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

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

Monday, April 23, 2018

Souls and Raindrops

I am sitting by an open window,
the tapping of my computer keys echoing the pitter-patter of rain.

Outside, an orchestra of raindrops -- the drumming on a rooftop, the clinking on a rainspout, 
the swishing under car tires, and the plip-plopping on an umbrella.

Crescendo, pianissimo, fortissimo.

I am sitting by an open window,
a red cardinal painted in relief against a branch slick and shiny with water. 

Outside, an artist's canvas -- red raincoat, yellow pansy, pink rose, and blue gazebo
vibrant and alive in a backdrop of grey.

Abstract, surreal, stark.

I am sitting by an open window,
words written in raindrops and poetry whispered in the wind.

Outside, a river of books --  of once upon a times and the ends, of princesses and kings,
of loves lost and friendships found, of good guys and bad.

Fantasy, adventure, memoir.

I am sitting by an open window...
wishing I were a raindrop.

*from the files of very bad poetry by bia

And for your pleasure, a real poem by a real poet ;-)

Souls And Rain-Drops ~by Sidney Lanier

Light rain-drops fall and wrinkle the sea,
Then vanish, and die utterly.
One would not know that rain-drops fell
If the round sea-wrinkles did not tell.

So souls come down and wrinkle life
And vanish in the flesh-sea strife.
One might not know that souls had place
Were't not for the wrinkles in life's face.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday, vol. 8 (taking it outside with Lord Byron)

Today, in honor of Earth Day, we're taking it outside with a morning hike and a picnic along the river. Then, this afternoon I will lounge in the hammock with a book, but I won't read a word because I will be distracted by rustling leaves, a bird's song, the scampering of squirrels.

It's a beautiful, magnificent, breathtaking world. Standing on a mountaintop or in a field of wild flowers humbles me and leaves me floating on a cloud of gratitude -- for this life God has given me, for my husband and sons, for my friends and family, for morning hikes and midnight walks, for the imperfect and perfect ...

And for adventure found in pathless woods.

There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods

– By Lord Byron
(from Childe Harold, Canto IV, Verse 178)

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Buon Compleanno, Roma

Today the Eternal City celebrates its 2,771th birthday (based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC). 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 (upper right) 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.

Friday, April 20, 2018

On a first name basis with George ...

Clooney, that is.

After a second Keurig broke in less than 15 months, and after getting tired (and annoyed) with both machines rejecting k-cups (those marked specifically Keurig), and after a friend (thanks Molly!) reminded me that our local Williams Sonoma is closing with all merchandise marked down 40%, I decided to purchase what I should have purchased in the first place: a Nespresso machine.

And I am in my happy place, one which involves early mornings, quiet time, and a good cup of coffee. Or a cappuccino. Or an espresso.

I will give my full review next week, as well as some fun ideas on creating a coffee corner in your kitchen. In the meantime, excuse me while I go enjoy a cappuccino with my friend ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How to Cheat and Have Your Cake Too

Big occasion, but no time to bake? Try the following formula ...


1 chocolate cake from Publix bakery
1 can of Pirouette rolled wafers
some coordinating ribbon


cut Pirouette wafers to different lengths
place the wafers around the cake
tie a coordinating ribbon

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Birdie? Par? The Accidental Golfer

           When we first moved to Augusta, no one in my family knew anything about golf. We also didn’t know anything about The Masters other than it was a big golf tournament, known throughout the world, and it signaled the beginning of our spring break.

            Then, during my junior and senior years in high school I got a job working at the Augusta National during the tournament. This was my first time seeing it from the inside, and it showed me another world – an international world in which golf was the star. As I served egg salad sandwiches to patrons from New Zealand, Japan and Boston, I was caught up in the fervor. I still didn’t know anything about golf, and I couldn’t have told you the difference between birdie and par, but I was as excited as everyone else when one of the professional golfers took refuge under our tent due to an unexpected and ferocious thunderstorm.

            When my grandmother visited from Italy, we took her to a practice round. Admittedly, golf is not the sport of choice in Italy, and I’m sure she wondered why on earth we were taking her to a golf tournament, but once inside the gates she oohed and awed at the azaleas and marveled at the rolling hills of green grass, the lush woods, and the picturesque stone bridges. She was amazed at the quiet respect and gentility of the patrons. She loved those egg salad sandwiches.

            Then I met guy who was an engineer on weekdays and a golfer on weekends, and for the first time I learned about the game itself. On one of our first dates he took me to the driving range at Jones Creek, and the next April instead of working at The Augusta National, I walked the grounds with him while he whispered informational tidbits about the different golfers. When we married one year later we had our formal wedding reception at the North Augusta Country Club with a resplendent view of the 18th green. 

            Before long my husband introduced both my father and my brother to the game, giving them their first lesson in my parents’ front yard. Today, my brother plays golf with his contemporaries in the medical field and every Friday my father has a standing golf game with his buddies.

            When we were expecting our third child (yet another boy), we moved to a new house and once again golf affected our lives. We had barely unpacked the moving boxes when our neighbors asked if we planned to rent our home during Masters Week.  Rent our home? To strangers? Of course, we had heard about people doing this, but never in a million years thought that we could be part of that scene. And yet, that April we handed over the keys to our home while we vacationed in Disney World. That was the beginning of a yearly ritual which we call Masters Spring Cleaning.

            This year was our 20th year of renting our home, and wherever we are we make a point to watch the tournament on television. Some years we’ve watched the final round from our rented condo, or from my in-laws’ house in Virginia beach, but this year we were in Florida when we watched Patrick Reed take home the green jacket. As we listened to the golf analysts explain how his life would be forever changed, I couldn’t help thinking how The Augusta National and The Masters Tournament have affected our lives through the years because like holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, that week in April has been incorporated into the rhythm of our family life.

            And today, if you were to ask me, I would be able to tell you the difference between birdie and par.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday, vol. 7 (a quote and an idea for seven books)

This week I have two golden nuggets of inspiration. One quote and one idea ...


This past Friday we traveled to Milledgeville for Jonathan's initiation ceremony into Phi Kappa Phi, an all-discipline honor society. During the ceremony, Dr. Samuel Muttiti spoke about his work in Kabwe, Zambia where a 100 year old government-run mine and smelter has resulted in highly toxic levels of lead, cadmium and zinc in the soil. Here, in one sentence, is the point of his talk:

"Whatever you do, whatever your major, do it honestly, ethically,
to the best of your abilities, and in the service of others."

~Dr. Samuel Muttiti
keynote speaker, Phi Kappa Phi Initiation Ceremony


Today we are headed to Columbia, SC for my nephew's Confirmation and, per our tradition, we are gifting him seven books representing the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The list changes depending on the recipient and his/her interests. For example, with our eldest son (an avid reader) I included many literary classics, but with our middle son (who would rather dribble a basketball than read a book) I included several sports biographies. Sometimes the list includes the Bible (if they don't already have one) with their name engraved on the cover. Sometimes I explain which book represents which gift of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes I let them figure it out; mostly, I try to find books that are appealing, inspiring, thought-provoking, and stand the test of time.

Dear Thomas,

For your Confirmation, we wanted to give you seven books representing the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. As you read these books, we pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal his gifts so they will help you grow in your faith.

Be a gracious receiver of these gifts! St. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth; yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.”

Thomas, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and watch in amazement as God works through you, with you, and in you.

Uncle Joe, Aunt Maria, Nicholas, Jonathan, Timothy

1. The Gift of Wisdom gives us the desire for the things of God.

The Robe (by Lloyd C. Douglas)

2. The Gift of Understanding enables us to know more clearly the mysteries of faith.

Of Mice and Men (by John Steinbeck)

3. The Gift of Counsel helps us to see the difference between right and wrong.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

4. The Gift of Fortitude strengthens us to do the will of God in all things.

The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

5. The Gift of Knowledge enables us to know oneself and to know God.

The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)

6. The Gift of Piety gives us a deep respect for God and for the Church.

Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit

7. The Gift of Fear of the Lord enables us to recognize an all powerful God.

Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)