Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Life Lately: Football for Females, Dante's Hell, and other stuff (the mundane and perfectly ordinary in 7 +1 quick takes)

~1~ Spring cleaning

When you rent your house for the Masters Golf Tournament, spring cleaning is taken up a notch. Go ahead, take a look at the photos, feel free to ooh and aah, but then read the disclosure statement below.

kitchen cabinet

spice drawer

linen closet


Please know that the neatness pictured above lasts about a month, after which everything falls into disarray. Notice the following photos. Then next spring I start all over again; in other words, I'm living in Dante's 4th Circle of Hell when he references the myth of Sisyphus who was forced to roll a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down again for all eternity. Yup, that's me: doing the same things over and over and over again.

Legos, legos

See those shelves?

Not to sound overly dramatic, but ....

~3~ Bargain Secret

We are headed to Washington DC tomorrow and although it's the official first day of spring, the weather will not be spring-like. During our stay temperatures will hover around 50 degrees. With chances of rain.

So I decided I needed an all-weather coat. I have plenty of blazers/peacoats/overcoats, but they are not waterproof. And anything I have that's waterproof, isn't warm enough. So off to the mall I went.

Now I'm going to tell you something important: if you need a winter coat, now is a good time to buy one. I found a thin (but warm) puffer jacket, fitted, in a lovely mocha color for $10 (down from $70).

Mission accomplished, right? Nope, because then I saw a robin's egg blue knee-length coat I absolutely, categorically, emphatically did NOT need, but since it was marked down to $20 from well over $100 I decided it was meant to be. Plus, the blue reminded me of Tiffany's in NYC ...

Channeling my inner Audrey Hepburn who
told me to buy the coat I absolutely, categorically, emphatically did not need.

~4~ Take the shot

This weekend two years ago Timo met these guys ...

and made this shot.

~5~ Welcome Home

But note that when the cat went away, the mice did play. Case in point, while Nonna and Nonno were cruising Central America, we invaded their hearth and home: Joe foraged in Nonno's garage to borrow his electric hedge trimmer; I raided my mom's china closet (and linen closet AND flatware drawer) for my Bunco party; and then on the night of the actual party Joe and Timothy escaped to my parents' house where they finished all the Tootsie Rolls in the candy bowl.

~6~ Feast Day of St. Joseph

Since I was hosting our March Bunco, I decided to combine our monthly meeting with the Feast Day of St. Joseph. I was thrilled to be able to share our family's tradition with my friends, and I loved telling them all my St. Joseph stories. I heart St. Joseph.

~7~ Sounds from the laundry room

Scene: Joe and Timothy are in the laundry room replacing the lock on our back door. I am sitting on the couch listening to their voices as they work together on this project. Music to my ears.

~8~ I mean, can you imagine?

The older boys were looking through boxes in our attic when they came across some of Joe's childhood paraphernalia: trophies, a stopwatch, his high school class ring, and sports books. Lots and lots of sports books. Nicholas picked up The Encyclopedia of Football and opened it to chapter 8: Football for Females (How to Marry or Keep the Male Football Maniac). Gave us a good laugh ...

Clearly, Joe's childhood was all about sports.

The chapter does go on to explain the game.
I might have to read it ...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

One Good Deed a Day: The Wonderful Interconnectedness of Humanity

Be the stranger that leaves a mark in someone's life.

Once upon a time a stranger helped me, and when I heard he had passed away I wrote a letter to his family ...

Dear ~~~ Family,

You don’t know me and we have never met. But allow me to tell you a story …

A few years ago I drove to Columbia, SC to attend my sister’s baby shower. With me was my youngest son, who was four years old at the time.

When we left my sister’s to return home, an SUV of teens coming back from the lake entered a traffic circle at high speed and plowed into our van. The impact was shocking, and when the two vehicles finally came to a rest there were tire marks, debris, and broken glass spread over two lanes.

While my son and I were shaken, neither we nor the occupants of the SUV were injured.

When I dialed 911 and the operator requested the location, I was at a total loss; my sister’s family had recently moved to this area, and I didn’t even know the name of the street I was on. Suddenly, a driver pulled up behind me, parked, and got out of the car to see if we were okay. I handed him my cell phone, and he gave the operator all the information. Afterwards, he picked up car parts from the middle of the street (a bumper, a side view mirror, two hubcaps) and before I could thank him for his help he drove off.

It was a very hot afternoon, and as my son and I stood in the shade waiting for the police, this same man returned. He said he had noticed from our license plate that we were from out of state and thought that we could probably use this … and he handed me a bag with inside several juice boxes, several sleeves of Oreo cookies, and two Diet Cokes.

Juices boxes, Oreo cookies, Diet Cokes. Just like that I was reminded of how, even in the midst of bad things, there is also such goodness in this world.

I later learned his name was Chaz, and over the years I would mention him to demonstrate the tremendous love, healing and power that can be found in reaching out to a stranger.

And so I'm writing to you today to tell you this story. No, you don’t know me and we have never met. But once upon a time I briefly met Chaz, and although I heard today that he no longer is with us on this earth, please know that he will forever be in the corner of my heart where cherished memories are stored.

God bless,

Sunday, March 5, 2017

One Good Deed a Day: Recognize that Everyone Has a Story

Behind dirt, poverty, ignorance, addiction, race, and ethnicity is a person. Behind the grime, body odor, and dirty fingernails is a story. And everyone's story matters. Each one is important.

Sometimes, we are called to act without knowing the story.

And this is where faith comes in ...

A tourist took this photo of NYC policeman, Larry DePrimo, presenting
thermal socks and all-weather boots to a homeless man in Times Square.
Then he knelt and helped the man put them on.
You can read the entire story here.

Sometimes, Maybe is Good Enough

By: Maria Novajosky, Guest Columnist
*published in the Columbia County News-Times (October 14, 2015)

"Please, Miss, can we have some money for food?"

I had just come out of Hobby Lobby and was walking to my car when I was approached by a little girl pushing a battered umbrella stroller. With her was an elderly woman carrying a tiny infant and another younger woman; they all looked tired, poor and unkempt.

"Where do you want to eat?" I asked.

 "Anywhere," said the girl.

I was hungry, too. It was almost 1:30 and I was in a hurry to get home. I even knew exactly what I was going to have for lunch:  homemade bread, tomatoes, cheese, and a cold glass of water with a slice of lemon. Not only did I have the luxury of having fresh, healthy food available, but I had the luxury of choice. All I had to do was get in my car and in fifteen minutes I would be home. There were no worries on my part – it was all there waiting for me. 

But this little girl was worried enough to ask a stranger for help.
Food. Water. Shelter. Safety. Such basics in life, and yet there are many people locally who don't have these things. As we live and work in our nice city, driving home at the end of the day to relax in our homes or enjoy dinner on the back deck, it is tempting to ignore the man on the side of I-20 with a Will Work for Food sign, or a bag lady pushing a shopping cart filled with junk, or a hungry girl in a parking lot because, after all, we aren't in Africa, Indonesia, Haiti, Calcutta, or Syria.
To further communicate matters, life is messy. In our ongoing quest to find the perfect job, have the perfect marriage, raise perfect children, and develop perfect bodies we do not like to be reminded that, in fact, we are living in an imperfect world. We don't want to be in the position to need help, or to complicate our lives by becoming involved, or to face moral decisions of what is the right thing to do.
Because we aren't faced with situations like these on a daily basis, it is easy to become suspicious, fearful, and even judgmental. It’s easy to place blame at the feet of those needing help. And it’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone is so much more than what we see; that beneath the dirt, grime, hunger, mental illness, and poverty is a person with a story.
I didn't know that little girl's story; I didn’t know her name, her age, or where she went to school. All I knew was that she was hungry enough to ask a stranger for food. And so I gave them what they needed.
Was I conned?
Maybe I was but, then again, maybe I wasn't. The fact is I don’t know.
But in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? I had something that maybe they needed, and maybe was good enough for me.

Afterword: Strangely enough, of all the things I've had published this one struck a chord ... and not in a good way. I received a couple very nasty letters saying what I did enabled and perpetuated the problem. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I’m taking off a little time
Just 40 days will do
To simplify, ask questions why,
To ponder and renew.
On Sundays I’ll stop briefly by
And share a post or two
To say hello, I’m doing well,
See you when Lent is through.

*from the files of very bad poetry by Bia

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Ride Home

This afternoon I drove Nonno's SUV to pick Timothy up from school. Within five minutes he had discovered:

1- Nonno's tic tacs,
2- Nonno's treasure trove of quarters,
3- Nonno's automatic seats that not only go up and down, but also tilt backward and forward,
4- and that Nonno doesn't listen to cool music (the radio was tuned to something called "Willie's Roadhouse" which, although terrible, is better than Nonna's car where the radio is always tuned to "Opera").


Timothy and Nonno in Disney World.
"I have to sleep on princess sheets?" yelled Timothy.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trickle Down Tickets

These are the tickets that belonged to friends of my parents.

These are the tickets my parents' friends couldn't use.

These are the tickets they gave to my parents.

These are the tickets which my parents couldn't use.

These are the tickets my parents gave to us.

Which is why, on a Friday night, Joe and I got dressed up and had somewhere to go.

Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society, concert 5
The Delphi Trio 

Friday, February 24, 2017

One Good Deed a Day: Those in Authority

If you have the power, means or authority to make a change, do it.

Sr. Gaudiosa, a nun from Tanzania, is a sister to me in every way but blood. She is part of our family and many times we have welcomed her into our home.

Once, after spending a couple of weeks with us, we drove Sr. Gaudiosa to the airport and, as we were helping her check her luggage, the airline check-in agent said that both suitcases were overweight and she would have to pay extra. It was a pretty hefty fine.

I looked at the agent and said, "Everything, absolutely everything she owns in this world is in these two suitcases."

And I knew what I was talking about because I had helped her pack them. Inside were her habits made from thick, blue material, her sturdy black shoes, a winter coat that we had purchased for her, stationery, and some toiletries. That was it.

The agent didn't say anything, and as he continued to type on his keyboard my husband got out his wallet to pay the fine.

Except there wasn't one.

When the agent loaded the suitcases on the conveyer belt he looked up and said, "Don't worry, I took care of it. Have a safe flight, Sister."

And he smiled.