Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saying good by

Luca, the dog, and I are having trouble saying good by.  Our house has sold, but we return to the house everyday to work on the computer and spend the day. Then we go to the "hovel" to eat and sleep.  Our current house in comparison to the hovel makes the hovel even more hovel-like.  It isn't that bad, but it is Brutto (ugly) as the Italians say. I chose it because we could stay there for a month and they accepted dogs.  I did not read the advertisement very carefully. It said it had a kitchenette, but did not mention a stove or kitchen sink, neither of which it has.  The Stoic One was stoic and kept saying we will only be here for a month.
Luca has also adjusted better than I and has found a safe place to hang out on the sofa. At least he is no longer hiding underneath things.

So about saying good by.  I went to the dentist yesterday.  She is wonderful and I have been going to her for many years.  She said, I guess this is our last appointment before you retire to Italy, and she started to well up with tears in her eyes.  Oh no, I protested, I am sure I will have some problem with my teeth and need to return. (Let's hope not!)

We signed the final escrow papers today.  Our realtor asked if we had said good by to the house, and I said yes, yes, of course, but in fact I haven't said good by.  I have been very happy here.  I have loved this house with its quirky charms.  It was built in 1906 after the big earthquake.  It has great bones and lovely energy.  I know the new family that comes will be happy here.  They are already friends with our neighbors next door, who say no one could replace us but they are so happy to have someone move in that they like. Ah, displacement.

People continually ask me if I have regrets, remorse? In Italian "Ti sei pentita?"
I don't have regrets or remorse; I have sadness.  I am sad about selling the house, but I know it is the right thing to do. This transition is problematic because we don't have our new house ready to move into, so right now, all I feel is the closing of a book I have really loved, not even a chapter, and I haven't begun my new book yet.

I have always been one to either duck out and not say good by or pretend that I will really see the person again, such as with the dentist.  I was a chaplain at a federal prison for women for 4 years.  It was in fulfillment of a one semester class that I took in seminary, but I couldn't gather the where with all to leave.  My therapist finally told me she was going to walk into the prison with me and tell them I was leaving if I didn't.  It was really, really, hard to leave the women there, but the pain was most acute leading up to the good by.  Once I actually left, I was quite relieved to have my life back, and I presume it will be the same with this move.

Speaking of the move, we still haven't gotten our stuff on the boat.  Sigh.... We need to show residency documents.  So I finally realized that even though I got my Italian citizenship, I got it in Vigo di Cadore. I now live in California (note I have never lived in Vigo but this is irrelevant.) So Vigo had to send me a stamped form saying I was an Italian citizen living abroad.  It arrived in the mail this week.  I think this is a good step.  Now all we need is the application for residency but since I am still in can see the complications. Monday we go back to the consulate to see what can be done.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beautiful food

I didn't want to leave you on such a grumpy note.  Even though there are Italians who seem to have no  sense of color or taste, there are many more who have an imaginative, creative way with color and design, including food.

Fabrizio Tesse, a young and adventurous chef, note that word, is showing remarkable skill with color, form and taste! His restaurant is called Locanda di Orta, and it is in the middle of town of Orta .  Lake Orta is one of the least visited of the Italian lakes, but it is as lovely as the others.  There is a soft light that drifts over the water, and a serenity that reminds me of a Japanese painting.

I ordered an antipasti of smoked salmon. This is what appeared.

It was as delicious as it was beautiful.  I felt that I needed to eat it with great reverence, which I did.

Our friend Michael wanted a vegetarian antipasto, so the chef whipped up this special plate for him.

The red balls are cooked radishes, and it is in a cream soup.  Michael said it was "squisito" or delicious!

The Stoic One fixes a delicious risotto. The necessary ingredient for this dish is patience, which he has. We hadn't had risotto in Umbria, but it was on the menu at Orta, so I ordered it. Eating is so much fun in Italy.  We never know what we will get when we walk into a restaurant.  We would go back to Orta just to eat here.

The apartment is now ready for some furniture.  These are 2 "orci" or urns that we saw.  They used to hold olive oil.  The one on the right is 400 years old from Le Marche and the one on the left is 200 years old from Umbria.  They are smooth, almost feeling like enamel inside from all of the years that oil was stored in them.

We will move the big book shelf in between them so they won't look so forlorn!

Back to the US to see what the crazy Americans have been up to since we've been gone.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Italian Retirement Adventure

When I say the word "adventure," what do you think of?  I think of pirates, swashbuckling, Amazon river trips, exploring some unknown place.  When we tell people we are retiring to Italy, they say, "What an adventure!" in a very awe inspired tone.

The dictionary defines adventure as "an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous experience." Although at the beginning of this adventure we were focused on "unusual and exciting", the word hazardous has now crept into our experience.  The thing is, that leaving one's country of birth and going to live in another country is a hazardous experience.  It is not a safe thing.  This journey is filled with the unknown, the unpredictable, and in many ways the unstable.  The last describes our emotional state of late.  The thing is the honeymoon with Italy is over and we haven't even gotten there yet.  We know that the Italian bureaucracy will frustrate us beyond measure. The Italian sense of time can not be rushed.  Everything in Italy is ancient and surrounded by myths and deeply embedded customs that are in the blood of the Italians, but unknown to us. (i.e. I thought Antonietta was going to faint dead away when I opened my mouth to have the doctor take my temperature.  The Italians take the temperature by putting the thermometer under the armpit. Who knew?)

At this moment, it feels hazardous to leave my life in the US. I am nostalgic for all that I leave behind, and I haven't left it behind.  It is strange how the mind rushes ahead into areas of discomfort as if feeling the worst will prevent it from happening. Our friends Joseph and Paul are also on this crazy adventure with us.  They have landed in Italy, their belongings are coming over by ship, and their apartment is not yet completed.  They have other types of hazards to face that cause them to be on an emotional roller coaster.

My life in Italy beckons, but I can not go there yet.  I have work commitments and we have the Queen Mary whose date can not be changed.  So our house here in the US has sold, we will live in rental apartments, and houses, each month a different place; don't ask.

We have had a lovely time in Italy this trip, despite the weather.  Donna and Michael were perfect house guests; happy with whatever we were doing and supportive of us in our thrashing around.  Michael fixed us breakfast every morning which we appreciated beyond measure.

PS.  Just in case you think all Italians have a wonderful sense of style and color, let me introduce you too the hallway in the hotel we stayed at in Lake Orta.

Unbelievably horrible.

On to our next adventure!