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Cesarina XII

The year of 99 brought lots of changes for Cesarina. She now was in her house alone. She decided to sell many of her properties and enjoy life. She and one of her friends started traveling the world, and staying longer on her trips, and at the end of year, she had her first female grand baby.

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She wanted her brother to give the baby a piggy back ride…Oh, the joy of telling your mother in law not to do something that is just wrong. Honestly, it was never easy. She really loved her grand babies though, I do have to say…she may not have enjoyed having me as a daughter in law, but she did love the children.


Much of our time was always around the table. It was all about the Italian experience. Sharing special meals, and by the end of the evening on Sunday even if there was a fiery exchange of words…everyone hugged and laughed.

Rosemary Bread

What do you need?

Olive Oil,   3 cups of all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp of salt, 3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary (cut the rosemary into very small pieces), 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk

Grease the cookie sheet and preheat your oven to 400

Add all your dry ingredients together. Mix the buttermilk into the dry ingredients. Roll the dough over the rosemary, and knead it into the dough. Shape the dough into a circle, and make a deep x in the middle. Brush the told of the loaf with milk and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  You’re going to love it!



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Frog Family

So, we used to have 90+ chickens in our yard, but between the coyotes and foxes, we have three left. Oh sure, it happened over the last two years…a little at a time. Our 12 ducks were even snatched by the damn foxes and coyotes. We saved one from the fate of the fox, took him to the pond, then he was battered by the peacocks. We saved him from the peacocks, and brought him home. His neck was pretty bad, and he couldn’t even stand on his leg. We kept him in the chicken house, and he looked fantastic. Yesterday, my daughter told me she found him dead in his house. UGH!

Well, we do have frogs in the little steel pond where the ducks used to spend some time. It’s like a huge frog family…IMG_8194

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Collecting Art 101

Ten steps to becoming an art collector.

(1) Art is all about being able to illicit a response from the viewer. Everyone has different taste, buy art that moves you!

(2) Does it match the couch…OMG! Please, stop! Buying REAL art has nothing to do with what it matches, and what it doesn’t match. You buy your couch for the comfort, and art because it provokes an emotion.

(3) Know how much you can afford to spend. The best art galleries have a wide variety of price points. Know what you feel comfortable spending.

(4) Window Shop, window shop before you buy. Go to museums, go to galleries, and research online. Develop your palette (pun intended), just like you wine taste, and get to know your favorite wineries…you’ll find that there are great galleries, and they will want you to meet artists. Do your research!

(5) Even if you don’t have a lot of money, there are art students that exhibit in galleries of your local university.

(6) Collecting art take up room in your house. Are you going to hang the art? Where are you thinking of hanging it? If there is a special place you want a piece, you are going to want to know the dimensions of the space before you shop. A long time ago, a friend told me…”If you love a piece of art, you’ll find room.”

(7) Print, giclee , or original? Well, it depends on how much you want to spend, how much you love it, and if this is an investment or not.

(8) Really make sure you love a piece before you take it home. You are going to have to live with this piece.

(9) Go with your gut, if something feels off, it probably is. Buy from a reputable gallery and or someone with a reputation for selling art that is not fraudulent.

(10) You don’t have to go for something new or old. Find what you love, get a budget, find the size and get excited about the artist and their work…then buy it!

I started collecting art in college, and my first pieces were from other students. I still have one of the paintings. Since then my collection includes portraits of people reading, cardinals from the 17 and 18th century. Mission paintings that are from the 1700’s to modern. Painting of transportation, from logos of the transportation, trucks, cars, cable cars, even horses. Plus, so much more. You can look at my blog under “Museum Monday” to find some of the artists that are in my collection.

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Noah Grant

My sixth great grandfather on my fathers side. Noah, was born July 12, 1719. His father was Noah, and his mother was Martha, he was 26 and she was 22 when Noah was born. They lived in Tolland, Connecticut. The two of them had six children.

Noah was married by the age of twenty seven years old. He married Susanne Delano on November 5, 1746. In the Rolls of Connecticut Men in the French and Indian War, Noah was a Captain in the second regiment, and his commander was Col. David Wooster, of the seventh company. He died in military service at the age of 37, at Fort William Henry, New York.


Grant family crest…ac60d2d0-c9bf-4db9-a948-3a93d51f064b

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Cesarina XI

We left off at the death of my beloved father in law. We were all heartbroken, and things happen so fast when someone in your family dies. The day he died, we had to get with a mortician, grave yard for a plot, granite for headstone. I prefer the method that my husbands’ family utilize instead of my own family. His family bury the dead in three days. My own family uses the 10 day method, or at least it feels that way.

Anyway, the rush was crazy. None of us had ever been in the position to do all these things. We just did what had to be done. It was like an our of body experience on so many levels. No one talked for hours at a time. Cesarina was with us most of the time, and our time in the minivan was so quiet until…Cesarina farted. OMG! We all started busting out laughing. She said “Giuseppe would laugh at that too”. I mean really, it was so unexpected, and it was so loud. I can’t even think about that moment with a smile on my face.

When the headstone finally got put on the grave plot, we all went to see it. Roberto cleaned it, and we all released balloons on the hill. It was a beautiful day. My kids still remember it to this day.

We went to Cesariana’s house for dinner, and while polenta was on the stove, she had me read an article. One that was in Italian. She came into the family room with her wooded spoon, and asks me “Did you understand the article?” Yes, I answered. A mother in law in Italy purchased a daughter in law a grave plot. She said, Yes, you are right. I asked her why would she want me to read an article like that on such a somber day. Well, she said, I wanted to remind myself that I purchased a grave plot for you. Me? Bewildered, I asked the whole question…You purchased a plot for me? Yes, she said, and came back into the family room. Then told me “I purchased a grave plot for you, since you will be the next one in the family to die.” Wow! You believe I am going to die? Well, she said, I have great genes, and Roberto has my genes, so he isn’t going to die anytime soon either. Honestly, I just didn’t know how to react to this.

She told me, this is just the Italian way, that’s why I wanted you to read the article. This way you see that I am not the only Italian mother in law that has purchased a plot for their daughter in law.


I could barely eat that night, thinking…geez, maybe I should watch everything she puts around my food, just in case she wants to use the grave plot before hand. Just in case you want to try her polenta, here is her method for cooking it…

There are several ways to serve polenta, but Cesarina preferred to serve it soft. As she told me many, many, many times “Don’t be afraid to experiment.” People have been changing recipes since the beginning of time. Add what you like, and whatever you don’t like, don’t add. She also told me “You Americans like to make everything so complicated.” If you don’t have something…substitute it. Oh, believe me, then it would go into a whole crazy dramatic episode about Americans. I’ll save you from all that, and just give you the recipe she made most of the time 😉

What are you going to need…

Wire whisk (they work wonders from keeping it from getting clumped), I will tell you a long handled wooded spoon works great too.

1 cup of coarse cornmeal                2 tablespoons of butter

2 cups of fine cornmeal                  1/2 cup of freshly ground Parmigiana cheese

1 tablespoon of salt


Bring 9 cups of water to a boil in a very large pot. Add the salt as soon as it comes to a boil. Add the cornmeal one handful at a time, and stir constantly. Once all the cornmeal has been added reduce the heat to simmer, and the consistency should look like a volcano…bubbling. Make sure your stirring all around the pot…scrapping the sides, and going across the bottom of the pot. It usually takes about 40 to 45 minutes of cooking on the stove. Now, you’re going to add the butter and cheese, which will give it a smooth creamy finish. It makes a great side dish for fish or chicken.


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Our Dying Dog

December 24, 2007 Sadie and Sheba were born. In March of 2008, we made the trip to Northern California to pick up the two of them. We read so much material on Cane Corso. We talked on the phone several times, and emailed the breeder. We were looking for a dog that would be a family friendly dog, and one that would live at the ranch we had in escrow. (We didn’t get that one)

We thought, we would have everything all ready, the truck to haul things and two villa dogs. We used the truck to go pick up the dogs, and we brought our little dogs, a Maltese and Yorkie with us to meet the big dogs. We met the dogs, but just as the breeder told us, they needed time to adjust. We brought them home, and they were so great. We loved them so much. The kids played with them, and they slept in the same house for at least a month. They just didn’t want to sleep in the bigger houses we got them. We also didn’t have the heart to make them stay outside. At the time, we were living in Oakland. We would take them for a walk around the neighborhood, but anytime we were going to San Luis Obispo, we loaded them in the truck, in their crates and took them with us. The whole system was pretty elaborate!!

Sadie and Sheba were always with the family. The two dogs were opposites, and we would talk about what they imagined. They went to bed in their own room, at ten. We would make up stories about them…Sadie always looked like she had something on her mind, and we imagined she had her own blog, and would reedit the pages over and over. Sheba, is more carefree, and we would joke that she probably did not know how to type, but used a blue crayon to draw pictures.


When we finally purchased our property the dogs transitioned from city to country dogs very well. Sadie and Sheba loved running around the 41 acres. It was like freedom they need imagined. When they would finally stop, Sadie looked like she had a smile on her face, which was different since she always had a grimace look naturally.

Earlier this year, Sadie was limping, and at first we were thinking that maybe she just sprained her leg running. About a week later she started lifting that leg up, and not using it at times. At night she was crying while she was trying to get comfortable. We decided we better take her to the vet. The vet told us that her leg was most likely cancer. The only way they could be 100% certain was to take her leg off, and have it biopsied.

He told us we had some tough decisions to make about her, especially since her quality of life would be an issue. We decided to give her the best life we could. She loved running, and for her to lose her leg at her age with the cancer growing would be unfair to her. She took morphine, and an anti-inflammatory. She still went outside, but had a hard time catching her breath after running. She was like a greyhound when she would run. I’ve never seen a big dog run as fast as she could.

A couple of weeks ago, she came inside and panting really hard. I turned on the over head fan, and she caught her breath. Last week, she was eating less, and not drinking as much water. My son took her outside, and when she came back inside, she could not catch her breath again. I got down on the floor, and started petting her. I asked my son to turn on the fan, and I opened the french door. She was lying there on the floor, and I could see in her eyes that she was worried, and more than usual. She walked into her room, and I followed her into her room. I was petting her, and told her…Don’t worry Sadie, we love you, and want you to let go if you feel this is your time”.  She came back into the family room, and she was very restless, just as humans that are dying. I went to wake up my husband and daughter to tell them to make sure they said good bye to Sadie.

Our whole family was gathered in the family room. Everyone petted her, and she went around and put her head on the shoulder of my daughter. She gave Sadie a big hug, and then she put her head in the lap of my husband. Sheba came over to sniff Sadie, and put her head on her for a minute, then moved away from her. Sadie went to the middle of the sofa, and turned her head away from us. My husband and I continued to pet her. Her heart stopped beating, and her four legs went up in the air at the same time. Her nerves were still allowing some breathes of air release from her body. My husband and I carried her to her room, wrapped up her body until we could give her a service the next morning.

Its been a little over a week that we had to say goodbye to Sadie, and Sheba is still healthy. I believe it did a world of good to have Sadie say goodbye on her own terms, and her sister knew what happened instead of having her just missing one day. Sadie was a blessing, and I am grateful for everyday we had with her! Here are some more photos of Sadie….IMG_0110