Friday, July 30, 2010

Week in-Week Out

Every summer, I plan a new project for my garden. This was going to be  this year's project. It is a parkway strip in Portland, by a hotel on the Willamette.Notice how it was all going to come together:

It is a strip of grass by the roadway.
It has a circulating pump that provides running water.
It is surrounded by lush plantings and spectacular color display.
Rocks and shrubbery live harmoniously together.

As I said, this Portland riverside garden was the inspiration.

As of now, midsummer, nothing has been created to resemble this or any other plan.
Week in and week out, we are tending to tasks at hand. Mostly, we are anticipating the next visit, or the next event, and adjust our budget and our house accordingly.

In addition, at our age, health issues trump everything else we have planned.
Next week, for instance, is all booked already for medical/surgical visits that include overnight stay as our specialists are located miles from us.

Plans are there to inspire and guide us; but life goes on with or without them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A summer day

Walk on a country road

play fetch with a labrador

enjoy  cool breezes

catch a bass.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Even in Paradise it's lonely!

We look forward to summers, when the rains stop and visitors make their way to us.  They marvel at the vistas, the cool summer temperatures, the isolation, the tranquillity.

We tell them that without their visit, this place is lonely.
They can't imagine that.

Yes, we say, there is just so much Paradise one can enjoy. Company is what we need. Please, return, stay as long as you can.  Tell us about the world we left behind.

This week, my youngest son is up with us, with his pup and his girlfriend.  The house is now filled with sound and movement and activities.  The pup, a lab, loves to swim in the lake, loves to chase birds in the garden.

Each guest/visitor brings a new vibe, a new rhythm, a new note to the symphony.  Some visitors, actually compose new music while up here; or paint a new picture; or write a new story.  This place inspires.

But, without company, it is empty.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Never know Who is Watching!

ITALY Magazine: Blog of the Week - When I was your age

Published: Jul 13th, 2010

Location: Basilicata
Topic: Blog of the week

Words by Pat Eggleton - Pictures courtesy of Rosaria D’Ambrosio Williams

Today our blog of the week is a bit different and we think you’ll find it interesting. In “When I Was Your Age – A Memoir” Rosaria D’Ambrosio Williams, who now lives in Oregon, tells the story of a young Italian woman’s journey to America and of the people she left behind.

Rosaria, you wrote the blog “When I was your age” as a memoir for your children. When did you decide to do it and what inspired you?

Right after I retired, when I moved away from my children and missed them terribly. Somehow, writing about my childhood helped me connect all the pieces.

For those who have not followed your blog, can you tell us where you were born in Italy and something about your childhood there?

I was born in the region of Basilicata, in a small town called Venosa, during WWII. My earliest memories were all about the war, the occupation, the poverty. I downplayed that part, actually.

There has been so much written about the war that I could not add to the literature. Instead, I concentrated on my family’s focus to emigrate, to find a way out of the poverty. The memoir is both about me and about my family’s tragic situation - how they survived, what they went through to keep on living with hope and faith.

When did you go to America and why?

I was seventeen when an uncle sponsored me to study in America. My town had schooling up to the fifth grade. To go beyond that was very difficult. It took all of our extra resources to continue my education past the fifth grade. I jumped at the opportunity to go to university.

Were you very lonely at first?

Very! Lonely for everything and everyone. What kept me focused was the desire to finish my degree.

Where did you live and what did you do?

I lived with my uncle and his family, serving as a babysitter and housekeeper, helping out any way I could, in exchange for room, board and tuition.

What helped you settle and what, apart from your family, did you miss the most?

Settle is a process still going on! I missed the food the most. Products were not the same and were hard to obtain at that time. Later, I fell in love with a wonderful man a few months before I was scheduled to return to Italy. Falling in love changes everything. Still, to this day, I don’t think I am settled. I’m content with my choices; I’m happy to be alive and have all the opportunities I have; I’m glad my children are well. But, if I had any choice at all, I would live half a year in Italy, and half a year in America. I miss so many things! At the beginning, it was my family. Later, even little things - a food I craved, a smell. I am still homesick.

Did any of your family follow you to America?

No! It’s one of the tragic strands of the story. They never did. They kept hoping all the time that somehow, one or all of them could join me. They visited me for short bursts.

Did you ever think about going back to Italy to live?

Right after we retired, we contemplated the idea. Italy is just too expensive. Besides, my children are here and I would miss them.

Do you ever visit Italy?

I’ve visited Italy a couple of times, for brief periods.

Do you ever think about contacting members of your family with whom you have lost touch?

Yes. We attempt to stay in touch; but, it is not easy. I am hoping that through the internet we can reach each other, or that our children can. I have many nieces and nephews whom I have never met.

If you could give the girl you were when you emigrated some advice, what would it be?

This is a good question, but most difficult to answer. I was so naïve and I knew nothing of the challenges waiting for me. I’d say, visit for a little while, say a year, as an exchange student. Enjoy each country and what it can offer before you make such a life-changing decision.

What do you hope your children and, perhaps, their children, will gain from reading your memoir?

I hope they understand how difficult my choices were. I hope they learn that every one of us is on a journey, peppered with choices, both moral and financial. That our journey defines us and gives us both strength and character.

What aspects of your Italian heritage would you like to pass on to your children?

A love of life! An appreciation for art and music and education. A sense of wonder and exploration and joy! An appreciation of the classics.

You have two other blogs, don’t you? Can you tell us a little about these?

Sixtyfivewhatnow is about living in a small town, growing old, being involved with the community. I also have an Italian language blog, Italian for beginners. I started it for my grandchild, who has shown interest in learning Italian. She is Asian/American, speaks Mandarin, Burmese, Spanish, and now is dabbling in Italian. Who knows where she’ll go on her journey?!

Thank you for talking to Italy Magazine and happy blogging.

Thank you for your interest. I appreciated the opportunity.



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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer, visitors, yard work and the Comforters Musical Tour.

It's summer in the Northwest. Here and there native flowers peek out and welcome visitors.  Our house is called The Welcome Inn, an apt description, connecting it to the first time my daughter  Pia and Jason , her husband, visited and brought the plaque to name it.

They will not spend much time with us this summer: they are launching their new album and are getting ready for their music tour.  The Comforters, as they are called, will be on the West coast in different venues promoting their new c.d. Do give a listen, if you have time.

Their Link:The Comforters

As for us, we are hosting the rest of the family at different times.  We'll gear up to fish, canoe, pick fresh veggies, cook, visit beaches and stunning vistas.

If you are traveling this way, do stop by!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We've fallen, and we can't get up!

I do not have an appropriate picture to describe the feelings of the country right now. All I can say is we are all in some way caught in the maelstorm, buried under  debris. 

In my little town, our board of education has been working for months to reconcile our dwindling resources to the needs of our students and staff this coming school year.  Oregon has seen major budget cuts in all its government functions.  Schools are financed yearly by the state based on current revenue from taxes, fees, income from timber sales, and grants and revenues from the federal government. With the recession, all these revenues have been reduced drastically.

So, roads are not being repaired--this is the flag season here, when roads and bridges would be upgraded after a long season of rain and storm damage. All services have been reduced; and schools are cutting their spending budgets in ways unthinkable. Picture a school year of less than 175 days, many services reduced or eliminated, class sizes bigger than ever, field trips eliminated, training eliminated, and athletics and vocational education classes cut to a minimum.

The stimulus bill last year saved a few teaching positions for the remainder of that year, and allowed some needed renovations to our heating, lighting, roofing and gym facilities.  Our state has no special allocations for capital improvements. Buildings here take quite a beating each winter and repairs eat up any extra money we can put aside.

What will take to move these big boulders off our back?
What will change the attitude of lawmakers and citizens, attitude that is not cooperative and supportive of the needs of ordinary citizens?

Anger will not help.
Blame will not help.
Crying will not help.

We need to work together. A crowd can lift the boulders and clear the debris if it works cooperatively.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Eyes on Washington.


I didn't believe my eyes,my ears, when I saw this.

What is the lesson here?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Water,water, everywhere...

Island Press E-News
July 1

Greetings, rosaria!

Americans now consume an average of 30 gallons of bottled water every year. In the United States, a thousand people buy a plastic bottle of water every second of every day. And most of those bottles are not recycled but end up in landfills. Marketers of bottled water have persuaded millions of consumers that tap water is bad.

These are just a few of the unsettling facts that water expert Peter Gleick conveys in his new book, Bottled and Sold. In addition to an interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air, he appeared this morning on Good Morning America to discuss the continued pervasiveness of bottled water and its impacts: plastic waste, vanishing water fountains, and a consumer culture in which bottled water is a fashion statement. On top of that, Gleick takes bottled water companies to task for having spread fear about drinking tap water. You can watch his interview here.

As Peter Gleick says, water has become a battleground for the hearts and minds of consumers, and one which corporate interests have come to dominate. We hope you will learn the truth about water from Bottled and Sold, and toast to the planet's health with a glass from the tap.


Chuck Savitt


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