Posts Tagged ‘Rockwell’

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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Museum Musings

Back in January when Yim and I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art to see the Paul Gauguin exhibit, we had a good bit of fun.  Museums are great diversions.  They open your mind and leave you feeling alive and a part of this world.  Anyone with a creative cell in their body and a pulsating heart in their chest will recognize this.  And hasn’t everyone my age wanted to have a day like this for themselves since 1986?:

Thank you, Ferris Bueller.

And that’s not all.  Woody Allen fans can certainly relate to the museum as a location for dramatic emphasis.

Back in Cleveland, Yim and I had time to tour some of the other wings of the museum before heading home.  We found expression amidst the sculptures.

In Gallery 9 (my favorite number), the gallery of European Art: Mythology, History & Portraiture, I saw something that caught my eye. 

The useless little toe on this alabaster foot looked familiar.  As did the plump hanging lobe of this ear.  You know, either your lobes hang or they don’t.

The conclusion?  Napoleon’s niece looks like young me.

That’s Elisa Baciocchi, daughter of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Now, when Lord Mycol was a baby he had a halo of blond curls framing his chubby cheeks, blue eyes, and plump lips.

He was just like a little cupid.  And while baby cupids are cute, teenage cupids can sometimes be comical.

Do these guys resemble each other? That’s Cupid on the left and Lord Mycol on the right.  If you click on the link you will see the painting in its entirety.  The description calls this ‘humorous eroticism’, and the museum decided to up the ante with their first question to the right of the photo.  Go ahead, click it.

When we left Gallery 9 and turned the corner into the Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection, I was in utter awe of this painting.


I saw it from a distance and approached it directly.  I was pleased to read the placard beside it.

And once again I was struck by the European resemblance.  19th century Italian peasant child on the left, 21st century Italian pleasant child on the right.

A visit to the museum will show you how everything has changed, and yet it has all remained the same.

Lastly, before going to see the Gauguin exhibit we researched some of his works online.  I really liked The Swineherd and decided I would like it as a gift for my birthday.

I was good and got my wish.  Now it is matted and framed and above my mantel, where every time I look at it I can remember all of the good memories I just shared with you.

And F**k you very much WordPress for making it so extremely “easy” to put up posts like this.  If someone can explain to me in logical terms why the dashboard editing page should not be identical to the product that will publish for public viewing, I’d love to hear it.  It was absolutely not my intention to place words between my photos, but after toying around with the editing page for THREE HOURS and still not being able to reach a true solution, I settled on publishing this sub-standard layout.  Please excuse me, it was not meant as art.

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Last year I cleared out all of my photo and music files from the computer and stored them on external hard drives.  But I just noticed a rather large file on my desktop that somehow managed to escape the clean-up.  Going through photos is always fun.  Here are some from the batch.

In the summer of 2008 the whole family vacationed in Ocean City and Assateague, Maryland.  The day it rained we gathered on the sun-porch and Yimmy, Rock and I played our guitars while everyone clapped and sang along.  We covered the tables with paper and had crab feasts for dinner.  We played cards for money at night.

Mycol was 17 years & Rockwell was 18 months.

We dipped our toes in the Atlantic and watched the wild ponies saunter on by.

In the fall, Yimmy took me to the pumpkin patch at Schramm’s with him and his boys to pick pumpkins for Halloween jack-o-lanterns.

Last winter was as glorious as this one.  Yim and I went out in the night storm and delighted in the sights.  The Pennsylvanian looked like the backdrop to an old mystery movie, with it’s lighted clock above the archway glowing through the falling snow.

And the row-houses along Friendship Avenue reminded me of a quaint English neighborhood.  These lighted stars go up every holiday season, to the joy of everyone I know in the area.  They are magical.

I remember Christmas that year was great.  I hosted La Vigilia and Alison and Peppino were honored guests of the family.  At midnight, Yimmy joined us and we all went to a Polish church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, with respect for UB.

For Valentine’s Day, Yim and I enjoyed a weekend in the Laurel Highlands at the Campbell House B & B, and I liked the matching fluffy bathrobes.

By March I’d had enough of the snow and cold.  I was in misery with tension just trying to stay warm.  Yimmy took me to the mall to walk around.  That was okay, but not quite what the doctor ordered.  But how about this?  He took me over to Phipps Conservatory for an afternoon of walking through the gardens, breathing the oxygen and smelling the soil.

As a matter of fact, my banner picture of the ferns with spores was taken on that day at Phipps.

In the spring, when it was mild enough, we went on an urban hike.  We were on a quest for all things interesting.  Interesting food, which we found, interesting shops, which we found, and interesting photos.  I had my camera at the ready.  This is the most interesting door pull I’ve ever seen.

Also that spring, we were invited to see La Boheme with good friends of mine and we dressed for the occasion.  After the opera, we went salsa dancing.

Soon, Mycol celebrated his 18th birthday.  My handsome son requested a birthday meal of pulled pork sandwiches with sweet potato french fries, tangy cole slaw, and chocolate cream pies for dessert.  We partied on Zia and UB’s deck and had a grand old time.

Rockwell got another year older, too.

And we are all ready for summer again.

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Around about 1979 or 80 our mother went out with a fellow with connections.  His arms were connected to his shoulders, his legs were connected to his hips, and his head was connected to his neck.  If memory serves me.  So anywho, I go out to get on the school bus after school lets out one day and there’s mother and her man waiting for me in his car.  Bruvvah Rock was with them already, he may have been a 4 year-old half-a-day-er at the time.  And out to the country we went! Through the valleys and into the highlands where we spent the weekend at a motor-inn with a pool.  Hiking along the dirt roads surrounding the motor-inn, we found a box turtle with one eye, which is why we should have named him Dick, what with him sticking his one-eyed head in and out all day long, but we didn’t.  I don’t know what we named him, but we did put the box turtle in a box and brought him home to the city with us.  Again, if we’d named him Dick….


Back in the city our one-eyed friend found himself living outside in our old gerbil’s aquarium.  We were feeding him frozen fish from the pet store and it was fun to watch him wildly tear them apart by shaking his head back and forth with his beak sunk into the dead fish.  It wasn’t long before our mother’s boyfriend brought home another turtle, this time a painted variety from the pet store.  Now we had two turtles, with three eyes betwixt them.   And not long after that we were back to one turtle.  The victims of turtle theft.  Of course, we were left with the one-eyed country bumpkin, while that painted tart of a turtle likely jumped right out of that glassed confinement.  But really, anyone could have just lifted the screen off the top of the aquarium and reached right in.  And turtle thieves of the late ’70’s knew a re-sale opportunity when they saw one.  These turtles were moving faster than ever.  And I’m not sayin’ I know whodunnit, but I think you mightn’t had to look much farther than our very next door neighbors.  But before Cara Capra stole our turtle, I discovered an egg!  There we were, near the end of another perfectly played out summer day.  I took the egg out of the aquarium and excitedly showed it to my bruvvah.  It looked like these:


You know, when we were kids we used to find these rocks on the ground a lot and we called them “lucky stones.”  They look like this:


See the resemblance?

So this 4 year-old half-a-day-er who thinks he knows more than his big seestrah tries to prove me wrong by placing the egg squarely on the sidewalk, raising his tuffy-shoed foot above it, and stomping on it.  The amount of yolk a box turtle egg produces made the entire event somewhat anti-climactic, but still.  Bruvvah killed my turtle egg!  (Did I mention that the the turtles were living in our old gerbil’s aquarium?  Yeah… Bruvvah ALSO killed my gerbil!!!  And he KNOWED how much I loved animals!)

And so the story goes….

This guy that Mother was dating seemed hell-bent on getting us pets.  He knew some people with a farm who had a horse to sell.  He was going to buy her this beautiful black horse with a white blaze down it’s face.  We took a ride out to the farm and they also had a litter of beagle pups, the cutest things you ever saw.  I was in instant LOVE.  I spent the entire time ogling those puppies in that pen, letting them yelp at me and lick my fingers and face through the gate wire.  And I knew which one I wanted and I how I would take care of her and love her and call her…. “Clover?”

A few weeks after the first trip to the farm we returned to get our pup.  In sort of a trade, we put our box turtle in a box again and headed out of the city.  Along the side of a country road we pulled over to reintroduce our turtle to the free life.  There inside the box with our box turtle was another box turtle egg.  Not a lucky stone.  This time my mother saved the egg and we buried it in a bowl of salt on the warm window sill to wait and see if it would hatch.  But really, would you sit and watch a bowl of salt in the sun with a beagle pup nipping at you to play?

Oh, geez.  I nearly forgot the moral of this tale.  So, here is the stuffed turtle I made for my nephew:

Of course, little Rockwell won’t have a clue about what I am referring to, but little children like stories.  Plus, I figured my bruvvah would get a kick out of this reference to our past.  See, my stuffed turtle only has one eye!

And my bruvvah says he doesn’t remember a thing about all that I’ve just told you.  Which proves what Samuel Johnson said, which is, “The true art of memory is the art of attention.”  But even more so, in the words of Nisbet, that “A good memory is an essential element of genius.”

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Rockwell: Advanced

I invited Zia over for dinner yesterday because we hadn’t seen each other in at least a week and I still had a nice turkey in the freezer to thaw.  She came over shortly after noon and noticed the amigurumi animals I’ve been making since November.

I do not enjoy making these little buggers and would much prefer to make a blanket, scarf, hat, or almost anything else.  And even though Rockwell probably won’t play much with them, I still thought they’d be a nice gift.  So, she picks up the mouse and the frog and says, “Oooh!  Are you making these to sell?”  “No,” I say, “I made them for Baby Rockwell.”  “Huhooh, I think Baby Rockwell is advanced waaay beyond these!”  Look, I know Rockwell just turned three.  I know he is a rough-and-tumble little tyke who likes to ram toy cars and motorcycles into stacks of blocks.  But I still wanted to make these stuffed animals.  I thought they were cute.  I thought they would stick around long enough so that maybe Rockwell could hand them down to a baby sister someday.  And I thought I would enjoy making them.  “I know he’s probably not gonna play with them, but so what?,” I said.  “I wanted to make them.”  Zia looks at me, tilts her head, and says, “You should give me one!”  Do I have to point out that she’s got at least 50 years on Rockwell?  How is he advanced and she’s not?

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