Happy New Year – Felice Anno Nuovo

Yesterday morning, in Colledimezzo, I enjoyed my final walk of 2020. As usual the views were spectacular.
One year ago on New Years Eve 2019 I walked the same path. We didn’t live here, but enjoyed a two week winter retreat in what was then our second home. We had plans to retire here, but weren’t sure when. On New Years Eve 2020, there was no pandemic. Life was normal, simple, wonderful.
I returned to Colorado on January 8th 2020, leaving my husband here to sort out Italian Medical Insurance, his Italian drivers license and experience working his US job remotely. He flew back to Colorado at the beginning of March, just before the pandemic exploded and Italy shut down. He made it home just in time, and quarantined accordingly. The following week, the whole world changed. We watched people in Rome/Naples and other Italian cities singing on their balconies, making the best of a horrible situation. My heart ached for them.
COVID/Trump/Brexit problems pushed us over the edge and we decided to move to Italy a couple of years earlier than we initially intended. Post Brexit it would have been more complicated because although the USA has been our home since 1995, we are British. Our house in Colorado sold very quickly and my husband headed to Italy on August 1st, it was easier for him because he could work remotely, but for me it meant retirement and I needed more time. Leaving my job with Western Union was difficult. I loved the folks I worked with and I can honestly say it was the best position in my whole working career, but at the end of August I boarded a plane and headed to Rome. What a huge step for and old girl. Retirement in a new country, a new life and a new language to learn.
Now I’m a permanent resident of the beautiful little town of Colledimezzo. The views never disappoint and help dispel the stress of a hellish year. Hopefully the worst is behind us now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are already been distributed, soon an adult will be running the USA and maybe, just maybe, we can all start living again.
Those of us who survived last year relatively unscathed should count our blessings and concentrate on helping those less fortunate. Happy New Year, Felice Anno Nuovo. Stay Safe.

Christmas has passed

In the blink of an eye its gone! The tree remains until Epiphany as is the tradition, but Christmas day has passed us by. It was busy with cooking, but calm. Nice to spend it with friends and glad we had friends we could spend it with.
We’re in Abruzzo and a long way from our daughter in Colorado, but she called us, and was happy. She was with her husband and they’d been skiing. Had she been miserable it would have torn us apart.
Now it is “Il giorno di Santa Stefano” in Italy, which is a holiday! The village is quiet other than the sound of the church bells.
It’s also my late mother’s Birthday. I miss her.
What to do today? I think I’ll potter around the house and faff! Yes, when you retire, there is time to faff! No sunshine today, gloomy and cloudy. Maybe a good day to catch up on the children’s book I’m writing, learn a little more Italian and then maybe watch TV and relax.
Life passes by so quickly. You’re young and then suddenly…you’re retired.
I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas even if you were alone.

COVID EMOTION

Is everyone emotional now, or is it just me? I should be counting my blessings. The beautiful Italian village I call home, sits on a hilltop between the Adriatic Sea and the mountains, idillic right. I love it. My neighbors are wonderful, kind, sharing people, but I feel my emotions are just out of control. It doesn’t take much for the tears to start. I’m guessing this isn’t just me. We’ve had almost a year of this pandemic now, and although we have a vaccine, we’re a long way from getting it distributed to everyone. Then there is always the question about long term side effects. I try not to look at news updates, but how can you avoid it?
Then there’s the politics, the hate and the current division of the US. I don’t care who you voted for, folks should not act this way. Voice your opinions peacefully.
2020 brought issues no one should have to deal with and terror no one should have to live through. I’ve never been big on New Years resolutions, but let’s all resolve to be nice to each other.
I hope 2021 brings happiness to the world. Lord knows, after this year, we need it.

Take Care everyone, and stay safe.

Making Memories

I’ve noticed many people posting memories on Facebook, memories of better times. I’ve done the same myself. This really has been a year, but there will be memories, good, bad, emotional, different! I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. I’ve also learned to appreciate the simple things in life we normally overlook. I’ve learned to be kinder and more patient.
This time last year we were complaining about crowded stores as we tried to buy Christmas gifts. We miss those crowded stores now, along with their Christmas music (that starts at Thanksgiving).
Enjoy the version of Christmas we have and next year, when we’re able to see our families again, this will be a memory. Make the best of it!

Take care and stay safe. This too will pass.

Thanksgiving in Abruzzo

My first Thanksgiving in Abruzzo!
Although I lived in Colorado for 25 years, I’ve never truly celebrated Thanksgiving the way Americans do. I enjoyed cooking. Getting together with friends and family was lovely, but the “Holiday” never held a special meaning for me. Not like Christmas.
2020 is my first Thanksgiving in Abruzzo. We didn’t go out and buy a huge Turkey, or make pumpkin/pecan pie, so it was very low key. Social distancing due to COVID has taken over the lives of everyone.
We celebrated with a huge polenta, Italian style. I’m not going to take credit for this gourmet delight, our good friend created it. It was delicious! On Black Friday I had a dental appointment in Lanciano. I completed two “self certifications”, one for the dentist, and one allowing me to stop off at a large Supermarket. There weren’t many people shopping, because of the Red Zone rules. I shopped for things I can’t buy locally and picked up some Christmas lights along with one or two tree ornaments. It was a gorgeous day, so on the way home I took photos. I can’t wait for all of this to be over so we can travel again, itching for a road trip, but until then I’ll make the most of my beautiful surroundings.
Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

Abruzzo Orange Zone

Thank heavens for my beautiful surroundings! It will help me remain calm.
Last night I learned that the region of Abruzzo has been bumped up from the Zona Gialla (Yellow Zone) to Zona Arancione (Orange Zone). This means bars and restaurants must remain closed and we can’t travel out of our municipality without a good reason and the relevant documentation. Abruzzo boasts very low COVID cases, but they are rising faster than they should.
This morning we went shopping fairly early. We drove to Oasi in Lanciano and bought enough food to keep us going for the next two or three weeks. I am happy to report we didn’t see anyone filling their trolleys with toilet rolls. In fact everyone was buying just what they needed. No panic buying or emptying shelves. What a refreshing change. On the way home we stopped off at a local cantina and purchased a couple of 5 liter boxes of local wine (Pecorino), wouldn’t be good to run out of wine during a lockdown.
This evening I joined my friends at “Bar for You” in the Piazza because after today it will be closed until the number of new cases falls. Lovely evening with lots of laughter, and a few tears. How will these local bars and restaurants survive? I’m sure they struggle as it is. My heart goes out to them.
Let’s hope the new outbreak of COVID is controlled soon and things can be as close to normal as possible for Christmas. After a grueling year we all need something to look forward to.
Stay safe everyone.

The Weekend – Italian Style

This weekend brought us two glorious sunny days!
On Saturday we returned our rental car and picked up first (and hopefully last) Italian car. I didn’t realize buying a new car was such a big deal here. Our lovely shiny red car (macchina), was ready and waiting for us when we arrived at the dealership. Marco, the lovely man who sold it to us, was excited and enjoyed the admiring look on my face as he peeled the cover off.
Yes Italian cars come wrapped!!!
When we got back to Colledimezzo the locals made a big fuss and congratulated us on our new purchase. (I have yet to drive it, new cars make me a bit nervous).
Today we met our friends in the piazza for the usual Sunday lunchtime drink. So much fun sitting in the sunshine watching everyone come out of church in their Sunday best. We got home and I hadn’t even taken my shoes off before the phone rang...”turn around and come back out, we’ve all been invited to lunch with Pio, he’s cooking”. This is the way things happen in Italy, beautifully unplanned. We had an amazing lunch made with local produce and served with good wine. Everything of course made better by the great company and wonderful conversation.
We finished the afternoon with a walk. Gorgeous weather, lush surroundings, autumn colors still exploding (even though its November).
And what made this whole weekend better…TRUMP lost the election. Of course the petulant child has not conceded yet, but no one expected him to be gracious in defeat!
Now we need to beat COVID and we can end the year on a much happier note.

Retirement UPS and downs!

So here I am, a little over two months into retirement.
How does it feel? Pretty good most of the time. I don’t have to rush to get things done after work, or during the weekend. The washing can be done whenever I like, along with chores. I can take a walk when I like, shop any day of the week. Have a glass of wine, explore my new surroundings, write, exercise, daydream…
And now the downs!
Yes, there are some, but nothing that can’t be overcome. I miss my daughter and son in law, and their silly pups. I miss my friends too. Trying to learn to speak Italian fluently at my age is tough, but I’ll get there. I’m very lucky to be in a “Yellow Zone” in Italy, so COVID isn’t causing me too many problems, but its still on my mind, and of course prevents me from hosting a family Christmas. This too will pass and things could be worse. I think I’m still in the adjustment stage, but like I say, its only been a couple of months.

Dolce Far Niente

Montazzoli

Dolce far niente is a phrase that sticks in my mind. An Italian phrase (introduced to me by a French chap I worked with), and it means sweetness of doing nothing.
When I became stressed over moving my worldly belongings to Italy, selling my house, or finally leaving work, I’d think about that phrase. I’d use it as the carrot dangling ahead of me, keeping me going. I’m here now, and if I choose, can enjoy a little dolce far niente. Still keeping busy though. The first couple of months have been a challenge of finding the best car insurance/home insurance, obtaining Italian Health Insurance and a drivers license.
Things are slowing down a little now. On Saturday I enjoyed a delicious lunch with British and Italian friends. We walked for a while, in the picturesque village of Montazzoli. Beautiful views. Things are falling into place, miss my daughter still of course. I’ll also feel more settled when we have a new US President (fingers crosses), and when we finally get COVID under control. One step at a time.

Soothing the Troubled Mind

I’ve retired to one of the most beautiful places in the world. Unspoiled natural beauty. I’m surrounded by caring, friendly people, but every now and then and my troubles surface. The COVID numbers terrify me and I miss my daughter in Colorado. Yesterday my heart ached to see her so bad I contemplated just booking a flight and showing up on her doorstep. I took a long walk to think things through. Flying back to the US would be silly, a risk! I was unsettled because Italy is on a partial lockdown. I felt trapped! The walk helped clear my mind. This will pass!
COVID won’t “magically disappear”, but it will be controlled eventually, and life will return to normal. Let’s hope the new normal is a friendlier and more compassionate place.

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