Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sicilians are not Italian

I just returned from the Southern tour of Italy, a truly beautiful, sunny region. We saw palm trees of all kinds as well as groves of olive trees, lemons and prickly pears. The rolling hills of tilled,lined land on the mountainsides were empty of the wheat that will be growing in the spring. The miles of farmland were so picturesque and green.
Sicily is very different from the rest of Italy. Palermo is a much larger city than I had expected with its three to four story apartment buildings and lack of parking spots. Also it has many hilly streets and very narrow ones, as well. All of this makes travel either exciting or annoying depending on how you look at it. We saw so many cars parked on corners or double parked so as to impede moving traffic. It all caused a lot of loud discussions, hand gestures and accidents. We heard and saw sirens and ambulances quite often during the short time we were there.
I now understand why they had a lot of pedestrian areas for dining and shopping. You cannot cross a street very easily, even with a traffic light available. The scooters and cars tried to get as close as possible without actually hitting people. A pedestrian had to walk very fast in this city.
We were on a Perillo tour and all of the people were in good spirits regardless of the fact that four had their luggage lost by the airlines. All were found within a few days. No one was ever late and we looked out for each other.
On our first morning tour of the city we saw a magnificent church, the great Norman Cathedral of Monreale, that had gold on glass on the ceiling and walls.There were Roman, Norman and Arabic elements to this magnificent building. The tour guide said,"We are not really Italian, as you can see by the influences in the area, we have been conquered by many cultures and they have left a lasting effect. The Greeks came here first, along with the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, all by way of the Mediterranean Sea. Then the Romans and when the empire fell, the Normans invaded and built this magnificent palace and Church. After them, came the Bourbon kings from France and then the Spanish kings."
We walked up 79 steps to visit the beautiful gardens of the Park of La Favorita created by the Spanish King of Naples in 1799.
The next day we stopped at the Selinunte archeological site. This city was built by Carthage in 628 B.C. and was one of the richest and and most powerful in the world. We saw how the common people lived and saw the remnants of their temples. We even saw a bathtub made pf stone that had three steps, in order to allow the dirty water to go to the bottom. Very clever.
The next stop was a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts the largest area of Greek Temples in the world. The columns were so tall and many in ruins but the majesty of the buildings came through loud and clear.
The next stop on the way to Taormina was one of my favorite places--the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Amerina.This villa was as large as a palace and was so well preserved, it was amazing. The intricate mosaics artistically depicted life back then in ancient times. One floor was 140 feet long! All mosaics and in true colors of the time. We also saw the private baths area of this wealthy landowner that included the caldarium, tepidarium and frigidarium. They knew how to live, those wealthy Romans.
Then off to Taormina one of the prettiest places on earth, called the Jewel of Italy. It is nestled on a mountain area with the sights of the Mediterranean below. How could anyone not like the views? Mt Etna's fertile soil provides extensive orchards and vineyards. All so green and lush.

Rosemary McKinley     101 Glimpses of the North Fork and Islands       The Wampum Exchange

Monday, November 2, 2015

Summer Days on the North Fork

Summer Days

This has been one balmy, sunny, and warm summer. I never complain about the heat as I prefer it over the cold.
The North Fork boasts a variety of beaches, including bay side and sound side ones. During the week, we have been out on our boat almost every day enjoying the shimmering water and jumping fish. We prefer to sit in the boat and soak up the amazing views of the water and Shelter Island.
On weekends, our children come to visit with their children. Everyone, including the youngest, at 2 years-old prefers going to the beach by water. The little ones can't wait to be bounced around on the tube, Big Bertha, while our children prefer water skiing after watching the smiles and hearing the laughter from the tube. It's fun for everyone.
At the beach, we always look for the ice cream man to end the day. All in all, everyone returns home happy and tired from being in the sun.
The next weekend is the last big weekend of the summer and our children are sad to let the summer go before all their activities beckon.
As it turned out, Labor Day weekend was glorious---very warm, sunny and comfortable with a cooling breeze. We spent most of every day at the beach, swimming across this short channel and  boating back and forth to the house. The beach where we anchor the boat was very crowded with other boaters, kayakers, standing surf boarders and swimmers. Everyone had the same idea----enjoy this last summer weekend to the fullest.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

End of summer

This has been one spectacular summer----warm, sunny days that are perfect for the beach and boating. The fall brings forth a particular change because the water is very warm but the air and breezes are slowly getting cooler.
If you are a beach person, this change only increases your pull to go to the beach. The fall is coming and soaking up every possible minute in the sun is most important. A few hours each nice day will suffice.
The East End of Long Island has its special draw as the days grow shorter. The farm stands are brimming with winter and summer squash, pumpkins, broccoli, brussels sprouts eggplant, and cauliflower. The colors alone would encourage you to keep coming back. Special Event weekends call people to come out and sample the roasted corn, wine and craft beer, as well. Harvest time for the wineries and farms is a special time in itself. It seems that all of suburbia must buy their pumpkins "out east" from the real farms.
I used to buy them at a small farmhouse near where I live. You could pick any ones you wanted from the price designated area. Sadly, the farm was sold and there are no more pumpkins to be found at that spot. When we first bought our house, there was a small farm stand at the end of my block. I would walk down every morning and buy fresh vegetables. The owner got to know me and told me to come back when they picked the corn. It was the freshest ever. One year the same person gave me a cooking pumpkin that I had been asking about. They said they didn't have any and then one day, they brought one out just for me at no charge. It was a good thing. I suppose though, that all good things must come to an end. That farm was sold, too.

Rosemary McKinley    101 Glimpses of the North Fork and Islands      The Wampum Exchange

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Shinnecock Museum Wampum Series

We're wrapping up here at the Wampum Lecture Series Day Two. Many thanks to all who attended (and please enjoy the Q & A session with our very own Shane Weeks and our guest, author Rosemary McKinley (her book The Wampum Exchange).

The last day in our three part lecture series features Roddy Smith and Christina Tarrant. We look forward to seeing you April 26th!

What a wonderful way to learn about Native Americans on Long Island! The building is pleasing to the eye and reflects a long ago feeling. The inside is filled with artifacts depicting the lives of the people who lived here along with detailed explanations of aspects of the culture. Outside there is a village replica along with wigwams and a garden.

Mothers' Day

The day has new and old meanings for me. It was always a day of renewals---spring flowers and family celebrations with Mom and grandmas. Flowering plants were the order of the day and smiling family. The day wasn't about the gifts: it was about being remembered in quiet ways, a favorite dessert or main dish that Mom didn't have to cook.
When we were children, we made cards and bought small plants at school. When we got older, we gave gifts of new summer clothes. All were appreciated and enjoyed.

Now that Mom and both grandmas are not here, I remember and cherish the time we had together. All those Mothers Day parties were important and appreciated.

More recently I sometimes didn't see my my own children on that day because they would be with their other families. This year all of us will be together and that includes children and grandchildren. It reminds me of the Mothers Days of long ago and I am truly grateful.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

a href="http://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check"><img class="alignleft wp-image-9495" src="http://www.grammarly.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/writing_skills_matter.jpg" alt="Writing Skills and improved professional careers, more pay infographic" width="700" height="3008" /></a>

The above mentioned link talks about a survey that provides statistics on good writers. It is interesting to note that people who write well are needed in every profession.

My writing life has been centered on improving my writing skills to get my ideas across to the reader and to entertain them at the same time.

Apropos to this topic is one close to my heart. I just attended and participated in a poetry reading @ Southold Free Library in honor of Poetry Month. The poets were amazing and so talented. Some were funny, some were sad and some just brought out the human condition in today's world. All the poems were a delight to hear and think about.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Direction

New Direction -----Rosemary McKinley--pub in Suffolk Times/March 19,2015

My life plan was to continue teaching well into my 60's. I enjoyed working with children and never minded the hard work that went into my profession. Then my mother was battling cancer and I wanted to be by her side when she needed me. Her time was short here on earth but I still managed to be with her until the end by working around my teaching schedule.
After that sad event, I was flooded with thoughts of a change of heart about my life. In order to ease my grief, I kept writing and expressing myself every day. It was cathartic and freeing.
How did I want to spend my days? What was I waiting for? How much time did I have left?
I made plans to retire and write full time. Years before I had attended Columbia U Writing Institute to become a better writing teacher. Others seemed to be there to improve their writing. That was not my intent but it rubbed off on me. As I was writing every day along with my students, I aspired to improve the quality of the work like they did.

I went from the top of my game as a seasoned teacher to a fledgling writer who knew nothing of the profession.It was humbling, challenging and downright unnerving. I wanted to become a published author but had absolutely no idea how to achieve that goal. I took a few writing courses and subscribed to Poets and Writers to find places to submit my work. I received a flood of rejections and it hurt my ego every single time. All the same, I kept writing and submitting. In the early days, I might receive one acceptance a year, along with a sea of rejections. After I got over the initial shock of those rejections, I was determined to succeed.
I sent every submission snail mail eleven years ago and later learned how to attach to an email. It was much easier and faster. Then I found several free writers' newsletters that did much of the work of finding places for submissions and provided writing advice on everything from basic writing skills to marketing and promotional tips. My career took an upturn. I began to receive acceptances, some were paid and some were not but I was being published!
I can say with a smile that I have succeeded in becoming a published author after several years. I have two books published about the beautiful North Fork and am working on a third about a whaler. Several stories, articles, and poems have been published over the years and I currently have two chapters in an anthology on Writing After Retirement. It seems that many of us who have become writers as a second career have the same challenges. It is comforting to know and embrace.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thank You Saint Anthony

View your entry: http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/contests/thank-saint-anthony-italy/

I never was one to believe in signs and otherworldly happenings. The story published online tells of a true event that occurred to me on a trip to Italy. Some may not find it believable but I do know that something happened that day in that Church and it stays with me because it came true.

Saint Anthony is the patron saint of the lost. During that tour, I was sickened by the talk of his relics and the fact that the guide wanted us to touch the glass and look at them. I could not do that and I took off my glasses and walked away before I got up to the altar. That is why this story has even more meaning because this was the last place I would think that I would be touched by such a compelling feeling that something good would happen in my family.

Rosemary McKinley
author and poet
101 Glimpses of the North Fork and Islands