On May 2015

May, the fifth month of the year, but one of seven months with 31 days

May, spring in the northern hemisphere, but autumn in the southern hemisphere – making May and November as seasonal equivalents

May, with no other month beginning or ending on the same day of the week as May

The month May was named for Maia, a Roman goddess

Late May, being the official start of the summer vacation season in the US and Canada

May, with its symbols

  • Birthstone: emerald
  • Birth flower: Lily of the Valley signifying sweetness, humility, and return to happiness
  • Zodiac: Taurus (until May 21) and Gemini (May 22 and into June)

May moon

  • Called Egg Moon, Grass Moon, and Hare Moon
  • Full Moon May 4th 3:43 UTC
  • New Moon May 18th 4:13 UTC

May, with national celebrations in Armenia, Canada, Eritrea, Japan, Mexico, Norway, United States, and the UK

May, with many countries celebrating May Day & Mother’s Day, plus Europe celebrating victory over the Nazis in World War II

May embraces Asian American & Pacific Islander heritage, chip your pets, creative beginning, Haitian heritage, audits, Mediterranean diets, Jewish-American heritage, guide dogs, meditation, military appreciation, moving, preservation, older Americans, personal history, preparing tomorrow’s parents, Social Security education, South Asian heritage, date your mate, and recommitment.

May increases awareness in ALS, APS, arthritis, asthma & allergies, medical orphans, brain tumors, celiac, cystic fibrosis, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia, Huntington’s disease, homeschooling, lupus, melanoma & skin cancer, hepatitis, neurofibromatosis, preventing osteoporosis, physiotherapy, Prader-Willi Syndrome, pet cancer, toddler immunization, chemical injury, Tay-Sachs & Canavan diseases, Tourettes Syndrome, borderline personality disorder, high blood pressure, Lyme disease, stroke, preeclampsia, and ultraviolet rays & skin cancer.

May celebrates wetlands, clean air, community living, drums, Freedom Shrine, gifts from the garden, golf, Victorian women, Latino books, barbeque, bikes, eggs, hamburger, inventors,
pets, photos, salads, salsa (the food), strawberries, asparagus, beef, chocolate custard, and drinking water.

May promotes global civility, better hearing & speech, building safety, ecodriving, family wellness, gardening for wildlife, getting caught reading, global health & fitness, food drives for homeless animals, heal the children, healthy vision, Oregon wines, business image improvement, motorcycle safety, foster care, good car keeping, mental health, physical fitness & sports, service dog eye examinations, water safety, Finger Lakes wines, youth traffic safety, revising your work schedule, spiritual literacy, women’s health care, reacting, and respect for chickens.

Any celebratory occasions in your life during May? What songs did you listen to in this post? Have a wonderful month of May.

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Flashbacks: About Me

By having this blog for over five years, I’ve disclosed more than a few things about myself. Enjoy these flashbacks, visit as many as you want, and I hope you comment on the post you visited.

On a Heritage Walk

My desire to visit the small village of my paternal grandparent was different from visiting my maternal aunt and cousins. Besides, they didn’t fully understand my desire to go, plus they were unfamiliar with the winding road up the mountain – after all, there could be snow at 552 m (1716 ft).

My oldest cousin stepped forward, so the two of us headed into the valley toward the point of ascent. She is more than a bit high-strung, but with just the two of us, we had a wonderful day – and her personality did come in handy. We had lunch of wonderful tortelli at Ristorante da Vinicio in the beautiful setting of Bagni di Lucca. (This town is awesome!)

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During lunch, my hyper-cousin couldn’t resist mentioning my last name and that of my grandmother to the very nice man at the restaurant. (Debra, you may know him.) Interestingly, he quickly responded by saying those names are in San Cassiano, the place we were going.

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San Cassiano from a distance in 1964, but this time we drove there from the other direction

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After lunch, up the mountain we went. As we reached the main road’s peak, I exited the car and asked my cousin to drive ahead to meet me at the church – thus I would walk my own journey back in time.

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I started my downhill walk from here

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I recognized the first house as it served as the background for when my dad accidentally met a former classmate and long-time friend from Missouri. Interestingly, they didn’t know the other was vacationing in Italy. In this day, the owner was outside, so I started a conversation with him – which was very enjoyable, but I received only a few useful snippets of family information.

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Dad and his long-time friend from Missouri (1964)

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As I walked toward the church, my eyes wandered as my brain kept retrieving memories from long ago. Meanwhile, (and unknowing to me) my cousin’s personality was working the people at the bar, so she set the stage for when I arrived.

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San Cassiano is the highest village on this side of the mountain

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The woman behind the bar introduced me to Alvaro, a retired man probably in his late 60’s-early 70s. He was a true pleasure, and he eventually directed us to a house of one of my grandfather’s brothers, which two of my dad’s first cousins (who live in Scandinavia) still own and visit in the summer.

From the bar, it was down the street to the main church and an important town monument across from the church.

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The church ahead is dated 772 C.E.

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Unfortunately, the church was locked, but I discovered the sign that dates the church back to 772 – that’s a long time ago!

I had to see the monument across the street from – the monument for the fallen WW I soldiers from this town. I knew the majority of the last names, including

  • My family name
  • My dad’s uncle after whom he is named
  • My grandmother’s maiden name and the maiden name of her mother
  • Family names of those who lived in my home area of rural southern Ohio
  • The family name of my dad’s friend from Missouri
  • The family name of a man I didn’t know, but will soon meet
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There are more names not captured in this photo

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From the church, down the path I went searching for the house of my grandfather’s brother. Again, my cousin came through by asking a person who also just arrived in the parking lot. He led us to a British couple, who led us to the house, which was only two houses away.

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Path beside the church leading to the lower neighborhood

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While talking to the nice British gentleman, a slow-walking elderly man came along – the one whose family name is on the monument. Interestingly, he happens to hold the keys to the house for my Scandinavian cousins. He not only mentioned by grandfather’s name (who died in 1976), but also recalls meeting my dad. What are the odds!

I don’t know how to describe the moral of this story. Perhaps this small town is a magical place – after all, how else would two friends separated by two states on a different continent meet on a street across an ocean and up a hill to a small village meet in 1964? How else would I have so much luck on this short journey? What kind of luck would I have had if I had a family tree with me?

Thanks to the magic of San Cassiano di Controne, this day was extra special for me.

Enjoy the view cross the valley from the town of my paternal heritage. Ciao!

Note: For more pictures, visit this past post by Debra.

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On a Bridge Walk

Regulars may recall this past post (when I returned from Italy) opening with a picture of my mother standing on a small bridge in her hometown. I eagerly anticipated walking across that bridge toward the apartment and strolling through the city center, but my cousins kept us busy – besides, I started each morning by visiting my aunt.

It was day 8 and my time was running out, so I declared the morning as mine, and solely mine. I was out of the house by 9 AM for my journey, and after a short walk, the bridge stood before me. I quickly saw the sign for one-way traffic, and noticed drivers using is as a shortcut. Knowing the aggressive nature of many Italian drivers, I carefully watched and waited for a few minutes and recognized that alertness would be paramount after crossing the street.

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Suddenly, there I was – standing on the bridge looking around at the fast-flowing stream, the surrounding hills, the valley, the small town of my grandmother above, and the walk ahead – all with tears rolling down my face.

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I walked down the street toward the old apartment building. Besides asphalt replacing gravel, it was just as I remembered – greenhouses were still there, as were some houses, and a large old factory behind the apartment. Some carnation fields were still present, but olive trees now occupied some of their space.

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In a short time, I arrived at the apartment. Today, the U-shaped structure is vacant and the courtyard entrance is blocked – but the blockade did not hinder my view of the third-floor windows (not the top) where I had images of my handicapped uncle spent much of his day – or where my grandmother lowered a basket to receive something from below.

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I climbed a small wall to see the courtyard where I played and the stone opening that led to the walk upstairs. As tempted as I was, I didn’t go further.

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The house across the street still stands, but the small lot of carnations is now a grove of olive trees.

The emotions of this walk along were many as I thought much about my family. I looked at the small village on the hill knowing that my grandmother, an aunt and uncle were smiling from the cemetery I earlier visited – as were the family members from the city cemetery across town.

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On this day, I came, I saw, and left feeling content. Because I had my peace, it was time to continue my walk away from the apartment toward city center. Ciao!