Birthday: Party On!

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My birthday breakfast, courtesy of my daughter-tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

I am of the opinion that birthdays cannot be celebrated too much, or too often. My birthday was on Wednesday, November 30 this year. When I arrived home from work that evening, my daughter was already at a yoga class. However, I entered a house decorated with birthday wishes, faux candles “burning” brightly, decorated cupcakes, a Happy Birthday banner with shiny silver streamers over an archway, and a large present gracing the dining room table near the cupcakes. Later she arrived home, and we celebrated. I made a pot of thick, red lentil and lemon soup, with crusty Italian bread on the side, and vino bianco. The double chocolate cupcakes with white icing and Sur le Table “sea glass” sprinkles were delicious! I opened my present: a pair of pajamas with llamas wearing pink scarves! We laughed over the stylishly attired llamas. I slept well enveloped in them that night.

The next morning I entered my classroom of international students expecting to discuss further their essay, due soon. My students had other plans: They greeted me with big smiles and a table decked out with a birthday cake, exotic coffee and tea, and other foods. They then gathered together and sang “Happy Birthday”. I was touched by their kindness. We had much fun eating and talking about the different food and beverages! Somehow we managed to discuss the essay!

That same evening, my brother, his wife, her mother, my daughter, and I gathered at the Rocky River Tap and Grill to celebrate my birthday. I was happy that my out-of-town brother and sister-in-law were able to celebrate my birthday with us. Amid the conversation, laughter, and good eats, I opened presents. Cupcakes again cheered us further, for my daughter had brought the birthday ones to share.

Today I made roasted chicken with lemon, onion, and rosemary, roasted potatoes with lemon and rosemary, and buttered peas. A dear friend joined us to again celebrate my birthday! My daughter made a delicious white cake with chocolate frosting. We drank vino bianco with our repast, and had a very good time.

No, birthdays cannot be celebrated too much, or too often. I can attest to that!

Ciao for now.

 

 

Post-Thanksgiving Reflections

 

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By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Thanksgiving Day let me escape the flooded kitchen disaster. I awakened knowing I didn’t have to spring out of bed to bake and cook felt liberating. I needed only the Whole Foods apple pie and the bottle of Prosecco to our hosts. Our friendship has been an enduring one for over 25 years. The day was filled with banter, cheer, flowing drinks, a delicious dinner, and food we later grazed on into the night.

Entering the kitchen that night didn’t bother me much, probably because of all the alcohol I had imbibed. The morning after proved another story: the kitchen remained in peril from the water disaster. I contacted a service that works 24/7, except holidays. My kitchen emergency got squeezed in the schedule. It felt like the cavalry was on its way.

Growing up, my father always kept a dozen live chickens. He believed in the healthy power of fresh eggs. In addition to their regular mash, the chickens ate potato peels, their own eggshells, and bits of bread, you name it. There was little need for an in-sink disposal. With this latest crisis on my home front, I’ve thought about how composting might be an improvement on the electric disposal. Dependency on electronic devices makes me chafe more than ever. The Magliozzi Brothers’ “Car Talk” program on NPR, even in podcast form, has widened my knowledge of cars. Ray Magliozzi, and his late brother Tom, talk about how in the 1970’s people could still work on their cars. Now, with the computerized gizmos and programming of cars, consumers are forced to take their vehicles into a mechanic. That rang in my ears as I wept over an enormous car bill this week.

Are we to be at the mercy of technicians for automotive needs, for household plumbing, electric, and media issues? Since I am not a plumber, electrician, mechanic, or computer engineer, the answer is a forlorn, yes. I envision if I marry again, I should marry an individual who can fix things, like a mechanical engineer. Perhaps the alterative is not to have all the kitchen appliances and disposal, or the computer devices we depend upon.

Forego all those shiny electronics? I’ll have to take it under consideration.

Ciao for now.

 

Post-Thanksgiving Reflections

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By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Thanksgiving Day let me escape the flooded kitchen disaster. I awakened knowing I didn’t have to spring out of bed to bake and cook felt liberating. I needed only the Whole Foods apple pie and the bottle of Prosecco to our hosts. Our friendship has been an enduring one for over 25 years. The day was filled with banter, cheer, flowing drinks, a delicious dinner, and food we later grazed on into the night.

Entering the kitchen that night didn’t bother me much, probably because of all the alcohol I had imbibed. The morning after proved another story: the kitchen remained in peril from the water disaster. I contacted a service that works 24/7, except holidays. My kitchen emergency got squeezed in the schedule. It felt like the cavalry was on its way.

Growing up, my father always kept a dozen live chickens. He believed in the healthy power of fresh eggs. In addition to their regular mash, the chickens ate potato peels, their own eggshells, and bits of bread, you name it. There was little need for an in-sink disposal. With this latest crisis on my home front, I’ve thought about how composting might be an improvement on the electric disposal. Dependency on electronic devices makes me chafe more than ever. The Magliozzi Brothers’ “Car Talk” program on NPR, even in podcast form, has widened my knowledge of cars. Ray Magliozzi, and his late brother Tom, talk about how in the 1970’s people could still work on their cars. Now, with the computerized gizmos and programming of cars, consumers are forced to take their vehicles into a mechanic. That rang in my ears as I wept over an enormous car bill this week.

Are we to be at the mercy of technicians for automotive needs, for household plumbing, electric, and media issues? Since I am not a plumber, electrician, mechanic, or computer engineer, the answer is a forlorn, yes. I envision if I marry again, I should marry an individual who can fix things, like a mechanical engineer. Perhaps the alternative is not to have all the kitchen appliances and disposal, or the computer devices we depend upon.

Forego all those shiny electronics? I’ll have to take it under consideration.

Ciao for now.

 

A Memorable Thanksgiving

Pumpkin orange candle surrounded by various Autumn items

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

On this cloudy, chilly Thanksgiving, the weather fails to dampen my spirits. Not even a backed-up double kitchen sink that flooded last evening, nor the non-stop deluge of rain yesterday, nor the three-hour wait to retrieve my daughter’s car that malfunctioned in a city an hour away, nor my damp jeans that the umbrella failed to keep dry could deter my Thanksgiving happiness. These unexpected events prevented us from traveling out of town for Thanksgiving, but that did not prove to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Unfortunately, the seals on the garbage disposal were kaput, rendering the running water and the dishwasher, which is filled to the limit, off limits until Monday. My daughter’s #4 cylinder and valve have been replaced, the cylinder head completely cleaned, as was some other under-the-hood stuff. My car even got a new pair of windshield wipers, which gave me a clearer visibility driving in the rain: I could see! Upon arrival home, I changed out of my rain-soaked jeans and into comfy, flannel lounge pants, and then drank herbal tea.

After the erstwhile plumber attempted to detour the kitchen sink’s water, and then realized the under-the-sink flooding situation once the cabinet doors were opened, it was several rolls of paper towels to the rescue. I kept saying, “It’s only water!” as if repeating this would make the water go away. On the upbeat side, we cleaned out everything under the sink. I will now have room to store appliances that clutter the countertop!

Although I could not make neither my family-famous coconut cream pie, nor my Silver Palate crackling cornbread, we struck out again in the rain last night and drove to Whole Foods. Our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner is an apple pie and a bottle of Prosecco, the Italian champagne. We are sharing Thanksgiving with our good friends, my plumber with the M.B.A. and his family.

This morning I received happy news: My dear friend sent me a photo of his newborn niece. She was born last night, in Washington, D.C., shortly before midnight. Now that is a blessed, special Thanksgiving gift.

Ciao for now.

 

Gloriana

Buckingham palace

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

I have a new, vicarious pleasure.

It has nothing to do with erotica.

Another knows of my secret delight.

I feel certain Netflix will not betray me.

My joy is in watching The Crown.

            I admit it: I am an historical royal aficionado.

There you have it.

My guilty gratification revolves around a young queen.

Said royal attempts to navigate the stuffy, stodgy waters of royalty.

I don’t know how she breathed with the world watching.

The costumes, the setting, the politics all captivate me.

In spite of historical inaccuracies, The Crown’s narrative is good.

It’s more than good: it’s riveting, as are the actors.

Viewing all the protocol and precedence, I’m happy to be a non-royal.

But don’t take my word for it.

Watch it for yourself and see what you think.

Maybe you’ll get caught up in the thorough Britishness of it.

I know I did.

Ciao for now.

 

 

 

 

Restless

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

This weekend I had planned to hunker down and to read my new book before sending it off to the graphic artist. The book has been read for narrative structure and content by a journalist, read again by me applying the suggested corrections, and then turned over to a copy editor, whose ideas I incorporated into my book, and then I read it again. Today I had earmarked for another read-through.

Yet I find myself unable to focus. I have read comments regarding my blog post, Backlash, and I am trying to respond to those who commented on the various social media outlets. I thank you all, for as a writer laboring alone over her work, I often wonder if anyone cares. Over the past few days, the answer echoed a resounding “Yes”! I am grateful.

Last night on Saturday Night Live, affectionately called SNL, I listened to Kate McKinnon sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, and I watched Dave Chappelle’s monologue. The song that has reverberated in my head throughout the past week is David Bowie’s “Heroes”, a triumphant call to overcoming adversity. Bowie composed the song as he looked out from his recording studio at the Berlin Wall.

I Love Lucy, Leave It To Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, and Make Room For Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show (It changed names in 1961), to name a few, all constructed worlds where problems could be solved through family in a heart-warming manner. That’s what the Post-World War II and Korean War world wanted. After all, Americans had weathered the Stock Market Crash of 1929, The Great Depression of the 1930’s, followed by World War II in the 1940’s. People were exhausted, and their choice of television programs reflected the longed for tranquility. Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnez) in I Love Lucy. Desi Arnez was born and raised in Cuba. The character of Danny Thomas’ Uncle Tonoose (Hans Conried) in Make Room For Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show, was supposed to be Lebanese. In reality, Danny Thomas himself was Lebanese, not Hans Conried. I related to the language and cultural situations that arose throughout these programs due to the immigrants on both sides of my family.

During the Vietnam War, the Feminist Movement, and Civil Rights era, the 1970’s grew edgier, along with its television shows: MASH, Maude, All In The Family, and Sanford and Son, comedies tinged with pathos. Characters were vocal about their differences, and the humor could be biting in nature, but those reflected the zeitgeist of the times.

While I know full-well no candidate is perfect, and that, yes, there were missteps in Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I honestly thought voters would not cast their votes for a really big lying, pussy-grabbing lout, tax-avoiding sloth, xenophobic wretch, inarticulate bottom-feeder who even cheated students out of his failed university (for which he is soon to be prosecuted, unless he settles with the students for big bucks). Now his voters are demanding he save their jobs, note Carrier employees in Indianapolis, IN, and bring back companies that now are overseas. I wouldn’t count on his own tie company and his daughter’s clothing/shoe business returning Stateside anytime soon. How naïve can people be? Pretty damn naïve, I surmised.

Yes, I have been restless this week. I listened to California Senator-Elect Kamala Harris, who is both an African-American and an Indian-American. With her six years of experience as California’s Attorney General, she will be a force in the U.S. Senate. For now, I have sought comfort in her speech.

Ciao for now.

 

Backlash

 

 

Long may she wave over us.-www.tangledpasta.net
Long may she wave over us.-www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

            It has been a rough week. After a contentious 18-month presidential campaign, we now have protests, both peaceful and not, that have swept across the country. The Electoral College choice and his followers have unleashed the beasts of hatred, racism, and misogyny against minorities and against women. Several of them have told me, “It will be all right” and “Life goes on”. Really? It is amazing how vacuous these people can be.

After fitful nights of sleep this past week, it finally occurred to me when I last experienced this nationwide tumult, this level of dissatisfaction, and this anger: the Vietnam War.

It was during the Vietnam War years that the nation raged and protested its intense displeasure. The press and the media churned out grisly images of our youthful military twisted into misshapen forms, as well as the expressions of numbing shock on the faces of children. Those images have stayed with me, serving as terrifying reminders of war. During my undergraduate years at Indiana University Bloomington, other images were burned into my mind: protests, not all of them peaceful. The vestiges of The Age of Aquarius gave way to increased use of drugs as students sought to dull the pain of a war many did not support, yet in which a large number of them were forced to fight due to the draft.

Complacency also factored into those Vietnam War years. The attempts of the “We’ll be all right” and “The war can’t last forever” mantras, followed by the nationalistic “We’re fighting for democracy” chants morphed into meaningless twaddle as the war dragged on. Fighting for democracy in a country that didn’t appear to support democracy in the first place, having been a French colony for years in a part of the world most Americans couldn’t locate on a map, failed in the end to equate with victory. What democracy is there under a dictatorship? The answer is: none.

After the Vietnam Veterans returned to an America that had tuned them out, failed even to throw them a ticker-tape parade for heroism, nay for their very survival, Americans longed for peace and for stability. Now, as military veterans return from deployment in Iraq and in Afghanistan, minus limbs, and with copious amounts of PTSD, there are still no parades to acknowledge their service. That is not to say parades ease their pain, but at least we would be thanking them with brass bands for laying their lives on the line, like we could do, but don’t, for our uniformed blue.

Now, a white supremacist group in North Carolina has organized a parade for the “president-elect”. This past week, Black students at the University of Pennsylvania received messages with gruesome images from a group the Feds and the university have yet to identify. In addition, school personnel tell me that bullying has increased in the past year. Small wonder: the “president-elect” is a bully. Thus, a pattern has begun to emerge, and it’s not pretty.

My father and my maternal great-grandfather were immigrants. The only natives in the U.S. are the Native Americans, the rest of us are descended from immigrants, voluntary or forced, all of us are, except for the aforementioned Native Americans, which our government marginalized, but that is a topic unto itself. My family likely would not have been admitted to the U.S. in the current climate since the very fascism my father sought to escape in Italy seems to have reared its head here, in America, in the land of democracy, here in the purported land of the free. Woody Guthrie sang, “This land is your land/This land is my land”. Guthrie’s song lauded the expansiveness of America, of her “anything is possible” sensibility, of her humanity. Those traits, which are remarkably absent now, but one hopes will rise again.

Ciao for now.