Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

This was the third year I planned to spend my birthday in Italy; this time right down to the arrival date of the day before.  Of course I didn’t plan on all the chaos of bloody noses, missed flights and arriving late the night before.  We told Pasquale and Anna we would see them for breakfast the next day (my birthday) and our plan was to go to my favorite restaurant in Cusano Mutri for a celebratory lunch.

Best laid plans and all that jazz were laid to rest as were Peter and I.  It rained during the night and I am one of those people who find it extraordinarily comforting to hear the rain falling, probably because I imagine from my working days whatever was scheduled will be cancelled!  The bedroom in Nonna’s House is very dark at night and so beautifully old world Italian with outside shutters closed, glass doors closed and indoor wooden shutters closed.  Huddled under three blankets for warmth ( it was freezing in the house with no heat) and in the pitch black we slept and slept.  

Early in the morning (EARLY) I heard the tractors going down the street to go to work, for this is a village married to the land as they say. I just rolled over and went back to sleep, never heard the church bells either from the nearby church. The room was dark, the bed was warm and we slept….till 4:00 in the afternoon!

Well so much for Cusano Mutri, we went to the Bar for Caffe Americano where we met some lovely people from New Orleans.  I always feel like Pasquale’s Bar is like Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca; all the foreigners end up there eventually. Swapping stories with travelers near and far is a constant pastime in Guardia and done more often than not sitting around the outside table at the Bar.


Photo from Guardiaguide.wordpress.com. PASQUALE’S BAR

 But we decided we better go grocery shopping 🛒, the fun things one does on their birthday!  Off to the DECO supermarket where the manager beamed and heartily welcomed me like I was family- I still maintain it’s because no one else spends so much $$at one time in his store.  They are very weird about giving you bags too, I think you are supposed to bring some, because last year when the checkout girl was not putting groceries in bags he reprimanded her – again this customer just spent 95 Euros!  This year he asked me if I had bags? No, did we arrive last night?(in Italian), Si.  So bags for me and then a gift – a huge DECO shopping bag which we loaded up with beer, milk, orange juice*, tomato pasata, and some pasta. I give him my most charming smile and tell him Mille grazies, io ritorno.

Another stop at the 50 cent store to pick a few household essentials which I fully intend to charge Pasquale for and we are home and ready for a dinner out.  Our favorite restaurant in Guardia (admittedly not a lot of choices) is La Meridiana and you are almost always guaranteed to run into someone you’ve met before:  Sure enough across the room is the New Orleans crowd enjoying their last meal in town as they are off to Rome tomorrow.  

We ate like Italians with antipasta , primi piatti, secundo, Dolci and the manager brought us a delicious grappa flavored with arranciata. Delightful way to end my shortened birthday but I’v already decided to go to lunch to tomorrow in Cusano Mutri.

To be continued…



Read Full Post »

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You!

Could it really be forty-one years ago that I drove myself from my home in Avon CT to Hartford for a doctor’s appointment and then to St. Francis Hospital?  Apparently yes, because today is my son Joel’s birthday!  When my parents and grandparents would tell me how quickly the years go by  and at this point they’re flying, I, like every other young person ,didn’t really get it.  Well I get it now.  Joel is 41 and Chiara is 35 and now I’m a grandmother myself.

Last year I wrote what I thought was akin to a mother-son love letter so I’m not going to repeat it again. All of it is true and I hope he reads it again because it is full of love and appreciation for who he is.  Posted last December 17th, Happy Birthday Dear Son!

3000 miles and 3 hours earlier often gets in the way of communication although as any mother knows, if there’s a will, there’s a way.  This Christmas, like last year,  my daughter and her family are headed west to spend the holidays with Joel and we will be here on the East Coast. I think it would be wonderful if we could all be together, however, my feeling is that the kids like it the way it is.  I have a Norman Rockwell Christmas in mind and they are thinking along the lines of what I heard referred to as Westivus.  Apparently, some friends from Boston are also flying out to celebrate with them.

I hope today has been joyful for Joel.  I wrote a Happy Birthday greeting on his Facebook wall – aren’t I just the 21st Century Mom and called him this evening.  I hope to see him in the near future to give him the real hug I sent virtually.

So Happy happy birthday Joel, I love you very much and wish I could spend more time with you.



Read Full Post »

When you’re born in the middle of August and your mother (and your Gigi) have a penchant for throwing elaborate theme parties, it’s often necessary to postpone the major celebration of your birthday till September.  That way, all your friends are back from camp and vacation and in town.  So this year Finley Ray’s fourth birthday party was on September 23rd even though her birthday is August 13th. Can you imagine the patience of such a young one waiting with great anticipation for the big day to arrive?   Luckily she was quite distracted by the endless summer days in the Hamptons, a weekend with Gigi in early September, starting school and of course the fact that I don’t think she can really quite grasp the whole calendar concept!

Last Sunday we attended her fourth birthday party and it was as usual a gala affair.  If you’ve been a faithful blog follower then you know that each year of this precious little girl’s life has been marked with an all out balls to the wall party!  There was the Ladybug party at age one.  By the time she was two, she already had a voice and opinion as to the theme of her annual celebration and that year it was Snow White.  There are some great photos in the blog of that party; see link; https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/its-p-day-in-boston

Then Francesca came along and her birthday is in October, so between August and October, once again September seemed the perfect month to celebrate both their birthdays at once!  It was a great idea until the time came to get the presents back home – I swear they needed  a separate cab to get just the gifts home!  Anyway, that year to honor the pretty Clark girls, the theme was the ever-popular Pinkalicious! OMG not one but two little cuties all decked in pink fluffy dresses AND every guest wore pink as well.  I have a friend, Louise who would have JUST LOVED it! Everyone was in the pink, both in clothes and wine! The tables were laden with various bowls and containers of pink candy and Pinkalicious and friends made an appearance.  

Pinkalicious party , Finley is 3

Finley and the Floppy Magic Wand

Pinkalicious party

Dancing Girl

See what I mean?

So that brings us to this year;  Finley originally wanted a  Minnie Mouse party which she would announce every few weeks throughout the year but in the end, Minnie was hard to pin down so Little Orphan Annie to the rescue! See for yourself what a lovely time it was.

Finley Ray 4 yr old birthday party

I’m Annie!

photo courtesy of Diana Delucia

Finley Ray 4 years old

Annie and Pooch

Photo courtesy of Diana Delucia

Finley Ray

Tomorrow! The sun will come out tomorrow!

Photo courtesy of Diana Delucia

Happy Birthday Finley Ray

” I wish, I wish…”

photo courtesy of Diana Delucia

Read Full Post »

Joel Berti

Joel is 40 years old today!! ! OMG, it’s hard to say it out loud!  How is it possible that my first born child, my son, is 40 years old?   This IS the only time I’m going to admit in writing that I actually have a 40 yr old son.

It doesn’t seem that long ago…I was supposed to attend one of my best friends’ wedding.  I had a doctor’s appointment that morning  and then I was going to be off to the wedding.  Well you know where this is going;  the doctor examined me and said “you’re not going to any wedding, you’re going straight to the hospital.  Where is your husband?”  I said, “He’s at work”.  So the doctor said, “Well how are you going to get to the hospital”?  “I’ll drive myself”!

So I called my husband’s office and left a message (these were the day before cell phones) and drove off to the hospital.  By the time I got there, I was a little panicked.  I was having contractions and  didn’t know what to do with the car so I pulled into the Emergency Room parking lot and parked the car.  As I was getting out of the car, a cop came running over, shouting, “Lady you can’t park there”!  I looked at him, started to cry and said, “I’m having a baby”!   Oh boy, that did it – he said, “Don’t  move” and went and got me a wheel chair.  Meantime, uh, where was that husband?

A couple of hours later, the nurse brought me a bundled blonde haired boy and I said, “Oh no, I had a girl”.  She assured me that this was my baby and I insisted that I had a girl. After one more go around of this conversation, she snatched the baby from my arms and said words to the effect that perhaps tomorrow I would feel differently about this beautiful little baby boy.

She was right of course.  Joel has my heart.  I love him for so many reasons;  he is a good person, kind-hearted, he never says anything bad about anyone, he is a gentle soul.  He is easy-going (sometime way too laid back for me), creative, a thinker, an artist, and smart enough to look inward often and assess what he sees.  He seeks the truth in all things, is often naive about people he meets, he adored his baby sister and often let her tag along with him and his friends.  I’m so happy that she flew out to California yesterday with Finley and Francesca to be with him on this landmark birthday.

I thought this post might be like an open letter, telling Joel how proud I am of him, how much I love him and hope that he is happy in the life he has chosen for himself.  He is very different from Chiara in so many ways and their lives are as diametrically opposite as the coasts they each inhabit. 

I wonder if he’s ever going to marry and settle down.  The path doesn’t seem to lead in that direction, time will tell.  I’d like to see him as a father, he seems so at ease with his nephew and nieces. 

Astrology, therapy, numerology, Frank Sinatra, new wave, Pseudolous, older women, younger women, surfing, GCA waiter,  room-mates, acting, writing in his journal, lactose-intolerant, allergic to my cats, Charlie Brown, Wilie Wonka, Mr. Smee, Hartford Stage, “why don’t you model?”, a vintage motorcycle, house music, Father Sarducci, Acme Theater, preppy Izods, Louise’s, La Jolla Country Club, bartending, catering, PB+J’s, oh those blue eyes,  tuna fish, sometimes  poor, playwright, roofer, Bee Pollen, beard-no beard, penguins, vintage tee shirts, Wrangler corduroy jeans, Halloween

Now if only he would return calls and call his mother more often……

I love you Joel Berti – Happy Birthday!!

Joel Berti

Joel in San Diego 2008

Finley Ray, Joel Berti, Finny

Joel and Finley

Sneak Joint, Joel Berti

Joel at The Sneak Joint in San Diego

Halloween, Joel Berti

Pumpkin Carving

vintage motorcycle

Ready to Roll

january 23 2005, Joel Berti, Lori Berti Press

My Wedding 2005

Read Full Post »

Today is my good friend Gail’s birthday.  We’re not saying how old she is BUT believe me, to get a blog post on pbenjay it has to be a BIG ONE!  Gail is an avid supporter, adviser and often contributor to this blog so it is only fitting that she get a blog post dedicated to celebrating the day of her birth.

Many of you know Gail and therefore understand why the font is blue today and even more so why her virtual birthday cake is this….

Gail's birthday cake

Happy Birthday Gail

I understand there will be a “rage” in her honor tomorrow night in Midtown, so if you haven’t gotten your invitation, check your mailbox today.  I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend (haven’t gotten the power of bi-location yet, but am working on it), however, I want to wish you dear friend, the happiest of birthdays!  We will get together soon to have a belated celebration.


Read Full Post »

Last weekend, I was delighted to have Finley stay with us at the cottage.  Well the idea of having her here was exciting.  However, once the crib, the booster chair, the stroller, her suitcase,  the cats in their crates, the food, my bag, Peter’s bag, the other food bag, the blue bag (which carries so many things), the hanging clothes and the clean laundry and her car seat…WELL, really!!!!

Ok so I digress – we joined our friends, Susan & Jim and Joe & Michael for a “catch-up meet-up brunch” at Nagle’s.  We hadn’t seen each other in  a while due to who was sick, who was traveling and who hadn’t been in town.  And I wanted to see Michael before he left for California.  Peter’s birthday was at the end of February, Joe’s birthday had been in the week before AND moved into a new apartment. Michael left his job in CA and was going to be moving to NYC with Joe,and little Miss Fin was in town – so, Let’s Celebrate!

Jim got a large sheet cake with a  BIG RAINBOW on it-this is a running insider joke between them.  So I gave Joe a birthday card with a rainbow, a congratulations on your new home and new job card and Susan added Peter’s name to the birthday cake.

Happy Birthday, Joe Lugo, Peter, Nagle's, brunch
Happy Birthday Joe! and Peter too

photo by Lori

Joe Lugo, Peter Press, Nagle's, sunday brunch

Cutting the cake

photo by Lori

Joe Lugo, Finley Ray, Finny, Nagle's

Finley and Uncle Joe

photo by Lori

You can see where the first cut was made and if you look at the first picture, you can see that the rainbow is on the opposite side of the cake – Finny wanted a piece of cake with the blue rainbow. Even if we wanted to accomodate her request, it would have been hard to extricate one piece of cake out of the middle – Problem solved.  How about a piece of  cake and Gigi will cut a piece of the blue rainbow and put in it on your piece?  “OK” , she says.

Finley Ray Clark,Finny, blue rainbow, Nagle's

I Want the Blue Rainbow

photo by Lori

Read Full Post »

NOT!! Thirty-three years ago yesterday, I gave birth to a much wished for baby girl.  My little girl would have brown eyes and dark hair I was positive…of course five years earlier I was positive about that then too.  NOT – Joel Damien Berti was born with blond hair and blue eyes that stayed blue.  They turned out to be a beautiful blue but that’s another story for another time.

Chiara Jude Berti was born on a lovely Sunday morning in March 1977.  Those were the days of Lamaz classes and all my friends encourage me to go  “natural” . Maybe it was a fulfilling experience for them but for me – NOT!  Everything was NOT going according to the plan; first of all I woke up with a terrific backache and since I had had back labor with Joel, I knew this was it.  I’m type A and my husband at that time, Dennis, wasn’t exactly a cool character under pressure to say the least so while he was running around getting stuff (who knows what?) I hopped in the shower.   I was counting the time between back twinges (my contractions) and he yells What are you doing in there? Let’s go!” – “I”m shaving my legs”.  Needless to say that didn’t go over so well and he was right – what was I doing?  Propping my leg up on the shower wall to shave it and having a contraction, I almost sliced open a vein in a leg I could hardly  see over my belly.  Just for the record,  I’m pretty sure this was the one and only time he was ever right.

Dressed and out the door and I don’t even remember what we did with Joel!?!  We lived in Avon and the hospital was in Hartford and that meant we needed to go over a mountain.  Dennis took off like a mad man and by the time we were going down the mountain at breakneck speed, I was yellingoh God, I’m going to have this baby right now if you keep hitting bumps.”

Into the hospital and my first experience with the prep nurse is a disaster, she’s old, crabby and probably at the end of her shift – She doesn’t really believe in Lamaz!  As soon as I was in the delivery room, I was grateful to see that I had a Lamaz-trained nurse with us.  If you know anything about the LaMaz method, you know the mother to be needs a partner who can work with her through the pain.  Our classes had been disastrous and he didn’t want to practice, sooooooo.  It wasn’t very long before the nurse knew we were headed for hysteria so she just pushed him aside and said in a very loud voice “Listen to ME when I count and tell you when to breath in and out.” It took just a short time to get in the rhythm and Baby Berti was born fairly quickly.  It turns out I slept through the first two stages and by the time I got to the hospital I was already in the crazy stage known as Transition no wonder the techniques designed for the beginning stages hadn’t worked.

She was beautiful and a little jaundiced so we both got to stay in the hospital a few more days.  We had been calling her Nicole but it didn’t seem quite right. I wanted to call her Gabriella but her father said he didn’t like the nickname Gabby.  I was leaving the hospital and taking my last luxurious sitz bath when in walks one of the floor nurses.  She was a big Jamaican woman who looked down on me and said in her lilting accent, “Mrs. Berti, that baby don’t have a name and she is NOT leaving this hospital till you put one on that birth certificate.” OK I had been warned and duly noted.  That day Baby Berti left the hospital with a beautiful name;  Chiara Jude Berti.  I had wanted my little angel to have an Italian name – Chiara is Italian for Clare and from that day forward she was always my Chiara de la luna, the bright and clear light of the moon.

I had visions of her distant future husband whispering in her ear, “Chiara what a beautiful name you have!” What I didn’t anticipate in her future was the constant mispronunciation of her lovely name and having to send her to school with the phonetic spelling of her name pinned on her dress!!!  She blossomed into a beautiful woman with a beautiful name.  She is  an accomplished young woman and a loving and devoted mother.  And I am so pleased that when she had her own gorgeous little girl, she chose a lovely and unique name too – Finley Ray Clark.

Happy Birthday honey, sorry this blog is belated but the pc gremlins were busy, busy, busy yesterday and I couldn’t get on the computer.  33 years is a hell of long time, where oh where did it go??

Is it real fur?

Finny is off to a party.

Getting Fin's ears pierced

Chiara and Finley Ray

Read Full Post »