Memories -> My Italian grandparents / trains

Picture courtesy of (jonasreichard).

Recently, I was thinking of Italy, missing Florence, my grandmother… Don’t they say, when we THINK about something the Universe answers?!

Thank you, Blogger Dave, Life In A Word, who wrote Covering My Tracks. In his post, he talked about his childhood train memories. I smiled, each of his memories, made me think of my own train memories.

ITALY: For me, I can still hear the LOUD train going by my Italian grandmother’s house in Florence between 1-4 AM every night. I first visited her when I was a Freshman in High School. This was my first time getting to know her, she did not come to America. I did not speak Italian; she did not speak English. Good thing Italians communicate with their hands while they talk. Otherwise, I might have starved (smiling, that would not have happened with an Italian grandmother!).

She immediately paraded me on the balcony, so the neighbors could see her granddaughter from America was visiting. She was so PROUD. After a long day, we closed the green shutters on the windows and settled in for a “peaceful” night’s sleep, so I thought.

Imagine my fright. I’m in an unfamiliar place, trying to sleep, when suddenly I sense a rumbling feeling and hear a loud horn tooting over and over. The horn is what made me realize a train was going by. THIS WAS LOUD, like it was in the bedroom. How could this be?

I tip toed to the green shutters. The apartment was small, if I tried to open the shutters it would have made a loud sound. I didn’t want to wake my grandparents, but peeking through green shutters was NOT easy, they are heavy and slant downwards.

Confirmed, it was a loud freight train, RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. I immediately wondered if the train went by every night! At that point, I could not sleep. I sat and watched the train go by. Freight trains have a heavy rhythmic sound. It took forever, as freight trains do. So began my nightly train adventure.

What’s amusing, is that often in childhood what annoyed us, brings us the greatest memories later.

Picture courtesy of (victor893).

MOSQUITOS / ITALY: Another memory came to mind. THAT first night, my Italian grandfather was fiddling with some white netting. Remember, I spoke NO Italian, they spoke NO English. I had an Italian/English dictionary, no iPhone translator.

We were at their tiny kitchen table. It was HOT, middle of summer, no air conditioning. This meant we kept the windows open and had fans. Which meant — MOSQUITOS / FLIES would come in.

My grandfather was a little man with white hair and very intense blue eyes. When I say little, maybe 5′ 2″ tall. I was much taller than him. While he was small in stature, he was a VERY STRONG and CONFIDENT man, not weak at all. He kept working away at his netting and looking at me with a quirky grin. I smiled back, thinking, “WHAT IS HE DOING??” He was acting like a mad scientist.

Soon he was done! He put the netting over his head with a crazy laugh. He had very strong little hands, he grabbed my hand and said, “Stasera, NO ZANZARE! Capisci? NO ZANZARE!”

As he kept stressing ZANZARE, I knew that was an important word. I told him, “Aspetta (wait),” as I looked up Zanzare in the dictionary. THEN I showed him the translation and said, “ZANZARE, CAPISCO.” Basically, I was confirming — Ah, mosquitos, I get it!

I’m still laughing as I write this. My grandfather looked so funny and a bit scary with the netting over his head because he doubled it. I would never have thought about sleeping with mosquito netting on my head. However, mosquitos are awful, when you try to sleep, and you keep getting bitten and hear their buzzing sound. So annoying!

So, Blogger Dave, thanks! Your post, brought back my own memories about trains, grandparents, etc.

I’m sure some of YOU have memories of trains too. SHARE THEM, memories are good!

Back Pain – Use Turtles for Massage

My daughter suffers from ongoing back pain. So, she’s constantly looking for ways to ease the pain. Recently, I was visiting her and I saw these cute Mama and Baby turtles. I was just about to pick them up, when she yelled, “Mama, CAREFUL, they are spikey.”

What??? As I went to touch them, I yelled, “Yikes, you’re not kidding!”

You definitely don’t want to leave these on the floor for someone to step on – OUCH!

There is NO loving Mama and Baby turtle here, that’s for sure. I secretly thought, THAT explains our relationship sometimes. This would make a good gift for a break up with someone. The card would read, “WISH you WELL! A massage on me! (Hope they would get the joke.)”

They have a travel size pillow/mat. I thought about being on the plane, going to the rest room and my mat falls on the person’s empty seat next to mine. Can you imagine the scream when they are half asleep and sit on it! Hahaha

Of course, I wanted to know more about these cute turtles. They are acupressure for massaging the body. I decided to give it a try. You need to lay down on them – CAREFULLY – the spikes do hurt. Best to have a very light shirt on or use directly against your skin, depends on what pain level you can take. You will find after 10-15 minutes that your back is REALLY red. I only did it twice, so cannot give a review based on long term use. It’s different.

Pranamat ECO has been around 11 years. Product is made in Europe, very good quality. You can read more about it on their site. I’m not promoting their product, just sharing something NEW with you. If you suffer from pains and believe in acupuncture/acupressure, look into this.

Ok, I’m off to give it another try. I’ll be on the sofa, laying on the turtle, legs on the mat, while reading my book. Hopefully, you won’t hear too many YELPS along the way!

Glad we are heading into the weekend for acupressure RECOVERY!

Who’s eating the bird seed?

Visiting with friends in Michigan. A cardinal came by, but I was not fast enough to take the picture. We filled up the bird feeder in hopes of seeing more birds.

Later in the day, we wondered why the bird feed was so low.

WELL, look who was visiting. Amazing how athletic these squirrels are. They spook easily, so I had to be quick to take some photos. It was challenging. The wind was making the squirrel twirl around while he was trying to eat. I laughed and thought, “He’s a CIRCUS squirrel!”

Nature is amazing!

Disney Plus… NEVER too old! LUCA – yahoo!

My daughter called me the other day.

She said, “Mama, do you watch Disney Plus?”


I laughed and said… NO, I’m a little old for that, right?!

WELL, that’s going to change! You’re going to LOVE this new movie, LUCA, set in Italy.

So… We watched it.

I have to say, it was a cute film. My ONLY critique is that the main characters should have had Italian accents. I mean, if these are Italian characters, they should speak English with Italian accents. Like the bad guy (Ercole Visconti), he was GREAT, he had an Italian accent along with the typical Italian expressions and hand movements. Super funny!

If life has you down and you need a laugh, a cute film to lighten the mood — TAKE A CHANCE ON LUCA!

Like me, you’ll be booking your next trip to Italy!

Italy – eccomi! (Italy – here I come!)

Traveling… Idaho – A Potato Hotel?

I think many of us would agree, we like to EAT potatoes, but would we like to SLEEP in one?

Due to COVID travel restrictions, we’ve been exploring fun trips in our own country.

Somehow, I came across the, “Big Idaho Potato Hotel.” Yes, IN IDAHO. It’s a HUGE 6 ton potato near Boise, looks like these russet potatoes. You’ve got to check it out. YouTube: Tiny House Giant Journey: Want to Sleep in a Potato? The Most Unique Airbnb in Idaho!.

This hotel was designed by Kristie Wolfe. She also designed a Hobbit House in Orondo, Washington about 160 miles from Seattle.

I would LOVE to stay at the Hobbit house, wish it was closer to Chicago for a weekend getaway.

Have you found anything interesting like this during COVID? Amazing what is out there.

Virtual walks… Italy – it’s FUN!

When COVID hit last year, we were finding new ways to exercise. Suddenly, virtual walks became really popular. I just did a virtual walk in Ireland with Fleet Feet. I liked it, it motivated me to log my miles every day, not fall behind.

When that walk ended, I took a break for a month. I noticed that without the challenge, I lacked the same motivation for walking. I walked, but not with the determination. It does HELP to have a challenge. Add friends for accountability – perfect!

My friend told me about The Conqueror website. Being Italian, I had to sign up for the St Francis Way challenge. I’m enjoying the walk and looking up new cities on the way from Florence to the Vatican in Rome. Some of the towns are really small, not many people.

In case you are wondering, I am not affiliated with The Conqueror website. Just sharing. The Ireland Fleet Feet challenge was nice, but not easy to log the miles. So, helpful to share with each other. If we are going to spend $$, good to find the BEST virtual site out there.

Now, putting gym shoes on, heading to CONSUMA, ITALY. Looked it up, many things to see/do: wineries, vineyards, castles, zip line, religious sites, art galleries and more.

Of course, a GELATO at the end of the walk!

Exercise – don’t forget the headphones…

I was heading out the door to exercise. I needed a pouch to put my headphones in. Look what I found. I knew one day I’d have a use for this crab pouch. My daughter gave me this pouch. I immediately liked it, but wondered when I would use it. TODAY was the day!

I’m on the hunt for good workout headphones. They are hard to find. The simple ear bud ones, don’t work for me. They keep falling out of my ear. So, I found these Powerbeats headphones. They stay in my ear, but they are a little too snug – like a suction cup once they are in. I worry about the volume with them being so snug.

For now, they do work, no question about that. Off to walk.

ENJOY the weekend!

Decorating – Outdoor Furniture

I went to the store to look for a small carpet to put under my bed. As I entered the store, I got the biggest SURPRISE. Look at this piece of outdoor furniture. It’s wonderful. I felt like I was suddenly on vacation in India or Thailand. It’s so unusual. I’m thinking it was a display model somewhere.

As I kept walking, another big surprise. I found this Cabana. I went from Asia to a resort in Hawaii. Outdoor furniture is getting fancy and luxurious. I’ve always wanted to fall asleep under the stars. Now, of course, there is the issue of mosquitos…

Guess what, this Cabana was manufactured in Poland by Rondo. They make furniture for restaurants, hotels, patio areas, etc. It’s very high end and durable, as you can see.

This was a fun shopping day. Ok, I didn’t find the carpet I wanted; however, I left smiling. These are beautiful pieces of furniture compared to my tiny umbrella and little beach chair. Ah, they will have to make due UNTIL I can go on that official tropical vacation.

A margarita is still calling me…

MUSHROOM coffee, oh yeah!

Just when I thought we couldn’t get any healthier. My daughter introduces me to Mushroom Coffee. Yes, you heard that right – M U S H R O O M – coffee. I immediately thought of magic mushrooms, isn’t that a drug that is illegal. I got on Google.

The Four Sigmatic site says none of the mushrooms they use are illegal. Mushroom coffee will not make you hallucinate. Phew! It’s a combination of normal coffee and mushroom powder. You’d have to go to the site to learn more specifics.

How did it taste? Light, earthy (not like mushrooms) coffee taste. Not strong, mild. Definitely did not feel like I had a caffeine buzz of any sort. Light on the stomach, not acidic.

Would I drink it again. YES, but it’s expensive for every day drinking. Still need to learn more about it. Good to try something new. I cannot drink normal coffee anymore, too acidic, gives me stomach pains. So, trying to find that NEW favorite drink… lemon water seems BORING.

If you have tried it, share your thoughts.

Technology… and parents

I saw this picture and thought of my parents. I am their new Tech guy.

I haven’t seen my parents for a few months, because of COVID. They are in their 80s, we’ve been vaccinated, so time for a visit.

I got to the door expecting a hug, so good to see you. Instead, I got a “Cheecholino (An Italian endearment, like darling. I spelled it like it sounds.), we NEED your help! This is an emergency. Netflix isn’t working! If you can fix Netflix, your father will say you are a HERO!”

My mother is very clever in her word usage. Build the ego up, and use my father as the one who wants Netflix working. So, I am put into childhood mode, this is a HIGH PRIORITY situation. YOUR FATHER WANTS THIS DONE. Hahaha…

No offer of tea or coffee. I was marched into the TV room, handed the TV remote. The idea here was this, while I just arrived — I would not be allowed to leave UNLESS I got Netflix to work. So, get THIS done, before I would be offered a refreshment.

My mother proceeded to tell me the password wasn’t working. They called Xfinity to reset password, again not working.

Here is what is amusing… As I was trying to type in password, my mother became a back seat driver. No, type like this — NO, this is a capital —- NO, NO, NO.

Getting a bit frustrated, I said if she needed help, she needed to let me do MY JOB!

Anyhow…. I did get Netflix working. I am a HERO.

However, just when I thought ALL WAS GOOD. My Dad tells me he’s lost all of his email contacts.

Guess what I will be doing next…. BUT this time, tea first! We know how long these tech projects can take. If my Dad is a back seat driver too, then I might need to SPIKE my tea!!

Ah – I need to be like the guy in photo – SERVICE WITH A SMILE!