30 March 2008

gifts from my daddy...

68. you hung my crayoned masterpieces all over your workspace, not caring that the first ones were only ever done in red (my red period...)

69. you patiently taught my young self how to grow radishes & tomatoes, how to tell the difference between the weeds & the vegetables & how to harvest & eat them, just-picked & perfect

70. you did not bat an eyelash when your grandchildren wanted to join the polar bear club on your 70th birthday...you were the first in the very cold pool! (& the last out too!)

71. you taught me how to bear sufferings patiently, still with a smile & a kind word for everyone around you.

72. you taught me what love looks like...how to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good sibling, a good friend. everyone felt important in your presence.

73. you taught me the value of good, honest, hard work...

74. & the value of time to relax & just putter around with something you love

75. you tried to teach me how to fix things like appliances & cars, but alas, i gave up! you taught me patience in that...& you did not make me feel like a failure. instead you pointed out things you could not do very well or at all. you taught me that we are each given our own precious gifts for our very own lives, unique & special.

76. you taught me to see the worth in every single person one meets...no one was ever beneath you. you never, ever went to town without a smile & kind word for literally everyone who crossed your paths.

77. you taught me about family relationships...never entering the fray of bickering caused by something that was misunderstood. you taught me diplomacy. you taught me that everyone carries a great burden. you taught me that the benefit of the doubt is always better than the pain of doubting.

i can still see your wind-blown hair fluttering in the sea breeze on your last visit to our home. i caught a glimpse of you looking out to sea & i saw something in your eyes that made me long to see what you could. in a moment you turned to see a treasure brought to you by your grandson. you got down on your haunches (never minding the pain) & gave him that precious gift of your undivided attention, the sparkle of wonder in your eyes. then you rose & took his hand, seeking for the jewels paved on life's everyday road.

i miss you but your gifts live on.

happy birthday daddy!

28 March 2008

getting more than you bargained for...

some time ago, in those early days of our marriage when the purse was quite light, i discovered the beauty of shopping consignment. i prided myself on being able to do an entire wardrobe (not counting the unmentionables!) on a shoestring budget, often including designer duds & pieces that still had original tags at our local consignment store.

i would go home triumphant...an $80 retail pair of jeans marked $8 reduced to 50% off to make room for new arrivals...cost: $4! my momma would just shake her head...she was part of the "i don't want to wear others' discarded items" crowd. with 4 small children & grad school adventures, i really couldn't afford to clothe the 6 of us on retail in those years. i would just shrug at her comments. plus, i am a clothing hunter/gatherer of sort...i like the thrill of the hunt: that blouse with the just-right fit & color found at the right moment. now anyone can go to the department store & be assured that a certain blouse will be available in the season's colors & standard sizes. not so with consignment stores. which makes finding just what you wanted all the sweeter.

i have to have *something* to sweeten the shopping experience because.......here's the thing.....i don't really like to shop. i would much prefer if the wardrobe just showed up in my closet. but since we all know that won't happen, i do what i have to. now there is one thing (actually two) that will get me into the store & release my inner shopping self.....shoes (right, karina!) & purses! i do not honestly believe that i could have ever uttered these words in my adult life...i need a new pair of shoes or i need a new purse. i have never let it get to that! i do come by part of this honestly though...my daddy was a shoe designer back in the day & i from about age 12 on wore the industry sample size of 6.

lucky, lucky me!

daddy was forever taking stunning italian shoes & redesigning them for american companies. guess who was on the receiving end of the italian pair he used to work up the new design? yep, the same gal who was on the receiving end of the sample pair he used to pitch to the buyers ('cause you couldn't sell that pair!). if there was a special event happening or a new outfit in my wardrobe, daddy would often throw together a new pair just for me. heck, he did all the shoes for our wedding. when D. married me i had a shamefully huge number of shoes & boots...probably more than the number of articles of clothing i owned. around the time our babies started arriving, daddy had the contract for a major children's brand & my girls were in the same boat as their momma...all those shoes!!

along the way a chain of events sort of cured my shoe gluttony...my right foot was broken 3 times over the course of a few year, in the same place. the shape of my foot & its ability to wear sleek designer styles when out the door. and not long after, daddy retired. nowadays it is quite rare that i find a pair of shoes that work on my feet. but that doesn't mean that i won't try on many pairs, just in case! & these days if (i mean *if*) i wear a pair of heels, the air seems thinner up there!

now, about those purses! i have some crazy chick obsession with handbags. i will bypass every single thing in a store to drool over them for inordinate amounts of time. amazingly i do not have a closet-full of them though, only because of two reasons: the bargain shopper in me always wins & my criteria for a purse to purchase is so tight that few actually make the cut & go home. (D. is relieved about that!) the winning purse must have a classic look, have a zippered compartment for my wallet, have only one strap, & be in one of a few colors that i prefer. then it must pass the walk-around-the-store-for-awhile-on-my-shoulder test. now, of course i shop consignment for purses...so many choices & such good prices. the real find that floats my boat: a designer bag in classic design with a price tag that works for me!

sometimes, though, you get more than you bargain for. not too long ago i was looking for a purse in the brown/tan color range with a summery design to replace the older model that really was falling apart. i hit consignment paydirt with the perfect bag~~ a nine west medium brown in summer weave! all the criteria were met with the added beauty of a price tag of $6! it was all mine! on the way home i decided to do the switch-over in the car...but something wasn't quite right, something i had totally missed at the store...

as i made the purse my own with my things, i kept commenting about the odd odor. D. took a whiff & we both agreed that it had a peculiar odor that we had smelled at concerts, or maybe it was just the leather. hmmmmm. i took my things out & put them back in the winter purse, just to be safe. i started thinking...i had planned to use that handbag for some upcoming travel. would the airport drug-sniffing dogs notice? at home i roughed it up a bit...turned the lining inside out.

oh that smell!

it seemed more obvious. so i called my good buddy who just happened to be the chief of police in our town. he chuckled at my story but offered to show the purse to his K9 drug-sniffing partner. guess what?? the dog was not too happy about that purse.....it **had** contained an illegal substance very recently & had traces in it. my bad! no, he didn't cuff me or put me in the holding tank or set bail or anything quite so exciting. but he did ask, with a twinkle in his eye, if i wanted the purse back. oh heck no!!!!!! i said, honey you keep it for your D.A.R.E. program to warn all those teenage girl bargain hunter consignment shoppers....ADD THE SNIFF TEST to your consignment handbag purchase criteria!

26 March 2008

fallout from a blogging holiday...

what did i learn in more than a week away?

that the super-size paper i had due for a class last week was written in half the normal time.

that the email & internet icons are huge sources of temptation while i am writing a paper on my computer.

that i can make a very large dent in my to-read pile of books (hello, five quarters of the orange!)

that i really, really missed visiting blogs & found myself wondering how everyone was doing.

that taking a blog holiday with a school holiday & a home full of extended family is a very fulfilling way to spend one's time :-)

we had a fantastic time with lots & lots of cooking, eating, celebrating. (sorry, no recipe for what's cooking wednesday...:-( but hopefully there will be a yummy one next week) D.'s parents are safely back in PA (but will return shortly~yeah!) & Baby Girl is back at school to finish her spring semester (only 1.5 months to go~yeah!). Boyworld is back to school. D. & i are gearing up for **travel**. and...spring has sprung!

& the counting of 1000 gifts continues...

63. bathroom remodeling that was *complete* before D.'s parents arrived!

64. trees full of flowers...gardens full of flowers...blossom petals on every breeze

65. a holy Easter celebration with loved ones & friends

66. a moonrise glimpsed through the church window on Holy Thursday

67. that first glorious bite of chocolate after the Lenten fast :-)

buona pasqua a tutti!

15 March 2008

holy week hiatus...

for the next week i am taking a blog ~ actually totally internet ~ break. in these last days of lent i am being drawn to the quiet, reflecting on the meaning of this time. i am also looking forward to Baby Girl's arrival on monday & D.'s parents on tuesday to celebrate the Easter Triduum with us. we have missed them so!

a quick update...our friend M. is recovering well at home & K-bug's friend Brooke is also. we feel especially grateful that this is so.

Little Man is officially a National Weather Service weather spotter for our county! last week he took his class & tonight, he is officially on duty for the severe weather that is zooming into our area right now (can you tell how furiously i am typing to get this post up before we lose power!?!). space shuttle coverage is officially interrupted in lieu of all the radar maps & the weather channel! but if you want to track it, that link will stay in the sidebar.

Big Bro just began a new job & he is one happy guy...working in a bagel shop. yum!! he doesn't even mind the early morning hours.

and the construction! oh the construction....sigh. it is almost complete, or it will be by monday! i will post a before & after photo spread after Easter.

may you all have a very blessed Holy Week & Easter! ci vediamo la settimana prossima!

13 March 2008


dear bella...you asked for random...it is my pleasure to serve it up to you (& anyone else reading today)~~ i did one of these before, but since i can be quite random on a moment's notice, it was not hard to do it again. 6 random things about me:

1. i pray the liturgy of the hours every day & have done so since june '05. at that time we had just returned from a month in italy & i could not get out of my funk. a few summers before i had purchased the liturgy of the hours prayer book & had attempted to integrate this into my life, but to no avail. that june afternoon, a thunderstorm was coming & i went out to enjoy the weather on our screen porch. for some reason i fetched my prayer book & just began while the storm raged around me~~ a perfect calm oasis. i was a bit confused as to the order & seasons as the book laid them out & so i had dinner shortly after with a friend who also happens to be a monk. he helped me considerably & also told me that doing this would change my life in ways i could not imagine. he was right.

2. i love italy (of course no one reading this would *ever* guess that...) i don't know why. i have loved italy my whole life, or at least for as long as i can recollect. i am not italian (to my knowledge) nor is D.

3. several bloggers have been inspiring me to work on my "bucket list" or 50 things to do before 50 list or whatever you want to call it... what i've discoverd about this project is that everything on my list involves travel. (D., i know you are not surprised!) 8.5 years & counting...i better get crackin'!

4. just because i am a nomad does not mean i do not appreciate my home base. if i'm not traveling, there is no place i would rather be than where we live now. D. & i both agree that it has surpassed all the dreams we ever had.

5. Little Man (the other resident nomad at casa piacere) & i regularly drool over motor homes...we dream of traveling all over the states in one. we have been know to approach strangers in parking lots to discuss the merits of their motor homes. my dream motor home is completely self-contained AND four wheel drive! i have actually seen 2 of these great beasts.

6. i have family still living in tasmania. my birth mom J. traveled as a little girl to the US~ her mom is australian & her dad, american. J. gave me an extensive family tree traced to the 1500's to copy & i was overjoyed to finally get a feel for my roots~~ they extend from the US to tasmania to the UK & finally france. of course, all these places are on my "go to" list!

& now it is my pleasure to tag some of you! randomness is fun & i can't wait to read your lists...K-bug, claudia, leslie, jannis, & wicked (though *she* is on vacation, so the rest of us slugs will just have to wait ;-) if anyone else reading this feels the urge to be random, please drop me a comment so that i may enjoy your list!

12 March 2008

doorway to adventures...

rochambeau alerted readers last week to an artistic look at doors, hosted by Elizabeth at The House in Marrakesh and Frank Gardner of My Paintbox in Mexico & so i dug into my charleston (SC) photos to find these beauties...a former restaurant that has been closed for years on east bay st sports these lovelies...close up...a gorgeous guardian of the door: who wouldn't love this stately beast as a door knocker...& his neighbor is equally stunning...technically not a door, but certainly a beautiful entry into a secret garden...layers of doorway beauty...a peek of perfection...a stunning side door from one of the churces in the holy city...for dessert~~ who could resist a gelato door handle!...
today is also...enter through the door della mia cucina for this week's recipe...

roasted sweet potatoes

peel & dice 2 large sweet potatoes

place in a baking dish with a layer of olive oil on the bottom

dice 1/2 a red onion & mix into diced potatoes

sprinkle pototoes with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, rosemary, & parmesan cheese

drizzle with more olive oil

toss to coat wellbake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender buon appetito~!

11 March 2008

the wonder of it all...

i wasn't planning on posting today, but sometimes you just have to! weather is not the only thing Little Man likes to track in the sky...he is also a big fan of space travel. second only to the weather channel, his favorite tv channel is the NASA channel. last night, our dedicated scientist-in-residence sounded the alarm at 2 am & D., Little Man & i had the pleasure of watching the launch live, followed by a mad dash to the end of our dock. in the pitch dark, starry sky we saw the shuttle zoom across our horizon for a few minutes. just amazing!
if any of you are feeling a need for some cool science, Little Man has provided some of his favorite NASA related websites for your viewing enjoyment...
coming soon to a sky near you!
the 2:28 am DST launch of the space shuttle endeavor. (photo source)
the real time tracking will stay in the blog sidebar throughout the mission

10 March 2008


during lent even a benign activity like driving one's car may become a near occasion of sin when one finds oneself behind this...
oh sweet chocolate, i miss you much! but instead of eating a nibble of you, i am counting blessings...

57. a call from the mechanic & his verdict...just a small inconsequential repair & not the other thing that was a 4 figure repair

58. contractors actually being late to the job when you want them to be (because you were in the shower when they were supposed arrive...because you had to meet your husband at the mechanic's shop when you were supposed to be showering!)

59. getting all the laundry done before the water is turned off!

60. a moment of utter peace with a steamy-hot cup of coffee before the events of the day unfold

61. anticipating homecomings & visits...Baby Girl comes home this weekend & D'.s parents travel down from the coal region next week to get a little southern warmth after more snow...we can't wait to see all of you!!!

62. overhearing a boyworld conversation...older brother teaching younger in a such a kind manner that your heart just swells...

off to a beautiful week...wishing y'all joy!

07 March 2008

when the sound of flowing water is not so soothing...

yesterday cherrye commented that she is not living in the house that is being built for her...wise move i say!

& sognatrice wanted to know if i have any words of wisdom for living among your remodeling...

oh yes i do.

move in with cherrye until it is over!

i could write a novel about this remodeling which was begun in the spring of 2005. the purpose of this tidy little project was to have a more secure home (think miami-dade hurricane standards) and to have space in the living room for more than 3 people & 1 dog at a time. just 2 years prior we had found our dream location, but we knew the size of the home would best be expanded. 6 of us plus 2 dogs & all the summer company we have come to love was not really happening in the original abode.

we have endured a hurricane ripping off 1/3 of the roof the week of ground-breaking...

(notice the ominous early ophelia clouds behind the house)

(Little Man practicing his on-camera meteorological skills...within a few hours our dock behind him was underwater & the place he was standing became part of the bay!)

an entire year of homeschooling all. four. children. with a house full of construction testosterone as background noise (use your imagination here!), wrong sizes/wrong colors/wrong placements/wrong installation of nearly every product imaginable, layers of construction dust deeper than the snows in vermont (maybe)
(old part of home...meet new part! they are getting along so well these days! notice the sheets of plastic in the immediate foreground...that was all the home fashion rage in early '06, don'tcha know!)

contractors showing up never/when they felt like it/4 hours late/4 days late/& even occasionally 4 months late.
(this is me, captured embarrassingly on camera by D. yes, i really was going crazy at that moment...& many, many others!)

***insert sanity mocha frappacino here...i am most likely responsible for any increase in starbucks stocks in the years 2005 & 2006! (for any coffee snobs reading this who aren't lucky enough to live in coastal NC...the choice is do it yourself in your own cucina or starbucks. no quaint little local caffe's back in the days of deep construction & many days, no cucina at casa piacere either)***

why has this project been taking so long...3 years from the start as of now? well that would also have something to do with my sanity. one year into the project, the contractors began to replace the existing floors in our now dining room, main hallway & 3 bedrooms. 2 weeks after the floor was laid, it began to buckle. eventually it had more waves in it than the atlantic ocean during a hurricane. we could not even open the bedroom doors. not kidding. after nearly 6 months of fighting with the contractor, the floor was ripped up & a new one installed properly. did i mention this was the week before Christmas '06?
when that last contractor walked out the door (after retrieving his left-behind hammer, right L??!?!!?), i closed it tight, locked it & told D. that my next stop was a mental institution if another construction dude walked through that door for at least a year. i did not care that we had many dangling threads. i had running water, indoor toilets, central heat, a stove, a frig...good enough for me! (consider that in the first two years of our married life, D. & i had a wood/coal stove as our sole source of heat...it doesn't take much to make me happy!) & so i took the entire year of '07 off...no hammering. no sawing. no sound of off-key men-singing. heaven!
what happened??? i got brave. i got tired of looking at the pile of tile waiting to be put down in the bathroom (yes, it sat in the bathroom for a year). i got tired of the purty pink counter top that was falling away from the wall.i got tired of worrying if one of our unsuspecting guests might fall through the floor when all he wanted to do was use the toilet!& most of all, i was tired of strips of wallpaper randomly peeling away from the wall-usually when company walked through the door. why would the wallpaper bother me so? well, not one person in this house could keep his or her hands off the stuff when it started to peel. until the paper was removed in its entirety today, my bathroom walls looked like captain hook had papered them! ARGGHHH!
oh. did i mention the art?? well, apparently there is a certain artist living amongst us who cannot, under any circumstances, tolerate a plain white wall. no sir! did i mention that said artist thought that a very large eye, one that would be picked up by the mirror for a--you guessed it-- mirror image! was her decor of choice for the old master bath. (thank God it was not the company bath!) just imagine stepping out of the shower in all your nekkid glory with a large pair of eyes staring you down.my poor mother-in-law had to endure this agony on a recent visit! bless her heart!
so here i am, once again coordinating contractors like a professional drill sergeant...enduring hours without water for plumbing work, enduring all the children invading, i mean using, our private master bath domain, enduring a moment of powerful gushing water noise followed by lots of "oh my goshes" only to find the plumber has flooded the bathroom, enduring the wetness of every. single. towel. in the house in the name of clean-up...all in the name of a finished (finally!) project. & right now, i am doing it with a sledge hammer & a smile!

(i put the sledge hammer & crow bar down long enough to pick up the camera & get an official men-at-work shot! with my help, D. & boyworld can strip a bathroom bare in 1.5 hours flat!)

05 March 2008

better late than never...

i know it's barely wednesday any longer, but at least i made it this week. plus, today's dish tastes fine on thursday too! ;-) why so late you might wonder...now that everyone's in fine form again, we've been playing catch up with neglected work (we are officially caught up!) & some new projects are underway. this week we have finally begun a long-awaited bathroom remodel. the first step is demolition of the old stuff.
you want to talk about high time in boyworld, baby...that's it! it safe to say that tonight everyone learned a little something new...for example, how to deconstruct the plumbing without causing a flood...what exactly lies behind the mysterious bathtub wall...& how to properly wield a crow bar to achieve maximum removal of old object without harming things that will remain. all in all...a very productive evening!
needless to say, all this manual labor brings on a hearty appetite & so tonight for what's cooking wednesday it was a...
cheesy pasta bake
cook 8 oz. pasta (i like whole wheat shells for this) & drain
melt 1/4 c. butter on low then stir in 4 T. flour til mixed well...add 2 c. milk & continue to stir until bechamel sauce is thickened...turn off heat & add nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste
add cooked pasta, 1/2 c. gruyere grated & 1/4 c. parmesan grated to bechamel sauce...mix well then place in a casserole dish
add a layer of gruyere & parmesan to top of dish...sprinkle with oregano
bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes

04 March 2008

it's all good...

46. this is the number of years you've been on earth, D...half of them shared with me

47. the morning's waning crescent moon on the horizon just before the light of dawn48. healing bodies after various & sometimes scary moments

49. the healing balm of letting go of life's inevitable negatives

50. walking through the neighborhood to the exotic sounds of migrating birds after a winter of still, quiet woods51. rising in the middle of the night to feel a sea breeze tickle your face & to hear it carrying the mockingbird's song of midnight joy52. a fresh fluffy towel to dry off after a shower53. the wet-nosed nuzzle of your faithful friend

54. the sound of a friend's voice at the other end of the line

55. a moment of utter silence in an empty church

56. lovely doors that open to grand new adventures

02 March 2008

playing catch-up...

jackie, you are one swell blogger, entrusting me with yet another post that needs my response even though i am slower than a tortoise & have not followed up on the last which was bestowed a whole month ago! i am so glad you have faith in me...i can be slow, but i will eventually plod through :-)
i'll start with the most recent...a book tag...oh, how i love my books!
the rules...
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.
oh this is fun! there are exactly 10 books on my desk today. i'm going with the one on top of the pile (thank your blog-reading lucky stars that it is *not* one of the books for my ethics class!)...
rick steves' venice 2008!!! (something tells me britt-arnhild & spf will appreciate the likelihood of this)
do you want to know something quite funky??...this past week i have been fine tuning our museum plans for the april trip. just guess where the bookmark was?...
yep! good ol' page 123! which contains information about one of my very favorite artists~~ tintoretto! the section containing the 3 sentences is discussing his trafugamento del corpo di san marco found in gallerie dell'accademia.
"see the wisps of baby-angel faces in the storm, blowing on the infidels. look hard, on the left hand side. meanwhile, the venetian merchants whisk away the body."
there you have it! & now i tag some unsuspecting bloggers...annie, pam, jennie-boo, lissa & karina.
back tracking...hanging my head for being sooooooo slow...
thank you, jackie & carol for the blog love~~ rating my lil' ol' blog "E for excellent"! i'm blushin' hons!the rules for this award require passing this honor along to 10 bloggers. this may be why it has taken me so long to finally act...it is very hard to narrow this down. really, every blog i visit is excellent to me. why would i spend my time hanging out in less-than-excellent places? it's just a downer to do so. rather i have made a blog-reading choice to stick with visiting positive places...so if you don't see your blog here, it's only because i'm following the rules today!
& here are my randomly chosen 10 (except the 1st...he's not random!)...
because he is my Little Man & because his hurricane blog rocks...hurricane tracker (he is on a bit of a hiatus til hurricane season gears up, but he's still quite excellent!)
because that girl can cook & she cooks italian...finding la dolce vita
because she is one queen of adventure & her travel writing keeps me on the edge of my seat...glory ho
because her title is just too funny & her posts are filled with wit...green eggs & pam
because their current journey is one of our future goals & they are doing it so beautifully on the blog...the olive notes
because her wit just kills me & she likes to alter the language setting on GPS's too...avert your eyes
because her poetry regularly blows me away & i am so dang grateful she is posting...the common hours
because their travel posts leave me wanting more...somepinkflowers & britt-arnhild's house in the woods
and because she is the queen of she who blogs, somehow managing to corral the lot of us & keep on top of that amazingly long list in the sidebar so efficiently...blogjem
have an EXCELLENT sunday y'all!!