Friday, November 2, 2012

Three Years and One Week

On October 26, 2009 I sent off a letter and $20 to the US Immigration and Naturalization folks in search of the date when Sam's grandfather became a US Citizen.  This was the piece of information needed to determine if Sam was eligible for dual citizenship.  The following August we received the letter back verifying that Sam's father was born 4 years before his own father, Salvatore, became a US Citizen.  Sam was eligible!

That was the start of the journey and with the great assistance of Peter Farina ( we were able to gather all of the required documents.  A trip to Italy in the fall of 2011 helped to speed things along, and two weeks ago Sam was fingerprinted by the representative from the San Francisco Italian Consulate.

Today, three years and one week after that first inquiry, Sam has received his Italian passport!  And with that, I can now apply for citizenship as well.

I'm excited!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Pacific Northwest Mediterranean Life

I am not living in Europe - yet.  Sam is now officially a dual Italian/United States citizen, and I have all but one document required to apply for Italian Citizenship through marriage, but there are no plans to move across the pond in the near future.  Nevertheless, I do my best to live as I imagine I would if I was living in Italy, or Spain.  I see myself either in a small village with a garden plot someplace on the edge of town, or in a simple country house with a garden and chickens and olive and fruit trees.

Here is Salem, Oregon I have a garden and blueberry bushes and raspberries, and a fig tree.  What I don't have is enough sunshine, but we are able to produce some great vegetables and fruit during the summer-like window we do get.  This year we were fortunate and enjoyed sunshine from mid-July until last week.  The pepper crop was huge and we have tomatoes piled in bowls all over the counter.  For at least three weeks in late August and into September we ate aubergines with every dinner - mostly slathered in olive oil and grilled to a crisp.

Numerous batches of San Marzano tomatoes are dried and bowl after bowl of gazpacho has been eaten.  Pepper ristras dried in the sunshine for several weeks, and now they hang in front of the sliding glass door, in case the sun shines again.  The figs were not abundant this year so we ate all of them fresh- right off the tree, competing with a creature-of-the-night who stole the low-hanging fruit before we got to it.

I even hang my laundry to dry on a rack like the ones we used in our various apartments around Italy.  Some days I drag it out into the sunshine, but most of the year the clothes are hung to dry behind the couch, near the overhead heating vent.  Still - I enjoy the ritual of hanging my clothes.

And to top off my efforts to live like an Italian peasant - this past Friday I spent the day picking grapes at a local vineyard.  While throughout Italy the Vendemmia was being celebrated with harvesting, stomping and drinking, and in Spain families were coming together for the Vendimia - I worked in the pouring Oregon rain for seven hours along with about 10 other middle-aged white folks - all members of the particular winery's "wine club." 

It was hard work, exaggerated by the rain and wind and chill, and two days later the back muscles continue to reminisce.  While we slowly labored up and down the rows of dark pinot noir fruit, the hired work crews came and rapidly stripped the vines of the tight, sweet clusters of grapes.  The men and women are paid by the bucket and they defy the limitations of the human body - running up and down the rows, somehow holding the five gallon buckets between their legs while they cut clump after clump of ripe fruit.  The crews move from vineyard to vineyard, each individual doing the work that ten of us together would accomplish that day.  While we were motivated by the adventure - the fun of participating in the process, and by the promised t-shirts and wine at the end of the day, these Mexican workers are motivated only by the need to earn money - much of which they will send back to family in Mexico. 

I was reminded of my childhood.  Dad was a mushroom farmer and I would occasionally pick mushrooms beside the hired workers.  I was paid 25 cents a basket and it would take me a longgggg time to fill a basket, while the men around me were a blur of white as they pulled up the mushroom and cut off the stump, dropping the mushroom into one basket while the stump fell into another - all in one flowing motion.  I respected the men who worked for my dad.  They were patient when I practiced my very limited Spanish with them - but they were there to work, and they never failed to show up and work hard.

And so I will continue to seek out tastes of what I imagine a life in Italy would offer.  I cook Italian meals, I read books and blogs about living in Italy and I practice my Italian - just-in-case we make a move.  And I am blessed to have traveled to Italy (and Spain) several times, and will go again. Right now though,  I will have an espresso and try to battle the chill that reminds me that I am living in the Pacific Northwest and not near the Mediterranean.  Yet.

The photos loaded
In weird sizes. I need to learn more about the iPad blogger app.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pro-life should mean Pro-life. Period

"Only in America can you be Pro-Death Penalty, Pro-War, Pro-Unmanned Drone Bombs, Pro-Nuclear Weapons, Pro-Guns, Pro-Torture, Pro-Land Mines, and STILL call yourself 'Pro-Life'." ~ John Fugelsang

Today, in response to a discussion about the recent reversal of the Komen Foundation’s decision to stop supporting Planned Parenthood and the idea that pro-life should include defending all life, I was told by a “pro-life” Christian:
I will not agree that the murder of innocent babies is comparable to the death penalty. Whereas those who have been legally convicted of a crime that is legally punishable by death, innocent babies are legally sentenced to death simply for the crime of being. There is no moral equivalency at all here.

This has caused me to reflect.

I suspect (and I have no researched statistics to prove this) that the majority of men and women on death row were once an un-wanted fetus. Probably conceived under difficult and un-planned circumstances, abused while still in the womb by alcohol and drugs that were being pumped into their unformed bodies and brains, and born into horrid worlds that we cannot even imagine. At what point did their life become less valuable than it was when he/she was a fetus?

Was it when their mother dragged them by one arm up to the grocery check out counter where she paid for Coke and Twinkies and chips with food-stamps? Or perhaps it was when they sat down next to one of our clean and cheery daughters in first grade and said “Fuck-you,” because that is the language they were used to hearing day and night at home.

Maybe their life became less valuable when they showed up dirty, without breakfast, not having done their homework, with head lice in the second grade. Or was it when they were suspended for having a fist-fight in the hallway at school because someone had made fun of their dirty clothing?

Maybe it was when they couldn’t go on the sixth grade class trip because mom didn’t sign the permission slip since she was passed out drunk the night before.

Did their life become less valuable than that of a fetus the day they started dealing drugs or turning tricks – having dropped out of school without anyone noticing or caring; now left to find acceptance, perhaps love, in any way possible?

Or was it the day that they used a gun and killed someone? Had they now reached the point where their life was worth less than that of a fetus?

Now on death row having lived a life of neglect, abuse and rejection – never having been asked how their day was or what they were learning at school, or whom they wanted to be when they grew up. Having lived a life where the only affection they ever experienced came from mom’s boyfriend or a stranger who was there to take away any innocence they had rather than to offer love. Now; now as they sit in a cell a horrible angry animal. Now their life is worth less than when they were a fetus.

The final human interaction they will experience is being strapped to a gurney where someone will give them the injection that frees them from the life of pain they have lived and caused.

That is much more moral than abortion?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Animal Medicine

Today while cleaning out files on my computer I found this, written about 10 years ago just after separating from my second husband. 

Hawk, as you soar above me, what do you see? 

I see the road behind you. It is a long road with many turns, dips and side-roads that dead-end. I see the path you followed and I see where you could have gone instead. I see the places where you chose to go one way at an intersection and avoided tragedy that waited down another un-chosen road.

I see the wounded travelers that you have helped along the way. I also see those you didn’t help because you were focused on avoiding falling rocks, or eroded sections of the road. I see the narrow places and the steep drop-offs where it took all you had not to go over the edge. I see the loose gravel where you started to slide, but managed to climb back up and resume your journey.

I see the road ahead; there are many roads and frequent intersections. I see dangers ahead on some of the roads, and I see smooth, scenic stretches on others. I don’t know what roads you will choose. They all have places where trees, or over-hanging rocks, or tunnels make is impossible for me to see the terrain. Each road has flat stretches, hills and gullies.

I see where you are standing now. You are in one of the most lovely places on your journey. I am glad that you stopped here to rest. I see the path that parallels the one you are on and from what I see ahead, you were fortunate to jump from the one path to the other.

There is so much to see where you are standing. Rest in the cool shade; bathe yourself in the pure waters. Sleep on the soft moss and drink from the fresh spring. There is no need to hurry from this place. There are no enemies approaching. Take as long as you need to rest; replenish and delight in the beautiful place your life has found.

Otter, why do you play so much when you need to focus on survival? 

What is the purpose of survival if there is no time to play? I survive only so that I can play and I play so that I can survive. Food nourishes my body; I eat only what I need. Shelter provides safety for my family and a place to rest. All other time and space is to be celebrated and enjoyed.

It is the time spent playing that gives energy for my other responsibilities. During play the food I eat turns to muscle and fat which are needed in order for me to survive. When I float on my back I rest so that I have the reserves needed later to hunt and to care for my family.

Without play my life would be short. I would be worn out; too tired to defend myself or my family from predators. I would not have strength or energy to find food. I would not know the joy of being an otter.

I needed this message today.