New Orleans, Louisiana

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you are all doing well. I’ve just arrived back in Italy after a wonderful visit home to the U.S. for the Christmas holidays. Aside from spending time with family & friends, we took a weekend to visit the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana  and enjoy a couple of warm days in the sun. It was a welcome change from the normally frigid days of January! New Orleans has so much to offer, and I regret our stay was so short. BUT that gives us a reason to return again soon. We savored oysters & delicious regional cuisine, nibbled on chewy Pecan Praline sweets from the Southern Candymakers shop on Decatur St., enjoyed a drink (or two) while listening to local jazz musicians, chatted with friendly & inviting residents, wondered at the marine life at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and toured the many art galleries dotted about the French Quarter. If you’re a lover of the Blues, then be sure to catch a show from Big Al Carson appearing nightly at the Funky Pirate Bar on Bourbon St. Our weekend visit timed perfectly with all the excitement buzzing about the city from local sports events. Residents are crazy about their local teams (The Saints football team. The Hornets NBA basketball team. And the LSU Tigers College Basketball team) and evidence of their loyalty can be found about the city represented in a multitude of banners, t-shirts, signs and spirited fans. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious! This is a city that knows how to have a good time- in spite of the recent series of misfortunes like the devastation of Hurricane Katrina & the BP oil spill. The heart of the city still thrives. We stayed in the Westin Hotel located at 100 Iberville Street, a modern and clean hotel with a fabulous breakfast buffet to enjoy before you set about exploring the city. I hope that you will enjoy this short photographic journey of our weekend in New Orleans and put it on your agenda if you ever find yourselves traveling through the American Gulf Coast states. ”Laissez les bon temps rouler!” Let the good times roll! Happy New Year and best wishes to everyone for a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous 2012! All the best- Cindy

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Take a ride with me!

Hello everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Me and my old pick-up truck. It’s been a great friend through the years. I originally wanted to buy a purple Ford Mustang with a white convertible rooftop, but decided the truck was much more appropriate for my lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Me and my old cat, Sammie. He has a horribly unpleasant disposition, but we love him anyways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3. Everyone lends a helping hand on the farm. Annabelle acts as head gardener. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Brat, the fat orange cat, keeps the seat of the tractor warm for me during a lunch break. I’ve tried to teach him to steer the wheel for me, but his arms are too short. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

5. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour!

Bye y’all (everyone!).

My little slice of paradise in the country

Just a few pictures of my little slice of paradise in the country! The Farmhouse is 100 years old! When my family purchased the land in 1990, the house and fields had been long abandoned. The farmer, the former owner, had grown old and too weak to care for such a large piece of land. He sold it to my father, and moved to a house in the city. My father then installed indoor plumbing, electricity and brought it to a ”livable” condition. We, to this day, continue with renovations each year. It takes a small army of friends and machines to keep everything mowed, cut, trimmed and raked. It’s a great deal of labor, but completely worth it- as I have spent some of the happiest times of my life here.

The property is large and half is thickly covered with trees, grass and brush. This provides and ideal habitat for nature to flourish. In the evening, herds of wild deer come out to graze on meadow grass. Opossums are everywhere and come out after sundown to finish off what’s left of the cat’s food. They’re slow moving and therefore often meet an untimely death at the front end of an oncoming pick-up truck. Raccoons have begun to repopulate again, after a nasty bout of rabies that wiped out a large number in the 90’s. Black snakes are in over abundance, they grow to nearly two meters in length. I hate snakes and will always hate snakes. I once stepped out of my front door to find a baby Copperhead snake resting lazily on my doorstep. I nearly put the house up for sale.

1. In the back of the property is an old ”tobacco barn” used for the storage and drying of fresh cut tobacco leaves. As you can see, it’s been many many years since it was in use. The furnaces to the left provided heat for drying. The tobacco leaves hung from the wooden poles above. Notice the barn walls in the background- they are insulated and bound together by mud!

 

 

2. Look at these baby birds! They are infant buzzards, the kind of birds that feed on dead animals. Much to my surprise they were born in my tobacco barn!

 

 

 

 

 

3. ….and this is Mama Buzzard waiting patiently on the roof! Once I saw her peering down at me I closed the door quietly and backed away slowly, leaving she and her babies in peace. I’m not a fan of buzzards. They follow me by air when I go to mow the fields, circling high above just waiting for me, it seems, to ”kick the bucket” (die). But I guess every creature has it purpose in life and if we didn’t have buzzards we would be ”up to our ears” ( having a lot of something) in dead opossums.

 

4. This is a small water turtle I came upon laying her eggs in the soft mud of the pond’s edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. My neighbor’s goats. They’re incredibly nosy (curious)! But then, I guess there’s not much else to do in the country. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

6. A GIANT prehistoric-looking fresh water Snapping turtle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. This turtle migrates within the neighborhood from pond to pond. Look at his eyes! I came upon him one day while I was mowing the fields. What a surprise! We took many pictures that day documenting his entire journey all the way to the water’s edge.

USA vs ITALY – 10 differences

Hi Everyone! Hope you’re all having a nice day today? I’m back at home in The States for autumn, attending the wedding of my cousin. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends and family, some of whom I have not seen in as much as three years. Coming off an 8 month stay in Italy, America feels foreign to me again. But after one week, I quickly fall back into the rhythms of my daily life in the countryside. I take note along the way of how VASTLY different those differences are that separate my American life from my Italian existence on the other side of the pond. With the risk of boring everyone, I have compiled a list of only 10.

YOUTUBE VIDEO : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iqVazRAIAQ&feature=g-upl

(This is the North Carolina house.)

  1. In Italy, I live in a suburban neighborhood with a small garden. Our house is a cement block constructed duplex. A duplex is two houses that share a central wall. My Italian neighbors are very quiet, polite and aside from their car driving in an out of the driveway- one would never know they existed.

In America, I live in a 100 year old farmhouse built of wood. The house sits in the middle of 33 acres of land. The land was once part of an 80 acre working farm complete with cows & chickens. Many years ago, the farmer and his wife grew corn & tobacco. There are 2 small ponds on the property that were used to provide water for cattle. There are no farm animals left, but deer, raccoons & opossums roam freely- especially at night!

  1. In Italy, we heat our home with gas and hot water. The gas heats the hot water through a furnace. The steaming hot water then travels throughout the house in a system of radiators.

In America, I heat my house with a wood burning stove. I buy wooden logs, or cut fallen trees from my property and split the logs myself using a gas powered hydraulic wood splitting machine. The heat provided from a wood burning stove is intense and comforting.

  1. In America, we eat a great deal of Mexican food! We have a large population of Mexican immigrants in the US and authentic restaurants have popped up everywhere! Many towns in the US have at least one Mexican restaurant. The food is quick, delicious, usually handmade and reasonably priced.

In Italy, we eat a lot of pasta, grains and vegetables. When available, I buy mozzarella cheese made of buffalo milk and serve it with sliced tomatoes and great olive oil produced by our friends in the regions of Puglia and Abruzzo. Fast foods are sushi, pizza and a northern flatbread called piadina. Piadina can be filled with anything to make a sandwich, but people usually prefer prosciutto (dry cured ham), porchetta (roasted pork with herbs) or sausage.

  1. In Italy, my garden is very small. I mow my grass quickly using an electric lawn mower, which is cumbersome because it must be plugged into an electrical socket at all times, carrying the electrical cord behind you. I’m on my second electrical cord- because inevitably I keep running it over with the blades.

In America, I cut my grass using two tractors; the first is a small John Deere that cuts about 46 inches across and we use it for the front yard. The second tractor is a monster Ford that cuts nearly 2 meters across. We use it for cutting the fields.

  1. In Italy we drive a new Honda CR-V.

In America, I drive a 1993 Chevy pick-up truck. It’s like an old friend.

  1. In Italy, I barely know my neighbors and rarely exchange words except for a ‘’good afternoon’’ in passing.

In America, my neighbors are noisy, lovable, fun and always willing to lend a helping hand. We live quite far from each other, as it tends to be in the countryside, but every weekend someone finds a reason for a party or gathering.

  1. In America, I can find whatever I want- 24 hours a day.

In Italy, things are more complicated so I feel gloriously triumphant at the end of each conquest!

  1. In Italy, breakfast consists of an espresso coffee.

In America, breakfast consists of an espresso coffee.

  1. In Italy, my house is surrounded by a gate.

In America, my house is surrounded by deer.

  1. In America, I drive 9.5 miles (one way) just to visit the grocery store.

In Italy, I have a fruit & vegetable shop, bakery, small grocer, post office, shopping mall and sushi- all within walking distance.

Well, I don’t want to drag on and on about the differences. There are soooo many! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little window into my American life.

Enjoy the pictures of North Carolina!

Take care, everyone!

All the best- Cindy