Tablecloths: I’ve heard they tell stories.

20140506-073654.jpg. The entire eating at the “table” thing is so full of ritual and tradition.

Today, the master of ceremony for this discussion will be the tablecloth.

The tablecloth is not simply a cloth thrown over a slab of wood or metal. It is a covering, protective and decorative and sets a mood or season with its multiplicity of functions.

Lace or plain, cotton or wool, full of color and pattern or just plain white, this woven piece of threads sets a mood; a mood for the people who will gather round its girth for a meal or a snack or even wine and conversation.

In the photo, top shelf and bottom cloth: rose colored Apples on a cream background, it’s a durable cotton; this I like to use in the late summer when apples are on everyone’s mind. I think of trips to Cynthia’s farm and Mama’s apple strudel and Grama’s apple pizza! Harvest is in full swing and Autumn is in the air when this cloth is on the table!

Second cloth from the bottom; a faded aqua background with a rusty toile pattern. This cloth is versatile and always delightful; country French and makes me think of Grama Thibault and her mother, Celine Tetrault. Celine was a single mother (never found out what happened to Grama’s father) who owned a Millinery in Quebec. The story goes like this: whenever the day was going slow and sales were shabby, Celine would turn her statue of St. Joseph upside down until a sale was made! Tough French little lady for sure.

Third from the bottom; a navy and white stripe background with cherries bordering the hem; great for any summer event, patriotic and picnic-ish for sure. I think of Karen and Janet Szachta, old friends and neighbors from my childhood. They had a cherry tree and every year gave Mama a bucket full of cherries! Then Mama would make Danish pastry for all of us to share! What a treat!

Then one of my favorites is the green and white HERB tablecloth depicting fresh herbs used in so many good Italiano recipes; takes me back to old days and Tuscan vineyards. Reminds me of all my Aunts who made so many celebrations extra special with their delicious cooking skills!

Then there are the solid linen tablecloths in white and pastels; also good for any occasion. Lace trimmed tablecloths are for special days or special meals. Lace always adds a touch of the “sacred” to the table. The pink pastel cloth was given to me by my mother-in-law who used it on very special occasions. It was given to her by a cousin who worked as a “waiter” on a train. When the train closed its dining car the tablecloths were SHARED with the employees…at least that’s how the story goes. Now it is a treasure and I use it as a topper over a plain white cloth on Mother’s day.

The bottom shelf holds Fall coverings and Holiday cloths…need I say more. My favorite is the Christmas tablecloth Mama made for a Christmas eve many years ago. She appliquéd Christmas trees all around its border. Always a hit with the kids….and for everyone young at heart.

This morning I opened an old cupboard door (which is where I store my tablecloths) to put away Sunday’s washed and folded linens. Sauce stains and Jello spills and even wax drippings come out with washings and time. However, some things will never wash out of tablecloths. Memories will not fade in their color.
Greetings from old and dear, dear friends will always remain in their woven threads.

Grama Grama: a picture is worth a thousand words

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Great Grandma Frances (AKA Grama Grama) is 94 and a half. She was the guest of honor at little Great granddaughter Maria’s FIRST HOLY COMMUNION.
I think if I asked Maria “What was the most special gift you received on this big day?” Maria would surely reply, “Having Grama Grama at the celebration dinner table!”
“Oh”, Maria would probably soon add, “And drawing the winning HORSE in the Kids Kentucky Derby raffle!”

Princess Nellie

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A few weeks ago a baby Prince was born across the pond…

Two days ago a little Princess was born down the street from me.

All these Princes and Princesses…

Every child is born a Prince…a Princess…a very special and unique child of GOD. HE loves them from the moment they are conceived.

With the birth of a child comes many emotions and a blessed cause for wonder…and hope…hope in things eternal, like love.

How beautiful life is now YOU are in the world…

You Prince George and YOU Princess Nellie and YOU thousands of babies born in between their birth days! LIFE is more beautiful because YOU have been born, because YOU are in the world!

And a special message to those thousands of Princes and Princesses torn from their mother’s wombs during this same time period. Your throne is not earthly because darkness and ignorance prevail. Yet you wear a crown in Heaven that was promised you at conception..the crown of life and LOVE eternal.

A Short Story Long or Stealing Is Wrong

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The plate on the right is the average sized dinner plate. The plate on the left, and newly acquired, is bigger…fits today’s oversized portions. But portions and size isn’t what this blurb is all about.

This is about a plate that was intentionally (and rather joyfully!) stolen from the ristorante where it eclectically held PIZZA MARGUERITA in front of me on the table. Oh, the pizza was sooooo good but the plate served more than its function and in a way was more delicious to my senses than the pizza!

The plate is restaurant porcelain china, HOMER LAUGHLIN to be exact. It is very durable and though not FINE china, it is still very pleasing to the eye. Its background is off white with a garland of pink flowers. I’m sure this design reminded Mama of St. Theresa and her love of roses…

The delicate design on this plate is the same one on our restaurant china which my family used while I was growing up. My Uncle Pete used these in a restaurant he used to have and gave my father a service for 10. I still have 6 of the dinner plates, 6 of the bread and butter plates and seven cups and saucers. I am from a family of nine so even having this many after DECADES of use is amazing to me. I have them on my shelves and use them when it is just five or six of us for dinner. I love them!

So, today, on seeing the LARGE dinner plate in front of me, a dozen memories from growing up came back to me. Now I had to have this oversized plate like Mama’s to show my brothers and sisters! I’ll serve them fresh bread and olives on this plate and they will melt from nostalgia!

Being with my daughter and son-in-law made things (like stealing!) a little more uncomfortable than it would have been if I had been alone or with my husband. They kind of understood about the LIFT, and left a bigger tip and a promise to go back for dinner one evening…without me and my sticky fingers.

I’m not a thief. I have never really stolen anything in my life (and I am 64!) except for a few plates. I justified my actions using “LOVE” for the motive and Love for the excuse to do something inexcusable.

No excuses.

I know this is wrong but sometimes it goes beyond right or wrong. (Lax conscience once again kicking in!)

It is not like murder or grand theft or destruction of property…I am not a chronic clepto!

I feel guilty about taking the plate, yet even while writing this I feel so happy for taking the plate.

Am I happier today with the plate than I was yesterday without it?

Why did I take it?

Maybe because it was a reminder, just a simple little reminder from a time and place that I miss…

For a moment I was back on Teppert St. For a moment I was back home in our Italian kitchen (basement) having Mama’s ravioli, Daddy’s Peppers and Pork and Grandma’s special birthday torte on a restaurant white and pink floral designed plate. People I loved served love on these plates to the people they loved.

Not nice to steal…

One day I will return the plate…actually plates. Until then…

They make me smile.

Love lifts us up

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My sister Irene and her husband Danny are in Iceland and then will be off to Norway for a wedding. They are also celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary with this adventure.

Dear cousins of mine are in Chicago and will celebrate their son’s marriage tomorrow.

The squirrels are building nests and gathering acorns. It seems these little critters have no rest…

While sipping my morning coffee I thought about last night’s sunset and how vivid pink and gold the sky was! The moon was almost half full and so bright in the evening sky. The moon made me think of Irene and Danny in Iceland and if they had seen the moon last night. The moon made me think of Kathy and Chuck and if they will catch the waxing moon tonight after the rehearsal dinner…

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God”. Gerard M. Hopkins

The world at any given moment, in any given space, in all its glory or in all its shame, exists because of God. We exist because of Him.

He created us from Love…to love.

Truth. Beauty. Love.

“ALL THAT I HAVE SEEN TEACHES ME TO TRUST THE CREATOR FOR ALL THAT I HAVE NOT SEEN”. R.W. EMERSON

Beauty places us in the arms of Love…then Love lifts us up to know the Truth.

Glacier and lava rocks in Iceland, St. Michael’s Catholic Church in old Chicago and an even older Catholic Church in Norway (1150 AD), a squirrel’s nest in an oak tree on my front lawn, sunshine on my patio this morning…I am in HIS arms of Love.

WE are in HIS arms of love…

Beauty beauty everywhere…replenish. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. It will always be about LOVE. Celebrate!

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The 1150 AD Catholic Church in Norway.

Don’t blink!

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Sometimes I’ll see something inspiring, something beautiful, something I couldn’t explain with even a thousand words…

And in the time it takes to get my camera, the moment is diminished…sometimes lost and soon forgotten…

Like today’s early morning sun on the top of my lilies which grace the patio…it was truly a prayer, a gift given for just a moment or two!

Boom! It was vibrant! Then literally, in a blink, it became more ordinary…still beautiful, but not saying in its reflection what it had told me just seconds before.

Just a couple of weeks ago while at my summer cottage, and while attending Mass at St. Francis De Sales Parish, another such moment as the one with the “sun on my lilies” was given to me. It was during the SIGN OF PEACE.

A very elderly woman shook my hand and then pertly gave me a wink and a smile. Immediately I felt her love and a message.

Oh I could have quickly dispelled it in a SEINFELDIAN way as a twitch I suppose, but I knew it was more than that. Her smile gave the wink credibility and purpose. She wanted to say so many things, but her wisdom (given to her through longevity of years) told her a wink would suffice.

Her smile became young. Her blue eyes though worn and pale from years on this earth, seemed to sparkle after the wink…my heart and soul sparkled after her wink.

All gifts are given.

In a blink some beautiful moments pass…and sometimes through a wink, in the time it takes to blink,
some beautiful things are spoken in volumes and never forgotten.

First garden tomato, garlic, flannel and Sinatra

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First tomato from the garden. I placed it on the countertop.

So little, so alone. It needed a friend.

Garlic.

Garlic and tomatoes go together like Romeo and Juliette…like Chianti and pasta…Sinatra and love songs.

And how could I see the two together, the tomato and garlic that is, and not think of my Grandpa and my Dad and my father-in-law, Pete. These men made the best sauce from these two ingredients! Adding olive oil, basil, salt and pepper they made the best sauce you could ever serve with a barbecued steak! Now I’m drooling!

In a few days there will be enough fresh tomatoes on the vine to pick and then concoct the “sauce”…until then I have a little sewing to do.

I have my sewing machine set up in the garage today…

The fans are blowing morning air around my face while my “playlist” is creating a soothing sense of thanksgiving for having been raised in an era when love songs were just that…songs about LOVE…real LOVE. THAT’S ALL. What an incredible love song…”I can only give you love that lasts forever, and a promise to be near each time you fall, and the heart I own for you and you alone”.

My daughter Emily is expecting her third child next month (my eleventh Grandchild). I’m making some flannel blankets for baby girl Fairchild. I’m hoping she is born a few days early on August 10, my Grandmother’s birthday! And, I’m kind of hoping Filomena is her name…St. Filomena was my Grandma’s favorite Saint! P.S. I LOVE YOU.

Even if she is born on the 14th of the month and they name her Odette, she will definitely hear about all her family who were also born in the month of August. And, she will hear old love songs from my playlist as she grows up…lyrics her Great Great Grandparents, Great Grandparents, Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins all fell in love to and with and how a song can turn a simple pasta meal into a sacrament. She will hear about favorite saints and favorite family recipes and who made what the best and what the worst! Baby girl Fairchild will also hear about gardens and tomatoes and how fresh grown tomatoes are like GOLD and taste like Heaven! She will hear about the full moon on Christmas Eve…

Cousin Larry, Great Great Uncle Roger, Grama Brenda, Great Great Grama Theresa, Great Great Grama Antonia, cousin Luca, cousin Angelo, St. Monica…St.Augustine…crickets chirping…daylight shortening…sunflowers…lots of garden tomatoes…being Italian…French…English…Irish…

DANNY BOY…geeze, Harry Connick sings this song beautifully. SANCTA LUCIA…MIA BAMBINA CARO…PUCCINI…GLEN MILLER…ELLA FITZGERALD…SINATRA…

ALL MY TOMORROWS…”As long as I’ve got arms that cling at all, it’s you I’ll be clinging to”…who sings this better than Frank?

Garden tomatoes. Love songs. Flannel blankets. Tony Bennet.
“TIME IS SO OLD…and LOVE SO BRIEF. LOVE IS PURE GOLD and TIME A THIEF…our summer’s day withers away too soon…too soon!”

A little yellow grape tomato. A head of garlic. A new little baby is coming soon. Soft flannel pink blankets. The sewing machine is whirring. Love songs are playing. Lyrics are bringing to mind, heart and soul beautiful memories of loved ones from the past! Yes I hear them singing along and reminding me that whether it’s an ingredient we add to a sauce or the secret “fertilizer” we use in the garden, or an old love song that describes perfectly how we fell in love, these things in life will always be about the unique way each one of us loved and how we were uniquely loved by others. ALWAYS ABOUT LOVE.

As I unplugged the sewing machine and while the song “MOONGLOW” was playing, I thought I heard Great Great Grama Bolone say to me, “I am cheering for the name FILOMENA!”

Okay…okay…just saying. lol