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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Once upon a time there was a stranger ...

Dear ~~~ Family,

You don’t know me and we have never met. But allow me to tell you a story …

Three years ago I drove to Columbia, SC to attend my sister’s baby shower. With me was my youngest son, who was four years old at the time.

When we left my sister’s to return home, an SUV of teens coming back from the lake entered a traffic circle at high speed and plowed into our van. The impact was shocking, and when the two vehicles finally came to a rest there were tire marks, debris, and broken glass spread over two lanes.

While my son and I were shaken, neither we nor the occupants of the SUV were injured.

When I dialed 911 and the operator requested the location, I was at a total loss; my sister’s family had recently moved to this area, and I didn’t even know the name of the street I was on. Suddenly, a driver pulled up behind me, parked, and got out of the car to see if we were okay. I handed him my cell phone, and he gave the operator all the information. Afterwards, he picked up car parts from the middle of the street (a bumper, a side view mirror, two hubcaps), and before I could thank him for his help he drove off.

It was a very hot afternoon, and as my son and I stood in the shade waiting for the police, this same man returned. He said he had noticed from our license plate that we were from out of state and thought that we could probably use this … and he handed me a bag with inside several juice boxes, some Oreo cookies, and two Diet Cokes.

Juices boxes, Oreo cookies, Diet Cokes … and just like that I was reminded of how, in spite of bad things that happen, there is also such goodness in this world.

I later learned his name was Chaz, and over the years I would tell this story to demonstrate the tremendous love, healing and power that can be found in reaching out to a stranger.

No, you don’t know me and we have never met. But once upon a time I briefly met Chaz, and although I heard today that he no longer is with us on this earth, please know that he will forever be in corner of my heart where cherished memories are stored.

God bless,

*I will be mailing this letter today to Chaz' family.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where a Bishop Walks

There is a saying my Nonna used to quote: pulire dove cammina il vescovo (to clean where the bishop walks). It refers to the days when a priest visited parishioners in their homes, thus warranting a serious house cleaning in anticipation of their visit; the level of cleaning, however, was directly related to the type of priest who was visiting.

For example, a visit from the parish priest meant a deep, thorough house cleaning. The priest, who was responsible for the spiritual well-being of his parishioners, felt it his duty to poke around and make sure everything was good. So, homes were buffed, shined, mopped, and dusted because a clean home reflected a clean soul.

On the other hand,  a bishop's visit meant cleaning would be more cursory in nature. A bishop's importance meant that his visit would be short, he would sit in the main room, and he was above poking around; basically, you cleaned only where the bishop would go . . . no deep cleaning involved.

Pulire dove cammina il vescovo, then, is a tongue-in-cheek reminder to do only what is necessary. And sometimes that's more than enough.

So, why am I telling you this today?

Because in the past three weeks I've cleaned our house as if expecting a visit from the bishop, which means that if you visit me don't look too hard or poke around too much.

Just walk a bishop's walk.

Friday, November 4, 2011

7 quick takes: seeing red, the color orange, and my husband makes me happy

~1~ SEEING RED ...
one rusty bistro set + two coats of fire engine red spray paint = pop of color in the back yard.

nothing says autumn like the color orange.

would you believe Home Depot or Lowes? I can wander the aisles for hours looking at hinges, door knobs, paint colors, or kitchen tiles. Really, I'd rather go to either of those places than the mall. And don't ask me to choose, I like them both.

Last Saturday I was standing at the top of the stairs holding a bottle of bleach. Somehow the bottle slipped from my hands, and it bounced end over end down eighteen steps while I watched in horror. Halfway down the top burst open, and bleach splashed on the steps, walls, railings and, when it landed at the bottom, on the oriental rug by the front door and the silk curtains in the dining room. Oh, the mess. Oh, the fumes!

or, in other words ... to cut or not to cut? That is the question.

"You know," said my husband one morning at breakfast. "In about a year I should have enough frequent flyer miles for us all to go to Italy again."

this iconic photo makes me smile.

American Girl in Italy

Thanks, Jen, for hosting. You can visit her at Conversion Diary where you can read about reusable toilet paper. What???!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Rules for Being Sick

There are rules? For being sick?

With my boys, the answer is yes.

When the school nurse called me for the upteenth time last week about Timothy "not feeling too good", I knew it was time to lay down the law with our little guy because, having gone through this with his two older brothers, I now know when I'm being played.

So, unless you

-are vomitting,
-have a fever,
-or experiencing diarrhea ...

Mom WILL NOT come pick you up from school.

See? There really are rules for being sick.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Sugar Bowl

Mrs. Castellucci came to visit her son Anthony, who lived with a female roommate, Maria.

During the course of the meal, his mother couldn't help but notice how pretty Anthony's roommate was. As she watched the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between Anthony and Maria than met the eye.

“Mamma, I know what you must be thinking,” Anthony volunteered. “But I can assure you, Maria and I are just roommates.”

About a week later, Maria came to Anthony and said, “Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the silver sugar bowl. You don't suppose she took it, do you?”

So Anthony sat down and wrote his mother an email.

Cara Mamma,
I'm not saying that you did take the sugar bowl from my house, and I'm not saying that you did not take it. But the fact remains that it has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.
Love, Anthony

Several days later, Anthony received a response from his Mamma.

Dear Son,
I'm not saying that you do sleep with Maria, and I'm not saying that you do not sleep with her. But the fact remains that if she were sleeping in her OWN bed, she would have found the sugar bowl by now.
Love, Mamma

*thanks, Cathy M., for sending this to me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do Saints Wear Sneakers?

When we vacationed in Italy a few years ago, one of the highlights of our stay in Tuscany included a visit to La Verna, a Franciscan Monastery nestled in the forest at the top of a high mountain. This monastery was where St. Francis of Assisi traveled for spiritual rest and discernment, and it is there that he received the stigmata.

Displayed in the main basilica is St Francis' robe, and I can't even begin to describe how emotional this was for all of us.

Outside, and down a steep flight of stone steps, is the cave where St. Francis slept. Cold, damp and dark, the cave contains a stone slab bed with a small depression on one end where St. Francis rested his head.

It is a holy place, so a chain prevents visitors from venturing too close.

And here, in this precise spot, is where Jonathan chose to leave evidence of his visit.

In his eagerness to see where St. Francis slept, Jonathan jumped over the chain to get a better look. After we grabbed him and hauled him back over, we stared in collective disbelief at the distinct footprint of a sneaker he had left in the damp earth near St. Francis' bed.

What to do? We couldn't reach far enough over the chain to brush out the footprint, we couldn't step over because we would leave even more footprints, and we didn't feel it would be right to get mad at our son in front of St. Francis. So, with a heartfelt prayer/apology to St. Francis, we left things as they were.

Which means Jonathan's footprint may still be there today.