciao Amalfi  This blog is always chock full of handy information but this ‘Sunday Shout Out’ offering will be greatly appreciated by those of us trying to master Italian. She suggests a great site WordReference that is an online dictionary – altho I have an offline program, it was rather pricey software – so this online site will help you given our fragile economic times. Laura of Ciao Amalfi also takes you to  L’italiano in Famiglia  – this fun site allows you to view the Italian series and learn Italian in the process. I often explain that my Italian is constantly improved by watching TV via DISH and RAI netweork programming. I sit with an Italian/English dictionary (or two or three) and revel in old movies, music videos, and yes, even reality TV and soap operas! I use more than one dictionary due to proper Italian and to modern slang needs!

A favorite forum I visit almost daily is Gente di Mare – here you’ll find a great website dedicated to researching family in Italy. Many of the same folks here also frequent Italian Genealogy – Gente di Mare is a web site with lots of great information as well as a members forum. Italian Genealogy is a forum members site with tons of information. There are folks from all over the world only too happy to help you further your research or answer questions from the most basic to the advanced! Membership at both is free although any donations to help defray their costs would be appreciated.

Another super blog I refer to often is Bleeding Espresso Michelle Fabio is found just about everywhere on the web but she is someone I so identify with on many levels – we have never met personally but that is something I hope to be able to change on one of our trips to Italy. As an American she also married an Italian and she now lives the live I dream of in Italy! This week she is offering a chance at another of her great give-aways so head over to her blog and read away – I guarantee you will be lost for hours of enjoyment and dreaming!

More Tears for L’Aquila

June 23, 2009 at 15:10 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Italy | 1 Comment
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Today I ran across this article while surfing through news resports overseas: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/5610522/Aftershock-rattles-LAquila-ahead-of-G8-summit.html It seems beautoful L’Aquila has again been hit by an earthquake. It does not seem to be only an aftershock but was a 4.6 register on the Richter scale. We  need to all remember these folks in our prayers and if possible continue to contribute to the funds financially to help them.

Please check back to other of my posts to follow links for helping and for those news reports:

http://valentinoswife.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/l’aquila…-stan…moving-forward/

and also at:

http://valentinoswife.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/heartbreak/

Safe charity to send donations: CROCE ROSSA

 Originally I linked us to Bleeding Espresso  http://bleedingespresso.com/2009/04/niafabruzzo-relief-fund-for-victims-of-abruzzo-earthquake.html  where you can find links to information also.

 

Notes from Father’s Day

June 22, 2009 at 12:25 | Posted in Bits and Pieces | 2 Comments
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Yesterday several of us went to lunch together to celebrate Father’s Day – one son could not join us as his baby is ill – precious little one has major cold so Mommy and Daddy stayed home with their children for the day. The rest of us gathered together along with a couple informally “adopted” sons –  they are always at our dinner tables at home and seem to live with us most of the time – seems like they must belong to us now!?

Lunch was a nice soup, salads, and bread sticks meal – and conversation flowed easily. I am always amazed when I listen to our sons talk about their families now and what they took away from their childhoods. Time was spent discussing no elbows on the tables and how “young ladies” should behave at the table. As the talk flowed I made a comment about formal night on Fridays at home where we served a more formal dinner to teach the boys how to behave in more proper settings. Dinner was always a time for the boys to talk and share; we did not believe in silence at the table! But my innocent remark brought back a flood of memories for all the boys, now young men. As they talked about what they enjoyed and what they learned at those dinners, I marveled in the memories they evoked. I was forced back to work when Valentino was disabled. I often worried what my sons were missing with Mama at work. Dinner time was a time for me to connect and hear about their day, their friends, their concerns.  It was teaching time for us, re-enforcing family values, moral codes, attitudes. To hear the youngest son and the oldest both talk, I realized how important mealtime for us as a family was. They formed deep memories for the sons — and lasting bonds for all of them as brothers with common points to meet at. For Dad, it was confirmation that his sons did listen, learn, and what he taught them stuck with them.

It may have been Father’s Day yesterday but for us it was more Family Day!

Lessons from the Brick Ovens of Italy

June 10, 2009 at 18:13 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Italian Cooking, Spiritual Walk | 2 Comments
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Brick Ovens of Tollo
Brick Ovens of Tollo

Many homes in Italy boast brick ovens out back. Or they may have been community ovens shared by several homes within the town. For instance my mother in law always baked her bread midweek on her day for the neighborhood oven. The oven is no longer standing, long ago fallen and then demolished. Valentino remembers well with his siblings how there was one person who guarded the locks and the wood, and another who held the yeast for everyone to use!

The flavor and shape of the bread varies from region to region. My sister in law describes the bread from Tollo as being dry and lifeless. She and I offer that perhaps it is lacking the addition of love when baked! The bread in Abruzzi is made without salt. Talk about hard to get used to! Most of my other sister in law’s life, she baked her own bread because she could not get used to bread without salt. Now that she is older, she buys her bread but often apologizes for the lack of flavor. Most Italians baked the bread in wood ovens for a couple of basic reasons we Americans have never given much thought to. Europeans in general are much more cautious with the earth’s limited resources and therefore take greater care not to abuse them. The brick ovens are heated with wood, the fires banked and stoked to conserve the heat in the bricks while the bread bakes slowly. The bread bakes slower and longer resulting in a thicker harder crust with a softer and moister inside. Yet this softer inside is not the mushy consistency of most American white bread. None of the bread is wasted even as it goes stale. Stale bread is another excuse for bread soup – if anyone is so fortunate to have bread left over long enough to go stale! Most folks will sop up the sauce after eating their pastas and also dip in the oil and balsamic vinegar dressings from the salads. Occasionally though some bread will remain and be made into bread soup on the last day. Bread soup is made by simmering a vegetable broth with onions and pouring it over the stale bread pieces, and then topped with lots of parmesan cheese. Talk about leftovers tasting like an extravagant meal! Nothing fancy but nothing wasted! It is the waste not, want not philosophy that Italians live by. Bread is now also sold in bakeries but never in the plastic one use bags we Americans seem to favor too much. Shoppers use large canvas bags, cotton breathable bags, or even large baskets carries on their arms.

San Croce Old Oven

San Croce Brick Oven

San Croce Brick Oven

 

Cavesso New Oven

Cavesso New Oven

All of this brings to mind our walk as Christians and as citizens of this world. We Christians should be taking our time to be slow baked in the fires of the Holy Spirit, slowly developing that thick skin to avoid the slings and the temptations of the world. But we also need the softer inside – not mushy – but soft enough to maintain the heart of the Lord for others without phony sentimental mushiness. We should also be concerned about the earth’s resources. Isn’t that also part of caring for widows and orphans and others less fortunate than ourselves? If we spend less on wastefulness and more on charity, maybe we would also be witnessing more to others? I guess those differing bread recipes are so much like us. It takes many denominations and many ways of looking at the needs of others to really share the Word. We all love Him but we often go about worshipping in different ways. Not wrong. Just different. Going back to the idea of community ovens: aren’t they remindful of churches? What better way to reach people than to be there at the community hearth to mingle, to share, to be instead of hiding at home alone? There are the keepers of the flame and the leavening to help each of us! Hmmm. Sounds familiar too? Gee. I thought we Americans were supposed to be the leaders? Maybe we still have some learning by example too?

Handy Site for Household Tips

May 30, 2009 at 13:35 | Posted in Amore di Italia | 1 Comment
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Ran into a few stupid household needs today so did a little Internet search and found this great blog guaranteed to help and save money at the same time!  Has a great name too — Family Hack!  They’re found at  http://www.familyhack.com/2007/10/02/european-car-lease/#comment-2502. They are a husband wife team who manage easy, funny, and wise tips on a variety of subjects from easy packing, great car rentals, and fast fixer-upper ideas. The particular article many of us would appreciate deals with European car rentals – dangerous and usually expensive territory for non-savvy travelers. Try some of the suggestions you find here and then check out the rest of the site. Your wallet, time, and sanity will thank you!

Doors That Should Be Opened

May 28, 2009 at 03:12 | Posted in Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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There are doors that cry out to be thrown open wide. Doors that should never have been shut, windows to the world that should be thrown open along with those doors. Doors that hide ignorance and shame and lies should be opened wide. Let daylight in, expose those dark hiding places of the souls. School doors should never be closed to anyone for any reason (excluding the obvious criminal reasons). Church doors shouldn’t be closed. Pretty sad that in today’s wild world, there is a need to lock a church door. A politician’s door should always be open to all their constituents. Not just say they’re open but really be open to everyone. I guess it goes almost without saying that a hospital door should never shut to anyone whether or not they can pay. But that’s a tough one if the hospital is a for-profit organization. Someone has to pay somehow but it would be wrong to deny a sick person help.

Borders. Now there’s some doors we shouldn’t close. They should be wide open but that’s not gonna happen. That nice poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty doesn’t mention closed doors but how do we keep them open to everyone if everyone isn’t nice? Sigh… this open door thing is getting tough. And borders to “rogue nations” or “bad guys”… how do we deal with them. Those doors should be open to inspection to be sure human rights are protected. We want charities to be able to get aid to those in need. Doors to vital records offices and maybe adoption agencies should be open. We want everyone to find their roots and they have a right to know who gave them life, right? But what about the parent’s privacy rights? Seems like some of these are becoming revolving doors?

Let’s get back to some simpler doors. Remember when everyone lived in great little towns where no one had to lock their doors? Those kind of doors need to be reopened! Closet doors need to be opened so kids can see there are no monsters waiting until they go to sleep! Library doors need to be open all the time so kids can go curl up with a great book and have the doors of the world opened to them! Doors to the heart need to be opened so we find compassion and love for our fellow man! I want the doors to closed minds to be opened so that pain and fear and prejudice go away when exposed to the daylight!

Can you think of any other doors that need to be locked or opened?

I have one. I want the windows and doors of heaven opened wide that the blessings are so numerous as they shower out on you and yours that your own doors and windows burst open so you can share it with everyone else too!

Doors That Should Stay Closed

May 28, 2009 at 02:14 | Posted in Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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Some doors should stay closed, never to open again to anyone. Doors to my sons’ rooms when they went through those wonderful teen years. You know the years…years when only a mother can love them… and even then… sigh. And the door to my home office when I am cleaning the rest of the house… it is the catch-all room that I then need a week to clear out. And garage doors. I don’t know about you, but my garage does not house a car. It houses everything else in the world but a car. I live in Florida, land of no basements and not much attic. The garage is it unless you pay for storage, something I refuse to do!

And then there are the jail cell doors. The doors to the cells of people who would hurt children. Those should be shut and never opened again. Yes, I know I am supposed to be forgiving. My God teaches a religion of forgiveness. But I do not have to condone … and I certainly do not have to allow you access to children again. Sorry. Those doors need to be shut permanently. Wait – I take back the sorry – I am not sorry.

Doors to concentration camps. That’s another set of doors that should never have existed and certainly need to be shut forever. Before anyone reminds me not to hide away the truth of the horror, I am not advocating sticking your head in the sand. I just mean those doors should never have been. Concentrations camps had no business existing. Maybe that is another set of jail cell doors we need to shut – the doors of concentration camp wardens. Doors to nuclear armament labs could stand to be closed too. Maybe throw the leaders of those countries that would use them as bargaining chips in the world today right in that room before those doors are sealed. Just remember to take away the ability to make more nuclear bombs and missiles. Now please understand, I am not advocating a political position here. I tend to be rather conservative in my outlook but I really don’t see a justifiable reason for nuclear weapons such as Iran and North Korea would like at the moment. I think we have enough weapons and we have had enough lessons about intolerance and war.

Doors that should stay closed leads us naturally to doors that should stay open, or that should be opened…..

Open Doors…Closed Windows

May 26, 2009 at 09:08 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Itri, Italy | 2 Comments
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Most of us have heard the expression “God never closes a door that He doesn’t open a window…”. I personally believe that myself …but… doors and windows seem to evoke other feelings and thoughts for me.

052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl1.jpg

When I look at a door, a closed door, I want it opened. I want to see in that door. I walk past a closed door or window shuttered and I want to throw them all wide open – to peer into every corner. Not that I want to be the local peeping Tomasina or anything like that. Well, maybe I do??? Hmmm. Guess I might need to think about that…. Nah. I don’t. But I do want to see in all those closed doors and shuttered windows. I want to know who is behind Door # 1 and 2 and 3 and …


 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl2.jpgI think about the people who live there, what their lives are like, what they wanted it to be like. Were they disappointed, happy, weary? I try to imagine myself inside those doors.. would I be happy there? Was life there what I wanted life to be or would I be disappointed, looking for something more? This is never more true than when I gaze on doors and windows in Italy. I have 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl3.jpgdreamed for so many years of living in Italy that I wonder if I would find what I dream about or not.

052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl4.jpg

 But what about those doors and windows that are opened and can never be closed again? Those doors fascinate me even more, if that is possible. I wonder so about the people who lived behind them at one time. Were they there when tragedy struck? Were they a happy group or were they simply getting by emotionally and physically? Did they have the same dreams and prayers that I do or were they too busy to think about a future? Or were they dreaming of emigrating to somewhere else…were they looking for a new life? Why is it I see those 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl5.jpgpeople as someone with feelings and emotions and dreams and hopes for the future? I can almost hear their laughter around the table as fathers and mothers sit with their families. The sounds seem to still drift from those windows. 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl7.jpg
 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl6.jpgIt bothers me more that in today’s crazy world, others can look at the ruins and see joy that an enemy is destroyed. Do they not hear the cries of the children? Do they not think of the pain of the mothers who weep for their children? Do they not see the people as people? For me I wonder if those families heard the bombs, knew the last seconds of terror that they would die? When I see the bombed ruins of Italy I wonder so about those precious souls. My own mother in law heard the planes coming. She ran out from her house to see the plane aiming low and she sought refuge in the arched door of a church. She survived but hundreds died that day and 65% of the town was destroyed. These people who were farmers for the most part – and certainly no one the soldiers needed to fear. But the enemies were hiding in barns and alleys and other buildings and needed to be routed out. Those buildings sit still as silent reminders to the horrors of war but I listen instead for the laughter of the children, the joy of the parents. I chose to remember the families who lived there and see them like myself dreaming of a better future for the children. Throw open those closed doors and windows… maybe sunlight will allow others to see and hear them too. 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl8.jpg

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