We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Reconciliation

     This morning, Tonio had his first reconcilation at Our Mother of Sorrows...he was a little apprehensive...'I don't know the prayer you say after you're done...'  he worried.  'The Act of Contrition?  Either do I Tonio - we'll bring a copy with us, to read'...'OK'  I told him to shower up, comb his hair and put on some jeans and a polo shirt.  "What's a polo shirt?"  he asked...
     We sat with our friends, Lupe and Manny Barrios and their little girl, Monsi.  Tonio and Monsi get along so well - it was great for both of their nerves!  It was a full Mass, our second day in a row!  And, once again, the Gospel and homily spoke to me...
      I remember Cody and Autumn's first reconcilation...Kimmy came to both of theirs, but had me go with them to confession...perhaps she knew my soul needed more redemption than hers...Of course, she teared up at both of theirs, so proud of them and realizing it was one more milestone in their lives, they were growing up.
      She would have been so proud of Tonio today.  He held up well, only telling me he hoped he wouldn't have to sit face-to-face with the father.  You see, there were 8 priests available, plus Monsignor Tom.  Only 2 were giving the old school, behind the wall with the sliding door, style of confession.  And Monsignor Tom was out in the open.  I told him he was a good little boy and had nothing to worry about.  Then, I leaned over to Lupe and Manny and said 'Gee, I just hope I don't get Monsignor Tom!'...it had been 3 years since my last confession, when Autumn had her first one...
       Everybody did great and they served cake and lemonade afterwards - just what Tonio needed, a huge sugar boost!!  And as Manny and I walked the kids over to the church hall, I got a good look at Tonio.  His jeans had holes in both knees.  And his polo was on inside out.  I pointed it out to Manny and told him 'I am really struggling Manny - where are my motherly skill?'.  Manny told me "Well Dave, you haven't lost any of them and you haven't set any of them on fire...I'd say you are doing a great job!'.
       We talked on the way home - 'How'd you feel after you told the father your sins?'  I asked.  "I felt really good", Antonio told me.  I told him how proud of him I was and that Mama was smiling down on him, too, I was sure she was there.

       Before we left, I decided to take another stab at Andrea's refried beans.  My first batch ended with disaster, when I took her 'put the beans in a crock pot, cover them with water and cook them' literally, leaving my beans leathery, tasteless and dry as the desert.  'Uh, fill the crock pot with more water and you can add water as needed' she gently advised me.  So, I made real bacon for the kids for breakfast (I used turkey for my last bean attempt) put in some of the grease and an uncooked slice of bacon into the crock pot with the beans (16oz dried pinto beans), filled it 3/4 of the way with water and added two, minced cloves of garlic...when we got home from church, the house smelled great!  I added a little more water.  When the timer went off (I cooked them on low for 4 hours), I drained the beans, put them in a big bowl and added a bag of shredded jack/cheddar blend of cheese and some milk, mashing them with a masher (add milk, as if you were making mashed potatoes).  Then, I put them in a large skillet (do NOT use your nice pot for this recipe, it may ruin it!), with a little olive oil, on a medium heat and cooked them until they were hot all the way through, adding salt and pepper.
              And I finally got to use one of Kimmy's casserole dishes to put them in!!  She had accumulated so many dishes and bowls that I have no idea how to use!!!

             The beans came out great!  And Lupe dropped off some tortillas and little tortilla pocket dealy's that she told me to fill with beans and some marzipan candies and chilibonchas, a mango flavored candy with a chile center (these are GREAT!) that her and Manny brought us back from their trip to El Paso.  We brought them over to Betsey and Brian's.  Betsey made chicken enchiladas, rice and brownies. Oh, and Cody made a salad, using another big bowl of Kimmy's!
Yes, it's from Pier 1!

            We settled in to watch the Wildcat's play UConn - it started out so promising!!  But, we were saddened when, the Cats could not sink the 3 shot with time expiring - they had a nice season - we would have liked to see them move forward, though.
          Derrick Williams, the heart and soul of this team, got into early foul trouble and disrupted his team's game.  Boy, Jesse Perry sure stepped up, but Mo Mo Jones could not hit the 3 - This team was really fun to watch - a good group of players...
            A carpet thief had stopped in and stolen Brian's carpet - which was conducive to sloppy eating for us and the bambini!  Molly tries to escape via the back door.
           I remember watching such games with Kimmy.  She would get very into the game and like to root for the Cats.  She was such a great high fiver!!  At Betsey and Brian's, we'd share one of their oversized, leather lounge chairs for a cozy game.
                    Tom, Amy, Cody, Alex, Betsey, Mitch and Brian cheer the Cats on!  But, maybe the beans were not the right game food to bring, as the Cats came so close, but could not win it.  We also were hoping for a win, so we could score some nice Final Four t-shirts tomorrow, planning to road trip down to the campus to shop for some.  By the way, what happened to all of the road side t-shirt vendors that used to show up this time of year?  I seem to remember them being as far east as Houghton and Old Spanish Trail one year and certainly at Pantano and Broadway - I asked several people who said you have to go to campus to get shirts - must be an NCAA licensing thing.  The street vendors always made this time of year seem so festive.  The year the Cats won it all, in 1997, Kim stopped at several different stands to buy us matching shirts in as many styles as she could find!  She had Cat Fever!!
                     Despite the loss, we had a good time, but called it an early night around 8, our energy expended on yelling and rooting for a Wildcat victory...we tried to regroup by watching the best of Adam Sandler on SNL, but just couldn't find the same energy....the enchiladas were excellent, though and the brownies were Kimmy-like - she made some outstanding brownies!!!

                   A warm breeze greeted us as we went outside to say goodnight to Mama...'The Big Dipper's crooked tonight' Tonio observed...Sweet dreams, Mama...
            "Cheerfulness is often a cloak which hides a life a sacrifice, continual union with God, fervor, and generosity."
                                                                                               -Mother Teresa

Friday, March 25, 2011

San Xavier and Baseball...

          No, I do not believe San Xavier ever played baseball...San Xavier was born in Spain in 1506 and is considered one of the greatest Roman Catholic missionarys of modern times.  He traveled to India, the Malay archipelago and Japan, helping to establish Christianity. 
         The church Kim and I were married in, was named after San Xavier.  This morning, we found ourselves there to remember Kimmy and attend Mass.  The children from the attached school attended today, the feast day of the angel Gabriel, coming to let Mary know, she would give birth to Jesus.  The children did the readings and sang, adding a nice, personal touch to Mass this morning.  The homily was inspiring, as Father Stephen reminded us that God does have a plan for all of us (lately, the line from a Sum 41 song has played over and over in my head 'God has no plan for me. Well I'll tell you one thing, I don't have the patience, all of the time.  What can I say?  I'm no angel.'- so his homily really touched me, as he pointed out we have to have patience and it is up to us to answer His call. How'd he know??). 
         After Mass, we lit a candle for Kimmy in the church and then proceeded to the little chapel of Mary, right next door, where Kimmy's smiling face looked at us from the altar.  There was no dove today.
                  Autumn and Tonio getting ready to go inside for Mass - we let Cody sleep in!

                         The bambini lit the candle you can see just to the left of Tonio's head, while our Angel, Kimberly, smiled on us - her picture slightly to the right of Tonio's head.

When we were done lighting our candles, thanking God for our time with Kimmy and praying, we made the pilgramage up the little mountain next to the church.  I told the kids the story of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, as we stood next to the altar dedicated to her, in a grotto on the side of the mountain.  As we came around the corner, and the church came into view, Tonio sighed 'ahhh, what a beautiful view of the church...' And it is...it is an absolutely beautiful, peaceful, cleansing place - all around.  This was the 5th Mass I've attended here this month - and I am always awe struck - it has a calming affect.  Whenever I am sitting in the church, looking at the altar, our wedding day replays in my head, a perfect movie - a fairy tale wedding...

Later today, we went to see some baseball!  Spring Training, thought to be lost to Tucson, had returned, to benefit those involved in the Gabrielle Gifford's shooting on January 8th.  We were there.  Along with 10,500 spectators.  My first thought was: 'Wow. There were more people at the Red Bulls v Sporting FC soccer match held at Hi Corbett Field.'  Second, 'Doesn't anybody work in Tucson?'.
    It was a glorious day...we parked near the 10 at Kino Field (formerly known as Tucson Electric Park) and made the journey to the stadium.  In the mid-70's, no one was complaining about the heat.  As we entered the ball park, Brian asked 'Where do you want to sit?'...I told him I did not care, I was just so happy to be inside this stadium, and able to watch some baseball!!!  There is a certain feel you get when you walk into a crowded stadium...the sights, the smells, green grass, the vendors...and man, did it feel good today.  The smell of fresh cut grass wafted up to us as we looked for a place to camp out.
      As we walked through the parking lot, to the ball park, I told Cody, 'You know, your Mama has always been a Dodger fan.'...'Really?' he asked.  'Yep.  Bought her a Steve Sax jersey back in the early '80's...and remember when Chris Berman of Sports Center would say 'And Steve 'Alto' Sax just stole second!''.  We'd go to see the Dodgers play the Phils every year at Veteran's Stadium in Philly...Later, I bought her a Mike Piazza jersey.  She was a big Tommy Lasorda fan, and Piazza was Tommy's Godson...from down the street from where we grew up...Norristown, Pa.

         The grass was so green.  The breeze took any heat off of the sun, yet, the sun warmed our bodies.  We found a nice, grassy spot, on the sloped outfield near right field.  Betsey and Amy spread the blankets and the kids made themselves comfortable...for a moment....'I have to go to the bathroom.'...'Do they sell pretzels here?'...So, we made a pilgramage of a different sort....
               Ahhhh, Brian, Hadley, Tonio, Autumn, Lexy, Betsey, Amy, Cody and Alex sprawl out in the outfield grass of Kino Sports Park, or whatever they are calling it these days...it did not matter to us today, the temperature, sun, breeze, were all perfect for a little baseball!!  And the fresh air, the scent on the wind, was so relaxing...
                     Lexy, Autmn and Hadley, in pursuit of a hot pretzel, enjoy the day, as the 'boys of summer' take the field...

                                Brian's trying to get some tan on his lily white feet...no such luck today, but the rest of us added to our tan!  This was a most relaxing day, as the bambini played in the grass, and the rest of us kicked back, baked in the sun and watched some baseball!  I took a few guided tours...first with the girls to get hot pretzels and Lexy got a roasted ear of corn 'My Mom would be so happy!'  she said, as she added the chile powder to her ear...Then, I walked the boys around...a hot dog for Antonio...then, the girls again...this time, Eeegees!! 
                  What a beautiful stadium...and a beautiful day...for sun, baseball and companionship.  We all had a great time and the Diamondbacks had a late offensive surge to come from behind and win 6-3!!!
                  Kimmy and I saw many Spring Training games since we moved here in 1994.  Back then, we only had the Rockies, playing at classic Hi Corbett Field.  We'd go to see 4 or 5 games each spring, continuing the tradition after Cody was born.  The Rockies mascot, Dinger, is a triceratops and Cody would get so excited when Dinger would make his rounds.  By then, I was managing the Toys R Us on Broadway, and, as a post-Christmas 'Thank you', I would take as many employees as I could out to see a game.
                  When Tucson Electric Park opened (now inexplicably called Kino Park, which is better than a corporate name, I guess), we got the Diamondbacks and the White Sox - and there was a Spring Training game every day for the entire month of March.  My long running joke to Kimmy was, 'Guess what we are doing for your birthday?'  'What Dave?'  'I got tickets to see the Dbacks play the Angles!'  Kimmy would always giggle for me, knowing that I had other things planned for her March 1st day.
                  We used to like to go to the first day of ticket sales.  The Diamondbacks would have a few players on hand to sign autographs and there would be jumping castles, pitching games and food.  Once Autumn and Tonio came along, we stuck to buying lawn seating...they would last longer during a game if they weren't confined to seats!  Cody liked to get down as close to the field as possible and try to catch a foul ball - his best spot was all the way down the third base line.
              I'd always buy Kimmy and Autumn an ear of roasted corn.  I swear roasted corn is all Autumn would eat for a period of time once her teeth were all in!  Many great spring memories of us enjoying games at TEP and Hi Corbett....
                  Back at home...I made the girls pasta (what a lenten surprise!) and Angie stopped by to pick up Lexy later on in the evening...We tried to coerce her into staying for a beer, but she could not be corrupted!  So, we ended up at Betsey and Brian's house watching reruns of old Chris Farley Saturday Night Live episodes, cracking each other up!
                A good Friday...it was so nice to go to Mass at San Xavier - where Kim and I began our married lives almost 18 years ago...still fresh in my memory, and, as I've said, a fairy tale....and that ball park...Kimmy made sure, that, each Spring Training, we'd get to see at least one game...at least one...we loved the calm, soothing pace of the game, laying in the green grass and warm sunshine, washing away our cares....


Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Zoo

           We've been zoo members here at the Reid Park Zoo since 1994.  Kim and I used to go to the Philly Zoo, often, when we lived in Pennsylvania, so when we moved to Tucson, we wanted to be a part of the zoo here, too.  It has changed a lot over the years - the habitats are so much better, we loved the big trees and lush grounds...When there was debate over whether to take away the elephant exhibit a few years back, Kim went to bat for the elephants, helping to campaign for a new exhibit for them. 
          We got to see some of the progress on the new elephant enclosure today, when we made a trip there to renew our membership, which, had expired in December - we just hadn't had a chance to renew...Kim would have loved to see the elephant's new home, which should open later this year.  She felt very passionate about zoo's and the family enjoyment they provided.  Many of our trips and dates revolved around zoo's across the country.
          There was Trexler Game Preserve, near where we grew up - the famous site of Kimmy rolling down and hill and landing in a buffalo pie!  We went there on days off, to see the animals, walk the beautiful grounds and sit next to the nearby creek.  The Preserve was situated in rolling hills, surrounded by farmland.
          The Philly Zoo, off of Gerard Avenue was another favorite. It's the oldest zoo in the country. We'd start the day, in town, grabbing a cheesesteak (Pat's? Gino's?  Who cares!?!  They are all good!) and then go to the zoo.  They had a wonderful primate section and a lot of small lakes and fountains all shaded by large trees.  Afterwards, we'd grab dinner and sometimes go see a concert at the nearby Mann Music Center.
           We'd visited the Baltimore Zoo - second oldest in the country.  This zoo is set in Druid Park and very nice, lush and green.  The architecture in the old sections of the zoo is amazing.  It is about the same size as the Philly Zoo, big, but not too big.  The Washington D.C. Zoo - big, but too much concrete.  The Denver Zoo, medium size, exhibits too stark.  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs was a nice one - situated in the Rocky Mountain foothills, this is a smaller zoo, like Reid Park, with beautiful surroundings.
          Kim and I loved the Phoenix Zoo and would go up in the afternoon, see a ballgame or hockey game, spend the night and take the kids to the zoo in the morning.  We were members there for a few years, since it seemed we were going up there at least four times a year.  The African portion of this zoo was our favorite.  We also went to Out of Africa, up there, a natural wildlife zoo, focusing more on big cats - with live shows, featuring a trainer that would swim with a tiger!  This was a fun experience.
         Then, of course, there is the San Diego Zoo - beautiful, incredible, but just a little too big!  It would take us two days to get all the way around and we'd still be exhausted!  We never made it up to the Wild Animal Park...always telling each other 'next time'.  I'm sure Antonio does not remember the San Diego Zoo - I'll have to get him out there to see it.
         What other zoo's?  I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two or more...well, there is a variation of a zoo...the petting zoo!  Now, Kim always told me, she wanted to open up a petting zoo...seriously.  Of course, there would have to be a donkey.  And a duck (she once had a pet duck named Snoopy!).  She had this idea, that we could put a tent in our back yard...or sometimes, when we were driving, she'd point out a 'great location for a petting zoo!'...for example...when you are driving north on Kolb, just north of Speedway, on the west side of the street, there is a newer gas station (is it Q Time or something?) and newer apartments behind it...this used to be a dirt lot...and, one day, Kim excitedly yelled out 'There's where we could open our petting zoo!'.  Vail Pride Day - great petting zoo.  Pima County Fair - BIG petting zoo - one year, they even had a zebra!!

Kimmy and her donkey at the Trexler Game Preserve, 1972.  She was 7, Antonio's age...

Today, we ventured out to our Reid Park Zoo...with Betsey, Mitch, Hadley, Amy and Alex.  It was a beautiful day, and incredible temperatures.

               Autumn always has to have her picture taken on the peacock at the entrance...

           Inside the bird habitat, Autumn gets a shot of Cody, Tonio, Mitch and Alex at the infamous egg shell.  The bambini have always been attracted to this shell.  I would usually wait outside of the bird cage and Kimmy would take the kids in and they always had to play on the shell.  Today, Amy, Betsey and I all waited outside!

        We always loved the otters.  This otter put on quite a show for us today.  Swimming in spirals, getting out of the water and diving back in, so care free and happy...

             Kim's favorite at the Reid Park Zoo was the giraffes.  We saw one giving birth here at the zoo one time...

                                               Autumn and Antonio are all smiles at the zoo!
                            Hadley, Autumn, Mitch, Cody, Tonio and Alex pose by the big rock...

                              Even the big boys, Alex and Cody, appreciated the zoo today.
                               Amy got this one of all of the boys, wistfully looking out onto the sergentti...

               Later, at Rubio's (great fish taco's!!), Tonio seems to have sprouted claws...some bizarre side affect from our zoo visit today???
               And, this evening, we watched 'Dumb and Dumber' starring Jim Carrey.  After a wholesome day at the zoo, I figure I'd throw in some questionable movie to end our day!

               What a beautiful, star filled night, again - no clouds, bright stars and the Big Dipper so high over head.  Kimmy, the bambini and I had so many fun filled days at zoo's...I have so many fond memories of the various cities and zoo's we had the chance to share...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Recycle Party Photos and a Garden grows...and, a Lesson in Bad Parenting...

Betsey sent me these photos of the Recycle Party she threw for Hadley, Mitch, Lexy, Breanna, Autumn and Tonio...
                     Autumn, Hadley, Breanna and Lexy enjoy beverages in the clubhouse.
                             Autumn, Mitch and Hadley eat salad and strawberries...very healthy.
                                        Tonio, Mitch and Breanna play in Mitch's room.
                                    Lexy, Autumn and Hadley eat green jelly beans and play Webkins.

                                     Mitch and Tonio enjoy grilled veggie dogs..at a green table!
              The kids made art work, reminding everyone to recycle and save the planet.  They did a recycling maze as a project and then did a scavenger hunt to find items that were recyclable.  They sure had a great time and it was so nice of Betsey and Brian to open up their home to the kids for a fun party!!

           Speaking of going green, we have slowly been transforming Kimmy's garden, in our back yard, back to the beauty that she had bestowed upon it.  It is a slow process, as we wait for consistent weather and for the right plants to come back in stock.  We were dissappointed that Target will no longer carry flowers and plants, saying there is too much competition - I know Ami Bunch reported on her blog how happy she is that Target will carry meat and produce, though and I talked to a manager there today who told me they are 9 weeks from completion on that!
           So we went to the Home Depot, looking for a lime tree to plant for Kimmy in the yard, but they have not come in yet.  We thought we'd get the veggie garden (yes vegetables!) going again, instead.  The bambini selected cherry tomatoes (Tonio), basil (Autumn) and eggplant (Cody).

                          Ahhhh sweet Autumn plants sweet basil - Kimmy's spice of choice!
                                   Bella offers a little green thumb expertise...she is a great digger!

                           Tonio adds the cherry tomatoes...saying 'This is hard work!'...
                          Autumn's basil is ready to grow!  She just needs to add water...

                No longer to bend all the way to the ground, Tonio lightly tosses handfuls of rich soil, chock full of vitamins, down to meet up with his tomato plant...still needs water too!  Cody escaped to Alex's to play video games and eat chicken and talapia tacos that Amy made for him!!
                 A nice day in the garden with the bambini - we also got to stop into Kohl's to visit Angie (incidently, my very first time I set foot into Kohl's in 6 years - I sucked it up so we could visit with the 'Shoe Queen'!) and then over to Viro's to visit with Rosa and Vito and to have some lunch - Cody and I are hooked on their pesto sandwhich!  Autumn made a huge bowl of pasta dissappear and Tonio had a hand crafted pizza pie!  And, while at Viro's, ran into Kristine Impellizzeri and her daughter Savanah (who got her driver's permit today, congrats!) who Kimmy had the opportunity to work with at Cottonwood in the Head Sprout program, helping children to read better. 
                  Kimmy loved her garden.  Keeping it green with plenty of colorful flowers was a joy for her.  She would spend as much time as possible adding, subtracting, rearranging, 'Do we have enough money for a little box of flowers, Dave?'  Of course, how could I say no to Kimmy?
                 Later, Tonio and Autumn had swim lessons.  Tonio  loves it. Autumn hates it.
                                         Tonio and Autumn await their turn to swim!
                                    Autumn's instructor, Lauren, adjusts Aut's goggles - Autumn had just swam out to her from the stairs.  They're getting there!

                Lessons in bad parenting:
              1) today, I let Cody go to Ace Hardware.  By himself.  To buy an inner tube for his bike.  I know it's only two blocks away.  And he turns 14 next week.  By the age of 14, I was riding buses all over the city.  Riding my bike 26 miles to Lake Nockamixon (there can be no right way to spell that name!).  And walking to school, 2 miles, uphill, both ways.  But the world was different back then...or was the media coverage different? 
             2) After swim lessons, we loaded up on McDonald's for a late dinner...no vegetables - unless you count pickles and fries, that is.  My cooking streak has ended.
            3) While we dined on our nutritious dinner, we watched the instant classic, Grown Ups, starring Adam Sandler and friends...and followed it with the classic Adam Sandler, The Water Boy.  High culture cinemtography.

           4)  11 p.m.  Bambini still awake, well, actually, Tonio crashed. On the floor of the Sports Room, watching SNL reruns starring Robert DeNiro...and, he was curled up with his Sprite from McD's...ahhhh, yes, just a boy and his Sprite.  And here is a girl and her pup.  Autumn has decided to pack it in.   Cody and I are going to watch 'Stranger than Fiction' starring Will Ferrell now...
            We did go out back just now to say goodnight to Kimmy, a nightly tradition...the Big Dipper was high over head this late and Autumn thought it seemed darker tonight...but the stars were so bright...


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pasta Fagioli

    And here is # 5 on Autumn's favorite Mama foods list...the Pasta Fagioli!!! Pasta and beans (does that count as a vegetable??).  Kimmy made a great pot of pasta fagioli (in a nice pot, well, maybe not quite as nice as the one I own now - see last night's blog).  She would always serve it with a good bread and a nice salad.  See last night's blog for thoughts on good bread.  But, any bread will do - even sour dough!  And, like the ebb and flow of the tide...I'm on a cooking roll! High tide, baby!!
   Here's how she did it:
       Get out your nice pot and put in 12 cups of chicken broth.  Put on the heat and get it boiling.  Add in 3 cups of cannellini beans.  3 cloves of minced garlic.  1 small onion, diced.  1 cup of shredded carrot. 1 cup of finely chopped celerly.  1 can (14 oz) Italian tomatoes.  Bring to a  boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
      Take about half of this soup and blend in a blender - or use a food processor, to grind up and place it back into your nice pot.
       Add a quarter lb of pancetta - Kimmy used to ask for this sliced thick at the deli and then cut it up into cubes.  Add in 8 oz of ditalini, pastina or orza, bring back to a boil and cook for 8 minutes or so, leaving pasta al dente.
       Serve with grated parm!
       If you have leftovers, the pasta will absorb the broth - just add more tomorrow, reheat and it is EVEN better the second day as all of those wonderfull ingredients absorb!!  Could you add oregano?  YES!  I always add oregano - to taste.  And pepper.

    Ahhh...there is is bene'!!!!  Kimmy did it best, but the bambini gave this the thumbs up, thank God!  Please avoid the Olive Garden's pasta fagioli, especially out here - they have bastardized it and it may as well be chile.  Dammit.  The Olive Garden is to Italian food what Taco Bell is to Mexican food.

      It was another busy day here...Hadley had a 'Recycle Party' with Mitch and invited Aut, Tonio, Lexy and Breanna...Mario and I avoided the festivites...but, the kids reported they had a fantastic time, made a lot of cool crafts, t-shirts, ate turkey and veggie dogs (how nice), cupcakes, etc.  Betsey did a fantastic job entertaining these guys this afternoon and I've requested postable photos...met with Kimmy's Foundation today - thank you for all of your help!!  Her foundation is growing and will begin to help families here in Tucson!!
      Cody and I ended our night watching 'The Tourist'...very entertaining!

       Make the pasta fagioli...enjoy...and let me know your thoughts!

              Grazia and bouna sera....
"I'm not all me, so please excuse me while I tend to how I feel..."
                                                                 -Metallica "Hero of the Day"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

    #2 on Autumn's "All Time Favorite Mama Recipes"...is...Italian Wedding Soup!!!  Oh man, was Aut excited, when she came home from the movies with Mrs. Rudzena (Casey) and found out that I had cooked up a batch today!!  Cody and Antonio both enjoy the wedding soup, too - and they were my guinea pigs today, so to speak.
     Kimmy made a mean wedding soup.  She made it look easy, as she did with most everything she did - the word 'graceful' comes to mind!  First of all, I was glad that, after I finished preparing the ingredients, when I flipped her little recipe card over (Did I tell you I love her hand writing?), there were further instructions on how to prepare the ingredients!  Hoo ray!  I didn't need to be bailed out today, like when I made the Chicken Tortilla Soup!!
     Ok, so essentially, you have to make the tiny meatballs:
        Take 8 oz of ground beef and 8 oz of ground pork and put them in a mixing bowl.
        Toss in a small, finely chopped onion
        1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
        1 large egg
        2 cloves of minced garlic (ahhh, I used 3!)
        1 tsp of salt
         1/4 cup  of bread crumbs
         1/2 cup of grated Parm
         Freshly ground pepper to taste

         Mix these ingredients up well and roll out 1" meatballs - place on a plate
         The Soup:
         Put 12 cups of chicken broth in a nice pot
           Here is a nice pot.  I use it almost daily.  Sometimes twice a day.  If you do not have a nice pot, get one.
           Chop into thin strips, 1 lb of escarole (you can substitute spinach if you cannot locate escarole or endive).
            2 large eggs.
            2 tbls of grated Parm
            Salt and ground pepper
            1 box of orza or pastini

           Bring the broth to a boil and add the meatballs and escarole and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through (about 8 minutes).  Whisk the eggs, cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Stir the soup in a circular motion (is there any other way?) and gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin strands of egg (yeh, here's where I struggled - figuring if I had that elusive third hand, so I could stir the soup in a circular motion, while drizzling the egg and using a fork to form thin strands), about 1 minute.

          Serve soup!  You can sprinkle grated parm on top, if you desire, and the bambini always do!!

                                         Birdseye view of Italian Wedding Soup in 'nice pot'...
            And the Italian Wedding Soup in a nice bowl - oh, hey, be sure to pick up a nice loaf of bread!  That La Brea bread company makes a tasty olive oil and rosemary loaf that was Kimmy's favorite.  If you are here in Tucson, swing into Viro's on 22nd and Sarnoff and get any fresh loaf that they have!!!            
         The nice thing about this recipe, is, you'll have leftovers for tomorrow!  Don't be alarmed tomorrow, though, when you come out and see that the pasta has sucked up every last vestige of broth.  Simply add a little more broth!
            It really isn't a difficult or time consuming recipe - and again, Kimmy made it look so easy, but it brought our family so much satisfaction!!  We appreciated it!  Today, was a big win, as they bambini each ate two bowls, and Aut even ate the meatballs!!

           And, as you may have read on Casey's blog (now one of the links on Kimmy's blog, if you scroll down, past the music line up, you'll see links on the right side for Casey's, as well as, Ami's blog, too!), she scooped me on our return, yet again, to Fantasy Island!  Today, we brought Casey for her first ride through (and found out she had not been on a bike since, perhaps, when she was 5!!) and her mom, Patti, too.
          It was very windy today, but the temperature was fantastic!

                                     Autumn, Patti (with an 'i'), Casey and Antonio are ready to ride!
           And these guys did a fantastic job avoiding cactus, snakes, cows (I am not in the mood for cows today! Autumn told me) and other various dangers.  Aut and I saw a jack rabbit today bigger than Bella.
                   Casey riding hard through the desert terrain, unimpeded by my stupid finger!

                             Casey and Patti check out my old bike that we hung for Kimmy...
       These guys even made it through the dreaded sand pit today!! It was a great ride!
                             And Autumn and Casey had a blast going to see Gnomeo and Juliet after we went for breakfast/lunch at Bruegger's with Patti and Patti's Mom.  You can see pictures of the movie on Casey's web site and she has a great tunes list...all of which, Cody and I have downloaded to his Ipod!

                          It was another busy day...another strategy session with Sam (Ami and Mary's - who guided the bambini through kindergarten, Dad the lawyer) as we wade through the red tape and fiscal water, then I left to do final interviews as we hire a principal for the new high school that will open next July (we picked one!) and got back just in time to wisk the little ones off to their swim lessons - hit Target, Safeway and home by 8:30 so we could eat wedding soup....

                       And, another Monday, flying by...I couldn't, as hard as I tried, remember the time, the exact time, that I said goodbye to Kimmy, my love, my angel, before they put her on the respirator - I don't know why it was so important today, but it seemed to be - that passionate exchange, her eyes so bright, so alive...I tried to reach out to those I was in contact with that day, but couldn't...I'm not quite myself these days, I guess we all come undone time to time in different ways.  I have myself to blame, guess I don't always understand and need help in many ways.

               "How I wish, how I wish you were here...
                We're just two lost souls,
                Swimming in a fish bowl,
                Year after year...
                Running over the same old ground.
                What have we found?
                 The same old fears.
                Wish you were here."
                              -Pink Floyd


Sunday, March 20, 2011


       Been to Viro's yet?
  We are there twice a week, not just because the food is so good, but the people...the people - they are family!  Today, I was talking to Vito, the owner, and telling him - he could be rich if he didn't help so many people...he told me "Dave, I could be rich, but I feel richer because I know so many people and have so many friends - if I was in it for the money, I would not have so many friends".  He said one of the things he loves most, is that him and Rosa, get to come out, sit and mingle with their customers -  his friends.
              Vito and Vito Jr. sit with us for breakfast and strategize increasing traffic...let me tell you, if you have not ever eaten here, try it - you will be hooked!
              And, sadly, it was Christina's last day - she made the best omelets, was so helpful, friendly - Kimmy absolutely loved her!!
               Christina prepares to make our omelets wielding her trusty spatula!
                   Ahhh, I still can't figure out how to rotate these photos before posting, sorry!  But, here, Christina joins Autumn, Lexy, Tonio and I for awhile as we enjoy breakfast (please note the wonderful, double cappuccino that Erica made for me in the middle of the table!).  Ohhhhh, we ate so much!  Rosa had made a cake from panetone, soaking it in rum, dipping it in chocolate and adding a chocolate,cream filling - it was sooooooo good!!!
                   Now, I'm sure I mentioned this before, but, Kimmy loved to got to Viro's each Sunday after church, where we felt so at home.  The variety, the home cooked taste and, of course, the people, made her day.  Christina would make us veggie omelets, before we even asked...
                  After breakfast, we headed back home, where Lexy and Autumn made a movie party - inviting Hadley over and decorating our house - very festive!
             Once the movie was over, we headed down to Angie's house to watch the University of Arizona square off against Texas in the next round of March Madness!  She made some incredible tacos, beans, Mario made rice, Janene made chiletillas (is that spelled right?)  and I ate at least as much there as I ate at Viro's for breakfast!! And Angie puts peas on the tacos. The game was intense, with U of A winning in the final seconds - the house erupted!  Well, except for Janene's husband, Brad (a fellow Penn State fan from just outside of Pittsburgh) - he is a Tucson police officer, and is rooting against Arizona, because, if they beat Duke on Thursday, he will be on crowd, more like riot control down on 4th avenue following the game!  The kids had fun chasing lizards outside while we watched hoops and ate.
            As I sat on the couch, watching the game, I couldn't help but remember watching many games on that very couch with Kimmy sitting next to me at various holidays and occasions.  She always loved the food and the company, especially on Christmas, at Angie's house.  On Christmas, she would make pizzelle cookies to bring along.  Angie's family always had a huge spread at every occaision and it would challenge Kim's creativity to try to bring something that everyone would enjoy, without being a duplicate dish!  Mark commented tonight, that he feels we are doing remarkably well, and doesn't know how I do it - I told him, without hesitation, that between the bambini and his family, we are making our way - of course, we have a lot of support throughout our days to help us through this maze...
             And how about that moon tonight?  So beautiful and bright!  Tonight, there was some cloud cover as we said goodnight to Kimmy, but, we noticed, that the Big Dipper was clear and unobscured by clouds!  And, thinking back on our day, getting to spend it with our Viro's family and then Angie's large family, we are in good hands, just the way Kimmy liked it, and just the way she intended it to be...

The Family is the Country of the heart. There is an angel in the Family who, by the mysterious influence of grace, of sweetness, and of love, renders the fulfillment of duties less wearisome, sorrows less bitter. The only pure joys unmixed with sadness.
- Giuseppe Mazzini
This quote personifies Kimmy and all of her being.... I think, that Giuseppe somehow knew Kimmy...