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eat ice cream before bed

6 Dec

Many families have The Patriarch. The Man in the family separate from the other men, the head of the family. I was born with them too, Clarence Saling and Anthony Petitti. My grandpas.

Very weird, but kind of understandable- when I was really little I used to beg my mom to marry my grandpa (her dad) because I wanted him to be my dad- Ha! But he was such a loving man my pahpaw, what I called my Grandpa Saling until I was about 6. My grandpa was my favorite person in the world and I didn’t have a “dad” yet, so it just made sense to my three year old mind for my two adults to be married… sorry grandma.

Only my dad’s dad would be able to show so much love and bring such laughter through being so blunt. One of the last things my Grandpa Petitti said to me when he was literally on his death bed was “Maybe you’ll be able to shut the hell up now”. We were all wearing surgical masks so we didn’t expose his sensative immune system to any of our winter colds and I was basically always talking. He couldn’t resist the urge! It made everyone in the room smile and laugh because we could see the real him again.

And then there was my immediate family. Which has consistently been my mom and myself, with my dad making the longest appearance otherwise. Anthony Michael Petitti Jr. Perfect by no means, but I’ll be damned if the man didn’t live. He might not be my birth father, but as our dear friends from West Virgina like to say about me in relation to my dad ‘You’re shit right out your dad’s ass’. Which is West Virginian for something along the lines of ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ He shared with me his greatest passions that in turn became my own- travel, scuba diving, entrepreneurship, seizing every single day.

I had them too at one point. The men.

My mom is one of three girls and my dad, the lone boy among five sisters. Growing up I had grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and tons of cousins. I didn’t notice the women more than the men necessarily. However there were always “The Sisters” and “The Girls”, my dad and mom’s sides respectively. But when I was 14 things started changing. To quote my Great Uncle Bobby, this is when the families started “dripping in estrogen”.

My Grandpa Saling, my pahpaw’s, auorta ruptured and after a failed attempt at a replacement, he died. My mom’s side has never been the same. We just didn’t recover. My grandpa knew what to say to everyone when things went to those places they inevitably do. Our healing continues. So he was the first one to go. Let me say now that all my aunts are married to wonderful men and I love my uncles, all us women are just a lot and tend to dominate sitations. Next was my dad in a tragic boating accident. He died “surfing” on his feet down the slide on the back of our houseboat. At least he was doing what he loved, with people he loved and in his favorite spot in the world when he died.That and donating his organs were the saving grace, the silver-lining in the sitation. It might have even been when I first learned to look for and how to always be able to find the silver-lining. While I wish I wouldn’t have needed to, I have developed quite a skill at staying positive and joyful where others struggle. So now the Salings and my immediate family are Patriach-less. And then call it what you will, but some of us call it a broken heart from burying his only son. My Grandpa Petitti died very quickly of colon cancer about two and a half years after my dad. So the Petittis were the last to make the transition from Patriarchal family and form the new group of people I know and love as my family today.


But not everyone has left. And you know who was there through all of it? Even if they had to drink a little bit of brandy just to fall asleep for a few months after her husband of 50 years died? Even after her husband and her father died without nearly enough time to heal inbetween. Even if she left her husband and baby to not leave my side when my husband died. My Tribe. My grandmas, mom, aunts and cousins who are the strongest bunch of women the earth as been graced with. Between all of us, life has very much been experienced to the fullest with canyons of sadness, but also mountains of joy. These women are my masculine and feminine energy. My ying and my yang as far as family goes. We are a matriarchy. A beautiful, strong, bitchy, emotional, loving matriachy. Oh and both of my Matriarchs eat ice cream every night before bed. So if it’s good enough for them… eat ice cream before bed. Maybe it’s the secret to not just making it through this life, but actually enjoying the journey.


he was my world

30 Nov

he was my heart.

he was my love.

he was my grounding.

he was my future.

he was the father to my future children. The man I would own a vineyard with in Chile and a winery in Canton. My sweet, sweet boy who asked before kissing me for the first time. The man who had purchased an engagement ring within 3 months of our first date… and held onto it for 2 years before proposing in Rome. My Eagle Scout who sent his badge back to show is support for LGBTQ Scouts and Masters. My farmer who’s arms have made me melt since we were 13 years old. Ironically, the man who I sat next to in the same room as our other two lifelong best friends (both of these men were in our wedding) as we watched the second plane fly into the South Tower and our precious, innocent 12 year old lives were forever changed.

he was my world. Of course I didn’t know how to act or what to do or how to behave or how to eat or be a FUCKING human! I had lost my WORLD. I still feel like people don’t understand that the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with and raise babies with died in front of me and just because I’m not slitting my wrists in my bathtub does NOT mean that it’s okay to make jokes about drowning around me. Or call him my ex-husband. He’s my late husband. There’s a difference. Or lots of other things people seem to think it’s ok to do around me because I’m “strong” or “handle things like this well”. I handle them well because I’ve been through so many tradgic things that they commonplace. That doesn’t make one stronger as quickly as we all hope. It makes us far more fragile for longer than we like to admit.

But I’m finally realizing how I busied myself and “I’m fine”ed everyone until I was blue in the face… well actually until I up and moved to Phoenix… haha But that’s another story. I see now how much I was avoiding the feelings of sadness. But they just hurt. So. Bad. Like my heart was falling out of my chest. Like I could just die then and there because my very essence was lost at the bottom of that god damned lake with him. And my dad for that matter. But again, another story. But I didn’t die. And my essence came back slowly with laughs and hugs and through many tears. And I think for a long time I have been struggling in this inbetween of wanting to move on and be happy but not being ready to let that mean that all those things I wanted with Mitch are no more. But as I was thinking about it I kept thinking “he was this” and “he was that”. Never once “is”. And that’s when I realized that as much as it grieves me to say and know it to be true, those dreams, wishes, hopes and that future died with him. I can say he was my soul mate. But only for that time in my soul’s journey. I think I had one soul mate before Mitchell and I pray to find one after him. And with that soul mate I will have a completely different, but equally as wonderful love. With our own dreams, hopes and future. As much as every past lover has a piece of everyone’s heart, Mitch has a piece of mine.

But my future is mine. Mine to make right. Mine to make right through writing. So here goes.

Orvieto and Spoleto

22 Sep

This week Claudia and Ev were in Venice for work so we had the farm to run by ourselves. Our farm includes 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of grapes, a vegetable garden, herb and rose garden, orchard, 3 turkeys, 7 geese, 2 ducks, 12 chickens, 7 chicks, 2 german shepards and a Lorenzo (our 18 year old host brother)! It’s practically a full-time job just herding the birds into their cages, let alone feeding them, maintaining the wine that’s still in the fermentation process and keeping a teen-aged boy feed and (at least semi) happy. This week we weeded, dead-headed and pruned back the gardens and put up little Styrofoam protectors on every single vine to protect them from the tractor when we till the land between the rows. We also have to ‘punch down’ the red wine twice or thrice a day. (Side note: I love the word thrice, partly because my grandma used to say it and partly because I love The Golden Girls episode centered around it!) ‘Punching down’ the wine is essentially just stirring it to make sure the ‘cap’ or the top level of grape skins that are fermenting with the wine stay wet.

We worked after lunch (gasp!) a couple days to take yesterday and today off to visit some towns in our area. Orvieto was great! We got the combined ticket for the duomo, cathedral, and most of the museums in town. For 7.50 euro we were able to see the beautiful frescos in the chapels of the duomo, great marble statues with detail that was awe inspiring, fresco after fresco in the museum and architecture that puts ours to shame. My favorite part of the city was how they’ve changed many of the old churches into museums. It seems crazy that a town with 20,000 people should have 5-7 massive churches in this day in age. This may be the land of Catholics, but it seems far fetched that they would be enough parishioners with enough tithing to keep them open and with a priest. Instead, in Orvieto, many of the churches have become the permanent home to statues, frescos, paintings and other works of art. Considering many of the churches are masterpieces in and of themselves I find it a very resourcful was to maintain history while moving towards the future. We also went on our first tour here! Orvieto, like most of the cities in Umbria, is built on a mountaintop. Unlike many of the cities, Orvieto was built ontop of an already existing city and thus there are underground caves to explore. While many of the caves belong to private families now (most used as wine cellars) we were able to tour two and see underground pigeon homes, olive oil presses and wells. It was very interesting. We had a budget of 40 euro with a packed lunch and it was doable. The most expensive thing was paying to park!

To remedy that situation we parked in a grocery store parking lot for free today! Ha! It’s way worth the extra half a mile walk to save 10 euros. Spoleto felt smaller, but apparently has a bigger population that orvieto. We visited the ‘Rocca’, an impressive stone fortress built by order of the pope in the 1300’s then used as a home for the high-ranking city officials and to house soldiers in time of war. It later became a maximum security prison and recently (the 1980s) was converted into a museum and cultural center. Following our guide book, we walked across this spectacular bridge added to an already existing Roman aqueduct. I continue to be amazed at how this ancient civilizations were able to complete such architectural feats, the bridge is almost 300 feet above the ravine! On the other side it said there was an 800 meter walk to this grassy area with a great view… 1,600 meters and a mountain climb later the next sign  said we were only half way so we turned back. We did run into some German hikers on the way down and they said the sign meant 800m elevation and we were only 100m up the mountain to start with. Know this about Italy, they are never accurate or consistent with the measuring of any distance-ever. We chalked that one up to a nature-hike. Another combined ticket got us into all the museums in Spoleto. The Duomo, Casa Roma, the architectural museum and several others throughout the city, these combined tickets are proving well worth it. Maranda and I had a budget of 20 Euros today since there were fewer things that we had to pay for and we came in under that after buying 2 tickets and some Gelato to make up for the nature hike! We are thoroughly enjoying being able to travel and have a home base so we can just take a day pack, I am especially enjoying my first trip across the Atlantic and Maranda and I are definitely enjoying Italy

Here we are in front of the bridge/aqueduct

Maranda Saling

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