Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

his voice…

Posted in beginnings, family, gifts, home, love, memory, ponder, secret suffering, timeComments Off on his voice…

Does this happen to anyone else, or is it just me ? When Father’s Day comes around, even though my dear father is no longer with us, I will peruse the Father’s Day cards thinking about him, missing him and contemplating which one I would have given him. Is it just me?

My dad was an A1 father. But of all the things I miss about him, I long to hear the sound of his voice again. Or to hear him laughing. I am certainly not alone in this, knowing other’s miss those familiar sounds of loved ones gone. Still I find myself feeling cheated out of what technology now makes available to us. Instant videos, Skyping, recorded messages and all things that were not available so readily or instantaneously like they are today. I only have him frozen in so many photographs from black and white to color… a few silent home videos from the 50’s, but they are all as quiet as the night.

Now I watch my son with his daughter and remember the brief time my dad had with him, never getting to see him grown, or meet his little girl. Flashes of my childhood came back to me a few years ago when I watched in wonder as my now grown son played with his daughter on the cellar doors at my sister’s house. We used to slide down the cellar doors as a child and I almost broke out in tears as I watched my son and his daughter enjoying this old game together. The generations rolled back even further as I recalled my grandmother singing this song to me when I must have been my granddaughter’s age:







Happy Father’s Day all you lucky people who still have the hugs, smiles, and voices of your dad’s to enjoy. They live on because we remember them with love. I see him in my son and am reminded – TO END IS TO BEGIN

Wish you were here…

Posted in beginnings, family, food, gifts, home, journey, love, memory, Reno, time, travel1 Comment

Today was the annual Italian Festival in downtown Reno. There are numerous ethnic festivals throughout the year here, celebrating the Hispanic culture, the Greeks,  and more, but the Italian festival is the last big street fair event of the year before the town rolls up the streets for the long winter ahead. In my 5 years here, the event has always been lucky enough to have had a simply gorgeous Fall day, and today was no exception. Before you even park the car you can smell the garlic and food preparations and hear the music. There is of course a ‘best of ‘ cook-off for sauce, and fresh pesto is being made from one end to the other with giant vats of sauce  bubbling up and down the street,  all competing for the honors.

The smells are nothing short of heaven.

My father was a first generation Italian and the Italian side of my family was how we leaned . It was large and wonderful, teeming with Aunts and Uncles and a small army of cousins. Family mattered when I was growing up  as a child and  nearly every Sunday was spent at Gramma & Grampa’s house. I have nothing but wonderful ,  sweet memories of that part of my youth. Gramma spoke hardly a word of English, though it didn’t matter to her or us. Her goal was to make sure we were fed as often as possible before we left her house in spite of my mother’s protestations of, “Ma, they just ate! ”

There was always room for another bowl of my Gramma’s pasta.

I have only two dear Aunts left now, and all but one of my cousins. Sadly, I hardly ever see any of them, and when I do it’s to hear of yet another passing of these lovely people who made up such a big part of my young life. I’m sad to have grown so distant from my cousins and regret not being in touch as we now grow older.

They say every journey begins from home. I ventured out into the world as a young adult very confident of who I was and where and who I came from. I had a  solid home base as a launching pad in life. I had a culture and a family with a history to relate to. They gave me so much by simply  being there. I’m sorry that so many are gone and I no longer have the opportunity to thank them for that. And if they were here,  I would let them all know, that  family mattered  – very much.


(featured photo , canvas collage – WISH YOU WERE HERE , by Catherine Massaro)


color my world…

“Of all God’s gifts to the sight of man, color is the holiest, the most divine, the most solemn.” John Ruskin

To my memory, I grew up in a pretty colorful environment. In  the 1950’s, our  house was turquoise,  and our car was fushia. In our living room – bright lime green chairs and flamingo pink curtains. In the kitchen, colorful Fiestaware dishes. But the experience of color that lit the fire of an artist in me, was watching my mother paint a trio of circus themed paint-by-numbers for my soon-to-be baby brother’s nursery. I watched at her elbow daily as the paintings took shape, mesmerized by the tiny color- filled paint pots, the smell of turpentine, and the magic as she placed one color next to the other until forms took shape as a giraffe,  an elephant, a circus pony. It was nothing short of magic to eye of a six year old. I watched till the very last brush stroke was placed ever so perfectly on the end of the giraffe’s tongue  – a tiny dot of  shiny white. My mother was a genius! I wanted to do that someday too, and as time passed, I did that and much more.

Fast forward to me an artist in 1972,  a new mom, setting up my soon-to-be son’s nursery, hanging that sweet and colorful memory on his wall. I still own that treasured set of paint-by-numbers, and they have photographs taped to back of them.  One of my mother proudly propping up her new son in his blue polka dot diapers with the circus paintings on the wall behind them and another, me with my new baby boy, and  the same set hanging behind us.

Now, it’s 2013 and that set  of paint-by-numbers hang in my Texas studio as a constant reminder of  how color can in fact, be the greatest gift to the sight of man, and a nod to my mother, for raising me in such a colorful, joyful environment.

There is a Hindu festival called Holi, during which crowds of celebrants hurl colored powders at each other in commemoration of Krishna’s pranks. It’s a frenzied scene of crowds with whirls of color and the faces of people covered in hot pink, yellow,  and orange. So as solemn and holy as John Ruskin’s comment on God’s gift of color is, I prefer the Holi celebration where worship is a loud and joyful festival of color. But he is most certainly correct on the divine part.

May you live in a world of  joyful color.

soft & prickly

Posted in family, gifts, home, journey, love, memory, time, UncategorizedComments Off on soft & prickly

“I’m a member of the last generation of American children whose parents, especially mothers, did not worry about us almost constantly .” 

These are words from one of my favorite column writers on parenting, John Rosemond.

How I  loved the freedom I had as a child. Especially in the summer when our only requirements were to be home at 6 o’clock sharp for dinner, know where your brother and sister are, and don’t bleed out. Cuts were fine, bruises were fine, anything that required stitches or expensive trips to a doctor were not fine. We survived summers on great big bandaids and hydrogen peroxide. That’s that great stuff that bubbles up when it hits your wound and disinfects whatever evil you fell into. We looked like wild animals by the end of summer, just in time for school to start. Then came haircuts, hard shoes, and a return to schedules and accountability. Yet checking in was still slim. Dinner at 6 sharp NEVER changed, but it was up to us to seek out mom if there was trouble, and that was to be avoided if at all possible. Mostly because she was busy working and expected us to figure it out ourselves – which we did. It made us independent  in behavior and independent thinkers as well.

My mom was there for us though, solid as a rock, both soft and prickly. My independent streak drifted well into high school where I was consistently in trouble as I tested the boundaries of just how far I could go with practicing adulthood. I had many hard landings, including one very memorable expulsion. And just when I thought I had pushed the boundaries way past tolerance for even my father, I found a greeting card on my bed, with my dad’s handwriting on it. My father rarely, if ever, got involved with discipline problems which were my mother’s realm. So it was a surprise, to say the least , that my father had commented on my expulsion.

The picture  on the card was the famous Norman Rockwell painting of the little pig tailed girl, bruised black eye, all disheveled from a schoolyard skirmish, waiting on the bench outside the principals office – she had an impish smirk on her face. The inside of the card read simply,



Love, dad


I still have that card, and still value how few words it took for him to tell me that it was my battle to fight , no matter what form it took, and love would be there to back it up.

Parenting back then was both soft and prickly … just like real life.

Thanks mom & dad.


now & then…or then & now?

Posted in family, memory, nature, notice, ponder, time, Uncategorized1 Comment

I like to say that art is all about noticing things, making connections. I haunt antique malls for this purpose. It’s sort of creepy to some people, the idea of going through other people’s things. Voyeuristic I suppose, creeping around the edges of others’ lives by virtue of the things they left behind. Still, I am unapologetic about my habit, and find it an irresistable pastime.

It’s the same attraction I have to clotheslines. Clotheslines connect me to the past while grounding me to the present. When I hang clothes, sheets, towels on a clothesline, I’m my mom, my grandmother, and countless women who came before me doing this mundane chore. I’m a child again, and a grown up too. I’m a pioneer woman and a modern day version of same. I never, ever cease to enjoy the activity. I can experience how the sun connects us all, and  the basic things we all have in common, just from the simple act of hanging wet clothes on a clothesline.

And that’s not even the best part, as you all know. The best part is burying your face in that dry, sweet, sunshine infused laundry. There is an old Zen saying:  

After ecstasy, the laundry.

I think about this saying whenever I’m taking warm laundry off the line, and have to laugh to myself … because I’ve got it reversed—After the laundry comes my ecstasy.

( photo detail of LONG LIVE THE SUN, canvas collage by Catherine Massaro)


Long Live The Sun