Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saint Anne Pilgrimage

Today is the feast of Saint Ann. Who is she you may ask? Well, I was Lutheran most of my life so I asked too.
She was Mary's mother, Jesus' grandmother. She is often depicted as an older, gray-haired mother with a young girl (Mary) who is sometimes then shown holding a small Jesus. Many women in Italy feel particularly close to her, as she is the patron saint of women in labor (now I find out!) and miners, as well as such diverse places as Quebec Canada, Puerto Rico, Detroit Michigan, Taos New Mexico and the Philippines.

Not far from where I live is a village called San Guiseppe le Prata (St. Joseph in the field), with a church named Santa Anna. She is the patron saint of this small town too, and today is their feast day, which means several special masses and processions with the church, as well as concerts and fireworks at night.
My girlfriends invited me to come along with them on a pilgrimage, on foot, from our town to Santa Anna , about 5 km away. So, at 5 in the morning I joined about 150 other women from the village (and a handful of men) on a slow two-hour walk to the 7 a.m. mass. While walking the women sang and said the rosary. After the mass we each bought a ciambella and caught rides home.
Ciambella is a local bread which we call the Italian bagel, but it's only similarity is that it's ring-shaped. In some parts of Italy it is a ring-like cake made for Easter, but here it is a very plain braided ring-shaped bread, hard on the outside and somewhat softer and chewy inside, about 10 inches in diameter. You break off a piece and start chewing. It's best when you have something handy to wash it down!
Auguri to any Anna's who may be reading this (as well as women in labor and older mothers)!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I was the canary in the coal mine!

Our flight home on Eurofly was interesting.

Let me begin by saying I didn't feel terrific even before I got on the plane. I had had a bunch of tests in the days before leaving NY, including a CAT scan with IV contrast which I did not properly flush out of my system (meaning I didn't drink tons of water while I was running around doing last minute shopping and packing). My neck was stiff and my left hand seemed a bit swollen. I thought I had sprained it while carrying shopping bags, one on each finger.

In any case, we had a great meal at Pio's brother's house before he took us to the airport. The check-in line was long, but moving and we boarded the airplane on time. We DID sit waiting in line for take-off for about 40 minutes, but since JFK had a few "near misses" recently, I was OK with that.

The food served wasn't good, but we weren't hungry so it wasn't a problem. Then the lights were dimmed and we all tried to get some sleep (it was late). Only problem was, I couldn't get comfortable. I was in a middle seat in the middle section. The person behind me had their reading light on and it was shining in my face. My son's heavy head was in my lap. The person in front of me had their chair all the way back. I think my claustrophobia was kicking in. I felt so hot! I started to feel queasy. I got up and walked up and down the aisle a few times because I suspected my swelling was getting worse (right hand was joining in). Finally, I decided to get up again because I felt nauseous, so I headed for the bathroom.

Well, the nausea subsided, and I decided to walk back to the seat to try and get comfortable again. Suddenly everything spun. The next thing I knew a man was leaning down over me from his aisle seat asking if I was OK and a stewardess had my head in her hands, asking me questions (what happened, was I on any medication). I had fainted!

Well, last time I fainted was in Junior High when they showed a film about the circulatory system that showed a beating heart. Let's just say that was quite a while ago.

I rested in the back of the plane and by the time I ventured back to my seat the A/C air circulation system was on full force. What a difference! Someone said that they had turned it way down to save fuel. All I know is that on that packed plane it was stuffy and HOT. And that contributed to my feeling sick.

Now that I've been home I've also not been that well. I've had swelling in my hands, ankles and knees, in addition to a stiff neck. I've been drinking water like crazy and eating melons and finally I'm beginning to feel better. I've already lost four pounds--of water I'm sure. The mystery of course is why I've been retaining water (and the irony is in NY I saw lots of doctors for lots of exams and was told just about every part of me from head to toe was FINE!).

In any case, I'm settling back in, entertained friends from NY last night, and will be getting back into routines. Oh, and it's downright CHILLY outside (58 degrees, low humidity at 7 a.m.).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bringing you up to date...

Apologies for not posting more often, but I'm organizationally challenged I guess! I want to include a photo, but where's the cord that connects the camera to the computer? While looking for that I get distracted with packing and unpacking as we went from Nassau County to the Scranton and then the Philly area of Pennsylvania, and finally to our house-sitting destination back in our former NY suburban town. Whew!

On top of all that moving around, Dante made his First Holy Communion yesterday. He was supposed to have made it last year, but we left N.Y. urgently in March. This past year he attended Catechism classes in Italy and we decided that rather than wait another year (in Italy the children typically make their First Communion at the end of 4th grade, but in the USA it's at the end of 2nd grade...Dante just finished 3rd) we spoke to the church we used to attend in N.Y.

Because the children here made their First Communion in May, he was the only celebrant, but Father Ted made it special. Afterwards family and friends had a great brunch together at a nearby restaurant (we started with breakfast items, then progressed to prime rib and pastas for round two), then back to "our house" for a pool party. The kids enjoyed that, even with the overcast weather.

Now it's back to tons of annual Doctor visits. I MUST start changing them to Italy, so my vacation here can truly be a vacation! Except dentists, as I love my dentist in N.Y. and haven't had much luck in Italy...