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

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jimmy Fallon Zip Lining? Been there. Done that.

The Adventure

Last summer Timothy and I accompanied Joe on one of his work trips to Kansas City, and while Joe did his engineering stuff Timothy and I went to museums (note the plural) and explored the downtown area. Then, one day we decided to go zip lining. I’m not quite sure how this happened, but I think guilt was involved because of all those museums (again, note the plural).

Me, not really understanding what I signed up for.

The Equipment

Shortly after arriving to Zip KC we were given a giant harness with straps, buckles, and a gazillion things that I didn’t know the name of. It’s a little disconcerting not knowing the language WHEN YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. “Do I put this strap through this thing and loop it over this buckle clip thing?” I heard myself asking at one point. Then we labeled our helmets … you know, for identification purposes. The adventurers, Timbo and Bia.

Timbo the Adventurer

The Climb

To go down, you have to first go up. Who knew? Basically, this involves a staircase going ‘round and ‘round up a huge wooden tower in the middle of nowhere. All the way up, with our shoes pounding on the wooden steps and our harnesses jingling, we were a veritable orchestra of people heading into the unknown. 

The View

When we arrived to the top (above the tree canopy), and once we could breathe again, we took in the sights. The panoramic view was spectacular. But just when I was having a moment with the splendors of Mother Nature our guide said “Let’s go!” and I knew he didn’t mean back down those stairs.

I don't know what these are called, but they're kind of important.

The Step into Nothing

“Who wants to go first?” the guide asked. Not me. I didn’t go second or third, either. I even let Timothy go before me, watching him zip away until I couldn’t see him anymore (good mother that I am). No, I went dead last. And if you think that taking a step off that platform was crazy scary, you’d be right. BUT, that wasn’t the scariest part. That came next.

The step off the platform.

The Really Crazy Scary Part

Since I was the last to leave the first platform, by the time I arrived to the second station everyone else had secured their perch on a platform which was half the size of the one we just left. AND the platform had no railings. AND the entire thing swayed in the wind. I kid you not, my legs felt like jelly as I stood and swayed on the edge of the platform with nothing to hold on to. I wanted to sit down, but there was no room to move!

See? No railings. And the entire thing swayed with the wind.

The No Hands Dare

Before we left the second platform, our guide dared us to zip hands-free. And so he demonstrated, stepping off the platform and zipping away leaning backwards with his arms outstretched. Everyone was dutifully impressed, but I just thought he was certifiable. Apparently so was everyone else (including Timbo) because they all zipped hands-free. Crazy, all of them. I still held on for dear life.

The Zip Line Shack of Fame

Five Towers. Five zip lines. I lived to tell the tale. The second to the last zip line was the shortest, and you know what I did? I zipped hands-free. Whoa. Back at headquarters (camp? station?) (see? I don’t know zip lining language!) we peeled off our names from the helmets and placed them in the Shack Hall of Fame. And if you ever go to Zip KC, there we are … Bia and Timbo, the Adventurers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How Yoda Helped Nonno Win

It was an epic competition, the prize just an espresso machine away ...

What: Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Contest
When: Christmas Eve
Where: Bia and Joe's House
Why: Festive thing to do (plus, it's funny)
Who: Everyone 

Now, everyone approached this competition differently. Some decorated to GET IT DONE ALREADY so they could just eat the thing. Some thought the purpose of the competition was to use ALL the cookie decorations provided. Some thought it was a good idea to eat the decorations and not decorate. Someone (Nonna) kept laughing which, for some reason, resulted in a scary looking gingerbread person. And one person (Nonno) took it very seriously. 

The Winner: Nonno

He took the longest time to finish, he was very meticulous, and he took inspiration from our Christmas Yoda--which was kind of cheating because everyone loved Christmas Yoda so it definitely gave him the edge; in fact, the voting was unanimous and Nonno was declared the winner.

The prize: an espresso to go with his Gingerbread/Yoda cookie.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Chapter Sketches: All in the Family

When I was writing my book (An Ocean, an Airplane, and Two Countries Full of Kisses) I knew I wanted to include some artwork. I envisioned simple chapter sketches, done in black and white, that were both whimsical and nostalgic.

The problem with that little vision? I am not a very good artist.

Let me amend that: The problem is that I am not an artist. Period.

But wait … my sister is! She draws, paints, and is perfect in every way except she doesn’t know how to cough properly (inside joke) and that she not once but TWICE used the Men’s Room in Italy (true story).

AND best of all she would do the sketches for free because she is my sister and she loves me very much (both assumptions on my part).

So, using the assumptions above I called her with my idea, gave her the chapter titles, told her how many sketches I needed, and hung up before she could say no.

Just kidding. She was wholeheartedly on board, and for a month she would text me sketches for approval. One day a packet arrived in the mail with SEVENTEEN sketches. My heart was full.

She did a great job, yes?

Monday, January 14, 2019

An Ocean, an Airplane, and Two Countries Full of Kisses

Through her heritage Maria found a bridge between la dolce vita and life in Georgia.

I’m very excited to announce that my book, An Ocean, an Airplane, and Two Countries Full of Kisses, is now available for purchase (links below). I am emotional just typing those words. Taking excerpts from letters my Italian Nonna wrote through the years, the book explores how the hyphen between the words Italian and American became a bridge connecting espresso and peach cobbler, red wine and pit barbecue, the Amalfi Coast and Hilton Head Island, and La Dolce Vita with life in the Deep South.

To Order:

1- (purchase buttons upper right corner)

"This book is a complete joy for anyone with even a remote connection to an Italian heritage! It captures the heart of a "Nonna," an Italian grandmother, and how her love for family transcends distance and time. Narrated by a beloved granddaughter, the chapters revolve around excerpts from letters written by Nonna to her family in America. I laughed and cried throughout the read and was left with a renewed pride in my Italian heritage."
~Amazon Review

Truly, a lovely read. Captivating novel about the profound love shared between a family across an ocean. How intentional, encouraging, and selfless love shown by a beloved Nonna. The immense impact of tradition, integrating into a new environment, and how it all encompasses the steadfast love a Nonna has for her loved ones near and far. The author emulates this prophetic love in her novel.
~Amazon Review

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Speak to Me Sunday: A Good Night

I heard the voice of Jesus say, 
“Come unto me and rest; 
lay down, O weary one, lay down, 
your head upon my breast.”

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say 
traditional English folk song, Horatius Bonar (1846)

When I was in high school I went on a mission trip to Haiti where we ran a clinic in a small, remote mountain village called Jean Rebel. A few days after our arrival three of us accompanied a doctor and a nurse on an overnight trip to another isolated village perched on top of a mountain. When we arrived late at night, with only the moon as our guide, we were escorted to a small hut. It was very primitive, with a thatch roof and no windows, and it was equipped with three small beds.

Here’s what I remember about that dark night: I slept on a bed with SMURF sheets.

Not only did those SMURF sheets filled me with wonder (how did Smurf sheets arrive to this remote village?) but I was also incredibly humbled as I thought how the villagers had prepared for our arrival. They had cleaned out a shelter and did what they could to make a small, dark space hospitable and welcoming. They put sheets on our beds when I knew most did without. What they gave us may seem so basic—shelter and a bed—but they gave what they had, and it was more than we needed.

And that night, in a remote village on a mountain in Haiti, in a primitive hut under a starry sky, I lay cocooned in those Smurf sheets and slept.

This memory came to me this morning as I made a bed with princess sheets for a little girl I didn’t even know.

An hour earlier Joe and I had accompanied other members of The Italian American Club to volunteer at ReStart Augusta, a nonprofit organization that provides beds to children, families, and veterans in our area. For three hours most of the group sanded, painted, and assembled beds, while another, smaller group helped deliver bed frames, mattresses, bedding (sheets and comforters) and, for any bed meant for a child, a stuffed animal.

A bed. Clean sheets. A pillow to lay your head.

That’s what this ministry does, and what a wonderful thing.

When that little girl saw her bed (which was the only piece of furniture in her room) she climbed up and softly patted her new pillow. She couldn’t stop smiling.

And that’s when I thought of those Smurf sheets ... because I knew exactly how she was feeling.

Italian American Club
ReStart Augusta

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Look for It

Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor. 

A few days after selecting spontaneity as my One Word Resolution, I came across this quote. Spontaneity. Opportunity. They are brother and sister. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Feeling a brother's pain (or not)

"He doesn't even look miserable. How is that even possible?"

looking slightly insulted while commenting on the fact that, one day after Jonathan 
had four wisdom teeth removed, he was biting into an Arby's brisket sandwich, 
didn't need any pain medication, and had no swelling whatsoever, whereas he (Timothy) was miserable for five days, in pain, and had chipmunk cheeks the entire time.

TBT photo: 
Big Brother and Little Brother committing a Cardinal Sin: eating McDonald's in Rome, Italy. 
It was all my husband's fault.