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

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

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Lesson

Cruel branches grabbing,
holding me back.
Bitter, piercing cold
burning my chest.

But still I run . . .
I must, I need to!
The snow captures my footsteps,
evidence of my journey.

Finally, I stop at a clearing
while my heart runs on.
There. There she is.
Timeless for all the world.

I stand before her
waiting, searching.
The snow gently falls,
one flake at a time.

Just me and her
and the snow.
A snowflake on her cheek,
a tear on mine.

A tolling bell
breaks the silence,
and gathering from her warmth
I turn to go.

Before me stand my footsteps. . .
like a lesson.

Boldly I step aside,
creating a new pattern in the snow.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nutella Top Ten

Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread

spread on white sandwich bread

mix with peanut butter, eat on a ritz crackers

peanut butter and nutella sandwich

replaces chocolate bars in s'mores

serve with strawberries

with ricotta cheese, spread on ritz crackers

spread on a pizzelle

with pound cake

a teaspoonful . . . all by itself

How do you eat Nutella?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Celebration of One Another

Yesterday Lisa wrote about it being International Day of the French Speaking World, and her tongue-in-cheek post was humorous and spot on. (I clicked on the link but couldn't read it because it was written exclusively in French . . . go figure!) I guess the French have a reputation for being, well, rather defensive about their language and culture, so much in fact that they seem to look down their very aristocratic noses at the rest of the world . . . the rest of the world as in, specifically, The United States.

I mean, they did protest the opening of Disneyland Paris.

In all honesty, however, I do understand where they are coming from, and in many ways I admire them for their vigilant protection of the purity of all things French. Today, with advanced technology and travel, the world has become a bit smaller, and language and culture as a national identity is threatened.

I have noticed this myself in my travels to Italy. The Italian language is peppered with English, not only with technological and scientific terms, but also in everyday language. As an example, even if you don't know a word of Italian, I'm sure you won't have any problems understanding the following sentences.
  • Andiamo a fare un picnic questo weekend?
  • Vado a fare il jogging. Ciao!
  • Ho tanto stress oggi.
Then, a recent show on the travel channel listed the top ten McDonald's restaurants in the world. The #1 McDonald's? In Rome, Italy. Right there next to the Spanish Steps. Mamma Mia!

Of course, cultures and languages are going to intermingle; they will continue to overlap; and they will even borrow from each other. But I do think we need to preserve who we are, where we live, what languages we speak, what traditions we have . . . all these things that are the essence of who we are.

It's good to celebrate our national identities . . . and it's good to celebrate each other's.

So I may poke fun of French snobbery, but I celebrate their tradition. Just as I celebrate the living chess tournament in Marostica, Italy, the bull running in Pamplona, Spain, and the chitlin' strut festival in Salley, South Carolina.

It is, after all, a wonderful world.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Better Not to Know

I am all for education. I love to learn new things.
But, there are some things that I would probably be better off not knowing.

Case in point: running carpool yesterday, the van full of boys started discussing the following three categories:

machine gun
sbd (silent but deadly)

If you don't know what they're talking about . . . keep it that way. Sometimes ignorance definitely is bliss!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do you have a Pope story to share?

I have this thing about crying when I see the Pope. My husband teases me for this, but in my defense I tell him it's genetic because my Nonna always cried when she saw the Pope, and so do my mother and sister for that matter.

When my boys asked why I get so moved, I shared with them some pope stories ...

  • When we were living in Italy, one morning all the church bells in the city began ringing simultaneously, and considering that in Italy there is a church on almost every street corner, that was a lot of bells. The sound was both beautiful and haunting, but we soon learned that the bells were signaling the death of Pope John Paul I. I'll never forget the sound of all those church bells, and the shock that our newly elected Pope was gone.

  • Before leaving Italy to return to live in the U.S., my Nonna took my mom, my sister, and me on a trip to Rome. On that trip I saw the Sistine Chapel for the first time, and we also attended a general audience in St. Peter's Square with Pope John Paul II. The moment he appeared the heat, the crowds, and my disgruntled teen moodiness evaporated in the pure joy of the moment. Pure joy . . . there is no other way to put it.

  • When I returned to Rome last May, I was able to see the exact spot in St. Peter's Square where John Paul II was shot in 1981. I also visited his tomb, which was as humble and simple as the man himself.

The exact place in St. Peter's Square where John Paul II was shot.

  • On that same trip, we visited St. Peter's Square late, late at night. There was complete and total silence . . . and the lights from Pope Benedict's apartments were still on. Standing there in the empty square, we felt a prevailing sense of peace. Our seminarian friend, who had given my friend and me a personal tour of the Basilica earlier that day, mentioned that sometimes when the weather is clear you can actually hear the Pope playing the piano late at night. I didn't hear any music that night, but I had no problem imagining it.

Do you have any Pope stories to share? Hold on a second while I run and grab a box of tissues.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Only on vacation . . .

Most Frightening Quote:
"I'm going to do that at home!"
My toddler, after watching the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular complete with car crashes, sword fights, shooting, fire, and explosions. My husband and I made a mental note to get rid of all matches and anything remotely flammable once we returned home.

Funniest Moment:

The look on my mother's face when the waitress called her the "heavy drinker of the family" and gave her a special glass after she had finished her Diet Coke 30 seconds after being served.

The "Hard-Headiest" Moment

When his two older brothers were trying on sneakers, our toddler found a pair HE liked, and that HE wanted, and that he INSISTED fit him perfectly. They were nice shoes . . . but a SIZE 20!!!!

The Quote Resulting in the Biggest Group Cringe:

"If I go a whole bunch of poopy in the potty chair can you buy me this train?"
(The answer was a resounding no and a quick retreat out the door.)

Most Tempting Question:

"Can we throw away the key and run real fast?"
(A shared thought with my husband!)

The Most Memorable Moment:

Visiting the Kennedy Space Center and having lunch with Jack Lousma, an astronaut who flew two missions into space and was part of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 13 mission (remember the movie with Tom Hanks?).

Monday, April 14, 2008

An open letter to Disney

Our family just returned from a lovely vacation in Florida, two days of which were spent at two of your parks: Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood. Although we love Disney World, we have learned to pace ourselves. A park one day, lounging by the pool the next. Another park on day three or four, with the days in between filled with outlet shopping, or an Orlando Magic Basketball game, or playing cards on a rainy afternoon.

So, even though we don't make our entire vacation about Disney, we feel the magic of Disney World . . . we really do.

There is the magic of introducing our sons to imagination and adventure; of sitting on a curb waiting for the nighttime parade to begin; of seeing our toddler's eyes when he first meets a Disney character. There is magic in the smiles of people coming off Space Mountain; in the details of the lush landscaping; in the first ride on the monorail.

There is the magic of being a child again.

This year I discovered another sort of magic. You see, I was twelve when I first visited the Magic Kingdom, returned 15 years later with two young sons, and then again this year with yet another son. And thinking about these visits at different parts of my life I realized that you never change. The lamppost on the corner of Main Street, the one that I leaned against while eating my first Itzakadoozie? It's still there. The gondola at the beginning of the It's a Small World ride? Still there. The Hall of Presidents? Yup. Still there. The sameness of it all is truly magical.

We live in a world that moves at a breathless pace. The minute you buy the latest gadget, an even newer one comes out before you can even back out of the parking lot. By the time you know where everything is in a store, it is being remodeled to compete with another store's grand opening. Back to School sales start before the school year ends, Christmas decorations are out in October, and Thanksgiving gets ignored.

The magical fact that you are constant through the years is soothing, comforting, welcoming. I like it that you are the same now, when I am 41, as you were when I was 12. I like it that my sons are experiencing exactly what I experienced, and that one day they will share this same experience with their children.

So, thank you for the magic of constancy.

And I look forward to meeting you again in a few years under that lamppost on Main Street . . . I know you'll be there.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Perfecting the Art of Procrastination

Before heading out of town tomorrow, and as a way of procrastinating (see below) so I don't have to face the mountain of clothes I need to fold before packing them into the suitcase, I thought I'd do one more meme, compliments of Soutenus.

What I was doing 10 years ago:
Having our house built and trying to pick out everything from the brick to the light fixtures to the refrigerator while juggling an infant and a two-year-old.

Five things on my To Do List today:
Since we're leaving for Florida tomorrow, everything has to do with packing:
-finish laundry
-figure out a quick dinner to keep mess to a minimum (is it okay to have cereal for dinner?)
-email my brother and sister
-do this quick post
-pack car toys so this won't happen again

now, multiply this to-do list times 100 and you can see why I AM PANICKING!

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
-buy a villa in Tuscany for the use of our entire family
-donate big chunk to the Communita' Regina Pacis in memory of Sandro
-send my boys to a Catholic College

Three of my bad habits: (whew! only three)
-procrastination (but in my defense, I always get things done on time and I'm never late!)
-getting impatient with slow drivers
-forgetting to write things on the calendar; forgetting to check the calendar

Five places I have lived:
-Vicenza, Italy
-Nurnberg, Germany
-Darmstadt, Germany
-Augusta, Georgia
-Santa Fe, New Mexico

Five jobs I’ve had:
-children's librarian
-high school English teacher
-high school Spanish teacher
-babysitter extraordinaire
-night clerk in my college dorm

Now I'm supposed to tag five people, but since I am in a serious time crunch and hyper-linking takes time, consider yourself tagged if you'd like to participate (I always like to read about other people's bad habits).

Okay . . . I'm done procrastinating. I really do need to go and pack, etc. God bless!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Seven quirky traits . . . but who's counting?

Lisa tagged me for a Seven Random Things Meme, and before we head out of town for a vacation in Florida, I thought I'd leave you with some of my quirky traits (thank goodness the list is limited to seven items!) so you won't forget me while I am away for the next twelve days.

I play the guitar, and although I can't sing very well, I do it anyway. . . you know, "make a joyful noise"!

My best friend in the whole world is my sister.

It takes me two days to get up the nerve to clean my boys' bathroom.

When I am upset or worried, I clean (except the boys' bathroom . . . that just makes me more upset).

My favorite color is brown.

When I studied in Spain for a summer we visited a matador training facility. I was the only girl who got to enter the arena (with a very cute matador in training) and hold one end of the cape while a raging bull . . . okay, I'm kidding . . . while a cute baby calf ran through it.

My hair tends to frizz very easily; if there is a drop of water ANYWHERE in a ten mile radius (and that includes water fountains) my hair frizzes. Living in the south doesn't help matters.

My very favorite fruit to eat is a grapefruit; I instantly feel healthier when I eat one.

I am TERRIBLE at math! (Is this #7 or #8?)

If you haven't already done this meme, or if you've discovered more quirky things about yourself that you'd like to share, consider yourself tagged!

Then, Holly gave me this award which I would like to pass on to All of you who visit since I learn so very much from you. God bless!