Patsy Porco

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Why I Love Opals

In Gemstones on March 25, 2012 at 1:42 am

I love surprises. I will go to extremes to allow others to surprise me. You could park my dream car (a red Chrysler Sebring convertible with a tan cloth top) covered in a sheet in our driveway, and I wouldn’t lift the sheet. One of my sisters told me that she always peeked at the Christmas gifts that our parents hid in their bedroom closet when we were little. I was shocked because it wouldn’t have occurred to me to look for presents. And even if I had happened upon gifts, I would have been sure that they weren’t from Santa. My parents were very specific about what Santa brought, what he didn’t bring, and his policy on gift-wrapping. We were told that Santa only brought toys, and he never wrapped gifts; the buying of non-toy gifts and the wrapping of presents were parents’ responsibilities. So, even if I did notice a barricaded closet door in my parents’ room during December, I never would have opened it. I didn’t want to ruin my surprises.

I think that’s why I love opals. When I was sixteen, my family moved from Philadelphia to Ohio. One of my best friends threw me a surprise party and all of the invitees presented me with an opal ring. I loved that ring. I don’t know what happened to it, but I never forgot it. I loved the stone, and the friendship that the ring represented. More than thirty years later, I asked my husband for an opal ring. I’m wearing it now. I love it. I love it because my husband and my mother picked it out. But I also love it because it recalls a wonderful part of my life.

Another thing that I love about an opal is that it conceals a burst of joyous color, just barely visible under its milky surface. Sometimes I want to split it open and reveal its secret. Other times, I’m just happy to know that its possibilities are right there, barely visible under the surface. That’s why whenever I look at my ring, I’m inspired. Opals, to me, signify the joy that is always awaiting us. Just like red Chrysler Sebring convertibles with tan cloth tops.

Rash Decisions

In Humor on March 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I remember hearing the comedian, Steven Wright, say that he got tired of walking his dog every day, so he walked him all at once. That reminded me of the time when my mother, brother and I were walking on the very busy Ocean City, NJ boardwalk. My brother, who hates crowds, was in a snit. Everytime he got jostled or someone walked too close to us, he’d get angrier and angrier. I stopped into a store and emerged carrying a very large box. I asked my brother to carry it for me. My mother sent a doubtful look my way. I remember telling her, “He’s already angry. He might as well be really angry.”

That’s pretty much my philosophy regarding life: shoot for the saturation point. Until you reach it, you might as well keep going. So, even though I awakened today with poison ivy blisters covering the majority of my arms and legs, I saw a few unmarked areas on my limbs and decided to get back out into my garden today and pull up the rest of the weeds. My BFF-CT suggested that I go to the doctor and get started on Prednisone to dry up the cysts. That was my intention all along. But not just yet. Why start the treatment when I still have more poison ivy blisters in my immediate future? I might as well get them all and then cure them. Otherwise, it’s like walking the dog all at once but forgetting to bring plastic bags with you. You’ll only have to go on the same walk again, but this time prepared.

St. Joseph’s Pastry Day

In Humor, Religion on March 23, 2012 at 12:02 am

The other day, as I was leaving the vacuum repair store and the owner was telling me that he’d call me when my vacuum was ready, I heard another voice wishing me a “Happy St. Joseph’s Day.”  The shop is very small, narrow, and cluttered, so I had to look around before I spotted an older man with wiry gray hair and a long beard working behind a mountain of broken appliances. I wished him the same. He told me not to forget to buy pastries. I asked him if it was a tradition to buy pastries on St. Joseph’s Day and he told me that it was.

Weirdly enough, this was the first year that I had remembered St. Joseph’s Day. Usually it’s forgotten in the blur that succeeds St. Patrick’s Day, which is two days earlier. This year, I remembered Mary’s husband’s feast day. And, being Catholic, I prayed for those who could use his husbandly/fatherly/carpentryly help. But, because St. Joseph is honored after hangover-day, he is often overlooked. However, when you think of how honorable he was, you realize that we need to remember him now more than ever.

Being noble and self-sacrificing is a lost art. In this era of Reality TV, it’s more acceptable to act selfishly and callously. Feel-good stories sometimes end newscasts and appear in the Lifestyles section of Sunday newspapers, but bad behavior gets the ratings. However, anyone who loves Gothic, Edwardian, Victorian, or Romance fiction knows how deeply affecting are the actions of selfless heroes and heroines. I reflected on that for a minute or two … and then concentrated on pastries.

Okay, until then I had had no idea that St. Joseph’s Day was celebrated with pastries. That didn’t mean it was too late to join the party, especially since a bakery was located on the same block as the vacuum repair shop. Being jaded, I wondered if the bakery had paid the repair shop to promote St. Joseph’s Day. After a half-second’s reflection, I decided that I didn’t care. Any reason to buy pastries was a good reason.

I race-walked over to the bakery and, after much mouth-watering deliberation, bought numerous huge cannoli, along with raspberry and chocolate dough-shaped pretzels. I added two mini cannoli to my order. Then I met up with a friend for a mile-long walk at the track behind City Hall. After our walk, I rewarded us with the mini cannoli. I told her that I had just learned that St. Joseph’s Day was traditionallly celebrated with pastries. She said, “Uh huh, if you’re Italian.” I was amazed that I wasn’t aware of this, since absolutely every Italian tradition was acknowledged, if not celebrated, by my husband and in-laws. I figured that somehow I had missed the significance of the day over the last 20 years of our marriage, but I was more than willing to make amends.

After our walk, I went home and announced a surprise dessert to my husband and son. After dinner, I presented the pastries. My husband and son appeared appreciative, but no more than that. I asked my husband if he knew what day it was. He said, “March 19.” I then asked what saint’s day it was. “St. Joseph’s Day,” he replied. Surprised at his lack of understanding, I asked whether or not his family used to celebrate the day with pastries. He had no idea what I was talking about. He said that every special meal ended with pastries when he was growing up. I took that as a “yes” and moved on. The pastries were delicious. I’ve decided that we’re going to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day once a week, at least.

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