WHY WE HANG THE LIGHTS SO HIGH

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.

Mark Twain, Jan. 1, 1863 

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Corks have been popped.  

Stockings (and stomachs) have been stuffed.

Avowals have been made.

So, Resolutionists, bring the tinsel and holly into 2013 with you and leave fear and gloom behind. Ask British folk-pop singer/songwriter and guitarist Tracey Thorn. She knows we’ll be alright. http://www.onlylyrics.com/tracey-thorn-lyrics-1103683.php

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I Wish You Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy.

Toni 1/3/13

TEN REASONS WHY IT’S MERAVIGLIOSO TO BE ITALIAN DURING THE HOLIDAYS

My Big Italian Family savors every moment of life.  They are jolly, laugh-launching and absurdly generous….especially with hugs and food.

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It goes without saying ~ no one goes hungry.  The celebration begins on Christmas Eve, December 24 and does not end until January 6, The Feast of the Epiphany.  It’s all about The Family… and The Food.

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Ten Reasons Why it’s Meraviglioso to be Italian during the Holidays

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10. La Vigilia di Natale


Italians abstain from meat the night before a major holiday.  Christmas Eve is The Feast of the Seven Fishes. The origin of the seven is somewhat of a mystery. Some say it comes from the number of sacraments; others say it relates to the phase of the moon (seven days). My grandmother called it di magro (magro means “thin”).

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9.  Zampognari


On Christmas Eve, the zampognari, shepards in the parish, dress in costume and play Christmas tunes on their bagpipes.

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8.  Capitone


The long, fat female eel that is grilled until it’s brown and crunchy, then salted ~ delizioso.

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7. Midnight Mass

Italians attend midnight mass and later enjoy panettone, the dome-shaped fruit cake that originated in Milan, with a glass or three of Prosecco, a straw-colored sparkling wine.

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6. La Befana

On January 6, The Feast of the Epiphany, Italians get gifts. The presents come from La Befana, an old crone with a hairy mole on her chin who rides around on a broom. La Befana flies through the sky, sweeping away last year’s troubles and bringing the hope of a sweeter, brighter New Year.

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5. Caffé Corretto


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Italians drink Caffé Corretto or corrected espresso. They put sugar in the espresso, stir and drink. And always leave a little of it at the bottom of the cup ~ so they can add grappa and swirl it while the cup is still hot from the espresso. Felicemente.

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4. Pasta e Fagioli


A bean and pasta soup, hearty comfort food that Italians eat on Fridays during Advent.

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3. Panettone


This is the traditional Italian Christmas Bread. It’s divine for breakfast with a big schmear of mascarpone cheese. Or after dinner with a glass of Marsala. (I saw Giada make French toast with Panettone.  The recipe is on Toni’s page.  Do try it.)

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2. What Italians Do Best, Italianissimo


Such a seductive culture ~ art, balsamico, apertivo, digestivo, caffe, carnevale, limoncello, gelato, l’olio d’oliva, opera, parmigiano-reggiano, pasta, pizza, vino, and, yes, even burning the pin feathers off chickens and saving the feet for soup.  Everything is better in Italian ~ especially the over-the-moon-elating singing, hugging, yelling, kissing, talking, talking, talking.

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1. There Is Always A Place at the Table.

And it’s covered with a pleasure lode of Love ~ Zia Mary’s fried peppers, Grandma’s C’s ravioli, Nonna’s baked onions, Uncle Dom’s sausage and pigs’ feet, Uncle Joe’s cheese, Joe the Store’s pasta, Uncle Al’s vino di casa, Auntie Joanie’s baccala, Mom’s stuffed anchovy peppers, Grandma G’s fish gravy, Grandma R’s rice and “scrapmeat”, Auntie Angie’s zeppole, Auntie Dolly’s pie, Auntie Mary’s Christmas cookies and, always, always, bottles of homemade wine.

2013 is here ~ wear some red, clean the house.  Buon Capodanno!

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Toni 1/1/13

Arrivederci, 2012….

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

WordPress stats are in for the year 2012 and they’re not all about us.  They’re really about All of You.  You keep us energized, inspired and motivated to write.  We thank you, Readers.  Fiercely.  Vastly. Utterly.

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We also take our nourishment from a passel of poets ~ Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Naomi Shihab Nye, William Carlos Williams, Maxine Kumin, Stanley Kunitz, Nikki Giovani, Donald Hall, Lucille Clifton, e e cummings, Maya Angelou, Billy Collins, Gwendolyn Brooks…. just to name a few.

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Natasha Trethewey, named 19th Poet Laureate in 2012, is one of them.  Yes, she’s wise. But she’s not stuffy. Or aloof. She’s on my Fave List because she is such a cheerleader for the written word.  She tells her writing students to read other poets, then Imitate, imitate. Your self will shine through. If you allow yourself to feel deeply and honestly, what you say won’t be like anyone else.

Trethewey, a product of the South and an interracial marriage, does just that.

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Trethewey says there’s a poem out there for everyone, to help us grieve our losses as well as celebrate our joys. In her poetry, she explores issues of mixed race, history and memory, telling the stories of washerwomen, factory workers, and African-American Louisiana guards.

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In her poem Help, 1968 she recalls her mother being mistaken for her maid.

when my mother took me for walks,

she was mistaken again and again

for my maid. Years later she told me

she’d say I was her daughter, and each time

strangers would stare in disbelief, then

empty the change from their pockets.

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When the phone rang in early May and Trethewey saw the Library of Congress number on caller ID, she thought it might be a prank.  It wasn’t.

Toni 12/30/12

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 For the curious, here's a list of the 24 poets and 1 astronaut (?) portrayed in the linocut:
First row  Alfred, Lord Tennyson - Robert Browning - Walt Whitman - William Butler Yeats
 - Gertrude Stein
Second row  Robert Frost - Carl Sandburg - Wallace Stevens
 - J.D. - T. S. Eliot
 Third row Edna St. Vincent Millay - Neil Armstrong - e e cummings -
Langston Hughes - W. H. Auden
 Fourth row Randall Jarrell - John Berryman - Dylan Thomas -
 Gwendolyn Brooks - Philip Larkin
 Fifth row Gregory Corso - Allen Ginsberg - Anne Sexton
- Sylvia Plath - Frank O'Hara