Archive | October, 2013

Lessons in Italian

24 Oct


In the spring of next year, we are planning to go to Italy.  My husband has a classmate who has lived in Italy for many years, and she is organizing a class reunion…  in a villa… in Tuscany.   Can you come up with any reason why we wouldn’t we want to go?   Neither can I!

italy map

Likely because he is pretty darned pragmatic, that same husband signed us both up for beginner’s Italian lessons via Ashland’s Parks and Recreation programs. However, since his work schedule is pretty full, he has had trouble making it to class.  In fact, I also missed the first class because I misread the schedule. Instead of arriving at 5 PM for class, I arrived a few minutes before 7 PM… which meant I was showing up for the first class of Advanced Italian!

Imagine my surprise when I walked in, thinking I was early, to hear the instructor loudly exclaim, “Ciao Bella!”  She then followed that with a rapid-fire series of questions.  My deer-in-the-headlights look must have given her some indication that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and soon she had me all straightened out.  What was wonderful is that I left feeling sorry that I had missed my first class rather than embarrassed by my error.

Since then, I have been to three more classes (with five to go!) and have learned a little bit more each week.   Italian is such a beautiful language to listen to and I look forward to becoming more fluent as time goes by.   Who knows?  Maybe by the time we get to Italy, I will actually know how to speak in Italian.


If that happens, then it will be in large part due to our delightful teacher la professoressa, Ms. Rountree.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and she is making the class fun.   And because yesterday she told us that today is her birthday, I baked her an Apple Crumb Crust Pie.  When I gave it to her, I spoke these words: Buon Compleanno e Tanti Auguri per Prossimo Anno.

Mille Grazie Signora!

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”  Mark Twain

Cold Pizza for Breakfast?

21 Oct


If you just read those words and thought of Christine Lavin, then you know that “Cold Pizza for Breakfast” is the title of one of her songs and also her new audio book!  If you did not realize that… well, I hope I can change that and introduce you to one of my family’s favorite singer/songwriters.

We were first introduced to Christine in the mid-80’s when my friend Lauretta sent me her CD, “Future Fossils“.   This album is a mix of funny songs and deeply moving ones.  A few of my favorites: The Dakota – a beautiful and touching song dedicated to John Lennon, The Bag Ladies Ball (a poem about what she would do if she became a millionaire), and, one of her funniest songs, “Regretting What I Said.”

Our family played that CD so many times on road trips that we knew all of the words to the songs by heart.  In fact, at our annual camping trip, my daughter, Alexandra and I recited “The Bag Ladies Ball” as our contribution to the talent show.  I really admire Christine’s ability to capture feelings that many of us have, and find a way to put them into words and then match them with music that fits them perfectly.

As I was writing this, I remembered yet another of Christine’s songs… it’s called, “The Moment Slipped Away.” I just listened to it again… and it occurs to me that Christine might have planted a seed for my blog many years ago.  In the song she encourages us to share kind words with one another (and not to keep them to ourselves.)  I’ve certainly tried to do that with the people I have shared pies with over these last few years!

Last Saturday night we were delighted to attend Christine’s concert put on by St. Clair Productions.  As always, we enjoyed Christine’s musical talent, her vibrant spirit, and her showmanship (Would you believe she can twirl glow in the dark batons?)  To thank her for being such an integral part of our family (unbeknownst to her!) for all these years, I brought her a Kick Ass Apple Almond Pie.  Thanks Christine… from the bottom of my heart.

UPDATE!  I just received the sweetest thank you note from Christine!  In her email she sent a short video that she made… and unbelievably I am in it!  What a wonderful coincidence!  This is a day I will long remember…  Don’t you just love it when things like that happen?  


One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.  Bob Marley

Reading Simple Dreams


Christine took this photo of me reading Linda Ronstadt’s book, “Simple Dreams”… after I answered her Trivia Question!


A Little Free Library lives up the street!

10 Oct


A few weeks ago as I was walking past my friend Joyce’s house I noticed her husband, George, installing a small wooden house on a post out front.  As I wondered, “What in the world is he doing?” he saw me and told me about an organization called “Little Free“.  This organization came into being a few years ago when a man in Wisconsin named Todd Bol built a replica of a one room school house, as a tribute to his mother, who had been a school teacher.  Todd then filled the small structure with books and put the house on a post with a sign that said, “Free Books.”  Visitors to the “library” were encouraged to take a book or leave a book…. and that was that… or so he thought.

What happened next is that Todd’s friends liked his idea so much that he was asked to make several more “free libraries”. Then Todd met a man named Rich Brooks and the two of them realized that this idea could be the start of something much greater.  I won’t try to retell their story, since you can read all about it (and I encourage you to do so!) on the history link of their website.  

The mission of Little Free is to “Promote reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world” and since 2009, this wonderful idea that Todd had has blossomed into a not-for-profit that has already created more than 2,500 little “free” libraries across the country.  Their goal had been to reach the same number of libraries that Andrew Carnegie had done with full-size public libraries (2509) and they have surpassed that goal and expect to reach more than 10,000 little libraries by early next year.

I guess you can tell that I was pretty impressed by the little library concept.  In fact, the very next day I brought two books to add to Joyce and George’s library.  When I passed by later that day, I noticed that “my” books were already gone.  That those books had been sitting in my house for years untouched and within hours had found their way into someone else’s hands is absolutely wonderful.  And just the other day when I looked in the little library I found a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” written in Czech.  Why is this a good thing you might wonder?  Well, in a few months we will be hosting a student from the Czech Republic.  I think it will be kind of neat to have her teach me to read Czech with a book that I am familiar with.  


Perhaps you are wondering if I have forgotten that this blog is about giving away pies… well, the short answer is “No.”  Last Sunday, to thank Joyce and George for their generous gift to our community, I made and delivered to them a Chocolate Cream Pie.  I am tickled about their project and very grateful to be a part of such a caring and sharing community.


A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life.  Henry Ward Beecher