She was Maddalena, my grandmother from my mother’s side.
And boy, wasn’t she hard to like. At least, for other people. We understood each other, Nonna Lena and me.
She was born in 1913 in Torino as the illegitimate daughter of a Piedmont Count.
And here’s where everything started to be different from any other story about aristocracy’s bastard offspring. Because at the end of the day, that’s what she was.
It was not unusual (I’d say it was pretty common back then). What was not usual is how this was dealt with.
Nonna Lena’s mom had a husband, but they never had any (other) child together. The Count and the Countess had two sons and when Maddalena came along, she was simply added to the blue-blood brood, and raised with them. She never knew the truth (although I’m sure she did know, but she loved her papá and her mamma just as she loved the Count and Countess and simply carried on with the situation). We were told the truth only after her death, when her mamma’s sister came clean after keeping the secret all those years.
Nonna Lena was given the best education anyone could have had those days. And not only a ‘woman’ education (a Lady’s manners, sawing, running a household with servants and whatever noble people had to learn back then, although the Countess saw herself to it). She was taught with the Count’s sons, so she learned about business and ‘manlier’ matters as well.
Her upbringing, a peasants’ daughter raised within gentility and gender equality, was the gasoline that fed her inherent independence.
Thanks to the Count she had a great job at the City Hall not many women could aspire to. She worked her butt off, ended up high on the ladder and held on tight through the Second World War until she retired.
The not-usual went on when she had my mom. My grandfather Angelo was a Great Invalid of War (that’s what we call Veterans who were greatly injured in the war). He was hit while in combat and had a lung removed because to it. He survived, but could never work again. He and Nonna Lena met in a mountain village while he was recovering, fell in love, ignored the age difference (she was almost 10 years older than him) and got married. As I said, Nonno Angelo could not work. Nonna Lena could, though, and kept on doing just that even if my grandfather was awarded a very generous pension for what he did while serving and could very well provide for the family. So, my grandfather was the stay at home dad while my grandma went to the office, day in and day out. We’re talking about the ’60, it sure was not the average Italian family dynamic.
Of course, for me, she was simply Nonna. She loved crosswords and reading. Her collection of Agatha Christie was complete and displayed as a trophy.
She helped me study, especially history. She told me stories of war, of how she lost her first love to the War when she was in her twenties. She told me when the news arrived, she cried all of her tears and she was left with none to shed. Losing him had crushed something in her heart she never patched up until many, many years later when she met Angelo. But still, I never saw a tear coming from her.
She never tried to teach me anything, no big life lessons, but she showed me through every-day life what being rock-solid meant. What being your own woman meant.
Fearless, is what she was.
Of course she wasn’t easy to deal with, especially in her later years.
When grandfather Angelo passed away, she spent the 2 years before her own passing pissed mad because, “Angelo left me here, the ass”. (She never openly said ass, she was too proper for allowing bad words, but it was very clear she thought it).
I know how she was seen by others, and how she might not have been liked. She had too many too muches to be likable. Too much independence for a woman of that time, too much balls, too much steel in those nerves, too much temper. Tooo many un-sanded edges.
My mom always tells me I remind her of my grandma and while I’m not sure it is intended as one, to me it's the highest compliment.
She lived free and true to herself during hard times and taught me how to be just as hard.
I can’t say I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t. But she showed me it was okay to be whatever you feel like being, and to hell with those who don’t like it.
So here’s for you, you badass Nonna. Always in my heart.
Crescent Creek Collection
From the cold Canadian border, the US1 runs along the east coast with patience. Southbound, always south, until it reaches the Sunshine State.
Not the fastest way, sure, but if you have time to drive it all the way down, you might find yourself lost in one of the coastal towns that dot the US1 like little jewels.
Maybe that town’s name is Crescent Creek.
These are the stories of its people.
Only $0.99 for all three for a limited time!
Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.
On my website http://www.viviana-mackade.blog/
As a romance writer, I’m fascinated by heroines. The women in my books don’t have to be famous or rich or powerful. They don’t even have to be beautiful. Even if they live ordinary lives in ordinary worlds, all they have to be is determined. Determined to fight for those they love. Determined to achieve their goals. Determined to make the world a better place. And one of my favorite role-models is a woman most people haven’t heard of—St. Brigid of Kildare.
St. Brigid, the first native-born Irish saint, is remembered as a strong, independent, and feisty woman who was born a slave and died as one of the most beloved people in all of Ireland.
Her story is one of struggle and determination. Despite being born during some of the darkest times of history, St. Brigid was a woman who fought against the rules of the day to spread a fierce love wherever she went.
St. Brigid of Kildare, one of Ireland’s patron saints, was born in 451 to a Christian female slave named Brocca and a Leinster chieftan named Dubhthach. Dubhthach was not only a pagan but he had a wife who didn’t appreciate her husband’s infidelity. When Dubhthach’s wife discovered the pregnancy, she sold Brocca off to a druid landowner. Once there, St. Brigid was born into slavery.
There are so many myths and legends around St. Brigid, and so few written records, it’s hard to tell what’s true. But there are some recurring stories that most historians agree upon.
Her childhood is dotted with stories about her generous charity and many miracles. Legends state that St. Brigid, from a young age, would feed the poor and give everything away, much to the consternation of the frustrated druid landowner. One day Brigid gave butter from her mother’s storeroom and when she prayed, butter reappeared so she wouldn’t get in trouble.
The druid landowner, upon seeing her great charity and hearing her talk about the Trinity while weaving crosses out of reeds, eventually converted to Christianity.
When St. Brigid was ten, the law stated that she must return to her legal owner: her father Dubhthach. Once there she began giving her father’s things away as well.
It didn’t take long for Dubhthach to get annoyed at his stubborn daughter who offered his money to beggars away and welcomed lepers into his home. One day he dragged her to the King of Leinster, intending to marry her off to the King of Ulster. While Dubhthach was talking to the King of Leinster, St. Brigid (who had taken a vow of chastity and had no intention of getting married) gave away her father’s jeweled sword to a starving family. Dubhthach was furious and the King of Ulster, who wasn’t thrilled with his leper-loving fiancée who gave away everything, asked her, “Will you give away my riches too?”
To which she replied, “I would give all the wealth of Ireland away to serve the King of Heaven.”
At this point, her father and the two kings decided St. Brigid shouldn’t get married and they let her become a nun.
Some stories say that before the arranged marriage St. Brigid prayed for her beauty to be taken away so the King of Ulster wouldn’t want to marry her. Some stories say she poked out an eye and once she was released from the betrothal, her eye healed. Regardless of which story is true, after St. Patrick presided over her final vows her beauty was restored. When another priest told St. Patrick that he accidentally used the form for ordaining priests on Brigid, St. Patrick responded, “So be it, my son, she is destined for great things.”
St. Patrick knew the stubborn, fiery St. Brigid was a natural leader.
After her final vows, Brigid continued performing miracles including turning water into beer and healing lepers.
Other stories include the woman accused of stealing a brooch and about to be sold as a slave. When Brigid found out about this poor woman’s fate, St. Brigid asked a local fisherman to cut open his catch and the brooch was found in the fish’s belly. This act saved the poor woman.
When St. Brigid was traveling with a man and his two mute daughters, Brigid fell off her horse and hit her head. She used the blood from her wound to heal the daughter’s muteness.
When St. Brigid asked the King of Leinster for land to build a convent, he said no. Then she asked for as much land as her cloak would cover, and he laughed. So she and three of her friends flung the cloak over the countryside. It miraculously expanded until it covered many acres. The king was so startled, yet not surprised since it was St. Brigid after all, he granted her all the land she wanted.
With that enormous piece of land, she founded two monasteries in Kildare, one for men and one for women. She named it the Church of the Oak because it was built beneath an oak tree and covered a pagan shrine devoted to the Celtic goddess Brigid.
Brigid also established an art school that taught metalwork and manuscript illumination. This school produced the famous Book of Kildare. Gerald of Wales praised this book as “the work of angelic and not human skill.” Unfortunately, it was lost three centuries ago.
St. Brigid not only served many people in her lifetime, she became friends with St. Patrick. With his help, she performed so many great works that the entire island loved her for her charity and generosity and kindness.
St. Brigid died on February 1 (her feast day) in the year 525 AD. Her body was entombed in the jewel-encrusted high altar of Kildare Cathedral. She lay there until 878 when, during the Viking raids, priests moved her relics to the isle of Columba. Once there, the priests laid her to rest in the same tomb as St. Patrick.
St. Brigid is often depicted holding a reed cross, a crozier, or a lamp. She is also the patron saint of Ireland, dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies.
St. Brigid was a remarkable woman in a time not known for being kind to women. Despite the fact she was poor and had no earthly power, her natural leadership abilities, stubbornness in defending the poor and unwanted, and her fierce love for those who were alone and hungry make her one of history’s most compelling women. And these traits make her a perfect role-model for any romance novel heroine . . . and romance reader. :-)
Every Deep Desire
March 6, 2018
He's taking back his honor, his freedom, and the woman he loves.
Rafe Montfort was a decorated Green Beret, the best of the best, until a disastrous mission and an unforgivable betrayal destroyed his life. Now, this deadly soldier has returned to the sultry Georgia swamps to reunite with his brothers, and take back all he lost. But Juliet must never know the truth behind what he's done...or the dangerous secret that threatens to take him from her forever.
It took Juliet Capel eight long years to put her life back together after her husband was taken from her. Now Rafe is back, determined to protect her at any cost, and it's not just her heart that's in danger. The swamps hold a secret long buried and far deadlier than either of them could have imagined...
Sharon is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes of novels of suspense, adventure, and love. A wife, mother of twins, and caretaker of Donut the one-eyed dog, she’s addicted to snapping photos and eating Oreos. She writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.
Where to connect with Sharon:
When there are ghosts, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! When you need a good cake, who you gonna call? CM Peters!
Yep, that’s me. I’m usually the first person people ask in my circle of friends to bake desserts, especially birthday cakes. I have a knack for success with new recipes or finding the sweetest cakes ever. Sweet as in you’ll need a pint of milk just to help the sugar rush. I never intend to kill people with sugar but you know, if you’re to have a cheat meal, might as well make it good, right?
Since we recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, I’m honoring my neighboring people (I’m Scottish and French) with a recipe I found online a couple of years ago and adapted to my taste, a Stout & chocolate cake with Bailey’s icing. I should say it might not look super pretty once it’s iced, but trust me, the flavors make it a winner.
When I made this recipe the first time, it was for a friend’s birthday party. Among the people present, at least half of them were beer fans. I so am not, but I’m always willing to try. And cooked/baked alcohol always has a different flavor. Once the portions were distributed, there was a deafening silence in the room. I got nervous. What did I do wrong? Does it taste that bad? Then, the groans and moans rose in the room and, like a bunch of starved people, they threw themselves at what was left. I returned home with a clean dish and a big smile.
Since then, I must hear about this cake at least once a month and I already have orders for upcoming birthdays. Flattering to say the least.
What’s the secret, you ask? I’m going to be corny and say ‘love’. When I try new recipes, I want to make sure people will love it, so I have a taste of everything as I go along. If I don’t love it, it doesn’t go through. It’s also why I adjust recipes to my liking. Being calm and collected in the kitchen also helps, especially when baking. Desserts tend to flake when you’re too rough or stressed. And no, it’s not a thing your grandma says to make conversation, it’s true.
One simple piece of advice: when you bake or cook, read the whole recipe before starting. It was one of the first of the first things I learned in baking school (a lifetime ago). You’ll avoid distractions, for one, and mistakes that’ll cost you to have to start over. Not all the ingredients go together all at once.
So, there you are. Try your hand at this and let me know if you enjoy it. Serve with milk or a good stout. Sláinte!
Pawns: Every Family Has Its Secrets
6’3, 32 years old
Born in Brockton Point, Maine
February 2, 1987
Owner of popular pub, On Dec, owner of one Harley, a Cherokee, and a Mustang GT. New home owner. Proud collector of Star Wars Lego and classic comics. Formerly known as Brockton’s most ineligible bachelor. I’m about to fall fast and hard for a buddy’s sister, who is also the new manager I just hired for my pub. That feeling everyone tells you: ‘you’ll just know’? Yeah. Well, now I know.
5’4, 28 years old
Born in Brockton Point, Maine
June 5, 1991
Put herself through university and graduated with a double major in marketing and business, creator of multiple nationally known media campaigns, returned home even though it was hard to do. Currently about to fall in love with my boss, the town’s most ineligible bachelor, and a guy I’ve crushed on my entire life. Oh, and he’s a good friend of my brother’s which gives my family one more reason to not talk to me.