Light and fluffy?

 Goodness I’m still getting comments on the hat post – I guess with the state of the world and especially the US we are all craving light and fluffy. Even if it’s a moment or two when we get to think about something as inconsequential as hats. 

Want more light and fluffy and inconsequential? (Boy am I giving that word a work-out. Let me pop over to a thesaurus and find a substitute. BRB)

Here you go – pick whichever you like best and substitute it where you will – 

Okay here’s another bit of common-usage errors that frost my butt and make me twitch – 

Cannelloni and manicotti ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. 

The first difference is that manicotti is NOT PASTA. It is a crepe. A CREPE, people – not pasta. 

There is no such thing as a “manicotti shell” – none, zero, zip, ninqueno, niente! Only in America. 

Allow me to quote

“Manicotti is well known in the United States as a tubular pasta usually served stuffed and baked, similar to cannelloni. The noodles are cooked, stuffed, and covered in sauce in almost the exact same way. Manicotti pasta is also sometimes sold in stores as shells instead of tubes, which can make stuffing them somewhat easier.

However, traditional manicotti is not actually a pasta. Authentic manicotti is made with crepes, not pasta, that are filled and baked. The thin crepes required for what in the United States is known as manicotti must even be made differently, in crepe pans (rather similar to the pans used to make tortillas). In Italy, manicotti would not be served as a pasta dish but as a crepe dish, or a crespelle.”

You can read the whole article HERE. 

I’ve just done a lot of hopping down the rabbit hole of manicotti/cannelloni and it seems that manicotti is basically an Italian-American thing like chop suey is a Chinese-American thing. In Italy what I know as manicotti is called crespelle. 

I make manicotti/crespelle – it’s easy-peasy boring but easy. One time my husband ordered manicotti in a restaurant and they brought him what I make – he said ‘That’s just like my wife makes!” Uh-huh.

So this is a battle I don’t think I will win. But I’ll go to my grave swearing that manicotti is not pasta and is a crepe and it is not cannelloni. 

Now imagine I’m holding my hand up. with my palm facing me and, with the tips of my fingers, I flick under my chin outwards –  that means – 


Because my brain is stuck on the mundane

I’ve been letting others speak for me since they do it so well – 

 My Instagram(@justtawkin)  is filled with “posters” most of which I create from quotes that reflect my thoughts/opinions/feelings far better than I could. Often it takes me hours to make one as I try to find an appropriate background to illustrate the quote. This is the latest –

I used to write thoughtful posts. They were usually well written. As a “writer” I am often very good with a few sentences, not as good with a sustained narrative. As a poet, again, I’m a writer of a few good lines. 

It’s not so much that I lament the quality of my writing lately  but rather the content. 

I am old. I have 75 and half years of life, love, experience, mistakes, surely I have learned something; acquired some wisdom to share and comfort to offer. Appears not, or, not lately.

My mind is stuck in the mires of mundanity. I prefer the light and fluffy. Perhaps I crave the light and fluffy as antidote to the fears and resultant anxiety. 

I am afraid of everything. The simplest task or event is fraught with ‘what ifs’ and none of them are positive. I anticipate disaster with every breath I take. 

This is how my Monday starts, and my Tuesday and every day of the week. Every night of sleeplessness. I don’t know how to make it stop, how to make it better. 

I am all out of advice,  of wisdom, of comfort to offer to anyone else, least of all me.


This is the sort of post that does NOT require comments, so I shut them off – just for this post. I’m sure the next post will be less fraught and you’ll be able to jump in and we can tawk – but not this one, okay? 

There is a special place in hell for people like me…

“Devil: This is the lake of lava that you’ll be spending eternity in.

Me: Actually we’re underground so it would be magma.

Devil: You realize this is why you’re here.” 

Yup that’s me, a different subject perhaps, but me. 

Of my many jobs I think my most favorite was working in a hat store. I was the assistant manager, the store was privately owned, not a chain. I was known around Burlington as “The Hat Store Lady”.  

I acquired extensive, if esoteric, knowledge of hats. When generally accepted but incorrect information gets put in my way, I get grumpy. 

When people refer to any old straw hat as a ‘panama hat” or a Western style hat as a Stetson I start to twitch. When people try to sound all hoity-toity, like they know what they are talking about, I tend to the pedantic. 

Panama hat does NOT refer to a style of hat. It describes the TYPE of straw used to make the hat and that straw is called toquilla straw and it is produced in only one place – Ecuador. If your straw hat is made from any other kind of straw then it is NOT a Panama hat. The processing of the straw is complex and labor intensive which is why genuine Panama straw hats are damn expensive. That $20 “Panama Straw hat” on Amazon? Not on your life, boobalah. False advertising. 

Stetson – NOT a style, it’s the name of the manufacturer.  They make fabulous hats – in every style you can possibly imagine (including baseball caps). But if I ask you what style hat you’re wearing please don’t tell me Stetson. 

Yes, sometimes I get sloppy and ask what kind of hat but even then – I’m talking about style and you might be forgiven if you answer with the name of the manufacturer. (BTW – here is the link to the Stetson web site. ) 

My personal preference in Western style hats is the ‘gambler’. I just bought a straw ‘gambler’ (and no, it’s not a Panama – I can’t afford one.) I would love a wool ‘gambler’ but even on sale I can’t bring myself to spend that much on a hat (the straw was on sale – Score!)

You realize I can rattle on with many more examples, don’t you? But breathe easy I’ll stop here. 

I just needed to get this off my chest – it’s Summer time and people are prattling on about their ‘Panama’ hats which aren’t and it irks me and I want to correct  educate them but I know it wouldn’t be welcome and would certainly get me that special place in hell. 

Again with the comics


I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before – 

In 6th grade there was a girl named Marguerite, an Italian-American girl like me (and like our teacher, Mrs. Forlano). Marguerite talked with her hands. So much so that, and I’m projecting here, it annoyed Mrs. Forlano. One day Mrs. Forlano held Marguerite’s hands down on her desk, asked her a question, and that poor girl could not utter a comprehensible word! She stuttered and err’ed and um’ed until her hands were released and the words came tumbling out in a rush.

In college I took Italian and most of the students were Italian-American. The professor was British and had been in British Intelligence during World War II. One of his assignments had been interrogating Italian POW’s. 

First day of class he had each of us stand, introduce ourselves and say why we were taking Italian. He then, correctly, identified which part of Italy our families came from.

According to the professor, he didn’t really need to know Italian to understand what the captive soldiers were saying – the hand gestures were enough. And, it seems, different parts of Italy generated different gestures. He allowed as Southern Italians were more ‘fluent’ in hand gestures than Northern Italians. I guess dialects applied to non-spoken Italian as well as spoken. 

Writing this made me wonder if mime differed from country to country. Turns out mime goes back to ancient Greece but became an art form in, wait for it, Italy in the 16th century, known as Commedia dell’arte. It was co-opted by the French in 1816 and now is thought of as being distinctly French. 

Mime aside, we Italians do talk with our hands, which is why I am way more funny and expressive in real life than I am writing or doing an audio-only. It’s why my blog Today’s Conversation went into decline. After so many years together the conversations between my husband and I were conducted in a sort of shorthand – he used words I used gestures – hard to write them down.

(A LINK to the history of mime, if you are interested, subtitled ‘…the most oh-so-French-of-art forms.)

People are funny and by that I mean

 they are annoying as all hell. (or annoying as AF). 

I made cornbread this afternoon. Which got me thinking.

My husband’s younger brother got married when he was in his early 40’s (or thereabouts I don’t know exactly how old his younger brother is) to a woman who was maybe 2 or 3 years older. First marriage for both.

I disliked the woman on sight. But since we saw them only once a year it was no big deal. 

Initially they lived in a Boston suburb and we lived in Vermont. Then we moved to Virginia and on to other places. We still saw them once a year – they like to travel. When they retired they moved to one of the Carolinas (don’t recall which) and continued their annual visit. 

Okay, here’s what irks me about the woman.

On one of their visits she spied the Lladro figurine that was my wedding cake topper – Can you imagine this on top of a sheet cake? (BTW – instead of just taking a quick pic of mine I went searching for a photo and discovered there are variations of this – subtle differences in the positioning of their heads and faces – odd. They all carry the same model number 4808 but mine is incised with “A-08” with a hand scratched R. At any rate this figurine was retired in 1977 and I received it in 1990.) 

As soon as she saw it she said “Ooo – Can I have this? It’s worth quite a bit of money!” I beg your pardon? Who the hell does that? I replied “No, it was a wedding present” 

Fast forward a few years. We had moved to Virginia. My husband’s children still lived in Vermont, his family all still lived around Boston. We went up for a family wedding. His daughters, who were in their late teens came down. I took the girls shopping for some fancy clothes to wear to the wedding. This woman then decided to take ‘her girls’ for mani-pedis. 

Yes, she referred to them as ‘her girls’ – these were people she barely knew. She continued fawning over the girls the whole weekend, making a big to-do but only when I was around. Make of that what you will.

Some years later, we were back in Virginia (having lived several other places in the intervening years). Brother and his wife came to our new place on their annual visit and the first thing out of her mouth was ‘Do you still have that Lladro?” Oy, lady, give it a rest, it’s been over 25 years, you’re not getting it. 

Then she says – “Oh, I like your lamp. I could use a floor lamp in our new house.” Me, being a nice person, I tell her where I purchased it, even printed out the product page from Amazon.  A few years later, another visit, she notes the lamps (again) and says “I have those same lamps!” I remind her that I was the one who gave her the information on where to purchase said lamps. 

When our daughter and family visited last year, daughter says “Auntie has those same lamps” I tell her the lamp story. 

Brother and his wife were here in March on the ‘annual visit’ and we got talking about food and I shared some of my favorite recipes with her – printed them out, put them in page protectors – whole nine yards. I included my ‘famous’ cornbread recipe. 

I have no doubt somewhere down the line some family member will remark that Trish makes this really good cornbread and I will remark, because I can be a bit of a bitch (big surprise, right?) that it is probably MY cornbread recipe. You know, as sure as God made little green apples, she sure as hell wasn’t giving me any credit. 

What is with that woman? This has been going on for nigh on 30 years. We see them once a year, and once a year she winds up coveting something I have and then co-opting it. 

This woman and I don’t really know each other. We have no relationship, never have had. We have never been any part of each other’s lives. We are, for all intents and purposes, strangers – What the holy hell is her problem! 

It used to annoy me. Now it amuses me. I wonder if she does this with other people. It can’t be just me. Oh, and another bit of information – years ago my husband said “You really don’t like her, do you?” I replied “No, I don’t” He said “Well, she probably doesn’t like you either but then she doesn’t like anyone”. 

And there you go. 

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

 There is a magnolia tree in the front of my building but way over to the end of the building – a spot which I rarely see. Today I actually went for a walk (more about that later). I left the building through the rear and come back through the front and lo and behold there were a few blossoms left – it is at the end of the magnolia blooming season. This is the first time in 10 years I have ever seen that tree in bloom. The building is 8 stories high and the tree goes beyond the roof line, as well as it being rooted below the first story base – so this is a substantial tree – easily 80 feet tall (if not more). It is, minimally 60 years old. I tried to snap off one of the remaining blooms but the branches are so thick it was impossible. Those branches aren’t ‘snapping off’ any time soon!

Remember in my last post (Thursday) I mentioned some books I was wait-listed for from my local public library? Well, wouldn’t you know it Friday morning I got notice that one was available for download and then Friday night I received notice that another was available. So – two new books in one day. I get to keep the books for 21 days so no problem about finishing them. The other books I’m reading are free ebooks from various sources and they will keep. 

I am excited about the first book! Initially I wasn’t thrilled. It wasn’t until page 26 that I started to fall in love. 20 pages after that and I’m obsessed. 

The book is “The Sentence” by Louise Erdrich. You might want to read a bit about the author. I’d skip the review. I’m only on page 46 and aspects addressed in the reviews I haven’t gotten to yet – not deep enough into the book to make all those connections.

But the fun part for me is – the story’s central location is a bookstore owned by Louise Erdrich! And that is true. The author does own a bookstore called Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. Plus – bookstore! Booklovers! Because the bookstore specializes in Native American/Indigenous books I’m not familiar with most of the authors but I’m making lists! 

Going by the reviews (I’ve read several) I don’t know how long I will stay in love with this book but for now…  

And now time to toddle off and get back to reading…