These are stories that have a video included, usually by the same name as the story. We use video when there is something about a particular situation that calls for a more animated way to describe it. All of our videos, which include those made for Music, Storytelling, or Behind the scenes documentation, can be seen on YouTube at the Uncommon Promise Video Channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/uncommonpromise

Ah, the ever popular stuzzicadenti, toothpick. Yes, they are readily available the world over. In any grocery store, a hundred can be had for a few coins. But the picking of one’s teeth shouldn’t be limited to processed slivers of wood. Oh, no! For those of you who are already a bit confused by the title, we’re not suggesting that istrici, porcupines have discovered the secret to perfect teeth. Certainly not! Most of them have nasty overbites. But, we are saying that the curious gift of the porcupine can make a difference in our dental hygiene, while making the world a better, tidier place. All we have to do is start using quills instead of toothpicks when the judicious picking of i denti, teeth becomes necessary. Let us lay out the argument and then you can decide for yourself. (more…)

A cherry-plum tree is right outside our bedroom window—so close, you can almost reach out and touch it. On Wednesday morning when we looked out, on the delicate branches that are contrasted with beautiful deep purple leaves, we spied a bright green caterpillar. If they came in sizes, this would have been an extra-large. Curious, we looked around the tree and sure enough there was its twin just a little higher up on another branch. Having discovered a matched set, we felt like it was our lucky day. Cheryl named them Catia and Claudio—after all, they are Italian. (more…)

There’s nothing quite like a smarty-pants e-mail.

What I mean by that is: when somebody sends you a message that seems innocent enough at a glance, but beyond the surface niceties, there’s an underlying smarty-pants attitude that can’t be denied. The reason I even bring this topic up is because I got one of those SP messages the other day. It was from our dear friend Scott who happens to be one of the best cooks I know. Yet, that doesn’t give him the right to parade his gifts in front of those of us less fortunate! (more…)

“What do you know about Siena?”

A question like that is pretty normal in Italy, when uttered by a visitor. “How far’s Rome?” “Could we go to Venice and back in a day?” Questions we’ve heard and answered typically end up taking us on an unsuspected day trip. Just a “little” outing. We always enjoy the possibility of further exploration. So once a question is asked, we go into gear, planning and heading out on the new adventure. (more…)

Fear is an ugly emotion!

In fact, you could say that it’s perhaps the most insidious of all human emotions. It would surely win hands down in an old-fashioned repulsive emotions contest, if there ever was such a thing. You may even recall the famous quote from our revered President, FDR who said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He made that comment in his inaugural address some 80 years ago, but we still don’t quite understand. Maybe it’s time to reconsider. (more…)

We just finished our first year of this blog and had a blast writing for you! We thought it might be fun to share the most popular stories as voted by clicks from our readers around the world. Of course, writing daily, we never really know what will strike a chord with anyone, but remain committed to write from the heart about what naturally happens in this life of two Americans “trying to live as Italians.” We hope the experiences and lessons learned are both amusing and also thought provoking, as we all learn and grow together through shared experiences. Well . . . blah, blah, blah—let’s get on with the results! (more…)

C’era una volta, once upon a time . . . in the Tuscan hills just north of Florence, Italy, lived some very poor farmers. Their homes were usually one room, built high in the mountains, where both family and animals dwelled together. Life was difficult, but they were thankful for what they had. (more…)

The crumbling stone walls needed a new cap and so the work began!

Alfonso asked us for a piece of the old tile to check the dimensions. We looked at each other with a shrug as Cheryl said, “il cotto vecchio non è qui, the old clay tile isn’t here.” Whoops! Since he was at a critical point in capping the wall, we jumped in the car and tore down the hill to Gionni’s salvage yard to pick one up. We hoped to get back in time before the cement set. Cheryl dialed the cell phone to tell Gionni that we would be there in 30 minutes while Em negotiated the twisting, narrow roads on the shortcut route. (more…)

Wherever I go, there life is. Whatever I’m doing, there I am.

Sometimes it feels like I’m being followed. No matter how far away I go, no matter how sneaky I think I am by stealing off to Italy, despite my best efforts to change my name and identity—when I wake up the next morning, there I am . . . again!

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Abundance!

We go for a walk each evening, just to check in with each other and with ourselves. There is something about the rhythm of walking that coaxes out deeper feelings and more creative ideas. We do some of our best work when we walk. We have a number of different choices depending on our moods and available time. But, there is nothing like the meadow walk for inspiration and soulful engagement. (more…)