Posts Tagged ‘Rock’

Well, yesterday was a glorious day.  Yim and I had Prantl’s burnt almond torte for breakfast with coffee.  It was left over from Yim‘s birthday celebration on Tuesday.  After breakfast we ran a couple of errands together.  We went to Home Depot for anchors and to Market District for lunch meat, rolls, Gerolsteiner and . . . Kennywood tickets!  (Yimmy loves it when I refer to Giant Eagle as Market District!  But, hey, my friend Alyssa calls it Hot Man Mecca!)

While I made a picnic lunch for us, Yimmy re-mounted my mailbox on the front of the house.  I’d given the mailbox a shiny new coat of black paint.  Incidentally, the mail has already come today, and the mailman opened the screen door and dropped the mail inside again, without any notice whatsoever of my newly painted and mounted box.

Once the chores were done and the picnic lunch was packed, Yim and I headed out to Kennywood.  The weather was phenomenal; clear, bright blue sky, dry warmth under the sun with wispy high clouds up above and a cool air circulating just enough so that one never felt uncomfortably hot.  The occasion was Yim‘s boy’s school Kennywood day and all three of his boys went there with their mother.  We shared the responsibility with her, trading off between the older and the younger so that everyone had the opportunity to ride.

Throughout the day Yim and I were prone to our own memories of childhood days spent running the park, from ride to ride, with our friends.  We didn’t leave until the park closed at 10pm and when we got home I collapsed on my bed, feeling the same satisfied exhaustion as I did at the end of a day back when I was 9 years old and had spent the hours running, laughing, riding and eating funnel cakes with Elisabeth.  I fell to sleep fast, with physical heaviness but mental levity, dreaming of all good things.

And so it was a great day, but there is more!

Yesterday marked the last day in the house of the Earth sign Taurus, which, other than my own Capricornian sign, I love the most.  It seems that so many of my favorite people have been born under the sign of the Bull:  Zia, Lord Mycol, Yim, and my brother, Rock.  If you follow the philosophy of the stars, it’s no wonder why.  Consider the following:

The Taurus and Capricorn combination is considered to be one of the best astrological combinations. When they unite there is a union of similar and positive creative forces and a subtle but powerful physical attraction. They understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths perfectly and act accordingly. Since both require a certain amount of acknowledgment of their positive qualities they do the same for each other. They fulfill each other emotionally, physically, intellectually and financially. Saturn and Venus the ruling planet of Capricorn and Taurus respectively complement each other. Taurus loves money and Capricorn wants security and sees financial stability as a way of security. Both are practical, sensual and calculative. They believe in hard work and success. So nothing can be better than this!!

Also, yesterday was, indeed, Rock’s birthday.

Before I get into wishing Rock a belated birthday I’d like to point out that I seem to have developed a habit of birthday posting, which puts a new kind of pressure on a person.  I no longer merely have to remember to check the calendar and get a card off in the mail, but now I must come up with some sort of brilliant tribute to the ones I love, lest any of them feel jilted.  This all started with a ridiculously fun post I wrote, a roast post, if you will, for the birthday of Elisabeth’s husband Dag.  It was one of the easiest and most fun things I’ve written to date.  On that day my blog stats reached their highest rating.  This created a two-fold reason to continue writing birthday blogs: 1) so as not to offend the others, hahaha, and 2) to strive towards beating my personal best where my stats are concerned (I’m talking about daily readership, folks).  This week I won some and lost some.  Let me put it to you this way; I beat my personal best on Tuesday, May 18th with “Feelin’ Good”.  That’s right, Dag, my post for Yim surpassed my post for you!  If I were a statistician I’d tell you by what percent.  On the other hand, I failed to put up a post for one of my most cherished Taureans, my brother Rock.  And so, short and late as it may be, without further adieu . . .

I’d like to tell you all the truth about how I feel about my brother.  I used to wish he was a sister!  I remember telling my mother that I wanted a playmate.  In my recollection of the past, like she’d waved a magic wand to grant my wish, the next thing I knew was that she’d gotten herself pregnant with a playmate exclusively for my sake.  Imagine my utter horror when, after months of giddy anticipation, she came home from the hospital with a boy-child!  What had gone wrong?  It went down like this:

One day my mother was so swollen with pregnancy that she could not find the energy to play with me.  I had no one else to play with at all.  I played imaginary games all by myself with my wooden farm set on the coffee table while she lie big on the sofa with heavy eyelids.  Then, in the dark of night in the middle of a spring rain, we had to leave the house.  There was a mild urgency – do you understand that? From the back seat on the way to my grandparents’ house I peered at blurry street lights through the rain drops on the windshield, glowing white, red, yellow, green, intermittently through the slash of the wipers.

It was likely 4 days later when Mummy returned from the hospital.  It was a sunny spring afternoon.  My grandparents lived in a 3 story large Victorian house and my mother came in through the back door to the sun-lit kitchen carrying the swaddled babe.  The excitement and joy expressed by those around me could not befog the circumstance.  There’d been a dirty trick played and this was not my requested playmate.  As I ran up the dramatic staircase in the entry hall, I stopped two-thirds of the way up, stuck my little head over the banister and screamed past the chandelier, “Why didn’t you tell the doctor we wanted a girl?!”

Oh, the follies of youth.  I’d like to tell you now that I would have it no other way than to have my playmate be my brother Rock.  Despite a fight here and there we got along marvelously.  I love him so much.

In the winter time when we were confined to playing indoors a lot, we used to take his crib mattress and prop it against the bedroom wall.  We mimicked Muhammed Ali and Leon Spinks, sparring with the mattress, fancy-footing around the room and sticking our faces in the mist from the humidifier for the dramatic effect of profuse sweating.

We have been playing together since he could walk and talk and the fun has never come to an end.  There is only one person in the world who really understands what my childhood experience was all about and that is him.  And vice versa.

Still, I did dress him up as a girl and call him Rebecca for about 4 years, until Mummy made me stop.  There is photographic evidence to support this claim.  I suppose you’re wondering which years, as from 12 to 16 would be rather strange, huh?  Don’t worry, he was hardly big enough to defend himself.

I called my brother yesterday and wished him a Happy Birthday and he told me it was his second best to date, the first best being the day he was actually born.  I am so glad his wishes came true.  He met one of his idols, Dave Matthews, who, ironically, shares his birthday with mine.  You see how Taureans and Capricorns love each other?  Rock and his wife, Luvy, were granted a backstage audience (with photos) with Dave, Tim Reynolds and Jane Goodall before enjoying the show up close.  An ecstatic experience for my brother and I am happy for him.

Happy Birthday, Rock!  I love you, brother!

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Now this is what I am talking about folks: COMMENTS AND REQUESTS!  Ha!  Ask and you shall receive!

UB, to answer your question, “By the way do you know who is playing that alto sax in your photo?”, yes, I do.  I must admit I only know now because you asked and I did some research – which took about 4 seconds.  That is Paul Desmond, who actually wrote “Take Five”.


And by the way, did you know that you could click on that ‘photo’ and play the video clip of The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond playing “Take Five”?  Try it, UB, I know you’ll like it!

And now, because Zia, UB and E-Beth have all requested the story of what happened with Rock and the bird, here it is: (E-Beth, chime in with more detail if I am forgetting something here…)

Rock used to wear one of these all the time:


That’s a batting helmet for the best team in the league!!  Okay, so I think Rock’s helmet only had one little hole in the center of the dome, rather than two as in this image, therefore cutting the chances of something randomly dropping from the sky onto his scalp in half.  Right?  Right.  And as we, E-Beth, Rock and I played on Broughton Street, running up and down, jumping and climbing the mulberry tree on the edge of the property, somehow a bird dropped it’s, well, it’s droppings, straight through that little 1/4 inch diameter hole in the center of Rock’s batting helmet.  INCOMING!!!

And everyone knows that getting hit with bird poop is good luck, right?

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3 Little Brown Eggs

I am sitting here at my desk listening to a morning dove coo outside my window.  The windows are shut because even thought the sun is shining brightly, it is extremely cold outside.  I am eating leftover jelly beans from Easter because I am starving and there is nothing already made to eat in the house and I don’t feel much like cooking.  I just ate a pear flavored jelly bean and that is my absolute favorite flavor.  Lord Mycol has left for work and the house is empty, quiet.  I am daydreaming about my ideal situation.  Where the blog is concerned, I’d ideally like to log in to my account and see that nearly everyone has left a comment for me.  It’s validating.  Most days, though, I struggle to get more people to visit in the first place, let alone comment.  Of all the visitors that click by, how do I even know how many of them actually read the article I posted?  Sometimes the truth is just that I am tired of coming up with new and interesting things to write about.  Any suggestions?

My Zia has told me that when I was a little baby she held me sitting on her lap.  In those ancient times babies were still wearing diapers made from natural fibers, like cotton.  Mothers had to wash them and dry them every time they were soiled.  Children were potty trained nearly as soon as they could walk.  So there I sat in Zia’s lap without a diaper at all.  When she picked me up she saw that I had laid 3 little brown eggs in her lap.

When I was 3 years old I named one of my baby dolls Diarrhea.

My brother and I used to fight like cats and dogs sometimes.  When he was smaller than me and I would torture him, adults used to warn me that when he grew up the tables would turn.  The tables did turn by the time he was 8 years old.  He was like the Tasmanian Devil when he got mad.  A raging bull.  I would fight with him to a certain point and then it became a game of survival for me.  I had to lock myself in the bathroom, the only room with a locking door, to protect myself.  And his rage lasted for hours!  I got tired of being a bathroom shut-in!  At some point I figured on how to lock him out of the house instead.  When from the other side of the door he told me that he had to go to the bathroom, the very room that used to be my refuge from slaughter, and pleaded with me to let him in to use the toilet, I sympathized and truce-fully opened up.  And I got pummeled.  But then there was the time.  As in, “Remember the time when . . .?”  The time when I locked him out of the house again and he begged me to let him back in to go to the bathroom again.  “Go outside,” I said.  But he said he had to go ‘number 2’.  “So what,” I said, not believing him.  “Go outside!”  And seemingly with no other choice, he did.  We had a fairly private back yard.  Our dog didn’t seem to mind.  But that evening when we sat down to dinner with Mummy, she asked that question that all good children dread to hear; “Okay, which one of you pooped outside?”  And we simultaneously pointed at each other.  Who knew adults could tell the difference between dog and human poop?  Then Mummy made poor Rock go and cover up his mess with dirt, just like a cat!  And that is how we used to fight like cats and dogs.

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The Easter Parade

Before April comes to its utter end, I should let my dear loved ones in on my take on Easter Sunday – right?  If for no other reason than they may have fond memories themselves which will be triggered by the photos posted herein.  So, without further ado . . .

Usually Easter is cold and wet enough around here to wear your winter coat and a scarf.  For someone like me, who longs for equatorial heat even on some “cooler” evenings in July, cold Easters mean that I cannot even stand to wear a dress under my winter coat, but rather have to don pants and my winter boots over heavy socks.  But this Easter was anything but usual.

It was a true Easter Parade outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  All the women and little girls looked darling, while the men looked dashing in their spring suits.  The cathedral was full at high mass and looked lovely adorned with white lilies.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take my camera with me and if I thought I might manage to get pictures at home of everyone in their Easter best, well, forget about it.  Before I could say, “Say cheese,” my family had changed back into their casual clothes. Which was okay, I guess, because we had an Easter-egg hunt to attend.

The day before, Luvy and I planned to head down to the playground after church and hide 3 dozen colored plastic eggs filled with money for the kids to hunt.  Yim was on his way into the city with his 3 boys and time was of the essence.  Lord Mycol pitched in and helped Luvy and I hide the eggs.  Once they were hidden, Rock brought Rockwell down, and Yim arrived with Bird, Choc, and NB.  These four boys hit the ground running and scoured the playground for Easter-eggs.  In a half an hour’s time, each of them had a nice blue grocery sac of eggs, which they wouldn’t dare put down for fear of losing them.  They ran, climbed, and played all over the playground.  Their bags rustled and jingled behind the sounds of shouts and laughter.

Lord Mycol was being the best big cousin that day.  I enjoyed watching him help Rockwell, the youngest boy in the bunch, find his share of eggs.  He helped him reach things by picking him up, he helped him get his shoes back on when he had stones in them, and he helped him count his booty.

The Easter Bunny stopped by the playground after the hunt.

That is Yim and NB’s bunny, Wolverine.  He was a birthday gift for NB, who says, “I’m going to be a zoo-keeper, a scientist, and work at the pet store.  I’m gonna be a busy man!”

While us big kids occupied the little kids at the schoolyard, the real grown-ups got the feast ready and the table set back at the house.

The entire holiday was spent in anticipation of mealtimes, which are the keystones of family life.  On holidays past and also in Italy, I have spent a good 6 hours at the dining table, listening to stories, eating great food, and drinking a little vino!

Well, until next year, Buona Pasqua!

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Italian Potato Dumplings

The main event the day before Easter was the gnocchi.  Gnocchi has long been a favorite dish in our family, made ever more desirable by the fact that it takes a day of labor to provide the hungry with about a half an hour of devouring the scrumptious dumplings until they are but a memory one is left longing for until the next time.

(Are you tired of Easter posts already?  Well, life takes precedent over writing a daily journal, uploading photos to share, and organizing said journal and photos into a comprehensive article that can be shared with the interested and dearly loved.  Certainly the dearly loved still anticipate a recap of the holiday, yes?)

Zia got started early at her own place and then UB chauffeured her down to the Estate where she continued to work.

For those who don’t know, gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings.  Here Zia is removing the skins from the boiled potatoes.  It is essential to use a good potato like an Idaho.  Nonna always insisted upon “eee-da-ho patate.”  Speaking of Nonna, all of my life I can remember yearning for her gnocchi, but you know, as with any pasta dish, it is the sauce that makes or breaks it.  Without a good sauce, you cannot clinch the blue ribbon.  Fortunately, Zia mastered the sauce before Nonna died and we are still able to enjoy our traditional Italian dishes just the way she used to make them.  Also, while Zia made the gnocchi we all conversed about Nonna and Tata.  When we are all together and collectively remembering them and talking about them, that is exactly when they are still with us.  And why wouldn’t they be?  In my opinion, that is the meaning of eternal life; i.e., that when you have lived, laughed, and loved well, you will live on as long as the lives you touched are still feeling the effects of your existence.

When Nonna was alive, she taught me to make gnocchi.  Zia taught Rock to make gnocchi.  But if Zia is around and there is gnocchi to be made, you’ll be lucky if she lets you help.  Yim asked her to teach him for my birthday dinner, but she mainly made him watch!  This time, though, she put Luvy to work.

Once the potatoes have cooled and are peeled, they are pushed through a ricer.

On the night that Luvy went into labor with Rockwell, we were all together at their house.  That day, while Luvy and Rock were at work, Zia, Mummy, and I made gnocchi.  We were sure that baby was going to come sometime soon and we were in a celebratory mood.  By the time Luvy got home from work the table was set with heaping bowls of gnocchi ready to be eaten.  But Luvy went straight to her room to lie down.  By the time Rock got home from work and checked on her, she was moaning in pain.  Rock came out of their bedroom and announced that we’d better eat quick.  That little baby smelled our gnocchi and was trying to push his way out.  Of course Zia let Gnocchi Rocky help, as well.

Once the dumplings were made there was time to relax, regroup, and do the dishes.  Rockwell watched a video while the womenfolks set the table.

The day stretched on towards mealtime and we gathered to the feast.

When Zia and I host an Italian Ladies Social Club get-together, we should make gnocchi.  But half of the members are going dairy-free vegan on me.  I may be forced to serve lettuce and wine.

After dinner the menfolk sat around looking at YouTube while the gals colored Easter eggs with Rockwell.

A late evening banana makes for a good night’s sleep for little Rockwell.

And everyone dreamt of the baskets filled with chocolate goodies the Easter bunny would leave that night.

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Some of you have expressed an interest in hearing about our Easter holiday.  Wearing a polar fleece jacket and looking out my window at the cool and rainy spring day outside, I realize even more what a great holiday it was.

First of all, the rally of kith and kin was much-anticipated, as we’d not been able to muster a complete reunion in over a year’s time.  And most recently it had been a planned, then cancelled, then planned, then cancelled event, mainly due to snow, work schedules, and tons of more snow.  So when the MD crew arrived at the Estate on April Fool’s Day, it was no joke!  We broke out the good stuff!

Once everyone’s luggage was out of the trunk, we headed to the playground for Rockwell’s sake.  He’d been in the car seat a little too long.  Everyone loves the playground, even Grand Mere.  This one is on the property of Lord Mycol’s old elementary school; we’ve spent lots of time having fun there over the years.

Then it was back to the Estate for dinner.  Brother Rock brought up a sack full of Martha’s Vineyard oysters to kick off the weekend of revelry and celebration of the erection!  Er, uh, resurrection.  After all, “Oysters are amatory food,” said Lord Byron.

Get a load of these two shuckers:

Oysters for Easter. . . well, not quite.  Oysters have been cultivated since long before the Christian era.  Just like Roman emperors, we feasted on the fresh bi-valves with a dash of pepper and a drop of lemon juice.  And chew!  He was a bold man that first ate an oyster. — Swift

We ate every last one and I have to admit, I enjoyed them more than I ever had before.

Oysters by Jonathan Swift

Charming oysters I cry:
My masters, come buy,
So plump and so fresh,
So sweet is their flesh,
No Colchester oyster
Is sweeter and moister:
Your stomach they settle,
And rouse up your mettle:
They’ll make you a dad
Of a lass or a lad;
And madam your wife
They’ll please to the life;
Be she barren, be she old,
Be she slut, or be she scold,
Eat my oysters, and lie near her,
She’ll be fruitful, never fear her.

A day later, Good Friday, everyone was full of energy and excited to get out and play in the beautiful weather.  I was anxious to have Rockwell as a guest so that I could share with him some of the fun things Lord Mycol and I used to do when he was young.  I suggested we take Rockwell and his bicycle to the trail at Panther Hollow, where he could race the wind on the open dirt road.  Naturally, it was the one day I left my camera behind and can only tell you in words how he flew fearlessly ahead of his family, seeming to forget for fleeting moments that we existed.

At the pond, Rockwell became an explorer, hopped off his bike, carelessly abandoned it, and walked under the stone foot bridge to throw pebbles in the moving creek below.  I believe that Lord Mycol was with me, daydreaming of a time when he, too, was small enough to explore the trail, creek, and woods with wonder.

We finished the day gathered at the table dining on the freshest halibut you could possibly imagine, compliments of brother Rock, who also did the preparations.  Sadly, no pictures exist of our Good Friday, but I assure you, it was Good!  On the other hand, I have loads of shots from the rest of the weekend, so stay tuned.

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In church on Easter Sunday I got to thinking about the priest’s sermon.  Before I tell you what I thought about, I should say that I only get to church on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass and on Easter Sunday.  Every other year or so I may make it there for another special occasion, or maybe not at all.  However, my mother did try to get us there far more often when we were growing up, so I am quite familiar with the teachings, the traditions, and the ceremonies of a Catholic mass.  I got my First Communion, but dropped out of Sunday School before I could be Confirmed, only to regret it later.  All the good Italian Catholic girls had their Confirmation, with Confirmation names to boot.

Throughout my life I have had the occasion to pray.  There were many times as a teenager that I embarrassed only myself by praying for selfish reasons, realizing the absurdity of it even as I rambled on towards “Amen”.  But the first time I ever prayed, it was in real earnest, and it turned out not to be the last time, either.

The first time I ever prayed, I was 5 or 6 years old.  It might have been late autumn because I think I remember that it was cooler outside.  Our windows were closed by then.  Our family, my mother, my little brother, and I, shared a second floor, two bedroom apartment in a house down the street from my grandparents and Zia.  My brother and I shared a room; he still slept in a crib and I slept in a single bed.  Sitting on the plaid sofa in the living room I could look down the hallway to my right and see my bed inside the open door of our bedroom.  On that night I saw my mother dressing my brother in fleecy blue footed pajamas, the kind that zip up one leg from the ankle all the way up to the neck, where a little fleece flap snaps over the zipper’s top.  He stood on my bed as she zipped him in.  That is when he started to jerk and shiver, his little body stiffening strangely.  In this moment of my memory, there doesn’t seem to be a sound.  Just the knowledge in my young mind that this is panic.  My mother is acting quickly and efficiently, but there is fear all over the place.  She has wrapped a blanket around him and I cannot tell you how it happened so immediately, but she and my brother are gone.  I know this: there was a split second where there seemed a possibility that I would go with them, but I COULD NOT GET MY SHOES ON AND TIED FAST ENOUGH AND I WAS TRYING.  I so vividly remember FOCUSING on my shoes, but I was already so worried that I couldn’t seem to move fast enough.  The dexterity needed to tie my shoes was gone.  And I know this: somehow I was told that Nonna would come for me, just wait.  In that time of waiting I knelt at the living room window’s sill and looked deep into the night sky, stared at the distant, distant stars and prayed so very hard for my brother.  I made deals with God every which way I knew how.  I promised to be the kindest, most loving and protective older sister a little brother ever knew.  I promised God the world if he would just spare my brother’s life.  And my prayers were answered, even though I was wagering more than I had.  My brother had suffered an allergic reaction to a booster shot resulting in convulsions.

So, anyway.  I like religion in many ways.  Although, I think religion is more of a business and spirituality is more of a way of life.  As an adult I am prone to Buddhist meditation and yogic enlightenment more than the body and blood of Christ.  I hope this doesn’t sound strange, but I do think Jesus Christ was a real person.  Are there people who don’t believe in his existence the way that there are people who don’t believe in God?

That said, and acknowledging that a post about religion and spirituality could be drawn out into a series of posts over the course of a week or more, I will now share with you my thoughts on Easter Sunday’s sermon.

The priest talked about how we have existential questions in our minds about the meaning of life; why are we here?  He talked about how when we turn on the news we learn about all of the violence, hatred, bigotry and killing going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He talked about how we learn about children, babies, that are abused and murdered.  He talked about how we hear about shootings and robberies in our own neighborhoods and we could ask ourselves, “What is it all for, this life?”  What is it for if we just die in the end?  But that is why Jesus gives us hope.  Because Jesus gave his life for us and was buried, only to rise three days later to sit at the right hand of the Father, we can have hope for the future.  The future of after our death.  Our post-mortem future.  Jesus gave us peace of mind that our suffering here on Earth is only temporary, because after we die we will be reunited with God in Heaven, where everything is perfect.  And Jesus gave up his own life for us and asks us to do things in memory of him.

So I thought, “Wasn’t that nice of him?  He heard there was eternal salvation and so he was all, ‘Oooh, me!  Me!  I’ll go first!  I’ll die first so that I never have to suffer again and then I will lead by example, giving hope to all of those that remain behind in that Hell we call Earth.'”  How altruistic of Jesus.

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with Lord Mycol today.  We were just making small talk about the day and we got to joking.  I said something that prompted him to respond “You can’t tell me what to do.” . . .

Me:  “Yes, I can.  I own you.”

Lord Mycol:  “Jesus owns me.”

Me:  “Ha!  He abandoned you while I never left your side!”

Back at church, when it was collection time, I reluctantly pulled a dollar out of my wallet and waited for the old fella to shove that basket on the end of that reaching stick my way, as if he were stoking a fire, so I could drop in my last donation to the Catholic church.  I was thinking, “I don’t feel good about giving my hard-earned money to a filthy rich organization that continues to promote sexual molestation by covering it up and failing to hold its employees to the same legal standards that the rest of the nation’s criminals are held to.”  But I also thought that one dollar ain’t that much for the show.  I pay at least five to see a movie.

For those of you that feel this post was blasphemous, don’t worry, I’ll repent when I go back to church next month for a mass dedicated to the memory of my grandparents, where I will pray for their reunion and eternal peace and happiness.  And if you don’t think I believe, I’ll tell you that I KNOW my grandmother is in Heaven already, but my grandfather is stuck in Purgatory.

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