Sunday, December 28, 2014

Leo on the Rodin sculpture at the High

Here's Leo's take on the Rodin sculpture on the front lawn of the High Museum in Atlanta:

"He not moving. He not get down."

So true.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My view of the world today (feed the mind's eye)

I have this little obsession with what I put atop my chest of drawers. As if the little items have a certain power, perhaps, to remind me of what is right. Not that I need reminders of the people in this photo. But maybe sometimes I need a reminder to be grateful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Signs of Christmas (for Jeanne)

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

For me, it is.

I have my Buon Natale sign up. It's finally time to whip out my favorite CD of Christmas songs, Robert Shaw's Festival of Carols, which I swiped from my parents. (I can't start listening to it too soon. That would ruin everything.)

And as soon as I cue it up, I have to start baking cookies.

Pretty soon, it will be time for the ultimate Christmas tradition.

But not yet. Not yet.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Elena Ferrante quotes (#2)

From Elena Ferrante's Q&A with the Financial Times:

Q. When did you know you were going to be a writer?
A. I still don't know -- and I never will.

Q. What does it mean to be a writer?
A. Pursuing what we are not able to say. Writing during any scrap of free time and without worrying about getting published.

For more of this intriguing interview, go here:

The New York Times also had an article about Ferrante this week:

Monday, December 08, 2014

Io (Leo) and Loud Noisies (not a typo)

One little person -- my little person -- loves “loud noisies.”

Not loud noises, loud noisies.

My little Leo finds ways to distort the language that instantly sound like a vast improvement over the original.

He also refers to himself as "io," which he pronounces as "ee-oh." It turns out 'L' is a tough letter for little tongues! So to say his own name, he says "Io."

This linguistic misstep turns out to be anything but. Indeed, for me, it's magical. Little does he know "io" means "I" in Italian. Little does he know the importance of Italian to me -- and to him.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Elena Ferrante quotes

From Elena Ferrante's La Frantumaglia:

“Il bisogno d’amore è l’esperienza centrale della nostra esistenza.”

[Trans.: "The need for love is the central experience of our existence."]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Italian Advantage! (Ferrante post #501)

It's not every day that knowing Italian actually gives me an edge but ha ha! Today it does!

I don't have to wait until Ann Goldstein at the New Yorker translates Elena Ferrante's latest book from her Neapolitian series. I can go ahead and read it in Italian! YAY!

Just look at it. (In fact that's all I can do since I still have to finish Book #2 of the series).

Storia della bambina perduta.

(Thanks to Il Nostro Inviato for picking me up a copy last week when he went to Italy for work.)

Happy reading everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sunset, Hilton Head Island (La Carolina del Sud)

E poi in realta, il tramonto era ancora piu favoloso -- la macchina fotografica non riesce a ricreare cio che l'occhio percepisce.


"LA STRADA" - Ilaria Graziano & Francesco Forni

One of the most gorgeous voices I've ever heard.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Cool photo (IMHO)....Oh and the kid's cute too

Leo with cat. And tomato.

Either my new fancy camera can't take a bad picture or this kid is pretty cute or maybe both.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Thinking of a Jovanotti song today

Beautiful thought:" È questa la vita che sognavo da bambino."

("This is the life I dreamt about as a child.")

Monday, October 27, 2014

Best book in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan trilogy?

Just finished Elena Ferrante's "L'Amica Geniale," just started the second book in the trilogy, "Storia del Nuovo Cognome."

Already read "Storia di Chi Resta E Di Chi Fugge."

So what's the best book in the trilogy?

I would say NOT the first book.

The last book is amazing (last one, at least so far).

And I think book #2 is off to a good start.


Friday, October 24, 2014

"L'Amica Geniale" (Ferrante...again)

I'm reading "L'Amica Geniale" di Elena Ferrante and sometimes I stop myself because the pleasure of reading in Italian is so intense, I need to take a breath!

Here's to cultivating passions....Cin-cin!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Air Force One? All In A Day's Work

I meant to post this photo a few weeks back. Every now and again, you pull an odd assignment in journalism.

Mine, the day I took this picture, was to wait for Air Force One to arrive in Atlanta with Pres. Obama, and then wait for it to leave, all in the hopes he would toss off a comment as he was arriving or leaving.

He didn't. But I did see him jog up the stairs to the plane and then turn around to wave goodbye to Atlanta.

So there was that.

Actually it was cool. Watching airplanes take off is always exhilarating, and the wind on the runway even on a hot day cools you down.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Medieval Salento!

Just discovered this book on a Web site for the CENTRO PRIMO LEVI ONLINE MONTHLY:

"Medieval Salento
: Art and Identity in Southern Italy" (University of Pennsylvania Press).

Look at the cover art!

And the title!

They had me at Salento.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Monday, October 06, 2014

Greatest book title ever?

"Storia Di Chi Resta E Di Chi Fugge" by Elena Ferrante.

Although I will say Calvino's "Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore" is also in the running.

I've finished "Storia Di Chi Resta E Di Chi Fugge" and am now reading the first book in Ferrante's Neapolitan trilogy, "L'Amica Geniale."


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Did I show off Isla de Mujeres?

I realized recently I have all of these great photos of Isla de Mujeres on my phone that I never bothered to post here.

It's an island off of Cancun and a world away. It's also gorgeous, and we did our research so we wound up at a really laidback duplex painted a sunny yellow color that fronted the beach. As in, if you live in a typical suburban neighborhood, our tiny apartment was as far away from the water as you are from your neighbor's house across the street. Which is to say, pretty darn close.

At the tip of the island is a quirky sculpture park surrounded on all sides by crashing waves. Like I said, paradise!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Italian Words at the Guggenheim (Futurismo)

They also had art at the Guggenheim's just-closed Futurismo exhibit (including works by Umberto Boccioni, whom I love) but I found myself drawn to anything that showed Italian words.

The Guggenheim is such a wonderful exhibit space. You can look back at what you've seen from a distance and see the work in a different way.

There were lots of books and posters and manifestos with Italian words and I was in heaven. There must be something about seeing words in a language you love that lights up the happiness part of your brain. It winds up being like a little festish.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Mexican" coffee break

When I need a break, I remember I vacationed here this year.

Where, you ask, is paradise? In my opinion, it might just be Isla de Mujeres, off of Cancun.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


Another chapter from the Leo journal.

Today: An inventory of the words Leo knows how to say:

Mamma, Da-da, water, ball, bath, duck, hello, more, outdoors, all done, bye-bye, no, oh no, truck, snow (!), blue, red, dog, cat, yellow, milk, toaster, bike, up, down, row, rock, bowl, flower and last but not least, thank you!

He's also said agua.....but let's hold off on the foreign word inventory for now.

Elena Ferrante Fest (in my mind, at least)

Just got a slew of Elena Ferrante titles to work through. I've done things a bit backward; I read "Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta" first. Now I need to read the first two works in the trilogy.

Oh, and I threw in "La Frantumaglia" for fun. It's a collection of interviews with Ferrante and nonfiction pieces about writing authored by her.

For anyone in New York who's interested in Ferrante, there will be an amazing talk at the Center for Fiction on Sept. 16 featuring Ferrante's American translator, Ann Goldstein, and two novelists, discussing her work.

For more information on this event, go here:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chat Hat, Chat Hat

"Chat Hat! Chat Hat."

It sounds like a foreign language, and I guess it is. But it's one I'm slowly becoming fluent in.

The phrase means: The Cat in the Hat. You know, the children's book by Dr. Seuss.

I don't know why -- I don't need to know why -- but that's how Leo pronounces the book's title. Chat -- the French word for cat, which he would never have heard from me. And then the word hat, which he knows.

He loves certain sentences from the book. For example, the sentence where the Cat says, “We have can have fun that is funny.” He shouts “Funny!” He sort of stammers it, like he's having trouble containing himself, that's how entertaining he finds the phrase.

He also likes his Bob the Builder book. And he picks up the book and says one word over and over: “Bob.” He says it so sweetly, as if Bob were our friend, our neighbor, someone we know well.

I'm recording him often but not often enough. You'd simply have to press "on" every morning and every evening.

Which is probably not possible. But I hope my brain is recording it. All of it. Every little second.

Friday, July 25, 2014

"I got ya!"

“I got ya!”

That’s a subject followed by a verb and then an object. And as first full sentences go, I would say it’s good one!

Leo can string two or three words together now, no problem. But I think this is the first time I’ve heard a complete sentence.

I’m mildly embarrassed that he’s parroting what he heard me say as I chased him around the house, giggling and shouting. But it warms my little heart to hear him say it. You got me? Sounds good to me.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to scare a cat

If for some reason, you need to scare a cat, here’s a sure-fire method.

Yell, "Ha!" as soon as you catch sight of the cat.

Then run toward it. And then, as you steadily approach the cat, yell, “Ha! ha!”

It helps if you stand about three-feet tall and grip something in one or both hands: a cookie, a sippy cup, your security blanket.

Fuggire o sfuggire?

Non so perché ma stamattina sono dovuta controllare il significato di queste due parole (fuggire e sfuggire), le quali uso da sempre.

E mi è sorpresa quando ho scoperto che secondo il vocabolario, hanno lo stesso significato senza la minima sfumatura.

Ma è possibile?

Io avrei detto che si può dire, "La parola mi sfugge," ma non si può dire: "La parola mi fugge."

Friday, May 02, 2014

A Growing Vocabulary!

An inventory of the words Leo knows how to say:

Mamma, Daddy, water, ball, bath, duck, hello, more, outdoors, all done, bye-bye, no, oh no, truck, snow, blue, red, dog, cat, yellow, milk, rock, bike, up, down, up and down, cold, hot, bowl, flower, airplane, baby, fish, book, star, car and outdoors.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

African (violet) queen

Not sure why, but I have a green thumb specifically for African violets. This is one of four I have in bloom right now at home!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mamma on TV

Not a great photo but here's Leo watching Mamma on TV.

I appeared on On The Story, a public affairs show broadcast by my employer, Georgia Public Broadcasting, to talk about the state's new gun law.

Friday, April 18, 2014


A few more photos from our little piece of paradise in Isla Mujeres. First, my foot and the deep blue sea.

Next: father and son explore the beach. Look at the sun reflecting off of the water. Gorgeous!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If Paradise is your thing.....

A picture from Isla Mujeres, near Cancun in Mexico, where we just spent six glorious days of vacation:

Monday, April 07, 2014

There’s a scene in the movie “The Fifth Element” in which the alien creature who’s destined to save the world learns about human history. She fast-forwards through decades, if not centuries, of footage about news events. She absorbs everything just by watching.

A similar scene plays out at our home. Leo sits for increasingly long periods of time surrounded by a mountain of books, and just pages through them. One after another.

Sometimes he stops and points at something. Other times, I can hear him talking to himself. He’s not reading the books, obviously, but like the Milla Jovavich character from the Luc Besson film, he’s cramming images and information into his brain.


Friday, April 04, 2014

How to scare a cat

If for some reason, you need to scare a cat, here’s a sure-fire method.

Yell, "Ha!" as soon as you catch sight of the cat.

Then run toward it. And then, as you steadily approach the cat, yell, “Ha! ha!”

It helps if you stand about three-feet tall and grip something in one or both hands: a cookie, a sippy cup, your security blanket.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The top of my bureau

Over time, the top of my bureau has devolved into a snapshot of my life and an altar to my passions, my interests and my origins.

The mess of mementos, photos, articles and books gives my eye objects for the gaze. It inspires me, and reminds me of the wonderful places I've been.

Of course, I can almost hear my mother taking one look at it, and dismissing it as a total mess. But that's okay.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Il Papa + Obama + Leo + U2

From the Saturday morning journal, brought to you with no rush, but all the joy:

I’m reading an article in the New York Times about the first meeting between President Obama and the miraculous Pope as Leo stands in front of his bookcase, talking to himself and examining the many volumes in his little personal library. U2 is playing on the stereo and I’ve begun to tuck into my morning cup of yoghurt.

How can one person have all of these treasures, all in one place, within a single moment of time?

Then I read that Obama has invited the Pope to visit the White House garden, and the Pope responds: “Como no?” Sure, why not? I love that phrase in Spanish; I somehow find it even lovelier than its Italian counterpart (come no?).

I imagine the words rolling off his tongue with sincerity and a generosity of spirit we all may aspire to but few of us achieve.

And sincerely, with that phrase, my day is complete, and it's all of 8:30 in the morning. It cannot get better than that!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Now For Something Totally Different.....

I sometimes keep a journal about Leo and his milestones, and the funny little things he says and does. Here's what I wrote today:

As I looked over my shoulder at Leo in the car this morning on our way to daycare, I noticed he was clutching the bright yellow Big Bird stuffed animal my sister, Trish, had given him. And I said to him, "Ask Big Bird if Big Bird wants to come to Mexico with us."

And then I chuckled to myself. I was telling a toddler who doesn’t fluently speak English or understand where or what Mexico is that he could invite Big Bird – a stuffed animal – to come to Mexico with us. Maybe file it under: whatever floats your boat.

No word, though, if Big Bird has accepted our invitation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

"La Grande Bellezza"

Well, wow, I can actually say I saw one of the films that won an Oscar!

I somehow found three hours to take in Paolo Sorrentino's "La Grande Bellezza" and then spent many more hours hearing the film's music in my ears, pondering scenes and recalling the enigmatic look on Toni Servillo's face.

The sheer breadth of an actor who can portray a single man-about-town AND Giulio Andreotti ("Il Divo") is mind-boggling.

Does this mean Italian cinema is back? I hope so. I've missed it.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Up Close and Personal

Here's another photo of Leo that I love:

He wants to see what I'm seeing through the viewfinder and so I have any number of photos that either show him practically on top of me or half out of the frame, as he jogs toward me and the camera.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Yay Christmas!

I thought Leo would pull the ornaments off the Christmas tree but instead he just sort of spins them, and looks at the tree and the lights with a sense of wonder -- just how it should be!

(Meant to post this before Christmas -- cavoli!)