Archive for October, 2013

Castel Rigone, Week 9: Home and Heart

Links to the Castel Rigone fans Facebook page

With their new coach Luca Fusi, and their new signing, terzino (“fullback”) Gianluigi Bianco, now fit enough to start, Castel Rigone looked to get their first away win of the season at Arzanese, in Campania. It was a lively match in which the referee played a significant role, awarding a free kick to Castel Rigone from which Bianco scored his first goal, two penalties to Arzanese (both converted), and sending off Castel Rigone striker Agostinelli for a kick to the ankle in the 20th minute of the second half. (Agostinelli will miss the next two matches in penance.) Two wonderful open-play goals (see highlights below) by Tranchitella (the league leader) and Bontà (after his team went down to 10 men) were enough to earn a 3-2 victory.

Official Lega Pro video highlights of the week 9 victory v. Arzanese:

Alas, Arzanese didn’t even get to play their home game in their own Vallefuoco stadium, because of a dispute over their grounds. Workers  of Munianum Spa, who staff and maintain the stadium, have not been paid for two months by the Arzanese club, and so until the dispute is resolved, the city of Mugnano has closed the facility.

What does it mean for a community to have a team, and for that team to succeed or slide? Continue reading

A Saint comes to Perugia


The special mass, overseen by Don Bosco’s portrait

For the last ten days or so, there have been a series of events connected to the 90th anniversary of the Instituto Don Bosco in Perugia. Don Bosco is where our boys play soccer. There have been lectures, concerts (we are going to a performance of the Salesiani youth orchestra from Oświęcim [Auschwitz] tomorrow), picnics, youth tournaments, and a booth at the Chocolate Festival. There was also a special mass at the Cathedral in Perugia; all of the kids on the Don Bosco teams met at the institute and paraded up the hill to the center of town.


Offerings of balls

The choir sang, the arch-bishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve presided, institute officials spoke of the life of Don Bosco and the good work of the Institute, and offerings and gifts were presented at the altar, including a set of balls representing the three sports of soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Even the flower arrangements were done in the Institute’s colors of rosso and giallo.

We then found out that Don Bosco himself was coming to visit Perugia the following week, and would be staying the night at the Institute on 22 Oct. Since he passed away in 1888, and was canonized in 1934, this meant a visit by the reliquiario that contains his remains.

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The Merry-Go-Round

A new phase has begun at Castel Rigone. Marco Di Loreto departed as manager on Sunday evening. On Tuesday morning, the Giornale dell’Umbria published this comment by Daniele Sborzacchi, chief of the paper’s sports section:

L’eleganza della simplicità. Marco Di Loreto è uscito di scena con grande signorilità. Da calciatore è riuscito a farsi amare dai tifosi perugini pur provenendo dal feudo rossoverde di Marmore; nella sua ottima carriera in campo si è ritagliato uno spazio importante partendo dalle categorie inferiore e scalandole con impegno e dedicazione. E da tecnico alla prima esperienza su una panchina professionistica, conscio della “particolarità” dell’ambiente rigonese, ha gestito con intelligenza e calma una situazione che, senza ombra di dubbio, avrebbe fatto saltare i nervi a molti altri allenatori. Il suo presidente lo ha criticato aspramente dopo una vittoria importantissima, di quelle in grado di consolidare lo spirito di gruppo perché ottenute in rimonta e contro un avversario ostico. Lui, in tutta riposta, non ha assolutamente esasperato i toni chiedendo semplicemente un confronto con il suo datore di lavoro ma ottenendo in cambio un incredibile benservito in quanto, secondo patron Cucinelli, non avrebbe rispettato le “regole”. Nonostante questo (e non è poco…), ha tolto il disturbo con grande stile: “Ho capito che posso fare l’allenatore e di questo ringrazio la società. Ho solo fatto quello che si doveva per il bene della squadra. Mandando in campo i giocatori nella migliore condizione fisica e mentale.” Stop. Niente clamore. Niente rabbia. Nessuna parola pomposa o altezzosa. L’eleganza vera è nella semplicità.

“The elegance of simplicity. Marco Di Loreto has left the scene with great distinction. As a player he succeeded in being loved by Perugian fans despite coming from red-and-green rivals Ternana Calcio. In his excellent career on the field, he carved out an important place, starting from the lower categories and moving up with commitment and dedication. And as a manager in his first experience on a professional bench, conscious of the “specialness” of the Castel Rigone environment, he handled with intelligence and calm a situation which, without a shadow of a doubt, would have shattered the nerves of many other coaches. The club’s president criticized him harshly after a very important victory, of the sort that could consolidate team spirit because it was obtained in a comeback against a tough opponent. Di Loreto, in all of his response, showed absolutely no tones of exasperation, simply asking for an exchange with his employer, but instead receiving an incredible sacking because, according to team patron Cucinelli, he did not follow the “rules.” Despite this (and it’s not a small thing …), he defused the problem with great style: “I realized that I can be a manager, and for this I thank the club. I only did what was necessary for the good of the team. Sending onto the field players in the best physical and mental condition.” Stop. No fanfare. No anger. No pompous or arrogant words. True elegance lies in simplicity.”

There are some biting choices of phrase in this opinion piece…

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Patricia’s classroom

This past Thursday my grandmother, Patricia Swerda passed away at the age of 97. Although Alzheimer’s wore away her talents, memories and personality during her last years, she was an amazing artist of the natural world.

She grew up in Texas and became a young army wife just before the Second World War pulled my grandfather into North Africa. When the war ended, she went to him in Vienna, and after postings in Rhode Island, England, California, and Japan, he retired from the army and they settled down in Seattle.

Her first book

It was during her time on Kyushu that she discovered the art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arranging. She learned, became a sensei, and eventually was the first western woman to become a grand master of the art. Her books on the subject are still available on She was a lover of beauty in the natural world, but also believed that such beauty could be improved through the thoughtful engagement of the eyes, hands, and heart.

Her gardens

Her gardens

I recall vividly a visit to their home in Redmond, Washington when I was a teenager, astonished by the gardens and the cedar house she had built on a few lush acres, weaving the sights, sounds, textures, and scents  of earth, plant, water, wood, metal, and paper into a kind of horticultural song.


The cedar house in Redmond, WA, 1980s

Safeguard Storage today: behold, the death of beauty

Upon the rampant development of Seattle suburbs, unfortunately, she was forced to sell, and the property became ‘Safeguard Self Storage’. She moved, built a new, smaller garden, and kept teaching.


Giardino Medivale, Università degli Studi di Perugia

So it seemed suitable today to visit some gardens in Perugia. I chose two adjacent gardens, both next to the Basilica San Pietro, where we had gone to a concert some weeks back: The Giardini del Frontone, and the Orto Medievale of the Agronomy School of the Università degli Studi di Perugia. The radar looked grim, the clouds piled up, and I prepared for the kind of rain Patricia had often worked in around the Pacific rim. But it held off, and  I was able to make a pilgrimage in her honor and memory. Here is an annotated photographic journey.
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Castel Rigone, Weeks 7-8: The Mountain and the Valley

Castel Rigone: white dots on a mountain ridge across Lake Trasimeno

Last Saturday, Oct. 12th, Castel Rigone suffered another tough loss, away vs. Casertana. As one match report put it: “Casertana won 1-0 at the end [goal at 72′] of a knockout more than ever undeserved. One goal was disallowed for a highly dubious offside by Tranchitella [of Castel Rigone] in the second half, and another four other scoring chances were wasted by the Rigonians. The white-and-blues were punished for their only blunder.” (“La Casertana vince 1-0 al termine di un ko quanto mai immeritato. Un gol annulato per un fuorigioco molto dubbio a Tranchitella nella ripresa e altre quattro palle gol sprecate dai rigonesi. Biancoblù puniti nell’unico svarione.”)

Hoping to stave off late-game stumbles, the management began to shore up the team, acquiring 24-year-old defender Gianluigi Bianco from Avellino in Serie B (two levels up). Now second from bottom, they faced a long climb up the table, which they began this past weekend on Oct. 19 at home vs. Tuttocuoio (the name means “all leather”), a team from the town of San Miniato halfway between Florence and Pisa in Tuscany.

Any commentator who covers soccer eventually curses themselves to repeat this banality: “you have to score more goals than the opposition.” Sometimes this is even pitched as a ‘philosophy’ for a ‘simple game’, either in all desperate seriousness, or as a jaded joke about how hard that simple game actually is. Jean Paul Sartre said [I am still digging for the original source]: “Au football, tout est compliqué par la présence de l’équipe adverse.” “In football, everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.” The truth is, despite playing hard and well enough to earn results, Castel Rigone have had difficulty scoring goals. And fashioning a goal in soccer is the single most difficult “scoring act” in any sport. Here are recent average numbers of points scored in major team sports:

What are some philosophical and ethical implications of these data?

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Dancing for Chocolate

DSC_0148Eurochocolate officially started yesterday. After soccer practice, homework, and music, we decided to brave the crowds. Micah was eager to find his friend Bianca, he was certain she would be there, and he was right! We ran into her (and her parents) just a short way down via Vanucci. Although Perugia is celebrating chocolate, the first thing Micah wanted was cotton candy (zucchero filato in Italian). Simon and Jakob have decided to try all the varieties of cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) in search of the best recipe.

Once Micah had his sugar fix, he danced his way through the streets:

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