WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: PEDESTRIAN

Scholars date the word ‘pedestrian‘ to the early 18th century, its origin from the French pédestre or Latin pedester (going on foot). But it was also used to mean ‘written in prose’.

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded a few days ago.  You might remember last year’s winner, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.  A controversial pick, his quirky long-delayed response annoyed academy members.  (It was rumored that he used SparkNotes to write his lecture. Really?)

 

Every year I hope the academy chooses perennial contender Haruki Murakami.  (Alas, this year, one of Murakami’s favorite writers, Kazuo Ishiguro, took home the prize.)  Murakami was born in the same month and year as I was but that’s where the similarities end, even though he thinks of himself as an ordinary guy.

 I see myself as a kind of ordinary guy. I don’t think of myself as an artist, mostly. I guess I’m just engineering something. I like to write. I like to choose the right word, I like to write the right sentence. It’s just like gardening or something. You put the seed into the soil at the right time, in the right place.

 

His prose is intricately fashioned, whether fiction, non-fiction, or a personal essay.   What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a collection of gems.  It’s by turns memoir and diary, a laceratingly beautiful (and educational) narrative. Murakami writes the stories we all need to get through life, confront the past, understand the present, and move on to the future.

 

Unresolved mysteries, tales-within-tales, maybe-dreams, everyday worlds, and supernatural realms ~ in Murakami’s hands, his stories fascinate and confound.  An accomplished writer and translator, he knows how to tell a tale circuitously.  He is the kind of professor I yearned for in college, learned and challenging in equal measure.

Haruki Murakami poses questions and tenders ideas you will think about, and then think again. Exactly what Alfred Nobel had in mind.

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive.  And you may not even be sure, whether the storm is really over.  But one thing is certain.  When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.  That’s what this storm is all about.”

Stresa, Italy

Toni 10/8/17

 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: TRANSIENT

 

crossing Lake Orta, Italy

Most humans are never fully present in the now because, unconsciously, they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one.

But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.

                                                                                                                                                             ~Eckhart Tolle

Toni 6/23/17

WHEN ITALIAN EYES ARE SMILING

The Catholic calendar is chock-a-block with saints’ days.  Check out the plentitude just in March.

St. David’s Day, Patron of Wales————–March 1
St. Katherine Drexel————March 1
Bl. Charles the Good————–March 2
St. Chad————–March 2
St. Cunegundes, Empress————–March 3
Pope St. Lucius I, Martyr————–March 4
St. Francis of Assisi—————March 4
St. Casimir————–March 4
St. John Joseph of the Cross————–March 5
St. Phocas————–March 5
St. Fridolin———-March 6
St. John of the Cross————March 5
Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas————–March 6
St.Colette————–March 6
St. John of God————–March 8
St. Thomas Aquinas————–March 7
St. Frances of Rome————–March 9
St. Dominic Savio————–March 9
The 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebast————–March 10
St. Eulogius————–March 11
St. John Ogilivie————March 10
St. Sophronius————–March 11
St. Nicholas Owen————–March 12
St. Gregory the Great————–March 12
St. Euphrasia————–March 13
St. Josaphat————–March 13
St. Rodrigo———-March 13
St. Matildis————March 14
St. Maud————–March 14
St. Clement Hofbauer [Haufbauer]————–March 15
St. Longinus—————March 15
St. Louise de Marillac—————-March 15
St. Abraham the Hermit————–March 16
St. Joseph of Arimathea————–March 17
Saint Gertrude of Nivelles ————–March 17
St. Patrick—————March 17
St. Cyril of Constantinople——–March 6
St. Joseph—————March 19
St. Photina————–March 20
St. Cuthbert————–March 20
St. Benedict————–March 21
St. Catherine of Sweden————–March 22
St. Gabriel the Archangel————–March 24
St. Dismas————March 25
St. Ludger————–March 26
St. John Damascene————–March 27
St. John of Capistrano————–March 28 [Trad.] Oct. 23 [New]
Sts. Jonas, Barachisius and Companions————–March 29
St. Zozimus of Syracuse, Bishop————–March 30
St. John Climacus————–March 30
St. Acacius————–March 31

We just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style. It’s a day to really whoop it up for the patron saint of Ireland~  wear green, drink Guinness, and belt out killer pub songs between bites of corned beef and steamed cabbage.  All topped off with strong coffee, Irish whiskey, and a generous layer of cream.

 

You saw the calendar of March celebrations. Another day, another saint.

Today, March 19, belongs to St. Joseph.

 

As in Jesus, Mary and…. 

 

Sicilians honor St. Joseph because he saved them from starving during a serious drought in the Middle Ages. Parades are, well, inevitable. “Viva la tavola di San Giuseppe!” Let the feast begin!

They set up St. Joseph’s tables, Tavole di San Giuseppe, covered in food. The bounty of the altar is shared not only with friends and family, but with the needy. Everyone gives thanks for blessings received during the year.

The altar sports a variety of meatless foods like minestrone and pasta with breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are a symbol of the sawdust on St. Joseph’s floor and, yes, are even a form of protection. (Sicilians wrote the book on protection. They’ll scatter salt on the floor by the front door to ward off the evil eye, or, if necessary, employ more combustive measures.)  I’ve learned to keep some in the freezer so that when a storm threatens, I can scatter them in the yard while saying a prayer to St. Joseph to spare me from harm.  I’m not afraid of any upcoming storms: Theseus, Ursa, Valerie, Wyatt, Xavier, Yuri or Zeno.

All hail the conquering breadcrumbs. (Watch for #conqueringbreadcrumbs on Twitter.)

And always, always, there are fava beans on the altar. They are undeniably lucky because during that Sicilian drought, the fava thrived while all other crops failed.

The table is blessed by a priest and has three tiers, a nod to the Holy Trinity. The top tier is the statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and greenery.

The other tiers hold food, flowers, and candles.

The day ends with each person taking home a bag of bread, fruit, pastries, cookies, a St. Joseph medal, Holy Card and/or a blessed fava bean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That lucky bean is to remind you to pray to St. Joseph. I always pray for zeppole.

 

It’s the most famous indulgence of the Feast of St. Joseph.

Zeppole were invented in 1837 by a Neapolitan cook named Ippolito Cavalcanti. Apparently he was quite the baker as well as Dante’s BFF.

Few saints used to hang out with gourmands and men-about-town.  They were hermits or monks like St Cuthbert, on deck for tomorrow’s feast day. He was all about miracles and healing. And ducks. St Cuthbert  is associated with Eider ducks, known in Northumberland as Cuddy’s ducks. A colony nests on the Farne Islands where the saint had his hermitage.

St. Cuthbert discovered local people liked to eat the eider ducks and their eggs.  So he introduced the world’s first bird protection laws to protect them and other sea birds nesting on the islands.
These are believed to be the earliest bird conservation laws in the world.

There’s a two-day celebration for this region’s beloved Cuthbert. A man of vision. Like the courageous and fervent Patrick.

 

Clearly the heavens are populated with thousands of saints. It’s a staggering task to celebrate them all. The crowd faves are eternally commemorated but what about St. Cunegund? St. Nicanor? St. Carpophorus?

So, pick a saint. Have a frolicsome festival. Make something yummy.

 

Write a note to a great teacher on St. Ita’s Day. Make a donation to a feline rescue organization on St. Gertrude’s Day. Give your dog a special treat on St. Roch’s Day. Take your mother out to dinner on St. Martha’s Day. No matter what saint you celebrate, break out the fireworks!

Toni 3/19/17