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What Has And Hasn’t Changed

A few short thoughts for this week’s blog:

Look at the above photo very closely. It was taken in Yosemite Valley, California in 1963. What has changed? Physically, nothing at all; it would take a much longer time to change the physical characteristics of this magnificent place. Time works wonders and I’m sure someday in the very distant future, the valley will look different. But we’re talking about millions of years.

However, take a closer look. Do you see any pollution? Nope! That is what has changed. In 58 years, the valley has seen increasing pollution. That fact can not be denied. Pollution has invaded every part of our planet as well and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

In 1963, the environmental movement was in its infancy yet things were much cleaner then. Now we have a full-on environmental awareness (if not compliance) but things are worse than ever. What has changed? We have grown a tad wiser but still have a long way to go. What hasn’t changed? We still put ourselves first before our environment and our planet. It’s time to make a change for the future…. in a hurry!

Photo: Yosemite Valley, California 1963 by Barbara L. Rizzi

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Raining Tuna

I am by most accounts fluent in many languages. I speak eleven languages with varying skill and consider myself well prepared for a conversation in many tongues. I am not perfect but I am competent…. normally.

However, I am also an American and like so many of my brethren, I am a bit linguistically lazy. Having lived in northern Italy for many years, I consider myself completely fluent in the Italian language. Where we live, you have to be fluent in Italian, German and Nonese (local dialect) just to buy bread.

This brings us to why it is often raining tuna. In Italian, tuna is “tonno” and thunder is “tuono.” My unflappable American accent often forces me to say, “Guarda su, arriva tonno!” (Look up, the tuna is coming!”) My Italian friends often respond with a snicker, “How many?” This has been a local joke for a decade. I honestly know the difference but my mind often doesn’t tell my mouth what to say.

In my enthusiastic rush to conversation, I seem to always say “pesce” (fish) when I mean to say fish or peach (pesca). I have asked more than once for a kilo of pesce at the local fruit market only to be reminded that fish don’t grow on trees. “Lo so, lo so, lo so,” I mutter as I pay for the damned fruit.

Likewise, I once said that I found it very interesting that a German tourist had eaten “marmellata di viga con formaggio” for dessert (vagina jam with cheese). Oops! I meant to say “fichi” (figs). In the midst of old ladies hurriedly crossing themselves and gasping “Madonna,” I repeated the statement twice as I was sure of my diction. Finally, a cousin approached and whispered, “You make-a big-a mistake-a!” Yes, he was most definitely “right-a.” This difference I learned on the spot. But I still carry the memory like a red badge of stupidity.

Last, but certainly not least is “scopatore.” A “scopa” in Italian is a broom or mop. If a “attore” is an actor based on the noun “atto” (act), I figured adding “-tore” would work as well with any noun. So for the last ten years, I have told everybody here that I do the mopping in our house while my wife vacuums. Jokingly, I have said that my wife “mai imparata la scopa” (never learned how to mop). Therefore, with false pride I have repeatedly stated that I am a “grand scopatore” only to recently learn that I was saying in idiom that “I am a big fucker.” Ouch! No one ever bothered to tell me what I was saying until a friend recently laughed his ass off over dinner and laid the truth on me like a hundred pound salami. Apparently my way of applying logic to idiom doesn’t work hereabouts. It does make good fodder for my local friends who like to kid me a lot. (Well okay, unmercifully!)

Tonno or tuono: Only an Italian would know for sure. Being a poor immigrant, I continue to exclaim that the tuna are coming every time I hear a thunderstorm approaching. In somma, Io sono un grand scopatore che mangia pesce e pesca ma non mangia la marmelatta di viga con formaggio. Dico sempre quando arriva temporale, “Guarda su, arriva tonno!”

Mi dispiace…. la lingua è difficile.

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If You Can’t Give Me Love

Chances are that most people are not too familiar with the name Suzi Quatro. Suzi Quatro is probably not a familiar name to most people outside the music community. However, her 1978 song If You Can’t Give Me Love is a standout for its lyrics and driving rhythm. It is one of the earliest songs to promote women’s rights, although the song was never billed as such. Set in a discotheque scene, the lyrics are a simple plea: Don’t use women!

The song was written by Michael Donald Chapman and Nicholas Barry Chinn and features a unique rhythm. This song was largely lost in the post disco era in which it appeared. I resurrect it here to give you a fresh listen and appreciation for what is arguably one of the strongest first feminist songs ever recorded.

Susan Kay Quatro was born June 3, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan and is an American rock singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actress. She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star.

In 1964, after seeing a television performance by the Beatles, Quatro’s older sister, Patti, had formed an all-female garage rock band called the Pleasure Seekers with two friends. Quatro joined too and assumed the stage name of Suzi Soul; Patti Quatro was known as Patti Pleasure. Suzi sang and played bass in the band. The band also later featured another sister, Arlene.[14] Many of their performances were in cabaret, where attention was (initially) focused more on their physical looks than their actual music. They sometimes had to wear miniskirts and hair wigs, which Quatro later considered to be necessary evils in the pursuit of success. However, they would become well-known fixtures in the burgeoning and exploding Detroit music community.

The Pleasure Seekers recorded three singles and released two of these: “Never Thought You’d Leave Me” / “What a Way to Die” (1966) and “Light of Love” / “Good Kind of Hurt” (1968). The second of these was released by Mercury Records, with whom they briefly had a contract before breaking away due to differences of opinion regarding their future direction. They changed their name to Cradle in late 1969, not long after another Quatro sister, Nancy, had joined the band and Arlene had left following the birth of her child.

Suzi changed to a more mellow style after earlier recordings, giving Quatro a 1978 single “If You Can’t Give Me Love” that became a hit in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom. Later that year, “Stumblin’ In”, a duet with Chris Norman of the band Smokie, reached No. 4 in the US. Both tracks were featured on the “If You Knew Suzi” album. A year later, Quatro released “Suzi … and Other Four Letter Words,” but none of her other work had much US success. This featured the hits “She’s in Love with You”, which made No. 11 in Britain, “Mama’s Boy” (number 34), and “I’ve Never Been in Love” (number 56).

If you are not familiar with “If You Can’t Give Me Love,” here is the song with its lyrics. Let me know how you like it.

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To Be Or Not To Be

Most of have seen the 1942 film “To Be Or Not To Be.” This classic starred Jack Benny and Carole Lombard along with Robert Stack. It has since been remade by Mel Brooks (1983).

For me the film is perhaps more memorable because my father Gene Rizzi played a small part in the movie as a Polish airman. That’s my father behind Carole Lombard in the publicity photo.

Although the film is a mixed comedy / drama, the question in Europe in 1942 was indeed “to be or not to be.” Nazi Germany tried hard to make it the latter. Seven decades on, I still find this film poignant and comical but with a twinge of nostalgia for pre-war Europe or what has been often described as its golden age. My father was in Europe during the run-up to the second world war as a young violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. One evening in Vienna, he saw a crowd gathering on a street corner. As he approached, he saw a funny looking man with a queer little mustache standing literally on a soapbox, speaking violently in patriotic tones to the crowd. My father felt a sudden chill upon hearing the diatribe and decided he should return to the United States. His intuition was spot on. “To Be Or Not To Be;” he asked himself that question and returned promptly to the safety of America.

Seventy years later, I moved to Europe to fulfill many dreams with my wife. While Hitler was long gone, we found that his legacy was still very much alive. The scars we found etched upon the South Tirol were more like open wounds. “To Be;” we tried to be for over a decade. In the end, my wife and I had that same feeling my father had experienced. We decided “Not To Be” and moved back to the comfort and relative sanity of our birth nation.

“To Be Or Not To Be.” Indeed, that has always been the question. Answers to the question often take divergent forms. For me, being was not to be in Europe. While I’m sure others would see it differently, I am confident in our decisions. I often think of Jack Benny’s exasperation, my father’s decisions and a great film that ties it all together.

If you have any thoughts on this matter, please share them here.

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Food Tips And Tricks

I am not a chef, just a simple man who likes food (a lot). However, I first started cooking at age five, so I now have well over 65 years of experience and I suppose I have learned a few things along the way. Some of these things are small tricks or variations that I wanted to share here with you on this site.

Tamales – Try using large coffee filters instead of corn husks to wrap your tamales. Although not traditional, the filters allow for more even steaming and are much easier to use than the husks. Cooking time is also reduced. Juan Valdez would approve!

Yogurt – Coffee filters again. Use them in making yogurt at home to separate the whey. When placed over a colander, they work much better than the recommended cheese cloth. And they are much less expensive!

Spices – Almost any small whole spice can be put into a pepper grinder and be used in a ground form. Try this with dried hot red peppers, prickly ash, or most any other whole dried small spice. I keep a couple of extra grinders on hand for this reason. Who said they were for only salt and pepper?

Bananas – We heard on the television that bananas will last much longer without turning black if you separate them individually from the bunch and store them in different places. We tried this and it works. The chemicals that ripening bananas emit affects others in close proximity and hastens their ripening. When separated, they last almost twice as long. Who knew?

Hummus – If you like hummus but not the high price in local stores, why not make your own? Just use a hand mixer or blender with a can of garbanzo beans (chick peas), a clove of garlic and your favorite flavor (tomato, pepper, etc.) Add a little lemon juice and salt and you’re all set. It’s super easy and you get exactly what you want.

Drying Dishtowels – The next time you are done baking, prop the oven door open and hang your damp dishtowels over the top of the oven door. They’ll be dry in minutes.

Salt – Keep a bit of salt in a small dish next to your stove. It can be used by the pinch or by the teaspoon as required in recipes. We use it the same way on the table but beware of guests that mistake it for a sugar bowl!

Bread – To keep bread from drying out, try placing the loaf in a plastic bag after its first use. It will last a lot longer.

Chestnuts – After you’ve roasted chestnuts, remove them from the pan, put them in a bowl and cover them immediately with a kitchen towel. This keeps them hot and also provides enough steam so that the shells are easily removed.

Bacon Grease – Keep an empty 12 ounce can in your freezer for bacon grease (other greases too). Pour excess grease into the can and return to the freezer as needed. When the can is near full, you can remove the can’s bottom and use the grease as suet for birds.

These are just a few of the things I have picked up on the road called Foodie Street. Please share yours! The photo is a mosaic from the Roman ruins found at the southern end of Lake Garda, Italy.

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La Storia della Famiglia Rizzi in Cloz

Origini del Cognome Rizzi

(Questo è il più popolare dei miei blog. Si prega di lasciare i vostri commenti.)

Rizzi è uno dei cognomi più comuni in Cloz. Comunque, la famiglia ha le sue radici fuori della Val di Non.

Il cognome Rizzi (Ritz nel latino) originalmente descrisse una persona con capelli ricci. Rizzi letteralmente voule dire “uno con capelli ricci.” Il cognome ha potuto sviluppare simultaneamente in molte parti diverse di Italia incluso le aree latine e tedesche del Tyrol Meridionale.

Si ha congetturato che il cognome Rizzi probabilmente originato a Venezia tra gli anni 800-1100. Prima di approssimativamente 1100, persone furono sapute da solamente loro nome di battesimo. Cognomi furono sviluppati per distinguere persone diverse che avevano lo stesso nome. Come gli anni avanzarono, “sopranomi” fu aggiunto per distinguere famiglie che condivisero un cognome comune ma non fu riferito direttamente. Persone col cognome Rizzi emigrò probabilmente nordovest di Venezia, stabilendo nelle valli di Fassa, Non e Sole nella Dolomite Alpi italiana e poi nella “Regione dei Laghi” di Milano, Varese e Como.

Le famiglie Rizzi della Val di Non originò nella Val di Sole nel villaggio di Cavizzana, muovendosi a Cloz e Cavareno in ritardo sedicesimo secolo. Prima di vivendo a Cavizzana, la famiglia di Rizzi visse a Campedel nella Val di Fassa superiore. La popolazione dei villaggi di Pera e Vigo sono attualmente pesantemente (60%) del cognome Rizzi. Il cognome è esistito là da almeno 1320. Famiglie di Rizzi in tutte le tre valli sono sapute come essere “persone della montagna.”

Le origini specifiche e migrazione di questo cognome appaiono essere come segue: Il cognome originò in Venezia tra gli anni di 800 e 1100. Prima dell’anno approssimato di 1320, membri di questa famiglia emigrarono alla Val di Fassa nella Dolomiti e cominciarono coltivare attività nella regione di Campedel di Vigo di Fassa. È probabile che queste persone entrarono la Val di Fassa attraverso la Val di Fiemme (più basso) 200 anni più primo, come il nome è trovato là cominciando nel 1188 e continuando a oggi. Un certo Pietro Rizzi è nato in Campedel circa l’anno 1430. Lui emigrò alla Val di Sole col suo figlio Pietro e loro divennero i primi Rizzi residenti di Cavizzana. Da Cavizzana la famiglia Rizzi si mosse a Cloz circa 1596 quando Francesco Rizzi (nato a Cavizzana circa 1570) venne a Cloz come un insegnante col suo fratello Stefen (anche un insegnante). Così a Cloz la famiglia Rizzi fu stabilito. Un altro fratello di Francesco, Giorgio (nato circa 1552) trasferì a Cavareno e aveva un figlio chiamato Antonio (nato circa 1576) chi cominciò a Cavareno un ramo della famiglia. Questo ramo si mosse anche a Fondo e a Latches nella Val Venosta, vicino Merano. Finalmente, il ramo di Brez originata con Giovanni Rizzi, nato a Revo in circa l’anno 1590. Suo tre bisnonno era Nicolo Ritz, nato a Cavizzana in circa 1496.

Oggi, nella Val di Non il cognome Rizzi è trovato in concentrazioni forti nei villaggi seguenti: Fondo, Cavareno, Dambel, Brez, Cloz e Revo. Nella Val di Sole, le concentrazioni più forti ancora sono trovate nei villaggi di Cavizzana e Caldes, con alcune famiglie nei villaggi vicini di Ossana, Male, Dimaro e Terzolas.

Delle variazioni di Rizzi sono: Ritz, Rizt, Riz Rizzi, Rizzo Rizzie, Ricci Riccio, Ricii Ricztitis, Rizzicus, de Ritsch, de Ritschius e de Ricis.

Nota interessante:

Il famoso creatore di mappa Giovanni Antonio Rizzi-Zanoni (1736-1814) quasi certamente venne da Cloz nella Val di Non, come Rizzi e Zanoni sono cognomi particolare di Cloz. Straordinariamente, nessuna nota che conferma può essere trovata.

Lo stemma Rizzi è documentato nel Riestrap Armorial Generale. Lo scudo è descritto come segue:

Diviso orizzontalmente: (1) argento con un braccio sinistro che estende dal lato destro, adornò con sei nastri diagonali di verde e oro, con il polsino rosso. La mano sta tendendo tre orecchi di riso oro (la segale) significando servizio alla comunità come contandini.

Diviso verticalmente: (1) sei nastri verticali di oro e verde che significano fedeltà alla famiglia (verde) e comunità (l’oro). (2) argento con croce rossa che significa fedeltà e servizio all chiese.

Cè nessuno motto registrato con questo stemma. Variazioni sono trovate in tutto Italia ma la maggior parte di loro contengono questi elementi di base.

L’autore è una Americano che vive a Tret. La sua famiglia è da Cloz. Lui ha indagato la storia della Val Di Non per molti anni con un interesse speciale nella storia di Cloz.


Origins of the Rizzi Surname

The surname Rizzi (Ritz in Latin) originally described a person with curly hair. Rizzi literally means “one with curly hair” or the “curly haired ones.” The name may have developed simultaneously in many different parts of Italy including the then Latin and German speaking areas of the South Tyrol.

It has been conjectured that the Rizzi surname probably originated in Venice in the years between 800-1100. Prior to approximately 1100, most people were known by only their given name. Surnames were developed to distinguish different people who had the same name. As the years progressed, “sopranomi” (nicknames) were added to distinguish families who shared a common surname but were not directly related. People with the surname Rizzi probably migrated northwest of Venice, settling into the valleys of Fassa, Non and Sole in the Italian Dolomite Alps and then into the “Lakes Region” of Milano, Varese and Como.

The Rizzi families of the Val di Non originated in the Val di Sole in the village of Cavizzana, moving to Cloz and Cavareno in the late 1500’s. Prior to living at Cavizzana in the Val di Sole, the Rizzi family lived at Campedel in the upper Val di Fassa. The population of the villages of Pera di Fassa and Vigo di Fassa is currently heavily (60%) of the Rizzi surname. The surname has existed there since at least 1320. Rizzi families in all three valleys are known to be “mountain people.”

The general origins and migration of this surname appears to be as follows: The surname originated in Venice and the surrounding areas between the years of 800 and 1100. Sometime prior to the approximate year of 1365, members of this family emigrated to the Val di Fassa in the Dolomites and began farming activities in the Campedel region of Vigo di Fassa. It is probable that these people entered the Val di Fassa through the lower Val di Fiemme 200 years earlier (before the year 1188), as the name is found there beginning in 1188 and continuing to today. A certain Pietro Rizzi was born in Campedel around the year 1430. He emigrated to the Val di Sole with his son Pietro and became the first Rizzi resident of Cavizzana. From Cavizzana in the Val di Sole, the Rizzi family moved to Cloz in about 1596 when Francesco Rizzi (born about 1570) came to Cloz as a teacher with his brother Stefen (also a teacher). Thus the Cloz branch of the Rizzi family was established. Another brother of Francesco, Giorgio (born about 1552) relocated to Cavareno and had a son named Antonij (Antonio, born about 1576) who began the Cavareno branch of the family. This branch also moved to Fondo and to Latches in the neighboring Val Venosta, above Merano. Finally, the Brez branch of the family originated with Giovanni Rizzi, born at Revo in about the year 1590. His great-great grandfather was Nicolo Ritz, born at Cavizzana in about 1496. This brief history of migration covers most of the major branches of the Rizzi family in the valleys Non, Sole, Fassa and Venosta only. The other groups of Rizzis from the Como area probably also originated in Venice. Those of Pescara and Bari in southern Italy probably originated as a separate surname group. Tracing this surname through six hundred years of recorded history has been a difficult task. It is both interesting and awe inspiring to think of all of these family members; their lives, aspirations, confrontations, beliefs, hopes and despairs as manifested throughout this history.

In the Val di Non, Trento, Italy the Rizzi name is found in strong concentrations in the following villages: Fondo, Cavareno, Dambel, Brez, Cloz and Revo. In the Val di Sole, the strongest concentrations are still found in the villages of Cavizzana and Caldes, with a few families in the nearby villages of Ossana, Male, Dimaro and Terzolas.

The Rizzi surname is found additionally in the northern Italian “Lakes Region” of Milano, Varese and Como. Strong concentrations can also be found in Pescara and Bari in the southeast of Italy where the name originated either simultaneously or by means of migration from Venice.

In the late 1800’s, many families with the name Rizzi emigrated from northern and southern Italy to the United States, South America, Mexico and Australia. The Rizzi surname may be found as well in many countries, including Italy, Austria, Germany, France, England, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, and Algeria.

The famous 18th century map maker, Giovanni Antonio Rizzi-Zanoni (1736-1814) almost certainly came from Cloz in the Val di Non as both Rizzi and Zanoni are surnames particular to this small area, most notably the village of Cloz. Amazingly, no confirming record can be found.

A possible connection has been found to early Venice. A certain Antonio Rizzo (Rizzi) was responsible for designing the rebuilding of the Doge Palace in Venice after a great fire of 1483. He was also a sculptor who executed the statues of Adam and Eve for the courtyard of the palace. He fled Venice in the year 1498 after being accused of embezzlement. He was born in approximately 1460, presumably in Venice and died after 1498, location unknown. He was probably descended from the first Rizzi families of Venice.

Some variations of Rizzi are: Ritz, Rizt, Riz, Rizzi, Rizzo, Rizzie, Ricci, Riccio, Ricii, Ricztitis, Rizzicus, de Ritsch, de Ritschius and de Ricis.

Another source: “Per la storia del Cognome nel Trentino”, 1991 by Lamberto Cesarini Sforza explains the Rizzi surname and its examples as follows:

“Riccio (riccioluto): 1188, Ritzi (genit.), Tesero. – 1220, Ricia filii Ricii, Val di Fieme. – 1277, in domo Rizi, Cavedine. – 1293, Ricius, Castello. – 1307, Ricium, Grumes. – 1333, Iacoba detto ricius, Terlago. – 1370, Simeone c. Iachemini dicti ricelli, San Michele. – 1378, Bart. detto Ricio, Tesero, e Ricio in Varena e Someda. – 1378, Francescino c. Rizati, Predazzo. – 1407, Niccolo nt. Rizate (della ), Trento. – 1433 , Terlago. – 1445, Ricius fu Aldrighetto, Calovino. – 1511, Iob. rizotus de Gislimbertis, Terlago. – 1584, Alberto fu ser Giacomo detto (o ser Giacomo), Stenico. Tr. riz, rizo, riza, diminutive rizot, ta (V.I, 1415). Fr. Sacchett1, Nov. CLXIV: di Firenze. – Cognome (variations): Riz, Rizzo, Rizzi, Ricci, Rizzoli, Rizotto, Rizzon, Rizzonelli, non tr. Rizzetto, Del Riccio.

* However, some of these surnames may derive from Odoricius (plural – Odorici) and variations of this spelling. Therefore, Odorizi is written in error as Odorizzi and Rizzi, etc. The surname Rizzoli from Val di Fiemme (1313, Bartol. q. Ionnis Rizoli, Cavalese) is perhaps of another derivation.”

Note: In this book, no mention is made of historical references in the Val di Non or Val di Sole. The Val di Fiemme is mentioned; this valley is the lower extension of the Val di Fassa.

The Rizzi Coat of Arms (lo stemma in Italian) is documented in the Rietstap Amorial General ( a complete compilation of European Coats of Arms by J.B. Rietstap.) It is described as follows:

“Divided horizontally: 1) silver with left arm issuing from the right side, adorned with six diagonal bands of green and gold, cuffed in red, the hand holding three golden ears of rice (segala); 2) divided vertically: a) six vertical bands of gold and green; b) silver with a red pattee crosslet.”

The coat of arms has the following significance:

(1)The three ears of rice (rye or segala in the north of Italy) signify the Rizzi families as originally being farmers of grain and providers of food.
(2) The alternating bands of green and gold signify fidelity to the community (gold) and to the family (green).
(3) The red crosslet signifies fidelity and service to the church. (It is interesting to note that many members of the Rizzi families of Cloz were priests or other church officials.)

The silver background behind several of the elements signifies wealth, prosperity or nobility. Taken together, they signify wealth through hard work and good standing in the community.

No battle cry or motto is recorded with the Rizzi Coat of Arms. Variations of the Rizzi Coat of Arms are found throughout Italy; however, all seem to retain the same basic elements and colors.

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Lunedi Senza Parole #206

Indovina dove! Guess where!
Foto © Allen E. Rizzi

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Il Cognome Franch In Cloz

Di questo cognome ci è pervenuta una ricerca completa da parte di Allen Rizzi, un Americano originario di Cloz, attulmente residente a Tret.

Franch è lo cognome più comune in Cloz e anche un di più antico di Cloz. Il cognome Franch originalmente descrisse una persona libero delle tasse. Ma, perche? Ricerca recente ha trovato che i Franch eranno originalmente delle classe nobile sotto Charlemagne, Re di Franks (742-814) durante la sua conquista di questa regione di anno 773. Il cognome sviluppò come un sopranome per descrivere un gruppo di famiglie che non doverono pagare tasse sotto l’imperatore. Eranno libre delle tasse per la volanta del Charlemagne. Perciò, noi possiamo presumere che le persone chiamarono Franch sia originalmente di Lombardia e una parte della corte di Charlemagne. Le altre teorie suggeriscono che Franch è un nome ebreo portato a questa regione dei schiavi ebrei di Roma. Comunque, questa teoria non accoppia i fatti di storia in questa regione.

Le famiglie Franch della Val di Non originò nel villaggio di Cloz, ma anche si trovanno poche famiglie in Val di Sole e anche Val di Adige. Prima di arrivando nel Val di Non, la famiglia di Franch era certamente da Lomabardia. Un certo Giorgio Franch (nato 1540 a Cloz) andato in Waldmunchen, Bavaria, Germania. Lui era la prima Franch (Franck) della Val di Non in Germania. Oggi sono tanti Franch (Franck) in Germania e Austria. Immigranti al America spesso cambiano il nome a Frank.

La ricerca del autore ha trovato che la prima persona fondò nell’archivio di Cloz chiamò Franch era un certo Henrigito Franch, nato a Cloz circa 1165. Lui era capo comune. Sto Henrigito (Enrico) è lo fondatore di tutti Franch qui a Cloz oggi.

Le variazioni di Franch sono: Franch, Franck (in Germania), Franke, Franco, Franchi, e del Franco. Ci sono molti stemme per la famiglia di Franch.


The Franch Surname

We are presented with a complete research of the surname prepared by Allen Rizzi, an American with roots in Cloz currently living in Tret, Italy.

Franch is the most common surname in Cloz as well as the oldest. The surname Franch originally described a person free from taxation. But why? Recent research has found that the Franch family were originally of the noble class under Charlemagne, King of the Franks (742-814) during his conquest of this region in the year 773. The surname developed as a nickname that described a group of families that did not have to pay taxes under Charlemagne. They were free from taxation at the express will of Charlemagne. Therefore, we may assume that the persons called Franch were originally from Lombardy and a part of Charlemagne’s court. Other theories suggest the surname Franch is Hebraic and was brought to this region by Roman slaves. However, this theory does not agree with the historical facts of this region.

The Franch families originate in the village of Cloz but some families are also found in the Sole Valley as well as the Adige Valley. Prior to arriving in the Non Valley, the Franch family was certainly from Lombardy. A certain Giorgio Franch (born 1540 at Cloz) went to Waldmunchen, Bavaria, Germany. He was the first Franch (Franck) of the Non Valley in Germany. Today, there are many Franch (Franck) families in Germany and Austria. Immigrants to America frequently change their surname to Frank.

The author’s research has found that the first person called Franch in the Cloz archives was a certain Henrigito Franch, born in Cloz in about 1165. He was the head of the community. This Henrigito (Enrico, Henry) is the founder of all Franch families in Cloz today.

The variations of Franch are: Franch, Franck (in Germany), Franke, Franco, Franchi, and del Franco. There are many variations of the Franch family coat of arms.

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Endarterectomy – This One’s Straight Off Personal

An old post but a reminder…

Most of us stagger through life a little off-balance believing that it will almost always happen to the other guy.

I have been blessed with a Ken and Barbie existence for over six and half decades. I have watched for years as the other guy became a victim of disease or misfortune. I have been a spectator, the collective audience of one. Then at long last it was my turn.

On May 28 of last year, I was driving back from the Asheville Airport after changing our return tickets to Italy. About half way home, my right eye simply went completely blind. It was though someone had slowly pulled down a shade over the eye. I rubbed it thinking it was just some local pollen. Nothing. I still couldn’t see out of the eye but I drove the rest of the way back home just the same. When I got to the house, the blindness went away but the eye looked like it had been dried out. It was strange to say the least. As we were heading back to Italy in two days, I made a hurried appointment with a friend and ophthalmologist just to be cautious. He confirmed that I was fine but that I had suffered an amarosis fugax, which is a small TIA stroke that usually affects only one eye. Basically, a piece of plaque or blood clot had broken off from my carotid artery and blocked the artery to my right eye before dissolving. I figured (erroneously) that it wasn’t a biggie so off we went to Italy for five months. Fortunately I did select the precautions to take an 81 mg. aspirin once a day in addition to cutting all caffeine from my diet. When we got to Italy, I began doing a little research and I was surprised at the serious nature of what had happened. Basically the amarosis fugax I had experienced was a warning shot over the bow. They are quite often followed by major strokes.

After we returned to the U.S. in late October, I immediately saw my primary physician who ordered what seemed to be about a million tests. The first test was a carotid ultrasound which showed that I had more than a 60 percent stenosis (narrowing) in my right inner carotid artery (ICA). This is the big boy that feeds the brain. An echocardiogram followed to rule out a similar problem with the arteries of the heart. The next major test was a CTA which is basically a cat-scan of the carotid artery with contrasting dye to show the exact severity of the blockage. This test came back and stated conclusively that I had at least a 90 percent blockage. The left carotid artery and heart were fine but that right inner carotid artery was a stubborn threat to my life. That’s when things started to get really serious in my mind.

I was immediately referred to a vascular surgeon. After studying my tests he recommended an operation called an endarterectomy. A what? He explained that I needed an operation whereby the surgeon cuts open my neck and then the inner carotid artery. At that point, the plaque is removed and everything is sewn back up. It sounded scary to me but actually simple enough. Why not do an angioplasty and a stent? The surgeon explained that I wasn’t really a candidate for the less invasive procedure and that the huge blockage posed a risk of catastrophic failure with just a stent. I am a lot of things but dumb isn’t one of them. My next question was simply, “Can we do this tomorrow?” It turned out that the first available surgery time just happened to be on New Year’s Eve which is also the eve of my wedding anniversary. Time was surely of the essence so I immediately said yes.

My surgeon does this procedure differently than most other surgeons. He wanted me completely awake as to assess any possible stroke or other problems during the surgery. Also, he explained that a general anesthetic can cause major swings in blood pressure levels. For these safety reasons and total communication with the patient, he prefers to do the operation under local anesthetic. I always thought a local anesthetic was pretty much just for dental procedures and sewing up minor wounds. It took me a bit to wrap my head around the fact that I was going to be completely awake for the whole event. Then I did what I should not have done: I looked up the procedure on Youtube and watched. Yikes! It looked more like a video of a hog butchering festival. Sometimes our modern media world is best left alone. I must say that after the initial shock, the video did help me to understand what I was facing a bit better in the end.

I showed up at six in the morning and by 7:30, I was in the operating room with a bevy of people: two doctors, an anesthesiologist and numerous support staff. They knocked me out just long enough to inject a good dose of local anesthetic into my neck and then they woke me back up. It was show time! I didn’t feel a thing until the surgeon went into the deep layers of the tissue that surrounds the artery. Ouch! I thought I could actually feel the scalpel. The team shot some more local anesthetic into my open neck and off we went again. When the carotid artery was clamped off, I was tested for neurological responses to make sure that the clamping had not adversely affected overall blood flow to my brain. During the whole procedure, I was constantly talking to the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and anyone else who would listen. I became a chatterbox, cracking jokes and generally keeping the entire bunch entertained as I heard the faint clatter of clamps, retractors, and instructions going across my chest. Shecky Green would have been proud.

The normal procedure calls for the clamping of the common, external and internal carotid arteries, the isolation and then opening of the inner carotid artery. The plaque is then removed, the artery is resewed, blood flow resumed and things are put back together like the straw man in the Wizard of Oz. However, when the surgeon removed the plaque he had some unexpected news. My artery was basically shot. It was ulcerated in two places and the plaque that had blocked it had been pushed up from a blood clot resting on one of the ulcerated areas. If the artery was left as is, it was a surety that I would have major complications, very likely including an aneurysm, stroke and death. At this point, I had my carotid artery clamped in three places and I was fully conscious. Before I could comment, he had snipped out the bad piece of the artery. The surgeon then proceeded with a resection made from a Gore-Tex Anpra graft. I was amazed that I was awake to take all of this in. He had to repair a few tiny leaks in the graft after the blood flow was restored. This took a bit of time. The wound was closed internally and then the skin was sutured. Tah-dah! The 35 minute procedure had churned on for two and a half hours but it was completely successful.

As the anesthesiologist was wheeling me off to ICU, I asked the surgeon to tell my wife that she needed to cancel her one-way ticket to Boca Raton…. I was going to be around awhile longer. I always try to keep my sense of humor intact. However that sense of humor was tested a tad when I got into bed in ICU. I needed the urinal but as I used it in a prone position, I completely pissed myself. I thought I had enough experience in these matters. I had to go through the embarrassment of being cleaned-up like an infant; not a pleasant thing for a grown man. The next time I needed to go, I used it over the toilet. As I proceeded, I heard the liquid leaking into the toilet bowel. When the nurse came back in the room, I said with a childish smile, “I told you I knew how to use one of these things. The trouble is, this one has a dime sized hole in the bottom!” I was laughing so hard as I got back into bed, I thought I would surely piss myself all over again.

Lunch was the jello variety we know all too well in the United States. It’s odd that Italy has never heard of Jello; they prefer to offer up red wine in the hospital. It may well be a better alternative. However, when dinner arrived I was surprised to see Spaghetti Bolognese on my plate. Maybe it was because my last name ends in a vowel. Chi sa? Later that night in the still of the ICU as the world was ushering in another new year, I was overwhelmed by the fact that it was my 34th wedding anniversary and but for the extreme skill of my surgeon, I probably wouldn’t have seen another. Thanks to him, I will spend more years with my wife Rachel. I would like to thank him here publicly: Dr. Stuart L. Glassman of Pardee Surgical Associates in Hendersonville, North Carolina. I have to believe he is one of the very best vascular surgeons around. I would also like to thank the Pardee Hospital ICU nursing staff, especially Connie and Jane. The whole staff provided excellent acute care.

So, that’s my story in brief. I am writing this after being discharged from the hospital yesterday. My hope here in publishing this post is that some of my readers may benefit from my experience. You don’t have to look or feel sick to have atherosclerosis. If you have any symptoms of a TIA, get them checked immediately. Get regular check-ups and listen to your doctors. Be very thankful for what you have in your life; it’s a one-way ticket. Lastly, don’t ever lose your sense of humor. Oh yes, one last thing: Don’t get on the plane for Italy as a ticking time bomb…. it’s definitely not a smart idea. Capisci?

The photo above is of my dissected right inner carotid artery Courtesy of Dr. Stuart L. Glassman.

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Cats, Cats And More Cats

I have always had cats in my life ever since I was a child. I remember our first cat when I lived in the town of San Fernando, California in the 1950’s. I forget the name but she was a black cat that bred like a rabbit. She was always leaving kittens, both alive and stillborn, on our front porch. My father kept taking the cat out of town but it kept returning. Finally he announced that he’d found the cat a home on a farm where it would be happy. I have often wondered whether this was true or whether he had simply dispatched the poor thing. I’ll never know.

When I was a single parent, my very young son wanted a cat. Again, it was black and because of its stare, my son named her Peeper. Peeper was a nice cat and tolerant, especially when you consider that we lived in an apartment. When I was remarried, we moved Peeper to our new home in the country. It was only then that we discovered that she was as dumb as a box of rocks. One afternoon, a mouse popped in from the open front door and bounded down our stairs within inched of Peeper. She just sat there and looked at it as it bounded by. Her tail did not even twitch. She died some two years later of kidney failure, a disease that often affects cats.

Next came Jessie. My wife and I found an American Shorthair at the local animal shelter and my wife decided she had to have this cat. I returned to pick her up and found that another lady also wanted the cat. The decision was to be made at 9 AM. I patiently waited and on the stroke of the hour I scooped up the cat and walked past the other “bidder” as I was leaving. I just kept on walking as I knew my wife would not want to see me empty handed when I returned home.

Jessie was a fixture in our home for 12 years. Often nasty, she bullied her way around our home, terrorized our new puppy and generally lived the Life of Riley. She did have her tender moments as when she used to sit and watch nature shows with us that were on TV. She loved to sleep with us on our bed but she had the annoying habit of jumping on my wife’s face at 4:30 in the morning when she wanted to be fed.  I remember I once bought oriental rugs for both the cat and our dog. I put hers down and she immediately curled-up on its warm wool. However, when I put the dog’s rug down, Jessie jumped up and bit him on the ear. Apparently she wanted both for herself. Poor Jessie had a stroke at age 12 and we had to put her down.

When we moved to Italy, we swore we would have no more pets. We did not know that there were 22 feral cats in the nearby forest. Gradually, we adopted them all. Our house was often full of frolicking cats, jumping up and down on our beds. The food bill was of course large but we enjoyed watching them all grow. Some of their names were Black Mama, Ciccione, Foots, Cousin, Twarticus, Malfatto. Sister, Marco’s Gray, Fluffy, Blackie and Smiegel. The only one who was truly tame was Ciccione (Fatty in Italian). She would often sleep with us in the winter because she was a smart cat who knew the value of a warm bed versus a cold corner in the forest.

Ciccione was with us for many years and then one morning she simply disappeared. We were both saddened but found comfort in the fact that Smiegel had decided to take her place. He would often amble up our steps and come into the house for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He would also try to get his running buddy, Blackie, to join in. In the end Smiegel disappeared like her mother.

One by one the others followed until two years ago only Black Mama and Blackie were left. We thought we saw Foots and Fluffy as well. Perhaps these two had moved on to better feeding pastures or perhaps they were figments of our imaginations. At any rate, we are down to two cats now. Black Mama was the original grandmother of the whole lot and was now 18 years old, which is a tremendous age for a forest cat. Blackie was pushing 13 herself. For a decade and a half, Black Mama had never ventured near us. In her super golden years, she decided that being our friend was a lot better than starving in the woods. She has never been tame but she is here every day begging for both attention and food. Like Black Mama, Blackie is shy and does not like to be touched. However Smiegel had taught her to lope up to our door in the hope of a warm meal. Both are now regulars in our garden every morning.

Cats, cats and more cats: That seems to be the story of my life.

A sad little postscript: Black Mama recently disappeared as well, leaving Blackie as the sole resident of our once catful garden.

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