Happy Birthday to You!

With a raspberry filling, how can a Whole Foods birthday cake taste bad?-www.tangledpasta.net
With a raspberry filling, how can a Whole Foods birthday cake taste bad?-www.tangledpasta.net


By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

This morning I awakened to a Facebook notification: Today is Anjelica Violi’s Birthday! As if I could forget, but thanks anyway FB!

My darling dark-haired, brown-eyed girl is now a young woman who graduated from Law School in May 2016. She now hits the lectures and books as she hunkers down prepping for the Bar Exam. Her structure, study focus, and organization amaze me. Maybe I should not be surprised. As a toddler she manifested powers of concentration. I attributed this to her Montessori schooling, but the reality was it’s how she’s built. She concentrated for great lengths of time studying birds in the backyard, and then drawing them. Insects such as grasshoppers also fascinated her; she drew them, too. When she majored in Journalism and Classical Studies, I was not surprised. Those fields also demand powers of concentration and attention to detail, her forte.

Yet where have these past 25 years gone? To paraphrase Maria Montessori, a child disappears into an adult. Indeed. Every phase of her evolution, from birth on, has been a joyful adventure. I reckon I haven’t missed much of it. The first day of Montessori school, I pulled up to the entrance where the smiling directress greeted us. Off walked my little girl hand in hand with the cheerful directress. I drove to the end of the parking lot and I wept, for I knew at that moment life would irrevocably change. Now others would also influence her, in positive ways I hoped, but the world had now invaded our tight-knit family sphere. However, I knew full well she had to learn to live in the world, that I wanted her to breathe freely and develop her own ideas. What I did not want to see altered was the essence of her: Funny, kind-hearted, insightful, and a whole strings of other attributes.

What she has developed is a generally right calling a spade a spade detector. She doesn’t suffer fools well. While her radar is still in its evolutionary stage, it hums along quite well. Four years at IU Bloomington afforded her an education both inside and outside of the classroom. Pledging a sorority and living with 150+ females enlightened her no end. She gained knowledge of people and of the world, and made steadfast friends.

And then there was Law School. She came into her own in these past three years, fiercely forward in her thinking, committed to making a difference in the world for the better. I see the spirit of her grandparents and their “can do” attitude in her. I see how she chafes under the yoke of the “let’s play it safe” notion of conservative thinking. Instead, she asks “Why not?” She brims with youthful zeal and vigor. No, I would not have missed her Becoming Anjelica for a moment.

Happy, Happy 4th of July Birthday, My Beloved Daughter! Cent’ anni [100 years] with Love!

Ciao for now.




The Disquiet of Quiet

Orecchiette and vino - tangledpasta.net
Orecchiette  with greens and vino – tangledpasta.net


By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Today marks the first weekend since April that I it has been just me with Fellini and Coco Chanel, our two indoor cats.  My daughter continues to move household items to her new apartment.  But today she is handling moving solo.

Already she has planned to have lunch at a tavern eatery [a graduate school watering hole downtown] with a sorority sister who is working in this new town.  This evening her cousin arrives to spend part of the weekend with her in her cozy new apartment.  Tonight my daughter and niece will have fun hanging wall décor, arranging furniture, and simply enjoying one another’s company, for they are more like sisters than cousins, having spent much time together over the years.

To help the cause, I arose early this morning and prepared a dinner for Anjelica and Lauren tonight.  My guess is they will dine on the orecchiette pasta made with anchovies, garlic, freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, Swiss chard, salad, crusty bread, break open a bottle of vino, and kick back.  Yesterday Anjelica selected fruit tarts from Whole Foods for their dessert.

Last week was spent juggling schedules with the upholstery cleaners [the sectional sofa, side chair, and ottoman in storage in Bloomington were thick with dust], maintenance personnel [the air-conditioning and hot water were on the blink], and exterminators [a weather strip needed to be installed on the bottom of the patio door to keep the bug population at bay], it pleases me to know that her new abode is shiny clean, that the dishes and glassware have been washed and arranged in the cupboards on the newly laid liners, the floor vacuumed with her new sweeper with the Febreze attachment, and all the bedding freshly laundered.

The quiet unnerves me.  My daughter’s presence rocks my world in the best of ways.  At least she returns to town tomorrow evening, home, before she gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Law School.  At least she knows I’m always here, her anchor, her refuge, her unwavering champion.  At the very least, she deserves to begin this next phase of her academic life knowing I’ll happily provide her with Italian food.

Yet the quiet on my home front is deafening.

Ciao for now.


Dreaming of Dayton, Part One

A beautiful femme fatale - tangledpasta.net
A beautiful femme fatale – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

This past weekend we traveled to Dayton, Ohio.  My daughter was participating in a law school safari for admitted students.  This tour de force at the law school was enhanced by the fact that we would be staying with a beloved aunt.

We set out on a sunny Friday mid-morning to journey to the Land of the Buckeyes.  This was the last weekend of Spring Break, which meant we needed to drop off my daughter’s roadster and Harvey the Fish with my brother and sister-in-law en route to Dayton.  After a quick-lunch of zuppa di minestrone, Italian bread, and a chocolate-covered shortbread cookie with an IU seal on it, we headed east.  The trip clocked in around five hours total from our domicile in northern Indiana.  Our conversation was filled with the pros and cons of the other two law schools we had visited over the past several weeks, college graduation in less than two months, and my niece’s pending June wedding.  Before one could say “graduate school”, we were pulling into Zia Agnesi’s driveway [Zia means “aunt” in Italian], in front of her well-appointed house.

Zia has always been mad about Persian cats, and she certainly has had show-stopping ones over the years.  Her two current Persians, DeLora and Molly proved no exception.   DeLora is a stunning Smokey Tortoise Persian; Molly is a blue-eyed Himalayan Persian.  I remember years ago when Zia had two blue-eyed white Angora Persians named Mitzi and Muffin.  After interacting with DeLora and Molly, I thought our own Fellini and Coco Chanel seemed to possess more pointed, fox-like noses compared with the pushed in noses of their high-falutin’ Persian cousins.

An evening full of conversation, a delicious dinner of tuna fish and noodles and mushroom casserole, and Waldorf salad washed down with vino bianco, we retired late night.  Tomorrow at the law school promised to be a busy day.

Ciao for now.

Letting Go

Sorority Formal - tangledpasta.net
Sorority Formal – tangledpasta.net















By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi


Today I sit in the library of the law school my daughter is again visiting.  I am the chauffeur for the second look at this law school located less than ninety minutes from our home.  While she has several other schools to visit over Spring Break, this law school feels like coming home, not only because of the geographical proximity to our hometown, but because of the impression the students, faculty, and staff have made.

I am seated next to a series of large windows overlooking a forested area surrounding   the law school.  The beauty of the landscape is impressive.  Even the adjacent 1870’s building, recently refurbished, exudes a classical aura.  The gray squirrels scampering across the courtyard between the law buildings struck a piquant note with me, perhaps since only chunky chestnut colored squirrels raid our bird feeder at home.

This whole experience has a curious sense of déjà vu about it:  Over four years ago I accompanied Anjelica on a return visit for prospective admitted undergraduate students at the university she ultimately attended.  She was excited and nauseous at the prospect of going away to college.  In spite of her trepidation and tears, she forged ahead.  That first semester was rough emotionally.  Her cadre of high school friends had scattered; only she had opted for the gargantuan campus downstate.  But once she hit her stride, she thrived; once she pledged a sorority, went to London and Paris with several favorite professors, she never looked back.

We arrive again at a crossroads.  Four years older, more poised, more confident, ready to tackle law school, she begins to pursue her dream. Gazing at her, I remember when I decided to chase a graduate degree in linguistics. That same fire blazes in her about studying law.  Sometimes she worries maybe she will find law school is not her cup of tea.

“If it’s not, then you go with your Backup Plan.  The world won’t end,” I tell her.

I do not need to reinvent any perceived thwarted academic aspirations through her.  While we talk or text almost daily, I understand that she has begun to live her life, knowing I am her familial anchor, come what may.

I continue to learn how to gently let go as she soars into becoming the Anjelica of her own invention.

Ciao for now.