My Covid Story – Beautiful Denver

My daughter proudly showed us around her new house. It was lovely. A huge balcony opens from her bedroom and overlooks Sloan’s Lake. The view at night is magical. Downtown Denver illuminates the skyline and along with the moon, and shimmers on the lake’s glassy surface. We managed to stay awake for a glass of wine, and then retired to bed. My husband was snoring in a matter of minutes, me…not so much, but I did sleep a little.
The following day was beautiful and I took my first walk around Sloan’s Lake with Princess Tess, the family pup. Still feeling jet lagged, much of the day was spent relaxing in the garden. My son in law was traveling for work, but made it home briefly, before flying again the following day. On Monday I had some documents to take care of for our upcoming house sale, and then Joanna left for an overnight in business trip in Houston. My good friend came to visit, we had lunch (fish and chips) and caught up.
Tuesday is when my husband began to feel ill. He had a fever and went back to bed. I assumed the “travel cold” had him in its grip. It’s not unusual. He seemed better the following day, but still had the sniffles, and a bit of a cough. It didn’t go away as quickly as normal.
The rest of the week was a blur of getting things done, seeing old friends, shopping for things we can’t buy in Italy, celebrating mothers day….and that is when I started feeling ill, mother’s day. We’d tested my husband for COVID earlier in the week, just in case, but the test came back negative. On Mother’s Day, because I felt ill, I tested too, negative.
Tuesday May 10th is a day I won’t forget.
“Mum, I’ve tested positive for COVID” I think you guys have COVID, you need to test again.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
My husband tested first…a very definite positive. I tested positive too. I was scared, angry, and ashamed. We’d traveled from the USA to spend three lovely weeks with my daughter, but instead, we’d given her COVID. It took a long time for my anger to subside. Finally I came to terms with it, but for the rest of the day I walked around in total disbelief. I cried a lot!
We had to quarantine of course. My son-in-law, who tested negative couldn’t come home, and stayed with a friend.
I contacted everyone I’d seen since arriving in Denver, and let them know I’d tested positive, so they could watch for symptoms. What about the people I’d been close to in stores and restaurants? When did I become positive? Yes, this alone kept me awake at night.

My husband seemed to have had the worst symptoms. I had a weird rough feeling in my throat/chest, fuzzy head, sniffles and a bit of a cough. I was tired too. My daughter coughed, sniffled and was tired. She wasn’t able to concentrate on anything. Didn’t even venture into her beloved garden to see how her veggies were coming along. This was not what I had planned for my first return visit to Denver. I was miserable, angry, and overcome with guilt.

I’m begging you all to be more vigilant. If you get a cold, always suppose the worst and test for COVID. If you see someone who has a cold, and they’re not wearing a mask, move as far away from them as you can. Be aware of your surroundings. Some situations are unavoidable, such as passing through airport security, but be as careful as you can. Getting COVID is not fun, but giving it to your daughter, is a nightmare. Luckily we all have a fairly mild dose, and my husband got his first negative test yesterday (we’re doing three before flying), but it could have been much worse.

Take care everyone, this isn’t my usual type of blog, but I hope you learned from it.

My Covid Story – Crossing The Timezones

We moved to Colorado in 1995, so have made many International flights to Italy over the years. It’s the place we love to be, and retirement to Italy was always a dream. Finally our dream became reality, so now our flights are back to the US to see our daughter. In our younger days our bodies were a little more tolerant of International long haul flights, but now we’re older, it takes much longer to recover from jet lag. Our flight from Rome to Denver crosses eight time zones. That, coupled with our aging bodies being trapped uncomfortable seats, was making long trips a chore. About five years ago we began requesting upgrades at the ticket counter when we checked our luggage. We were always lucky and managed to upgrade to business class for a good price. It made those long trips much more comfortable. Pretty soon we realized if we watched the prices avidly, we could purchase business class tickets in advance, as cheaply as premium economy, so thats how we fly now.
I still get a little annoyed when waiting to board a flight. Regardless of the fact that everyone has a ticket showing their seat number, they like to push and shove to get ahead of you, the flight from Rome to JFK was no exception. People act so entitled, especially in first or business class. It irritates the hell out of me. Anyway, I digress…
Our flight from Rome to New York was comfortable, peaceful and relaxing. The Delta flight crew were attentive, but not obtrusive. I don’t enjoy flying, but this was as good as it gets. We arrived in New York fairly relaxed. Because New York was our first port of call in the US, we had to go through passport control before picking up our luggage. Next we had to walk through customs with our belongings, before rechecking them for our next flight. Once our cases were checked, we had to pass through security.
Not good! It was hot, crowded and although the airport staff were trying to keep everyone under control, it was very unorganized. We were packed together like sardines…very few people wore masks. COVID was a distant memory it seemed. We were very relieved to get the process behind us.
We had a long layover in JFK. By the time our flight was called, I was exhausted, and hadn’t a clue what time it was. We’d already crossed six time zones and about to cross two more. The flight from New York to Denver was full and it took a long time to board. Eventually we took off.
I tried to read during the flight, but struggled to stay awake. The aircraft was cold. I asked for a blanket, but they didn’t have any. The low temperature was making my husband visibly uncomfortable. He sometimes gets sick when he flies, we call it a travel cold. It comes on quickly, makes him so ill he has to go to bed, and then disappears. We blame it on his low white cell count, which makes his body slow to fight infections.
He’s going to be sick, I know he is” I thought to myself.
After what seemed like an eternity we landed in Denver. We’d already cleared customs in JFK, so all we needed to do was collect our luggage, and hope our daughter was waiting for us.
Joanna found us before our luggage arrived. It was so good to see her. I hugged her as tight as my exhausted arms would allow.
It was such a good feeling to know we had three long weeks together. She’d have to work of course, but had taken some time off to be with us.
I was overwhelmed with happiness as she drove us to her new home.

I was so happy to be in Denver, I’d forgotten about the germ spreading young man on the bus in Italy, and the fact we’d been packed like sardines in the JF Kennedy Airport in New York. We’d made it, we were in Denver.

BIG MISTAKE !

My COVID Story – A Lesson to All – Part 1

We booked our trip to the US months in advance and looked forward to spending time with our daughter and son in law. We were also eager to see their beautiful new home and ski condo. We’d made plans to meet with old friends and visit old haunts. We moved to Italy in summer 2020 and due to COVID, haven’t been back since. For almost two weeks prior to the trip we stayed away from crowds to avoid the chance of getting COVID and being unable to fly. Pretty much isolated ourselves. We hadn’t even ventured to our local bar. My only indoor interaction with anyone was when I went shopping.
Finally, departure day arrived and we both tested negative for COVID at the local pharmacy, a requirement to fly. We were ready to go. Our friends gave us a ride to Pescara, where we caught the bus to Rome. We found a seat at the back of the bus, away from everyone, and made ourselves comfortable. Soon the bus filled up. A young couple sat on the seat in front of us. The young man had a mask covering his face and mouth when he boarded the bus, but as soon as he was seated he adjusted it so it hung from one ear only. He began to cough and sneeze immediately.
OK, it could just be a cold, don’t get paranoid” I thought to myself.
I turned to my husband to make sure he had his mask on. He did!
For the duration of the journey the young man (I guess he was in his late teens/early twenties), coughed and sneezed. The only time he wasn’t doing this was when he was exploring his girlfriend’s throat with his tongue. I perused the bus for a better seat, but there wasn’t one, so I kept my mask firmly in place and hoped for the best.
When we booked our seats I hadn’t realized that the route to the Airport had changed. This bus now went into Rome Tiburtina train station before Fumicino Airport, making the trip four hours long, not good with a germ machine sitting in front of us. The young man and his girlfriend exited the train at Tiburtina, but we’d been trapped behind him for almost four hours. A couple of times during the journey I had to pull my mask forward from my nose to take a deep breath. My husband slept for some of the trip, but kept his mask firmly in place, I know because I checked it.
Finally we reached Fumicino, where we collected our luggage and found a taxi to take us to the Rome Park Marriott, a short drive away.
The Rome Park Marriott is a beautiful hotel with glorious sunset views. We were both tired so after an early dinner we went to bed. The following morning I woke up excited because we were one step closer to visiting our daughter. After breakfast we took a taxi to the airport. Isn’t it always such a relief to get your bags checked? I did a little airport shopping (always a good offer on champagne in duty free), and then we sat in the lounge until our flight was called. Next stop New York.

This is part one of a three part blog. I hope you’ll stop by for the next two installments. I want you all to learn a lesson from my mistakes. COVID is most likely here to stay and we all need to be more vigilant.

Fried Fish and a Walk or Two

The contract on our house is signed, after July 5th someone else will be enjoying the views and and comfort of the Old Olive Mill. It will be a tough day for us, but the start of a new chapter in our lives.
For about five days we’ll be homeless again! It seems like only yesterday I was living with my friend Linda, after selling our home in America. They were fun times.
A lot has happened since then. We’ve suffered a world pandemic, which is hopefully coming to an end, and now we’re witnessing a crazy dictator trying to take over the world. 2020, 2021 and 2022 can only be described as a bad B rate movie with no ending in sight.
This world is resilient though, and so are we, good always prevails over evil eventually. We’ll survive and become stronger.
We ate fried fish by the Adriatic today, it was beautiful, lots of people enjoying the sunshine. There was a hint of spring in the air.

Don’t give up hope folks, and keep a smile.

Our Never Forever Home

My beautiful forever home…or so I though.

http://www.abruzzoruralproperty.com/find-a-property/for-sale/item/1248-charming-renovated-stone-house-with-panoramic-terrace-abruzzo

I’ve been in love with Italy my whole life, particularly the Adriatic Coast. It is unspoiled by tourists, charming and simply magical. We bought a house in Abruzzo in 2017, and retired here in 2020 in the middle of a pandemic. Covid didn’t dampen my love for the country, or for the Adriatic. In fact it strengthened my bond with the people of Abruzzo. Their caring generosity is amazing. I thought our beautiful home in Abruzzo would be my “forever home”, but unfortunately its not to be.

We have just put our beautiful home on the market. We love it, and are still in love with the area, but we need to buy something that we can handle in our old age. We’re both in our mid sixties now, and fit as fiddles. We walk, bike hike and feel almost like youngsters (almost).

However we are getting older and our home is on three floors, the kitchen being on the top, and the living room on the bottom. Yes that is easy until you reach your sixties, but now its a bit of a chore. Also our rented garage is at the bottom of the village, and where we store our logs, it is quite a trek in the cold weather. As much as we’re sad to do this we’re selling our house and thinking of our future. This home has brought us much happiness as both a vacation home and a full time home, but we have to think ahead to when we’re in our seventies and eighties (assuming we live that long).

Are we leaving Abruzzo…Hell no…just looking for something a little easier for two aging folks to manage. We have to save our energy for partying.

Take care everyone and stay safe.

Abruzzo Foodie Weekend

This weekend was full of food.
Yesterday, we had lunch in https://www.ristoranteilvignale.com/ in Rapino. It was so delicious I forgot to take photographs. I had the best peppercorn steak I’ve ever had in Abruzzo. Cooked to perfection. It was a beautiful restaurant and the staff were great. We sat by a big open log fire, which set the atmosphere perfectly. Long drive from Colledimezzo, but we were in the area to meet friends and it was definitely worth it.
Today, we met friends for lunch in https://www.villaegle.com/ in Atessa, and I did remember to take photos. Fantastic meal in a beautiful restaurant which is hidden away so well that you wouldn’t even know it was there. There are so many great places to eat here. Villa Egle is only twenty minutes from home so we’ll definitely be back.
The restaurants in our area range from excellent local dishes to sophisticated dishes that could compete with any upscale restaurant in Rome or Milan.
I love to cook, but enjoy eating out about once a week. This week I got lucky. Two great meals.
I feel like I’m advertising Abruzzo! I’m not, stay away, I want to keep it to myself.
There were only four diners in Villa Eglie due to COVID. Let’s hope these restaurants survive the pandemic.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone…work tomorrow. Oh wait, I’m retired!

A Little Levity – and Some Excellent Food!

Everyone has to admit the thought of a new and awful strain of this wretched virus is more than a little worrying. It is a burden to all of us. Just as we all begin to rejoice seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel…an ugly shadow blocks our view!!! It’s hard to remain upbeat, but we must!
Yesterday we enjoyed some wonderful food with friends. Polish food for a change. The main dish of roasted pork loin was so delicious, I’d eaten it before I thought of taking a photograph.
I wish I’d captured the view too. Perched on top of a mountain it was breathtaking.
Oh well next time!

Stay happy and safe everyone, we’ll beat this new strain, just like we did the last ones. We can do this!

August 27th 2020 – Escaping America

Yes I’m writing another book. This one is about moving to Italy in the middle of a pandemic! It is a tongue in cheek dark comedy. I’m having fun writing it already.

Breath, girl, you can do this, but do you still want to?

After balancing the huge red squishy bag on top of my overfilled suitcase, I wrapped the strap of my handbag around my carryon and slowly manipulated my way towards the ticket counter. I’d only taken a few steps when a rather strict looking man came striding towards me. He held his arm up in a Hitler type salute and yelled STOP!

“Use the Ticket Machine.” He said.

Are you kidding me?

“I can’t use the ticket machine because I have a pile of documents that need to be checked. I’m flying to Italy, and I have medical declarations to show you.”

He rolled his eyes. “You can’t fly to Italy unless you live there, I think you’ll need to postpone your trip until COVID19 is over, there are rules. Vacations must be postponed.”

“I do live there. I have my residency card right here along with my other documents.”

The man looked even more disgruntled and stomped back to the counter.

Oh dear, he’s going to lose it when he weighs my suitcase.

Pandemic Flight

I could have inserted an image of an airport, or the plane, but I thought the destination would be prettier. Colledimezzo in all its glory, taken today as I enjoyed my first morning walk.
Back to the flight, not as bad as I thought, but not great. My daughter dropped me at the airport in Denver. It was an emotional good bye for me. I miss her!
My Italian residency/ID card was the only documentation I needed to board the flight, other than my passport. Delta airlines did a great job. They kept folks distanced, boarding, and during the flight. More than I could say for other airlines, where folks jostling and pushed to board. I’ll remember how well Delta did during these awful times and fly with them again.
Atlanta was uneventful, but I noticed the airport was not so strict on mask wearing. The international terminal was pretty empty, so I just kept my distance from folks. I’d already completed my documentation allowing me to land in Amsterdam. For those passengers who hadn’t, it was handed out at the gate prior to boarding. Thanks to my daughter I was in first class on this flight. Food was delicious, as was the champagne.
This was the first time I’d flown through Amsterdam. Busy airport, even during a pandemic. My temperature was checked and my documentation stamped before I could proceed to my departure gate.
My flight from Amsterdam to Rome was a little uncomfortable due to an ignorant selfish idiot sitting in the same row as me. Luckily there was an aisle and three seats between us because he wore his mask under his chin and proceeded to cough and sneeze into his hands throughout the flight. He was warned more than once by the flight attendant, but as they say…”you can’t fix stupid”.
I was very relieved when we landed in Rome, and even more relieved to collect my luggage. I always fear it won’t be there.
My husband was waiting for me…I survived a pandemic flight.

Shedding my Stress

IMG_1120

The last six weeks have been incredibly stressful. Making an International move during a pandemic isn’t the easiest thing to do.
On Friday July 31st, we left our home of 22 years for the very last time. It was no longer a home, just a house, an empty shell. The lovely couple who bought it will make it their home now. They were excited and full of plans and ideas…all I have now are memories.
Exhausted, and still stressed, we checked into the airport hotel. After a “bon voyage” dinner with my daughter and son in law, we had an early night. My husband’s flight was at 6:30 the following morning. A flight to Rome that filled us with trepidation. Fear of catching COVID on the way. Fear of being refused entry to Italy, even though we’re residents…so much fear.
Still trying to relax, I headed up to the Rocky Mountains with my daughter, son in law, and their pups (Queen Tess and Fendi).
We drank wine, had some good food and watched lovely sunsets, but I couldn’t relax until I knew my husband had arrived safely in Abruzzo.
Finally, yesterday morning, my cell phone rang and the number displayed was “Lester Italian”.
“I’m in Pescara, I made it.”
Pescara was the last leg of his journey before he picked up the rental car and drove to our home in Colledimezzo. Now he must quarantine, and then be tested for COVID, but I’m not worried about that so much. My gut tells me he’s okay!
Now, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, I can finally shed my stress and count the days until I join him.

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