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

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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A week and a day . . .

This has been a busy month, and the thought of planning our annual St. Joseph Feast Day celebration was beginning to worry me.

Until St. Joseph chose me for the task.


Earlier this month a woman in my Bible Study encouraged us to spend a year with a saint. The idea was to pull a saint's name out of a basket, and then read, study, and allow that saint to work in your life.

The underlying concept behind this project is this: although you physically draw the saint's name, the saint actually chooses you.

We took turns (all fifty of us). St. Catherine, St. Anne, St. Paul, St. Benedict, St. Mark . . . they all chose someone.

And St. Joseph chose me.

He chose me, and that was all the confirmation I needed.

So this past Saturday, exactly a week and a day after his official Feast Day, we held our annual celebration in honor of St. Joseph.

The guests: sixteen adults, eleven children (10 boys and 1 girl . . . I just have to point that out), one infant, and three priests.

The food: peperonata, stuffed shells, grilled Italian sausage, cannellini beans w/ tomatoes, polenta & mushrooms, assorted cheeses, tortellini salad, homemade hummus, cream puffs, Italian cookies, and wine, wine, wine.

The traditions: a three-tiered St. Joseph altar, the lucky fava bean, the children reading the history behind this Italian feast day, the Viva S. Giuseppe toasts, and the sprinkling of breadcrumbs symbolizing the sawdust of St. Joseph, the carpenter.

The Music: traditional Italian.

The entertainment: a retired priest who performs magic tricks.

The party favors: St. Joseph prayer cards displayed in a basket of beans.

It was a wonderful celebration, and I take credit for none of it. You see, that St. Joseph ... he's some party planner, and he simply chose me to host it.

The Silence of Saint Joseph
The silence of Saint Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to divine desires. It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of His holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence. It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from his "father" Joseph that Jesus learned -- at the human level -- that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice.... Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with Saint Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice.
~Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus, December 18, 2005

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Something I Learned the Hard Way:

When on a bike ride,
it is advisable to keep your mouth closed.


cough, spit, spit, cough, cough

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...ignore the instruction manual

Now, I consider myself an intelligent person. I speak three languages. I read up on world news. I may not be good in math (a teeny, tiny understatement), but I can follow instructions and put together a Lego set containing 760 pieces.

But this three shelf bookcase from Target took me almost three hours to put together.


And I was on Step One for half that time.

The problem? A horrible instruction manual (all 15 pages of it) accompanied by very bad illustrations.

But I perservered and put that darn thing together.

And I think it looks very nice in my new office space.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taken by Surprise

Yesterday I heard two men talking outside the kitchen window, and when I looked out I discovered it was just my husband and my eldest son.

My son?!? That's the deep voice I heard?!

While we've noticed that his voice has indeed been deepening, it still catches us by surprise.

Of course, it also catches my son by surprise. He has no control over a voice that hasn't quite made up its mind what it wants to do, and the pitch changes from minute to minute.

Last night Nicholas answered the phone.

"It's for you," he whispered, as he handed it to Joe. A slight hesitation, then he added furiously: "They thought I was Mom. "

Oh, dear.



Oh, and he's also driving . . .

and this is not his convertible. It belongs to Nana & Papa who were visiting from Virginia Beach and bravely offered to let him drive it around.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To Save A Thousand Souls

Recently I gave a presentation on the topic of vocations at a Women's Bible Study. I began by telling the story on how I once managed to shock (or rather, horrify) a group of women when I mentioned how thrilled I would be if one of my sons were to become a priest.

The point I wanted to make in telling the women this story was this: when it comes to the priesthood, if not our sons, then whose? If we aren't willing for our sons to discern their vocation, how can we discern our own?

Which is why I am mentioning the book, To Save A Thousand Souls by Fr. Brett A. Brannen, Vice-Rector of Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, Maryland. It's a wonderful book for men discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and it provides a comprehensive guide on the entire process from recognizing the signs of a vocation to the final chapter about ordination day.

Amazingly, though, the book is for all of us. As I read it, I recalled the words of John Paul II who said we are all called to serve God in different ways, whether its through the vocation of marriage, or as a dedicated single person, or through a religious life. What is important is that all these are vocations, each one serving God in its own, unique way.

To Save A Thousand Souls guides men through the discernment process, but the lessons and insights can be for anyone. It's a book about answering the call to vocation . . . and how holiness is the first and foremost vocation for each and every one of us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Reason I Majored in English

When my son comes home from school needing help with this . . .

A cylinder with height 2x is inscribed in a sphere with radius 10.

a) Show that the volume of the cylinder, V, is 2πx(100 – x2).
b) By using calculus, one can show that V is maximum when x = 10√3 divided by 3. Substitute this value for x to find the maximum volume V. max. V = 4000π√3 divided by 9.
c) Use a calculator or computer to evaluate V= 2πx(100-x2) for various values of x between 0 and 10. Show that the maximum volume V occurs when x ≈ 5.77.

…boy am I glad I married my husband.

And what’s really sad is that I couldn’t even type the problem and had to get my son to do it for me…I mean, when was the last time you typed a square root, an exponent, or the symbol for pi? Hmmm?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Barista, James Bond, and Me

Last month I was in a local cafe` and ordered a cappuccino. I was the only one in there, and as the barista was steaming my milk she asked me this: Why do you like cappuccinos? I was wondering since, really, a cappuccino is just like a latte only that the milk is frothed. Does the foam even taste like anything?

Well. Well.

I put down my purse. This was going to take a while.

This is what I said:

It's like this: you can take four basic ingredients like eggs, butter, salt and pepper. Using those same ingredients, you can make scrambled eggs or fried eggs. Same ingredients, but the results are different.

I was on a roll, so I continued:

Okay, now take James Bond. He orders his martini shaken, but not stirred. Again, same ingredients (gin, vermouth, olive) but with a subtle difference on the preparation (stirred versus shaken) and there you have it: James Bond's beverage of choice.

So, the cafe` latte is espresso and steamed (but not frothed) milk; the cappuccino is all about thirds: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 frothed milk. Yes, the ingredients are the same, but the proportion, the process, and yes, the preference create the sutbtleties of taste that make each one unique.

Then, because I wanted her to think I was passionate rather than snooty, I smiled like an idiot.

And she laughed as she handed me my cappuccino.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Whoa. Just call me Rocky.

About two hours after our return from Vegas, our five-year-old was so excited to see us he was jumping on the couch. Up and down. Up and down. He lost his balance . . . CRACK! . . . and his cute, but very hard head, slams into my eye. I now have a bona fide black eye.

I am sporting a Rocky Balboa shiner with a rainbow of purple, blue and yellow completely encircling my eye.

And the timing stinks. Of course, I haven't seen anyone since before leaving for Vegas, and so now when I explain how I got my shiner, I invariably get that all-knowing look and a "hmmm-hmmm."

Like, what do they think? I had too much of a good thing in Vegas and tripped on a curb right there on the strip? Sheesh.