Category Archives: family

The New 4-Letter Word

(1) there’s
(1) a
(2) new four-letter
(3) word in town,
(5) one you should be wary
(8) about adding to your daily vocabulary. you most
(13) likely use it more often than you realize, it is sneaky that way.
(21) and although it’s not as disruptive as say a like or an Uhm, it can cause irreparable damage to your life.
(34) it’s the kind of word, if not used carefully, that can wreak havoc over your existence. its overuse creates disdain in others. its utterance makes you more susceptible to bad habits and ill decisions.
(34) you may find yourself being pulled in all sorts of directions, not all of them familiar or comfortable. sometimes the path will be lonely, and you may find yourself completely unrecognizable at the end.
(21) and what of that person who emerges from the fog after a battle of sheer wits and exhaustion for leading life
(13) without regard for other people’s boundaries, for claiming time as their own?
(8) time belongs to us all, does it not?
(5) Would you consider being honest,
(3) with yourself about
(2) how busy
(1) you
(1) aren’t.

Note: This poem is written in a Fibonacci sequence, logical math and Nature’s numbering system.


On this day, 92 years ago

On this day in 1925, my father Vincent Patrick Preziotti was born.

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I visit This Day in History and discover that Katherine Hepburn, most noted for her performances in The Philadelphia Story and On Golden Pond, was also born today, in 1907. I remember Dad’s nightly AMC movie marathons filled with spaghetti westerns and comic dramas, many of which starred Katherine and her long-term on again/off-again love interest, Spencer Tracy.

Dad was a die-hard Brooklynite. He loved baseball until the Brooklyn Dodgers left for California. His favorite pastime was strolling the boardwalks in Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and even the Rockaways.

He loved to dance, a common interest he shared with my mom. I have the fondest memories of mom washing dishes in the kitchen, of dad pulling her away from the sink, suds and all. Charlie Parker on saxophone, Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Ella on vocals, mom and dad waltzing from the linoleum to the parquet floors in the dining room. On days like today, I truly miss the house on 81st street.

When Dad was a young boy his uncle Joe managed the Thunderbolt and Tornado, sister rollercoasters to the Cyclone. Dad often reminisced about being a ticket taker and people watching. He was a quiet man, with a gruff exterior. He was reserved at first, but once he felt comfortable in your presence he would blossom. A voracious reader of the newspaper, he would often engage in conversation about current events, mostly politics. And some of those discussions would be heated and full of fire; he was Italian after all.

In my early years, we would fight something awful. My mom unwittingly influenced me toward liberal leanings (she was registered as an Independent) and it took me a long time to find a middle ground where Dad and I could speak to one another without raising our voices. Over time I gradually learned to mindfully pick my battles with my right-wing Republican housemate. These days I wonder what he would think about our current administration, and as I find myself alone with my thoughts, occasionally talking to Finn, I wish I could talk to Dad and hear his voice.

I have two voicemail recordings of my dad. One is about a dentist appointment. He needs me to come with him. I can hear the hesitation in his voice, of wanting my help but not wanting to interfere in my life. It makes me cringe, the thought of him thinking of himself as a burden.

The second recording is of him wishing me a happy birthday.


Weekend Warrior: Go West

Go West! To Western Pennsylvania, that is. Chester and I started our journey to Lake City, PA after rush hour on Friday morning. It was part one of a 4-day affair.

Friday, May 5

It’s raining, it’s pouring but a girl still needs her coffee. We stop at Davy’s Hot Dogs in Mount Arlington, a kitschy-styled Swiss chalet, just off I-80.

Chester’s playlists bring us back memories of our teen and college years and we swap stories in the car.

We stop in Danville, PA for lunch at the Old Forge Brewing Company on Mill Street. New Yorkers will understand my shock at the cost of metered parking — 1 hour and 40 minutes for 25 cents!

I fall in love with the beer steins. Sadly, they are only available to members of the Pub Club. I may have to come back in November for the open enrollment period.

The highway is filled with semis and trucks, and us, of course. At one point we drive alongside a military convoy led by a camouflaged humvee. At a rest stop, we spot a specialized mitt for pumping diesel; it reminds me there are niche products and industries I know nothing about.

One thing you should know is that Chester, having made this trip a couple of dozen times over his life, is all about minimizing drive time. If you know anything about me, I’m all about the journey and what you can discover along the way. Luckily, our bladders are on the same clock.

We stop at The Glass Blowing Center in Hillard, PA, where we meet the proprietors Tom and Elaine Doner. Tom shares how he fell in love with the art of glass blowing after visiting an art fair. Self-taught he walks us through the steps to create a seamless work of art, a glass dolphin garden stick. If you are traveling with the kids this summer, consider adding them to your driving itinerary.

Next stop: Cleveland. (Yes, you read that right.)

Chester’s Uncle Bill was traveling from San Francisco to attend Sunday’s family event, and we are his transport to PA. Unfortunately, we find out that his United flight has been delayed. We amuse ourselves with a cool exhibit about Superman at Cleveland-Hopkins airport, followed by dinner at the Sheraton.

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We finally made it to Lake City (a suburb of Erie), PA at 11:30 PM

Saturday, May 6

It’s a blustery day filled with wind and rain when we set off to explore Lake City and surrounding areas with Chester’s family.

First stop: Peggy Gray’s Candies.

The Holliday family has been making high-quality European-style chocolates for Western Pennsylvania since 1922. In addition to chocolate, they sell old-time candies and salt water taffy, brands like Black Cow and Charleston Chews, among others remind me of my childhood.

We stop at the tributary where Crooked Creek empties into Lake Erie. I marvel at the tumultuous, rolling waves. It looks so much like the ocean.

Chester, his aunts, and uncles used to spend summers by the lake and they share stories of the summer cottage. It’s now been sold but we drive by for a visit.

The rest of the day is spent exploring Erie’s consignment shops and the Salvation Army. Back at the house, we have lunch, then dinner engaging in lively conversation with his extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Sunday, May 7

We wake to a sunny and beautiful day with all the flowers alive and in bloom. Chester takes me on a tour of the “back forty” behind the house and barn, everything smells of spring. The grass seems to go on forever. First I hear, and then I see the creek at the edge of the property. An abundance of nature.

And then there’s the barn, a true sampling of Americana, right here in Lake City, PA.

Late afternoon we make our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral in Erie, where Chester’s stepmom Dorthy will be ordained as a deacon.

The day ends with a celebratory dinner with friends and family at the Colony Pub & Grille, followed by “the best chocolate cake in Arizona” prepared by Aunt Carol and some ice cream back at the house.

Monday, May 8

Monday comes too soon, and before we know it we’re all saying our goodbyes, and back on the road home toward home.

 

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Chester’s family photo on the back forty, Lake City, PA

 


Roadtrippin’ with Finn

Tonight Finn and I make our way to Jersey City. It’s his first road trip and sleepover.

Chester and I are traveling to visit his family in Western PA, and rather than leave Finn alone with a catsitter he’s staying at the loft with Andy.

I’ve been harness-training him in anticipation of the big adventure. This is a progressive measure since our last outing when Finn frantically attempted to dig his way out of his plastic carrier.

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Since our arrival, he’s been hiding under the bed but I’ve no doubt he and Andy will become fast friends over the next few days.

 


butterscotch ginger

My hands are cold.

I set up shop on the terrace this afternoon and have been working outside ever since, wrapped in a blanket over my clothes.

Finn has been running around the deck, jumping in and out of the planters as if he were training for the Cat Olympics. He gave me a minor heart attack when he dashed across the corrugated roof of the pergola, attempting to launch himself to the next deck.

My writing exercises are much enjoyable when there’s a proper table and/or desk for me to work from. And right now that outpost is outside, either on the terrace or in a coffee shop.

I’ve been writing and researching, all day. Snippets of copy for the company blog, keeping up with my daily blog posts here. Outlining projects for my clients paid and barter. Reading articles to keep my mind alight for critical thinking and analysis.mug.

Finn jumps from the stairs to the table, walks across the laptop keyboard to stake his claim. Almost like a lion on the sub-Saharan desert searching for a palm tree to escape the brutal sun. Except it’s a dining room table covered with books, newspapers and a coffee mug.

It’s time for another cup, a special roast from Supercrown Coffee: Guatemala El Apiario, delicate with butterscotch undertones.

Butterscotch, almost the same color as Finn’s coat. My ginger flame point Siamese has made his move to a cooler location. He settles in with his back to the mirror, a gaze thrown over his shoulder eyeing his reflection.

When he’s calm and chill, he’s almost regal. My Scottish knight of Brooklyn.

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Finnegan meets the cat in the mirror, @prez13


That Six-Letter Word

Fact: Women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 (or about 12%) lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This means that for every 8 women in the U.S. who live to be age 85, 1 will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.

Early detection is the first step in prevention and treatment. And that is why the waiting room at NYU Langone Medical is full at 9AM on a Tuesday. It is my annual diagnostic mammogram screening, and I pray that the radiology report comes back clean.

I know a handful of women in my life who have had breast cancer and survived. One had a double mastectomy before she turned 30; the second, a lumpectomy in her 40s; and the third, a scare in her 50s.

Cancer is the six-letter word no one wants to hear from their doctor, the word no one likes to say out loud. Because like those furry creatures from Gremlins, the word multiplies the minute it’s enunciated. No one speaks about cancer until they do. It’s still taboo until it happens to someone you love, someone they love, someone they know, someone they knew.

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Flower bud @juchjn – Pixaby 2017

My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 1999. Chemo. Radiation. All those toxic chemicals killing the bad cells and the good cells, weakening her immune system, making it extremely difficult for a frail 71-year old woman to prepare for battle. We lost her the following January.

Seventeen years later, I lose count thinking of friends and family who have been diagnosed. For every one person who survives, there is one who does not.

I pray for them all.

Benefits of a Mammogram Screening


Gogel-Mogel: raw eggs and sugar

I wake with the sun and start a new day. Double fisting with a berry smoothie and a mug of hot coffee, filled with glee at working outside again.

It’s Easter week and like every lead up to a holiday, I find myself reminiscing about my family. Today I think of Nonna Rosa, my Sicilian grandmother, my mom’s mom.  I have a craving for raw egg and sugar — a treat she would feed me when I was a young child.

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The adult in me questions the raw egg. Is it even safe to eat?

I Google the combination and learn a thing or two. Like its name: Gogel-Mogel, it makes me smile, although there aren’t enough vowels to make that remotely Italian. And of course, it’s not. It’s Yiddish, and its origin is a Central and Eastern European dessert made from raw egg, sugar, and flavoring (honey, vanilla, rum). Nonna would add espresso to mine.

I learn that the Gogel-Mogel is often prepared as a transition food for babies moving from a cereal diet to one that includes eggs and other soft foods. It has also been used as a home remedy for treating colds or the flu, particularly chest colds and laryngitis.

I wish I knew this last week.