Friday’s Photos – Tower of Pisa

Cathedral and Tower of Pisa Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

Cathedral and Tower of Pisa
Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

These photos of the Cathedral and Bell Tower of Pisa were taken by my daughter, Sherri, on June 30, 2006. I still remember how uncomfortable the heat and humidity were that day as we walked through the tiny town of Pisa, Italy to get to the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) where the cathedral and bell tower are located.

And yes, it really does lean, although apparently not as much as it did previously. According to the resources listed below, the tower began to lean during its over two hundred years of construction from 1173 to 1399. Various method of compensation and reinforcement continued over the centuries without much success until the late twentieth century.

Tower of Pisa Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

Tower of Pisa
Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

When the tower was in danger of collapse in 1990, it was closed to visitors while engineers took on a major straightening project. This was completed in May 2001 after correcting the lean 19 inches (it leans about 13 feet at the top) and more importantly, stopping it from continuing.

Pisa got its name in 600 BC from a Greek word meaning “marshy land.” Apparently this is the reason for the problem with the tower and the fact that other structures in Pisa, including the cathedral, are sinking.


Martha’s Words

He kept them in a night table drawer—a treasure of poems carefully hand-written in a composition book by his mother fifty years before. One of the poems, “My Boy,” was about him. How it must have warmed my Dad’s heart when he read it. Reece Wilmer Press, Jr. looked a lot like his mother and had inherited her stocky body build splattered with freckles, as I did.

I wasn’t particularly interested in the poems back then. It wasn’t until 1972, when he gave them to me, that I remembered they even existed. Martha Walton Press had died nine years before my birth. I am truly sorry that I never had the chance to know her. Dad didn’t talk much about his early family life, but I had the impression that it was a bit troubled. My mother mentioned to me that he had to quit school at age 16 to help support the family when his parents split up. (Ten years later, though, he graduated with a diploma in civil engineering from Drexel University).

The poems, written between 1899 and 1911, survived the five moves to date in my life. During this time, the writing has faded and the pages have become slightly torn and dog-eared. A few years ago when I took up genealogy, I read the poems several times, searching her words and studying the stylish handwriting in an attempt to know her better.

Recently, when I began self-publishing, it became apparent that these poems should be preserved in print. The themes of love, friendship, death and life are timeless. The words are cumbersome by today’s standards but their simplicity conveys a richness of emotion and nostalgia. Moreover, my grandmother was a feisty, creative, intelligent woman who played piano by ear, sewed clothing that she saw on a model and ran her own beauty shop. From the little I know about her, she seemed ahead of her time. When she became divorced, she married her younger brother-in-law, a bit unusual for the 1920s. She deserves to be remembered, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her memory.

As I continue in my writing journey, I feel that Martha’s spirit watches me, cheering me on. I sometimes wonder if she would have done more with her writing if life hadn’t gotten in the way. The luxury of retirement was not available to her; at the age of 57 she passed away from colon cancer.

I am planning to publish her twelve poems in a short book entitled, “Martha’s Words,” later this year. Here is the first poem—I hope you like it and will want to read more of her work.

A Lesson

A rose lies withered in my hand,
And one by one, its petals fall.
My thoughts oft turn to a better land
Where no flowers will fall at all.

It reminds me too of an aimless past,
Ah, full of regrets I now see.
Yes, one by one, hopes all fall fast;
There’s naught sure but eternity.

‘Tis sweet to live just day to day
For hope fadeth with the morrow.
And the prize we seek in a worldly way
Is only a false hope we borrow.

I often pray that God, to me, may gift
A life like the pure simple flower,
Content to take his sunshine to live
And scatter his blessings each hour.

Martha Walton (July 27, 1899)

Photo Friday – First Day Out of the Nest

I was delighted to find two baby robins in my front yard earlier this week. I watched as the mother hunted worms while the father kept an eye on the family. One baby hopped around a little, and the other one sat waiting for food about fifteen feet away. I had suspected there was a nest in my yard for the past few weeks as frequently robins sat out front just looking around. They did a good job at hiding it because I never saw it when I was gardening.

Baby Robin

Baby Robin

Off to Find Another Worm

Off to Find Another Worm

Mother Hunting

Mother Hunting

Mother and Baby

Mother and Baby

Sad note: before this post was completed, my daughter saw a crow swoop down, grab one of the babies and fly off as the parents frantically followed him to a high tree across the street. I ran out to the front porch, and in a couple of minutes the robins returned squawking. I didn’t see the other baby. Soon the mother began looking for worms and suddenly flew over to the edge of my patch of lilies of the valley. Much to my relief, she dropped a worm into a little mouth. I didn’t know how or when the other baby was moved to this location, but it was an excellent spot to hide her treasure. I only hoped that the crow wouldn’t come back and watch what she was doing.

Lilies of the Valley

Lilies of the Valley

Photo Friday – Ascona, Switzerland

Today’s peaceful photo was taken in Ascona, Switzerland. Ascona lies near Locarno along my favorite body of water, Lake Maggiore. It is a small town that attracts tourists and artists and has lots of unique shops and outdoor restaurants. I would love to be sitting on that bench right now.

Ascona, Switzerland Copyright 2007 Shirley Sorbello

Ascona, Switzerland
Copyright 2007 Shirley Sorbello

Photo Friday – Venice

A typical photo of lovely Venice. I literally had to pinch myself here to make sure I was totally aware of being in this famous, magnificent city…to know that this truly was the place that poets describe in such eloquent terms and where the dust of the ages hangs so heavily in the alleyways that I could literally feel the energy of the past.

Venice, Italy Copyright 2006 Shirley  Sorbello

Venice, Italy
Copyright 2006 Shirley Sorbello

Get the Boxing Gloves On

For the most part, I enjoyed the time I spent as a therapist working with couples. It was rewarding to see that often all they really needed for a better relationship was improved communication skills. Of course, the tips I am going to give you only work if the two persons involved truly want a better relationship and are willing to work on it.

Many times when a fight begins, it quickly escalates into a shouting match. As both persons become emotionally wounded, it turns into a contest to see who can shout the loudest. The result is that neither person is actually listening to what the other is saying.

The first tip involves clarification. If this heated discussion is going to be productive, it’s important for both parties to understand what the other person is saying. Try responding like this to the first disparaging remark: “Are you saying I’m a fat pig?” The answer may be, “yes,” or the other person may back down and give some type of explanation that diffuses the anger.

The second tip revolves around the use of “I” versus “you” statements. “You this or you that” almost always is perceived as an attack and will incite anger in the other person. Use “I” statements to help the other person to understand how their thoughtless remarks make you feel. “I feel really hurt when you call me a fat pig.”

Remember, both people have to be committed to working on their communication skills to improve the relationship. If so, a dialogue between relatively mature adults could go something like this:

“You’re such a fat pig! Nothing I ever buy for you fits your fat ass.”
“Did you really say I’m a fat pig?”
“Well, yeah. You’re fatter than you should be.”
“I feel really hurt when you talk about me like that. I’m trying hard to lose weight.”
“I don’t like to see you so heavy; it’s not good for your health.”
“Are you saying that you’re worried about my health?”
“Yeah, and I feel frustrated when I buy something in the size you tell me, and it doesn’t fit you.”
“I’m worried about my health, too, but I feel like I want to eat more of the wrong things when you yell at me for being fat.”
“I’m sorry. I want to help, not hurt you. Why don’t we start taking a walk every night after dinner?”
“Okay, and do me a favor and take me with you when you want to buy me clothes so I can try them on.”
“I think we’ve got a deal.”

Photo credit – Copyright: cookelma / 123RF Stock Photo