thanksgiving – 2009

November 26, 2009 2009, diario/journal, thanksgiving

My very first American Thanksgiving was November 28, 1968.
I was living at the Christian Brothers’ Novitiate in Narragansett, Rhode Island and our Director of Novices – John Veale – decided that the novices could go home for the holiday. The five of us from Canada were each paired with a novice who lived local and went to their homes for the holiday. I went to John’s house in Warwick.

Subsequent Thanksgivings have continued to be happy occasions.

My family and relatives observe Canadian Thanksgiving and know little of American traditions associated with the holiday. And having come to this holiday as a foreigner, I have none of the built-in obligations, so I can just enjoy the time off and the visit with friends.

The foods associated with the Thanksgiving meal still hold no interest for me. For the last twenty-some years we’ve spent the holiday with our friends Jerry-and-Diane and their family. And if you had a pic of my dish at today’s meal, it only contained stuffing, cranberry relish, carrots and corn.

This post was originally written on Thursday, November 28, 2019. I re-purposed it when I wanted to create the thanksgiving category. It’s a good intro into this newest grouping.
The image is of persimmons in a Portuguese dish; it’s a fruit I like displayed on a foreign dish.

pittsburgh murals

March 21, 2010 diario/journal, murals

N-mural 056I’ve discovered the outside murals in Pittsburgh. These have been around for a while, thanks mainly to the Sprout Fund that has been spearheading the effort with a very strong grant program to local artists. On the North Side, the artists living in the housing owned by City of Asylum Pittsburgh have been using the outside of the building as their canvas. Huang Xiang began it all. In 2004 he covered his residence with Chinese calligraphy — his poems, a joyful and celebratory response to his freedom from censorship. (The image on the left is from the Pittsburgh-Burma house.)

The detail is from a mural on the North Side done by Burmese artist Than Htay in resident at City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

The slide show on the main page is images from a mural in Regent Square. The artist is Kristin Williams and the piece is titled Bird’s Eye View.

and the warmth of the kitchen

November 9, 2010 diario/journal, kitchens

I’ve been listening to the American group Colcannon, and in the wistful song Bermuda Line I found a great phrase – and the warmth of the kitchen with all the outside dark. The more I played the song, the more I kept seeing all the various kitchens I’ve known. For me, kitchens are safe places, places of great memories. I’ve grown up, laughed and cried in kitchens.

I think back to childhood and our kitchen in Aprigliano and all the fun I had in that room. It was big, at least in memory, and in one corner was my bed. What joy to sleep in the kitchen. Its window framed the mountain slope on the other side of the valley. The mountains were where the brigands lived – oooh! But they couldn’t get me in our kitchen. It’s the place where I picture my dad making Sunday dinner. It’s where my mom set up the brazier in the winter. Its circular, wooden frame was my race-track for hours.

I could sit in the huge fireplace and eat my dinner. One night I sat there and flicked fava beans into the ashes. (I hated fava beans.) When the first one disappeared, I believed I had found the promised land – free, free of fava beans. My stay in heaven was short lived. The next morning, my mom told me she had found the favas in the ashes.

On January 5, I hung my stocking on the fireplace hoping the befana would bring me torrone and toys and praying that she would not bring me coal. After all, I was a good boy. That particular year, the befana did not agree with my self-assessment and there were lumps of coal in my stoking. I was mad. Fifty years later, my mom and dad still remind me about the year the befana brought me coal.


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The image on the left is my first kitchen-picture. It’s my kitchen here in Pittsburgh. The espresso makers are all from Italy. (No electric espresso machine for me.) I love making espresso on week-ends. It’s 5:00 in the morning; the dogs and I are in the warm kitchen; they wait for some banana; I grind the beans; decide which espresso maker to use; fill the bowl to heaping, because I like my espresso strong; next I make toast then sit and read the New York Times – heaven.

I’m going to start shooting kitchens – my parents’ many kitchens, Rose’s kitchens, Mary’s kitchen, Connie’s cottage kitchen, Dave and Isabel’s luxurious kitchen, my friends’ kitchens, . . . any kitchen I can get into.

and my father lithe with spring

November 29, 2010 diario/journal, old photos

Saturnia 005

A while back I found Roberto Donna’s webpage and discovered that he had an entire section of old photographs of his family in Le Marche. Now, I’d been collecting family photos for years, but I had no idea how to digitize them. Talked to a local photographer who said he does that work. I gave Scott a bag-load of old pictures and he scanned them. I now have the first batch of these old family photos as JPGs and RAW images.

The image on the left is actually a photograph-of-a-photograph. The original was taken in May, 1957 on the boat – Saturnia – that my family came to Canada on. Front row, left to right – Salvatore, my cousin on my mom side, me at 8 years old, my mom, my sister Connie, two years old, and my dad. The tall man holding the small flag is Carmine Belsito a friend of the family. The gentleman on his right is someone else from the Cosenza area. We were all heading to Halifax. Everyone, except for my mom, seems happy about the future. She admits to not liking Canada and wanting to return to her life in Calabria. (It’s one of my favorite photographs.)

ciccio, jo’ e mario

January 11, 2011 diario/journal, old photos

I’ve been trying to figure out the focus of the next old-photographs text-page. And today I may have gotten an inadvertent push.

Zinga 125

The picture on the right is one of my favorites. It’s Christmas 1964. And it’s my dad, my sister Jo’ and a young me. I put the image on the desktop of my new laptop. And our tech-manager saw it and said it looked like people from the Sharks and the Jets. The idea that the three of us look Spanish and New Yorkish never occurred to me. Maybe I should do a text-page on the parents and correct any misimpressions of who these two immigrants are. (I have some great pics of them.)

The picture was taken in the original house before the renovation and the expansion. The living room was long and narrow and the Christmas tree had to be put in the corner.

The tree was cut in some field. It never occurred to my dad to buy one, not when there was an axe in the basement and open woods all around us. The decorations were new and shiny. I bought them at the Woolworth’s and Kresge’s. The lead tinsel disguised the gaps in the branches. (I never used the fiber-glass angel hair. That came when Connie took over decorating.) The star and the ornaments have survived. They now hang on a perfectly symmetrical and gap-less plastic tree.

For me, the image is about a young Ciccio holding his new daughter and a young man on the cusp of adulthood. Ciccio was 38. Jo’ was the wonder-child of his thirties. The young man was looking forward to high-school – St. Mary’s College, Catholic Boys High School run by the Basilian Fathers.

I love the smiles. It was an innocent time.


January 28, 2015 diario/journal, kitchens, reflections

pine boughs, tea-pot, toaster-ovensunrise – 7:33     sunset – 5:33
winter countdown – day 39 of 90

pine-boughsThe snow was so heavy on Monday that I needed to get it off the White Pine or risk it snapping the over-hanging bough. Using a broom, I hit most of the snow off the umbrella-like tree.pine-tree That got rid of the snow, but also broke off some of the small branches. Some info about the White Pine – it originally was a bonsai, and then one one day I put the pot on the ground to keep the soil moist and by the time I got to is again, the tree roots had started to grow into the ground. I’ve left it and now I have a huge tree growing out of a bonsai pot. Each year I sand off a small section of the main trunk in an attempt at creating a curve that begins at the pot-level and continues into the cascading green needles. The branch holding up the cascading branch is from the old fig tree. (The last time we had a major winter-storm, the snow toppled the tree out of its pot.)

At first, I left the broken boughs in the snow, but then decided that they could look interesting in a vase in the kitchen. It was well after midnight when I started shooting the images and loved the soft colors the non-flash setting produced. I particularly liked the retro toaster-over that the tea-pot and vase are sitting on. The wall, I stripped of plaster while Ronald Regan was down the street visiting a community employment program, the tea-pot is from an English dish set that I like and the vase is old carnival glass. (The vases were prizes at Kennywood at the various gaming booths.)


creamer salt-pepper copper
candle pitcher jar


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sunflowers19 sunflowers 016 sunflowers 018

thanksgiving – 2020

November 26, 2020 2020, diario/journal, thanksgiving

What I remember of that first Thanksgiving, back in 1968, in Warwick, Rhode Island …
Saturday morning, John and I drove into Providence to visit his uncle and aunt and, I remember seeing,
for the first time, three-story clapboard houses.
John’s uncle and aunt – his mother’s brother and sister – lived just down from La Salle Academy – the Christian Brothers’ highschool in Providence and John’s alma mater.

This morning the sun peaked over the rooftops landing on the red leaves of the trees in the garden of the Mattress Factory. It was an interesting effect. The above image doesn’t capture the brightness of the morning sky.

It’s a strange time in post-election, COVID-raging America. Yes, some 61% of people opted not to travel for Thanksgiving, but all college-students are returning home both for the holiday and for the semester. The rest of the world has no idea what Americans are doing traveling given the infection rate and an out-of-control virus.

And the Supreme Court ruled to temporarily block governors from applying mitigation efforts to gatherings at religious institutions. The crazies are cheering, because the Supreme Court is finally fighting for religious freedom – OMG.

Even the Pope seemed to disagree with the Court – Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate . . . It is all too easy for some to take an idea- in this case, for example, personal freedom- and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.