Christmas 2005

Family & Friends,          

We are all again very thankful to be together during this Christmas season and we hope that all of you are doing well!  We’d also ask for your cooperation next year in our Holiday decorating effort.  Here at the Murtari home it has been a long-standing tradition to tape Christmas Cards we receive in the mail around some of the doorways to our dining room.  Well, as I look at the doorways I only count six so far!  Come on, let’s try to make a better effort next year and get those cards out sooner!  Even if you are one of those ‘people’ who don’t send cards, please can make an exception for us….

The year began with Grandma and I making a trip out to Colorado in February for Dom’s birthday (Feb. 11), he turned 12 and started the 7th grade in the fall.  He also passed a major milestone and was officially taller than Grandma – he may soon be taller than Dad!

In June & July we had our six weeks of summer vacation together and had a great time!  Although we don’t belong to the 4-H, Dom decided he wanted to be a chicken farmer!  I was hoping to start with one or two, Dom wanted at least three – and he won big time when the local Farm Supply store told us he couldn’t sell us less than six!  Dom picked out six Bantams and they were immediately named:  Blacky, Baldy, Curly, Spotty, Fat Whitey & Skinny Whitey.  So began our travels with a Box-O-Chickens!

We can’t recommend Chickens for the feint hearted.  They are definitely high maintenance.  They poop and pee a lot and it smells bad, so regular cleaning is essential – especially when you are keeping the Box-O-Chickens right outside your bedrooms.  They also need fresh water, but that doesn’t seem to inhibit them from pooping and peeing in their water dish!  Oh, these little fellows were only a few days old when we got them.  Very cute, little yellow fur balls, but they like it warm – 95 degrees the first week, dropping 5 degrees each week.  Well, we made our annual trip to the Washington, D.C. area to visit friends and we were only in week two – 90 degrees.  So there we were on a hot summer day, in the car, windows rolled up, and the heat on!  That took dedication.

By now I’m sure you are dying to see pictures.  Just go to our website, created and managed by Domenic,  and follow the link for ‘pets’. Aaron, the manager of the Farm Supply store was a friend and told me that after the summer he would be happy to take back whatever (remaining) chickens were left and bring them to his farm.  That was a relief; my backup plan was to make them ‘free range’ chickens in one of the local fields!

My Air Force buddies and their families were very good-natured about the extra surprise guests!  We should also say the chickens had quite a bit of entertainment value at mealtime.  All you needed to drop into their box were a few live worms and the battle began.  They would try to choke the worms down lengthwise and it was not uncommon to have a baby chick pulling on each side of the worm – poor worms!

“Picnic Under the Grapevines” – There are quite a few Murtaris in the local area, but we usually only get together for weddings or funerals.  Domenic & I (mostly I), decided to host a small family reunion at our house and limit it to just the first generation, my cousins; we all share one parent that came from Italy in the Murtari family.  It was a very nice time, other than Domenic, no one there was under 49 (me) and my Mom was the oldest (at 89)!  It will hopefully become an annual tradition.

At the Picnic the Chickens were in a small fenced area right near our patio.  Many of my cousins remembered the days when people still kept chickens for food and we were comparing notes on means of execution.  My mother told me that her mom preferred slow strangulation, she would trap the chicken between her legs and slowly start twisting, while repeating the phrase, “Death to you and health to us!” (in Italian it rhymes).  One of my uncles would grab them by the legs and take a big swing, beating their heads against a wall (batter up!).  I think my father was the most humane; he had a hatchet and would chop their heads off.   Well – I think that’s enough on chicken executions for now!

After Dom went back to Colorado, I brought 4 of the chickens back to Aaron, but my mom and I kept two.  She really enjoyed them and would go outside to their coop a few times a day to bring them food.  I’m sure it reminded her of old times!  One thing we noted was that they do have unique personalities.  I kept Baldy and Curly who were very friendly.  Every night I would go into their coop and sit down, they would climb up on my arms and preen themselves and then start to fall asleep – just what I always wanted to be, Chicken Daddy!

One sad note this year is Grandma’s health.  She had been coping with a slowly failing Liver and was quite a bit weaker during the summer.  We still did a lot of things together as we had in the past, but we did not make a trip to Niagara Falls because the walking would have been too much for her.  In September, we were making plans for another trip to see Dom in Colorado when her health took a dramatic turn for the worse.  There were a couple of visits to the Emergency Room and about a two-week stay in the Hospital; she lost a lot of weight getting down to almost 80 pounds!   There didn’t seem to be much to be done in the Hospital and they sent here home by ambulance on a stretcher in late September.   She was admitted to the Hospice program for the terminally ill so that I could have some extra help at home taking care of her.

She has had her ups and downs but has remained in pretty good spirits!  Domenic arrived from Colorado yesterday, so we are all very thankful to have a Christmas together.

Domenic has had an uneventful fall semester at school.  His only response to questions about what he did in school that way was, “nothing.”  

Here are some other significant milestones that come to mind in 2005:

FIRST: This was the first year in a long time that I didn’t spend at least one night in a jail cell – imagine that!   It wasn’t for lake of effort -- I did get arrested and handcuffed a few times, but they didn’t want to keep me! You can teach an old dog new tricks!  For more details on this and my activities for Family Law reform check http://www.AkidsRight.Org/

SECOND:  Dom traveled from Denver to Rochester all by himself for our Christmas visit together. With Grandma being so sick it was impossible for me to fly out to escort Dom back as I had in previous years.  He still would rather fly together.

THIRD:  Again, we completed some home improvement projects.  Our cousin, Phil Paliotti (a former electrician), he told us the materials and techniques needed to run electricity out to an old garage).  It was an interesting project, no one got ‘shocked’ and it was nice to see lights come on when we threw the switch.   We also did a sink/vanity replacement upstairs in our house.

Our Best Wishes for a Very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

- Caterina, John, & Domenic Murtari

© John and Domenic Murtari 2011