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

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

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beware of Men with Accents

A re-post to explain why I haven't been blogging lately ...

Every year at this time our city of Augusta hosts a "little" tournament called The Masters. This "little" golfing event is a huge economic boost to our local economy: hotels, caterers, lawn services, taxis, limousines, private drivers, tent rentals, restaurants, maids . . . and house rentals.

That's right. Many of us rent our homes. Coorporations or individuals give us a check, and we hightail it out of Dodge.

We have been renting our house for over ten years. Every year we deal with the same man from Dallas, Texas who runs a small business that caters clients at sporting events. He is a true southern gentleman, polite, with a soft Texas drawl that reduces my mind to mush. Really, I can't think straight when he speaks.

His voice reminds me of a summer night where it is too hot and humid to do anything but sit on a deep front porch drinking lemonade. Crickets are chirping, lightning bugs are flickering, and there are pauses between sentences that makes your mind slow down until you're not thinking but just taking it all in.

What is it about accents? Think Colin Firth's British or Hugh Jackman's Australian. Think of the French accent . . . the Italian . . . the Irish . . . and yes, the southern. Really, they hypnotize me.

Case in point: five years ago we informed our Texan, Jim, that because our son's due date was just before The Masters, we wouldn't be able to rent that year. Two days after Timothy's birth, Jim calls and, with that soft-spoken voice, asks if there was any way we would reconsider.

I listened to him talking, talking, talking and without even realizing it I agreed. The fact that I was nursing a newborn around the clock and had two days to get the house ready didn't even enter my mind.

Another example: this year Jim called us in early March to tell us that, because of the economy, several of his clients pulled out and he wouldn't be able to rent from us this year. He was so polite about it we weren't even disappointed. Fine. I would have a quiet spring. No cleaning out closets, doing yardwork, or washing linens.

Then, Tiger Woods won a golf tournament.

Sure enough, last night Jim called. In his soft-spoken manner he explained he recently acquired some clients and, since he knew we were planning on spending the week in Florida (it's our spring break), he wondered if he could possibly rent our home.

I did some quick thinking: I am up to my ears in deadlines, my husband is out of town and won't be back until Saturday, and we have to be packed and ready to go on Sunday. And while I was thinking, Jim kept talking . . . his soft accent swirling around my head . . .

I agreed.

Just shoot me now.

Of course, my husband is thrilled. But he is in Albuquerque. He is NOT here. He is far, far away. And I am here . . . working like a madwoman. Well. When he gets home, he'd better start speaking with an accent . . . that's all I'm saying.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Revisiting Room 404

Dear Peter,

I met you when you were just two days old. Your Mommy was very sick from a complicated cesarean, and I spent the night in the hopital so I could help take care of you.

There, in Room 404, I held you for the very first time. It is very humbling holding a new life in your arms. Somehow, the world reduces to the overwhelming realization that a brand new person has arrived. Here. On earth.

What could be more beautiful?

It was a promise of new beginnings; and yet, there was also the desperate feeling of wanting to stop time. You were so tiny, and the world was so big, that I just wanted to sit there in the semi- darkness of Room 404 and keep you safe in my arms.

But the world did come in, bringing with it words like developmental delays, autism, early intervention, ABA therapy . . . long words that generated more questions than answers. Words with too many syllables that don't even begin to capture who you are.

But know this, Peter.

You are you.


The baby I ment in Room 404. The little boy I love.

Your Auntie Bia

Friday, March 18, 2011

7 Quick Takes : The Mall Edition

1. My husband has been out of town all week, and because the boys were out of school for the second half of the week, my parents graciously took them to their house to spend the night. Which meant that, as of noon yesterday, I had a 24-hour period of alone time. What did I do? That's what #'s 2-7 are about.

2. After my regular morning Thursday morning Bible Study (in which I told two very funny Irish jokes), I went to get my hair cut and colored. One hour later: neatly trimmed edges, shaped bangs, and no more stray grays. I was a new person.

3. Lunch was next. It was a lovely day and I wanted to eat outdoors. Macaroni Grill, then. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and I had the entire veranda to myself. Grilled chicken spiedini, a good book, and two cute birds that kept hopping around waiting for me to toss them more breadcrumbs made for an enjoyable dining experience.

4. While I was waiting for my food I truly felt humbled. I was given this lovely 24-hour period as a "break", but really ... what do I need a break from? There are so many people -- single mothers, parents dealing with a sick child, those who are overworked and stressed -- that need a break much more than I did. This prompted a quiet prayer time.

5. Off to the mall. The mall? When was the last time I was at the mall? Or, better yet, when was the last time I was at the mall alone? I can't remember when.

6. Smart buy: at JC Penney I saw a set of bangles (remember, I like watches and chunky bracelets) marked waaaay down for $12 ... and I had a $10 coupon. Good bargain + cute bangles = grinning-like-an-idiot-shopping-woman.

7. I am always astounded at what people will do in public. Case in point: who would want to have their eyebrows plucked in the middle of the mall so that everyone walking by can watch? How can anyone relax while getting a neck/shoulder/back massage in public? Really, I just don't get it.

71/2. And just to make the point that I am really not this superficial (a whole post about shopping? really?) I encourage you to visit Fr. Pablo's blog, Labyrinthine Mind. Fr. Pablo studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, so he really knows his Church history (something I can attest to since he was our private tour guide on more than one occasion when we were in Rome.) During Lent he is writing a series on the Lenten Station Churches.

For more Friday Quick Takes fun, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Many Italians does it take to Change a Tire?

Today my mother and I were invited to a luncheon for the purpose of helping our friend Italia (that's really and truly her name) and her business partner, Stella, brainstorm ideas for their new catering business.

So, while we discussed marketing strategies and sample menus, Italia fed us minestrone, spaghetti alla carbonara, insalata caprese, assorted cheeses, salad w/ lemon juice and olive oil, peppers and onions, and wine; by the time we sipped our espressos, we came up with the following logo:

Stella and Italia: Bringing Authentic Italian Cuisine to Your Door

As a business luncheon, it was such a gastronomical feast. Italia is a fantastic cook; in fact, whenever my husband and I get an invitation to dinner, we clear our calendar. And she always sends us home with leftovers.

After lunch we kissed Italia and Stella goodbye on both cheeks (true Italians that we are) and walked outside to discover that my van had a flat tire.

Completely and totally flat.

Now, I consider myself fairly independent. I can make decisions, find my way through foreign airports, and deal with you-know-who being out of town for a week, but the one thing I cannot do is change a tire.

BUT, a flat tire wasn't going to stop Maria, Massimilla, Italia, and Stella.

It started raining, and there we were: Stella was trying to jack up the van, I was reading the car manual while holding an umbrella over Stella, my Mom was calling my father, and Italia was connecting a gazillion extension cords to an air compressor in the hopes that we could inflate the tire, at least temporarily.

Our numbers grew. A lady walked out of her house to offer advice. A retired gentleman walked up the street to help, and another man stopped his car to check on us. Soon, there were people crawling all over that van ... but no one could locate the spare tire.

By the time my Dad drove up, we had managed to get air in the tire, which lasted long enough for my Dad to follow me to Tire Kingdom to purchase a new tire. And while he stayed to supervise things, I drove his truck to pick up the boys from school (btw, truck + carpool lane = cool mom).

So, how many Italians does it take to change a tire?

Actually, I'm not really sure, but if you will please excuse me I have some delicious leftovers to eat.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You're Invited!

What: A Pity Party

For: Me

Why: Husband in Las Vegas

When: Today until Saturday

And here's the thing: I was supposed to fly out to join him for a couple of nights but, alas, there was too much going on with the boys' schedules for me to just dump everything on my parents and go.

So, no Broadway shows, no fancy dinners, no fine shopping for me.

I'm here (sigh) ... and hubby's there.

No presents, please. Just lots of empathy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

7 quick takes: a CSI thumbprint, some alone time, a lost and found pen pal

1. Hello? Anyone out there? It seems as if everyone has given up blogging and/or facebook for Lent, which is making me feel guilty for being here.

2. My husband is going to be away all next week (Monday-Saturday) and the boys are off school starting Wednesday. I am thinking he needs to bring me back a really, really nice present.

3. Because of #2 above, and because my parents have pity on me, they are taking all three boys (ALL THREE BOYS) to their house Thursday to spend the night. That means 24 hours in which I get to be all by myself. What to do? What to do? I am giddy at the thought of all that free time.

4. As a family we don't watch a lot of television, but lately we've been addicted to Pawn Stars. It's no coincidence that the show is featured on the History Channel because, and I know this is hard to believe, we learn a lot of history watching those guys. For example, this week we learned about the rare 1896 currency known as the "educational series" ... bills designed by the U.S. Treasury featuring works of art to educate people who lived in rural areas. Fascinating stuff. Really.

5. Pen pals. Did you ever have one? I had one in the 7th grade - a girl my age from Brazil - but like many pen pals we eventually lost touch ... until this week when she found me via facebook. Wow. How neat is that?

6. These aren't branches in this vase ... it's rosemary, freshly cut from a bush in my parents' backyard ... and it smells simply divine.

7. Ending on an irreverent note: five years ago during Ash Wednesday service an elderly priest placed his thumbprint smack dab in the middle of my forehead. Not a cross, mind you, but a genuine CSI-like thumbprint. Not sure why I'm mentioning it except to say that this story has caused more than a few giggles over the years.

Check out more quick takes over at Conversion Diary ... and be sure to read her posts exploring and meditating on the Our Father word-by-word. Her first post begins with the word Our.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Color of my Soul

Terracotta is the color of clay, dirt, earth, soil. It's the color of a splendid sunset behind a row of cypress trees, of a sunrise skipping across cobblestone streets, of the walls of a farmhouse nestled in the hills.
It is the color of tile rooftops, of clay pots overflowing with red geraniums, of flower boxes in balconies and windows.

Terracotta is the color of Italy ...
and it speaks to my soul.

Un Abbraccio, week 4: The Color of My Soul

Thursday, March 3, 2011

7 quick takes: yellow pansies, an aardvark, holey pants

1. Last night I raided our pantry and and refrigerator and made a Bolognese sauce - a little meat, some ricotta, dash of basil, a little of this, a little of that - and it came out great. Too bad I didn't write down the recipe.

2. I am a big list maker, but in planning for Lent I realized I didn't want a list on what to do, but a list on how to be . . . a spiritual to-be list, if you will. Here are some to be ideas: be charitable, be forgiving, be helpful to a stranger, be brave and take a stand, be a peacemaker, be kind, smile, speak gently.

A spiritual to-be list . . . what do you think? The idea came to me when I found my son's "to-do" list.

3. This week I planted bright, yellow pansies in the flower boxes on our front porch. Bursts of sunshine that make me smile.

4. Can I just say how excited I am about Lent? I now recognize it for the gift it is, and it humbles me.

5. My son, in a hurry to unload the dishwasher to watch Arthur on television, broke not one ... not two ... but THREE dinner plates. Thanks to a cartoon aardvark, my wish for new dishes may come sooner than later.

6. A last minute reminder about First Friday Mass sent me into a panic since our first grader had put a hole - a big, gaping hole - in his very last pair of school pants a few days ago. What to do? What to do?

So, a late night trip to Target resulted in the last pair of size 7 navy pants hanging on the rack for him, and a pretty summer blouse for me.

7. And speaking of our first grader, it's his turn to plan family night. So, our Friday night plans include:

~ read Bible story

~decorate coffee table with Woody, Mr. Potato Head, and the Army Men
~have pizza picnic in family room while watching Toy Story

~go to bed

~the end

Early Morning Discombobulation

Last night I told my husband to wake me up before he left for work in the morning. I had a busy day ahead, and I wanted to be showered and dressed before I had to wake up the boys.

Around 5:45 a.m. he whispers in my ear.

"Wake up, I am your Sleeping Beauty."

I open one eye.

"Uhm, don't you mean you're my Prince Charming?" I ask.

It took him a minute to get it.

Then, as he was walking out the door I said, "Goodnight."

"Goodnight? Uhm, you do know it's morning, right?" he asks.


Do you think they serve cappuccinos in fairy tales?