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

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

Friday, March 30, 2012

How I Stumbled Into A Gardening Magazine .. in 7 quick takes

~1~ I work as a writer and have had a few things published here and there: Canticle Magazine, parish newsletters, a literary magazine. But a gardening magazine? Uhm ... no.

~2~ Don't get me wrong, I love working in the yard. I plant pansies. I have three giant ferns hanging on our front porch. I love arranging freshly cut flowers for table decorations. Every once in a while I have even grown things (I am pretty successful with basil). But a Gardener is an entirely different level, and I am so not there.

~3~ And yet, here is the April issue of Georgia Gardening and there, on page 32, is an article entitled Outdoor Living: Tips To Get More For Less. I am mentioned in that article, along with photos of our outdoor brick patio/fire pit/seating area.

~4~ You see, my friend Mary Louise writes for the magazine. Mary Louise is a Master Gardener ... something I most definitely am not. But when she heard that Joe and I were creating an outdoor seating area, she asked us to chronicle the process.

~5~ Here's my favorite line from her article: My friend Maria is a creative do-it-yourselfer. She tackles many home projects and completes them with the finesse of a true designer.

~6~ Stop it, I'm blushing.

~7~ My family, supportive as ever, keeps asking: How in the world did you get into a gardening magazine?

I would be insulted, but I keep asking myself the very same thing.

*now go visit Jen at Conversion Diary, she likes castaway stories.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Feast of St. Joseph: Celebrating Quietly

Today is the Feast Day of St. Joseph.

I have always had a special place in my heart for Joseph, and several years ago we began celebrating St. Joseph's Feast Day in grand style: lots of people, all the parish priests, piles and piles of food, the traditional story of the fava bean, Italian music, bocce in the backyard, and kids running around everywhere. Definitely my kind of party.

But this year, due to home improvements and various projects, I made the decision early on not to host a big party. My heart wanted to, and I even started planning a massive menu, but common sense prevailed. I just couldn't do it.

So today I am feeling a little sad. I miss my party.

We'll still celebrate, though: the meatless meal, the sprinkling of breadcrumbs to symbolize the sawdust of a carpenter, the fava bean, and the traditional reading of the history behind this feast day, but it will be on a much smaller scale (just us).

But next year ... oh, next year I have plans.

The Silence of St. Joseph
The silence of Saint Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to divine desires. It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of His holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence. It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from his "father" Joseph that Jesus learned -- at the human level -- that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice.... Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with Saint Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice.
~Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus, December 18, 2005

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How much stuff would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck stuff?

This past January we decided to have our kitchen and family room painted. To prepare, we cleared things out. We moved large pieces of furniture to the middle of each room, and everything else - pictures, accessories, lamps, side tables, chairs, etc. - was dumped into our dining room.

Now, I am not a collector of things. I do not like clutter. With the exception of my espresso machine, I do not even keep any kitchen appliances on our counter tops ... not one. When we need to make toast, we get the toaster from the pantry and then put it back when we're finished.

I am also diligent about spring cleaning. Because we rent our house during the week of the Masters Golf Tournament, every year at this time closets, drawers, cabinets, toy bins, bathrooms, and bedrooms get a major overhaul.

I really do try and stay on top of things.

But as we were prepping for the paint job, and the pile in the dining room kept growing and growing, I had one thought: really, what a ridiculous amount of stuff. I was sure, confident even, that I didn't need half of it.

So this year my spring cleaning has kicked into high gear. I am not only cleaning and organizing, I am simplifying. Purging. Getting rid of absolutely anything that doesn't serve a useful purpose or that doesn't hold a special memory; in other words, what wasn't used, worn, played with, or appreciated during the past 12 months is gone.

I took furniture (a secretary, two night stands, lamps, a few paintings) and half of the dining room pile to a consignment store. The Salvation Army came and picked up a mattress and some old kitchen chairs. We donated bags and bags of boy's clothing to a local church.

Artificial plants that used to fill an empty spot are gone (Mary Louise, you would be proud). Clothing has been reduced and closet space has grown. Where there were clusters of things, there are now only a few. Even the shadow box has only one memento in each space.

We have gotten rid of so much ...

and our house is still standing.







P.S. And then there is the linen closet ... but that deserves its very own post.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Life Lately: All things Italian

~1~ The American West Wind has been blowing through our home. You know, the WEST WIND, as in ...

Me: "Sweetie, please roll the trash can down the driveway."
Son: SIGH!

And that sigh, so exaggerated, so full of angst, so weighed down with the burdens of the world, is what we call in our home . . . THE WEST WIND.

The other day it was blowing more than usual, and in exasperation I finally asked, "Excuse me, is that the WEST WIND I hear?"

After a moment of panicked silence, I hear, "Uh, no, it's just a little breeze blowing in from the southeast."

~2~ The West Wind blows just as strongly in Italy, but instead of sighing you say Uffa! (pronounced ooo-fa). Uffa is a word that sounds like a sigh and a sigh that sounds like a word. I hear it a lot when I am with my cousins, and it conveys exactly the same meaning as our west wind.

Now, I am admittedly a little biased with all things Italian, but the breathless Uffa sounds, well, actually very nice.

So I think I'll teach my boys how to do the WEST WIND in Italian because, after all, if they're going to indulge in teenage grumpiness, they may as well sound nice in the process!

~3~ Vincent has a new Web site. Check it out here. He recommends the Italian life for everyone.

~4~ How about some pope stories ...

~5~ Minestrone alla Toscana? Page 287. How about Penne All'Arrabbiata? Page 349. Recently, the same sister in law who gave me these, also sent me The Silver Spoon, which is the bible of authentic Italian home cooking. Il Cucchiaio d'Argento was originally published in 1950 by the famous Italian design and architectural magazine Domus, and it became an instant classic.

~6~ To continue with my Italian theme ... you know how in the Godfather movies, whenever la famiglia has to hide out for a while, they go to the mattresses? The only reason I am mentioning this is because our mattress is coming today.

Uffa, it's about time.

~7~ Gotto go ... delivery people are here!

*now go visit Jen at Conversion Diary. She's desperately trying to set up a meeting with Vatican astronomer Br. Guy Consolomagno.