Saturday, November 23, 2013

After the Flood / Sam II

I wish I could give Sam's II a wonderful review, even a good review, but sadly, I can't.  Athens is a beautiful little town and its small business owners need all the help they can get to keep the town alive and well.  We were at Sam's once - before the flood - and swore we would never go back, but this past weekend  we were in Athens for plumbing supplies and very hungry so we decided to give it another chance.  We are seasonal residents and hearing that the temperature was going to dip down to 19 degrees on Saturday we made an impromptu 4 hour trip from our primary residence to our "mountain home" north of Athens to turn the heat on and make sure our water pipes wouldn't burst.

Before going to Sam's we stopped by Lowery's on Main Street in Athens, hoping to have a great breakfast only to learn that it went out of business because they suffered so much damage from the flood of 2011.  In addition to the restaurant, Lowery's was and still is a flower and gift shop which also designs and creates quality monuments. They do all phases of monument work from the initial pencil sketch, sandblasting, to setting the finished product in the cemetery.  The Lowery's also own and operate a funeral home.  All of their business are on Main Street.  Evidently, the restaurant which was in the rear of the building that houses the flower and gift shop, was a superfluous venture and did not produce income significant enough to warrant a complete overhaul after the flood.  In fact, Rick Lowery in a statement he gave to the local newspaper doesn't even mention the restaurant when he speaks of his businesses.  I wonder if Rick ever ate there.  If he didn't he missed some great food. I wonder if he ever ate at Sam's before or after the flood. 
"I had 7 feet of water in my monument building, and 56 1/2 inches in the funeral building," Lowery said. "In the flower shop, we lost most of our inventory. It was all under water.  "I've already called another funeral director in Towanda. He's offered to let us use his funeral home." Rick Lowery
Read more about the flood of 2011 from the Star Gazette

So, anyway, here is my review of Sam II:

*The coffee was drinkable, not wonderful and not horrible, but merely mediocre and thus drinkable.  The coffee creamer was artificial, not real half and half or real cream.  In dairy country I find this hard to understand.  Spending a little more on real cream and not being so stingy with the coffee grounds would make a world of difference.  Good coffee is a must in any place I go for breakfast. 

*There was only one server on duty when we arrived, she was very cordial and efficient, and when we commented to her that she seemed to be doing it all, she said someone else would be coming in at eleven.  The place wasn't packed, one customer at the counter, and guests at three other tables besides our own.

*My husband ordered pancakes and orange juice, thinking he was playing it safe, saying privately to me, "How can they screw that up?" and "How bad can their pancakes be?" .  He soon found out.  First of all, when initially ordering he asked for blueberry pancakes.  Our server seemed a stunned by his request, as if he was asking for something rare, exotic and unattainable.  She responded with "Oh, they don't have blueberries back there."  "Okay" he said, "just give me 2 regular pancakes".  His regular pancakes which he says were bland, lacking any discernible taste, might have tasted a little better with real butter instead of the miserly sized lump of butter substitute.  He said, "Oh well, at least the orange juice is okay.  But really, how hard would it be to keep some frozen or canned blueberries on hand, or some blueberry jam or preserves?  And why not real butter?  Go to the Creekside Discount Grocery in Rome, PA -  they've got great butter for 1.29 a pound and you could probably get some blueberry preserves there too.  You've got to start thinking outside the box, Sam II. 

I was braver than my husband and ordered poached eggs, homefries and bacon.   I had to drain my eggs which were swimming in water.  There was a wooden salad bowl on the table which contained extra packets of fake butter.  I emptied the fake butter onto the table and poured the egg water into it.  The eggs looked good, cooked to the right degree, but after after eating a few spoonsful which tasted okay, I got a spoonful that tasted really awful  (in a way I can't explain because I can't compare that taste to anything I've ever had in my mouth) and in disgust, I had to spit it out into my napkin.  That was the end of my egg eating.  I was left with 2 wimpy pieces of bacon and a whole mess of homefries.  I poked through the pile, looking for pieces of potato that appeared to be "fried".  Most were  small white cubes that apparently had not touched the griddle long enough to be browned.  Never have I seen such a poor excuse for homefries. 

We won't be going back to Sam II unless they get their act together.  What I would recommend is a serious restaurant intervention.  I could put up with the bleak, impoverished fire-hall atmosphere  if the food was decent.  I think Sam II has great potential as a much needed eating and gathering place for Athenians and visitors - but, in it's present state,  it is crying out in desperation, not only for a physical interior makeover and sufficient staff, but also and especially, for more motivated and imaginative cooks. Another piece of advice:  Call Chef Irvine

Robert Irvine
Turning around a failing restaurant is a daunting challenge under the best of circumstances. Attempting to do it in just two days with only $10,000 may be impossible. But Chef Robert Irvine is ready to take on the challenge. He'll channel MacGyver and use a lot of muscle to rescue these desperate places from complete collapse. Can one man, in two days, with just $10,000, turn the tide of a failing restaurant and pave the road to a successful future? Find out as Robert Irvine takes on      Restaurant: Impossible.  Read More

Sam's II on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Castrovalva and Vola Vola Vola

Castrovalva by M. C. Escher (1930)

Like many of Escher's early works, it depicts a place that he visited on a tour of Italy - the Abruzzo village of Castrovalva.  The perspective is toward the northwest, from the narrow trail on the left which, at the point from which this view is seen, makes a hairpin turn to the right, descending to the valley. In the foreground at the side of the trail, there are several flowering plants, grasses, ferns, a beetle and a snail. In the expansive valley below there are cultivated fields and two more towns, the nearest of which is Anversa deglie Abruzzi, with Casale in the distance.

A photograph of Castrovalva with a somewhat Escher-like feel

More great photos of Castrovalva, Anversa deglie Abruzzi and Casale here at Italian Ways

Vulesse fa' 'revenì pe' n'ora sole
lu tempe belle de la cuntentezze,
quande pazzijavame a "vola vole"
e ti cupri' de vasce e de carezze
I would like for just an hour
the beautiful time of joy to come back,
when we played "fly fly"
and I covered you with kisses and caresses.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu pavone,
si te' lu core bbone
mo' fammece arpruvà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... peacock,
if you have a good heart
now let me try again.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu pavone,
si te' lu core bbone
mo fammece arpruvà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... peacock,
if you have a good heart
now let me try again.
'Na vote pe' spegnà lu fazzulette,
so' state cundannate de vasciarte.
Once, to ransom a handkerchief,
I was sentenced to kiss you.
Tu ti scì fatte rosce e mi sci dette
di 'nginucchianme prima e d'abbracciatte.
You blushed and told me
to kneel down before hugging you.
E vola, vola, vola,
vola lu gallinacce,
mo' se me guarde 'n facce
me pare di sugnà
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... chanterelles,
now if I look to your face
I feel I'm dreaming.
E vola, vola, vola,
vola lu gallinacce,
mo' se me guarde 'n facce
me pare di sugnà
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... chanterelles,
now if I look to your face
I feel I'm dreaming.
Come li fiure nasce a primavere,
l'ammore nasce da la citelanze.
As the flowers are born in the spring,
love is born from childhood.
Marì, si mi vuò bbene a accome jere,
ne' mi luvà stù sonne e 'sta speranze.
Mary, if you love me like yesterday,
Do not take from me this dream and hope.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu cardille,
nu vasce a pizzichille
ne' me lo pò negà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... goldfinch,
a kiss like a pinch on the cheek
You cannot deny me.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu cardille,
nu vasce a pizzichille
ne' me lo pò negà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... goldfinch,
a kiss like a pinch on the cheek
You cannot deny me.
Nà vota 'r'na pupuccia capricciosa,
purtive trecci appese e lu fruntine,
Once you were a spoiled girl,
you had hanging braids and a bow headband,
mo ti sci fatte serie e vruvignose,
ma ss'ucchie me turmente e me trascine.
now you've become serious and shy,
but your eyes haunt and charm me.
E vola, vola, vola,
vola la ciaramella,
pe' n'ore cuscì belle
vulesse sprufunnà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... shawm,
for such a beautiful hour
I would sink underground.

The song, almost the anthem of Abruzzo, was written in the 1920s by Luigi Dommarco (Ortona, 23 Dec 1876 -Rome, 3 Sept 1969); the music is by Guido Albanese (Ortona, 2 Dec 1893 - Rome, 6 Jan 1966).

The meaning of this song of Abruzzo is connected to the folk tradition, where "vola vola" was a simple, funny game. Boys and girls sat crouching around a companion who had been chosen as "Capogioco" (game leader). All players placed their pointing fingers on the game leader's knees waiting for the latter to say "Fly, fly, fly..." and the name of an animal.
 If the animal was a bird everyone had to lift their finger, otherwise they should stay still. Anyone who by mistake let a non-flying animal fly, had to pay a pledge (such as the handkerchief in the song). The pledge was then to be redeemed by paying a penance (as kissing a girl).

Italy World Club

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Auspicious Day Unfolds

Feast Day of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces (depending on the source of which there are many).  My source Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Salus Populi Romani (English: Protectress of the Roman People)
(Protectress translates literally as 'salvation' or 'health')
Salus Populi Romani is a title given in the 19th century to the Byzantine icon of the Madonna and Child holding a handkerchief and Gospel book respectively, and the icon is reputed to date to the Early Christian era,  where it was enthrowned in the Borghese or Pauline Chapel of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome.  It has historically been the most important Marian icon in Rome. Pope Francis also made this icon one of his first places of pilgrimage the day after his election to the Papacy.
 Salus Populi Romani is one of the so-called "Luke images" of which there are many throughout the world. These were believed to have been painted from the life by Saint Luke himself. According to the legend: "after the Crucifixion, when Our Lady moved to the home of St. John, she took with her a few personal belongings--among which was a table built by the Redeemer in the workshop of St. Joseph.  When pious virgins of Jerusalem prevailed upon St. Luke to paint a portrait of the Mother of God, it was the top of this table that was used to memorialize her image. While applying his brush and paints, St. Luke listened carefully as the Mother of Jesus spoke of the life of her son, facts which the Evangelist later recorded in his Gospel. Legend also tells us that the painting remained in and around Jerusalem until it was discovered by St. Helena in the 4th century. Together with other sacred relics, the painting was transported to Constantinople where her son, Emperor Constantine the Great,  erected a church for its enthronement." 
 "One can imagine the immensity of graces she received during the gestation of Our Lord Jesus Christ as she formed Him, carrying Him in her womb for nine months. He lived in her as in a Tabernacle. One may only envisage the boons Our Lady received in her spiritual life coming from this contact of souls.

It was a kind of mutual gift: while she was forming His body, He was forming her soul and making her still more perfect, bestowing unheard-of graces. I don’t know if even the highest Angels are able to understand those graces. Now then, she corresponded perfectly to all those graces with an astonishing fidelity."
Professor Plino Correa de Olivera -  commenting on a text by St. Louis Grignion de Montfort - True Devotion to Mary which can be read here
It was not my intention to blog about Salus Populi Romani or the Feast of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces.  But, you know how it goes, or maybe you don't, one thing led to another and Our Lady not only fell into place but became, rightly I believe, "enthroned"  above all that follows.


This morning I received the following email:

From: "Kaili Lambe,"
To: ____________________________________________

Sent: Friday, November 8, 2013 9:07:13 AM
Subject: Something scary is happening in Albuquerque

Leo --
Something pretty scary is happening in Albuquerque right now.  Voters will cast ballots on November 19th on an initiative that would ban abortions after 20 weeks with virtually zero exceptions.

This is a serious attack on women -- and it's a deliberate attempt by extreme interest groups to test their latest anti-women strategy.  We can't let this initiative succeed in Albuquerque -- add your name right now and fight back against this attack on women's health.

The groups behind the ballot initiative are extremely well funded and -- if they win in Albuquerque -- you can bet they're going to take this approach to cities and states across the country.  OFA is working with a strong coalition of organizations that are dedicated to fighting back on the ground in New Mexico. But we need anyone who cares about this fight to stand in solidarity no matter where they live.

Join in and stand up for women in Albuquerque and anywhere else their rights are threatened:


Kaili Lambe
Women's Issues Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

This was my reply:
"Something pretty scary is happening in Albuquerque right now"
Scary for whom?  Certainly not the innocent life/fetuses/babies inside the wombs of their mothers. 
 "Voters will cast ballots on November 19th on an initiative that would ban abortions after 20 weeks with virtually zero exceptions."
I hope and pray the bill passes in Albuquerque.  In my opinion, all abortion is a heinous attack on humanity.  It's murder and nothing less.  In mass - nationwide, worldwide - it's genocide, population control. The further along the pregnancy the more despicable abortion becomes. I am currently awaiting two new grandchildren and their ultra-sound pictures are proof that these sweet, beautiful innocents need a voice to speak out against the ultimate crime of abortion. I am outraged and physically sick by the thought that a 5 month old (and older) baby inside the womb of its mother can so heartlessly and hideously have its life exterminated.  And for what?  Women's' rights?  STOP using Women's rights as an excuse for infanticide.  And STOP assuming that all Democrats or Liberals are of the same mind on the issue of abortion.
This is a serious attack on women -- and it's a deliberate attempt by extreme interest groups to test their latest anti-women strategy.
Stop peddling your propaganda and don't send me any more of your filthy emails.

Leo - mother of 6, grandmother of 18

Kimmy and Me
Mary, the beloved Mother of chosen souls, shelters them under her protecting wings as a hen does her chicks. She speaks to them, coming down to their level and accommodating herself to all their weaknesses. To ensure their safety from the hawk and vulture, she becomes their escort, surrounding them as an army in battle array. Could anyone surrounded by a well-ordered army of say a hundred thousand men fear his enemies? No, and still less would a faithful servant of Mary, protected on all sides by her imperial forces, fear his enemy. This powerful Queen of heaven would sooner dispatch millions of angels to help one of her servants than have it said that a single faithful and trusting servant of hers had fallen victim to the malice, number and power of his enemies.
St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)
 On this day, November 8th, 54 years ago, at the age of 17, I became mother to a beautiful baby girl, 5 lbs, 13 ounces.  I was going to name her "Amber" but my mother pleaded with me not to, because she had already told all the women in the bowling alley that her name was "Kimberly".  Kimberly was my second choice, and because I hated seeing the anguished look on my mother's face, I complied to her wishes and Kimberly it was.  My first choice of Amber came from a romantic novel that enthralled me, "Forever Amber" by Kathleen Winsor.

I don't know where the book came from or who it belonged to; it was simply there in our house on a bookshelf and I decided to read it.  I remember once, at about the age of 15, I was in my room reading Forever Amber when I heard my father and mother asking "Where's Leo?"  My favorite aunt, a nurse who lived and worked in Brooklyn and came to visit every weekend told them where I was, "She's in her room reading that dirty book again."  Dirty book?  What was she talking about?  At 15, I was not able to read between the lines, I had little to no knowledge of things sexual.  Hugging and kissing a boy here and there was as far as my experience and imagination took me.  Many years later, the reason for my mother's anguished expression over my naming my baby Amber finally became clear.  I still have the book, it's mine now and a very precious possession.

I will have to finish this later.  My husband and I are going to visit Kim and give her a birthday gift in a few hours and I have many things to do around the house before we leave.  He is sitting in a chair across from me, glaring.  I know what he's thinking - that I am wasting time.  He doesn't understand blogging.

Now, for the hard part.  I am reluctant to reveal what is about to follow, but the intention of this blog and the tying together of its parts will not be realized if I omit this very personal account of the months and days that preceded the birth of our first born child.

I met my husband in the fall of 1958 on my way home from a high school foot ball game.  I was 16 yrs old and in the 11th grade.  He was 17, and had dropped out of Catholic parochial school at the age of 15 in order to work full time as an apprentice in a printing company.  We fell madly in love and by February of 1959 I was pregnant. I put off telling my parents for as long as I could and went to great lengths to hide my condition because I knew if I told them my life would be turned upside down and I would never be able to finish my junior year.  Finally, late in  April we decided it was time to "face the music".  Actually, it was my husband who broke the news to my mother. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  We were in his little blue Plymouth and had just picked up my mother from her job at the local delicatessen.  When we pulled up in front of my parent's house he turned off the engine, turned to face her, and very calmly blurted it out: "Leo's pregnant". 

She looked as if she was about to faint.  "Oh no," she said, "I trusted you two."  And then, turning to me she said,  "What am I going to tell your father?"  She was thoroughly devastated.  I don't know exactly what transpired immediately after that, but from what I can surmise, she didn't tell my father, instead she called my aunt, his sister, the nurse in Brooklyn, and together they devised a plan.  The plan, according to what my mother told me, was for she and I to take a trip to visit my aunt in Brooklyn, a brief weekend get-away, some time to think.

My aunt lived on 64th Street.  I'm not certain of the exact address, but 1274 E. 64th Street seems to stick in my head, perhaps from letters we exchanged in later years.  She lived in that same apartment until her death in 1968.  From her kitchen window I could see young women coming and going from what my aunt told me was a Catholic home for unwed mothers. At the time, I thought nothing of it, I made no connection between the home and myself.  In retrospect it probably was the Angel Guardian Home on 12th Avenue and 64th Street run by the Sisters of Mercy.

I was never approached by my mother or my aunt on the subject of giving my baby up for adoption.  I would have been horrified by such a prospect.  But, I was approached by my aunt on the possibility of doing something far worse and more horrific.  She told me she had a friend who could put a needle in my belly, and pop, just like that, make all my troubles go away.  I couldn't believe my ears. The word abortion was never used.  I was aghast,  protested vehemently, told her no, I would never, could never, do a thing like that.  She asked me why I was so against her suggestion.  I told her I loved Johnny, I wanted to marry him and have my baby.  That was the end of our little "get-away".  There was no more thinking to be done. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Animal Crackers

Lamo by Leo
The Missing Painting from Animal Crackers?

Capt. Spaulding: You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, which doesn't say much for you. 

Capt. Spaulding: Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know.

Notice the striking resemblance between Lamo and Groucho,
especially their right hands.

Capt. Spaulding: I used to know a fellow who looked exactly like you by the name of Emanuel Ravelli. Are you his brother?
Ravelli: I am Emanuel Ravelli.
Capt. Spaulding: You're Emanuel Ravelli?
Ravelli: I am Emanuel Ravelli.
Capt. Spaulding: Well, no wonder you look like him. But I still insist there is a resemblance.
Ravelli: Heh, heh, he thinks I look alike.
Capt. Spaulding: Well, if you do, it's a tough break for both of you. 

Capt. Spaulding: [sings] Hello, I must be going/I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going/I'm glad I came, but just the same, I must be going, la-la!
[Tries to leave, the guests stop him]
Mrs. Rittenhouse: [sings] For my sake, you must stay/If you should go away/You'd spoil this party I am throwing.
Capt. Spaulding: [sings] I'll stay a week or two/I'll stay the summer through/But I am telling you/I must be going

 Animal Crackers - Synopsis
At the estate of Mrs. Rittenhouse, Jeffrey Spaulding, an African explorer, and Horatio, his secretary, become social lions at a house party in progress; and on their heels are the professor and Signor Ravelli, musicians. Arabella, the hostess' daughter, is in love with John Parker, an unknown artist; and Roscoe Chandler, an art connoisseur, arrives with a valuable master painting, of which John had made a pastiche while a student. Arabella persuades the musicians to substitute the copy for the original, and recognizing the art patron as a former fish peddler, they blackmail him. But a rival society matron, whose daughter has copied the same painting, plots a similar substitution to embarrass Mrs. Rittenhouse. Later, during a thunderstorm, the musicians steal the painting, but Hives, the butler, replaces it with the other pastiche, and at the unveiling the plot is exposed.

More about Animal Crackers at Turner Classic Movies

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In Good Company

Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, Groucho, Gummo

enuffa dat

tee hee hee
my name is lamo marx
yup dat's me
lurkin' in de parks
in ma bare feets
groucho stole my clarcks
behine da trees
sneaky lil  narcs
on der knees
teef like sharks'
zeppo pingin'
wif dem larks
chico zingin'
fru dem quarks
angels singin'
everbody harks

ain't no dog
jes because i barks
gummo gummin''
him come runnin
harpo strummin'
hootchie kootchie
hootchie kootchie
enuffa dat.

by lamo (aka Polly?)  (purely speculative)

 Groucho impersonator Frank Ferrante and not the one, the only.
(Thanks to fellow blogger, docnad, of Attempted Bloggery for letting me know the true identity of the "Groucho" in the above photograph.)
 "Then we had a sister. She wasn't really our sister, she was an adopted sister. The father of that sister had gotten a look at this girl and fled to Canada, and we never saw him again. But the girl stayed with us, and her name was Polly. Polly didn't... She wasn't a bad looking girl, but her rear end stuck a-way out. You could play pinochle on her rear end."   Groucho, from "An Evening With Groucho"
Polly, or Pauline, was the daughter of Groucho's aunt Hannah, who was Minnie Marx's sister. The paternity of Polly is uncertain, but she was probably conceived after the death or disappearance of Hannah's first husband. It is likely that Sam and Minnie Marx adopted Polly, and it appears they fibbed about the date of their marriage to make it look like Polly was was their own legitimate child. The record shows Sam and Minnie were married January 18, 1885, but they moved the date back a year to 1884 in future records, to accommodate the January, 1885 birth of Polly.

A Marx Sister?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Three Maggies and a Carol

Maggie's Farm

When You And I Were Young Maggie (incongruous in this set, I know)

Maggie M'Gill

Carol/Soul Kitchen