Metalworkin’ and Gunslingin’


Mary, Anya, and I checked off the letters F and S on the Alphabet Bar List the other night. We headed to Somerville to Foundry on Elm and Saloon.

We scored seats in the middle of the bar at Foundry and Elm. I was pleased to discover an interesting beer list; I ordered a Double Point Toasted Lager.









We enjoyed our salads and fries and the bartender was friendly. All-around good experience.










Saloon is a few doors down from Foundry. Like Back Bar, it has an unassuming entrance. You come upon two bouncers in front of what looks like an entrance to an office building. The only tip is a small globe-shaped light that says “Saloon.”












There weren’t any seats at the bar, and no one was standing at it. We asked the hostess for guidance and she made space for us at a tiny table in the dining area. Bonus points for the accommodating hostess!

I tried the Saloon Pale Ale. It had a nice kick to it. And I quite enjoyed drinking out of a jelly glass. I was feeling the speakeasy atmosphere; it was dark, windowless, and the walls were exposed brick. I’d like to return and try the food sometime.










The next outing is in a few weeks…destination is the Back Bay or South End. Any recommendations?













Broke Through My First Brick Wall

I broke through my first brick wall recently!

A metaphorical, genealogical brick wall, that is.

I can’t even describe the surprise, relief, and elation I felt ALL AT ONCE. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.

My family tree has pretty long branches—some going back to the 1600s even. Except for one lonely, stubby branch. This branch has been lonely and stubby ever since I started researching the family tree a couple of years ago.

It’s my mom’s maternal branch. Everyone in this branch is long gone, and my mom only knows a few oral stories. So for the past couple of years, all I’ve found on her Italian grandparents are a few Pennsylvania census records and a couple of ship manifests (passenger lists).

Anyway. So I had a rough idea of their towns of birth, but I wanted confirmation. I sent away for their death certificates, hoping that they would have their towns of birth listed. Nope. I sent away for their naturalization records, which were not found. I spent hours looking at 20 years’ worth of Gioia Tauro birth records on microfilm, hoping to find my great-grandmother’s birth record, to no avail.

And then.

I decided to look on again, where I had found the Gioia Tauro microfilm. I had checked the available records for Grizzana Morandi, my great-grandfather’s alleged birthplace, before. There wasn’t any microfilm available. But when I checked this time, there was a link. Had I missed that link before?? The link took me to a list of online records! The available birth records started the year after he was born so no go there. I noticed that there were some marriage and death records listed as well. I didn’t think that they would get married in HIS hometown. But might as well check…

I hastily figured out their approximate year of marriage and started looking through the 100-page online document. There was no index; I just had to page through. Now mind you, these documents are all in handwritten Italian. I skimmed name after name until page 24. I read their names incredulously: Francesco Grandi and Francesca Repaci. I let out a gasp. But they were common names, after all. I kept skimming, looking for any other clues. And lo and behold, there were their parents’ names!!!

I yelled; I cried. I have no idea what this record says, but I could make out that they were both living in Gioia Tauro at the time and that civil officers from both towns had stamped the record.

So now I know where they were born: She was born in Palmi, south of Gioia Tauro, and he was born in Vimignano, outside of Grizzana Morandi. This record makes my quest to piece together their lives before their arrival in the United States that much more possible. I’m on the other side of the brick wall…


A page of my great-grandparents' marriage record
A page of my great-grandparents’ marriage record

A New Acronym


I am now an ABR, thanks to this little peanut:

Little Peanut aka Niyah










ABR stands for “Auntie by Relation,” according to the author of this book:











Time to crack open this book and work on my savviness. Do any of you ABRs or ABCs (Aunties By Choice) have any tips to share?

I am already thinking about Niyah’s betrothal to Prince George. No need to inform my brother just yet that his daughter will be attending the same college as Prince George. St. Andrews perhaps?

Courtesy of
Courtesy of


The Way Life Should Be

I went to Bar Harbor, Maine, for the second time a few weeks ago. It made such an impression on me seven years ago that when I returned, I felt as if no time had passed.

I went to my favorite shops, which were all still there. I went to the movie theater that serves pizza and beer. I drove along the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park and it was just as magical. Acadia is the type of place that is just as breathtaking enveloped in fog as it is on a sunny, cloudless day.

I think this is Otter Cliff in Acadia.








An island in Frenchman Bay
An island in Frenchman Bay










Bar Harbor is an eight-hour drive from where I live, so it’s not around the corner. But, as the shop owner said to me after I mentioned that I hadn’t been back in seven years, “You need to visit more often.”

I do, and I will.

Jordan Pond in Acadia
Jordan Pond in Acadia