COVID COVID GO AWAY

For a whole week we’ve enjoyed open restaurants, shopping and long lazy lunches in the local restaurants.
No self certification forms were necessary because the region of Abruzzo was in the yellow zone and this was allowed. Our local bar was open until 6:00 pm, which was wonderful because we were able to talk to people again. Yes we were hiding behind masks and keeping our distance, but it was so nice to feel almost normal. Glad we went out for lunch today, it may be our last chance until March 5th.
As we left the restaurant in Villa Santa Maria (we were the only customers), Mario, the lovely man who owns the place thanked us and told us that we’d be his last “in house” customers for a while. How will these businesses survive?
I’m sad, but not complaining. I understand that we need to eliminate this virus. Masks, distancing and vaccine, along with a semi lockdown should do the trick…we hope. This terrible virus cannot be allowed to take hold of Italy the way it did in Spring. Maybe, just maybe we can get it under control by the Summer. I long to wander along the beautiful Abruzzo beaches. I’m desperate for my daughter to visit. We have this lovely (300 year old) new home that is begging for her laughter.
We’re lucky to be here, some people are less fortunate. Every day I count my blessings, but also mourn the loss of freedom.
Stay safe everyone, and be patient.

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!

The Gift and Some Memories

Didn’t we all think we’d be through with this ugly virus by now? I never imagined we’d still be wearing masks and limited to where we can go because lockdown rules still apply.
I imagined by now my daughter, son in law, and a couple of their friends would be here to enjoy Christmas with us. Not to be! We’re all isolated in our own little bubbles across the world. Sad, but at least we’re surviving. The gift in the photo above tipped me over the edge and made me cry. Good tears!
Every single person in Colledimezzo received a box from the Commune, personally delivered to our door. It is a small village, but still, that is a lot of boxes. What a wonderful thing to do. They realized what a tough year we’ve all had, both mentally and economically, and hoped this would help ease the burden. I was truly stunned. So glad to have moved here, such kindness doesn’t exist everywhere.

When we made an offer on this house back in 2017, Trump was the new US President, and the folks of the UK had voted for BREXIT. Although we all have different views, those two things to me, were devastating. How time has flown and things change. Thankfully, Trump’s days are almost over. BREXIT remains, but both events are overshadowed by COVID and the millions of people that have, and still are suffering.

2021 can’t come soon enough. It may not start well, but hopefully vaccines will bring relief and folks will realize a mask is needed to protect the human race. Let’s see beyond the misery to a brighter future.
We can do this!

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.

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.

Fresh in Abruzzo – Colledimezzo Days

When I first moved here a couple of months ago I felt a little lost. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, but I felt like a fish out of water. I was no longer working, so my days had no structure. It took a little while, but now I’m comfortable. I’m still a source of amusement for the locals because of my mispronunciation of many Italian words, but they know I’m trying.
Since Abruzzo became part of the red zone last week, I’m getting even more familiar with how the world turns in Colledimezzo.
On Tuesday lunch came from the porchetta/rotisserie chicken food truck. On Thursday I went to the piazza and made a purchase from the vegetable man who passes through twice a week. Yesterday I heard what I thought was the butcher’s van (they all make a great deal of noise as they drive through), and left the house quickly to make my purchase. I found I’d chased down the fish van instead…quandary, I didn’t know what any of the fish (other than mussels and shrimp) were, so I chose a couple of nice looking specimens which were called cipal. After a little googling, we discovered they were grey mullet, which apparently are particularly good when fished from the Adriatic. Of course they were whole and still had their innards. It’s been a long time since I gutted fish, but I’m up for it. Incredibly fresh and so cheap!
This morning, at the recommendation of our good friend Nino, my husband arose early and braved the rain to meet the cheese van in the piazza. He comes at 7:30. It was definitely worth it. The price was unbeatable and, you can see from the photo, fantastic cheese. Can’t wait to try it.
I’m getting in the swing of things now and I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy spending the rest of my days in Colledimezzo.
Just need this awful pandemic to end so I can see my daughter again.

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