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

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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Life Lately: Masters Booty, Nova News, Passports, and Planning (the mundane and perfectly ordinary in 6 quick takes)



~1~ What did our Masters guests leave?


Last year we came home from Masters break to find a Bose speaker, a bottle of Woodford Reserve Fine Kentucky Bourbon, 50 bottles of beer, a half dozen bottles of wine, or Grey Goose vodka in the freezer.


This year, it was all about the fruit (lemons, limes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe) and, in the freezer, a box of Marche` de Paris petite French croissants. The croissants pair excellently with my morning cappuccino.


We also found our house even cleaner than when we left. I'm not sure how such a thing possible, but no complaints from me.


This year Masters Week was about the fruit.


~2~ What are we looking forward to?


Nicholas' graduation in two weeks, after which he will come home and get ready for the following:
  • in early June Joe, Nicholas, and I will fly to Little Rock, AK to look for an apartment
  • in mid-June Nicholas flies to Denver, CO for a two week training course
  • while he's in Denver, the moving company will come here to pick up his furniture, etc.
  • in early July Nicholas flies back home, packs the last of his things, and drives to Little Rock where he will move into his new apartment and start his new job.


It's becoming real ...



We'll soon have another engineer in the family.



~3~ And what about Jonathan?


Last summer Jonathan juggled a part time accounting internship with weekend shifts at Arby's. This summer, Jonathan is relieved his Arby's days are over as he will be working full time as an accounting intern at SRNS. (Hooray for paid internships!)


An accounting internship for Jonathan.



~4~ What am I saying goodbye to?


Our Rec room. With the boys coming home, and especially with Nicholas' impending move to Little Rock, our rec room will turn into a depository for mattresses, bed frames, furniture (couch, kitchen table/chairs, bookcases), books, and boxes of who-knows-what. Note to self: embrace the chaos.


Waiting to become a college junk depository.

Soon this area will be full of ... stuff


~5~ Where in the world are my parents?


Funny you should ask because ... they are not here. As I write this, they are on a transatlantic cruise to Spain, Portugal, and Italy. I told Joe that I want to be them when we grow up.


have passport, will travel



~6~ You know that Girls' Trip to Italy that I sponsored two years ago?

Well . . .


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bad Math Mojo

"I'm really worried about the math test I took today," Timothy says as he sits at the kitchen counter for his afternoon snack.


"Why?" I ask. "You got an 'A' on the last one."


"That's the problem!" he wails. "Here's what always happens: I do very bad on the first test of the quarter but then make an 'A' on the rest of them. That's what always works. But this time I started all wrong! THIS time I made an 'A' right away, which means I'm going to do badly on the rest!"


"What? You would have rather done poorly on last week's test?" I ask.


"Exactly!" he says.


My head is spinning because I'm trying to think like him.


"Oh, you're in trouble," I tell him as I hand him a glass of milk. "No doubt."


And if things couldn't get any worse, later that evening he checks RENWEB and discovers he made a 100% on the test. So now, in-the-world-according-to-Timothy, he's REALLY doomed.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Shopping Not Shopping

I spent the morning furniture hunting for Nicholas who, after graduating, will be starting a new job. (Yes! to employment!)


I was working with a list: nightstand, coffee table, end table, bookcase, lamps, and a desk.


For several hours I shopped, scribbled some notes and took a few photos, but in the end I came home only with these:




They're the real deal, too!




And since Nicholas doesn't drink coffee, I guess I'll just have to keep them.


Sorry, Nicho. It was meant to be. ;-)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Around the bend


All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.
~Indian proverb


Whatever I can do, my sister and brother can do better.

When I was in the sixth grade I got a guitar. I studied chords, practiced rhythms, and for two years took lessons. After I married I even played in a folk choir. Both my siblings picked up the guitar much later in life, and they had a natural talent: while in med school, my brother was in a band (Sulcus Groove) and in 2004 they were even featured in a 12 Bands of Christmas cd; my sister not only plays, but she has a good voice, too, which is something I do not have. Today she is in charge of the music at her church.

Then, even though I attended a medical magnet school, went on a 10-day mission trip to Haiti, and always thought I'd do something in the medical field, I lost my way after high school. Nothing traumatic, I just didn't know what I wanted to do. Today my brother is the doctor in the family.

And then there is this: despite the fact that I am a writer, that I sometimes have my work featured in the guest column of our local newspaper, and that I even had some freelance work published, it is my brother and sister who have published books. My sister has written two books on careers in Library Science (Straight from the Stacks, Working in the Virtual Stacks), and she and my brother collaborated on a book entitled, Answers to the Health Questions People Ask in Libraries.

You can find all these books on Amazon dot com.

I'm not being modest, or self-deprecating; I am simply learning to be honest with myself. For a long time now I have realized that, while I seem to be good at many things, I am not great at any one thing.

Does that make me mediocre? No, and the reason I can say so with all honesty is that I am always trying and learning new things. I am full of ideas and, who knows, maybe that one thing I can be great at is still out there.

Somewhere.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Buon Compleanno, Roma



Today the Eternal City celebrates its 2,770th birthday. Auguri, Roma! I have been there four times, but there is still so much to see, do, and experience. I keep a running list on what I plan to do on my next visit so, Roma, a presto (until then)!


And in case you don't have anything else to do this weekend other than read about Rome, here are some links of my adventures in Rome over the years.


1- The first time I visited Rome, go here.


2- Here's the time I attended the Angelus Blessing with Pope Francis along with 22 women who traveled with me to Rome.


3- Yes, I lost my temper in Rome. You can read about it here.


4- From Caravaggio to Reality. Planning a Girls' trip to Italy. Read all about it here.


5- McDonald's in Rome? In which I speak about the Slow Food Movement in Italy. Go here for an excerpt.


6- In which I share some Pope stories.


7- God, Michelangelo, and light sabers. Read about my art lesson here.


8- St. Peter's Square, after dark. A story about the light in the Pope's window.


9- How to parallel park in Rome. See the photo here.




Unbeknownst to me, my friend took that photo of me as I was listening to
Pope Francis' Angelus Blessing. It's not a particularly flattering photo, but
it's real. I'm smiling, but also crying, and reflected in my sunglasses is the
window where the Pope was speaking.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Piano Lessons with Mr. Jeff



If children were not introduced to music at an early age,
I believe that something fundamental is actually being taken from them.
~Luciano Pavarotti


When Nicholas and Jonathan were in grade school they took piano lessons.


Their teacher -- Mr. Jeff -- recently moved to Augusta and was looking for piano students; truthfully, the only reason we decided to go with him was simply because he came to our house. This was huge for me. Timothy was less than a year old, so I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to not have to take the boys to a piano lesson but have the piano lesson come to them.


Mr. Jeff was the most untraditional piano teacher you can imagine. Prior to arriving in Augusta he had worked as the organist for the Atlanta Thrashers when Atlanta had a professional hockey team, so needless to say he was loud, fun, and had a dramatic flair. The boys loved him.


Once a week he arrived shortly after dinner and would spend the first half hour with Nicholas, and then Jonathan. He used a music theory book to go over basics, and even assigned a little homework, but he never taught the boys any of the silly songs in the book; instead, he took a music theory lesson and applied it to music by Billy Joel, or to theme song from Charlie Brown or Star Wars. He always assigned each boy a different song, so for that one hour while I loaded the dishwasher, and while Timothy crawled everywhere (including near the piano), and with Mr. Jeff sometimes improvising a duet, we had a virtual concert coming from our dining room. We enjoyed having him in our home, and he always left with some dinner leftovers or a plate of cookies I had baked that afternoon.


But then, sadly, Mr. Jeff moved to Florida and the piano lessons stopped. We tried two different piano teachers after he left, but neither one was Mr. Jeff so the boys lost interest.


Little did I know that those piano lessons with Mr. Jeff would one day come full circle.


Years later, when Nicholas was a junior in high school, he asked for an electric guitar for Christmas and taught himself how to play. He had music sheets everywhere. Before he went off to college he purchased an acoustic guitar and, again, he learned on his own, lugging the guitar on camping trips or beach outings with his college friends. During this, his last semester at Clemson, he needed to take an elective so he signed up for a piano class.


Jonathan was in 7th grade when he requested an electric keyboard for Christmas. I was thrilled because he always had a natural rhythm on the piano. In high school he purchased music books from 2nd & Charles, downloaded songs from the internet, and practiced constantly. This past December he upgraded to a better quality keyboard, one with more keys, and practices every day after and between classes. He occasionally sends me a text video of him playing a new song.


Finally, there is Timothy. Other than crawling around Mr. Jeff's ankles during those piano lessons, Timothy never experienced his unorthodox teaching style. We tried traditional piano lessons for one year (plus a summer), but abandoned them after they started to feel like a forced march. Like his brothers, however, Timothy came back to music on his own. Last week he came home from school and asked if he could play my guitar. A few days later he downloaded a Pokémon score from the internet (Littleroot Town Duet) and taught himself how to play the first two lines on the piano.


And I love that there is music in our house, that those early lessons were a springboard for learning later, when they wanted to return to it. Now, when all the boys are home, music is drifting from the rec room, down the stairs from their bedrooms, and even from the very same piano where they sat with Mr. Jeff so many years ago.


Jonathan, teaching Timothy

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hopping Smart

Boy is that Easter Bunny generous.


Here is what kind of candy the EB brought: Swedish Fish, Starburst jelly beans, Nerds, Kit Kats, M&M's, and Sour Patch Kids.


Here's what kind of candy the EB did NOT bring: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate covered raisins, Haribo Gummi bears, tootsie rolls, or anything milk chocolate.


In other words, Easter baskets didn't contain anything the EB would particularly be interested in eating herself.


The EB has recently lost five pounds and wasn't going to be tempted.


So not only is the EB generous, she is also smart ;-)



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Week: Tuesday

Wait for it -- the last stanza -- something to think about.

The Conquerors
~Harry Kemp

I saw the Conquerors riding by
With cruel lip and faces wan;
Musing on kingdoms sacked and burned
There rode the Mongol Genghis Khan;

And Alexander, like a God,
Who sought to weld the world in one:
And Caesar with his laurel wreath;

And leading, like a star the van,
Heedless of upstretched arm and groan, Inscrutable
Napoleon went
Dreaming of empire and alone ...

Then all perished from the earth
As fleeting shadows from a glass,
And, conquering down the centuries,
Came Christ, the Swordless, on an ass ...