carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Happy Birthday Ben!

We recently went to a conference for the disorder that Ben has, PSP. It is similar to Parkinsons, but different. A very nice thing that the drug company, UCB, did was to bring in a professional photography company and have them pose us and take pictures. Thanks to Jonsar Studios for these great pictures. https://www.jonsarstudios.com/

Ben and I have been together for a long time now. We still have a lot of fun and I wish him many, many more wonderful birthdays and all my love.

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Warm Weather

Guest Post by: Guppy, Luck Dog 3

So glad that it is here. I get to sit outside on the deck every morning. But I think the squirrels have multiplied! There seem to be a lot of them now.

April was real busy. I went to dog school and my extra walking classes. I graduated.

And I had to go to the vet. Then She got all busy cooking and cleaning because folks came for Easter Lunch. That was fun. Then She started moving everything around in my room and cleaning. I couldn’t drop hair for a whole week. And then we had a cousin visit! I like cousins. I think that She Who Must Be Obeyed has a few cousins but not all of them come to visit. This was a girl cousin on her Momma’s side who is 4 years younger. This cousin came to visit them when they lived in Italy. On Saturday, they all went running off to see things and were gone a long time. I didn’t like that but I sure did like visiting with them. The husband is real nice too.

I hope they come back again.

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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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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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My Uncle John

I had two Uncle Johns. One on my father’s side and one on my mother’s side. The one on my father’s side lived in New Jersey and died over 10 years ago. My mother’s brother, the youngest of the group and the last one of that generation on that side of my family died in late January. He was 98 years old.

This was taken the last time I visited with him in 2014 (maybe?)


He was born and spent a large part of his life in Louisville. He fought in WWII. Stationed in England as an Army Air Corps intelligence officer. He married a Welsh woman and brought her to America, where she gave birth to twin girls. Something must have happened… she and the twins moved back to Great Britan. And nothing was ever said about them again. I only know because they are recorded on our extensive family tree and because I have this newspaper clipping.

The twin daughters waiting to board a plane to go back to England.

Anyway, my Uncle John married again when I was about 9 or 10. He married Thelma, who I thought was very glamorous because she worked (!!!!) and they lived in an apartment (!!!!!!) (very shocking when you grow up in the US suburbs in the 60s). They did not have children. I can remember that Thelma (and maybe John) brought me a lunch box on my first day of elementary school. I also went to see The Nutcracker with them. And they had me down for dinner. Of all my many Aunts and Uncles I did the most with them. They were a very special couple.

But Uncle John was special too. He was always a happy person. He sang little bits of songs and whistled. I know that is why I do that too. Because of him.

He and ‘Thel’ moved to Florida. On a trip back to Kentucky, John and Thelma came to visit me when I lived in Wilmington. None of my many other Aunts and Uncles ever stopped by. Aunt Thelma died in Florida a number of years ago. Uncle John lived near her relatives and was getting along okay until he more or less got ‘lost’ driving somewhere. My mother was still alive when that happened. One of my cousins (possibly the oldest one) Bob and his wife, Cheri, moved Uncle John up to Indianapolis where they were living and got him an apartment at facility there. That was 2003. For all this time they have been responsible for him. Even though he was not in their house they still visited and had to be ‘on call’ for him. How fortunate Uncle John was to have them. And how caring and loving it was of them.

So a number of years ago, when I was living in Italy, I started to search for Uncle John’s twin girls. With the help of my British friend, Jules, I found them. Through an intermediary I contacted them and asked if they would like to to know about their father, if they would like to come visit me in Italy or just anything….. One of them had died as a young adult and the other wanted nothing to do with me and no further contact with me. (Okay, who in England doesn’t want a cousin in Italy?) Anyway, I have respected that. And I will not try to contact her about her father’s death. But I will tag him in this post so that maybe if she ever searches for him it will show up.

John Harvey Gudgel Jr was a kind, gentle, sweet man who always had gum in his pocket to share, a smile on his face, a joke to tell and a laugh that was infectious. I will miss him.

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Valentines, Letters, Keeping in Touch

This is the Valentine that we sent to Ben’s grand daughter

You can’t really see it, but that is the Effiel Tower behind the kissing couple. Ben and I honeymooned in Paris. The grand daughter is in a French Immersion Charter School in New Orleans. Her French is so good. And Ben and I were the first set of grandparents to take her to France. I like to remind her of that, subtly, of course. Side note: The grand daughter has a FULL set of grand parents, 8, yes that is correct 8. Each parent of the child (aka Ma and Pa) has divorced and remarried)

On to the letters. I recently updated my traveling address book.

My traveling address book used to be little bits of paper that were stapled together. I realized that a number of folks on the list are no longer with us. So a new address book was in order.

Our mailman loves us. Every 2 or 3 weeks I send notes or cards to a number of folks. I started this when we first moved to Italy. I wanted to keep in touch with my aunts and uncles and some friends. This is also when I started my blog. Sending mail from Italy was expensive. I cut my card and letter writing back some and sent them links to my blog entries. Anyway, I still write about 10 notes every two weeks.

And just the other day there was a notice at the city park center for ACTIVE ADULTS that we go to. They were looking for someone to respond to letters from 5th graders who are working on the art of letter writing and cursive writing. What’s a few more letters….

One was beautiful. The handwriting was easy to read. The child wrote about her interests and asked about mine. No problem. She got a 2 page response. The next….well, I had to take my highlighter to it. I couldn’t read some of it. He/she got a response. I was nice. Suggested that more work was needed. Try again. We’ll see what happens….

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Happy Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year was the first full week of February this year. The year of the pig. We celebrated on the first Sunday of February by having friends over for lunch.

For Christmas my Uncle John had sent us a check so I decided to use that money to replace a few pieces of my Chinese fish china that were broken during storage or the move. I thought that would be easy to do. It is a very common pattern. Or was a very common pattern. I had to order it from Pearl River Trading Company in New York City. I was very pleased when I received all the pieces, so I was excited to be able to set a nice table.

The recumbent Dragon Fruit and the pineapple became dessert.
Also used the Asian beer glasses that came from Nice, France.

I never got around to printing up menus. But we had Hot and Sour Soup, Thai Chicken Larb on a bed of noodles, Vietnamese Eggplant Salad, Gingered Yard Long Beans, Pork Tenderloin with Chinese BBQ Sauce on a bed of Roasted Butternut Squash and Roasted Baby Bok Choy. I am lucky to have at least two well stocked Asian grocery stores.

Besides fruit for dessert, there were egg custard tarts, almond cookies and ….

There were 3 kinds of Asian beers. And of course some wine. How can you go wrong spending a Sunday with friends eating and drinking?

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55 Years

Yes, that is how long Ben has been out of high school.  The first weekend in November we went to his high school reunion in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Even though the school was in Norfolk, many reunions ago, the planning committee worked out a deal with The Oceanfront Inn at Virginia Beach to hold the reunion there and there they have stayed.  Why not?  Ocean front rooms at a very good price. Indoor pool.  Good location.  Ben and I have gone to several reunions.  Arranging our trips back to the US around them.  (and The Oceanfront Inn is our stopping place when we are traveling up the east coast)

Ben’s sister, Bea, was in the class behind him.  So she enjoys coming to this reunion too.

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These events have always been a sartorial challenge for me.  Ben’s classmates are older, very well coiffed and pampered women.  And if I am asked to appear in anything but overalls or jeans I go in to a big panic.  But thanks to my good friend, Dinah, I had two very sophisticated silk tops to wear that I think were just the ticket.

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The beach looked great too.

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All in all it was a wonderful weekend.  I will just have to write, that Guppy’s 2 half day and 2 full day stay (or 3 days)  at the dog spa cost the same as our two night stay in an oceanfront room.  I knew she would cost us, but not that much.  Anyway, I think she over partied.  A day after picking her up she is still asleep.

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Guppy’s Summer Thoughts

Guest Post: By Guppy, the Lucky Dog 3

We are having a calm summer.  I have to be pretty quiet for 60 DAYS after my last heartworm treatment.  She explained that what happens is the heartworms are killed and are supposed to gradually pass out of my body as little bits.  But if I get too excited a big clump might break off and that might make my heart stop.  So even though it has been really hard I have done my best to not run around a lot.  She says we only have to wait until August 14.  Then we can start to go to the dog park and play with other dogs.

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That is the new Asian man that I had to use my allowance to buy. (Remember a month or so ago those other Asian men were bothering me when She and Ben went somewhere and left me alone with them.)   She is all mad about it because it was not what She ordered.  But it would have been okay except for the green.  She decided to live with it for a while.  And just because I am dropping a few hairs, I had to use my allowance to buy a vacuum too.  I don’t like it at all.  It makes a noise that hurts my ears a lot.  She doesn’t use it too much but when she does I try to bite it.  I’ll never get any new toys…..

For my graduation they did buy me a piece of jewelry.

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I wear it all the time.  No one had ever bought me jewelry before.  And I got

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these great bowls and a new table cloth.  She says this can be my china pattern.  The ‘Sainted Siena’ had her own china pattern but I am not allowed to use it.  It is best that I have one all my own.  I think my ‘motif’ must be fish.  What do you think?

Anyway, Ben and I have our own special time together every morning.

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Well, I think that I am having a very good summer.  Hope you are too.

 

 

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What happened to May?

My favorite month is almost over.  At least it is now reliably warm, sometimes HOT!  And the rain, Man! has it rained here.  Lots.  I am still without a camera but here are a few snaps of how wonderful the deck looks.

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This is how it looked about 10 days ago

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Those elephant ears have taken off.  I started the caladiums from the bulbs of last year.  Usually they don’t come back for me, but this year they did.

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Most of the plants on the  table have moved to the new garden that I started this spring.  (More about that in another post) I was tickled that the light jars made the move safely.  And check out my cool pink wine glass. (thanks Jane)  Those who knew us in Virginia might remember the blue and yellow planter boxes that I used there.  I packed and stored them.  They survived and are being used again.  My father made these for me from light weight wooden produce boxes that he probably picked up from a trash pile in Florida.  I painted them to match a table top that we had there.  If they make it through the summer I might paint them black for next year.

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Under the table, again this year, I have a nice mix of begonias and impatients.  I just have to remember to water them occasionally since they don’t get rained on too much.  I think they have filled the space nicely.

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This summer spiraea is doing well.  Can you even see the gas meter?

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All and all it has turned out to be a great space.  Guppy enjoys it too.  Now if it will ever stop raining and I can just get rid of the UGLY buses….. working on that.

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