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

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Around the bend

All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.
~Indian proverb

Whatever I can do, my sister and brother can do better.

When I was in the sixth grade I got a guitar. I studied chords, practiced rhythms, and for two years took lessons. After I married I even played in a folk choir. Both my siblings picked up the guitar much later in life, and they had a natural talent: while in med school, my brother was in a band (Sulcus Groove) and in 2004 they were even featured in a 12 Bands of Christmas cd; my sister not only plays, but she has a good voice, too, which is something I do not have. Today she is in charge of the music at her church.

Then, even though I attended a medical magnet school, went on a 10-day mission trip to Haiti, and always thought I'd do something in the medical field, I lost my way after high school. Nothing traumatic, I just didn't know what I wanted to do. Today my brother is the doctor in the family.

And then there is this: despite the fact that I am a writer, that I sometimes have my work featured in the guest column of our local newspaper, and that I even had some freelance work published, it is my brother and sister who have published books. My sister has written two books on careers in Library Science (Straight from the Stacks, Working in the Virtual Stacks), and she and my brother collaborated on a book entitled, Answers to the Health Questions People Ask in Libraries.

You can find all these books on Amazon dot com.

I'm not being modest, or self-deprecating; I am simply learning to be honest with myself. For a long time now I have realized that, while I seem to be good at many things, I am not great at any one thing.

Does that make me mediocre? No, and the reason I can say so with all honesty is that I am always trying and learning new things. I am full of ideas and, who knows, maybe that one thing I can be great at is still out there.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Buon Compleanno, Roma

Today the Eternal City celebrates its 2,770th birthday. Auguri, Roma! I have been there four times, but there is still so much to see, do, and experience. I keep a running list on what I plan to do on my next visit so, Roma, a presto (until then)!

And in case you don't have anything else to do this weekend other than read about Rome, here are some links of my adventures in Rome over the years.

1- The first time I visited Rome, go here.

2- Here's the time I attended the Angelus Blessing with Pope Francis along with 22 women who traveled with me to Rome.

3- Yes, I lost my temper in Rome. You can read about it here.

4- From Caravaggio to Reality. Planning a Girls' trip to Italy. Read all about it here.

5- McDonald's in Rome? In which I speak about the Slow Food Movement in Italy. Go here for an excerpt.

6- In which I share some Pope stories.

7- God, Michelangelo, and light sabers. Read about my art lesson here.

8- St. Peter's Square, after dark. A story about the light in the Pope's window.

9- How to parallel park in Rome. See the photo here.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend took that photo of me as I was listening to
Pope Francis' Angelus Blessing. It's not a particularly flattering photo, but
it's real. I'm smiling, but also crying, and reflected in my sunglasses is the
window where the Pope was speaking.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Piano Lessons with Mr. Jeff

If children were not introduced to music at an early age,
I believe that something fundamental is actually being taken from them.
~Luciano Pavarotti

When Nicholas and Jonathan were in grade school they took piano lessons.

Their teacher -- Mr. Jeff -- recently moved to Augusta and was looking for piano students; truthfully, the only reason we decided to go with him was simply because he came to our house. This was huge for me. Timothy was less than a year old, so I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to not have to take the boys to a piano lesson but have the piano lesson come to them.

Mr. Jeff was the most untraditional piano teacher you can imagine. Prior to arriving in Augusta he had worked as the organist for the Atlanta Thrashers when Atlanta had a professional hockey team, so needless to say he was loud, fun, and had a dramatic flair. The boys loved him.

Once a week he arrived shortly after dinner and would spend the first half hour with Nicholas, and then Jonathan. He used a music theory book to go over basics, and even assigned a little homework, but he never taught the boys any of the silly songs in the book; instead, he took a music theory lesson and applied it to music by Billy Joel, or to theme song from Charlie Brown or Star Wars. He always assigned each boy a different song, so for that one hour while I loaded the dishwasher, and while Timothy crawled everywhere (including near the piano), and with Mr. Jeff sometimes improvising a duet, we had a virtual concert coming from our dining room. We enjoyed having him in our home, and he always left with some dinner leftovers or a plate of cookies I had baked that afternoon.

But then, sadly, Mr. Jeff moved to Florida and the piano lessons stopped. We tried two different piano teachers after he left, but neither one was Mr. Jeff so the boys lost interest.

Little did I know that those piano lessons with Mr. Jeff would one day come full circle.

Years later, when Nicholas was a junior in high school, he asked for an electric guitar for Christmas and taught himself how to play. He had music sheets everywhere. Before he went off to college he purchased an acoustic guitar and, again, he learned on his own, lugging the guitar on camping trips or beach outings with his college friends. During this, his last semester at Clemson, he needed to take an elective so he signed up for a piano class.

Jonathan was in 7th grade when he requested an electric keyboard for Christmas. I was thrilled because he always had a natural rhythm on the piano. In high school he purchased music books from 2nd & Charles, downloaded songs from the internet, and practiced constantly. This past December he upgraded to a better quality keyboard, one with more keys, and practices every day after and between classes. He occasionally sends me a text video of him playing a new song.

Finally, there is Timothy. Other than crawling around Mr. Jeff's ankles during those piano lessons, Timothy never experienced his unorthodox teaching style. We tried traditional piano lessons for one year (plus a summer), but abandoned them after they started to feel like a forced march. Like his brothers, however, Timothy came back to music on his own. Last week he came home from school and asked if he could play my guitar. A few days later he downloaded a Pok√©mon score from the internet (Littleroot Town Duet) and taught himself how to play the first two lines on the piano.

And I love that there is music in our house, that those early lessons were a springboard for learning later, when they wanted to return to it. Now, when all the boys are home, music is drifting from the rec room, down the stairs from their bedrooms, and even from the very same piano where they sat with Mr. Jeff so many years ago.

Jonathan, teaching Timothy

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hopping Smart

Boy is that Easter Bunny generous.

Here is what kind of candy the EB brought: Swedish Fish, Starburst jelly beans, Nerds, Kit Kats, M&M's, and Sour Patch Kids.

Here's what kind of candy the EB did NOT bring: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate covered raisins, Haribo Gummi bears, tootsie rolls, or anything milk chocolate.

In other words, Easter baskets didn't contain anything the EB would particularly be interested in eating herself.

The EB has recently lost five pounds and wasn't going to be tempted.

So not only is the EB generous, she is also smart ;-)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Week: Tuesday

Wait for it -- the last stanza -- something to think about.

The Conquerors
~Harry Kemp

I saw the Conquerors riding by
With cruel lip and faces wan;
Musing on kingdoms sacked and burned
There rode the Mongol Genghis Khan;

And Alexander, like a God,
Who sought to weld the world in one:
And Caesar with his laurel wreath;

And leading, like a star the van,
Heedless of upstretched arm and groan, Inscrutable
Napoleon went
Dreaming of empire and alone ...

Then all perished from the earth
As fleeting shadows from a glass,
And, conquering down the centuries,
Came Christ, the Swordless, on an ass ...

Friday, March 31, 2017

Joe's t-shirt isn't Joe's anymore

I interrupt my Masters prep to go pick up Timothy from school. I am wearing Joe's oversized Adidas t-shirt with black leggings.

"You look skinny in that shirt," he tells me when he gets in the car.

And I was like . . .

#really? #theshirtisnowmine #notjoesshirtanymore