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Category: Travel Life

Hike with our neighbors' sweet German Shephard

SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK: The Aftermath (Part 2)

This is one post in the four-part ‘SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK’ series, including:

I was bleeding out of my stomach.

It wasn’t a large wound, but there was blood and a visible entry point where the dog bit into me. Today, a scar remains—and in the shape of a dog’s tooth (no less). Looking back, I probably should have had stitches, but the doctor/dentist never offered, and I wasn’t keen on sewing up my own flesh.

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Dog baring teeth

SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK: The Encounter (Part 1)

 This is one post in the four-part ‘SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK’ series, including:

I’ve been around a lot of dogs in my thirty-some years. I mean a lot.

My childhood involved everything from mutts and a Dalmatian to a brood of Alaskan Malamutes my siblings and I raised with our mother, hooking them to wheeled rigs that we rode around the park (yes, this happened). We’re all bleeding-heart dog lovers, as a result, who take in the strayed/abused/neglected canines of the world — and, today, I’m the only one without a dog.

Which is why it’s so puzzling that, the only time I’ve ever been attacked by a dog was when living abroad. Dogless. And in Italy, of all places.

In Cavareno, to be precise.

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Kentucky road sign.

Can’t Take The South Out Of The Girl: Kentucky Born & Raised

It’s true. I am from Kentucky. A place far less glamorous or sexy than the better-known California / New York / Miami. A place so adrift among the middle-of-the-country-melange, it might as well be Ohio. Or…Arkansas. Oklahoma? NO—Nebraska.

It might as well be any of the other forgotten-about states.

People rarely know what Kentucky is (a type of chicken?). They don’t know where it’s located (next to…Michigan?). And they’re baffled how someone from The Bluegrass State could emerge neither illiterate nor inbred (that’s possible?).

You would be surprised how much there is to the state, AND how well we Kentuckians can turn out. (more…)

Winter waterfall in Fondo (Val di Non, Italy)
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HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ — The Valley of Tears (Part 2)

This post is one of the four-part HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ series, including: 

Jason asked me one day—the kind of day where boredom lays over everything like dust — “What do you think gets a Noneso really excited?”

I thought about it for a few moments, but could think of nothing, wondering out loud, “Cross-country skiing? Motorbikes…polenta?” The conversation was starting to sound less tongue-in-cheek, and more snarky by the second. Aw, c’mon. That’s unfair, I thought. “I’m sure there are plenty of things…”

But nothing came to mind. Other than talk of saving money (or Amanda Knox — which gets any Italian anywhere all riled up), I’d seen very little that could stir the emotion of a Noneso.

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Jewish Star

HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ – “Troppo Jewish” (Part 1)

This post is one of the four-part HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ series, including: 

Note: A person who speaks the ‘Nones’ language is known as either a Noneso/a (singular male/female) or a Nonesi (plural)

As a baptized Episcopalian who grew up in predominantly Southern Baptist Kentucky with no Jewish family members, I can count on one hand all of my encounters with people of the Jewish faith. I’ve traveled and sojourned in mostly Hindu, Buddhist, or Catholic places, and other than an intense fascination with The Holocaust, I can speak of few legitimate connections to the world of Judaism.

Until now.

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Snow on a house in Cavareno (Val di Non)
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It’s A “Nones” Life

Nones. What’s that word?

It’s a people, a subgroup, a culture wedged in the Non Valley (Val di Non), far off in Italy’s northernmost region, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The dialect that people in Val di Non speak is called Nones (pronounced No-nez), while the people are known as Nonesi (Noneso for singular male, Nonesa for singular female).

Italian grammar aside, Nones is the type of dialect that precedes Italian, meaning: Italian speakers can’t understand it.

Confused yet? It’ll get easier…. (more…)

Women dancing in traditional lederhosen (Levico Terme, Italy)
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Smack A Backside And Buy A Brezel

They were women dressed in lederhosen. And dancing in a circle in the dark. On the path around the Christmas Market, waving lanterns, sporting braids…jolly smiles slapped on their faces.

But this was Italy. Why were they wearing lederhosen?

I might have pondered this longer if I hadn’t already been in far north Italy for at least a year by this time, and, well… I’d come to accept that I was living in a place that took its directions more from its Austro-Hungarian past, and less from the Italian ringmaster that the rest of the country was subject to.

More!!!

My former students in Val di Non

“Dopo Lady” & The People Of Val di Non

She has a thick, low voice. Raspy, like a smoker’s. Or like she’s had reflux for the last 25 years. Her skin is the color of curdled milk, and I’ve never noticed the color of her eyes, but the rest of her is stout and square, with a similar face. Her hair is always cut in an awkward series of right-angles, bangs the result of the ole bowl-over-the-head-method.

And she almost never smiles.

She is ‘Dopo Lady’, and she is our anonymous, unwitting Val di Non friend.

Click here to read more…

Close-up of man's hands bricklaying (spreading mortar between bricks.).

Construction Trauma

Before moving to Italy, I couldn’t have ever said, “I’ve been traumatized by construction.” But after living in this country for the past three years, I can say that now. It must be part of the initiation phase:

-Do you have what it takes to live in this country? 
-I’m not sure…
-Well you’ll soon find out. Because Italy doesn’t give a damn whether you make it… Hey look, there’s more!

German Infantry, 1914
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Trentino’s Bloody Past – Part 2

If you missed it, check out the first installment, Trentino’s Bloody Past – Part 1, where I explain Italy’s northernmost region, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

To continue, dear readers, let’s take a trip down history lane: WWI (aka ‘The Great War’) was epic. The war of all wars, with roughly 32 countries involved, worldwide.

But how did it all start, you ask?

Well…some Serbian dude named Gavrilo Princip (I love this name!) had to go and assassinate the Austro-Hungarian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand. Naturally, Austria-Hungary is irritated, so backed by Imperial Germany (naturally), they declare war on The Serbian Kingdom.

Makes sense. Kill our leader and we’ll fight you with our fists and guns…

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Men fighting in northern borders.

Trentino’s Bloody Past – Part 1

This post is part of a two-part series, Trentino’s Bloody Past – Part 1 and Part 2.

Who out there doesn’t like blood, guts and gore?

If you’re at all familiar with European history, you’ll know it’s no stranger to violence and mayhem of the political-religious-clashing sort. Today, though, you see little of that. Which is why it was so surprising to learn that the part of Italy Jason and I called home for two years had once been a major battlefront.

The insistent pounding of the world wars left their mark. And it wasn’t pretty…

Bloody hell, there’s more…

Entrance to Nazi labor camp, 'Struthof' (Alsace, France)

Labor Camps With Germans

It was a strange set of circumstances: a weekend in France, a bonafide German, and a Nazi labor camp. Add in two unwitting Americans and it made for a perfectly awkward—if not memorable—encounter.

The story begins with Jason’s German friend, Volker Haas (first name pronounced like a mix of ‘Valka’ and ‘Falka’), had been an exchange student at the University of Washington (Seattle), back in the 90s. For a year, Volker and Jason were roommates in the same house.

Fast forward to 2012, where I spent a month in Strasbourg, France, obtaining my ESOL Teaching Certificate (CELTA), and right before Jason and I came to Italy. And that’s where the Nazi labor camp comes in. Oooh, la la…il y en a plus! (there’s more)