Songs My Mother Taught Me

Here's to my mother, a protean woman of  strength!
Here’s to my mother, a protean woman of strength!


By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli 

On this sunny Mother’s Day, I think of how much I miss my mother. She died in June 2002, yet not a day goes by that she is not somehow present in my thoughts. Had she had been one of those scary mothers one reads about in unnerving headlines, my memories would be troubling ones. However, she was a larger than life persona who imbued my character in valiant and courageous ways.

Her baptized name was Anna Catherine, but all who knew her called her by the childhood name her father bestowed upon her: Kitty. My parents had longed for children, but I did not arrive until they had been married for 13 years. Prior to my blessed birth, they delighted in their nieces and nephews, of which there were many since my mother had come from a family of nine children, and my father from a family of six. I remember relatives around me, lively and full of chatter. Dinners, though, were sacrosanct times with my parents, later with brother, and my maternal grandparents [my fraternal grandparents resided still in Italy].

What remains vivid in my mind is love, for my parents loved me dearly. They had waited so long for children, and when I was born, they were overjoyed, so the relatives and my parents told me. More than the homemade snacks that met me on the kitchen table as I came through the back door after school, more than her listening to the stories I penned, more than the travels we took together, more than the delicious home cooked meals, more than the Barbie doll clothes she stitched, more than the exquisite dolls cakes she made and decorated, more than the piano lessons from which she transported me to and fro, more than the pretty clothes she sewed for me, and more than the elegant formal gowns she created for me, my mother taught me the art of invention, the trajectory of reading for its own sake parlayed into writing. With wit and verve and boundless humor, my mother showed me a better way to cope with the travails and joys of life. Until I had my child, I do not think I fully realized the sheer magnitude of her greatness. She used to tell me, “I call them as I see them” and she was nobody’s fool, nor did she suffer them well. An intellectual, a kind and compassionate soul, a magnificent role model, a stylish woman, she was all of those, but most of all she was my Mama, my best friend, my confident, my role model my guide, and my mentor throughout this labyrinth of life.

The songs of life she taught me transcend even death. With love, I say, Happy Mother’s Day, Mama, in the celestial heaven, from your earthling dream-weaving daughter below!

Ciao for now.

I Hate Laundry

If I were Fellini the Cat, laundry would not be an issue -
If I were Fellini the Cat, laundry would not be an issue –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Yes, it is true:  I hate doing laundry, but I adore donning clean clothing, and therein lies the conundrum.  I also despise trying to remember if it is “lies” or “lays”, which the average native English speaker likely neither remembers, nor cares, save for some uptight, full-of-oneself English teacher who tends to forget the “lie versus lay” argument is hardly a cure for something really important, like a fatal disease.

Part of my revulsion of doing laundry has to do with where the washer and dryer are in our vintage home.  Whose idea was it to park the washer and dryer in the basement?  I am not referring to some high falutin’ track house in a suburban development where the basement functions as a lower extension of a family room.  I am talking about the non-refurbished basement in an 85-year-old home.  In case the reader is curious, our money has gone to make-over the kitchen, install central air-conditioning, put in new windows in every room [and there are eleven windows alone in the front room], create more outdoor warm weather living space by building a brick patio, repairing or putting in new dry wall, and that is all I can tick off immediately.

No, a basement re-do is not on the radar.  When the central a/c was installed – a new system compatible with the gas-water heating system [add a new boiler to the aforementioned litany of home upgrades in the above paragraph], the contractor asked if we had plans to remodel the basement because if we did, there would be a large problem looming regarding the enormous pillowy-silver pipes the cooling installation required.  That put the kibosh on any future thoughts of actually having a nicer sort of basement.

Consequently, we trudge up and down the ancient basement stairs [note to self:  best to get bids on new basement stairs], to the fairly new Maytag washer and dryer units that wash, clean, and spin dry our clothing.  I should not complain, for I spent my Houston years as an apartment dweller that had to trudge to the local washeteria and wait hours for my laundry.  At least in our basement laundry facility, I can avoid inclement weather.  Yet this still does not completely reconcile me to my innate loathing of laundry.  For the record, I hate ironing too.

Ciao for now.

Closet Hubris

One of the inexplicable things in life is the abyss of the bedroom closet.  On par with the perennial missing sock in the dryer, the bowels of a clothing closet rank with Pandora’s box for sheer mystification of clothing that is MIA.

My college daughter’s closet –

At college, my daughter’s closet literally is bursting at the seams with hangers bearing skirts, dresses, blouses, and jeans.  Stacked clear plastic bins store the overflow of hoodies, sweatshirts, sweaters, leggings, lingerie, pajamas, assorted tee-shirts – long and short-sleeved, socks, and various accessories.  Over the closet door hangs a shoe organizer filled so that there is waiting room only for the boots [tall, short, leather, and suede] that are lined up underneath the shoe holder.  At least the two exotic guppies in their pristine clean fish tank have much to look at as they gaze into the closet and at its opened door.

Collegiate guppies

Comparing my child’s closet to my own when I was in college, I remind myself that cheap imported clothes were not the norm in the 1970’s.  Furthermore, I recall that I while I purchased jeans, I made most of my skirts, dresses, and tops.  Sewing, I surmised, has become a lost art among the youth of today.  By the time one shops for a pattern, selects the fabric, purchases the requisite thread, buttons and/or zipper, J Crew or Gap has a comparable top on sale for what I would now pay to sew my open clothing.   Meanwhile, we amass piles of clothing we likely do not actually need, yet purchase because of inexpensive imported clothing.  I do a double take when I seize upon a garment that has a Made I the U.S. A.label;  it is akin to viewing an exotic animal.

Boots a go-go

In the meantime, my daughter happily rifles through her myriad of clothing in her tiny, but well-ordered closet.  With an air of je né sais quoi, she emerges from her room, robed in clothing that mirrors her attitude with a touch of panache.  She is blithely ready to take on the world, for it truly is her oyster.

Ciao for now.