Monday, April 23, 2018

24 hours with Justice for All (JFA)

I have not posted for such a long time, but this is a great opportunity to start again.

Our family spent the last 24 hours with our missionary friends of Justice for All, who travel the country ministering on college campuses. They engage students and the general public about one of the most controversial human rights issues of today.
But what is different about JFA is their approach, which is based on listening, patience, finding common ground and loving those they converse with.
Not many people truly listen to others anymore and even fewer listen with love.  Thank you for your example Steve, Jon, Rebecca, Susanna, Grace and the whole team.

           If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal … Love is patient, love is kind … it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.   -   1 Corinthians 13 (excerpts)

We had some very interesting encounters today, but I would like to leave you with a touching story from a JFA event held in 2017.

Our small display, side 1

Side 2

Isabella, Anna and Norine

More listening

fellowship at our house

what do you think?

Monday, January 8, 2018

1500m indoor running race --> 5:07:14

What a way to start 2018. A friend, who is a very fast runner, invited me to an indoor track 1500m running race at the Air Force Academy. How could I say no. I feel so blessed. I am 46 and after a couple of years of some back problems, I have been able to come back to running and doing it somewhat competitively as well. Thank you Lord for this gift and, as somebody once said, "To give less than your best is to sacrifice the gift". Yes, I did my best and will continue to do that.
I also have some other good reasons to continue running in 2018. A few months ago I signed up with LifeRunners ( and I feel it is an honor to wear their shirt and run as a testimony that every life is precious, no matter how small.   Age has also brought some regular physical pain that I did not experience when I was young. So running also becomes a way to feel in communion with and to think about those who suffer daily. 
As for the race:
Well, my friend ended up sick so I went alone. I was hoping to run the 1500m in 5:05 and I did almost that (5:07:14, which equates to a 5:32 mile pace). The AFA (Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs) indoor track is 274m (or so) long, so it is hard to keep track of your pace during the run and the GPS does not work in the facility. 
I ended up as the only master athlete in the 1500m race. All the other runners were teenagers. So, I felt a little intimidated. Yet, they were nice to me.  I ran in the first, faster heat and finished last. Kids went out way too fast. That threw pacing completely off.  I could have probably battled for victory in the second, slower heat, as their winning time was around 5:02.
Overall, I am satisfied and I think I can soon get to a 5:00 with proper pacing. Here the video shot from a phone. The last 10 seconds are missing as the phone rang... Bummer.  I am in a blue shirt if you are wondering.
My two comments:
I had never been filmed before and I have to say that I look really slow from this angle. Yet, 5:07 is a good pace....
I also like Norine and Isabella's comments. Thank you for your support ladies. I love you.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Lake Isabelle

In the background: Apache Peak, Shoshoni Peak, Pawnee Pass and Mt Toll, all close to 13 thousand feet

Having Wednesdays off has its advantages.
Norine and I dropped off Paolo at school and then headed to Brainard Lake Recreation Area. Look it up and consider visiting it, if you live in the Front Range of Colorado, because it is fantastic.
For us it is surely one of the most beautiful hikes in the area.
A moist forest, soft walking path, the sound of water, a peaceful high mountain lake, plenty or mushrooms (even edible ones) and wildflowers and my best friend forever.
Many more peaks and trails to discover. Maybe next year we will come camping here.

Here is a link to the hike profile:

"porcino mushroom - the best to find"

Lake Isabelle, 11,000 feet

"goodbye for now"

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In the path of totality - August 21, 2017 - Nebraska

Isabella and dad decided to brave the forecasted terrible traffic and drive to Nebraska to watch the total solar eclipse. This is the tale of their short adventure.
Alarm sounds at 2:45am in order to meet with Kirk and his children at 3:30.
The morning air is brisk but pleasant. Food and water were prepared the night before but we want to get an extra container of gas, just in case. The first gas station pump I try does not dispense gas. Maybe they turn it off at night? So we get gas at a second one.
We meet our friends, cram 5 people in a Hyundai and are on the road toward the Scottsbluff area by 3:40am. Surely one of the earliest departures ever.
We have plenty of food, water and entertainment, a full tank of gas as well as three full 5-gallons gas containers in the trunk. Unfortunately, one of them has a tiny little leak next to the cap and the smell comes into the car. So we spend the day opening and closing the windows for fume control.
As we drive up E470, there is a steady stream of red car lights ahead of us and we wonder how bad traffic will be. Yet, our fears never materialize. We reach Fort Morgan, then head up country roads to Nebraska. The young people in the car sing: "Take me home country roads, to the place I belong...."
The stream of car continues but it's the fog in northern Colorado, not the traffic, that slows us down to 40mph for a while. We cross I-80 and stop in Kimball, NE for a break. About twenty people are in line for one bathroom at the gas station in town, so we decide to keep going and stop by the roadside on a small country road instead.
The Nebraska radio station we tune is talks with excitement about "Nebraska being in the path of totality" and says that the stadium in Scottsbluff is getting filled with eclipse watchers. It's 7am, so we decide to head for the country instead. We turn onto CO RD 88 and then north to stay out of town. In the meanwhile the radio features the daily value for corn, hay, wheat, alfa-alfa and other vegetables on the farmers' stock market (corn $22.50 up 2...) along with the list of people that will be selling cattle this morning at the market. Quantity, price and breed are all mentioned. I wonder if anybody will buy cattle today....
4 1/2 hours after our departure we drive over a large rail road crossing and enter into Morrill, NE (population 912 according to the 2010 census). It is small, quiet and rundown. The local gas station does not have a line for the bathroom. Plus they still have plenty of eclipse glasses for sale along with eclipse T-shirts. It seems like the right place to stop.   Besides, there is a well maintained, green park in the center of town. So we set up camp for our observation point.
The sky is blue, not a cloud in sight.
Coal trains stream by next to main street with a loud whistle about every 20 minutes; full trains come from Wyoming to the west and empty trains come from the east. There is a pattern.
The town seems to be in existence because of a "bean plant", but apart from that there is not much life here.
The police station has two cars that drive loops around the few streets and the green park.
We play some frisbee and tennis, do some homework, Isabella naps on her portable hammock while people start trickling in. By the time the eclipse starts at 10:30am there are probably 60 to 80 people mostly from Colorado and some from Wyoming, where we hear the traffic is terrible.
Ha, ha, good choice not go there.
The viewers include a group of 4 Asian people (Chinese?) each wearing the equivalent of a homemade, full body suit including gloves, hoodies and face masks. Then they lay on the ground on their blankets to watch the natural show.
An older man from Fort Collins sets up a telescope with a 90 degree lens that projects the sun onto the bottom of a cardboard box. Very simple but ingenious. A line of curious people quickly lines up to see the setup. We can see the sun spots that way. He says he observes them regularly and they usually last from a few weeks to a few months.
A woman gets out from a Colorado SUV wearing a low cut shirt which says something like: "Stop staring here, look at the sun instead". I did NOT stare, so I am not sure of the exact wording, but we get the idea. :)
I did not want to drive all the way to Nebraska for a two minutes total eclipse. I thought: "how different can 93% in Denver really make?" Well, it did make a big difference. Only when the sun is almost fully covered does the lighting really changes and super interesting effects take place. Isabella and her friend see "shadow snakes", a 360 degrees sunset happens within literally a few seconds. The temperature drops, the corona of the sun becomes visible and people start applauding...
I am so glad I came. Thank you Isabella for insisting. My only wish is that the full eclipse would last longer, in order to be able to observe all the effects more closely. We may have to go chase another one somewhere. By the way, did you know that other known planets do not experience such perfect full eclipses as we do on earth? The dimensions and relative distances of sun, moon and earth allow for that to happen. God surely knows what he is doing (for more info on this see:

When light returns we say goodbye to Morrill and head back south. Fearing traffic again, we decide to go through gravel roads all the way to I-80. The result is a lot of dust but not one car for about 54 miles.
Once we reach good pavement again is time for saying the rosary and then there is still one more exciting event. The traffic slows down right at the border between Nebraska and Colorado. I look at Google maps which predicts that the drive home will take another 10+ hours. I freeze and everybody in the car panics. But the traffic eases again and I look at the phone one more time. Google maps direction for set for bike instead of car.  We all breath a sight of relief. It will take us 5 hours to get back. In total 9 1/2 hours in the car for a two minutes nature show.
It was all worth it. Thanks Isabella for convincing me to go. Thanks Kirk for driving and thanks God for such an amazing design, once again.
We all learned a lot today.

Waiting for the exciting time


Sun spots

This projections were made with a telescope, a deflector and a cardboard box

total eclipse moment - camera - no filter - no magnification

total eclipse moment - no camera filter - full zoom

picture above cropped

A cool sign for a very tiny village in Nebraska - Thank you Morrill, NE

Morrill's sights

More Morrill's sights

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gloria Dei est vivens homo!

"The glory of God is man fully alive," so said St. Irenaeus many centuries ago and this is what Pietro, Isabella and I experienced yesterday as we climbed Quandary Peak (14,265 ft - 4347 m).
While, as St. Paul reminds us, we will only experience our true fulfillment in Heaven, it is also true that God is glorified when we live the life of grace he has called us to live here on earth.
So, climbing a mountain and using our human gifts to praise Him and do His will are activities we should enjoy and share with others. I am convinced God smiles when we do that.
The highlights of the climb:

- meeting mountain goats along the way

- 360 degrees view of snow covered peaks from the top
- bragging rights of climbing 3500 ft elevation over 3.5 miles
- just being together in God's peaceful nature

Early start - 6AM on the trail

Sunrise on the high mountains

Close encounter

On the top... what was he doing there? There is no vegetation at 14200 ft elevation

4th 14er for Isabella and daddy. 2nd 14er for Pietro

We made it!

Proof of having reached the top - time, elevation and heart rate

Monday, May 29, 2017

Devil's Head Trail - Sedalia Colorado.

Beautiful hike with Isabella for her (belated) birthday.
Devil's Head is a Fire Observation point for Pike's Peak National Forest. There is 360 degree view that goes from Pike's Peak on the south to Longs Peak on the North.
Than you God for such great beauty and our bodies that allowed us to experience it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Benedictine college, Atchison, KS

Why many of the most orthodox catholic colleges are located in small towns? We wondered about  that while driving for 9 hours in the rain to Atchison, Kansas, home of Benedictine College.

The Monastery

Atchison is on the Missouri river, at the border with..... yes, Missouri

Campus view from the river

The Ravens
Campus church

Stations of the cross in the woods

Walking on campus

What did we learn (or were reminded of) on this trip?

- You can truly perceive the virtues and the development of the whole person are at the core of the education on these campuses. The openness and love are palpable in people's smiles, their demeanor and the type of activities and events that are offered.
- All of our children need to take some theology classes before they graduate from college, even if they decide not to attend a catholic college.
- There are plenty more FedEx trucks on I-70 and I-80 than there are UPS trucks (Paolo's count was 105 to 35).
- Mom and dad like the small town atmosphere and simplicity of life.
- According to some locals we talked to, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has made the small towns along I-70 in Kansas less safe. That's very sad.
- Daddy can drive for long hours on uncrowded highways. He likes to space out and he enjoys even the flat landscapes.
- We love traveling together and we missed Isabella not being with us, but the boys probably did better in the car without her.
- Paolo decided that one of his goals is to play at least one game of bowling in each one of the fifty states. In Kansas we played at the West Lanes bowling center. His score was 93. He can only improve from here.
- Daddy said he wants a US political map on the wall and highlight all the highways we drive on. There are already a lot of them.
- Next stop: University of Mary, in Bismark, North Dakota, probably in September.