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!


Another Heartbreak for Italy!

June 30, 2009 at 15:06 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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Based on reports from Corriere della Sera Italy has one more horror to deal with – does the old adage/superstition of bad news in threes hold true. I pray this time it does – twice for Abruzzi and now one for Viareggio make three. This lovely town has been rocked with a train accident resulting in a horrendous fire and at least 15 dead and untold damage. We have often traveled through this area – it is a beautiful area with warm friendly people! We pray for their recovery – and for those burned in the resulting explosions and fires. Please visit the links for my postings on Abruzzi to again offer donations to the Italian Red Cross to help the folks here. They are needing help as well as prayers — and they deserve both from us!

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:


and also at:


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?

valentinoswife’s husband — UPDATED

June 5, 2009 at 17:58 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, DiCrocco | 4 Comments
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Just want to post a quickie note apologizing for not posting anything new this week. Dear Valentino is having a rough week -he is in the hospital dealing with some physical issues. He was not feeling well during our trip so we suspected he was going to need some interventional care. We keep a pretty close eye due to his heart valve replacement and we have been quite fortunate for the last 14 years that all has gone well. I credit that to his excellent doctors and again they have impressed me. For all of the faults of the American medical system, we have been blessed with doctors who in spite of a decided lack of medical insurance at one point in our lives, went above and beyond in his care. That continues to be the case even though they are dealing with imperfect Medicare payments and fee schedules. Although we do not rate the home visits that doctors still offer overseas, we did rate a rapid return of phone messages and a great doctor who was not in a hurry to hang up. He was more than willing to talk and reassure a very nervous wife on the telephone even though he was not going to be the cardiologist on the case in the hospital! (Thank you Dr. Messersmith!) I will be touching base here off and on for the next few days but will be back on schedule by next week!


UPDATE: Bonnieshusband is officially home and settled back in after his hospital stay. I want to thank everyone for their kind words of good wishes and prayers – God is always good! After speaking with our normal GP and cardiologist, we met a new cardiologist who was wonderful and spent time to talk. The next day the covering cardiologist was a doctor from the hospital I am employed at. It was extremely conforting to have a PA (Yay Sandy!) and doctor who I knew and felt comfortable talking with. He is also an excellent doctor whose opinion and skills I trust implicitly! Val responded well to everything done and did not need any major interventions as a result – so answered prayer!

In any event I credit all the well wishes and prayers from all of you! Thanks!

L’Aquila… standing still, hopefully moving forward

May 30, 2009 at 16:54 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Italy | Leave a comment
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L’Aquila.. standing still, hopefully moving forward – a shameless attempt to remind us all not to forget — please, please do not forget! We here stateside need to be reminded because our news agencies are shamelessly busy plugging Hope Change yada yada for Obama and ignoring those who do not fit into those neat little boxes needing help – you know the types: if you do not qualify for stimulus payment bailouts, you are not newsworthy! Well – in my jaded eyes, people who are true victims – not those who made themselves into victims – are more deserving of our remembering them. And true victims are the ones who could not stop what happened to them. The good people of L’Aquila fit that category completely! They had no advance warning – and no way to avoid what happened to them. Maybe the only issue to find fault is that according to news reports (such as found at http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0529/p06s05-woeu.html) state less than 5% of the people had insurance against earthquake damage. I personally blame that on the government failing to educate people about homeowners and business insurance. The mentality of many Europeans is that their government will handle it – except after a catastrophe many admit they don’t expect more from their government! At the rate we are all now learning to decide if governments should be socialist or fascist or total democracy/capitalistic or libertarian, we need to step up and help these victims rebuild their lives. Or at least we need to help them on the path to recovery. There are many needs and I hope you all consider doing what you can.

You can check out my previous post: https://valentinoswife.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/heartbreak to read about the initial attempts in aid for the victims where I suggest you visit: http://bleedingespresso.com/2009/04/niafabruzzo-relief-fund-for-victims-of-abruzzo-earthquake .  In the United States we can send help via NIAF and overseas use CROCE ROSSA . Another interesting mention is found in the UK news at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6153912.ece detailing Berlusconi’s plan to move the G8 Summit to L’Aquila. I am sure there are many problems others are happy to list and carry on over – but I see some upsides to this if handled properly. It will force public attention worldwide on L’Aquila and perhaps force both the Italian government and aid groups to acknowledge work needed to help these folks! Winter in tents is not fun camping – even though Berlusconi is often misunderstood when he attempts wry humor, he was letting us know in his usual sarcastic Italian manner that these folks are not going to be having fun camping forever! A day or two, a week or two, one can jolly each other along and then it is time to get solid plans in motion. That takes money and we need to remember these folks are out of work and running out of money fast! Please please remember them, pray for them, and help them! Thanks!

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.


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.


 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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