‘The Italian Thing’ is a hilarious recount of how I explore my heritage during our more than a memorable trip to Sicily. My mother was Italian and this gave me a taste of Italian culture as I grew up. Being exposed to Italian traditions at home is entirely different than experiencing it firsthand. That is what I found out when my husband Mike and I took a thirty-two-day vacation to Sicily, where we got to know what THE ITALIAN THING really is.
Enjoying the Christmas holiday and the New Year was wonderful, and then came January 2nd.
The weather has been crazy. Florida is usually mild with cool to warm temperatures. This year it has been cold. I have used the heat most of the month. We have had downpours of rain, and apparently there was a spot near the chimney on our roof that was in need of repair, however were not aware of it. One night rain pouring down water seeped into the attic and down into the living room, and I don’t mean a few drops. It was more like a gentile waterfall. We had to disconnect the electronic equipment, including the cable and TV. We called the roofers but there was nothing they could do at the time. Mother Nature was reeking havoc in our home. Finally a semi-sunny day. The roofers showed up. The news was not good. Rotted areas around the chimney which would require repair to the tune of almost $2000.00. What choice did we have. The work began and went on for three days. Finally the roof was complete and now we could start on the interior of the house.
My husband and his brother started ripping down the walls and pulling out the soaked insulation. What a mess! It took more than half a day. I originally thought the sheetrock and what ever else was needed to be repaired would be totally finished in one day. HA!
Between the ripping down and cleaning up the wet soggy sheetrock and insulation the men were exhausted. Mind you my brother-in-law was in Florida on vacation :o). He probably could have had more fun at home. ( Thank you Charlie, love you.) Getting back to my little story. After the clean up everything had to be dried. The fans were hooked up facing the area and in a little more than 24 hours things were dry. The new sheetrock was purchased and the men started repairing the wall. It took just about all day to put the wall back and the men were beat. We all took a break and the four of us went out to dinner, after all it was our wedding anniversary. Mother Nature has no concept of gift giving. My brother-in-law and his wife left to visit their son who also lives in Florida. My husband assured his brother he could finish the rest himself. I on the other hand did not realize that there had to be taping and sanding done. I thought, great one more day and my living room will be back to normal. I did not know about the three coats of plaster or what ever that stuff is called and all the sanding after each coat. Nor did I know each coat takes 24 hours to dry. I also did not realize that I would now have to wipe all that dust off of every single thing down stairs. I looked around and it hit me. All the books, the shelves, the knickknacks, the framed photos, that dust has settled on every single thing. We are now to the point of ready for painting. I have decided to wait until everything is completed and then I will tackle the dust. I did cover the sofa and club chairs and have been wiping down the counters and dining table, but it is just a quick fix for now. My husband tells me it will be a few more days before the job is complete and then I can get cleaning. A few more days will bring us to the end of the first month of the New Year. I hope I can get the house back to normal before the 30th because we have to attend grandparents day at my granddaughters school. We will spend the last day of the month at my daughter’s house enjoying our family and not worrying about the dust.
AND HOW WAS YOUR FIRST MONTH OF THE NEW YEAR? :o)
We bought a deli, it was located in Port Jefferson, New York. It was right across the street from where the ferry to Bridgeport Connecticut docks. There was also a marina, a hotel and several restaurants in the area. I had very high hopes for the future. I quickly learned what a fantasy that was.
Owning a deli is not as glamorous as you might think. The work is hard, and the hours are long. I had never worked in the food industry, my partner who was also my husband was a certified chef. I thought I was going to sit at the cash register and take in the money. I knew nothing about how the food industry worked. I worked as a general manager for a new car dealership for over ten years. I could handle the bookkeeping for the deli with no problem, and of course take in the money.
We cleaned the store from top to bottom. Mike ordered food from the purveyors, put a few tables in the front, purchased two more slicers, a new scale and cash register. In the back of the deli we had a stove with six burners, an oven, and a grill, a triple sink, a pizza oven, a long stainless steel counter, a fifteen by fifteen walk-in, a desk, and a wall with shelves.
I assumed Mike would do all the cooking, we would hire a couple of people to work the counter and that would be it. I didn’t realize I was assuming myself right into Hell. We also offered catering to our customers. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking at the time, but it was not reality.
It started with the cleaning. I never saw such filth and grease in my whole life, and I, yes I had to help clean this up. I suggested a cleaning company, but Mike just laughed at me and handed me a scraper, and a pair of rubber gloves. Overnight he turned from a quiet funny guy into
a man barking orders at everyone, including me! I looked at him and wondered who is this man and where the hell is my husband?
I chalked it up to nerves and did what I was asked to do. The workers did as they were told, and by the end of a week the deli was spotless. The shelves were full with supplies, the walk-in was spotless and organized, loaded with soda, water, beer, juices and perishable foods. Mike had a marker with indelible ink and put dates on all the food and supplies in the walk-in, so everyone working could rotate the supplies properly. The front of the deli had a cold-cut case and a station where we kept hot food, there was also a case for cold food, potato salad, coleslaw, tuna, egg salad, chicken cutlets, and several other salads.
Everyone including me had to learn how to use a slicer, and clean it, how to use a knife while cutting a roll or bagel, or slicing a sandwich in half. The thickness that the cold cuts should be when slicing them. A coffee station was set up and there had to be a certain amount of coffee filters filled and ready to be put in the machine when needed. Mike also put two large ice tea dispensers in plain view. The cases had to be cleaned and sanitized every day. All raw meat had to be weighed as it was delivered to make sure the weight was exactly what we were being charged for. All produce had to be inspected for freshness.
I knew I was in over my head the day my husband put a huge pot on the stove and brought out over twenty pounds of ground beef, cans and cans of tomatoes and all the fixings for making meatballs and sauce, and it was all for me!
“You make the best meatballs and sauce, the customers will love it.” The words that came out of my mouth next shocked me,
“Are you fucking kidding me? I never made that much sauce and meatballs at one time in my whole life!” His reply was.
” Don’t worry, I’ll help you with it, and look I even bought you a new wooden spoon.”
The damn thing was almost as tall as me! I didn’t realize how much there was to learn about working in a deli, panic put it’s arms around me and squeezed.
\’The Italian Thing\’ is a hilarious recount of how I explore my heritage during our more than memorable trip to Sicily. My mother was Italian and this gave me a taste of Italian culture as I grew up. Being exposed to Italian traditions at home is entirely different than experiencing it firsthand. That is what I found out when my husband Mike and I took a thirty-two day vacation to Sicily, where we got to know what THE ITALIAN THING really is.
Can you hear the rumbling? If you listen close you might. Can you see despair and poverty? It is an awful sight! Can you hear the children crying out in pain? Can you see their faces as they’re calling out in vain?
Each day you line your pockets. Is that your only goal? Is human life so meaningless you let degradation take its toll? Do you see how you are destroying the only world which we know? We trusted you to lead us and this is all you have to show?
You keep your little circle tight, with nothing but the best. Once this world is finished, you’ll go down with all the rest. Promises you made mean nothing anymore. You will say anything you need to get you in the door.
If you think we’re not aware of what is coming down. If you think this can go on, you really are a clown. Quietly we gather; one by one we come. Silently we move while all of you are having fun.
We are tired of your grabbing, and never giving back. We are angry you’ve betrayed us. We are about to crack. You have lost sight of what you’re there for; to lead, and not to take. Your Greed has taken flight.
Can you hear the rumbling? If you listen close you might
I reminded Mike about the water shortage and told him not to take too long because I didn’t want to use up all the water in his cousin’s tank before the next delivery. We had been taking showers every day when we first arrived but had cut down to every other day. When Mike was finished I gathered my clothes and went into the bathroom. I turned on the faucet in the tub, nothing. I turned on the other faucet, nothing. I went to the sink with no water. My heart jumped into my throat. Stress grabbed me and held me in a Full Nelson; Fear reared its ugly head at me. I threw on my clothes ran out of the bathroom yelling, “Mike! You used up all the water, there is no water! Oh my God what the hell are we going to do now?” “What are you talking about Pat?” was his reply. I said. “I am telling you there is no water, the well is dry.” “Get out of here!” he said. I said. “No it’s the truth, try turning on the water.” He did. He tried every faucet in the house, nothing. My biggest fear had come true. We single-handedly used all of his cousin’s water in less than two weeks.
You can find me on Amazon.com “The Italian Thing”. Enjoy!!