Boxing Day Memories

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26th of December means two things to me. Family gatherings with cold buffet’s were our Boxing Day tradition, but first and foremost it was my mum’s Birthday! She’d have been 100 today!

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Here in the US, Boxing day isn’t on the calendar, but I take the day off work every year anyway, like I said it’s my mum’s birthday!

Families are a mixed bag aren’t they. Mine caused stress every year. Two brothers who didn’t get along must have caused mum endless heartache. The rift was too deep to ever fix. My brothers were always referred to as the “good brother” and the “bad brother”. The bad brother is dead now too, but he leaves behind a legacy of ruin and pain. Does anyone miss him? Who knows? I miss the brother he used to be when I was a kid, and before he turned bad.
Anyway, its boxing day, my mum’s Birthday, and I just want here to be remembered. Phoebe Ethel Newman, rest well in Heaven – we always remember you. Love You!

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2017 – The Incredible Journey

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Christmas is almost here and the year almost over. What an incredible year it’s been. I spent last Christmas in England with friends and family. Took a trip down memory lane. The New Years Eve fireworks in London were amazing.

July took me to Naples, Capri and the Amalfi coast. My yearning for a better, slower life in Italy became overwhelming.

August found me in Abruzzo looking at homes and discovering a beautiful area I’d never visited before. The Chieti province of Abruzzo is bursting with beautiful scenery in its perfect position between the mountains and the Adriatic. Sitting on a hilltop is Colledimezzo, my second home.

It’s a long time since I was this excited about anything. My whole family shares that excitement. Now from afar, I’m conducting an orchestra of contractors who are putting the final touches to our new family home. With the help of Monia, our realtor, we’re turning a lifetime of dreams into a future reality.

It may be a while before I retire, but I’m looking forward to it now. The year of 2017  turned out to be an incredible journey.

Happy New Year to everyone. Make your dreams come true!

Decisions!

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I’m not wishing my life away, but I am yearning to be in Abruzzo. I want to sip my morning Cappuccino and think, shall I drive to the mountains today? Or shall I dip my toes in the Adriatic?

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The Reason we Climb!

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By the end of the year I feel like I’m in the final few steps of climbing a mountain. Exhausted I push myself, one more challenge one more day. I’m longing for time off work to spend with my family. Every day becomes more difficult than the one before, but every day brings us a little closer to the summit.

Why to we do it?

Because we’re alive! When we reach the top of the hill we can see the sun set on the year and everything we’ve achieved.

If it wasn’t such a great year, we can watch the sunset on that too, and then watch the sun rise for the first time on a fresh new beginning.

I know I’m premature, its only December 14th, but for those of you struggling in the stressful holiday season, slow down and remember to look at the sunset.

 

Buon Natale & Felice Anno Nuovo

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Here it is again! December I’m talking about of course. The crazy month where we try to be everything to everyone and end up stressed, tired and happy all at the same time. I love Christmas, always have and always will, but sometimes I have to stop and remember what it’s all about. Most people seem to forget we’re celebrating the birth of a baby who (if you believe in Christianity) changed the world! I believe. I’m not a religious maniac, and I don’t even go to church, but I do believe in Jesus Christ. OK, that’s it with religion.

I’ve spent Christmas in England, Germany and the US and I have to say, the atmosphere is so much better in Europe. Not sure why, but you don’t plan Christmas there, you FEEL it. It seeps into your heart. Carol services in ancient cathedrals, traditional, beautiful. Next Christmas I’ll be in Italy, my first Christmas in my new home. Its going to be so special with my husband, daughter and son in law. A dream come true. Until then Buon Natale.

Me in the Middle

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I’m the one in the middle. Always ready to laugh, always ready for fun. As a kid I was ALWAYS in trouble. I turn every situation into a story.

Other than my family, the important things in my life are writing and visiting Italy. I  finally realized my Italian dream and bought a house in the small village of Colledimezzo, which is in the Chieti province of Abruzzo. I’m just as pleased as punch. I have another dream to fulfill now, to make it as a writer.

My second book, Ghosts on the Sand, is almost finished. I’m working on the last short story in this compilation. It’s called “The Engineer” and is a tongue in cheek black comedy set in Italy. Watch out for my new book and help me achieve my writing dream. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it.

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Dog Bites and Mice!

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Oh what a week. The telephone woke me up at 3:30 on Monday morning. My daughter was in hospital in Verona She was bitten by a dog while out on her early morning run. I felt sick. Thousands of miles away and nothing I could do to help. It worked out okay. The Italian hospital looked after her, free of charge. I love Italy.

Next stomach churning worry was my beloved Audi. Its been smelling of petrol for a few days, and gradually got worse. The smell filled the garage and seeped into the house. Why do things all happen at the same time? We’re traveling for Thanksgiving the car needs to be safe. I was horrified when the mechanic showed me what he found. Mice had nibbled each fuel inject so petrol dripped into the engine. It’s a miracle the car still started. All fixed (and my bank account is two thousand dollars lighter).

Yin and Yang, it’s the circle of life, and what makes this all ok is…I have a house in Italy and when I’m stressing, I just think about it and my world is at peace. Now I just have to find a way to make money so I can retire early.

Happy Sunday folks.

The Engineer of Colledimezzo

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The past week was exhausting, but happily productive. My daughter did an amazing job in Italy. She signed the deed on our new home. It took three hours to read the deed in both English and Italian. I was on stand by here in the US, to send any documents they needed, but on the whole, everything went smoothly.

Since then Joanna has worked with a non-english speaking builder to arrange to have the stairs finished in wood and a non-english speaking carpenter to get a quote for the kitchen. She’s driven all over the Chieti province choosing appliances, opening bank accounts, arranging for taxes to be paid and generally making the house a home. When we arrive in March we just have to start buying furniture.

Our realtor Monia, with Abruzzo Rural Property, is amazing. She referred Joanna to amazing folks. Gave contact info for the only English-speaking person in the village (Nino), and introduced her to the Engineer.

I met the Engineer in August, when we were viewing houses. Super nice guy. I understand he’s an engineer, but I’m not sure what that means in Italy. This man is taking care of everything for us. He has a couple of keys to our house. He’s removing some of the building materials that were left. He’s fitting a bigger boiler for us, letting folks into our home to make deliveries and work on the house. I wonder if each village has an engineer that takes care of things. I still have a lot to learn, but one thing is for sure, I’m going to enjoy learning it.

Roll on Retirement!

The Eve of an Adventure

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My daughter has been in Abruzzo since Thursday. She’s staying in the beautiful seaside town of Vasto. We’ve kept her busy. She’s opened a bank account so we can pay utilities. She met the builder that’s going to finish our stairs, chose the wood and gave him a deposit. Cash of course. She’s explored, enjoyed the local food and wine and totally fallen in love with the place. Our purchasing trip was a whirlwind experience so we barely scratched the surface of the beautiful province of Chieti. Now, with time on her hands, Joanna is telling us what we missed, and what we have to look forward to as you can see by the photos above.

Look at that HUGE smile on her face. She took a selfie on the terrace of our new home, key in hand! Try putting that key on you keychain!!!

It’s Sunday November 5th, the eve of owning our beautiful family home in Colledimezzo, Abruzzo Italy. Exciting times.

The Italian Cure!

Been a bit of a year for me. Started it off turning sixty, that was on January 17th. Less than a week later I drove myself to the emergency room because the pain in my stomach was unbearable. Kept rising higher and higher. I was scared it would stop my heart. Had stomach issues for a while and it all came to a head.

They kept me in, couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Totally out of it. Had a bad reaction to the pain meds they were pumping into me. Finally morphine worked, after X-rays, and tests they figured out my issue, no surgery required, they fixed me up and sent me home! Phew!

Since then I’ve been sluggish, lacking energy, couldn’t motivate myself to exercise…until now.

What changed? I discovered Abruzzo! I found and fell in love with the house in Colledimezzo and it has changed my whole life. Gave me something to work towards. Put a spring in my husband’s step and a smile on my daughter and son-in-laws face too. Now I’m not just working towards retirement, I’m working towards retirement in Italy, to putting together a welcoming home that friends and family will want to visit. We have five years to furnish it, pay off any debts we incur doing so, and then….look to a quieter life, a life in a small village in Abruzzo.

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