I have a small

talent with words. But when I’m hitting on all cylinders, damn I’m good! Melissa wrote a very lovely post the other day about my writing and I loved the examples she chose to share especially the one about music. It reminded that when I an good I am very very good. (And when I am bad, well, we won’t tawk about that.)

I now have it in my head that I should chose the good stuff, prose and poetry, and book it up the way I did with my Today’s Conversation blog, and maybe even try to sell it (OMG, do you hear me LOL).

So now I have to do the rabbit hole thing and find out all that needs to be done practicality-wise, since the writing is all done. I was going to go the Amazon route but that seems to complicated (oh jeeze!) so I’ve signed up with Lulu Press. The good thing with Lulu press is I can put the book together via OpenOffice then decide whether I want to do the print/ebook/sell thing or just have some printed as gifts – the way I did with Today’s Conversation. ‘Vanity of vanities; all is vanity”

Moving on – Is there anything more shocking than seeing a candid photo of yourself? Daughter sent some photos from her vacation and there were a few of me that were taken when I wasn’t looking (so to speak) – Oh my word!

At the very least I need to buy some new clothes – ones that actually fit me. Everything I own is at least 2 sizes too big, some are 3 sizes to big and trust me, baggy clothes do not flatter anyone. I lost like 35 pounds a few years ago and haven’t put any of it back on (I still need to lose 20 more) and I’m still wearing those ‘fat’ clothes. So not only are they several sizes too big they are also at least 10 years old, some even older. Such as –

This morning, getting dressed I decided to wear a favorite pair of yoga pants (not that I do yoga but they are comfy)  that I haven’t worn in about 4 or 5 years. I purchased the pants back in 2003 (yes, that’s what I said – 2003) when I was laid up with my back and needed some easy-on clothes. I won’t tell you what size they are but I had the darndest time trying to get them on because they are SO big I kept getting both legs into one pant leg! I pulled them up and they fell off!

I realize I rarely leave the apartment, and on a day to day basis no one sees me but my husband but damn, I looked horrible in those photos – I’m still chubby but not as chubby as I looked in my way to big (and old) clothes.

To end on a more cheerful note – while daughter and family were here on vacation they went into D.C.  to see the memorials – not that a 2 year old and a 4 year old were thrilled with that – here they are, my Baby Princesses, at the Lincoln Memorial –

 

Just a quick hidey-ho

I’m wrecked. Saturday we did a massive clean. Then Saturday night I got about 3 hours sleep. More cleaning and cooking Sunday morning into the afternoon THEN the family got here – OMG.

The little one – OMG – the little one! I’ve had lots of photos and short videos sent; we’ve Facetimed but nothing compares to real life – she is beyond fabulous. Yes, yes her older sister is beautiful, smart, charming, really good kid , turning 4 in September but little miss turning 2 in August – I’m totally captivated.

After like a 4 hour drive from Jersey to here, and having never met us, the little one was wary and shy of us, of me. No worries, I know how kids are, don’t push it. But –

After having spent about 3 hours at our place, just being and doing normal stuff, futzing around, fooding, clearing up, as they were leaving to go back to the hotel the littlest puts her arms out, so I can pick her up! I do and I get a spontaneous kiss! I’m in heaven!

Older sister is such a good kid at just-about-4.  We were unloading their car in front of the hotel and littlest was clinging to her Mama and went into the street, I tried to take her hand and get up back on the sidewalk and the tears started – she wanted her Mama. I picked her up, she was still sobbing. Da Mama says to older sister “Take care of your sister.” There’s 4 adults there but we are trying to unload a car and watch out for the 2 littles – Anyway, Thira (the oldest) takes her little sisters hand, makes soothing chat and calms her right down.  Lovely to see.

Even in our apartment, Thira is being all energetic and crazy but she is also aware of her younger sister, Coren her name is, and where she is and what mischief she might be getting into. She doesn’t take charge, because the adults are there for that, but she lets us know that Coren has wandered off, not that there is far to go in an apartment or any real mischief she can get into. Thira doesn’t boss Coren around but she is aware of her and gently steps in as needed. Hard to describe, lovely to watch.

I don’t know our son-in-law very well but we quickly fell into easy conversations about the most general of things, he’s a good man, our daughter chose well. He loves his wife and he loves his daughters and he is a good Dad…watching their family interact is like watching something from a wholesome feel good Hallmark movie. Swear to god, I’m not just saying this because they are mine.

The weather sucks so I don’t know what we are going to do today – but I do know I’m gonna love every minute.

 

One of the ‘family’ essays -My Father

This was written at the same time as the “Tessie” essay – it’s about my father and since today is Father’s Day, I thought – “Why not?”

My Father

My father died when I was 26 and I remember being upset that I wasn’t upset. My father took a long time to die maybe three years. He died because he wanted to, not because he had to. Sometimes I think my father never really lived; was never really happy; didn’t know what happiness was.

When I think back I realize my father never talked about what his life was growing up. I don’t know what kind of child he was or what his dreams were. I don’t know what his disappointments were. I didn’t know him at all. But when I remember him I remember only happy things, quirky things, funny things. My father was very funny, sometimes in a very dry sarcastic way, sometimes very slapstick, but mocking, always mocking. I wonder how my father saw the world?

My father was. He was unto himself. He was an only son with five sisters; an Italian prince. He ruled the kingdom of the Torre family. When Jerry spoke everyone listened, everyone, that is, except his daughter. At one of the family funerals (his mother’s or his sister’s, I don’t remember which) my mother fainted and I took her to the lounge. Some of my father’s cousins came down to tell me “Jerry wants your mother upstairs”. I told them to tell my father my mother wasn’t coming back upstairs until it was time to go home. They looked at me aghast. “We can’t tell him tell him that” they said. “All right, I’ll tell him myself”. And they all trailed me upstairs, wanting to see what would happen when someone told Jerry “No”. When his response was “Oh, alright”, they stood amazed. The heavens didn’t open; I was not struck by lightning. You see, I was the only person who could tell my father “No”. More than loving me (and I know my father loved me more than anyone) my father respected me. I was so much like him. I would fight for what I thought was right and what was my right. But I fought as he fought, quietly. I don’t know who dubbed me the “quiet rebel”, perhaps my father, but I am like he.

My father was a most precise man. If you were to do something, then do it right or not at all. My father was a very good cook, and when he cooked, he cooked. Sauerbraten must be marinated three days in a crockery pot in a cool, dark place and so it was. I had to remember to go to the basement several times days and turn the meat. Catsup was an abomination and rarely appeared on our table. Roast beef was only to be eaten at an exact state of rareness with au jus gravy, salt, pepper and nothing, I mean nothing, more. I didn’t know what brown gravy was until I was in my twenties.

My father owned a deli for a while. If someone ordered a roast beef sandwich, my father would offer salt, pepper, perhaps some lettuce. If anyone dared ask for mayonnaise, mustard, or God forbid, catsup, that was the end of the sale. He simply wouldn’t do it. He would carefully explain that this was the finest beef money could buy and no one would ruin his beef. They could take the sandwich the way he prepared it or they could go somewhere else. Everyone in the neighborhood knew my father and they acquiesced meekly.

Or liverwurst. Now liverwurst can not be sliced thin and when you wrap it you put it in small irregular stacks so it won’t meld back into itself. People who asked for “liverwurst, sliced thin” went home with liverwurst roll, not sliced liverwurst. My father would slice it, make one big stack, then lean on it while he wrapped it. My father was 230 pounds; do you know what that did to the liverwurst?

My father was a truck driver for a beer company. I don’t know why he chose to be a truck driver. Perhaps because as such he had no boss, no one leaning over him giving him orders. He was his own man. But I’m telling you, he was the smartest, best-educated truck driver you will ever meet. My father read and instilled in his children (at least me) a love of reading and knowledge. We could never get through one meal without the table being littered with dictionaries and encyclopedias. It drove my mother crazy. If we made a statement, we had to prove it. If we used a fancy word, we had to define it. And if we couldn’t then out came the dictionary, right then and there.

And language we were taught to use it correctly. My favorite example is when I asked my father to bring me a “cold glass of water” from one of his trips to the kitchen. When he came back no water. “Daddy, where’s my water?” He said “the glass is in the refrigerator, chilling. You did ask for a cold glass of water, didn’t you” I caught on quickly “O.K., Pop, you know what I meant. ” “Well then next time, say what you mean”. If you said you were going “over” someone’s house, he would ask if you were taking a helicopter. You go “to” some ones house. Always my father was teaching. I suppose I got away with a lot, but never bad grammar, inaccurate language, flamboyant statements or unconsidered opinions. People say I’m a perfectionist. People get angry because they say I am always right. Not so, I am simply my father’s daughter. I think before I speak and I do things the only way I know how the right way. Like my father.

It’s not to say my father didn’t have some major character flaws. He did. But they made him more unhappy that they made anyone else. He died because of them. As the years go by, I resent my father for dying. He didn’t have to. How might my life have been different if he had lived.

Somehow I believe he would have saved me from all the bad decisions I’ve made; he would have protected me from them. He wouldn’t have let all these bad things happen. I don’t know why I think that. My father never interfered in my life. My decisions were mine to be made and the price to be paid. Perhaps I need someone to blame.

I resent that my father died; that he wanted to. We hardly talked, he and I. Because we were so much alike, though different in our opinions, every conversation was an argument. But how I learned from those arguments. Time would have mellowed my youthful arrogance, but my father took that time away from me.

I was never aware of loving my father. And now, I am aware of nothing else. That big bear of a man with the twinkling eyes that mocked the world around him. I wish I knew what made him so unhappy; I wish I knew him; I wish I had the wisdom then that I have now. I wish my father hadn’t left so soon.

daddey

Tessie

This post falls into the tl;dr category especially since the intro is rather lengthy. Anyway –  The other day I answered a (new) comment on an (old) post with “If you think Italian weddings are a hoot in hell, they got nothing on Italian funerals! ”  which made me think of my Aunt Tess and the essay I wrote about her. I searched through my ‘documents’ and couldn’t find it. I knew I had a hard copy in my files and when I pulled it out I realized it had been typed on a typewriter and not on a computer.  These essays were written back in the mid 1980’s. I’ve spent the afternoon typing Tessie’s story into my computer and I present it to you now, exactly as originally written (and typed) with no editing. Tho it is not far off from the way I write now, it could use a tune-up.

Let me  introduce you to my Aunt Tess –

Tessie

My godmother’s name is Tessie. She is my father’s older sister. She is in her late 70’s and has blue hair. Actually Tess is rather regal looking. She took after the Torre side of the family – large. Not fat, mind, just large. Actually if you put the family together they look like the back line of the Rams.

Tessie was married to a mafia lawyer, who for the entire length of their marriage maintained another household with another woman.

Jim had a son with this other woman (no kids with Tessie) and Skip and I were waiting for Jim to die so we could go to his funeral and witness the scene when Jim’s son showed up. Tessie knew about the woman but not the son. Well, Jim’s funeral has come and gone and Skip and I missed it. It must have been grand. Actually all Torre funerals are grand affairs, especially with Tessie in attendance. Ah, the sobbing, the breast beating, the flinging of the grief stricken into the coffin – it’s wonderful!

Tessie has a history of funeral performance. The tale is told that when she was a little girl (when funerals were in the home) she would get all dressed up and slip out of the house and wander the neighborhood looking for doors with black wreaths on them. She would go in, tiptoe up to the coffin and begin to cry and weep and wail. Everyone would say “Oh poor child look how upset she is” then they would say “Who is she?” then she would get thrown out.

We often asked her why she went to funerals. She never really answered us, just laughed.

Tessie lives up in Westchester, actually Yonkers, which is still the Bronx, near the race track. Tessie plays the horses – and wins. She has a very scientific method – license plate numbers, birthdays, the color the jockey is wearing, really logical choices but, she wins. She opened a special bank account for her winnings so her husband wouldn’t find out. One day she hit the daily double or the triple or whatever, and won big, I’m talking big! When the tax form came in Jim opened it in error and Tessie nearly had a heart attack. She fluffed it all off and since Jim didn’t really care what Tessie did her private income was safe.

Now my Uncle Al (who is another story altogether) also had a weakness for the track. But he did it logically, condition of the track, past performance of the horse, stuff like that – and lost, all the time. He lost so often that he was in the process of being fitted for cement shoes, if you know what I mean. The only time Tessie lost was when Al went to the track with her and bet on the same horses. Needless to say Tessie did not encourage Al’s company.

After my father died Tessie felt it was her duty to visit my mother every other Saturday or so. Tess would trek down from Yonkers to Long Island and spend the afternoon dragging my mother back and forth to the OTB parlor. In between trips she would listen to the races on the radio. My mother was thrilled to pieces about the whole thing. It kind of blew my mother’s Saturdays.

My mother saw more of Tessie after my father died than in all the 35 years preceding. And of course, you understand, my mother never liked Tessie and Tessie never liked my mother. But family is family and my father was Tessie’s little brother and my mother was his widow…so.

They spent many an afternoon glaring and arguing and rehashing 35 years of insults and slights and coming up with quite a few new ones. I really think Tessie was relieved when my mother moved to Phoenix.