as of this writing, winter will end in 75days, 18hours, 24minutes and 33seconds
I hate winter
the featured image is a painting – Winter Sunset – by Shirley Netherton; the above image is stock wallpaper from somewhere online
today I’m 73years old
it always shocks me to remember that my family left warm, sunny, but poor Calabria for winter ravaged Northern Ontario and NO, I never made peace with it
and now I live in the city with the second most number of days with NO sunshine
my friends have labelled the following text as dark – in 1914, the British upper classes sent their young to die in the trenches of France; today in America, corporations recruit and then charge the young admission to go to sports venues that are infestations of COVID; but not a problem, the cost of hospitalization, therapies and missed workdays will be paid by the American taxpayer
winter marks the return of the crows – a murder of crows flies over my house every day around 5:00pm. I think this murder is coming from across the river; the crows roost along the hillside above the Strip District
Yesterday, a cousin posted that her dad – Franchino Barberio – had passed away on Saturday, January 22. With zu Franchino’s death, there are only three remaining Apriglianesi of my parents’ generation – my mother, Cum’Amalia, and Maria Capisciolti – in Northern Ontario.
All my life, the Apriglianesi in Sault Ste Marie and my cousins Rusaria-and-Franchino Barberio of Sudbury were a very close group of Italian immigrants all from Aprigliano, Cosenza. Rusaria-and-Franchino (Franchino’s mother and my dad’s father were siblings) came often to Sault Ste Marie. They visited with my parents and their other cousins the Capisciolti. The Barberios came in January to make sausage, in the spring to celebrate Easter, and in the fall to gather mushrooms, make tomato sauce and make wine. And let’s not forget that they also drove in for all the important family events – baptisms, weddings, funerals.
The Apriglianesi of Sault Ste Marie and the Barberios of Sudbury, numbered about 12.
remember me when the candle lights are gleaming remember me at the close of a long, long day it would be so sweet when all alone I’m dreaming just to know you still remember me
The lines from John Prine’s version of Remember Me, are soft and demanding. They’re about memory bathed in gloaming; memory situated in the mundane; memory intimate and fatal.
the sweetest days are the days that used to be – Narragansett, RI, 1968 – thinking back to that first summer – us walking to Scarborough Beach; us riding the waves; your parents’ tiny summer home; the rickety wooden chairs, the kids behind us necking, the chaos that was the Newport Folk Festival; in the stifling humidity, us lifting our robes to catch a breeze, but revealing forbidden shorts – all these images, all these vids still fill my head – thinking back to the December of our fist year – the snows on the golf-course and making angels in the glittering white-light; the kiss in front of the windmill house, in the glow of the full moon; the orange juice, in the stainless steel pitcher, that you brought to my room that kept me hydrated – all these images, all these shorts still fill my head
the saddest words I ever heard were words of parting – Portsmouth, RI, 1969 – I left for Canada, sick as a dog; we wished each other Merry Christmas at the Providence airport – in the new year, in the gray winter light, we smiled, we laughed, but went walking with new friends. I couldn’t tell you, I had fallen in love – in the silence of Compline, you cried because he was going to Vietnam; in the silence of Compline, I held you and prayed – in August, we went for our last dinner; you were going down to DC; I was heading up to Windsor. the restaurant was a restored stone-house; in the back, there was a pond and willow-trees that swayed above the silent waters
good bye good bye sweet New England I’ll miss you
and we will never be the same, except in memory
The image is from Dezeen 2364 – Christmas Card 2021.
— there are two words that are much more interesting in Italian than in English – the Italian for sunflower – girasole, and the Italian for snowdrop – bucaneve — girasole literally means – turns with the sun — bucaneve literally means – cuts through the snow — and staying with the theme that some things work better in their Italian versions; I like Sececa’s quote on fortune/luck in its Italian translation. La fortuna non esiste: esiste il momento in cui il talento incontra l’occasione. (fortune or luck don’t exist: what exists if the moment when talent meets an opportunity)
— don’t know if I’m remembering right, but it seems to me that other years, the bucaneve were already out by now — and when the snowdrops do come up, there are never as many as I thought I planted — in Europe, you can buy snowdrop plants and that way you know where to put them in a garden — winter will be done in 23 days, 21 hours, 8 minutes and 19 seconds — February has been a volatile month – we’ve gone from temps in the 60s to temps in the low teens — it’s hard to believe that spring is closer than it’s ever been
– the image above was taken by Gabriele Bistoletti – the featured image for this post is from online
Last year, I reduced the number of pots and minimized the entire planting configuration on both the east and west sides of the backyard. On the east-side – the two images above – the simplified rock-garden with its ribbon of red geraniums looked really good. This year, I again got rid of ‘excess’ pieces – 3 extra-large pots and several ceramic pots (ceramic may look good, but man! a ceramic pot full of soil is not easily moved). The result is a simple line of blue plastic pots in front of two flower-beds and a large pot containing a clematis -flowering in the right image.
Also, for the first time, I did a spring planting – filled all the pots with violets (that is what is in all the pots, in the left image). Don’t know why it’s taken me all these years to figure out a spring planting. I suspect it had a lot to do with the need to clean and reorganize everything and by the time I did that work, it was May and I could plant for the summer season. But with a more streamlined and fixed planting arrangement there was no need for a lot of prep work; and with everything all laid out, I just added the violets and all of a sudden the backyard was no longer a place waiting for summer flowers. And dreary, cold spring was brightened up by yellows and purples throughout.
Here are some other changes:
the wisteria trunk, located in the back corner, and visible in the pic of the right, is now wrapped in nylon rope and off the fence post that it was tearing from its cement foundation; I pounded 3 steel posts into the ground as anchors for this mighty trunk
also, that same back corner is now accessible and free of rocks and plants; I can go back there and remove all the suckers that the wisteria will throw out
the Frank Lloyd Wright statue is now free-standing and featured; and the left-over 4X4 post acts as a pedestal in the simplified rock-garden
in March, I cut the grasses, in the back planter – currently sprouting the Bleeding Hearts – down to the soil so as to give the Bleeding Hearts a chance to grow and bloom; wasn’t sure if the grasses would come back; they have, and the Bleeding Hearts are beautifully displayed
to distance ourselves from the terrain of the usual
and to walk, to search, to journey
Yesterday, I found the website – monastero sant’Agostino – of a small group of cloistered nuns in Rossano, Provincia Cosenza, in the Sila Mountains in the eastern part of the Calabrian providence. The website has a Note di Vita – word of the day – section and some of the writing is absolutely elegant. So far my favorite is the entry for transumanza – the seasonal moving of livestock to greener pastures.
And I have to admit that I like the Italian better than the English translation. The Italian has flow; it has cadence; it has great word-choice.
Una sapienza antica, tramandata di padre in figlio e tuttora viva in queste terre calabresi, conosce il tempo della transumanza: quando è bene far migrare il bestiame. Alla ricerca di pascoli diversi, di un clima migliore, di un terreno più adatto.
An ancient wisdom, handed down from father to son and still alive in these Calabrian lands, knows the time of transumanza: when it is good to migrate livestock. In search of different pastures, of a better climate, of a more suitable terrain.
Si tratta di percorsi a volte non brevi, lungo disagiati tratturi; le mucche salgono lentamente, mansuete, oppure attraversano in fila indiana il centro dei paesi montani della Presila.
These are sometimes not short routes, along uncomfortable steep tracks; the cows climb slowly, meekly, or cross the center of the Presila mountain villages in single file.
Transumare: fa bene non solo agli animali.
Transumare is good not only for animals.
Prendere le distanze dal terreno del consueto, alla ricerca di uno diverso e che ci renda migliori.
To distance ourselves from the terrain of the usual, in search of a different one that makes us better.
Dal terreno della rassegnazione alla terra della speranza.
From the land of resignation to the land of hope.
Dal terreno della pretesa alla terra della gratitudine.
And the seasons, they go round and round we’re captive on the carousel of time we can’t return we can only look behind
YouTube is full of videos of the 2022 Newport Folk Festival, and my favorites are those with Joni Mitchell. In 1968, I was there in Newport sitting on a hard, wooded, folding chair and listening to unknown folk singers. Now, 54 years later, a 78 year-old Joni Mitchell shows up to perform.
Looking behind, for me, doesn’t mean living in the past, because it was better than today – that’s pure bullshit. Rather, looking behind is about acknowledging where I’ve come from, what I experienced, who I met, because all those variables will impact where I’m headed and how I’ll respond the the experiences of the last part part of my life.
The pundits constantly put in front of us the screaming voices of those who reject the present; they put in front of us the horrors the Right wants to unleash in order to stop the present, to stop the future. But in the end none of that will work, because we can’t return from where we came.
– women aren’t going to accept second-class citizenship – queer people are not going to accept marginalization – black and brown people are not going to accept slave-labor wages – non-believers are not going to embrace Christianity, and – young people are not going to accept the restrictions the old, fat, white men are insisting on
The post-title is from Both Sides Now, (how can you pass up an opportunity to use the phrase moons and junes) but the sentiment of the post is more accurately summarized by the simple words from The Circle Game.
The featured image is the moon and the spiral of the Mole Antonelliana in Torino.
Wednesday, March 2, 1927 Thursday, September 15, 2022
Zinga, Mafalda (nee Perri)
Mafalda Zinga died peacefully on Thursday, September 15, 2022, at the age of 95.
She was predeceased by her loving husband Francesco (Ciccio) Zinga who died four years ago. Ciccio was her life-partner for 69 years.
Mafalda is the mother of Mario Zinga (Paul Leger), Connie Zinga (Ron Crowle) and Josephine – Giuseppina – Thorman (deceased). Josephine was married to David Thorman. Her three children and her husband were the most important people in Mafalda’s life.
Josephine and David (Isabel Thorman) gave Mafalda two delightful grandchildren – Christian Thorman and Seane Thorman (Liam Lavesseur). With her grandchildren, Mafalda’s life blossomed; she acquired a new name; she became Nonna. She made sure Christian had his soppressata and Seane had her soup regardless of what other foods covered her sumptuous table. Her grandchildren were also wonderful reminders of her daughter Giuseppina.
Mafalda was the daughter of Eugenio Perri and Marietta Perri. Her parents invited Mafalda and her family to immigrate to Canada from the Calabrian town of Aprigliano. The family arrived in Sault Ste Marie in May of 1957.
She was the sister of Amalia Muto (deceased). Amaila was married to Emilio Muto. These two women and their respective families – the Zingas and the Mutos – became an extended family. And that extended family nurtured friendships and forged bonds that remain. Friendships and bonds that will define and grow the next generations that Mafalda and Amalia leave behind.
She was the aunt of Rose McCaig (Derrick McCaig) and Mary Melchiorre (Dominic Melchiorre). For Rose and Mary, Mafalda was both aunt and confidant. They knew she would be their support and their champion and therefore Mafalda became an integral part of their adult lives.
I want to mention three other people who were great friends and companions to Mafalda:
Domenic and Marcella Belsito.
Their loyalty and dedication brought great joy to Mafalda. And as a family, we would like to thank them for their friendship and love towards a courageous woman whose life we remember in this obituary.
There’s one other person that needs to be part of this story and that is Amalia Sanguinetti. Amalia and Mafalda were both born in Aprigliano; and they were young friends in that long ago. For the last four years, these two friends – Amalia and Mafalda – have lived at the Great Northern Retirement Home. What a wonderful gift life gave these two extraordinary women. They were friends in their youths and continued that friendship into their old age. Truly a gift from heaven.
The last group that deserves our thanks is the staff of the Great Northern Retirement Home. Mafalda spoke often of their generosity, their care and their companionship especially during the long periods of Covid isolation. As a family we want to thank them for bringing quality and dignity to Mafalda’s life.
We each come to this point of remembrance with our own sorrow, with our own sadness. And we each come to this point of remembrance with our own grief and our own way of grieving. But we also come to this inflection point with our memories of mom, Nonna, Zia and friend.
Viewing Tuesday, September 20, 2022 10:30am – 12:30pm O’Sullivan Funeral Home, 215 St. James Street
Funeral Mass: Tuesday, September 20, 2022 1:00pm St. Veronica Church, 559 Douglas
Entombment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery following the Funeral Mass
As you begin this last journey may the winds be soft and the waters gentle
Note: The two title-lines and the above text are from the funeral-card for Mafalda Zinga – my mother; the funeral was Tuesday, September 20, 2022. The two lines on the right of the image – a detail of Botticelli’s Nascita di Venere – are from the Mozart opera Cosi fan tutte. The four-line stanza is my incorporation of the Italian into a tribute for a life well-lived.
It’s been a while since I just did a list of random thoughts:
TV, particularly 24/7 cable news, needs to be shut down – yes, yes I know the first amendment!!!
cable news, and TV in general, provide a bubble to live in and many have opted for that hill-top village
the other night Trevor Noah said it best, ‘if cable news, with its endless trump-coverage, is chasing ratings, then be up front about it’
in olden times, geography isolated us, today TV and social-media provide the segregation
movies, sports, comedians, authors, artists have all been supplanted by cable news hosts; these hosts are the stars of today
America and all first-world countries, have reached a peak in living standards never before realized and we are determined to hold on to our vapes, our gas-guzzlers, our avocados – fuck democracy, fuck rights, fuck sovereignty, fuck the planet
the more I see, read and hear, the more convinced I am that a global conflict is coming
Steven Spielberg is one of the most over-rated directors; he is not in the same league as Hitchcock, Fellini, Coppola, Scorsese, Bertolucci, Kubrick …
the Italians hung Mussolini upside down from a gas-station roof-beam in Milan; the country is no better off, regarding its criminals and corruption, than countries that didn’t bring their war monsters to justice
my generation needs to get off the god-damn stage like NOW; millennials, and the fifty-year-olds need a turn
given that my generation wont participate in a peaceful transfer of power, y’all need to grab it from us – I’m on your side in this battle
The thumbnail leading to this post on the homepage is of the post-and-rail fences at Gettysburg; and the above image is of the sculpture atop the Pennsylvania memorial at the Civil War battlefield.
This is an unplanned post, so I have no idea where I’m going with it.
First – the featured image is a Max Leiva sculpture; second – the above image is a reflection; you should be able to make out my right arm and the camera strap.
I begin with a question – Is it possible to grab my life experiences, grouped by where I’ve lived – Aprigliano, Sault Ste Marie, Narragansett, Windsor, New York City, Pittsburgh – and one, deconstruct them and two, rank-order their value, importance and relevance?
Aprigliano What I remember most is my time with my parents, with aunts, uncles and cousins, my time with my friends, and those experiences when I got away from everyone and was on my own.
My mother could be very demanding of my time; my dad was a hard-working man whom I interacted with when he was home.
I grew up surrounded by relatives and friends of my parents and they provided me with distractions, love and great fun. My favorite relatives were all on my mother’s side. In memory, these were wonderful people and they still register very positively in my mind. My dad’s family lived in a different part of town and I didn’t see them on a daily basis.
My dad did a work project in south-western France that took him away from home for almost 3 months. I remember it as an intense time for my mother; she was anxious and worried the entire time he was away. In one of his letters my dad sent a picture and he was walking down an incline;
This is the solstice the still point of the sun its cusp and midnight the year’s threshold and unlocking
where the past lets go of and becomes the future
the place of caught breath the door of a vanished house left ajar
My third Christmas Eve at home – amazing and wonderful. It’s hard to believe that for 50 years, I drove or flew to Northern Ontario at this time of year. With many years the weather being as horrendous as it is today. In 2018 it took me 12 hours to get home; in 2019 it took 18 hours; both trips made miserable by weather conditions, flight delays and airport layovers (because sitting on those back-breaking lounge chairs is my idea of a pleasant Christmas trip).
I added the title la vigilia di natale, to mark how in Italy, Christmas Eve has taken on an importance it never had. It’s now very common, on social media, for people to post a season greeting about the 24th. That is a new development and I suspect it’s the Italians way of keeping the traditions and the religiosity of the holiday in place. Because, I suspect, like all First-World countries, Italy has defaulted to December 25 being an overwhelmingly commercial event full of insincere gift-giving and Hallmark sentimentality.
The image is from my back window looking out onto the snow-covered yard. The plant is a bay-leaf tree, in for the winter, and the two beautifully wrapped things under it are panettoni. (I decided to leave the patio-chair out to remind me that this too shall pass – and please let it pass fast. It’s clear I HATE winter, right?) The poem – Solstice – is by Margaret Atwood.
As I’ve written many times, the menu and traditions of la vigilia di natale – Christmas Eve – have always been my favorite.
Christmas Day, at least for the immigrant communities of Ontario, has been usurped by the mythology of happiness through conspicuous consumption – propaganda the British and the American corporations have peddled for decades.
And as I wrote in a previous post, Italians in Italy have decided to take back la vigilia and celebrate their traditions and their foods on December 24. Because they too have succumbed to the conspicuous consumption of Christmas.
Food traditions brought over from Calabria
pasta e sarde: Spaghetti with olive oil and anchovies – first course. Given that la vigilia was a fast-day and no meat was to be eaten, pasta had to be dressed with something other than red sauce. (Red sauce was always made with a meat stock and meat was not allowed on a fast-day.) Pasta e sarde was probably my second favorite item of the Christmas Eve menu. (The cullurielli with the anchovy were number one.) My aunt, my mother and I were the pasta e sarde eaters; the rest turned up their noses at this simple flavorful dish. The above image is a variation where I replaced the salty anchovy with less salty and more meaty sardines.
pasta with a calamaro flavored red sauce: For the ‘next generation’ those not raised on pasta e sarde, and for those that hated pasta e sarde, my uncle made a red sauce flavored with calamaro – squid. (It was really good.) But NO!!! (I’ve been told I can be rigid on certain things, especially when I like a particular food. Let me tell you about sambuca served COLD – OMG are you for real? First, it clouds, so you lose the beautiful clearness. Second, cloudy sambuca is not attractive, and we know Italians are all about la bella figura – the look.)
baccala: It’s dry, salted cod. HATED it. Baccala was the main dish of the second course. It was served in at least 3 different way – fried, battered and fried, and in a delicate red sauce. The Canadian immigrants who were rushing to assimilation began to add shrimp and other fishes to the menu, but they never removed the baccala. (Let me take a minute to rant about the feast-of-the-seven-fishes – I never heard of this until I moved to Western Pennsylvania and I’m convinced that it is a tradition of Western Pennsylvanian Italian immigrants who had enough money to add other fish dishes to the Christmas Eve menu. No one in Italy would know what you’re talking about if you asked about the feast-of-the-seven-fishes.)
cullurielli-1: These are unleavened, potato based, deep-fried dough rings. (I’ve always wondered if their origin was with the Jews of Calabria. According to some sources, in the Middle Ages, some areas of Calabria may have had a Jewish population of up to fifty percent. After all, there is no proscription in Catholicism against leavened bread on a fast-day, and Christmas Eve was very much a fast-day, so why have an unleavened bread-like item?)
cullurielli-2: These are first made for the feast of the Immaculate Conception – December 8 – and in my family brought back for the weeks before and after Christmas. On Christmas Eve they took the place of bread. My favorite variation of cullurielli are the ones with an anchovy in the middle. It was always a feat to find the ones with the salty fish, because they had been made in the early part of the month, then frozen and brought back for the Christmas season; by then my mother had forgotten which were which. (My parents’ cullurielli were the best – this was the consensus of the extended family that included the Mutos, the McCaigs, the Melchiorres and the Thormans.)
bitter vegetables – rapini & broccoli: Eating rapini with an anchovy filled cullurielli is heaven. I still eat rapini on a regular basis; I only blanch them, add hot Calabrian spices but no cullurielli. Orecchiette pasta with sausage and rapini is a home-run.
dessert – fennel, tangerines and espresso (espresso with sambuca – caffè corretto): After the pasta e sarde, the rapini, cullurielli and the salad, I would reach for the fennel – it soothed my salt saturated stomach. And let me post a second peeve – espresso is the elixir of the southern Mediterranean shores; sambuca is the liqueur of the gods. Whoever decided to mix them should have their taste buds singed. Espresso polluted by a second flavor is a sin. I’m just going to leave it there.