Tag Archives: Catholic

Don’t Mess With Nonna

NonnaTwo houses down from mine is an older couple – the wife is a New Yorker and the husband is the epitome of a southern gentleman. They are proof that opposites sometimes do attract.  The wife spends almost every morning on their back deck and she is a rather loud woman, let me also add, she’s full-blooded Italian. Her conversations are always a mix of Italian and English – and quite often, comical.  When I’m watering my plants in the morning, I can hear her on the phone with her daughter and it’s safe to say that she does not care for her son-in-law.  I know this because I’m well versed in Italian slang and various Italian defamatory remarks and this woman has used them all in describing her daughter’s husband.

Their grandchildren are visiting for a few weeks this summer and while I was outside earlier this morning, I could hear her going at it again, this time with her granddaughter, who might be all of eight years old.  The guilt this woman can serve is the kind only found from an Italian/Catholic upbringing (I’m speaking from experience) and this woman has mastered it.   I poured a cup of coffee, sat on my deck swing and this is what I heard….

Nonna:  Why is your finger in your nose?  God gave you ten fingers and he didn’t want any of them up your nose!  Good luck getting a date…

Granddaughter:  My fingers aren’t in my nose and I don’t want a date…

Nonna:  So now I don’t know what a nose with a finger in it looks like?   What? I’m stupid?!?  And good you don’t want a date, because boys don’t date girls with fingers in their noses.  

Granddaughter:  I wanna go home

Nonna:  You know what else, you gonna have the nose of an elephant now.  That’s what’s gonna happen – elephant nose and no date.

Granddaughter:  I wanna go home

Nonna: Sit down, you need your hair brushed.

Granddaughter:  You’re not fair

Nonna:  Life’s not fair, where’s the damn brush?

Granddaughter:  You’re not combing my hair, I brushed it yesterday and it hurts when you do it.  

Nonna:  You have to suffer to be beautiful, sit down…

Granddaughter:  Well why do I need to be beautiful since I have an elephant nose and never dating?

Score 1 for the granddaughter.



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The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~H. Rion

There are not many things I’d rather do than spend time writing and workingGarden Path in my garden.  I use the term ‘working’ loosely, as I hardly consider anytime spent in my garden as work.   After being a mom, chauffeur, laundress, ATM and severe negotiator (I have a teenager), if I can make time in my day for a little gardening and writing, than life is good.  I once read a quote by H.E. Bates that went something like this…

Gardens… should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves.” 

What a perfect analogy of a garden.  I keep that in my mind every time I’m outside and get the urge to change things up a bit in mine.  Paths are often given new turns, usually as the result of flowers popping up in the most unexpected of places – one of the many things I love about my garden.

My garden is constantly evolving – a ‘work in progress’ if you will.  No matter how much it changes, I have always tried to keep an “English Garden” appearance to it.  Currently, I’m working on achieving a  “Mary’s Garden”.  IfIMAG0504 you’re Catholic, you know exactly what this means.  It is a Catholic tradition to acknowledge and honor the unselfish and holy life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Middle Ages, missionaries and travelers spread stories across Europe about flowers named after Mary during various times of her life. Mary Gardens that featured these flowers became popular there, and later the tradition made its way to America. Around 1932 it is believed that the first Mary Garden in the United States was constructed on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Church in the Woods on Cape Cod.

There isn’t an official list of flowers for a Mary’s Garden, but there are some basic guidelines.  The center focus of the garden is a statue of Our Blessed Lady.  Currently in my garden, St. Francis of Assisi is standing in for Mary.  The garden can be any size and shape.  My garden includes the following flowers in honor of Mary…

  • Roses~ I have 12 rose bushes and I consider them my other ‘babies’.  They are not the “knock-out” roses that any moron can grow.  These are authentic award-winning roses.  At the risk of sounding like a pretentious gardening snob, they are beautiful.  The rose symbolizes Mary as the Queen of Heaven.   Roses and lilies were said to have filled Mary’s empty tomb when it was opened by the Apostles. Roses are also associated with SS. Dorothy and Thérèse of Lisieux, who both send roses from Heaven.  St. Francis once threw himself on the thorns of a rosebush as penance. Since then, the rose bushes in that garden (near the cloister of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi) have no thorns.
  • ImpatientsImpatients~ Our Lady’s Earrings
  • CarnationsLegend says that the carnation bloomed on the night of Jesus’ birth; a sign of Mary’s joy at the Child’s birth.
  • Daisy~ To me,  daisies are such a happy and friendly looking  flower. It is said that when the wise men reached Bethlehem they looked for a further sign to guide them to the new king. King Melchior saw a white and gold flower and knew which building to enter.
  • Rosemary~ I have two rosemary bushes and aside from their origins regarding Mary, this is a wonderful addition to my pasta sauce.  It is believed that Mary hung the linens of the Holy Child on the rosemary bush to dry. Afterwards, the bush carried a sweet aroma.
  • Petunias~ Lady’s Praise
  • Ivy~ Where God Has Walked
  • Snapdragons~  These represent the Baby Jesus’ shoes
  • Marigold~ Early Christians placed marigolds around statues of Mary in place of coins calling them Mary’s gold.
  • Chrysanthemums~  These are also called the All Saint’s Flower – This flower is believed to have been present when Christ was laid in the tomb.

My garden path

There are dozens of other flowers one can plant in their “Mary” garden.  I’ve only listed the ones I have.   There is also a ‘visitor’ that one can hope will spend some time in their Mary Garden.  Once referred to as “Our Lady’s Birds” , they are better known now as  ladybugs.  They are named for Mary when they miraculously came to save crops from aphids. The red color of the ladybug is symbolic of her red cloak, and the seven black spots represent her seven sorrows.  Throughout the world, ladybugs are regarded as  “good luck” and a welcome visitor to any garden.

With no rain in the forecast for the next 36 hours, I’m going to spend some time today in my garden.  I am almost finished constructing my vegetable bed.   It’s the first one I’ve ever built and aside from a sore thumb, a few nails that decided they wanted to be curvy, and one side of the bed being just a touch lop-sided, it doesn’t look half bad.   My neighbor just laughs when he sees me covered in dirt as I tackle my latest project, but being outside is my therapy – my little escape from whatever it is I need a respite from.  That and writing.

Oh, and a little reminder for those of you struggling with your gardens, a prayer or two to St. Fiacre, patron of gardeners, may bring some much-needed divine intervention!

“Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative’s latest example of unreasonableness.” ~Christopher Lloyd



~All Photos Were Taken Yesterday In My Garden~


Filed under Mia Giardino Bella (Gardening)

Comfortable Clothes, Religion & Cookies

I started writing this the other night and in my multi-tasking frenzy, forgot about it.  I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting to hear what happens in the wee hours of the morning over here…  

Right now I feel about as sexy as Rush Limbaugh in a thong.  I’m doing something I rarely do – I’m wearing sweats.  I don’t judge other people who wear them, but personally, I feel lazy if I let them cover my body.  I only own one pair and they are black.  The last lucid memory I have before the sweats made their appearance was around 1:37 a.m. when I had a brief, yet intense altercation with Joey’s feeding pump.  This encounter resulted in my wearing the contents of the feeding bag which then led to me putting on the forbidden sweats after I took the world’s quickest shower. I’m not sure it can even be classified as a shower…maybe more of a “rinse & shake”.  Nothing got shaved, but I’m fairly certain soap was involved.  The goal here was to rid myself of the dreaded formula stench and get back downstairs before my little Houdini got into more mischief.  It’s almost humorous to me how all Joey’s doctors label him as ‘severely disabled’.  True, he can’t walk, talk, sit, stand or even swallow, and his illness will take him from me one day, but I promise you, that brain of his functions just fine.  He is mischievous as the day is long and he most definitely has my feisty temperament.  His shenanigans keep me on my toes and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hours later, I’m still wearing the sweats.  When my doorbell rang earlier I was convinced Stacy & Clinton from “What Not To Wear” would be behind my front door.  Worse, it was two Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I opened the door and I think they were as sorry to be standing on my porch as I was that I opened the door.  I had a tumblr_mbfbkfaq9y1rprz3po1_500certain, “Bride of Frankenstein” meets Gilda Rander’s Roseanne Rosanadana” look about me.  For added glamour, I had a hint of raccoon eyes with enough baggage under both of them for a family of four vacationing for a month.  Despite my appearance, they wanted to know how I was doing and if they could have a moment of my time.  I love a good conversation as much as anyone so why the hell not.  I proceeded to tell them how I was doing, I mean, they asked so they must have really wanted to know.  I then turned the conversation towards Catholicism and expressed a great interest in their opinion on why the Pope left the Vatican.  I said perhaps the Pope was simply giving up the Catholic church for Lent.  All of this left these two young men speechless, as I figured would be the case.  They told me to have a nice day and walked, rather quickly, away.  Now, before you think I have something against Jehovah’s Witness, I’ll have you know I would have treated a Girl Scout selling cookies the same way.  Ok, maybe not if she had Thin Mints. I really love Thin Mints although I feel there is a huge marketing misrepresentation in that particular cookie.  They will make you anything but thin.

I was a girl scout once – for about a day – I hated the green uniform and I was never one to go door to door selling anything.  I think now they put them through some type of Girl Scout boot camp sadistic sales training course.  Some of those little girls are relentless when it comes to cookie sales.  I very politely told a girl scout ‘no’ last year when she came to my home selling cookies  and she wanted to know why I didn’t like cookies.  I told her I did, but just didn’t want to buy any at this time.  She went on to tell me that the other members in my family might want cookies and Icookies should think of them.  Are you kidding me?!?  This girl clearly had a future as a politician or selling cars. I again told her no thank you and by this time she was deep into her sales pitch.  I asked her where her mother was, as it was getting late in the day and she said she was at home.

No doubt drinking – heavily.

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