Monday, November 30, 2015

I Don't Know

As an older woman, I think I should know so much
when asked questions of import and substance
and I hate saying, "I don't know."

I should know all about tradition,
spiritual growth, and how to have
lasting relationships, but the truth is
I don't know.

I've come close to the golden ring of success
as it is defined by my petty mind
and I'm just beginning to learn that success
is measured not by what I know but by
what I've done.

My actions speak volumes to my friends and family
to those neighbors near and far.
My actions reflect who I really am, so it doesn't
matter what I say or what I know.

I'm an older woman who needs to learn so much more
from those things I've done and those words I've spoken.
If I survive another decade or two, I need to learn
that wisdom comes from figuring out how to answer
those tough questions of which we do not know the answer
now.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Blessings


Halloween is in the graveyard, and the fallen leaves are becoming crumbled dirt beneath our feet. Yet, there are places where the colorful quilt of orange, red, and yellow cover mountain tops and everyone rejoices at nature’s loving grace.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I think about those blessings in my life. I’m not one to sit at night and list those things for which I am grateful. Nor, do I wake up every morning with a grateful heart, but I am.

Today, as I sit writing, I realize that my actions might speak louder than words; for example, when I wake up and see my husband, I smile and kiss him good morning. I hold my little yorkie in my arms and cradle him like a puppy, telling him how much I love him.

I love the smell of freshly brewed expresso and look forward to my first sip. I smile as I get ready to go to work, acknowledging that I am so fortunate to have a job I love. I think about my grandchildren each and every day, and bask in the joy of being a grandmother.

When my day is over and I trek to the gym, I work out knowing this is GOOD for me, and then I race home (literally), so my evenings can begin with my husband. He is by far the best cook I know, so I eagerly look forward to the meal he has prepared.

Phone calls from either my son or my daughter cause my heart to skip a beat because they are two of the most respectful, loving, affectionate, and incredible people I know.

Above all, I am constantly reminded by the loving God who has provided me with these blessings, and that without Him, I would be and hove nothing. 



© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Healthy Eating



Mike and I recently sat down to discuss how we could eat a bit healthier than we already do. We love to cook fancy like Chicken Picata or Veal Marsala. These are wonderful dishes as are lasagna, steak and potatoes, but after months or in some cases eating some of these wonderful dishes can add pounds and diminish health. So, we decided we needed a change.

This week began with baseball bat zucchini ( they look like a bat because they are shaped like one), simmered in vegetable broth and served with less than 1/4 lb. of broken up linguini. It was delicious and less than 300 calories per person. Tuesday, Mike made Chicory with Cannellini Beans. This particular dish was around the same number of calories and left us feeling full and comfy all over. Tonight we're having Lentil soup, and that's around the same caloric intake. Tomorrow night will be left over’s and Friday night will be our first helping of bread as Mike is making pizza with spinach and Portobello mushrooms!! 

Mike has already lost five pounds (in only three days!) and I've lost three pounds. Yes, one might think, and one might be right, that it's water we are losing, but to tell the truth we are drinking more water than ever. We stopped bread, meat, pasta, and snacks. We have doubled our intake of vegetables and fruit. Neither of us feel deprived and both of us have agree we are going to continue this for at least another week until we begin adding fish and chicken.


This is our own idea of a diet because both of us love food too much to deprive ourselves of a good fulfilling meal. If you would like the recipes, let me know and I will supply them next week.

 © Natala Orobello

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Priorities





 My priorities have always been God and family -
Sometimes I do get confused and think it's things- 
Or
Friendships that upon reflection are acquaintances -
Some closer than others.

Sometimes I am bewildered and wonder
Where have I gone wrong?
Then
I realize my priorities and know I am not wrong
But
Right in my belief and my faith that first is
God – then husband – followed by children and grandchildren
And
The rest I will love with compassion, gentleness, and truth.
 © Natala Orobello

Monday, September 7, 2015

Georgia Poetry


I have recently published my poetry book with Kindle. Here is a poem from the book. I hope you will like it enough to check out the rest.
The book is titled: Respite: Ode to Owl Town Farm

Respite in Ellijay
The dirt road uphill and through
Brings wild flowers to sight
Welcoming my arrival                                                              
By day instead of night.

Crunching roads meander
Round turns shaded by pines
Shadows allow streaming sun
To touch melodious miles

Camouflaged by Hickory and Oak
Serene and peaceful break
Two roads converge toward
my cabin by the lake.

And herein lies my respite
The place where I retrieve
Energy for my spirit
Air for me to breathe.


© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Her Name was Jane

Her name was Jane
She was lovely, smart, and innocent.
Her father had abused her
So she didn’t think anything of it
when her husband beat her
or forced her to have sex.

She didn’t know tenderness
Or of a love that could be kind.
She hid her split lip with lipstick
Her black eye with makeup
Yet, she could not hide her broken
Heart.

And so one day she opened up.
She shared her anguish and her pain
and when she learned that love was
Not
Pain, hurt, repent, or excuse
She held her head up high
And told her abuser
Good – bye.
                                           © Natala Orobello

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Hate



I am not a misandrist
Yet -
I hate those who say women
Are to blame as seducers
I hate those who say women
Are too weak to take care of themselves.
I hate those who say women
Are not rational but emotional beings
I hate those who say a women’s place
Is in the home
I hate those who force a woman
To cover herself because he – the man-
Cannot control his animal instincts
I hate those who say a woman
Cannot be leader of home, city,
or country.
I hate men who prevent women from
an education
I hate men who beat women and rape them.
I only hate those men.
                     © Natala Orobello

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Victim No Longer

This poem is not meant to portray women who have been abused as victims but as survivors who will no longer tolerate being victimized. I encourage women to seek organizations that will empower them like WOW. Search their site: WOW - Worldwide Organization for Women
There are literally hundreds of organizations to view or join, please take a look.
 Some men have responded to my poetry in defense and have mentioned they feel my poetry victimizes them. Welcome to our world.

She cuts and the pain feels good
She vomits and the emission cleanses
She sleeps in day light solid
At night there are demons
Rabid dogs who attack and rip
Till she is devoured raw.
In silence her screams escape
Within her throat they remain.

One night her dreams change
She stands with conviction and strength
A victim no longer
The animals retreat into the caves
From which they came.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, July 27, 2015

Speak Up - Stand Up


Sexual abuse in any form can leave one feeling destitute, despondent, and dissolved, yet one can continue as a broken survivor. Please let me explain what I mean with an example. I have this beautiful statue. It was a gift and I love it, yet several years ago, it fell on my tiled floor and broke. I lovingly glued it back together and placed it back on my counter. I know it has been pieced together and there is a hairline fracture one can see, yet it has survived and is still quite beautiful.

The following poems deal with the very delicate topic of sexual abuse.  But, what I want the reader to know is that in every poetic truth, the individual survived. My “stories” are derived from real stories. Each woman, young girl and child is a broken survivor. Each is just as beautiful as is my beloved statue.
I will be writing more poetry regarding this topic within the next few weeks.
 © Natala Orobello

Penetant

Christian, Jew, or Muslim
Matters not to me
Call me Eve if you must
But stop the shaming and the blaming
saying we entice and seduce.
A child knows nothing of perversions
An old woman does not ask to be raped
by one who is led my animal instincts
who has no parameters or justice.
Eve desired the ability to know
Adam desired Eve and that has been
the female’s cross.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Chicken Cordon Bleu for Two

This is the first time I have made this dish. I took a recipe online and trimmed, fixed, and redesigned it to fit our taste. I decided to warm the Hollandaise sauce over a double boiler, but make sure to constantly stir, so you don't end up with scrambled eggs!


Ingredients:
4 fillets of chicken breasts, pounded out to 1/4-inch in thickness
4 slices of thin-sliced prosciutto
4 slices of Gruyere or Gouda
Breading:
1 cup ground bread crumbs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
½  teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Egg Wash:
2 eggs, well beaten
Hollandaise Sauce:
2 egg yolks
Pinch fine salt
Pinch white pepper
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4  pound clarified butter, warmed until soft
Oil, enough for deep-frying
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Take a piece of chicken and place 1 slice prosciutto and 1 slice cheese on top. Roll up the chicken breast tightly and place toothpicks in the ends and middle. Place the chicken breasts in an oiled baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 18 minutes.

For the breading:
Combine all ingredients, mix well, and place on a large platter.

To prepare the Hollandaise sauce:
Gently place 2 egg yolks in a food processor and add a pinch of salt, white pepper, the lemon juice and hot sauce. Place the warmed clarified butter into the food processor very slowly until it thickens. To thicken the sauce, add an egg yolk and to thin it out add warm water.

Place the baked chicken cordon bleu in the egg wash and then coat evenly with the breading mixture. Repeat process again.
Deep-fry the breaded chicken at 325 degrees F for 3 minutes. Drizzle the Hollandaise Sauce over top of chicken. Serve with vegetable or rice.© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Women as Providers

   
Brazilian President - Dilma Vana Rousseff

 As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am dedicating this summer to Women's Studies. So far, I have read the history of women's fashions, and most recently women and economics. In Why Gender Matters in Economics written by Mukesh Eswaran, it appears that women expect less from their employers, and are less aggressive because they fear they will be viewed as being pushy. This sounds like the mind of an eighteenth century woman! I once thought that women took one step forward and two steps backward; now, I'm beginning to believe that we have taken 1/4 step forward and about ten steps backwards.

     Mukesh Eswaran discusses research done by Sara Solneck which concludes that a female will ask for less than her male counterpart and an employer will offer a woman less than he would offer a male employee. Women are afraid to lose their jobs and afraid to appear greedy. Another research by Catherine Eckel and Phillip Grossman found that women leaders or employers are more generous than men yet still give less than they can afford.

     Women must begin to view themselves as the intelligent, wise, common sensical individuals they are. One particular story both upset and delighted me. It is the story of a young Pakistani woman whose husband beat her on a daily basis. They had barely enough to feed their frail children and her husband didn't even attempt to get a job, yet he blamed her for the female children she bore him and was ready to divorce her. In her utter despair, she borrowed under a hundred dollars from the Kashf Foundation, which helped her begin her embroidery business. Now, she supports not only her family but her extended family as well. Her husband has stopped beating her and sometimes even helps with the business.

     Research shows that an employed woman benefits her family much more so than an employed man. An employed woman will bring most of her salary back to her family; whereas, a man will spend on himself before bringing the money home to his family. Woman are family oriented and service oriented. It has been proven that female politicians will promote service type expenditures like better education and better welfare services.

     It is 2015 and still we hesitate to elect a woman president! Why! One needs to look around at our world to see what our male leaders have accomplished. In business, in family, and in politics women must be given equal consideration. We may not be able to open the mayo jar, but that doesn't mean we can't govern, lead, or direct.
© Natala Orobello

Thursday, June 11, 2015

On The Subject of Women



This summer I am dedicating to Woman’s Studies. I have always been an advocate for a woman’s education and for her improved conditions at home. I believe these go hand in hand but not always. I have known very educated women who are suppressed, repressed, abused physically, emotionally, and sexually, and I have written multiple articles regarding this topic.

My research is about one-quarter completed. I am learning that most of my opinions are accurate, women who are educated, in the work force, and self-reliant experience a greater degree of freedom from oppression and abuse. I am learning that men from almost the beginning of time have tried (and most often have succeeded) to keep women barefoot and pregnant or at the very least dependant on him. This confirms his power, authority, and governance over the weaker sex who is after all the culprit of his sexual desires.

I have learned that throughout history, men have blamed women for his “seduction”, so she has had to abide by some very dismal, painful, and uncomfortable dress codes. Every continent has imposed a certain dress code, so a woman’s body is totally kept hidden from his lustful eyes, or women were given fashion (designed by men) that enhanced a woman’s sexual appeal. Today, many women in industrialized countries dress comfortably according to their own desires, taste, and appeal.

Perhaps, as I continue to learn and research, I will share my findings like my next book I'm reading on Economics and how women have actually helped socio-economic stability within their family and community.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, June 1, 2015

Plainly Speaking





Some events are complicated
They happen with accidental surprise
unwanted, undesired like cancer.

Some events are heart wrenching
stripping and tearing the heart
like separation or divorce.

Some events are beautiful
opening feelings of love and compassion
like child birth or adoption.

Some events are powerful
compelling one to wonder in awe
like the ocean or a star filled night.

All events come with lessons
that bring strength, courage, and wisdom
As long as we see them that way.
© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sausage & Peppers

I realize that sausage and peppers may not seem to be the most exciting meal, but I think it's healthy, visually appealing, and deeeelicious. Ok, I know I say that about almost everything I cook, but honestly, would I be writing a blog about cooking if I didn't think my recipes were good? Sausage and peppers is a basic Italian dish that can be accompanied with homemade bread, like the one I made and is pictured here, or it can be accompanied with plain parsley flavored rice. You decide. The bread recipe is so easy I'm almost embarrassed to print it. But, I will just for you.

Ingredients for Two:
3 links of cooked sausage (preferably barbequed) sliced into bite size pieces.
2 peppers – red and orange – sliced long
1 very large Vidalia onion – sliced long
2 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In deep skillet place olive oil, onion, peppers, and sausage. Sprinkle salt and pepper, toss, and cook at medium or low heat till peppers are still crisp, onions are tender but not mushy. Taste a piece of sausage, pepper, and onion to be sure it is cooked just right. I’m usually full by the time everything is ready (just kidding).
Bread:
Ok, I said this was going to be easy. So, I buy frozen American Bread loaves (not baked yet). I take out as many as I need and let it rise for at least two hours. Be sure to oil the top and flour the bottom of your pan while it is rising. Then, I sprinkle flour around the loaf and kneed it till flour is absorbed. This makes the loaf more dense than regular white bread. When it has risen again, I cut a few lines on top, and place in 375 degree oven till top is a little hard. Then, I brush the top with salted water. I do this several times till the top is a golden brown. The inside is soft and the outside is crunchy! Trust me, this is very good.

© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chickens Cooped

We were in Georgia recently and our neighbors had purchased three hens for laying. I was like a child in a candy store, for I had not seen chickens up close since I lived in Italy. I was given the honor of feeding them and cleaning their coop and of course I was also allowed to keep the eggs!! It was wonderful to wake up every morning to their clucking.


Fresh brown eggs laid
by Rhode Island Red
Right before my eyes
this early a.m.

Still warm - so very fresh
and the taste is
profoundly different
than store bought.


Yet, I wonder how they
feel being cooped up
for our pleasure
without the freedom
to roam.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, May 11, 2015

Profundity of Love


I'm too old to rethink my personality
the character of who I am
I am what I need to be at this time 
this place where my heart is warmed by family.

My realization of self is formulated by
my husband, my children, my grandchildren
my career as teacher and writer 
expand my horizon till I see the Glory.

Just now - this very moment in my life
I rejoice in my ability to have made an
impact on those who love me and whom
I love -
this is so profound.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stuffed Eggplant - Yummy Good!!



    This is not a recipe for sissies because it does take time and patience, lots of it! But, I promise you will love the meal if you like eggplants. My mom probably made the best stuffed eggplant I’ve ever tasted until my sister Millie began making it. Her cooking is very similar to my mother’s; maybe, that’s because she was taught by my mother when my sister was only six or seven years old. I’ve never heard anyone complain about Millie’s cooking. It’s that good!! So, here’s the recipe for those of you who would like to give it a try. I know you will love it.
    You will need to make a pot of plain sauce first and have that simmering while you complete your eggplants.
Sauce:
2  16 oz cans of tomato sauce
¾ can of water
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
½ onion – chopped
Parsley – a few leaves with stems (remove before serving)
Basil – Julienne 4 leaves
Bay leaf – one whole and remove before serving
4 tbs. sugar
½ tbs. garlic powder
Extra virgin olive oil
    In a medium size pot, pour olive oil to cover the bottom, add garlic and onion and braise till translucent. Add tomato sauce and water and then add your herbs, sugar, and garlic powder. Simmer.
Eggplant Ingredients:
4 medium size purple eggplants
1 cup cheese
2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumb
Garlic – chopped
Onion – chopped
Parsley – chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Directions:
    Wipe eggplants with wet washcloth. Remove the top so you have only a white interior showing. Now, cut a circle into the eggplant and work your way around the eggplant so all the “meat” is removed. Leave a thin shell behind – if it is thick, it will not fry well nor cook well. Do this with all four eggplants.
Chop the inside into little bite size pieces.
Combine breadcrumb with cheese and parsley.
    In a skillet, pour enough oil, so you have a fully covered bottom, add garlic and onion, sauté till cooked but not brown, add eggplant and cook till tender (on low heat). When ready, pour in breadcrumb mixture and stir till oil saturates the mixture. If you are not covering the breadcrumb, add oil a little bit at a time till every bit is oiled but not saturated! Now stuff your eggplants. Place a piece of bread on top to hold stuffing in.
    Fry in a clean oiled skillet, again only enough oil to cover the bottom of skillet. Brown lightly on all sides and then place in your tomato sauce. Cook for at least one hour. You can keep it cooking if you would like more flavor.

Serve over a plate of spaghetti and add grated cheese on top. Yummy good!!!



© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Cabin


The roar of the wind
motions the flag to whirl
flap and curl
it's the music of freedom in the air.
hummingbirds of Emerald green
whiz and buzz like bumble bees
seeking sugar sweet nectar.

Dirt pebbled road,
flanked by strong, tall Hickory trees,
meanders its way to Owl Town Farm-
the cabin- my comfort and refuge.

Carp swim near the surface
dark shadows teasing
fishermen with their presence
once line is in, they swim opposite.

Sometimes, the only interruption
in the quiet is the flip, flap
and whirl of the flag as it
sings of freedom in the air.
© Natala Orobello

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Chicken Cacciatore - Mamma's Style



My mother was a simple cook, yet she managed to keep six hungry kids and an extra hungry husband very content. To put it mildly, her meals were deeelicious!!! Why? Maybe it was all the love she put into each and every meal and dessert. Maybe, it was the time she devoted to cooking and baking. Maybe, it's because she delighted in seeing our content faces as we devoured her tasty dishes. Her chicken cacciatore wasn't beautiful looking; actually, none of her dishes would have won an award on appearance, but we didn't care because all her meals won an award on yumminess.

Ingredients:
3 onions - sliced very thin
2 peppers - half inch in width
5 medium size potatoes - sliced as if for french fries
1 tbs. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbs. dry parsley
1 tsp. oregano
1  16oz.  tomatoes in can
3 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup white wine
10 - 16 chicken (thighs & legs)

Directions:
Wash chicken (take skin off)
Season chicken with salt, pepper, oil, and parsley
In a large oven skillet, place oil and then add seasoned chicken legs and thighs - On top of stove, on medium heat, brown both sides.
Now, add the onion, potatoes, tomatoes, and wine. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degree oven for one hour. Bake in middle rack for fifty minutes and top rack for last fifteen minutes.
Serve with hot garlic bread or over a bed of white rice. Bon Appetito!!
© Natala Orobello

Monday, April 27, 2015

Commencement


I love this time of year. Yes, it’s true that springtime is beautiful, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and the grass is green once more. But, it’s much more than the splendor of spring. It’s graduation time throughout the nation. Kindergarteners are graduating, eighth graders are graduating, and high school seniors are on their way to a brave new world.  Some continue on and attend college, and there too comes the day of graduation. As a professor, I enjoy watching the hectic machinations of our soon to be graduates as they anticipate their final days as students. Yet, their smiles are at the ready when they discuss final exams, end of the semester papers, and the up and coming graduation. This is the time of year when students, faculty, and staff realize the tangible proof of the demanding work they embraced.

Commencement means beginning. The term implies a new beginning, a time when we let go of the past and commence a journey on a different road, one less traveled. Commencement day begins, I’m sure for all of us, with a flutter of activities. Students might be purchasing their regalia, attending to last minute details for the after graduation party, and checking their directions, times, and tickets. They may have last minute calls to family and friends before they leave their “old” world behind. Faculty also deals with challenging demands. Though all paperwork for seniors is complete, there remain final exams and research papers to grade for those not graduating. They too check their clock and directions. And staff, well they’re always involved in commencement, if not to set up, then to assure a successful evening.

When graduates leave the podium with degree in hand, and the cap is energetically thrown toward the heavens of their future, faculty walk away with heaviness, for another group of students will commence their lives. Another generation will carry on the torch with the skills and knowledge they have earned and learned. As Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” for as we watch them leave, we know how wonderful life will be for them, and how sad it is for us to watch them go.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gratto: Italian Shepherd's Pie


This is comfort food. You can add or remove ingredients, depending on your favorite filling. You can make it totally vegetarian or add a different meat. It's up to you, but regardless what you do, you will find this recipe absolutely delicious!!!

Ingredients: 
2 tbs. olive oil
2 lbs. of chop meat
1 onion (chopped)
parsley - chopped
2 cups baby peas
1 cup cooked and sliced mushrooms
2 cans of tomato sauce (8 oz.)
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes
1 cup of 1/2 seasoned bread crumb and 1/2 grated Asiago (combine well)



Directions:
Place olive oil in frying pan, saute 2 lbs. chop meat till brown - remove from heat
saute chopped onions till golden and translucent, add parsley, peas and mushrooms. Add tomato sauce and cook for one hour at low heat.
Spray a glass baking pan with PAM, place 2 cups of mashed potatoes on bottom
Add filling
Complete the topping with last 2 cups of mashed potatoes
Sprinkle top with Cheesy Bread Crumb mixture
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, April 20, 2015

Teaching IS a Profession


Some people believe teaching is a vocation like becoming a priest or nun. It isn’t. It’s a profession. Teachers are professionals who have mortgages, car loans, insurance policies, and dozens of other expenses like other professionals. A priest, nun, pastor, etc. usually have allowance for room and board and are provided the necessary health insurance, travel, and finally retirement. Teachers do not. Yet, we are most often than not treated as though we get so much handed to us. We don’t. 

Teachers attended post secondary education and received at minimum a Bachelor’s degree and more often than not a costly PhD. It is true we do not work summers and have many days off a year, but here is what we down behind the curtain (for we truly are on stage when in the classroom). We design assignments that will take our students away from their cell phones, ipads, iphones, tablets, etc. We design assignments that will incorporate technology, so we can offer challenging lessons.
Assessments created by a teacher truly collaborate between curricula, life, and interests. Teachers do not design assessments that do not involve critical thinking skills. We KNOW what is important for our students and what is not. We search to find interesting books, so our disinterested readers will get hooked. We get to know our students the way administrators can never get to know students. We see them on a daily basis, know their particulars, understand their challenges, appreciate their hardships, and rejoice in their successes.

Faculty, regardless of grade level they teach, are faced with amazing odds. Picture a classroom of mixed intelligences, moods, problems, challenges. Now, imagine you are required to bring every single one of them to the goal line. No, it doesn’t matter that there are variables. If you are to be viewed as a successful teacher, then all students must show some form of success. Easy? Think again. Even in A.P. or Dual Enrollment classes, faculty is faced with students who are too tired from having worked the previous night to perform well in class. Some students are there because the parents want them there, so they do not have the motivation or inclination. Imagine students with social, cultural, or psychological stressors. Imagine the mix.

Every year, teachers are required (in most states) to attend professional development. In some cases, the expense comes from the teachers own pocket. And, there are other expenses as well. We spend our own money to award students for good behavior and good grades. We spend our own money to supply them with notebooks, pens, and pencils. We spend our own money to decorate our classrooms, so our students feel welcome and safe. Our post secondary education not only prepared us to teach our subject but also prepared us to understand student behavior.

Yet, as the school year comes to a close or as the school year opens and negotiations approach, teachers hear the same story year after year. “We do not have the money for the percentage you ask.” Every year, faculty is made to feel lucky that we have a job. We are made to feel lucky if we get a 1, 2, or 3 percent raise. It does not help a teacher’s appeal when the majority of the population agrees with the school boards or the administrators. As an educator for the past thirty years, I would like to be witness to a time when teachers are respected for the professionals we are. I would like to hear people say, “thank you for working with our good students as well as our difficult students.” Or, “thank you for all the years of professional development you pursued, so my child can continue to grow, mature, and excel.”
© Natala Orobello

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Prison in the Mind


The mature woman believes the child
Has grown up, evolved into a new form
It is not true

The hard, rough, cruel stone
That had been thrown into the innocent pond
Disturbed its peace forever

The ripples reverberate from the child to the woman
They disturb her sleep
She stands still

The untouched do not know
They believe there is much ado about nothing
And yet there has been a transgression, a sin

And through the years, the criminal has always been free
The prison door opened to close on the mind
Of the innocent child.
   © Natala Orobello

Friday, April 17, 2015

Shrimp Scampi

Why is it that people will go out and order one of the easiest meals to make? I can understand some meals are exceptional at a certain restaurant, like the German restaurant we frequented when we lived in Long Island, but some dishes are so simple and inexpensive, it's easier to make them at home.
Shrimp Scampi is one of them.

Ingredients:
1/2 stick butter
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 lbs. large shrimp
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Parsley flakes - sprinkle to desired amount
Oregano - sprinkle just a little because this is very strong

Directions:
Clean shrimp but leave tail on, so there is less shrinkage. Melt butter in deep frying pan at very low heat, add chopped garlic and braise till translucent. Add shrimp. Add 1/4 lemon juice. Add pepper flakes. Add white wine and extra virgin olive oil. Simmer for about 5 - 8 minutes till shrimp is pink through and through. Add parsley and oregano.
In the meantime, boil water for either thin spaghetti or linguini if you want to serve with pasta, or you can serve as is with a crusty loaf of Italian bread.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, April 13, 2015

Phone call to God


Ok, those of you who have been reading my blog know I am sometimes all over the place with posts. I'm trying to improve, somewhat. Anyway, last week I was praying in the car on my way to work. I realized I looked pretty odd talking to myself. I've always thought about what other people think, always. It's one of those on my list to fix. Well, I decided to place a call to God. Really, I did. Here's how our conversation went.

"Hello, God?"
"Who's this?"
"Oh, you can't fool me. You know who this is. Do you have time to talk?"
"Well Natala, to tell you the truth, I'm very busy."
"I know, I can imagine, what with all the chaos going on down here, but I really need to talk to YOU."
"Ok, ok, what's the problem?"
Here's when I tell Him about all my issues, starting with my friends, husband, family, etc. etc. etc.
"I really wish you could make them change."
"What about you changing?"
"Me? What's wrong with me? I'm the one that's trying."
"Is that true. I can think of some areas where you might improve."
"You're not helping at all. I called you so you could assure me, I'm fine and they're not."
"It doesn't work that way."
"How does it work?"
"Think about how you might be able to show you love each of those individuals even if they may not show you all the time how much they care about you."
"Yeah, that's all well and good, but how do I get them to care a little more?"
"By caring a little more yourself."
"We're going in circles aren't we?"
"If you say so."
"Ok, I'll think about all of this, and I'll call you on Monday."
"Sounds good. And, Natala, I love you."
"I love you too, God."

I know what you're going to say, "you were still talking to yourself." True, I might have been, but I felt a thousand times better when I hung up.© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Linguini with Clams


Easy as one, two, three. You can make this anytime you want because it literally takes a half hour from beginning to end.

Ingredients for four:

One large can of chopped clams from either Sam's or Cosco
3 sprigs of fresh parsley
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 lg. cloves of garlic - chopped
1/2 sm. onion - chopped
salt and red pepper flakes
reserved clam liquid from can
1 lb. linguinig
grated cheese
One dozen steamed clams (Little Neck are perfect).

Directions:

Boil water for linguini.
In the meantime, place olive oil, garlic, and onion in deep frying pan. Cook till translucent. Add clams and chopped parsley. Sprinkle a little salt and red pepper flakes. Add about one cup of clam juice (keep the remainder in case you want more).
Add pasta to mixture and mix well, adding grated cheese as you mix. Add more liquid if needed. Serve with steamed clams on top!!
 © Natala Orobello

Friday, April 3, 2015

I The Truth



Today I wonder my truth
I wonder my beliefs on topics too large
To contemplate the meaning of life.

From the oceans of my mind
Undercurrents trap thoughts 
Swimming forward, finding concreteness.

I speculate my nurtured beliefs      
For I have not questioned 
The God within me and the one in Heaven.

I have not thought enough on the topic
So, what will happen to me
When I die as a Christian.

Yet not truly understanding
The finality or infinitude of my end
Of speculation and I ask,
what have I done 
to show the truth of who I am?
© Natala Orobello

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Wish I Were

As a woman, I wish I were more like a man - simple & uncomplicated. Men are up front and focused at one task at a time. When they are working, they are totally concentrating on work, not on how their actions may be affecting those around them. Women seem to focus on their work but also on everythign else that is going around. We are known to multi-task and do it well. Don't take my word for it, take a look at the men around you, whether at work or at home.

Why am I bringing this up? Because, in sixty plus years, I have noticed that give a man a job and he will probably do it well to the detriment of anyone around him. As bosses, most of them see the "light"dollar signs at the end of the tunnel and travel in darkness until they reach the end. I have had many male bosses in my life and not one of them considered what they were doing to the employees and their morale. The almighty dollar was the goal and usually for their benefit not the employees. Women bosses tended to create a more family atmosphere and were more inclusive with decision making and profit.

I know I am generalizing based on only my experience, but this is after all my blog. Most of all of the information is based on my experience, so you can agree with me or disagree. That's what I want. Your opinion. If you can tell me otherwise, I am open to your input. I strive to be simple and uncomplicated, but I assure you the struggle is severe, for after all, I am a woman.
 © Natala Orobello

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lobster Left Overs!


Many people eat their delicious baked or broiled or boiled lobster and then throw everything away. Years ago, I realized we were wasting perfectly good lobster shells! "Stop!! Don't throw them away!" I shouted. My husband stopped and wondered what I had in mind. I told him we should make Lobster Fra Diavolo on Sunday. So, we saved the shells, and we have been doing this ever since. We have lived happily ever after!

Ingredients for four:

Left over Lobster Shells
*1 lb. cleaned shrimp
*12    small clams
*12    mussels
2 lg. cans tomato sauce
1/2 onion - chopped
2    cloves garlic - minced
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2     basil leaves - julienned

Directions: Enjoy your lobster but try to save some full shells (if you can - if not don't worry), and all the other shells.
In heavy saucepot pour olive oil, add onion and garlic. Braise till tender and translucent. Add your sauce and then add the lobster shells. Cook for one hour or more. Remove lobster shells. Add your shrimp, clams, and mussels and basil. Cook for another half-hour.
Serve over spaghetti.

* not necessary but add to the dish

© Natala Orobello

Monday, March 23, 2015

Right to Work: A misnomer!

Most states in the United States are a "right to work state." The law provides, " the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union..." (www.nrtw.org)) The law was meant to help workers from being forced to join a union, but the law has now expanded to mean much more. Now, it appears the law extends more rights to the employer and less to the employee. Some employers give less salary, less benefits, and then demand more hours. Employers have taken the law one step further and fired individuals without reason for termination. That means the employee has no voice whether he or she remains employed. An employee can do everything right, have outstanding reviews, have impecable credentials, yet if the employer does not like the employee, then the person can be fired on the spot without an explanation.

However, this is not declared within the law. And, this misconception needs to change. According to Donna Ballman,  AOL Jobs Legal Affairs Blogger and Employment Attorney:
        A common misperception is that, like my reader's question says, they mean an employer
        can fire employees for any reason or no reason at all. Right-to-work laws have
        absolutely nothing to do with this. What you're talking about here is at-will
        employment.


        Every state but Montana is already an at-will employment state. At-will means your
        employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. Whether your employer doesn't
        like your shirt, wakes up in a bad mood, or just feels like it, they can fire you at-will
        unless you have a contract or union agreement saying otherwise.
       A union can bargain to change this. Many union agreements have requirements that 
       employers only terminate for just cause.

She also determines that, "right-to-work states tend to have lower average wages, spend less on education, have higher worker fatality rates and have lower standards of living. President Obama says this about right-to-work supporters, "What they are really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."

Nothing changes if workers don't ask for change. We can love our jobs, love our collegues, and love our company. That may be wonderful, but Pollyanna attitudes did not and will not provide better jobs, better wages, better wages, and safer working conditions. If we want change, then we need to speak up.

 © Natala Orobello

Friday, March 20, 2015

Il Scolio

We came to the United States from a small town near Messina, Italy. WWII had come and gone and left not only Italy desolate but also its people desolate of income or home. Many friends and relatives left for America, but my father and mother wanted to hold on. They didn't want to leave the land where they were born, grew up, married, and raised a family. Yet, after years of saying no, my father acquiesced to his brother's pressure and we came to America.

We immediately became Americanized even though we spoke little if any English. We adopted America as our home yet our culture, faith, and ties hold on to that little town with its beautiful vistas of mountains, castle, and sea.





The Rock

America’s streets are lined with gold
Sicily’s are dirt bare.
We eat from God’s bounty
Nothing more.

Yet, we are surrounded by beauty
Our home sits high
To the left a fifteenth century castle
To the right country mountains
Our terrace view?
The Mediterranean sea!

Young and old dive into the deep waters
Swimming till they reach
the distant rock
Symbol of strength and endurance.

Yet, we leave beauty behind
To put money in our pockets
Food in our bellies
And shoes on our feet.

America becomes our home
Sicily pumps within our veins
Never forgetting our roots
or
the distant rock.


© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sesame Seed Cookies


Imagine a cookie that brings back memories of growing up Italian, going to the local Italian Bakery and ordering a pound or so of heaven. Think about biting into a crispy exterior and soft interior with delicate flavors of lemon, cinnamon, and cherry. This is what you will experience when you eat a sesame seed cookie.

Ingredients:

1          cup crisco
¾         cup brown sugar
½         cup white sugar
3          eggs
½         tsp. lemon juice
½         tsp. cherry juice
½         tsp. cinnamon
 pinch salt
3          cups flour
3          tsp. baking powder
½         lb. sesame seeds

Directions:
Mix the first three ingredients together and then add the remainder; continue mixing till mixture has cookie dough consistency (like play dough).  Place a little oil on palm of hand, take some dough the size of a thumb and form cookies into either round or oval.  Dip top in sesame seeds and bake in preheated 3750   oven.  Do not grease pan.

© Natala Orobello

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sage Advice


      Every nationality has Mama’s sage advice. As a Sicilian, born and raised, I learned that we Italians have a “proverbio” for everything. I’m sure there are similar proverbs in every culture, but I can only discuss the one’s I heard as I was growing up. Unfortunately, I don’t remember too many, but here are a few imprinted in my brain.
      Here’s one I was raised on, “Poveri si, sporchi no!” Poor yes, dirty no! My mother and father raised six children on a meager salary. In Italy, my father designed and tailored suits for men and women, dresses, skirts, blouses, shirts, and more, and most of the time he received bartered items instead of cash. Often, we had just enough to pay the bills and purchase food items. We owned a round bathtub housed outside the home in a type of closet. We washed everyday and took long baths once a week.