August 9, 2014 august, diario/journal

susan-and-gord’s 50th wedding anniversary1st entry – august 2014

I drove from Toronto – Dave’s house – to Chesley, Ontario. Chesley is 3 hours north-west of Toronto in farming country. It’s that same geographical swath of Ontario that extends south all the way to Windsor. The housing stock is old Canadian farmhouse and the Chesley area has a large Amish community. It’s a bit hillier than the area around Harrow where Rainer lives, but here in Chesley it’s the Georgian Bluffs and by Harrow the bluffs give way to flat prairie.

Sat-Aug9  102AThe drive was on country roads with bush or farms on either side. Because I wasn’t sure where I was going, I’ve never been through this part of Ontario, I decided to give myself some extra time and found I was the first guest to arrive. Jennifer was putting up the road-sign announcing the reception and I stopped, rolled the window down and said, “You and I look like we’re from the same family.” She was glad to see me and knew that her mom would be extra happy.

The next people to arrive from the Zinga side were Renato and his wife Gina. Renato is my Uncle Michael’s son. We are almost the same age and we’ve always gotten along. (He was 13 when his family came from Aprigliano.) In the above image, left to right, is Jennifer, Renato, me, Susan, and Gina. Gord is sitting.

Renato, Gina and I had a wonderful time getting re-acquainted. It was really the first time that I got to spend time with Gina without a mob of Zingas around and we discovered we could laugh and laugh. We even had a great time ripping on Renato. The Zingas on Uncle Michael’s side are the nice ones and Renato is one of the nicest. So ripping on him is extra fun.

In past family events we were the younger generation, but there were so many other parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts that we never got a chance to just be ourselves. We were always in service to the older group. And today it was just us, and the fact that the other Zingas didn’t show for a while, we got to laugh and have fun.


August 9, 2014 august, diario/journal

after 50 years, renewing vows2nd entry – august 2014

The event was organized around a meet-and-greet, a 1964 trivia competition, Sat-Aug9  109 (Liza and Jennifer hosted.) Susan and Gordon renewing their vows and dinner.
Where was Gordon-and-Sue’s first apartment?
   – Jane Street, a couple of blocks up from my grandparents.
Who was the Prime Minister of Canada in 1964?
   – Lester B. Pearson
Which Canadian company opened its doors in 1964?
   – Tim Horton in Hamilton, Ontario
Where did Sue and Gordon meet?
   – In the elevator of the office building they were working in.
Who won the Stanley Cup in 1964?
   – The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings 4 game to 3.

Sat-Aug9  118Renato knew most of the answers and our team won 3rd place. When Lisa handed out the prizes, we got a bottle of white wine. And as we all know the Calabrese don’t drink white wine, so Renato went over to another team that had also won and swapped the white for a red. (He is such a Zinga.) The only answer I contributed was which famous American general died in 1964.

After the trivia game, Sue and Gordon renewed their vows. (I don’t know if the person officiating was a minister or a Justice of the Peace.) When they got married back in 1964, a Justice of the Peace officiated. I’m sure my extended family in Toronto was scandalized image! – they did not marry in a church; Gordon was not Italian or Catholic – scandal squared.

A second reason I went up was to see some of the relatives on the Zinga side and to get the contact information for Mario in Rome. Sue said she had it and I’ll follow up with her when I get home.


August 9, 2014 august, diario/journal

my zinga relatives – the apriglianesi3rd entry – august 2014

Sat-Aug9  189From left to right – me, Gelsi, Susan, Joe, Rita and Renato. (Gelsi, Sue, Joe and Rita are siblings, children of Nunziatu; Renato is their cousin, child of their uncle Michele.) I believe the birth order is: Gelsi, Rita, Joe, Mario, who is in Rome and Susan. (On Renato’s side the birth order is Salvatore, Maria, Vincenzo, Renato, Raffaella and Gina.)

And in addition to us being all Zingas, the six of us were all born in Aprigliano. They were all born in La Grupa where the Zingas are from. When Ciccio and Mafalda married  they moved to Corte  into the house that my maternal grandfather had paid for with his wages from his job in Canada. I was born there in that house in Corte.

My father kept his connections to his friends from La Grupa, (The Mussos were from La Grupa.) But I never got to know any of the Zingas. Instead I got to know the Capisciolti, my grandmother’s side of the family and my mother’s relatives. (The only Zinga I remember is Zu Rimitri. He had a barber shop on the road that led into La Grupa. But he never gave me a haircut, I always got my haircuts from the barbers on my mother’s side of the family.)

Renato began to talk about La Grupa; he was 13 when he left and has many more memories of his time in Aprigliano than I do. Also, Susan has all the contact information for her brother, Mario, in Rome and she promised to give it to me.


August 10, 2014 august, diario/journal

the zingas from la grupa4th entry – august 2014

The Zingas Birth and Death Off-springs
Salvatore 1899 – Totonno
Francesco 1901 – Ciccio (my father)
Michele 1904 – Salvatore, Maria, Vincenzo, Renato, Raffaella, Gina
Assuntina 1906 – Francino from Sudbury
Annunciato 1908 – 2007 Gelsi, Rita, Joe, Mario, Susan
dimitri 1910 – never married
Luigino 1912 – ___________, Peter, Frank
Angelina 1914 –


August 11, 2014 august, diario/journal

sunset on lake superior5th entry – august 2014

Cottage  029Connie and Dave insisted that we go up to the cottage, because Seane wanted to toast marshmallows. Connie wanted me to see that the winter ice had removed all the stones from the shore in front of the cottage and that the whole Red Rock area now had sandy beaches. (A geological upheaval, a consequence of last winter’s Polar Vortex.)

The above image is my shooting at the setting sun from Connie’s cottage. The dark strip on the horizon is an island.

Seane did get her s’mores, but the bugs were over whelming and we ended up visiting with the neighbors and then headed indoors at Connie’s. The neighbor’s property is clear of trees and it looks huge; Connie kept reminding me that the two lots were the same size, and that her lot was still tree covered. Where the next door neighbor’s cottage looks like summer homes I’ve seen on the Outer Banks, Connie’s is rustic and very Northern Ontario-ish. It’s the kind of cabin I remember from when I lived up here in the early 60’s. A time when cottages were referred to as camps and a time when camps were places with out-houses and no running water.

The natural beauty of this part of Canada is wrapped up in its rugged terrain, its jutting rock-faces and its primitive vegetation. Give me the man-made landscapes of the Italian peninsula. The examples of man transforming the environment to make habitable. The land here in Northern Ontario may achieve that imprint, but it will take another thousand years. And even that may be optimistic; I keep forgetting about the winters, those may forever stop the human race from changing this landscape.


August 11, 2014 august, diario/journal

ciccio’s garden6th entry – august 2014

Ciccio-Gard  031My father’s garden  has spilled over into what was once lawn in the back-yard. Between his greenhouse, the added plot and the pole beans along the fence, he has increased his garden by 30%. Ciccio gardens like he did back in Calabria. He plants in rows with watering troughs on either side of the plant. (As a kid it was my job, when I came home from school, to water the garden. I would put the hose down in the trough and once it filled, move the water to the next trough. I hated the job. All my other friends were out playing, I had to water.)

In the image on the left, I am facing north and shooting across the largest section of the garden. The section is behind the garage. And going from right-to-left, he has: eggplants in the buckets, tomato, dill, zucchini, pole-beans and beyond the zucchini are cucumber plants. Each morning I would go out into his garden and pick a cucumber off the vine to eat with my breakfast. (Peas and cucumbers were the sweet products of the garden and as kids we ate them whenever we could.)

Aug-13 006My father’s favorite plants, the ones he lavishes time and energy on, are the pole-beans. The image on the left is Ciccio first thing in the morning. He has picked zucchini flowers that my mother will make into fritters. He also has beans in the basket and the pole-bean leaves on his jacket. (The leaves are sticky and cling to his clothes as he walks through the patch snapping beans.) There are two things he grows well – pole-beans and the fruit trees. My mother cooks the green-beans, cuts garlic into the shells and loose beans and then drizzles them with olive oil. Seane and I eat the whole bowl. We do not share with any other family member. While visiting with my parents, I lived on cucumbers, green-bean salads, zucchini-flower fritters and minestra made with peas and pasta. (I’m glad Seane doesn’t like fresh cucumbers, because I have to share the other foods with her. And she has a bit more clout with her nonno e nonna than I their only son. Go figure.)

There’s an unclaimed competition between my uncle and my dad. My uncle uses modern methods to produce the bounty in his garden. My dad doesn’t read English and therefore can’t take advantage of the new chemical mixes with their complex directions. He has to rely of a more organic approach. But let’s be clear, he’s not gone green. He has not made a conscious decision to avoid pesticides; he just doesn’t know how to use them. A side-effect that his liberal, gone-American son appreciates. (He would call me a ciuotu americanu.)


August 13, 2014 august, diario/journal

the round-barn in maple ridge7th entry – august 2014

Aug-13 106Derrick’s great-grandfather – Alexander Campbell – built this round barn on his property in Maple Ridge just north of the small town of Thessalon, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Huron. Derrick tells the story that Alexander Campbell, his maternal great-grandfather, designed and planned the barn during the winter of 1927 and built it the following year. This was a working barn used to house livestock and store crops until the late 1960’s. The above image is the roof of the barn with its main post and its octagonal rafters.

Aug-13 017The barn is one of three 12-sided barns in Canada. The oldest of the three was built in 1881 in Mystic, Quebec by Alexander Wallbridge. The second 12-sided barn was built in 1919 by Thomas Cordukes who was born and grew up near Mystic. He left Quebec and settled in the Huron Shores area in 1881, prior to the original barn being built, but returned often to visit family and would have been privy to the progress of the Wallbridge barn. The third barn, built in 1928 by local farmer Alexander Campbell, is located near Maple Ridge. Campbell, a neighbor of Thomas Cordukes, assisted with the building of his barn 9 years earlier.

The barn and the old farm-house next to it, have new owners. The round-barn is a wonderful gift shop with amazing prices. There were some furniture pieces that in any shop here in the US would cost 10 times more than the price listed in the round-barn gift shop. I bought a hand-made scarf for $9.00, Rose and Derrick bought hand-thrown espresso coffee cups for a ridiculously low price. I was thinking of doing my Christmas shopping there, but the owner said that by December the weather and the highway are not always friendly to travelers. (Highway 17 North, part of the trans-Canada system, follows the contours of the lakes in this past of Northern Ontario and where in the summer months the views over the lakes are amazing, with the beginning of November travel can be hazardous. The winds off of Lake Huron and Lake Superior can deposit snow-drifts that make the highway impassable.)


August 13, 2014 august, diario/journal

in a reflections there are generations8th entry – august 2014

Aug-13 032As Rose, Derrick and I travel, I’ve been taking some standard pictures of the three of us and these are always reflections in a window, door, glass wall or mirror. It’s the only way I have of getting us all in the pic when there is no one else around. Today, the opportunity came as we were walking around the round-barn that Derrick’s great-grandfather built. I was able to frame the three of us in one of the low barn windows; the mullions creating a triptych.

Rose and I were dressed for the chill. (On the ferry from Tobermory to South Baymouth, I had bought a sweat shirt. The morning was cool and the facts that I was on a lake and moving added to the chill.) I like that my reflection is in shadow, but spans two window panels. When I got in the car, I commented that it was the same process as when we travel in Italy. And even though we were all staying with our parents and feeling like children again, for the morning we could become adults, we could behave like we do when we are on our own.

Rose and Derrick came to my parents’ to pick me up and then we headed to Starbucks for coffee. Rose brought her mother’s taralli and genetti for breakfast.


August 13, 2014 august, diario/journal

a picnic in the garage9th entry – august 2014

Aug-13 113In Sault Ste Marie, it’s very common to have an outdoor meal in the garage. The weather is not summer enough to eat outside and the outside doesn’t have hot water, a sink, a refrigerator, or a stove to make the meal efficient. Also, it may be a picnic in a garage, but you don’t forgo plates, silverware and glasses – two sizes tall for water and short for wine. (In Calabria, they would have been under an olive tree or a quercia. Dam the conveniences, they had the sun, the shade, the landscape and the family.) Today, the weather was very chilly; we all wore long-sleeves and the garage door stayed closed.

The menu and I’ll start at the bottom of the image – home-made wine in a half-liter carafe capped with tin-foil (my uncle’s wine is very good.), stuffed green peppers, antipasti (green olives from Calabria), home-made tortellini, antipasti (home-made prosciutto and soppressata), dandelion fritters (mary’s favorites), and hard to see are the stuffed eggplant (the eggplants are from the garden. my uncle doesn’t eat eggplant, but he grows them for my aunt.) and a third antipasti plate of various cheeses. Next course were the salads – tomato and basil (the tomatoes and basil are also from my uncle’s garden. there was home-made bread to sop up the tomato and olive oil juices.), dandelion (my favorite), and cucumber (in the muto family not everyone likes the tomatoes and cucumbers mixed, so my aunt make two separate salads.) My dad and Ron must have been hungry; they were the first ones to sit down.

Given the abundance, I had the stuffed peppers which were wonderful (the ration of chopped meat to rice was skewed to the rice side, the meat was only there for flavor.), dandelion salad (my aunt told us that she had send my uncle to pick them back in the spring and that he had gone up to the field that once housed the paper-mill that my grandfather worked at. she froze the greens knowing that mary and i would appreciate them in august. mary likes the fritters best, i like the leaves in salad and it’s the one salad where i like extra vinegar.) and to finish my second course i filled my plate with tomato salad and got my bread ready to sop up the juices.

Coffee and dessert finished the picnic, but they are never served outside. For these, we all went inside. The table in the upstairs-kitchen was laden with pies and home-made cookies. Mary made coffee using the fancy, stove-top espresso makers. (Every Italian in Sault Ste Marie like every Italian in Calabria has two kitchens – a basement kitchen, called a rustic kitchen in Calabria and situated on street level, for family meals and an upstairs-kitchen for company and desserts.) I just had espresso no Sambuca chaser, no five-berry pie and no amaretto cookies.


August 15, 2014 august, diario/journal

against a blue, blue skylast entry – august 2014

Aug-13 068In terms of the drive this was one of the best road-trips. I endured the border crossing at Buffalo once; the drive across the Mackinac once; and I only had to drive I-475 once. (Buffalo desperately needs an additional bridge, but we in America are all about budget cuts and hell with the future. The Mackinac with its low railings is disconcerting. I look straight ahead when I’m on the bridge, because it’s the vast expanse of Lake Michigan on the right and the rugged waters of Lake Huron on the left. And by looking straight ahead, I pretend to not be driving over the Straits. I have this fantasy that the lake-winds will pick up the car and toss it into the water. And 475 South through Flint is a road at the end of its life.)

The drive from Oakville to Chesley was new; I went through some beautifully preserved farm towns – Shelburne was worthy of Architectural Digest; and heading to Owen Sound, after the anniversary event, was also through rolling farmland. (The area has a large Amish/Mennonite community and there were many sighting of men on buggies and farmhouse with no electrical/cable wires running to them.) Because I had to be at the ferry doc for 6:00 am, I drove to Tobermory in the morning dark, but it was amazing to have the super moon off my left shoulder as I drove Highway 6. The ferry ride across Georgian Bay was a great no-drive time; the water was glass-still and the sky was shocking blue. The final leg through Manitoulin Island and Highway 17 North was also fun. (The last time I drove these roads was 40 years ago when Frank and I did this route on our way to the Sault.)

The week was also marked by visits with friends and family. It was good to see Joe Sanguinetti, Frank-and-Norma. It was good to see Susan again after all these years. And in the process I got to visit with my cousin Renato and his wife Gina. In the Sault, my dad’s garden was at its peak. Going out in the morning and picking cucumbers for breakfast was great; having zucchini fritters at lunch was another perk.