carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Deck Pics

From walking Guppy I realized that I always post pictures of the deck taken on the deck rather than looking at it from a distance.

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I do enjoy having flowers on the deck.  Birds have made a nest in my $5 fern from the Lowes reduced rack.  They dash off everytime someone goes in and out.

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The blue thing to the right of the door is a stack of chairs to use when we have folks over.

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All the rain has set the elephant ears off.  They are really doing well.  You can just see bits of the pink flamingo that I got at the Dollar Store.  It was just the right size to squeeze in there.

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This is my favorite to look at.  I like all the shades of green, the purple of the elephant ears with the purple pots.  And the pinks and blues.

Guppy and I brave the mosquitoes and sit out there every night.  Since I have started walking her and seen other units on the property I am glad that we have the one we have.  Not every one has such a nice private space.

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Tour D’ Coop

This year I finally got to go to Tour D’ Coop.  A tour of chicken coops in Raleigh.  A fund raising event for Urban Ministries of Wake County.  Wow, what could be better?  Seeing chickens and giving to a charity.

I have known about this for a number of years.  I didn’t get to go last year because it was on the last day of our move and I had to clean up where we had been staying and I was exhausted!  So I was really looking forward to today.  Turned out to be a really nice event.

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Since I didn’t get started at the crack of dawn I concentrated on the coops in downtown and what is now known as mid-town (North Hills if you have lived here a long time).  Two areas of town that I have previously lived in.  It was kind of fun to poke around in my old neighborhoods.

Generally, folks who keep chickens are interested in where their food comes from, so they also have nice gardens.  And some unique art and a quirky thing or two.

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This was interesting, a solar chandelier in the chicken coop.

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What a good use for a golf bag caddy.  (There are a lot of clever folks out there)

I liked the folks who took the time to put up info about each chicken

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All the coops were well built and maintained.  The most interesting to me was the one at an office building.

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This structure was built on to the courtyard area of the office building.  I talked with a staff member of the practice.  The doctor’s wife did not want chickens at their home so they ended up at the office.  The staff member said that they can be seen from several offices.  Staff members come out for their break or lunch with the chickens.  What an employee benefit!

I had never seen this before.

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Suspend a whole cabbage or head of lettuce and watch your chicken jump to get it.

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A last thought….

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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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Getting Excited

I was being checked in at the doctor today.  I had overheard the conversation the receptionist had with the patient before me so I just had to continue it.  The Royal Wedding….. Yes, we are all agog here in the US about it.

The receptionist is driving from North Carolina to West Virginia to share the day with her daughter and grand daughter.  They have hats and all kinds of things to celebrate.  I have only my mugs from Kate and William’s wedding. (thanks Margaret and Howard).  I believe they will add an authentic touch.  (At 4 in the AM all the authentic touches I can find are good)  The rest of my menu is still in flux.  But I guess that I need to figure that out soon.  I had briefly considered having someone over but then realized that I would be forced to play hostess and might regret those duties so it will just be Ben and me.

I have been having a several month (starting in February)  quandary over what TV station to watch it on.  I really would like to watch it on BBC.  We don’t have cable.  I spent a lot of time exploring ways to get BBC.  Not really any.  I was hoping that PBS would be rebroadcasting the BBC feed.  Corresponded with PBS.  They were exceedingly vague.  In March there was a column in the paper about how to watch the basketball games without cable.  I decided to contact the columnist.  She had not considered the wedding as  a column topic but certainly would.  To watch the games we had gotten a subscription to Sling TV.  BBC America.  I contacted them.  They had no idea what was going to happen.

It gets closer and closer.  Promos are telling me that all the US stations will be covering it in great detail.  But I still want to see it on BBC.  Finally I catch something online that PBS is going to be showing it.  So I start poking around the local PBS station to find it.  It takes several emails to find out that here in North Carolina it is going to be shown on PBS Explorer.  No matter, even if I give them money I still can’t get the station.  Finally we are watching something on Sling (CNN maybe) and there is a promo for BBC America.  Indeed they will have full coverage.  With specials all day long, starting on Tuesday beforehand.  And as their promo says “The Only Proper Way to Watch the Wedding”

As we were talking about it, Ben pointed out that this was almost as good as ACC basketball week.  I think it is too.

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Good Eating

I will admit that I miss food in Italy.  Everytime I consider going to Lidl (grocery store) I remember that in Italy, we would plan our Lidl trip to include a stop at the edge of the parking lot for lunch at the seafood store.  Gosh, we miss their fried calamari.  I miss a nice piece of grilled meat.  I miss good, thin pizza.  I miss eating lunch at Menchetti.  I miss the clean, simple seasonal food of Tuscany.  So every now and then,  I break down and make something Italian.  And if I am going to cook that much we should have folks over.

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Italian antipasta on Chinese fish china

 

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After antipasta we had an asparagus risotto, followed by braciole

What are known as braciole in the United States are called involtini in Italy.[2][3][4] Involtini can be thin slices of beef, pork, or chicken rolled with a filling of grated cheese (usually Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano), sometimes egg to give consistency and some combination of additional ingredients such as bread crumbs, other cheeses, minced prosciuttoham or Italian sausagemushroomsonionsgarlicspinachpinoli (pine nuts), etc. Involtini (diminutive form of involti) means “little bundles”. Each involtino is held together by a wooden toothpick, and the dish is usually served (in various sauces: red, white, etc.) as a second course. When cooked in tomato sauce, the sauce itself is used to toss the pasta for the first course, giving a consistent taste to the whole meal

(Thanks Wikipedia)

and sausages and salad.  Finishing with olive oil cake and strawberries.  Since we had a risotto I saw no need for a pasta.  Anyway, my picture taking stopped after getting the antipasta ready.  Our friends, Debby and Pat and Jim and BK came.  I was pleased that the table worked well for 6 people.  We could even have managed 8 around it, but I don’t have 8 plates.

Anyway, all of that combined with a few left overs satisfied my Italian food desires for a while.  Although I am considering getting a small grill to use this summer.  I do miss a properly grilled steak.

 

 

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The Artist’s Dilemna

I am finally getting to do the ‘fun’ projects.  A little behind the schedule that I had set, but slowly getting there.  It is hard to find time to do anything when I have to make three meals a day, make sure Ben is dressed and has everything he needs, keep the place reasonably clean, keep up with appointments, order drugs, and oh yeah, the mess caused by my brother’s death.  The nursing home, which insists they do everything perfectly, used some made-up middle initial for his name.  I am working on getting that fixed so that I can start to file paperwork with the government organizations that need to know.  The ones that think I should be filing his taxes.  Yeah, right, that’s going to happen.

Anyway, all this delay gave me time to consider things.  I have been working on my bath room.  I hung pictures.  I repurposed a piece of furniture to hold all the bottles of detergent.  (I blame Harris-Teeter for having 6 bottles of laundry soap.  I mean when it is buy 2 get 3 free…. am I supposed to turn that down?)  I put up a shelf for towels.  And that left the cherry blossoms that I wanted to paint on the wall.

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This was my inspiration.  Then I got bogged down on buying paint.  I am totally spoiled by living in Cameron Village where most everything you need is available.  Except a variety of craft supplies.  I consider it a ‘hike’ to drive out to the suburbs to go to a big box store with a variety of paints.  So I finally got around to buying some paint.

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All ready to start.  I decided to sketch the branches in using water color pencil.

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Then I started coloring them in a bit.

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and decided that I have much more control with pencils than if I was using paint.

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So now I am trying to decide if I want to finish the fleshing out the drawing all the way or leave it with that sort of  unfinished sketch book look.

I have also been considering the space behind the glass over the stove.

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My plan has always been to do reverse glass painting on that piece of glass.  But the more I look at it, the more I think it might actually be too much.  There is already a lot going on in a very small space.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll leave it plain.  SHUTTER!!!!

And I’m thinking about the steps.

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Three of them were replaced and need to be finished.  My plan is to paint a faux runner.  So far I can’t settle on a design.

Oh, the woes and problems that I have.

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Ah, Spring in North Carolina

Now that it is mid-March I think I can write about Spring.  I saw a cartoon where Mother Nature is saying “You can’t have all 4 seasons in one week!”  And the state of North Carolina says ” OH, Just Watch!  Here, hold my beer!”  That is what this week has been like.  Monday, March 12 it snowed and Thursday, the 15th it was 70 degrees.  We are not in the mountains, instead towards the eastern part of the state.  Go figure!

Anyway, February was wonderfully and consistently mild.  The cherry trees bloomed early and were outstanding.

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They bloomed.  No cold snap or heavy rains to damage the blooms.  Looked good for 2 weeks like they should.  The Asian Magnolias or Tulip Trees or whatever you want to call them were spectacular.  Sorry, no pictures.  I was having camera issues.  The blooms were so full and large on these trees that petals dropped and covered the ground while the trees still looked good.  For here, the variety that is planted usually is not that showy.  The buds will get nipped or something will happen.  But not this year, it was their year.

Last summer I saw an offer for 50 mixed daffodil bulbs from White Flower Farms in Better Homes and Gardens for a very good price.  So I went ahead and bought them.  Planting them in the fall.

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What a show they have been putting on.

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The first one opened on February 4.  Gradually more and more have opened.  And it was a nice mix of bulbs.  I would buy it again if I just had more room.  When I planted them I also stuck a day lily in. We’ll see how they look this summer.

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So, is all this snow?  No, flower petals from the tree out front.  See the hydrangea at the base of the tree?  Monday as all the snow and sleet came down it was asking for a coat and gloves

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I have been very conscientious about covering it up every night.  Hopefully the tender buds have been saved.   Never a dull moment here.

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March 1, 1878 March 1, 2018

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.

Thursday, March 1, 2018 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 140 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.

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 Thursday 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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Happy Lunar New Year

I try to honor Ben’s Asian heritage as much as I honor my Italian background.  Usually we celebrate with a large Asian meal, but for some unknown reason, this year, I am stuck in the comfort food roasts and stews mode.  I’ll be over that soon and we will have a belated big Asian feast.  Until then, I know it is the year of the dog, however, here is our Chinese dragon head to send you best wishes.

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I can’t resist telling the story about how I got the dragon head…. when we were in Hong Kong in February/March of 1996 with Jim and BK I bought it at the local version of K-Mart.  (Great store, can’t remember the name but I could probably walk there if I was in Hong Kong )  Now keep in mind this was 1996 before airlines got so nasty about bringing things on planes.  Our suitcases were full with china and other treasures.  The dragon head was in a box, roughly 2 feet square.  Weighed less than 1 pound.  I was carrying it on.  It is only paper mache and could be easily crushed.  I really did not want to check it.  Well!  You would have thought I was bringing on live snakes!  Such a fuss!  The box was a little too big for the overhead bins.  What to do?  What to do…. finally an accommodating member of the crew found a place for it in the first class closet and it made it safely back to the US.  It did not travel with us to Italy but has been in storage.  Now I am happy that it is out and hanging, guarding our back door and spinning around freely when the heat or air comes on.

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Deep thoughts while unpacking

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I wondered if I had run out of boxes and staged a raid on the Post Office.  Then I remembered that Ben had a stack of these in his office in our Virginia house  (he used to mail out info about computer systems that he sold).  Fearing that he would pack these up and move them I probably ‘appropriated’ them for use  packing my Chinese fish platters.

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I unpacked boxes from places where I worked, not just in Virginia but also in North Carolina before we moved to Virginia.  Boxes, Ben had used moving back to the US from Germany even before I met him.  Boxes, used by our Virginia neighbor who moved back from SE Asia just as we were packing up to move to Italy.  Boxes used by John and Richard  (we rented from them in Italy) who had moved all over the world several times.  Boxes from Florida when I packed up my parents’ house.  Boxes Boxes Boxes.  Each one I opened, I thought about the connection it had to us.  About how far that box had traveled.  About the people that I had known.  About the times I had spent with them.  And that is just in the outside of the box.

Inside oh the treasures!  (Oh, the “why did I pack and keep this?”)  I was most excited to find

 

 

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My collection of Revere Ware pots and pans.  I was really afraid that these had been sold or given away.  I am so happy to see these again.  It is a nice set and a duplicate set which was my Mother’s.  For now I am keeping both of them but some of them might have to go.

 

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This hammered aluminum Dutch oven cooked many meals for my family as I was growing up.  Many a Sunday roast.  I can remember my mother experiencing some amount of distress if the church service ran long….”oh, the roast will be dry!”   Very happy to see this again.

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And look at this, it is Siena’s hair, snagged on a piece of furniture and packed away for almost ten years.

UPDATE 2/5/18

I wrote this back in the summer.  Super Bowl weekend I finally got around to cooking a roast in the pot that my mother used.

 

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It turned out well.  I think my parents would have enjoyed it.

There are still boxes tucked away that need to be dealt with.  I am torn between dealing with boxes or working on the projects that still need to be done.  Maybe I’ll try to do a bit of both.

 

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