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

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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Light in the Window


A few years ago my friend and I were standing in front of St. Peter's Square in Rome. It was late -- almost midnight -- and no one was around.

No one, except for the Pope.

You see, if you're facing St. Peter's Basilica and look up and to the right, you can see the windows of the Papal Apartments. And that night a light was on.

It was a surreal moment. A place which can be filled with hurricane frenzy -- bustling crowds, long lines, tour guides yelling follow me! -- now felt like the eye of a hurricane in which all noise and chaos are suddenly gone and there is that moment, however brief, of blessed stillness.  It's a moment which illuminates the fundamental truth that we are not alone; that sometimes we simply need to ignore everything else to focus on that light and know there is a God in heaven, there is peace in the world, there is hope ... and that there is a Pope behind that window.

Today, as the world watches one Pope leave and prepares for another to be elected, as cardinals gather from all over the world, as centuries of Catholic tradition are displayed, celebrated, scrutinized, criticized and questioned, I think back on that night.

And go to the quiet of that light in the window.


Look up and to the right ... the light in the window.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Life Lately: Packing Light and No Worries ... in 7 quick takes


1. So, our oldest son (the senior in high school) has all of a sudden taken an interest in his appearance; he is cognizant of his table manners; he even spent all day yesterday looking for a job. And while we (his parents) would like to take credit, the real reason is this ... there is a girl.

Enough said.

2. Tuesday I had some vascular surgery done on my leg. Wednesday night Dr. Steven Roth died in a fiery plane crash.  I had just seen him the day before, we joked about the early surgery time (4:30 a.m.), he spoke with my husband. And the next day, he's gone. Just like that. There were four people from his staff on that plane with him, and I knew them, too.

I was supposed to have a follow-up appointment with him this morning.

It is so sad.

3. Sunday Joe and I leave for New Orleans. I love to travel, but while I am not a big fan of flying I'll do it because ... well, I like to travel and sometimes you cannot get from Point A to Point B without flying. Am I more apprehensive after this week's tragedy? Strangely, no. I am at peace.

Life is too short to spend time worrying.

When we worry we become our own false prophet.

When we worry we always expect the worse ... and that is stealing from the joy that is present now.

4. Four nights and five days in New Orleans and my husband and I are packing light. Only carry-ons. We want to be unencumbered. I am looking forward to it.


Great Ideas! / Travel list


5. "Hey Timothy, guess what?" I ask, looking at him in the rear view mirror as I was driving.

"What?"

"I love you. I really, really do."

He's thinking... He's processing...

"Huh. That's not a very good guess what," he says.

Guess what? I think he was hoping I'd pull into the McDonald's drive through and get him a meal. That's the kind of guess what he was looking for.

6. A burning question: now that Downton Abbey is finished, what am I supposed to do with my Sunday evenings, hmmm? Answer me that.

7. The editor who contacted me about a post I had written about St. Joseph liked my revision (she wanted me to make it longer) and it will be published in their March issue. I'll keep you posted.


Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be posting next week from New Orleans! For more quick takes fun go visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where, Oh Where, Has Maria gone?


I'm sure it's been a burning question, and maybe you simply thought that I had given up blogging and/or facebook for Lent. That would have been noble and bit of a sacrifice ... but no. I thought about it, but in all honesty I think of Lenten resolutions as something I need to work on in order to improve my spirituality and, believe me, giving up either of those isn't what I need right now.

No, this year I am working on a thorn. In my side. As in St. Paul's thorn (2 Cor 12:7). A teeny, tiny thorn working its way deeper and deeper can be monumentally distracting, and I have one I need to get rid of. But, more on this another day.

So, where have I been? One reason for my absence has been two leg surgeries, one last Tuesday with another one tomorrow. Nothing debilitating (hooray! for modern medicine) but both the early surgery time (4:30 a.m.) and the use of  anesthesia means that my schedule is thrown off for a couple of days.

Then, this past weekend Joe and I participated in a couples retreat called Living in Love. While we make it a point to schedule date night and (occasionally) a weekend getaway, this was the first time we have done a spiritual retreat together. It was a wonderful weekend, and we came away renewed in heart and mind. I'm still processing the entire experience, but I'm sure I'll be writing about it at some point.

Finally, about our (occasional) weekend getaways ...well, we have one coming up. This Sunday Joe leaves for New Orleans for a class on Chemical Engineering and I am tagging along. Two weekends in a row of together time ... without the boys ... whoa. There are no words.

So. Anyway. I am still here.

Just in case you were wondering ...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Letters to Juliet ... Really

 
I have traveled all over Italy, visiting big cities (Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples) and small towns (Bassano, Padova, Assisi). I've traveled the winding roads along the Amalfi Coast, hiked through the Dolomites, and sailed to Capri. I've watched the sun rising behind a row of cypress trees, heard the rain pattering on ancient cobblestone streets, and marveled at bright red geraniums spilling over flower boxes, balconies, and windows.

But in all the boot that is Italy, my favorite place is Verona.

Verona is where my mother is from. It is the place where I rode with my Zio took on the back of his vespa, where my Nonna took me to my first opera, where I had my First Communion. Verona is where I brought my husband a few years after we were married and, later, our three sons.
 
So today, on this Valentine's Day, come with me for a visit. Verona is the perfect city for love; after all, it is the setting of Shakespeare's tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet ... a tale based on the Capulets and the Montagues who were prominent families of Verona.

Today, you can visit Juliet's balcony.
 

 
You can also see Juliet's statue,



and for good luck you can even touch Juliet's ...
well, I'll let my zio Luciano demonstrate.


A couple of years ago a very charming movie, Letters to Juliet, was filmed in and around Verona.
 
 
In the movie, Sophie is an aspiring writer who meets a group of women known as Juliet's secretaries. These women gather to answer letters sent to Juliet asking for advice on love.

Now, what many may not realize is that Juliet's secretaries actually exist. For more than 70 years, Juliet's "secretaries" (volunteers from Verona) have collected the notes and letters which arrive in the mail by the thousands from all over the world . . . and every single letter containing a return address is answered.

So, if you are seeking advice on all matters concerning amore, write to ...

Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House)
Via Cappello, 23
Verona, Italy
 
And as far as love stories go ... my parents met in Verona. They used to meet right under this clock tower.
 
 
 
And here, the same place 40 years later.
 
 
 
And under the clock tower, in the right hand corner, you will find a plaque containing
Shakespeare's description of Verona in Act III, Scene III of  Romeo and Juliet.
 
 
 
Verona ... I think Shakespeare got it just right.
I couldn't have said it better myself.
 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Life Lately: This and That ... in 7 quick takes


~1~ THIS almost had me at biscotti. Then it called my name.
Purchased, one jug of La Dolce Vita Biscotti.



~2~ THAT is one rough looking eight year old, thanks to a Herpes Simplex Virus (cold sore) on his cornea. He was also one rough looking happy eight year old when he heard he got to miss school
the rest of the week.



~3~ THIS itty bitty tube of ointment for the aforementioned malady cost $175 ... after insurance. My husband was insulted. "For that price we should have gotten a barrel of the stuff," he commented.



~4~ THIS is the inspirational quote for the day. Now go find and create some beauty.
 
Humanity can live without science, it can live without bread, but it cannot live without beauty. Without beauty, there would be nothing left to do in this life. Here the secret lives.
Here lies the entire story.
~Fydor Dostoevsky

~5~ THIS is what my husband does. When he recently commemorated 25 years of service, the company he works for gave him a catalog so he can select a gift. And just like he did at 15 years of service, then at 20 years of service, he comes home and gives me the catalog to pick something out. Really, how sweet is that? At fifteen years I got a gold and silver watch with Bia engraved on the back, but this time I insisted we pick something out together. After all, he did do all the work.

~6~ Everyone has a story, THAT is for sure. THIS gives you pause before you judge. Watch it.



~7~ THIS is how I'm starting my Friday. How about you?

Buongiorno!! Go ahead- it's Thursday- Make it a double:)) Have a great day!

Now go visit Jen at Conversion Diary for some more Quick Takes fun.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kissy Smiley Faces


Last Friday Jonathan sent me a text from school telling me to look under his pillow for an early birthday surprise. Because he and Nicholas were headed for the University of Georgia for a Model UN conference and wouldn't be back until Sunday, he wanted me to enjoy it over the weekend.

Here's what I found:



I texted him a bunch of kissy smiley faces before I remembered that his very elementary phone is incapable of receiving kissy smiley faces, so I smothered him with the real things when he came home on Sunday.

Boys ... sometimes I want to strangle them. But sometimes ... sometimes they just melt my heart.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Downton Men ... Who are they?

Last Monday in my weekly email to my brother and sister, I happened to mention in a postscript that I was still trying to get over the previous night's episode of Downtown Abbey (you know, the-one-with-Sybil). I really mentioned it for my sister's benefit because my brother didn't seem the Downton type.

When my brother answered back, however, here's what he had to say:

Poor, poor lady Sybil, although I saw the eclampsia coming like a freight train. So the chauffer is going to bolt, leaving the baby to be cared for by Mary and Matthew. And all is well. Laura, thank you so, so, so very much for opening up my life (which has very little free time, mind you) to the Wonders of Drama that is Downton Abbey. I suffer through the episodes so that I can spend Quality Time with my wife. Although I do worry about Mr. Bates.

Now, I admit, I was suspicious. I didn't trust my brother. I was convinced that he had googled the episode and was yanking our chain. Pulling our leg. Making fun of us.

But it did get me thinking about the types of men who watch Downton Abbey, and I have determined that they come in three distinct categories:

1. Those who genuinely like the show (yes, they actually exist). These men tend to be highly educated, like wine with their dinner, and have traveled the world. The person who introduced me to the series watches it every Sunday with her husband, who is a doctor. What is interesting is that they are from Puerto Rico and watch it with the subtitles (how do you do British accents in a subtitle?).

2. Those who pretend not to like the show, but actually do. Most of my guys fall into this category. They are closet Downton Abbey followers. They wouldn't be caught dead watching an entire episode, and yet they keep wandering in to watch. Last week my husband walked in during the Sybil scene and stayed. "Wow, that was pretty intense," he commented. "Did you know that was coming?" He knew when Lord Grantham lost his fortune and that Mathew's honor prevented him from accepting an inheritance. Every week he asks me if Mr. Bates is still in jail. Even my sons are curious and like to pop in to see Professor McGonagall  (the fact that they know Maggie Smith is in the show indicates an awareness/interest). For Christmas they even gave me a Downton Abbey behind-the-scenes book.

Finally, before I reveal the third category, you are probably wondering about my brother. Did he google the episode? Did he really watch it? He falls into category three ...

3. Those who know what's good for them and make their wives happy. Yes, my brother watches the show as a way to spend some quality time with his wife. They also have a deal: he watches Downton Abbey with her, and she watches The Walking Dead with him. Hey, whatever works, right?

Downton Men ... they're out there. Of course, the real test will come tonight. Superbowl vs. Downton Abbey? Downton Abbey vs. Superbowl?

This should get interesting ...