carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Things that fall from the sky

We’ve been having a lot of rain. And reliably warm temps have arrived. It is so nice to be able to walk outside without having to bundle up. I would say that spring is safely here, in Raleigh. All the rain brings a clearing of the pollen from the air and things from the recent re-roofing that was done on our building.

Oak tree tails

They’re everywhere. Coming out of the downspout

Along with roofing nails

This is the haul after the last rain. Are there any nails left on the roof doing what they are supposed to be doing? Note the pollen too. Ahhh, Carolina in the spring.

The dogwood was very pretty this year, Each rain storm more of its blooms drop.

We are still mourning the recent cutting down of our cherry tree. Right around the corner there are three planted close together. I imagine I am in Japan when Guppy and I walk through there.

So glad that spring is here. Have a lovely and safe holiday, whatever kind you celebrate at this time of year.

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Look at this

Guest Post: By Guppy, Lucky Dog 3

I’m gonna get She Who Must Be Obeyed to sign me up for this. And wes got to start trainin’. She is just too slow and always holdin me back when I see a squirrel.

This must be the prize if you come in first.

I might need to rest up before we start training

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Daffodils

It has been a very good Spring for Daffodils here in Raleigh. Not too cold or hot. Occasional rain but not heavy downpours or any hail. My daffodils have looked good for over a month.

I think this is the best they have ever looked. I think this is also the first time that the bloom time of all the different varieties has overlapped. Usually, heat has done in most of the first ones and some of the last ones get nipped as buds by frost. It’s a delicate game daffodils play here in North Carolina.

Around the property there are clumps of daffodils that appear but don’t bloom. Last Spring I looked at them and thought, next fall I’ll move those. Well, that didn’t happen. So this year I just moved them even though it is not the best time of year to do that. They just needed to be separated and moved to a sunnier spot. A little food wouldn’t hurt either. So we’ll see next year.

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Will it ever end?

Guest Post by: Guppy, The Lucky Dog 3

March is an awful month! All that basketball. Will it ever end? I mean that is about all My Ben and She Who Must Be Obeyed do is watch basketball games on TV. They stay up late. Get all excited! She yells at the TV. Really!

If that wasn’t enough, I am going to dog school again. Repeating the same class. She told me that the teacher had called and asked me to be part of the class because I was such a good role model. So I agreed to go. More dogs in class this time. A beagle and his room mate some sort of stubby hound type, a real low rider. And this ditzy little fluff bit that yaps. And my new BFF, Nova. She is a very pretty German Shepard. Very classy. But she knows how to have fun. Anyway, at the first class, since I was supposed to be helping with the class, I was just pointing out to this Lab puppy how he was doing sit all wrong and everyone got all upset with me!!!!!!. So I hid between the shade and the window and just looked out the window for a while. Then when everyone had calmed down I watched the class for a bit. Then that silly lab puppy couldn’t figure out how to walk around so I had to try to explain it to him. And everyone got all upset again! The teacher brought me over some toys. So even though other dogs had touched them I batted them around a bit. Finally all the other dogs left the room and I thought we were going somewhere fun to play. But I had to wait and wait for She and the teacher to finish talking. BLAH BLAH BLAH! So we went outside BUT ALL THE DOGS WERE GONE! Well, that was it! I just sat down and refused to move. I was so upset!

She was a little bit upset with me. And now everyday we have to do homework. And on Saturdays I have to go out for ‘pack walks’. So I can learn how to walk past other dogs without getting upset. You know, all I want to do is be a dog for a bit. When I first arrived at Saving Grace and filled out my questionnaire, I checked that I wanted a family with kids that would play, and a big couch and a fireplace. And what did I get….two old people who can barely move, no couch and no fireplace! Ohhhhhhh But I have made the best of it. I love them with all my heart and protect the house they are gone. So I guess I’ll try to control my outbursts.

The nice thing about March is that I’m sitting out on the deck more.

I have been working on these new black patches.

I think they look real nice when they finally grow out.

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Finally!

Okay, I know I am writing about a very first world problem. I’ll say that right up front. But it is what I know and what I can write about……………….

BUTTER

Yes, butter. We eat butter. We have eaten it for years, years. Like Julia Childs I try to use it in moderation. That said, I appreciate good butter. Butter in Italy was CRAP! The only way I can describe it, waxy. It just wasn’t good. No matter what brand. And that is because there is such good olive oil, that many folks produced them selves. So why bother with butter.

When Ben and I visited Ireland with his sister in 2004, we rented a house. First thing, I bought several different kinds of butter. So we could taste test. (And several different types of cider too) There were some good butters there. When we used to stay in France, again, all different types of butter. Then we landed in Italy. Butter, a small disappointment. Really not good.

When you live in Italy it is easy to vacation in France. We drove. Heh, six hours away to the south of France. It dawned on me that we could buy French butter and bring it back to Italy. So for a number of years I did that. I was happy with a commercially mass produced brand, President. President made basic salted and unsalted butter and they also made a ‘sea salt’ version. That is butter with sea salt crystals incorporated in it. Discrete, taste them on your tongue salt crystals. I like salt. I will choose something salty over something sweet any day. So this butter was just the best.

After two years back in the US, I had actually forgotten about my favorite butter. Then I was reading a French blog online and reminded of it all over again. I thought longingly of that butter. Looked on the President web site to see if it was sold anywhere nearby. Well, basic butter is the sea salt crystal, no. So it was pushed to the forgotten corners of my mind. Then….

I was in the Harris-Teeter looking for President butter. IT WAS GONE! DISAPPEARED off the shelf. Of course I had to discuss this with the dairy products guy. He seemed to think it was a warehouse issue, not a discontinued forever issue. (Good for him, because my reply will soon be ‘Well, you might well just drive me to Wegmans’ which will be open in the fall) Anyway, I found Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter. Heh, give it a try. It sat in the fridge for two days before it occurred to me to try it.

OH MY!!!!!!

BUTTER WITH SEA SALT CRYSTALS IN IT!

DISCRETE, SEA SALT CRYSTALS THAT DANCE ON YOUR TONGUE

I almost cried. Really, I am so happy I have found this butter. This is the butter to put on a warm croissant. To put in hot baked potato. To melt and pour over popcorn. And the best of all, a hot ear of corn on the cob.

So tonight, we watch the ACC final and eat baked potatoes, I’ll have mine with the Vermont Creamery Sea Salt Butter thank you.

 

 

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Twenty Years

Ben and I got married. Twenty years ago today. How about that! We have been together longer. We just rambled around to getting married then.

Look at all that hair I had

With no pre-event coordination, look how well colour coordinated we are with the celebrant and ‘my little bridesmaid’, Delaney, Ben’s grand niece. I still call her that. (And don’t miss my DIY chandelier. I had forgotten about that until I was looking at these pictures)

The bride

The Groom

The Ceremony

To share these with you I am taking pictures of our album. The actual pictures are all in focus. It is hard to light the picture, hold the album and the camera to get a picture to post. We only have these wonderful pictures because our friend Betty Truman took them and printed them and sent them to us. A wonderful and thoughtful thing to do.

What a great card. And this one

They both lead you to our honeymoon in Paris

What a fun twenty years it has been. We moved from Virginia to Italy and now North Carolina. Our relationship has grown and changed. We still love each other very much and laugh every day over something. Here’s to at least twenty more.

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We did something

Why is this a big deal…because we rarely go out and do anything. By that I mean, go to a movie or an exhibit or a play or concert. We just don’t do those things. It is not because of Ben’s lack of mobility. We never did. I can’t recall a concert that we have ever been to together. We have probably seen more movies in the last two years than we have before. That is only because Ben was winning tickets from the newspaper. I guess it is good that we are both very happy to stay in our house and amuse ourselves. But every now and then something comes along and I get us organized and we do something.

Chef Vivian Howard was being honored at my college, Meredith. The tickets were very affordable and included heavy hors d’oeuvre at the alumnae house before hand. How could we refuse.

For those who are not in the area, Vivian grew up in Eastern North Carolina and then left as soon as she could. She worked in NYC and married a nice man named Ben (can’t go wrong marrying a Ben). Her parents offered to help them open a restaurant as long as it was in her home town of Kinston, North Carolina. So she and Ben came back and did that. http://www.vivianhoward.com/#

Anyway, they have 2 restaurants in Kinston and one in Wilmington. She has written a book and had a very popular TV show on PBS, A Chef’s Life. When we lived in Italy, if the clouds were just right and the wind was not too strong and the internet gods were smiling I was able to watch her program. Her sweet Eastern North Carolina accent always brought me back to Carolina and helped me realize that was where we needed to be. So we went to see her.

Couldn’t take pictures during the presentation. It was just the right length. Vivian was interviewed by the President of the College. It was quiet enjoyable.

Meredith also announced a new degree program.

I am really excited for the college about this program. Had it been available when I was there I would have gotten that degree. If I still wanted to work, I would be applying. Such a good thing.

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Early Spring

This was our first daffodil.

I found this in very early February. It suffered a bit from a nasty cold snap. Don’t know why it bloomed so early. Even now (2/23) all the others are still buds.

Flowering trees have started. The cold snap did not get them. The cherry tree that was cut down a few months ago would be in full bloom now. We all miss that tree.

Daffodils are doing well elsewhere on the property. So I am thinking that spring is just about here. Tommorrow, 2/24 we will be finishing 8 days straight of rain at least some if not all of the day. Not been a fun week to have a dog. On our walks, other than glancing over her shoulder to make sure I am close enough to receive the maximum benefit when she shakes the rain off, Guppy is unfazed by the rain. One morning this week she had to stop and smell every daffodil. While I am pleased to see her interest in flowers, REALLY! EVERY FLOWER IN THE RAIN!!!!!!

These pansies have done very well all winter.

They are planted in Miracle Gro with a slow release fertilizer. I think that is why they look so good. Anyway, spring is moving right along here.

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March 1, 1878 March 1, 2019

This is an updated version that some of you might have read before.  We were able to  ‘live the dream of Italy’ full time because of my grandparents. On my grandfather’s birthday, I like to remind others of him and all the folks, who either by choice or not, immigrated to America and helped to make it into a strong country.  If you are interested in more than my story I urge you to watch the series on PBS  http://video.pbs.org/program/italian-americans/.  While I don’t think that my grandparents had the same type of experience that happened in big American cities I think they had some of those experiences.

Friday, March 1, 2019 is the anniversary of my grandfather (nonno), Antonio Iaccarino’s birth. He was born in mille otto cento settantotto or 1878 so he would be 141 years old. His parents were Ferdinando and Maria D’Esposito Iaccarino. Besides my grandfather, I know they also had 2 daughters, one, Concetta, (my Zia or aunt) who was 4 years younger than my nonno and another that I never met, Josephine who lived in Connecticut.

In 2003 I began researching my grandparents’ lives so that I could apply to become an Italian citizen. In the process of this research I have learned some things which have brought me closer to my nonno who I never met. He died before I was born. I always think of him when I hear the Simon and Garfunkle song that starts “I left my home and my family when I was no more than a boy, in the company of strangers…” My nonno was only 12 when he joined the merchant marines (Marina Mercantile Italiana). Whether he joined willing or unwilling I don’t know. I do know that at that time he and his family were living in a room or rooms in this house in Meta, Italy.

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I have found this house because very dear friends, Tonino and Carmella Romano spent hours researching old town zoning records. It seems as if the town fathers in Meta like to rename and renumber streets all the time.  Only the Romano’s  tenacity helped me to find this place.

So my nonno went to sea. He signed on as a mozzo (a cabin boy). Fortunately, his seaman’s book is still in our family. The entries are handwritten in script that I can’t always read and understand. (Someday perhaps…) So far, I know he was promoted, learned great skills that he would use later in life and four languages besides his native Italian. From the log I can tell that he returned to and left Italy a good bit. Stamps in his book show that some of the places he went to were Greece, Liverpool, England, Marseilles, France, and Odessa, on the Black Sea. Can you imagine sending off your 12 year old son and for the next 19 years only seeing him periodically? And he comes back with stories of places he has been to and things he has seen. This is the view leaving the port of Naples that I am guessing is relatively unchanged even today.

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He did not always leave from Naples. Meta, the town south of Naples, where he lived was at the time a fairly large port and had a ship building facility. Today it is not. It is a small town with a nice sandy beach and a bedroom community for surrounding towns like Sorrento.

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Even though Sorrento and Positano have been popular tourist destinations since the late 1800s prosperity did not arrive until after World War II. Before that, a large number of people of all age groups emigrated from the area to the United States and South America. But our family name, a very common one still remains in the area.

From my nonno I think I have inherited my interest in other languages besides my native tongue. I do hold it against him that he did not allow Italian to be spoken in their house in America. My cousins have told me that he would scold my grandmother (nonna) if he caught her chatting with her friends in Italian (after they moved to America). He would say “We are Americans now, we will speak American”. (Italian men do so love to declare, dictate and proclaim, don’t they?) So my father never really spoke Italian. He never passed that on to me.

I also know, that from my nonno, the spirit of travel and adventure passed directly to my father and then to me. My passport is never locked up in a safety deposit box. I like to have it near me so if the opportunity to travel arises I can just go. And I have a very cooperative and loving husband. After I finally got my Italian citizenship he didn’t mind when I packed us up and moved us to Italy.

(Who is that Lady in the distance?)

Recently, I was part of a conversation about ‘how many folks knew the name of a cousin of one of the their grandparents.’  On my mother’s side of the family I could say that I knew the name and I have a picture of the woman, sitting with my great grandmother (and her chickens!).  On my father’s side, I don’t even know the names of all his brothers and sisters.  And as his children die that information will be lost or much harder to find.  The point that I took from this discussion was that in a very short period of time this knowledge of family is lost.

Now I am climbing on my soapbox.  The story of my grandparents’ migration is because of choices that they made, a story of a fairly easy journey with a very happy outcome.  Everyday, in Europe, we see stories of families being forced to flee because of war.  Their journey is not easy.  Their greeting is not with open arms.  Time will tell how their migrations will end.  Time will tell how many of them will remember or know the name of their own cousin, much less the names of previous generations.  I urge everyone of you reading this to examine your attitudes and thoughts about the current migrant crisis.  Do some research and remember how America was built on the backs of immigrants.  Immigrants who just might have been your relatives.  Remember the ‘Golden Rule’ that many of us learned as a child.  Wonder that if your ancestor had not have made a migration you might be not be enjoying the freedoms and comforts that you have now.

I’m off my soapbox now.  Little by little, with research, the help of friends and the memories of my family I learn about my grandparents. On Friday or when ever you think about it, please raise a glass of wine or a mug of coffee to my nonno and nonna who had the spirit and sense of adventure to try something different and create a new life for themselves. Most Americans have ancestors that emigrated. I have been lucky enough to be able to trace mine and fill in some of the blanks. If you have any interest in your own background you should try it.  You learn about the past and look what it led to for us.

Buon Compleanno Nonno!  And thank you from all of my heart!

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The Grandparents in the late 1940s.

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Hmmm, getting excited

Well excitment is building…..

Hiring has started for Wegmans. The excitment is building. Our Harris-Teeter is going to be remodeled. I guess they think they might have some serious competition. I’m telling you, Raleigh will soon be a great place to grocery shop. Now, if we could just get decent wine at a decent price….

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