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

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Story that Ends Rather Abruptly

Once upon a time (this morning) a somewhat young-ish girl needed a break from writing, so she decided to go to the shopping.

Now because this somewhat young-ish girl is going on a little trip this summer, she thought she'd start planning her Italy wardrobe. So with visions of outfits dancing in her head -- outfits to wear while walking around Rome or while cruising along the Amalfi Coast -- off to the mall she went.

She shopped here and she shopped there. She had a coffee at Starbucks. She shopped upstairs and she shopped downstairs. She even shopped outside. Three hours later ... THREE HOURS! ... she returned home. Here is a list of what she bought:

A black tank top.


P.S. If the girl's sister calls to yell at her for buying yet another black tank top, the girl will politely say, "I have no idea what you are talking about."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Girl with the Wooden Egg

This evening Timothy was on a mission with a capital M.

He wanted needed a coiled spring to make a catapult, so he came to ask me for help.

Now, I know it's hard to believe, but I just didn't have a spring handy. What I did have, however, was a deadline, so bad, bad mommy I was totally ... unhelpful.

"Can I get some stuff from your sewing basket?" he asked a few minutes later.

Remember the deadline? Since I was in the middle of a paragraph I mumbled something that could have been yes, or it could have been no.

Timothy took it as a yes.

One paragraph later, he had unspooled (did I just make up that word?) two spools of thread, unscrewed the screw (are you following me?) from a cross stitch hoop and took off the clasp, spilled Elmer's glue on the tablecloth, and went to work gluing and building while wearing my thimble (he got glue on that, too).

"What's this?" he asked a little later, holding up a wooden egg.

"That is used for darning socks," I told him.

He was confused. I could tell.

"When a sock has a hole in the toe, you put the egg inside to provide structure while you sew the hole closed," I explained.

"Can I have it?" he asked.

I thought about that darning egg, and remembered how Nonna took me shopping for some basic sewing supplies after I announced my engagement to the family. My Nonna was a professional seamstress -- in fact, I have many childhood memories of Nonna pedaling her sewing machine while she made everything from sundresses and Halloween costumes for us, to ball gowns for my Barbie dolls -- so the fact that I was getting married meant, in Nonna's world, that I required a sewing needle, some thread, and a good darning egg. Thanks to Nonna, I was ready to set up housekeeping.

"No," I quietly told my son. "That was a special gift from my Nonna, and I need to keep it."

I have had that darning egg for almost twenty-five years; I may have never once used it, but it has always been in my sewing basket.


And as Timothy ran off to test his catapult, I thought how sometimes it's the small things -- a pebble, a ticket stub, a wooden egg -- that contain the biggest memories.

"Grazie, cara Nonna," I quietly whispered, as I carefully put the egg back in its place.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

At the Kitchen Table

In our family, every Sunday night we gather around the kitchen table for family prayer time. Sometimes we pray the rosary, sometimes we pray extemporaneously, but during Lent we pray the Stations of the Cross which, over the years, has become a tradition for us.

Our favorite way to pray the Stations involves placing fourteen votive candles across our mantel and, after reading a station, blowing out one candle. We continue doing this until the last candle is extinguished and we are sitting in the dark in silent contemplation. On Easter Sunday morning we then gather to read the 15th station, but instead of blowing out a candle we light an Easter candle in celebration. You can read about our tradition here.

This year I decided to try something different. Rather than using our mantel, I placed fourteen tea lights in a French bread serving board and, as we sat around the kitchen table, we took turns reading a Station and then ceremoniously used a candle snuffer to put out the candle. It only took fifteen minutes, but with the rain falling outside and my boys (big and small) praying in the flickering candlelight, God's grace was shining.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

No Boys Allowed

On my side of family, I have six nephews and ONE niece. If you add in our three sons, that's NINE boys and one girl.

On Joe's side of the family, the numbers are similar: EIGHT boys and one girl.

Now, I like boys. I do. But sometimes with all these boys ... well, too much testosterone is too much testosterone. Bleck, ick, patooey.

So this afternoon I borrowed my niece and the two of us headed to the Morris Museum of Art (which, for you local yokels, has free admission on Sunday afternoons). Because my niece just celebrated her ninth birthday, I gave her a pencil case, some colored pencils, and we stopped in the museum store to purchase a sketchbook.

Our goal was to find a painting with a kitten, and we did.

Then she studied, copied, sketched, interpreted ...

and made it her own.

And then, if the day couldn't be more perfect, there was Elvis Presley. I kid you not. The museum was sponsoring a lecture on Elvis Presley, complete with an impersonator, and we got to sit in and watch him perform.

It was the most perfect afternoon: an art museum, Elvis Presley, and no boys allowed.