Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Treadmill of My Life


The racing treadmill that never stops
The get up and go until I drop
My lists are set at morning light
I check the last around midnight.

My time is worth a thousand times
Of tranquil liberty
For all the work I’ve done in life
I do deserve serenity.

But then I think of my golden days
When I will acquire
The long awaited, “I retire,”
And all the time I’ll have on my hands
Truth be known – this I dread.

For I love the action, the rush, the drill
For my heart pounds with sweet adrenalin
And I think the awaited serenity
will happen in blessed eternity.

© Natala Orobello

Monday, September 29, 2014

Time Management

   

  This coming month I am going to concentrate on advocating and promoting time management. From as long as I can remember, people have told me, "Natala, how do you accomplish so much?" I've never really thought about how I do all that I do because I just do it - all of it. I can't really say I was brought up to do many things; as a matter of fact, as a child I was required to do very little. But, upon reflection, I can begin to understand when I became adapt at multi-tasking. It began with my job at A&S better known as Abraham and Strauss.
     I began work at this retail store, which was similar to Macy's, when I was seventeen years old. I had just graduated high school, so I was hired as a stock girl. By the way, I loved that job but I also loved helping my manager set the floor and dress the maniquins. Within a few months, my manager added clerical work to my job description.
     I was learning the retail business from the ground up. A year later, I became assistant manager and was moved to a new department. My Department General Manager spoke to me about becoming a manager and he told me A &S would pay for my college education as long as I received a B or better. So, I began college, and continued to work as assistant manager. I was learning to manage my time wisely because as most people know retailing is demanding, yet had it not been for A & S, I would not have been prepared for what happened to me many years later.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Let’s compare Apples to Apples


Those who do not know how to teach become educational administrators or legislators who command how education should work. I’m frustrated with individuals who either hated teaching or hated kids, so they went into positions where they delegate assessment, objectives, and outcomes on educational topics without knowledge of what does or does not work in the classroom. Administrators are beginning to rule with an iron fist because they believe that education and educators in America are not effective.
I admit there are teachers who are not as effective as others. That occurs in any profession. If legislators as well as administrators want to remove tenure, so they can fire those teachers who are not doing a good job then fine, do it. However, I doubt they have taken everything into consideration. Here’s the problem holding teachers to the same standards as other workers. Our final products are not strictly of our making. We get all different types of children from all different cultural backgrounds. We get students who are poor and have not eaten or slept. We get children whose families are broken or breaking up. We get students who are at different levels of aptitude and attitude. Our employers do not give us the same exact material in order for us to create a particular product. That’s where the difference lies.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Presi Link: Run on Sentences




© Natala Orobello

Manicotti


Our family does not make manicotti with store bought shells; instead, we make our own shells and of course our own filling. Once you have made your tomato sauce, you are ready to begin!

Ingredients for shells:

1           eggs
1           cups of water
2       cups of flour

Directions:

Beat eggs first, then add water and then flour.  Continue to mix till you have a pancake consistency. Make these in a small frying pan and pour in enough mixture to make crepe style pancakes, another words not too thick.

Ingredients for filling:
1           lb. ricotta
1           egg
1           cup mozzarella , shredded
2           tbs. grated cheese
1           tbs. chopped parsley
salt  &  pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients.  Place one tablespoon of filling inside each manicotti. Fold in both sides, creating your manicotti.  Place fold side down on a pan, which has been prepared with tomato sauce (this has already been cooked) and cheese.  Pour more tomato sauce on top of  each manicotti and add more cheese and mozzarella. Bake in a 375º preheated oven for 10 – 15 minutes, as long as the cheese has melted and the sides of the pan have created a  gentle  boil with the tomato sauce.
This recipe creates a soft shell that is light and easy to digest.  Unlike the store bought, these take very little time to bake.  One little secret, though, is to make double the amount you would make if you had purchased them, because they’re not as heavy.
© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We Dance



We Dance

“I’ll prepare the entre.”
“Ok.”
“I’ll tackle dessert.”
“Good.”
“He swings around me to reach the fridge.”
“I reach behind him to get chocolate and sugar.”
“Shrimp?”
“Yummy.”
“Chocolate pudding?”
“Perfect.”
“He stands beside me-peeling by the sink.”
We touch –
Barry White plays softly, quietly.
Egg yolks, milk, chocolate, and corn starch in a pot.
“Excuse me – oven needs to be on.”
“No problem –“
My hips move back – making room.
Oven’s preheating – burner’s on medium.
I stir chocolate velvet.
He sprinkles toasted breadcrumb.
Semi-circle round his back for glasses on the shelf.
We touch –
We smile –

We dance.

© Natala Orobello

Monday, September 22, 2014

Friend or Acquaintance?


     I realize that what I am about to say will be quite controversial, but as my Elements of Argument students know, I’m all about controversial issues. As Christians we are to love everyone including our enemies, and I understand that, really I do, but what I have had the most difficult time understanding is that sometimes those we call friends can be hurtful, yet I have always thought I had to forgive by continuing to be around them. I am learning that’s not true. I have spent most of my summers evaluating my relationship with my family, my relatives, and my friends. For many years, I would analyze and worry what I did wrong if familial or communal relationships did not work out or if they were strained. This summer I came to an AHA! moment.

     I learned that I am particular about my relationships, and I have given myself the permission only to be around those I truly care about and who truly care about me. Relationships take lots of work, and I’m fine with that, but what I’m not fine with is doing all the work. I have learned that I expect reciprocation. I’ve had “friends” who never call yet are so appreciative when I do. We’ll get together and it will be like we’re the best buds ever, yet I don’t hear from them unless I pick up the phone. Now, mind you, I’m not talking about – I call, you call; that’s not my meaning at all. I understand that sometimes we are busy and it’s easier for one and not the other to call or meet. I’m talking about the ones who don’t ever take the initiative.

     I have finally come to the realization that some “friends” are merely acquaintances and it’s good to know that, so there are no unrealistic expectations because acquaintances do not go out of their way to become friends. So, here are some examples of those I now call friends regardless of whether they are common or familial. My friends keep in touch and want to get together. My friends are uplifting and generous with their kind words. My friends will let me know if I have hurt them, so we can discuss. I believe I am that type of friend. There is a balance when friends are of like mind.

© Natala Orobello

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not Mine

My daughter in law Michelle wrote this poem in 2002 after her doctor found a suspicious lump in her left breast.  Considering her family history, this was not a good thing.  As  she waited for the results from the biopsy she wrote this poem:
Not Mine
My heart stopped, I tried to breathe
I thought of my future and my past
How long will my days last?
Youth does not bring news such as this
I have options, don’t I?
This is bigger than me
What choices do I have?
How quick to die?
How little time to live?
Finally I could hear His voice
I do have a part
I can maintain my heart, my soul
Faced with my own mortality
That might spark a start
Live, love, laugh, play
How could I possibly run away
 from this life He has given?
It was always part of His plan
Why can’t I let Him have His way?
It might mean surrendering today
I have learned that giving in would determine
that my life is not mine
But has always belonged to the Divine.





© Michelle Orobello

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Minestrone Soup



I made this the other day because I wanted something healthy for my "school" lunches. I decided to buy frozen vegetables since they have zero sodium and zero fat and are quick and easy (I love easy and love quick even more). I added salt to my taste, which is very little and just a touch of healthy fat from the four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. The vegetable broth is also low sodium. I had a nice size pot on the stove and enough minestrone soup for that night's dinner as well as lunch for several days!!

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen mixed beans
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup frozen string beans
1 smoked ham hock
1 large container of vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic – sliced thin
1 small onion - chopped
4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ pound of Ditallini pasta

Directions:
In a deep pot, braise garlic and onion in the olive oil. Once braised, add broth and all vegetables. Add ham hock about fifteen minutes before removing soup from heat. You can freeze the ham hock for another time. Boil water for pasta. Cook pasta half the directed time. Drain and then add to your soup and cook till tender. You can add more vegetables if you like. This recipe is really fast, but the results are terrific!!











© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Porcelain Doll



When I was a child growing up in Italy, I did not have many toys; actually, I had one. It was a cloth doll my mother had made me. When my aunt from America came to visit, she brought me a porcelain doll. It was beautiful, but I had no idea what I could or could not do with it. Hence, I cut its hair, thinking it would grow back! Those were my days of innocence.

Porcelain doll replaced my cloth doll.
I had never owned a doll with hair.

I thought the tresses would grow back, so
I cropped beauty to match mine.

Her lashes were silky long and walnut dark
Mine were invisible - short and pale.

“Daddy, look at my doll.”
I thought she looked like me.
“You’ve ruined her, She’s ugly - tattered.”
 He threw her into the cobblestone street
I ran to retrieve shattered bones of glass.

The sock doll replaced my porcelain doll.
She was mine without hair or lashes.




© Natala Orobello

Monday, September 15, 2014

Love


Yes, we’re still on learning who you are. This one pertains to knowing who you are well enough, so you will know what type of individual you should choose, date, marry, and be with for the rest of your life.

When my children were around the marrying age (they were in their mid- twenties) we discussed the type of person they should look for in a life partner. I remember saying look at who you are and what is most important to you and then go from there. Of course, I suggested they make a list of their priorities. My daughter’s  list looked something like this:

Belief in God
Love of family
Have a good work ethic
Must love children
Must be generous
Must enjoy spending time outdoors
Must be trustworthy
Must be respectful
Must be clean and takes pride in appearance
Must love animals
Must have a sense of humor

Here’s the thing. You must know yourself first because if you are not those things, then how do you propose to find someone for yourself who does? If you do have those traits, then you have every right to expect someone to have those traits as well. Because, you see, those traits or virtues are not impossible to have. They are good, wholesome traits that bring a family together and keep a family together. There are more traits one can add to that list, but that is for the individual to decide.

© Natala Orobello

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Prayer

The following poem was written by my daughter Natalie after our family lost a treasured friend. Though this poem reflects her need to understand why this particular individual passed away at such a young age, it seems to me that one can apply these words toward any situation when we do not understand the ways of the Lord. Our peace and comfort comes from our faith in Him. I believe that is what my daughter learns, and what we can all learn as we journey through life.


Our tears are many, our hearts hurt -
our minds don't understand.
We ask, "why?"
Our voices are angry as
we plead for our desires.

We question again and then
we begin to pray,
"Help us Lord to understand,
help us Lord to accept your will,
Help us Lord to be strong,
to be your servant and help us
provide a place of safety - 
refuge of love for those around us."

We know that we will still cry
our minds will not understand all
but You, Lord will be in our heart.
You will give us strength to walk -
to move forward on this path.
Only You know our destination.
Only You can supply the provisions
needed to get us from here to there.

And, so we must remember 
to lift our eyes
to look ahead at the unknown
not with fear but with comfort
knowing that our God loves us
and will always be our guide.

  © Natalie Orobello

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Linguini with Crab Sauce



Ingredients:
6 - 8     Blue Claw Crabs - halved and cleaned
2          16        oz. cans tomato sauce
½         can  water
1          small onion, chopped
2          cloves of garlic, chopped
3          tbs. olive oil
red pepper to taste
2     stems & leaves of  parsley, chopped
3     leaves of basil, chopped

Directions:
Cleaning blue claw crabs:  always buy fresh, active crabs and cook same day of purchase.  Hold crabs from back flippers, turn over, and cut in half. Clean interior out of roe and intestine, and rinse.  I know this is a touchy subject (kill) but  if you boil crabs, the interior remains and can change the clean taste of your crabs. Set aside.

Sauce: combine all ingredients (except tomato sauce) in a deep pot. Place on stove over low heat and braise until garlic and onion are translucent. Add crabs and toss around until they become pink, then add sauce. Cook over low-medium heat for at least one hour.

The best pasta with this dish is linguini, but you can serve thin spaghetti if you prefer. Macaroni like ziti or penne does not compliment this dish.
Serve crabs in a different bowl. 

* note: if you would like, you may add shrimp, mussels, clams, and other shell fish to the sauce. 


 © Natala Orobello

Tuesday, September 9, 2014





Seriously? You love me?
When did you realize
You wanted me
To stay with you
Forever,
And always,
Till death do us part?
© Natala Orobello

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Love…




     Remember last Monday I talked about sitting in front of the mirror and learning about who you are? Well, every Monday for the month of September, we will be examining our true selves. Introspection is not something most people do because, to tell the truth, it’s disconcerting. You might think, “If I start looking into who I am, I may have to make some changes.” Not too many people are fond of change. I know I’m not because change can be painful. Today, we will look at fun stuff – nothing painful at all.

     Think about something you love to do. I asked my students this the other day, and they came up with the exact response I was hoping for by the end of class. Ok, so are you thinking about what you love to do? Can you see yourself doing this 24/7? What if you could be paid to do this, would you? When I first started thinking about teaching, I knew I would love to teach, but I was scared to death of standing in front of people. Eventually, I did get over the phobia and became an English teacher. My students thought about some of the things they love to do, and then we discussed how those interests can be turned into jobs. It really wasn’t difficult to brainstorm different jobs for the type of interests they have. They agreed that if they could get those jobs, they would be thrilled.

     So, here are some brainstorming ideas. Do you love to travel? Do you love to be outdoors? Do you hate outdoors? Do you enjoy creating and designing web pages, blogs, etc.? Do you love to cook? Bake? Are you an athlete who just can’t get enough of playing a certain sport? Are you the type who loves to read and write? The list goes on and on. Now, brainstorm the different types of jobs available for those types of interests. What job would that be? Salary should be important only in that it will pay bills, but remember most jobs don’t pay for luxury items until one has had that job for awhile.

     I hope you will work on this assignment. I hope it will give you some insight on the type of job you might love to do, if you are not already doing it. Best wishes.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, September 5, 2014

Before We Were Parents


This poem was written by Frank Orobello, my son, after his second daughter was born. He is a wonderful poet, one who enjoyes writing when his heart is full of emotion. He adores and enjoys being a father, as one can tell from this poem. I hope he will be willing to share a few more with us.

Before we were parents
Our house seemed a little bigger
Our wallets a little fuller
And our shopping list simpler.

Before we were parents
Sleep didn’t come in shifts
Food didn’t come in bulk
And changing 3 times a day seemed ridiculous.

Before we were parents
We would eat when we were hungry
We would sleep when we were tired
And the bedroom was used for more than naps and nursing.

Before we were parents
Dinner was set for two
We, meant me and you
And People told us we were cute.

Before we were parents
We never had a first aid kit
We never took food on an hour trip
And glass tables and candles didn’t seem so dangerous.

Before we were parents
We had more silverware than plastic ware
Cups came in bigger sizes than four ounces
And I thought a diaper genie was a cartoon.

Before we were parents
We didn’t get mad if the doorbell rang
We didn’t sensor  commercials
And we would shower with the door closed.

Before we were parents
Life wasn’t so interesting
Team work didn’t have such responsibility

And we were not a Family.

© Frank Orobello

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New England Clam Chowder




I know some people would not consider New England Clam Chowder a comfort food, but when I'm feeling down and need a quick pick me up, I ask Michael (my husband) to make up a pot of his special chowder. It's special because he makes it with Lactaid milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream like most restaurants. The best part - I get to take it to lunch for a few days.

Ingredients:
2 cups milk or Whole Lactaid Milk
2 cups chopped clams
4 tbs. butter
4 tbs. flour
1 large potato - cut into cubes
2 carrots – diced
1 small onion – diced
2 celery stalks – cleaned, peeled, and diced
1 tbs. butter
Directions:

Sauté all vegetables in one tablespoon o f butter and set aside. In a deep pot, make rue with the 4 tbs. of butter and 4 tbs. of flour. Begin adding milk slowly till is creamy. Add the vegetables and clams. Cook on low heat for forty minutes or till carrots and potatoes are tender.

© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Let Freedom Ring, tomorrow.




This is a one act play. 

Curtains -

Setting: Kitchen with formica table and two chairs, cabinets, sink, stove, and coffee machine. It is morning. The entire play takes place during a ten minute phone conversation. The main character is on the phone with her sister. The husband is off stage. You never see him, but you hear him.
One character: Esther – is seventy years old – active and passionate. Her facial expressions reinforce her words and feelings. She is originally from Long Island, New York, so she has a distinct New York accent.

She is sitting down at the kitchen table, which is cluttered with breakfast items. She is drinking a cup of coffee and she’s on the phone, so every pause indicates she is listening to what her sister is saying on the other end.

Esther – Hey sis, did I wake you up? No? Good. I haven’t slept since four o’clock this morning, (she sounds exhausted).
Pause
Esther – Yeah, I’m ok just had a lot on my mind (big sigh). I’m calling you to let you know I’m finally leaving him.
Pause
Esther – Yeah, you’re right. I’ve said it a thousand times before, but this time I mean it. I’ve had enough.
Pause
Esther – No, nothing’s different. That’s the damn problem. Fifty years of catering to his every need. Fifty years of picking up after him. Fifty years of begging him to do something around the house. Nothing has changed.
Pause
Esther - During this pause, Esther walks around the table clearing up breakfast dishes and bringing them to the sink.
Husband - (yelling from off stage)– Esther! Where’s my blue golf shirt?
Esther – Hanging in your closet. Where else would it be? (She says this to her husband) to herself she says, "Pain in the ass" and she makes a face.
Esther - (back to the phone) Did ya hear him? He didn’t even help me with the dishes this morning. He eats and leaves. He never stays with me. We never even talk anymore; he just eats and leaves. I may as well live alone, for god’s sake.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Metamorphosis: Who Are You?

     I began college when I was thirty-two years old. In order to get my feet wet, I took only two courses that first semester, English Composition and Psychology 101. These two courses influenced me so much that I eventually ended up with post graduate degrees in both, a Masters in English Literature and a Masters in Community Mental Health. Yet my very first English class stands out because of an assignment that changed my life.

     Dr. Black, his real name, asked us to go home and stare at the mirror. He wanted us to learn something about ourselves and then he wanted us to write down what we learned. So, that night, after dinner and after making sure the children had completed their homework and were sound asleep, I told my husband not to disturb me because I was going to be doing my homework. I closed myself up in our bedroom and stared into the mirror. After about five minutes, I felt like a fool. I thought the assignment was ridiculous and the professor a loser. Boy was I wrong.

     I continued to stare first at the exterior me, my brown hair, brown eyes, high cheek bones, long neck, etc., etc., etc. Suddenly, my thoughts and my eyes turned inward. I thought about who I was and what I had or had not accomplished. I thought about my character, personality, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Then, I began to cry. I don’t mean tears flowing down my cheeks, I mean sobbing. I realized that our assignment was very much like Kafka’s introspection while he wrote in his attic. I thought about how and why he felt like a cockroach and how he imagined people thought of him. I understood The Metamorphosis better than I had before, and I learned that unless one looks within, one cannot know oneself.

    This was a scary assignment but a necessary one. I earned an A+ on my written introspection. I think because I was the most honest about the lesson. I learned I had much to learn about myself. Through the years, every summer, I take the time to look in the mirror. Thankfully, I don’t look at the exterior any longer because the wrinkles have multiplied and the high cheek bones are gone, but I continue to learn about myself and what I need to develop and what I need to throw away.

     These days, I give this assignment to my own students as they begin ENC composition. Many look only at the outside, so I get descriptive essays on what they really saw when they looked in the mirror, but there are those few who come back the next day with such awareness and joy, for they too have learned who they are and who they are not.

     Try this assignment and find out who you are.