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

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The End. Once Upon a Time.

In many ways this is not your usual story because it starts with The End, goes backwards to Once Upon a Time, and comes back around to an altogether different ending ... which strangely enough becomes the new beginning.

The end of the story is this: in church this weekend I was sitting quietly before Mass feeling decidedly bleh.

A small betrayal, a closed door, and a missed opportunity left me wondering if anything we do -- anything at all -- truly makes a difference; that if trying is sometimes just not worth the effort; that maybe the good we think we're doing isn't doing any good at all.

The homilist for the Mass was a visiting priest who spoke about his work in the rural areas of Valdosta, GA. His name was Fr. Fredy Angel, and I didn't know him. I had never met him. I had never even heard of him. But then he mentioned how his parish was building a mission church to be named St. Anthony of Padua ... and just like that, I began working backwards.

In October 2014, Fr. Pablo Migone emailed me and asked if I could have my mom proofread a letter he had written in Italian, a letter from our Bishop Hartmayer to the priest in charge of the shrine of St. Anthony of Padova in Italy. The bishop was requesting a first class relic of St. Anthony for a new parish that was being built in our diocese: St. Anthony of Padua.

So you see, listening to Fr. Angel I realized that this was the priest, who was building a church, for which the bishop wanted a relic, so he had Fr. Pablo write a letter, which my mother proofread and I re-typed and emailed back to him, who later sent me a message from Padova, Italy saying that he and the bishop were there to retrieve the relic.

And in going back, I arrived at the beginning and realized that in this vast ocean of humanity, a little ripple can travel far. We do make a difference; it's always worth the effort; and sometimes we manage to do some good after all.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Fountain in the Piazza

In Italy, there is a city called Verona. In Verona there is a piazza. In the piazza you will find a fountain. And in front of the fountain generations have stood ...

 My mom (far left), and her two sisters, Paola and Tizi.

With my mother, in front of the same fountain, 1967

Zia Paola holding me, 1967

While I returned many times throughout the years,
in 2006 I returned again, this time with my husband and sons

Family in the piazza, 2010

Me, 2015

Friday, January 22, 2016

Just Give Them Wool Socks! (a girl's take on The Revenant)

This afternoon Joe and I went to see The Revenant. What did I think of it? you ask. Allow me ...


We went to the new movie theater -- the one with reclining seats -- which was ideal for a movie which lasted almost three hours. BUT, I couldn't help thinking that if my Dad ever went to that theater, he would be asleep within five minutes of reclining his chair.


The movie takes place during the wintertime of 1823, and all throughout the movie I was unsettled for this reason: everyone got wet and stayed wet the entire winter. Frontiersmen waded through rivers, jumped into waterfalls, floated downriver, and  got lost in snowstorms. After getting wet they built a fire, but with all those layers (fur and animal hide) I just know they never had a time to dry off properly and therefore had wet feet all winter. This really, really bothered me. THEY NEEDED WOOL SOCKS (and to hang up their wet clothes overnight).


That grizzly bear scene ... I can't even.


There were a lot of themes going on, with Man vs. Nature being one of the main ones. But wait. Let me amend that ... wounded-forced-to-crawl-on-his-elbows-because-of-a-broken-leg Man vs. Nature. If you ask me, nature had an unfair advantage.


To survive in the wilderness during the winter, here's is what you need: a giant bear hide, a canteen, and gunpowder for the purpose of administering First Aid. A rifle would be nice, but it isn't strictly necessary.


Joe and I agreed that the movie reminded us of Castaway ... there were long periods where no one spoke. When you're trying to survive, the spoken word is irrelevant.


Frontiersman #1 to Frontiersman #2: You go that way, and I'll go this way. We'll meet back here in thirty minutes.
Me, thinking: Meet back where???? How do you know where you are to find your way back to the exact same spot in the forest? In the wintertime? With no sun to guide you? And why are you guys separating? Bad things happen when you separate.


I appreciate when directors take the time to tell a story, and this one unfolded beautifully. Despite the violence (man vs. nature, man vs. man) and the edge-of-your-seat intensity (man, I'm telling you, that grizzly bear scene just about did me in) it was a very good movie.


And now I am in serious need of a chick flick. A little less raw meat and a little more tea in the drawing room, if you please. Maybe Jane Eyre, or Pride & Prejudice.


But first let me go put on some wool socks and get Joe (my personal frontiersman) to build a fire in the fireplace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Text: Walking to Church

Our two oldest sons -- a freshman and a junior in college -- know that their Nonna likes to hear when they go to church. Sure, Nonna wants to know about their classes, and she is always concerned as to whether or not they are eating well (or eating enough), but mostly she wants to hear about church attendance because she figures that if they do this one thing then everything else will be taken care of.

And so on Sundays they text her.

For example, Nonna usually receives the following text from Jonathan:

Walking to church.

That's it. No details. Not How are you, Nonna and Nonno? or How was your day, Nonna and Nonno? Just the bare facts because Jonathan texts likes he speaks.

But it's all good because after Nonna receives a text from either of the boys she will call us with the news that Nicholas sent me a text! or Jonathan is walking to church!

Nonna the tattletale.

Of course, there have been a few times in which there were no texts. At all. Which then leaves us with two scenarios: a) they forgot to send a text, or b) they didn't go to Mass. When this happens it's always a hot topic during our Sunday dinner with i Nonni. Did they, or didn't they? In the end we take comfort in the fact that there are more texts than not. Which is a good thing, right?

This past Sunday there were texts. Church for both.

And all is right with the world.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Life Lately: Who, What, Where, When, and Why

Who likes to do what?

My husband. Likes to do our taxes. Whaaaat?

The numbers, figures, columns, refunds, deductions ... he is in math heaven.

And he has SEVEN tax forms to fill out: our federal, GA state (my income), SC state (Joe's income), Jonathan's federal, Jonathan's GA (Arby's employment), Nicholas' federal, Nicholas' SC (SRNS-internship).

This weekend he will start. And while he's happily doing all that yucky math stuff, I have a good novel to read. That's what makes ME happy.

What's the plan?

A planner. In an effort to reign in all the various planners, calendars, and journals I have scattered around, I have been researching how to consolidate. The problem is I LOVE stationery (I mean really, really love it ... I probably need intervention) and the options are so many. But I think I will try an Erin Condren planner. I'm not into all the cutesy stickers and washi tape, but I do like the layout.

And no, the irony is not lost on me. I realize that searching for a planner mid-January means that I should have planned better.

Why do I have a headache?

I need to pick out a paint color. Our rec room needs a new coat of paint and I am feeling overwhelmed. I could take the easy road and paint it the same color (limoncello yellow), but I want a change.

But oh, the choices.

Advice, thoughts, and decorating tips? Anyone?

When did I last eat these cookies?

In Salamanca, Spain. I was a college student studying at La Universidad de Salamanca, and by the end of the summer we were all broke -- our meager college funds were depleted. The last few days touring Barcelona we pretty much lived on these.

Where can I wear it?

So, for Christmas I received a gift card which, since it was for a women's clothing store, meant that I didn't have to share (#allmine). So the minute Joe and the boys left for the Florida Penn State/UGA bowl game, I went shopping with the goal to purchase something unique (and not black).

And I saw this coat.

It wasn't anything I would have purchased on my own, but with a gift card ... oh yeah.

And I love that coat; the only problem is we live in the south and this coat needs to be worn in Montana, or Colorado, or Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

That's okay. The two cold days we have during the winter ... I will wear it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christmas Quick Takes: The un-Gift, My Favorite Gift, The Best-Priced Boots, and What I Didn't Do

The Gift I Didn't Give

I ordered a Dean Martin Italian Love Songs cd from Amazon with the intention of giving it as a gift. But when it arrived, all the songs -- That's Amore, Volare, On an Evening in Roma, (Ma Come Bali) Bella Bimba, Mambo Italiano -- made me smile! So, yeah, Merry Christmas to me.

The gift I kept

The Boots with the Surprise Price

Spotted, one pair of cognac boots. They were originally priced well over $100, but they were on sale and I just couldn't walk away. Except ... oh, except when the Macy's salesperson rang them up, he told me the price was $22. After Christmas Sale + Macy's One Day Sale + Door Buster Sale = Ridiculously Happy Me. (The truly amazing thing ... I was at the mall by accident and I didn't even know there was a sale. So you see,  it was destiny.)

These boots are made for walking

Game Night

Over the holidays, the two older boys played a lot of board games. A lot. Most were strategy games, but their favorite was this vintage football game from Joe's childhood.

Even the dice are vintage 70's

Game Night with Mom

Occasionally (okay, once) they let me play with them. Settlers of Catan. Evidently I am a bad settler and would have never survived the first winter. But I can't help it that someone had a monopoly on wheat and the other someone wouldn't give me any bricks to build a furnace. And who needs roads, anyway?

The older boys, playing a game. 
I loved hearing them laugh, talk, and tease each other.

What I Didn't Do

I didn't go to the TaxSlayer Bowl to watch Penn State vs. UGA. Shocking, I know. But we only had four tickets, and Timothy has never been to a bowl game, and so I let all the boys go to Florida for a boys' football weekend. Besides, I needed a break. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE having everyone home. I LOVE cooking and making things homey. But let's face it, while everyone has a Christmas vacation (the boys were off school, Joe took off work) I still did the same stuff I always do ... except more of it. Let me just say I had a glorious 36 hours at home. By myself. And I got some new boots.

My Favorite After Christmas Gift

This year I hosted Christmas Bunco, and one of my Bunco friends made these 12 Days of Christmas Calendars for all of us (12 boxes each -- there are 12 of us -- so you can see how this was a labor of love). Similar to the concept of an Advent Calendar, there was a box for each of the twelve days of Christmas beginning December 25. Inside each box was a laminated verse from the song "Twelve Days of Christmas", the Catholic meaning behind the verse, some chocolates, and a daily activity/kind deed.

It was such a lovely, thoughtful gift, and every morning I looked forward to opening a box.

I placed the 12 Days of Christmas boxes under my alpine trees

A Catholic explanation of the song, "Twelve Days of Christmas"

A verse, a good deed, and some chocolate

After opening a box, I moved it from under the alpine tree and placed it
near our manger scene in the kitchen.

What We Celebrated

EVERYTHING: Christmas Bunco (I hosted), Our 25th wedding anniversary, Christmas with my family (we hosted), Joe's birthday, Christmas Eve, Christmas (lunch here with my parents), New Year's Eve, and Nicholas' birthday (his 21st).