Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two Weddings We'll Always Remember

The anniversary of our wedding on 1 July 29 years ago is approaching. We were married in a National Forest in Eastern Oregon (where we lived and worked). We hiked up the trail along with our family, friends, and neighbors and were married under the blue skies of a perfect summer day in Oregon. 

After the ceremony, a pot-luck lunch was held in our garden. After eating and cutting the cake, we took a short raft trip in the North Fork (of the John Day River) and then returned to the party. We don’t know how this sounds to you, but for us, it was as perfect as a day could be. The party on the lawn was still going when we returned from the river and it kept going long after we left it for the night. Total cost to us was around 40 dollars--not counting wedding dress and rings.

Big weddings were out of style in the 70’s--and the bling of the 80’s hadn’t caught on in the Oregon outback in 1984. Nowadays our wedding, as pleasant as it was for us, probably appears lame in a hippy kinda way we’re sure.

We do have better pictures than these—although they were all taken by friends—on film, no digital cameras then. These are the only ones that made it from film to the computer so far (don’t remember why).

You might notice a few changes in the bride and groom since then—mostly the groom. The mustache was shaved off about 10 years ago. Doug's little blonde daughter is now 36 years old and taller than he is.

You have heard the stories about Italian weddings? A big, long event with lots of food and gaiety? The big wedding never went out of style here. We were invited to a neighbor’s wedding and were very happy to be included in their big day. We left the house at 1500 with other neighbors to walk to the home of the groom for a pre-wedding get-together. Ten hours later, we crawled to bed—(It was probably no longer a day than ours was lo those 29 years ago, it’s just that we aren’t 30ish anymore).

This Calabrese wedding day dawned clear and very warm, so everyone who donned formal clothes was overheated from the start! 

The brother of the groom offered a toast with Jack Daniels although Doug turned it down and took pictures instead.  We didn’t understand all of the traditions, but followed when the family and friends of the groom left to walk, in a round about way, to the church. 

Groom Peter heads to the church with family and friends

Everyone was waiting outside the church for something. Ahh, the bride! 

She arrived with her mom and escorts. Did we mention the groom is from the village and the bride is from Prague, Czech Republic? Simona’s father was not able to attend due to health reasons. There was a contingent of bridal family and friends, many of whom spoke no Italian or English. Mother of the bride stayed in our guest flat.

Our lovely church in Santa Domenica Talao

Not sure what the little ceremony was at the church entrance, but it moved into the main church and actually included the baptism of the bride. Doug spoke to the priest in advance who asked for no photos of the ceremony – just by official photographers who captured every detail. Di just read an article about ministers around the world asking people to turn off their mobile phone cameras during services and listen to what is going on!

Che belli

The wedding moved to a ristorante about 2km away. Doug chose not to take any photos because party photos are not his greatest skill. People have a tendency to want to tear up the pictures taken of them chewing or yawning...We arrived around 1800. It took the rest of the evening to get through 4 courses for about 150 people, and all the singing and dancing one could imagine. Doug even joined a conga line with some encouragement from the bride at one point! When the the music was right, many people took to the floor to dance the tarantella - famous in Southern Italy, but we had not seen it before. What fun to watch.  A bit too athletic for seniors like Doug!  The DJ played and sang music for every Italian generation. Very fun.

For those into food, the menu had a typical Calabrese antipasta of meats with mozzerella di bufala; fusilli and ravioli for the primo piatto, a secondo of mixed grilled meat plate ending with a fruit and gelato dish. They served a good local vino rosso, but the hot night found most of us going through many bottles of water.

Many folks from the village attended, so we were surrounded by familiar faces. Quite a few kids in the 10-year old range were there and they too enjoyed the dancing. Our Irish neighbours were there to help us spread a little English around……it was quickly drowned-out by Calabrese dialect in a party mode!

One of the bars provided cold drinks to the couple emerging from the chiesa

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sweet Days of Summer with Jasmine in Bloom

It finally got too hot to sunbathe on the Terrace--and the sea is enticing with its clear-day colors
Di's been singing Summertime (and the Living is Easy) along with Satchmo and Ella and now I've got her looking for Summer Breeze with all my talk about the spell and smell of the Jasmine in bloom. Normally, the idea of summer would have cast its spell in May, and we would have already been to the beach. This spring has been cooler than normal, so yesterday, 16 June, was the first day for us.

We headed to Lido Paradiso where we usually go. At 0900, we were the first ones and there were still clouds. It was warm and promised to burn-off the clouds.

Empty beach at 0900 and Clouds
The lido folks were still working on their buildings, shelters and beach features. They remembered us which is always a nice feeling.

Di likes to patrol the public beach next to the lido picking up litter. Our life guard said that he usually did that, but Di finished her tour.

The sun arrived and the rest of the day was great. The sea is still a little cool given the lack of warming sunshine, but we had a swim. No snorkeling. I’d guess the water temperature was around 21C. By July it will reach 27.

Arriving home late in the afternoon, we enjoyed the sweet scents coming from the kitchen window near the jasmine plant, and from the terrace where the gardenia is blooming. Sweet summer fragrances under the lovely summer sun. Makes you feel fine...

Those scents and our colorful street will greet the family from Prague staying in our guest flat this week for their daughter’s wedding on Saturday. 
Nice spot for a June wedding, and this will be our first Italian wedding. Stay tuned for Guido in a jacket and tie for first time in many years. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Friday Afternoon on the way to Summer

Our classmates and Teacher after a great gelato at Pier Bar
We are still attending Italian language school 5 days per week but school will be out soon—a sure sign of summer. Yesterday we left for school at 1530 as normal.  Folks in town were saying that it was finally the first day of summer—quite a coincidence. 

On the way to Scalea for class, we spotted our town’s new ambulance. The village had been taking donations for a couple months but when I went to give our June donation, I was told the collections were complete and an ambulance purchased. It will be managed in partnership with Protezione Civile--the national agency with the Canadair air tanker planes for summer fires. Our ambulance will be staffed by volunteers (which reminds me of my time on ambulance duty many years ago in the state of Colorado--buy me a glass of wine to hear those stories).

With summer in the air, our teacher Carmelina invited us down the street to a bar for gelato and Italian conversation---out in public instead of the classroom. 
Doug is at the top (USA). Next row is Lucia (Romania), Shabana (Pakistan), Carmelina (Italian teacher). Bottom row is Diana (USA), Katheryn (England), Susan (England--husband David is on a trip to England this week), Dennis and Cheryl (USA) have already returned to Florida for the summer to watch grandchildren, but sent a photo from their recent trip to the Island of Ischia off the coast from Napoli.

The gelato at Pier Bar is terrific. The man working was proud of it and mentioned they had gotten training in gelato-making in Bologna. We shared what everyone is doing for the summer. This was much easier to discuss (in Italian) than the favole (fables) that we worked on at previous Friday conversation periods!

A tradition that started this year also includes the Brits and Yanks going for a caffe - or something colder - after school Fridays. In America it would be called TGIF – “thank god it’s Friday”. Soon we will be spending some weekdays on the beach instead of the classroom.

On the way back to our village, the piles of trash in the street reminds us that Scalea is currently having problems with landfill contracts similar to what Rome and Naples experienced 5 years ago—so when we drive to Scalea, the growing piles of refuse is now part of our day. It is slowly being hauled to sites in Tuscany and Puglia, but they are not keeping up with the daily outputs. Hence, we fear what the streets might look like in August when 20,000 more people descend on Scalea! Coming from Oregon, USA with some of the best land use planning around, we shake our heads at the lack of planning here by the government and/or mafia – whoever is in charge of landfills– to plan for replacement sites decades in advance. Italy needs to recycle more—they are trying--but so are these piles…

It's as good to return to our village as it was to get out a few hours ago. This weekend will be a quiet one with the sun shining and our chores still optional--guests are coming so they won't be optional for too much longer!


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