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

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


There. Now that I have your attention with photos that have absolutely nothing to do with this post, I have an announcement.

You see that Haiku button on my sidebar? The one in which my oldest son taught me how to download? Well, if you click on it you will find details for a Haiku Festival this Friday that Laura is hosting.

What's a haiku? Three lines with five, seven, and then five syllables in each line. That's it. Easy breezy.

So, I challenge you to reach for the stars and write a haiku this Friday. It's easy, it's fun, and most of all, you'll be haikool!

Go on. I double dog dare you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mangia Ancora Pollo! (Eat More Chicken!)

Dear Chick-fil-A,

I wanted to begin this week by thanking you for three things: one, for offering healthy fare; two, for being closed on Sundays (a noble thing to do in today's business world); and three, for the great toys you offer in your kids' meals.

Case in point, the language cd's that came out earlier this summer.

We have the Italian cd, and this weekend while my sons and I primed and painted five bookcases, we listened to that cd over and over again.

Oh, at first my sons complained (they wanted something more "fun"), but after a while they began repeating buon giorno, andiamo, and il ufficio postale. And while I already speak the language, it was fun repeating the key phrases with my sons who don't.

Even my four year old got into the action, providing us with a good laugh. He recognized words such as pasta and ciao, but when they asked "Where is a good place to eat?" (Dove si mangia bene?), before they provided the Italian translation he answered out loud, "At Nonna's house."

So, grazie for providing educational entertainment for our family.

Bia, la dolce vita mom

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Art of Interrupting

Last night we had dinner at my parents' house. A friend of the family was there with her daughters, and since she lives in Washington State and we haven't seen her in a year, conversation was fast and furious.

At one point I happened to glance over at my oldest son, and he had a dazed, helpless look on his face. "Uh oh," I thought. "Like father like son."

The first time I brought my husband (then fiance) to a big Italian picnic, he later confided to me that he had wanted to participate in the conversation, but was at loss as to when to jump in. No one stopped talking long enough for him to say anything.

My poor husband. He comes from a polite family where everyone takes turns speaking: one person speaks, then another, and so on. There are no interruptions and voice levels are moderate.

On the other hand, in my Italian family conversations overlap, and in order to get a point across, or a story told, we get louder and louder. Interruptions are the norm, and chaos can reign supreme.

So when I saw that same expression on my son that my husband had twenty years ago, I knew it was time for an important lesson. I gave this same lesson to my husband, and I could see that it was now time for my son to hear it.

The Art of Interrupting

  • Be vigilant for pauses: Even though it may seem as if there is no cessation is speech, there are in fact pauses; for example, when someone takes a sip of wine or takes a bite of food. Even a big intake of breath is a significant pause.

  • Create your own pause: don't be afraid to call out someone's name that is sitting across the room. That person will then pause to see who called his name...this is your chance to speak.

  • Be quick. Other people will also be looking for these pauses, so you need to move in quickly!

  • Instead of trying to address the entire group, address the person next to you. It is much easier to get one person's attention.

  • Go with the flow. With everyone talking, shifts in the conversation occur from sentence to sentence. One minute the topic might be the recipe for Nonna's minestrone, and the next minute it's about natural childbirth. Transitions often don't make sense, but if you're willing to take on any topic, you'll then have more opportunity speak.

    • Finally, when you can't get a word in edgewise, grab a glass of wine, listen, and enjoy the show. You'll have the best seat in the house.

      Saturday, July 19, 2008

      A Veggie Tales Murder

      This past Friday our local paper ran an article citing the South as having the highest obesity levels in the nation.

      Living in Georgia, I have to say it's nothing to be proud of.

      Oh, I know the incredible heat has something to do with obesity. When it gets near 100 degrees, everyone turns into a slug; really, just walking up the driveway to get the mail is an effort.

      But do you want to know my theory as to why obesity is so bad? You do? Well then, here it is: obesity is so prevalent because southerners kill their vegetables.

      Think about it: tomatoes are stewed; okra is fried; beans are boiled with bacon and fatback (what's fatback? I have absolutely no idea); carrots are glazed with brown sugar; and then collards, cabbage, and spinach are cooked so as to give new meaning to the term "wilted greens".

      Basically, things that are naturally non-fattening are now laden with a gazillion calories.

      Nobody does biscuits, iced-tea, peach cobbler, and BBQ like a true southerner, and the South's gentile manners are unsurpassed, but those veggies . . .

      Anyway, that's just my theory. But what do I know?

      Friday, July 18, 2008

      Haiku, who?

      It's Friday, and you know what that means! Haikus: good ones, bad ones, funny ones, and in our case, family vacation ones. Here are a few from my crew, then head over to Laura's, the Haiku Queen.

      Going up, up, and then up
      while on a roller coaster.
      Please! I change my mind.

      One for the bucket,
      then two, three, and four for me.
      Picking blueberries.

      Nonno and his shirt,
      Yikes! a tourist from Hawaii.
      We do not know him.

      Our baby brother:
      Did he come in and destroy
      Our huge Lego set?

      Wednesday, July 16, 2008

      Virginia is for Lovers . . .

      and Busch Gardens ("Apollo's Chariot is a roller coaster so smooth it's like a magic carpet," explained my sister-in-law. What she neglected to mention: a magic carpet that plummets 200 feet at the speed of light . . . I literally couldn't even scream);

      and blueberry picking ("They weigh you before you pick berries and after, that way they can tell how many berries you ate," explained Papa to some very gullible grandsons);

      and a generous sister-in-law who twice kidnapped my sons to help them pick out a surprise for me (a capodimonte flower and a pearl from an oyster they personally selected);

      and lunch at Panera on a rainy afternoon;

      and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame ("'s a TOUCHDOWN folks! A touchdown!" yelled my husband into the microphone as he called out highlights of a famous game. People kept peering into the room to see who was rocking the place with his announcing);

      and, best of all, Nana and Papa's house (paradise for our sons with its swimming pool, pool table, zip line spanning the width of the entire back yard, and the tallest tree house complete with a hammock and television).

      Monday, July 7, 2008

      Bia, the Ogre

      My sister and her family came in town for the 4th, so along with my parents we all went to the lake for a picnic complete with bocce, golden oldies on the radio, Italian music on cd's, and boat rides from Nonno. Since the 4th was on a Friday, and since we are having a Haiku Summer, I passed out 3x5 index cards and had EVERYONE write a haiku.

      Oh, everyone groaned.
      And complained.
      "A Hi-koo?!" some smart-aleck yelled.

      But I can be very influential. I know how to be convincing.
      Here, this haiku written by my favorite sister says it all:

      Bia is the boss.
      We do whatever she says,
      Or else we don't eat.

      You see, I can even be inspirational.

      Thursday, July 3, 2008

      A Haiku Summer

      Lately it seems that the haiku, a Japanese form of poetry, is experiencing an incredible resurgence. Soutenus recently wrote a post featuring Catholic haikus, and Laura is the ultimate Haiku Queen. Every Friday she hosts "Bad Haiku Friday", covering everything from the Frito Bandito to bunions; really, she should write a book . . . they're incredibly witty, insightful, fun, and clever.

      And the truth be known, when I was in high school the haiku was my very favorite form of poetry.

      So, to my family's wonder and surprise (and horror?), I instituted a haiku summer. Huh? It's really very easy. Remembering how successful the postcard idea worked, I thought the haiku would serve the same purpose of recording our summer in a short (i.e. painless), concise manner.

      We even have a haiku area. On a big door frame in our kitchen, every Friday (yes, Laura, we took this inspiration from you) everyone writes a haiku on a 3x5 index card and tapes it to the door frame. Of course, a haiku can be added at any time during the week . . . but Friday is THE DAY.

      Our family plan
      A summer of bad haiku-
      We are all poets.

      Bad Haiku Friday
      AND three dental appointments-
      I'll go back to bed.

      Was Jonathan scared
      to ride the roller coaster
      at the Six Flags Park?

      Golf without Tiger
      Like a film without a star;
      Who's going to win now?

      Summer's in full swing
      We play golf every Monday;
      Are we having fun?

      Hopefully, by summer's end, we'll have a family journal of Summer 2008. Now, go write a haiku.