On Retrospect: The Beginning

That’s my first header. Why? Well, that came with the theme and I didn’t know I could change it – let alone how!

I can’t remember the answer to this question: Did I start blogging on Blogger or The Sporting News (TSN)? Blogger was my multi-year journey about three friends who rated hamburgers throughout the city. The Cincinnati Burger Guys (past post here) had success in and out of blogging, but various aspects of life caused the team to fade away.

I played various fantasy sports games at The Sporting News (TSN) for multiple years. The games were free and fun. In order to build a community, TSN provided a blogging opportunity for its members. Most of those I list/link as Pioneers in the sidebar are from my TSN days. Unfortunately, TSN stopped their fantasy games and blog hosting – so participants dispersed.

In 2008, Tim (a frequent commenter here) and I would meet for breakfast or lunch. Most of the conversations focused on investments, sports, and politics. Keep in mind, 2008 was an election year in the US (Obama-McCain). I was itching to write again, plus Tim always appreciated by thoughts – even occasionally agreeing. Research took me to WordPress – and in a few months I forged ahead. A Frank Angle was formed – a way of using my name and promoting what I wanted to do – an honest opinion.

The burger blog was for a local audience, and the TSN blog was for a limited community. Beyond posting and hoping for readers, I didn’t know what to expect on WordPress. It didn’t take long to learn that the blogging experience is much more than I anticipated.

My first post was short as I introduced myself and a small bit of blogging philosophy. Although I didn’t mention it, but sports and politics was my primary focus. Not knowing much about building a blogging community, I got followers, visitors, and commenters the old fashion way – hard work. I replied to every comment, visited all visitors (even commenting on their site), and visiting links on other blogrolls.

Reconnecting with some TSN people helped in the early days. Cheers to Tim (Beeze), Mo, Chris, Lester the Legend, and Dave. Even to this day, they surprise me with a pop-in visit. Special thanks to Dave who told me that if someone takes the time to comment, they deserve a thought reply from me. Give them more than a mere thanks for visiting or commenting. That is not only true, but priceless advice.

Slowly (but surely) my blogging community developed. By Dec 2008, I was still interested in sports and politics, but I wanted to post more often to keep my readers engaged and keep building. Branching into other topics widened my readership. Looking at the wide range of topics listed in the Categories, that was a great decision for me.

PS: This is a milestone post: #2300.

Next: The Golden Age

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!

On Roots

Roots can have a variety of meanings:

  • The anchoring structure of plants or body parts as hair and teeth
  • The primary source of origin
  • The essential part or base element
  • Point of family ancestry
  • The note on which to build a music cord
  • The part of a word carrying the main meaning and forming the basis of the word by adding prefixes and suffixes

In our computerized world, root directories form the foundation of the operating system. When the power comes to the operating system, the computer begins to boot by looking for the primary operating directories – the root directories. Much like the trunk of the tree, the root directories lead to the subdirectories like branches of a tree. However, with the initial power source, these operating branches remain silent – actually lifeless.

The words Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelic Lutheran Church of America in this article sparked these thoughts and this post. (For the sake of disclosure, the ELCA is where my membership resides.)

Christians just began Lent – a season of reflection and renewal. With the Lenten season in mind, Bishop Hansen asked the following questions that (at least to me) are good questions for all – for theists, atheists, and agnostics – for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others.

  • Would you describe your life as rooted or rootless?
  • What are the signs for you that help discern whether we are rooted or rootless?

Opening image is the property of FractalAngel