An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Presentation on Michelangelo's Pieta`

During an information session before our Girls' Trip to Italy two years ago, I gave a small presentation on Michelangelo's Pieta`. Since today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, I thought I'd share part of my presentation with you.

Michelangelo's Pieta`
(an excerpt of a presentation by Maria Novajosky)

Things to note when pondering Michelangelo's Pieta`...

1. Mary’s body is larger than Christ’s because Michelangelo wanted her to be able to cradle the body of her crucified son. To achieve this, Michelangelo gave Mary a large lap by sculpting her garments as a sea of cascading fabric.

2. In cradling her son, notice that Mary’s right hand does not come into direct contact with his flesh. This symbolizes the sacredness of Christ’s body.

3. Unlike most artists of the time, Michelangelo focuses on the triumph of Christ’s atonement rather than the sorrow of his death. For this reason, he made Christ’s wounds small, allowing us to focus on the faces of Mary and Jesus instead of his suffering; in fact, it’s almost as if Jesus is in a deep slumber rather than dead.

4. Mary seems very young … too young to be the mother of a grown man. At the time, Michelangelo defended this by saying that because she was born without sin, her youth reflects her sinless state; furthermore, in choosing to sculpt a young Mary, Michelangelo was highlighting her son’s triumph over age and death.

5. Note that Mary is sorrowful, but not grieving. This suggests that Mary, who represents us all, reminds us that we do not have to mourn for Christ; that he is risen and we can grow young again through his sacrifice on the cross. Although a sorrowful scene, it is one full of hope.

6. You will also notice Mary’s sash that stretches diagonally across her chest. When Michelangelo finished the Pietà, it was an immediate success. People flocked from near and far to come see it. One day Michelangelo was standing in the crowd when he heard some pilgrims attributing his work to a lesser known sculptor. Michelangelo was so incensed that he returned that night and chiseled into Mary’s sash the words "Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence made this" and to this day it remains Michelangelo’s only signed work.

7. Finally, the movement of the entire sculpture cascades downward, much like a waterfall: Mary’s garments, the weight of Christ’s limbs, even Mary’s face as it gazes down at her lifeless son. But Mary’s left hand, open and turned upward, counterbalances the rest of the sculpture by symbolizing the resurrection of Christ, the continuum of hope, and maybe even the act of letting go – Mary offering her son to mankind.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Life Lately (what I can't do and can't say; lunch in a hurricane; working out with words; rocking the ordinary)

1- I can't hum

This past weekend, while we watched The Weather Channel nonstop as we waited for Hurricane Irma, we all played Cranium. If you don't know, Cranium is a multi-activity game in which teams race around the board completing different activities -- some of which include sculpting with clay, acting, solving puzzles, and humming. Yes, humming, in which your team has to guess the title of the song you are trying to hum.

Ummmm ... I can't hum.

That is, I can hum gibberish, but give me something like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and it sounds like something from Aerosmith.

Of course, it doesn't help that I am laughing maniacally.

2- I also can't NOT say anything

Does that even make sense? In Cranium, charades is another activity and everyone knows that when you play charades you are NOT ALLOWED to talk. Geeze Louise. I try to keep my mouth shut, but then I hum or make sound effects. And then I laugh and since my mouth is open -- I can't help it!! -- a word pops out. Not THE word I'm trying to act out, but something helpful.

3- Timothy knows how to set the mood

Last night Timothy ran around gathering candles and matches. Then he placed the candles on our coffee table, arranging them just so. He turned off all the lights.

All this to watch British Top Gear. (If you don't know, that's a car show.)

4- What I'm listening to

Okay. Unlike most normal people who like to listen to music while they work out, I listen to audiobooks. It's what works for me. I cannot tell you how many times I've extended my workout just to hear what happens next. Or sometimes, I purposely stop at a cliffhanger so that the next day I am DYING to work out just so I can hear the rest of the story.

Currently I am listening to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I read the book last year, LOVED IT, and as an audiobook I'm loving it all over again. The British accents, the singing, and the acting keep me riveted.

And working out.

(On a side note, there are a couple of sad scenes which had me in tears. So then I'm working out and CRYING and everyone thinks I'm certifiably nuts. Whatever.)

5- Alleluia Rocks

My sister has an Etsy Shop called Alleluia Rocks where she sells hand painted rocks. She's very talented. So many ideas on how to use rocks: Papers blowing in the wind? Use as a paperweight. Planters a little blah? Nestle rocks in the soil. Is someone having a bad day? Send an inspirational rock. Decorating for Christmas? I love the brown Nativity rocks. Recently I ordered the "Give Thanks" rocks which I will use as place settings on my Thanksgiving table.

6- The Italians

This past Monday, the very day in which our area was hit with pounding rain and ferocious winds (the effects of Hurricane Irma), my mother planned a small luncheon. Here were the people invited: Massimilla, Maria, Stella, and Italia (really and truly her name). How's that for a roundtable of Italian names? Anyway, no guys were included. Nonno was going to stay hidden in his workshop; Joe and the boys were going to have sandwiches.

Except ... in the middle of cooking my parents' house lost power. So my mom cancelled the lunch, brought everything over here to finish cooking, and then we all had a nice lunch together. Gals AND Guys.

7- What I'm doing today

Cleaning, cooking, writing, planning, working out.

Life lately ... just ordinary days.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Promulgation of Hate and Violence

Like many, I'm baffled by all this hatred. So many people are missing the point. If you advocate freedom, religion, and patriotism using hatred and violence, then you are just promulgating hatred and violence. And that's not religion, it's not freedom, and it's not patriotism.

This morning I came across this quote:

“Standing, as I do, in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” -- Edith Cavell (October 11, 1915), on the eve of her execution.

(Edith Cavell was a British nurse, humanitarian and spy. She is celebrated for helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during World War I, for which she was arrested and shot by a German firing squad.)

The Thinker, Auguste Rodin
photo credit: Maria Novajosky

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Attic Door

A bump in the middle of the night
And I awoke with a dreadful fright.
Who, what, where … was it here in our house?
But then I thought, “I know! It’s a mouse!”

A mouse in our attic, but of course!
The noise I heard … why, that was the source.
But that’s not true and I knew because
The noise was made by much bigger paws.

Well, I’m not worried. At least somewhat.
The attic door is completely shut.
Until my husband is back in town …
Well, that darn thing is NOT coming down.

*from the files of very bad poetry by Bia

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Second Walk

Last winter I decided to supplement my daily morning workouts. Nothing complicated, but in the evenings after dinner, once the dishes were washed and the table was cleared, I started going on hour-long walks instead of sitting on the couch watching television or reading a book. I mentally referred to it as The Second Walk.

Then this past January Timothy started going on these walks with me. To be honest, his original reason for accompanying me was to play Pokémon GO on my phone, but after a while he came so we could "just talk" (his words).

The Second Walk has now become our thing. We walk around the neighborhood, up and down Stevens Creek Road, down to the Pavilion and on the canal. We talk the entire time. Sometimes we have an adventure, such as earlier this week when we went on our Second Walk in the pouring rain (which is precisely why we went). We put on rain jackets and baseball hats, left umbrellas at home, and walked for an hour and a half on the canal. We got muddy, and very wet, but gosh we had a good time.

My favorite thing about this time together is the randomness of topics: how his legs won't fit under the tiny desks at school, the range of his new BB gun, the judge's picks on America's Got Talent, his Christmas wish list, the movie Dunkirk and can-he-go-see-it, the deer that crossed the road in front of us, and a step-by-step explanation of how he built a hovercraft with a computer fan and the box of Nicholas' leftover engineering wires and circuit boards. Incidentally, all these topics were from one walk.

And it never fails that every time we return from The Second Walk I think . . .

If I could just save time in a bottle.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dunkirk: Know Before You Go

I emerged from the movie theater this past Friday night thinking that Dunkirk was a really good movie. But once I returned home and did some research on both the movie and the history of Dunkirk, I realized it wasn't a good movie. It was a great movie. Sometimes, it's good to know something about a movie before you go see it.

So allow me . . .

1- Basic history of Dunkirk: In late May and early June of 1940, the advancing German army pushed back the British and French armies to the beaches at Dunkirk, France. Over 330,000 soldiers were trapped and needed to be evacuated, but since there were not enough ships to transport such large numbers the British Admiralty called on all British citizens in possession of sea-worthy boats to help in the effort. The campaign became known as the "Miracle of Dunkirk."

2- The story is told from three perspectives: land (over a period of one week), sea (a period of one day), air (a period of one hour). The timeline hops back and forth between the three perspectives, often overlapping, but eventually merge to a single moment in time.

3- A mole is a massive structure, usually constructed of stone, between places separated by water. In the movie, two concrete moles protect the outer harbor at Dunkirk. Because troops could not be evacuated from the beach shore, the moles were used as piers so the soldiers could board the ships despite the fact that the moles were not designed as docks.

[Disclosure: I mention this only because of my initial confusion. Since this was a war movie, I mistakenly assumed "mole" referred to a spy; as a result, I spent a few confusing minutes thinking that two characters were spies. Not so. Avoid my confusion.]

4- There is very little dialogue in the movie. This was done with intention by Christopher Nolan, the film's director. You are not meant to know the characters' stories -- where they are from, who they are, or their history -- as they aren't important; rather, you are meant to be with the characters in the moment as they struggle to survive.

5- The musical score is a dialogue in itself. It pounds, surges, and screams. You can even hear the underlying ticking of a clock as momentum builds. It is a powerful element to the movie.

6- After the evacuation, Winston Churchill gave his famous "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech to the House of Commons which left no doubt as to Britain's resolve to continue the fight on all fronts.

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender ... our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old." ~Winston Churchill

And now, my friends, you know. Go see the movie.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Someone is in the doghouse

Let me preface this little story by telling you what we had for lunch today:

grilled marinated chicken thighs
zucchini fritters (a new recipe and a definite hit!)
creamy mashed potatoes
steamed broccoli & carrots
herbed ciabatta slices
strawberry and peach macedonia served over vanilla ice cream
red wine, espresso.

Now that I've gotten you caught up, let's continue with the rest of the story.

Earlier this evening I was curled on the couch with a good book when Jonathan comes in and asks what's for dinner. I look at him and wonder how, after today's huge lunch, he can even be hungry.

"I know, let's go to Checkers," he says.

Joe and I say no at the same time. I mention grilled cheese, or a salad, or even a bowl of cereal but he isn't buying it.

"We've had boring food all week," Jonathan complains.

There is a collective gasp from everyone. I close my book and sit up.

"Boring? We've been on vacation all week. We ate out every single meal!" I point out, squinting my eyes at him.

"Well," he says. "I mean since we've been back."

Oh, he's in t-r-o-u-b-l-e with a capital T.

"Sooo, boring like the homemade pasta Nonna brought over the night we returned?" I asked. "Or maybe you meant the homemade pizza we had two nights ago was boring. Or maybe it was the grilled halibut and seasoned rice with bruschetta and the creamiest mozzarella we've had in a long time. Oh, I know, it was lunch today. All that was pretty boring."

Jonathan is caught, and he knows it. So he flashes his dimples.

That usually works, but I'm not through with him.

"Tonight, dinner is a boring sandwich," I say. "A healthy, ordinary, boring sandwich."

Now, my mother reads this blog. And before she thinks that I am starving her poor, neglected, hungry grandson, and before everyone starts feeling sorry for poor, deprived, all-he-wants-is-a-hamburger Jonathan, please take note that in the end he did not have a boring, ordinary sandwich.

It was a fresh turkey and crispy bacon sandwich, with romaine lettuce and roma tomatoes, served on toasted ciabatta bread.

Boring my foot.

He may have put his foot in his mouth, but look at those dimples.
Gotta love him.