Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Sicily for Adriana

April 27, 2017

I thought to post some of my best photos from the past two days.   This post is dedicated to my friend and co-worker from Seattle Athletic Club, Adriana Allison Brown, 34 years old, married to Aaron Brown and mother of two beautiful little girls.  She passed away two days ago on April 25, was hit by a vehicle as she was walking the crosswalk at Lenora and Western (Seattle) on her way to work at the Seattle Athletic Club as a personal fitness trainer.  I thought of Adriana all day these past two days.  She told me recently that she would like to come to Sicily one day.

I am heartbroken.

Adriana was as bright as the Sicilian Sun.

Adriana was as beautiful as the red poppies below.

Adriana “era buona comu lu pani“, a Sicilian expression which literally translates to Adriana “was as good as bread”  (see explanation below).

 

Yes, I got my poppy photo! Red is the dominant color for the poppies I have been seeing.

Yes, I got my poppy photo! Red is the dominant color for the poppies I have been seeing.

Bread (pane). For my dad, a meal without bread was not a meal at all. The highest compliment you can pay a person in old time Sicily was to say, "Era buonu comu lu pani" = He was as good as bread!

Bread (pane). For my dad, a meal without bread was not a meal at all.  Bread is the staff of life. The highest compliment you can pay a person in old time Sicily was to say of that person, “E buonu (buona) comu lu pani” = He/She is as good as bread!

Old tile detail

Old tile detail

Sweetness: potted geraniums

Sweetness: potted geraniums

Simple delicious ingredients for sauce alla Norma.

Simple delicious ingredients for Pasta alla Norma.

Sicilian Cat. Her name was Meow!

Sicilian Cat. His name was Meow!

Oranges kissed by the sun.

Oranges kissed by the sun.

Cheese at the Siracusa Market

Cheese at the Ortigia Market

One of the pupi (traditional puppet). There is a puppet theater in Ortigia.

And ancient pupi (traditional puppet). There is a puppet theater in Ortigia.

Kat-Krazy Day

June 12, 2016

And here we are: a blog post that is easy on the eyes, short and filled with feline sweetness.  Wednesday was a Kat-Krazy Day.  That is to say, I met three fine cats and fell in love with each one.

The first cat I encountered  is Marilyn’s newly adopted calico cat, Callie.  All we know about Callie’s history is that she has gone from home to home, owner to owner.   In her new home, Callie is loved, loving, and is already feeling very comfortable.  The home is the real deal!  Callie is just about as sweet as they come.  I am so happy for my friend and for Callie.  Our pets are an incredible source of unconditional love.

It was a little dark when I took this photo. But you can see how Callie has found my bags and has snuggled into them. I am already in love with this girl!

It was a little dark when I took this photo. But you can see how Callie has found my bags and has snuggled into them. I am already in love with this girl!  She is very very loving!  It’s a win-win situation. Lucky Marilyn!  Lucky kitty!

Then I came across a cat that looked almost identical to my cat of almost 18 years, Little Bear!  There were two big differences in the two cats.  This one’s name was Georgia and she was a SHE!  And she is polydactyl!  That is to say, Georgia has 6 toes on her front paws.  Other than those two physical differences, I felt I was with my cat again.  As soon as I saw Georgia, I dropped my bags to the sidewalk and started taking photos and petting her.

Tuxedo Cat Cuteness!

Tuxedo Cat Cuteness: Georgia, Little Bear’s Look-Alike

Georgia, too, liked my red bag!

Georgia, too, liked my red bag!

OK, so the photo above is my new feline friend Georgia and the photo below is my old cat Little Bear…they are practically identical, n’est-ce pas??

The one and only, King of My Heart, Little Bear!

The one and only, King of My Heart, Little Bear!

And if you have never seen this before, have a look at the link below.  The link is a pdf with another photo of Little Bear and poems Rick wrote for him.  Little Bear was most regal and the subject of so many poems:  link

And lastly, a magical moment meeting Rebecca’s cat, Axel.  He was snuggled in his tree perch indoors, basking in the sun, dozing on and off.  His sunlit fur against the dark blue wall made for the best cat portrait ever:

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Gentle Icelandic Horses and Soothing Secret Lagoon

September 25, 2015

About to leave for Reykjavik..our time here at Minniborgir Cottages has come to an end.  Must pack and get some breakfast.  So here are photos from yesterday with some captions.  Brevity at its best!

Sydra Horse Farm near Fludir: home of the gentle beautiful Icelandic horse I rode

Sydra Horse Farm near Fludir: home of the gentle beautiful Icelandic horse I rode

Pia and me on our horses. She rode Prince and I rode Gluntz

Pia and me on our horses.

Our riding guide Noemi, from Switzerland

Our riding guide Noemi, from Switzerland

Noemi's horse and countryside

Noemi’s horse and countryside (kind of hard to take photos while on a horse)

Such beautiful horses!

Such beautiful horses!

Sweet kitty at the horse farm

Sweet kitty at the horse farm

Picked up the others from their hike after our horse ride: Bev

Picked up the others from their hike after our horse ride: Bev

Did something rather unusual!  We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant for lunch.  Delicious.  Julie B can speak a little Ethiopian and made fast friends with the owner.

Did something rather unusual! We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant for lunch. Delicious. Julie B can speak a little Ethiopian and made fast friends with the owner.  Who would have thought to have this experience in Iceland??

Then off to the Secret Lagoon, the best of the hot springs so far, very natural setting, and deeply relaxing.

Then off to the Secret Lagoon, the best of the hot springs so far, very natural setting, and deeply relaxing.

Bridget and Bill soaking in the hot springs at the Secret Lagoon

Bridget and Bill soaking in the hot springs at the Secret Lagoon

I even did a session of Water Yoga (I think I may have a new career as a Water Yoga Instructor)..I only lasted about 15 minutes before I needed to stop, get out, get rehydrated and cool down.  the water was wonderfully warm and the day SUNNY!

I even did a session of Water Yoga (I think I may have a new career as a Water Yoga Instructor)..I only lasted about 15 minutes before I needed to stop, get out, get re-hydrated and cool down. the water was wonderfully warm and the day SUNNY!  (Fran and Karin)

Sicilian Cats II

January 15, 2015
Scruffers Cuddling

Scruffers Cuddling

What better way to make my re-entry into the 2015 World of Blogging than to post some of my favorite photos of cats!  This blog is dedicated to my friends’ father, Daddy Don, who loved cats.  He especially loved Italian cats.  Strays?  He loved them even more!  When in Italy, he’d buy cat food and fed legions of stray cats.

All of the photos below were shot in Sicily:

Cats make you happy! My daddy's cousin and one of his many many cats!

Cats make you happy:  my daddy’s cousin and one of his many cats.

Black Roof Cat

Black Cat Green Eyes

Proud Mamma

Proud Mamma I

Proud Mamma II

Proud Mamma II

Sicilian Cats

Sicilian Cats

Well fed cat

Well fed cat: I live here

Another view of Signore Gatto

Another view of Signore Gatto

Hanging out

Hanging out

Greek Temple Cat

Sicilian Greek-Temple Cat

Es

To Your Health: Salute!

Out all night, snooze all day

rough night, sleep in

Sono stanchissimo (I'm very tired!)

Sono stanchissimo (I’m very tired!)

Sicilian Cats

October 6, 2014
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You don’t have to love cats to love these cats!  They are adorable and they are all Sicilian cats.  They seem to be everywhere. They especially love to hang out around the ancient Greek temples or in the Greek theaters or Roman amphitheaters.

I haven’t had much time to blog, but had to post these cat photos.

As I sit and write, everyone has gone to bed after a full day starting out with yoga followed by an  outing with our fantastic guide Graziella, who guided us to Siracusa, Ortigia, and Noto.  Another beautiful day in paradise!  I can’t express enough how blessed I feel to have yet another beautiful group of yogis to share this week with.  I really love our group and everyone is ever so enchanted by Sicily, which-of course- makes me so happy!

It is warm out this evening. The sound of the surf is so calming.  Our villa sits on the bay and I can see the lights of Catania, at the foot of Mt. Etna, dancing and sparkling across the Ionian sea.  The night air smells of a mix of jasmine and the sea.  If the feeling of love had a smell, this would be it!

Enjoy these sweet kitties and know that we are all happy here in Sicily!  Am loving every single day here.  Our groups have been fantastic!!

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A Valley Like This

September 11, 2014

Driving along the North Cascades Scenic Highway is a spectacular experience.  The Washington Pass is breathtaking, made all the more special because the highway eventually leads to Mazama, Washington, to a gorgeous cabin where we spent a few days with our friends Kathryn and Ben.

I was very struck by the fact that William Stafford’s poem, A Valley Like This, was displayed on a huge panel at one of the lookout points along the North Cascades Scenic Highway.  The poem is so beautiful…don’t you agree?

William Stafford poem posted on one of the lookouts along the Cascade Scenic Highway

William Stafford poem posted on one of the lookouts along the Cascade Scenic Highway

I was looking at these mountains as I read the William Stafford Poem

I was looking at these mountains as I read the William Stafford Poem

Ah, one more view

Ah, one more view

Below are more photos from our scenic drive and our stay in Mazama.  Interspersed is some free-writing from our precious days spent with Kathryn and Ben.

The Cascades...

The Cascades…

though this streak of fine weather persists, autumn is sneaking her way into the scene…cool nights tinge the leaf tips of maples and other deciduous trees to reveal hints of red, gold, and orange highlighted leaves in the morning…and though these mornings are cool, mountain sun dazzles us by noon, pine tree oils warm up and send their fragrance into the forest air, happily we hike mountain trails that lead us to waterfalls, rock walls, thick forest….monument trail leads us to eureka creek bridge where we have lunch…our damp workout-wear, free of our backpacks, quickly dries with the mountain sun

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“the long party that your life is…”  with Kathryn and Mountain-Man Rick

our friends decided to make santa barbara their home, sweet santa barbara where rick was born, where winter days are warm, california sun-kissed land… but the beauty of Mazama and their comfortable cabin with its tower overlooking the river, forest, and mountains beckons them to come visit this home, too..

outside/inside, a continium

outside/inside, a continuum

and so we are nurtured by Ben’s fabulous culinary skills, meals that still make my mouth water just thinking of them..feline entertainment and bengal kitty softness lies under my fingertips as furry friends preston and hampton vie for all the love that comes their way..they are beautiful gentle cats with wild rosettes on their fur, if love can be weighed -which we know is an impossible notion-preston and hampton are a combined 40 pounds of pure love and sweetness, more than a handful but enough joy to fill the hearts of our friends and us, their friends…

dinner time

dinner time

did you know the word "companion" literally means "the person you share your bread with"..cheers to our beautiful companions

the word “companion” literally means “the person you share your bread with”..cheers to our beautiful companions

two heads are better than one!  too bad i didn't get a photos of their handsome faces

two heads are better than one! too bad i didn’t get a photos of their handsome faces

we sit outside the cabin, looking out over the river and riverbed, which is drier than usual this time of the year after a hot hot summer with very little rain, and we see a teenage bear quickly crossing the river and stones…my heart skips a beat, then beats faster!  we are seeing a bear, rick calls out to her, she stops, looks at us, and continues on her way…nature welcomes us to mazama

cabin deck and river where we spotted our bear

cabin deck and river where we spotted our bear

Mountain Man heads back to the cabin

Mountain Man heads back to the cabin

..while i hang out on the hammock

..while i hang out on the hammock

Mazama...

Mazama…

Dog Days of Summer

August 13, 2014

Here’s a journey that must be told through photographs.  Our annual trip to Stehekin is always filled with such immense beauty and this year’s adventure was no exception.  Stehekin provides a sacred wilderness that seems to defy time.  Leslie, Winnie, and I filled our days with various hikes, while Rick spent his days fishing for trout on the Stehekin River and writing haiku.

Stehekin Garden

Stehekin Garden

Below are the many photos that should come with the scent of pine and pitch, the smell of the glacial light-blue river, the ever-present distant smell of a camp fire which, sadly, comes from the forest fires that are raging in various areas in Washington state.  The following photos should also come with sounds:  the tired fearless engine of the ol’ family truck as Leslie shifts it into gear and gets going, the rushing river, the tumbling waterfall of Rainbow Falls, the sound of our footsteps on the trails, the chattering of the squirrels as Winnie scares them up trees, the wisps of the wind coming off Lake Chelan, the never ending conversations that Leslie and I share on the trail, the high pitched hum of mosquitoes on the River Trail, and the occasional loud clapping of our hands as we come around a bend on the trail in order to warn any bears that might be just around the corner because,  no, we don’t want to surprise a bear!

Enjoy Stehekin, Washington and a few photos at the end from Chelan.

Our first evening sunset in Stehekin.  The smoke from the fires was kept at bay because of the wind (blowing in our favor), but once the wind died down, the Stehekin Valley slowly filled with smoke.  Oddly, the smoke made for what Leslie referred to as  "dramatic Cathedral lighting".

Our first evening sunset in Stehekin:  Tradition calls for a postprandial walk to Rainbow Falls.  On our way back from the falls, the sky turned red.  The smoke from the fires was kept at bay on this first night and the whole next day because of the wind (blowing in our favor). However,  once the wind died down, the Stehekin Valley slowly filled with smoke. Ironically, the smoke made for gorgeous photos and dramatic Cathedral lighting.

Back at the cabin, Winnie kept busy chasing squirrels up trees.

Back at the cabin, Winnie kept busy chasing squirrels up trees.

A visit to Stehekin is not complete without a visit to The Garden, where I stocked up on the garden's veggies, fruit, and goat cheese.

A visit to Stehekin is not complete without a visit to The Garden, where I stocked up on the garden’s veggies, fruit, and goat cheese.

Dahlia I (dinner plate size!)

Dahlia I (dinner plate size!)

Dahlia II

Dahlia II

Dahlia III  Karl grows these dazzlers in his garden. I love the variety in the Dahlia family of flowers.

Dahlia III   Karl grows these dazzlers in his garden. I love the variety in the Dahlia family of flowers.

And this year, Karl added a roofed structure to protect his fridge and tables bearing honey, beeswax candles, salves, and herbs.  Beautiful Navaho weaving.

And this year, Karl added a roofed structure to protect his fridge and tables bearing honey, beeswax candles, salves, and herbs. Beautiful Navaho weaving.

Winnie is very comfortable in the old truck!

Winnie is very comfortable in the old truck!  We think she had a truck in her pre-rescued life.

Reminders of fires past....

Reminders of fires past….

Ah, this cold water feels good on my hot paws!  And it is oh-so-refreshing to drink!

“Ah, this cold water feels good on my hot paws! And it is oh-so-refreshing to drink!”

Woman's Best Friend  (I think of all the photos, this one captures the Lakeside Trail the best).

Woman’s Best Friend (I think of all the photos, this one captures the Lakeside Trail the best as well as the JOY these two have found in each other!).

Hair whipping wind coming off Lake Chelan

Hair-whipping wind coming off Lake Chelan

My friend Winnie

My friend Winnie  (Oh, by the way, the water really is that blue!  The water comes from melted glacial water carrying silt that creates this unique blue color.)

Back at the cabin, our Haiku-Fisherman Rick has caught us a dinner sized trout!

Back at the cabin, our Haiku-Fisherman Rick has caught us a dinner sized trout!

Rick in his fishing raft on the Stehekin River.

Rick in his fishing raft on the Stehekin River.

Sit and Stay a while!

Sit and Stay a while:  my reading bench

I know it says "River Trail" but it could have said "Mosquito Trail" and would have been more descriptive.  We have never encountered mosquitoes like this on the River Trail!  Deet Jungle Juice Off Repellent needed to be reapplied again and again, but worked and kept us going.  Met some firefighters at the trail head, one who tried to warn us about the mosquitoes (we thought he was being wimpy and exaggerating the whole thing because we have done this hike before and it is buggy but worthwhile, but, in fact, the firefighter was right!)  We later met a baby-faced forest ranger on the River Trail.  He had countless welts on his arms, so I sprayed him down with OFF and he was very thankful!

I know it says “River Trail” but it could have said “Mosquito Trail”, which would have been more descriptive. We have never encountered mosquitoes like this on the River Trail!  DEET Jungle Juice Off Repellent needed to be reapplied again and again, but worked and kept us going.

All good things come to an end and our time in Stehekin went by quickly.  This was taken before departure by float plane.  Here is our float plane waiting for us.  Rick had to carry Winnie.  Winnie looked like a damsel in distress hanging on to Rick. with her hind legs clamping down on his hip bones and her front paws on his shoulders!  You can see how much smoke from the forest fires has moved into the Stehekin Valley.

All good things come to an end and our time in Stehekin went by quickly. This was taken before departure by float plane. Here is our float plane waiting for us. You can see how much smoke from the forest fires has moved into the Stehekin Valley.

Back in Chelan:  Miss Coco

Back in Chelan:  Full-Figured Coco (she is adorable!)

Mr. Tickman with his pose of total abandon and his belly that begs to be pet.  This little boy magically wriggled his way into the Fichtner household.

Mr. Tickman with his pose of total abandon and his belly that begs to be pet. This little boy magically wriggled his way into the Fichtner household.

Irresistible Tickman

Irresistible Tickman

I think this bowl of kibble says it all!

I think this bowl of kibble says it all!

And lastly, this is MY hydrangea!  Leslie's mom planted her and called her Francesca.

And lastly, this is MY hydrangea! Leslie’s mom planted this bush and called her Francesca.  This makes me so happy!

30 Shades of Green

May 12, 2014
Bavarian Landscape: 30 Shades of Green

Bavarian Landscape: 30 Shades of Green

 

Hello from Hindelang in the Bavarian Alps.  I only have one precious week here visiting dear friends Tom and Ursula.  My journey from Seattle to Hindelang was long, but, three planes and three trains later, I am now ensconced in this beautiful green village, Hindelang.  The week ahead will be filled with hiking, great times with Tom and Ursula, yoga in the evenings followed by wonderfully healthy light dinners.

We went on a hike today to Schwarzenberghutte, a lodge and lunch stop at 1380 meters.  The trails were muddy, the air about as fresh as it gets, a few cows were out munching on fresh grass and wild flowers, and the weather cold and wet.  As we gained altitude, rain gave way to snow.  Before we left, Ursula lent me one of her rain ponchos, which kept me both dry and warm.

The title of this blog came to me as I was taking in all the various shades of green in this alpine terrain. I have tried to capture the shades of green and the mist and experience of being here through the photos below.

Our winding path and green landscape

winding path and green landscape

Slopes of Green and snow covered mountain in the background

slopes of Green and snow covered mountain in the background

Poncho-clad Tom and Ursula

Poncho-clad Tom and Ursula  (and snowdrops/raindrops on the camera lens)

Tom (looking a little like Superman)

Tom (looking a little like Superman)

Cheese plate at the Schwarzenberghutte, a lodge run by a friendly man named Albert

Cheese plate at the Schwarzenberghutte, a lodge run by a friendly man named Albert

30 Shades of Gray

Tom and Ursula seem to have been photo-shopped right into the 30 Shades of Green Landscape.

Green Perspectives

Green Perspectives

A new friend!  "Now tell me the truth...Do I look chubby in my fur?"

A new furry friend!  Imagined dialog:  “Now tell me the truth…Do I look chubby in my fur?”

YogaKurse means Yoga Course and not Yoga Curse (just in case you can't read German and that crossed your mind!).  Special class for men!  I absolutely love this.  In this tiny town, there is a yoga course uniquely for men.

YogaKurse means Yoga Course and not Yoga Curse (just in case you can’t read German and that crossed your mind!). Special class for men! I absolutely love this. In this tiny town, there is a yoga course uniquely for men.

Wooden Door: detail

Wooden Door: detail

Gotta love flowers, especially when the colors jump out at you like this.

Gotta love flowers, especially when the colors jump out at you like this.

 

Like It or Not

March 30, 2014

I have never had a blog entry with over 20 photos posted, but there is always a first!  The title of this blog entry, Like It Or Not,  refers to aging!  What I really want to say is this: like it or not, aging happens…..if you are lucky! My sister Jeanie never reached beyond 55 years (that’s three years from now for me!).  My mother never got to know what it was like to reach the ripe age of 80 and beyond, as her sisters have and her mother did.  Rick’s father never got to experience life past 56 years of age!  I think every day is a gift and if you are lucky, you experience longevity.  And if you live a while, aging inevitably happens.

What brought these thoughts on was last week’s visit to Portland, Oregon.  I took the Bolt Bus from Seattle to Portland and met Rick in downtown Portland.  I led a Chakra workshop at my friend Skye’s house for a group of eight yogis.  I was so happy to reconnect with my Portland friends at the workshop.  Later, Rick and I got to spend a lot of time with Rick’s Aunt Diana and her husband, Ron.  Ron was a Benedictine monk at Mt. Angel Abby when he met Diana.  Silly me, I mentioned this fact to my parents at my wedding back in 1993 and, you know how sometimes you regret what you say?  Well, during the whole wedding, they referred to Ron as a priest.  “Dici ca lu parinu s’assetta ca vicinu di nantri.” (Tell the priest to come sit here near us.”)  “Mom, Dad, he’s not a priest!  He was a monk, but now he’s married to Aunt Diana.”  “Na volta parinu, sempre parinu!”  (Once a priest, always a priest.)  Thank God this conversation took place in Sicilian, so no one understood what they were saying!  They absolutely adored Ron and, in yoga terms, wanted to get his darshan!

While in Portland last week, we also met up with Margaret Otake.  She was our boss in Japan.  She and her husband, Yuichi Otake, owned the language school I taught at in Chiba prefecture, where I met Rick.  I was only 26 years old when I first arrived in Japan, half my lifetime ago.   Margaret, bless her heart, says I haven’t changed at all.  Well, the photos will prove her wrong, but it’s ok!  I am healthy and living life as fully as I can!

So I leave you with stories through photos from past and present!  I accept that life happens, we live, we do our best to make a difference and make life meaningful, we age, and one day we say good bye to it all.  But for now..we live!

Arrival in Portland!

Arrival in Portland!

yoga workshop at Skye's house

yoga workshop at Skye’s house

Diana and Ron's Kitty #1: Ghostie

Diana and Ron’s Kitty #1: Ghostie

Kitty #2: Lily

Kitty #2: Lily

Kitty #3: Daisy (Lily's litter mate)

Kitty #3: Daisy (Lily’s litter mate)

Kitty #4: M8, the latest addition to the feline family

Kitty #4: M8, the latest addition to the feline family and Ron and Diana’s household

Building wall mural (I love the window with the magnolia reflections)

Building wall mural (I love the window with the magnolia reflections)

Magnolias in bloom against the blue sky and mural!

Magnolias in bloom against the mural!

 

Ron (aka "lu parinu") and Diana at the peaceful Crystal Springs Rhododendron Park in Portland

Ron (aka “lu parinu”) and Diana at the peaceful Crystal Springs Rhododendron Park in Portland

Our trip to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Park near Reed College in Portland was great.  It was 70 degrees out and everything seemed to be in blossom all at once!  We could have stayed all day.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Park

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Park

Mallard I

Mallard I

Mallard II

Mallard II

Canadian Goose I

Canadian Goose I

Canadian Geese II

Canadian Geese II

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Dinner with Margaret Otake in Portland.  She was visiting from Japan where she has lived most of her life. I worked at Margaret's English school from 1988-1991.

Dinner with Margaret Otake in Portland. She was visiting from Japan where she has lived most of her life. I worked at Margaret’s English school in Chiba, Japan from 1988-1991.

The visit with Margaret brought me to memory lane!  Where does time go?  A quarter century ago….

1988, Fran in Kimono.  These ladies bound me so tightly that I could barely breathe!

Japan 1988  Fran in Kimono. These ladies bound me so tightly that I could barely breathe!

Thanksgiving Dinner at with Margaret and Yuichi Otake 1988.  Margaret is on the left in the foreground.  Next to her is her first of three children, her daughter, Megumi.  Today, Megumi is a married woman!

Thanksgiving Dinner with Margaret and Yuichi Otake, 1988. Margaret is on the left in the foreground. Yuicih on the right at the head of the table. Next to Margaret is the first of  their three children, their daughter Megumi. Today, Megumi is all grown up and married!

Just had to include this one!  Yuko and me with live boa constrictors around our necks!

Just had to include this one! Yuko and me with a boa constrictor around our necks!  Photo taken quickly by Rick.

Okinawa 1989 Rick and Fran

Okinawa 1989: Fran and a dark-haired and sun-burnt Rick

1990: A younger version of me...photo taken by Rick

Japan 1990: A younger version of me…photo taken by Rick

Another younger version of moi...Miyakajima Island 1990, photo taken by Rick

Another younger version of moi…Japan, Miyakejima Island 1990, photo taken by Rick

 

 

Italian Cats: Parts I and II

October 7, 2012

What would Italy be like without cats?  When I was little, I was amazed that everyone in Grotte had a cat and that they were all named Ciccia.  Yes, Ciccia used to be the most common name for a cat and happens to be one of the variations on the name Francesca!  This time, the cats’ names varied a bit, though I did notice that all the black cats were named Nero (Black), or Nerolino (little black one), or Neroluzzo (sweet little black cat).  In keeping with the same cat naming pattern, the white ones were named Bianco, Biancolino, or Biancuzzo.  The good news is that people are more imaginative with their dogs’ names.

And it seems that when people like cats, they have so many that they lose count of how many they have. My dad’s cousin and best friend, Baldassaro (pictured in the first collage below), is like that.  When I asked him how many cats he has, he looked at his wife in that familiar perplexed way and she answered for him, “Oh, seven or eight. But really, Fra, who counts their cats?”  She laughed and proudly added, “They are beautiful, aren’t they?”

One more cat story:  One day, Nora and I were walking in Grotte with my uncle.  He stopped to visit a friend and they were deep in a conversation, totally ignoring us, so we excused ourselves and went out for a walk.  Usually, my uncle is very protective of us and has to accompany us everywhere, but this time he didn’t care at all.  He said, “Just don’t get lost!”

The streets in the old section of the village were carved out in medieval times, so Nora and I were walking in something that looks like a North African Casbah.  Suddenly, I saw the Madonna delle Catane, a tiny sanctuary devoted to the Madonna in Chains.  It always creeped me out to see the Madonna in Chains when I was a child and it is still disturbing to see.  When I was a child, my mom explained to me that the Madonna is in chains because she suffered the miserable ghastly death  of her only child. “She carries the chains of eternal suffering.  Eh, that’s just the way it is.”   That explanation only made the sanctuary more disturbing for me.  I was surprised to see that it still had the power to cast that gloomy spell over me!  The sanctuary is just seconds away from my grandmother’s house and around the corner from my 93 year-old Zia Maria’s house.  We were looking for Zia Maria’s house when I spotted some cats sunning themselves just outside someone’s house.  I started snapping away when suddenly a man peeped out his window, saw me, and quickly opened his door to asked, “Tu, cu si?”  Who are you?  So I explained who my parents were and that we are the nieces of Maria Licata.  He smiled and replied, “Allura, li Americani ca sunu!”  (Ah, so the Americans have arrived!, a reference to the American Armed Forces arriving in Italy in the 40’s.) and he went back into his house.  Soon afterwards, we found auntie’s house and had a lovely visit with her….See what happens when you photograph cats in Sicily?
I put these TWO collages together.  Don’t forget to scroll down for the second collage! After all the photos appear, you can click on any photo and enlarge it.

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Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
Make your own free digital collage

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