I can’t go to work today!!!

Oh, wait a minute, I’m retired!
Yesterday I did something to my back whilst doing nothing, well not quite nothing, I was changing the bedsheets. Not a strenuous task, but these old muscles aren’t what they used to be. I pottered around the house all day faffing, can’t sit still, even in retirement. Last night was another story. I just couldn’t get comfortable, consequently I’ve been awake since 4 am. If I’d been working (even from home) it would have been a problem. It’s still been a tough day, but I only did what I chose to do. I baked bread, made some picante sauce, cooked lunch, did some washing, so I wasn’t idle, but I didn’t have to rush.
I’d planned to go to Pescara to pick up the number plate for our bike trailer…and perhaps a few choice items from a home store I like there, but my days are my own now so I can go tomorrow, or even next week if we’re still in the yellow zone (zona gialla).
As you see by the photo, today wasn’t an inviting day to be outside. The sun broke through and it brightened up for a little while, but still a good day to stay home.
Tomorrow’s forecast is sunshine. A lovely day for a drive along the Adriatic coastline to Pescara.
Yes tomorrow is another day!

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.

Reflections

We invited friends to our home for lunch yesterday.
I set the table ahead of time with glasses, bowls and napkins, then stood back to see how it looked.
It was a table that invited lively conversation. It was a table set for five friends to sit and enjoy good food and wine.
I reflected on how my life has changed this year.
I no longer have crystal glasses, with matching decanters, or fine plates and bowls. I left those in the US for my my daughter to enjoy. She’s young and will appreciate them for many years to come.
My glasses don’t match, nor do my pans.
The wine is no longer $30 a bottle, but seven euros for a five liter box from the local Cantina, and much more enjoyable.
Yesterday was the first time I’d invited one of our Italian friends to eat with us, and I was terrified. We’ve enjoyed meals in his kitchen on several occasions and he is an excellent cook. Of course he brought one of his culinary masterpieces, which made our little soiree even more enjoyable. I sighed with relief when he complimented my risotto!
“You’re a good cook.” He said. I was thrilled.
Here in Abruzzo, it doesn’t matter what your glasses look like, or whether or not your plates match. What does matter is the people who sit around your table and share your food. People come first and foremost here, and thats the way it should be.
I still miss my daughter, she should have been here with us for Christmas…next year!

That Shopping Thing

There are lots of adjustments when moving to a different country. Yes, the language is the biggie, but also shopping. We have a small shop in Colledimezzo and larger supermarkets (supermercato) close by. Each supermarket has a butcher, baker and fresh produce section. When I say fresh produce, I mean local, probably from the ground to the supermarket in the same day. Delicious.
Occasionally I visit Lanciano, the closest large town, and shop in Oasi. Oasi is a ipermercato, and sells everything. Their deli, fresh produce, bakery and butcher’s section is fantastic. The choice and quality is amazing.
At first shopping was exhausting, but now my shelves are stocked with familiar items, or their Italian equivalent, its a more relaxing process. I can’t run to different towns on a regular basis because of COVID. So for now, I’m making do with the necessities.
I’m longing to visit my favorite kitchen shop in Casoli. It’s called Miranda and sells pots, pans and various kitchen gadgets. My favorite linen store, Punta Bianco, isn’t far away. I can barely wait to wander around the shops in Pescara, (and maybe have lunch by the Adriatic) or browse for home goods in Maison’s du Monde.
Patience is a virtue and I need to count my blessings, but I never thought I’d miss shopping so much.

More Time to Walk!

I was lucky enough to work for a great company before I retired. Loved the people I worked with and miss them terribly, but I was always juggling my time. When COVID hit and we began to work from home it was even more difficult because mornings ran into lunchtime, afternoons ran into evenings and before I knew it the day was over.
Weekends came and went in a flurry of paying bills, cooking, shopping and before I had time to rest it was Monday again. Of course it was even more frantic for me towards the end of my working career because we were selling our home too.
Now I’m finally retired, and living in Italy. My time is my own. A few chores, maybe a little laundry…then I can go for a walk, read, write (I will get that book finished eventually).
The other amazing thing is, I really don’t have many bills to pay. I lived in the US for 25 years and seemed to be constantly shelling out money. Property tax, gas bills, electric bills, homeowners insurance, car insurance, umbrella insurance, the list seemed endless. I hadn’t realized how expensive it was to live in America until I left. Of course I still have bills to pay, but not many.
Now I spend more time in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. I walk daily, sometimes twice. My joy of photography has been reawakened.
At the moment, I’m restricted because of COVID, but next year at some point, road trips will be possible. Short breaks visiting different areas. Hopefully I’ve got ten good years in me before I’m decrepit, so I’ll make the most of them, retirement is a good thing. If anyone reading this is contemplating retiring early, do it!
Now I just need my daughter to visit and things will be good! Go away COVID and let us live again!!!

December 1st – Christmas is Coming

My kitchen Christmas tree!
I don’t normally start Christmas this early, but 2020 is a little different. We need a distraction. This tree came with me from the US, along with very few Christmas ornaments, things I’ve collected over the last 40 years or so! I had to be ruthless when I packed to move and kept only trinkets that held treasured memories. This is a new start which will create new memories.
We spent Christmas here in 2018 with my daughter, son-in-law and their friends so I also have a tree bought in Italy, which will be decorated in the living room later this week. I feel very extravagant with two trees, but I’m retired and have time to decorate them both.
December 1st came around quickly. I blinked and the long hot days of summer turned into a golden autumn.
2020 is trickling away. It has been an awful year for the world, but I think we all learned from it. Let’s hope so. For me, it was bitter sweet. I realized my dream of moving to Italy, but I’m a long way from my daughter. I hope I can see her soon.
Here’s to Christmas, and the simple things in life.

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.

Baking – Cooking – Living the Dream

I never tire of the views here in Colledimezzo. Even if I walk the same path every day, I find a different angle to photograph. The light varies by the hour. Later in the day the mists make my photographs magical and surreal. I lived in Colorado for 25 years, and enjoyed the beautiful Rocky Mountains, but they didn’t boast the colors of Abruzzo.
Photography, travel and writing are my big hobbies, but my other passion is cooking. I adjusted my recipes from England to the US back in 1995. I learned to measure in cups, became familiar with the different products and even adjusted to high altitude baking, although my Yorkshire Puddings weren’t always a success!!!
Here I am living in Italy, with new challenges. Grams/Kilograms…no cups and ounces like the US. I’m beginning to master the flour…so many to choose from and your bread/cakes/pizzas will be a disaster if you don’t get it right. When we used to visit for vacation, an Italian friend always asked me to bring baking powder from the US, now I understand why. There is no self raising flour and no baking powder the way we know it. Baking power (which has a completely different name) comes in little sachets, usually infused with vanilla. There are different instant yeasts, and if you choose the wrong one, the result is inedible. Yes, I learned that from experience. I’m taking the safe route now and using fresh live yeast.
Thats enough for today. I’m still loving the Italian way of life. Miss my daughter terribly, but when Trump and COVID are history and she can come to visit, everything will be perfect.

The Taste of Christmas

I woke up this morning feeling out of sorts. Grumpy, headache, just generally off! It was the first day of a new lockdown. When we moved to Italy we planned to travel and explore, not thinking COVID would last this long. Travel is on hold of course. The local businesses have a bigger problem. Lock down is crippling them. It has to be done though. New cases were increasing.
I made a pizza for lunch, worst pizza I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot. I kept telling myself to snap out of it, but it didn’t work.
Around 3:00 pm (still feeling grumpy), I walked up too the piazza to catch the vegetable van. My spirits were lifted a little as I chatted to friends in the village and breathed the fresh air (with a hint of woodsmoke).
The vegetable van turned up and I couldn’t resist buying a big bag of mandarins. Freshly picked, leaves still attached. I headed home with a smile on my face, Colledimezzo does that to you. The mandarins looked so good I peeled and ate one as soon as I got home. It tasted just like Christmas.

Abruzzo turns red!

Yesterday I enjoyed a beautiful morning walk. The views in Colledimezzo are always spectacular and change with the seasons. So lucky to live here.
Last night the decision was made for Abruzzo join the red zone. This comes in to effect tomorrow. So sad for the local bars and restaurants and any other business impacted. Their livelihood has suffered so much this year. Hopefully the numbers drop by December allowing everyone to celebrate Christmas. Patience and perseverance is what we need. The people of Abruzzo are good caring people, I know they’ll all get through this.

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