Sepia Saturday 241: Writing and Letters


Nellie Gasparri

I went back and forth on this week’s theme since I have plenty of letters, but very few pictures to go along with them.  The letter is written to Nellie Gasparri in the photo on the left (b. 9 May 1924, Dysart, Cambria County, PA, USA, d. 9 Oct 2007, Pittsburgh, Allegheny, PA, USA), my first cousin, once removed, or my mom’s first cousin (her mother’s sister’s daughter).  It was written by Angelina Guerrini who is Nellie’s Aunt (her father’s sister).  From what I know from living family members, Nellie never learned to read or write in Italian, but had a friend who read/wrote back letters for her.  This particular letter was one in a series of letters written to Nellie that she saved for many, many years.  After her death, relatives found them and didn’t know what to do with them, so they ended up with my mother somehow who fairly recently found them in a drawer while cleaning and passed them on to me.  I had studied Italian at University as well as taking a semester abroad, so about 12 years ago, I was just about fluent.  It’s faded a lot since then, so in order to translate these, it’s quite a process.  First, I try to figure out what was written and type that up – it can be a struggle between the handwriting and spelling/grammar issues, but fortunately it’s just about the same region where I took my semester abroad, so that helps!  Then, I run the translation through Google Translate to see what it comes up with, correcting the Italian side to fix spelling issues.  Finally, I go through and do my own translation on top to fix odd phrasing that Google doesn’t really translate well and make it sound more like it was written in English.  Some of the phrases don’t translate well from Italian to English, and I tend to go for a more literal than flowery approach in terms of translation.  I’m always open to correction, so if you happen to be Italian and want to help me out, please leave a comment!

If you’re interested in the other letters, they can be found here:
A Letter to Great Grandma
Searching for a Son
Angelina’s First Letter

San Valentino, 6 April 1947
After several days of delays, I have come to respond to your dear letter that I received with much pleasure, to hear that you remember me with much affection and that you are in good health as are your brothers.

As for me, always little is well, but nothing is so serious, just a little bit of organic deterioration.  My husband and my daughters are doing well.  My husband is 60 years old, and I’m 50.  Grandmother is also well, she is 84 years old.  I haven’t had the courage to tell her the news of the death of her son, and I think that’s because my brother has found a wife so cruel that the old woman could not ever see her and stay in good health.  They have a 4 year old daughter and live quietly, but I ought to say very little to you about the awful things they did to this poor old woman.

If you send something to grandma, send it to me or write it to me because she doesn’t know how to read or write and she’s deaf such that to have her understand, it takes time, and even when you repeat it, she substitutes whatever she wants.

Dear Niece, I am happy to hear you explain in your letter so many things that I wanted to hear about you and your brothers.  Now all that remains is the desire to have a little written also from him and I’d even like to have a photograph, but first we must send you ours.  I would like to know about the brother that isn’t in the army.  Your aunt told me he works – what does he do?
I received the letter from your aunt with the photo of your father.  It made me happy and at the same time a little sad that he isn’t around anymore.  I don’t know how to find peace.  You tell me that you work in an office. I’m happy to hear that, and I hope you enjoy it.

I’m sad that I can’t give you any help being so far away.  You sent us the package and you said you can send another but what can I send you?  Do you want anything that I could send to you?  Tell me please!  Let me know if you read my letters yourself or if you have someone read them to you the way I do the with your greetings to me, your friend Gina Canali.

Thousands and thousands of dear greetings and kisses from us that you will pass on also to your brothers, your aunt, and even these coming days I’ll write more to you.
Many dear kisses from me, your aunt, Angelina Guerrini.

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One Local Summer 2014 – Meal 6


Another meal cooked by the husband.  How can you tell he’s cooking?  There’s beef on the plate.  It’s just not my thing, but it is husband’s thing, and he’s learned to cook beef just the way I like it (VERY VERY well done) so I’ll eat it when he’s around to cook.  This week, he found a neat coffee chocolate spice rub at the market which really changed the flavor.  I do find a HUGE difference between grass-fed from the market and non-specific beef from the grocery store, so that makes it a little more palatable.  I’d still prefer chicken or turkey or pork over beef any day!  Anyway, getting on with things, we have corn fritters again, made with the same pickled peppers that I had canned summers prior.  They’re really becoming a house favorite, and we’ve even been putting them on the grill for an extra crisp crust on the outside.  In the back, there’s canteloupe, then a slice of Soltane bread topped with Tomme Mole.  The bread isn’t locally sourced, but it is locally made, so we’ll allow a little leeway here since it’s SO good.  The bowl in the back has cucumbers and tomatoes with some onions, oil, and vinegar.  I could easily eat the whole container we made of that, they were so good.  To drink, there’s a beer from Armstrong Ales, a  local brewery.  So, everything (even the not-completely-local items) was sourced very locally and made for a great meal in some great weather outside!

Porterhouse Steak – Bendy Brook Farm
Corn – Hoagland Farm
Flour – Mill at Anselma
Onion – Brogue Hydroponics
Tomatoes – Brogue Hydroponics
Cucumber – Brogue Hydroponics
Canteloupe – Brogue Hydroponics
Bread – Soltane
Cheese (Tomme Mole) – Birchrun Hills
Peppers – Our Garden
Non Local – Salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, java rub, beer

Sepia Saturday 240: Criminals, ID Photos, Named Photos, False Pretences

I had a bit of an internal struggle with this week’s theme.  I do have recorded evidence of minor law-breakers (busted for “illegal barbering” and running a still) on one branch of my tree, but decided against posting those photos since they weren’t mugshots and might be considered a little bit insensitive to living family members.  I personally think history is history and it’s no big deal, but best not to make waves, right?  Instead, I turn back to my husband’s Dutch family for a great ID photo.  Please pardon the quality – I shot these with my cellphone camera and didn’t get the chance to scan the actual document!

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Here we have the passport for Doede “Douglas” Jaarsma and Hilje “Hilda” Dijkema for when they came to the USA in 1951 with their three children, Douwe “Dave,” Elizabeth, and Hendrik “Henry.”  The blurred out section on the right contains the children’s birth dates, blurred intentionally to protect their privacy.  While not quite sepia photos, they do fit nicely into the theme as ID photos!  What’s so neat about the passport is that even though it’s Dutch, it includes French and English in the official, pre-printed sections, but the written-in data is only in Dutch.  Just a couple things to help translate on the left photo, in the “Special Marks” section for Hilda is “litteken aan de hals,” which translates to “scar on the neck,” per google translate.  Hilda’s hair color is listed as “gray blonde” even though the family says she was pretty much all grey even as early as her mid 20’s.  Overall, I think the passport is really neat, and I’m so glad the family saved it for so long.  It’s a great piece of history to have, documenting the move from the Netherlands to the USA, and is a fantastic primary source document for birth dates and places.


One Local Summer 2014 – Meal 5


Another meal down, and just 9 left to my goal of 14 which we should be able to meet or exceed!  We had a nice party over the weekend and have had a bit of fabulous weather (lows aorund 60 degrees F in July!), so we took advantage of the cool evenings for some outdoor dining.  In the small bowl at top left is a tomato salad with some fresh basil, olive oil, and homemade vinegar.  The main part of the dinner was a Bison sirloin topped with blue cheese – sooo good.  Next, going around clockwise, are blue potatoes from our garden that were boiled, smooshed, and then put in a pan to roast after being doused with malt vinegar and sprinkled with salt.  The idea for those came from Cook’s Country, but they didn’t quite smoosh down the way they were shown in the recipe.  Blue potatoes seem to be starchier, and we boiled instead of baking them (short on time), so that might have been the difference.  They still tasted excellent and really soaked up the vinegar.  It was almost like having malt vinegar on french fries without the frying.  Next around the plate are Corn Jalapeno Fritters from this month’s Bon Appetit.  Couple of changes to locafy it involved using pickled banana peppers I had on hand already from a prior year’s bumper crop of peppers, and we used grilled corn leftover from our party over the weekend.  The flour came from our local historic grist mill, and we had to add a little more flour and an extra egg since ours weren’t traditional grocery store ‘large’ eggs, but smaller farm-fresh happy-chicken eggs.  They were SO good and so easy to make that we’re already thinking of other veggies to add in on the next go around since we still have leftover corn to burn through.  And that’s that!  I’m a few weeks late posting this one, but I kind of wanted to space out the One Local Summer posts on the blog instead of flooding them out as they’re cooked.

Tomatoes – Hoagland Farms
Basil – Our Garden
Bison Sirloin – Backyard Bison
Blue Cheese – Birchrun Hills
Potatoes – Our Garden
Corn – Hoagland Farms
Flour – Mill at Anselma
Eggs – Deep Roots Valley Farm
Equinox Cheese – Birchrun Hills
Hot Peppers – Our Garden
Non Local – Beer, salt, pepper, olive oil, malt vinegar

GoodeBox – August 2014


I’m really kind of torn on this one!  There are two full-size lip products that I’m absolutely in love with, but I really don’t care about the other three samples.  I do realize this is the nature of subscription boxes, and while the two lip products more than cover the cost of the box, I really have little to no interest in the other three, so, meh?  The theme is playing off A Night For Green Beauty featuring luxury green brands.  Yeah.  I’m way too practical for luxury brands.  I don’t have a regular office job, so I have no reason to wear makeup every day, and fancy creams and exfoliators are just not something I use on a regular basis.  I’m more of a soap-and-water and lip gloss only kind of gal.  I was sort of hoping that the GoodeBox would introduce me to more practical products, and so far it’s been pretty good with that, with the exception of this month.  Also, silly foil packets again, argh!  Oh well, like I said above, the lip products are SO awesome, and I’m really happy about those, and that’s just the way subscription boxes go sometimes.  GoodeBox did switch up the product card this month and included little business cards for each product instead of one big card with checkboxes.  It makes more sense, and after last month’s product card errors, it’s probably much easier to pack in the card for each product than worry about proofing one big card.  I really like the new setup even if it does use more paper.

  • Mun No. 1 Aknari Brightening Youth Serum – 20ml/$95 – the product card says one bottle should last 3-4 months which makes the price sting a little less, but it’s still not something I need or use.  I’m just not worried about skin brightness and wrinkles!  It will be fun to try, but not something I’d keep in my daily routine.  The scent is really nice, sort of musky and rosy, and a quick test on my hand shows it sinks in pretty quickly for being an oil and feels velvety smooth.  The card includes a 20% off code.
  • Province Apothecary Regenerating + Stimulating Exfoliator - 120ml/$38 – This is a strongly lavender scented powder that you’re supposed to mix with water, skin cream, yogurt, or honey to make a sort of mask that you rub into your face for a few minutes.  I LOVE the scent and the idea that you blend it into another base based on your skincare needs.  I’ll have to give it a try with some honey and yogurt and see how it goes.  The card also has a code for 20% off.
  • Kahina Night Cream – 50ml/$109 – WAY too expensive.  Its main purpose seems to be anti-aging, and again, I really don’t care about wrinkles.  They’re going to happen whether I like it or not, so it seems easier to let nature happen instead of trying to fight it.  I’ll try it since I have the two silly foil packet samples, but I’d never, ever buy this.  There is a code for 20% off.
    EDIT – I tried this last night and the scent is SO nice, I really like it.  Shame it’s so expensive, but I sort of wish they bottled this scent as a perfume!
  • BeautyCounter Lip Sheer – 3.4g/$28 – Oh man I love this.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this.  The color (Plum) is a wee bit dark for summer, but it’ll be great for evenings and the fall/winter, and I may even buy the Currant color since it’s more the color I tend to use.  The color of the Lip Sheer is just dark enough to be seen, but light enough that it doesn’t overpower and the texture is rich and buttery.  The best of both gloss and color!  No coupon code, sadly!
  • Juice Beauty Reflecting Gloss – 14oz/$15 – This is more like what I use on a regular basis.  I received the “Champagne” color which is the front swatch in the photo.  It’s a really light color that barely shows up, and it’s more about the shine/glitter instead.  The scent is really nice – lightly vanilla and fruity, and the gloss is shiny without being sticky.  The card also has a 20% off coupon.

So, there’s another month down.  Can’t wait to see what other folks got!

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