can't you see the sunshine….


Although Elizabetta was not our cat, Ben and I both still mourn her death.  She died at home, Covivole,  peacefully on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 with John and Richard by her side.


Elizabetta first came into our lives on our very first morning in Tuscany, in September, 2007.  Siena, (the Lucky Dog, who moved with us to Tuscany) and I opened the door to the terrace and there sat Elizabetta.  “Hey, how you doing?  I live here!  Are John and Richard here?”  Siena, who could be very snooty, snotty and snobby leveled one of her deadly stares at me as if to say  “A CAT?????? No one said anything about A CAT!!!!!  MAKE IT GO AWAY!  I’ll start barking soon.”   I suggested that Siena just wait quietly while I discussed things with this cat.  So, I had a firm discussion with an unknown black cat.  Suggesting that she find somewhere else to hang out.  She wandered off.  Siena and I continued on with our lives.  I emailed John and Richard.  No, they knew nothing about a cat.  I emailed the woman who had rented before us.  No, she knew nothing about a cat.  I asked Ida, (our neighbor then and again years later).  No, she knew nothing about a cat.   The unknown black cat would appear every now and then but made no further attempts to join our happy home.   Siena was happy that the matter had been settled to her satisfaction.

Fast forward a few years.  It is spring and Richard is there, making his once every few months visit, to prune the garden or help out however we needed it.  Up strolls the unknown black cat.  Tears are streaming down Richard’s face.  “This is our cat!  This is Elizabetta”   “Well, this is the cat that I asked you about when we first moved in”  I replied.  “the one that no one knew anything about.”  Then Richard went on to explain that when the woman who lived there before us moved, she took Elizabetta to other friends who lived about 40 miles away.  Elizabetta stayed there a while and then disappeared.  Since it was 40 miles away John and Richard never considered that Elizabetta could have made the journey back.  That is why they had denied all knowledge of a cat.  Of course, I immediately felt bad that Elizabetta had shown up at her home only to be greeted by a DOG! And to have it suggested to her, to hit the road, after having traveled 40 miles through the hilly Tuscan countryside.   Ben and I agreed that we would look out for Elizabetta from then on.  And we did.

Richard also explained that Elizabetta and her brother Max had come to them as tiny kittens from Sorrento.  From the property where Richard occasionally consulted and decorated.  The property that Richard and I believe that my grandmother lived on.

Elizabetta was very independent.  Often disappearing for weeks at a time as other families would return for the season to their nearby properties.  She must have developed a real network and regularly checked on various properties to see who was there.  (I guess if we had equipped her with a body cam we could have rented her out as a ‘security patrol’.)

I stopped worrying about Elizabetta eating regularly one summer day when I saw her hunting skills.  I was sitting on the terrace and heard a rustling sound in the bushes.  I went over to look and there is Elizabetta bent over a carcass like a lion over its kill, ripping it a part, a bit of the poor animal’s tail hanging from her mouth.  I just backed away and left her to it.  An hour or two later more rustling occurred and another little animal met its fate.  Then finally Elizabetta waddled across the terrace.  Her stomach so full it was swinging and almost grazing the ground as she walked.  I knew then that if she showed up at the door and asked for food I should have something to give her.  Otherwise, she could manage just fine, thank you.

Elizabetta was very social.  Always greeting any guests that we had.   The summer that Chino, the cat of George and Jules, stayed with us, she made every effort to hang out with him.  Chino, was British and since he did not know Elizabetta’s family would only give her a passing nod.  He liked to flaunt that he could figure out how to open the screen and come into the house and Elizabetta could not.  I suspect that Elizabetta could but just didn’t want to.  When Nerone arrived, I swear, Elizabetta got her ‘dog language’ tapes and brushed up.  She would sit on the table, look directly at him and out would come this very soft, refined “arf”.  Well, we all know Nerone would have nothing to do with a cat.  And was very worried when either Ben or I would do something with her.  So even though Elizabetta made an effort, Nerone would have nothing to do with it.


This December,  staying at Covivole,  as our time in Tuscany came to an end,  Elizabetta was with us almost every night.  Enjoying the fire, having dinner with us, sleeping on the bed with us.  She had a very visible tumor.  We knew we might not see her again.  And now she is gone.  Buried next to her brother, Maximillian who died very young.  Next to the ‘Lucky Dog’ Siena and Nerone, the ‘Good Dog’.   Having her there with us helped complete the circle of our time in Italy.  She had been there to greet us on our first morning and years later she was there seeing us off on our last morning in Tuscany.  She will be missed by many and thought of fondly.



It takes a village

Way back in October when we received this


I discovered that there were three formal dinner nights during our cruise.  THREE!!! Yikes, I didn’t really have anything  to wear that would pass for formal for one night, much less THREE!  So because I didn’t have anything else to be worried about I deceided to hyper focus on what I was going to wear to three dinners two months in the future.

The weather had turned reliably chilly enough that it was time for me to put away summer clothes and drag out winter things.  I did a ‘move purge’ while doing that and had bags of clothes to donate.  Richard also had some things to donate and he agreed to come along with us to Emmaus (pronounced Emouse).  (sort of like a Goodwill).  After donating I figured I would look for a ‘dead bridesmaid dress’ or a ‘mother of the bride’ frock.

So we went on a rainy day.  I flipped through racks of clothes, cursing the tiny Italian women who are all size two.  The stereo type of curvy, full figured Italian Mommas is just that, a stereotype.  By and large, these women really are small.  Or at least the fashion conscious women who donate their clothes after a season or so of wearing.  Richard came over and started helping me look.  We found some beautiful priests’ garments which would have fit me but decided I might turn too many heads (and would have to be on very good behavior) to walk in to the QM2 dining room wearing priest vestements.   We found a beautiful Morracan caftan, lovely white fabric, beading around the neck.  I tried it on and Richard remarked that it looked like I was part of a gospel choir.  (Oh, gosh, more good behavior required)  Then he found these



Beautiful, navy blue silk, beaded pants and scarf.  AND THEY FIT!!!!!  (a little long of course, but Ida will help me hem them)  And they are designer,  Marina Rinaldi (part of Max Mara).   Folks who know me know that I really don’t care who designed it, I care about fabric, fit and price.  These fit all three categories, priced at less than $30.  And no good behavior required while wearing them.  SCORE!!!!

I was so tickled to get them.  I called my other fashion consultant, Dinah, who generously went through her closet and brought over 2 nice silk tops.


Here’s one of them.  Since we didn’t have to go looking for tops, we went looking for shoes.  A real problem.  Keep in mind, that to get to dinner I will be pushing a large man in a wheel chair there.  No futzing around in a pair of high heels.  I need good basic shoes with traction or at least a flat sole.

Good, I took Dinah along.  I would have bought the first pair of glittery bedroom slippers that I saw.  She very patiently went through the store, “no Martha”  “Really?”  No, Martha”  We settled on these, plain black neoprene, with a black sole.  I dressed them up with a bit of bling, repurposed gold earings from the ‘Chinese Dollar’ store.


So with the help of a village I have  comfortable, fashionable outfits for less than $60 that will look just fine at a formal dining table on the Queen Mary 2.




I’m looking forward to…

Having more than four choices of canned soup

Having a wide range of already prepared foods in a grocery store

Being able to buy cold American beer

Living in Cameron Village and being a short walk or drive from everything

Reading Sunday papers

Going out for breakfast or brunch


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Begining to pack

Nothing like a packing post to start a new blog…..


When we moved here, almost 10 years ago, we came with 21 suitcases/bags and shipped another 41 boxes.  I am determined for this move back that we will not be shipping as many boxes.  I have already pointed out to Ben that his stereo system and speakers which would be at least 4 boxes and has already been shipped from Germany to America to Italy and was at least 20 years old might not be making the trip.  We would just buy something new and smaller.  Grudgely, he agreed.

Then we started to talk about the CDs.


We have a lot of CDs

about 150 of them.  I looked in to ways to handle them.  We could buy a hard drive and transfer them on to that.  (cost, time)  We could transfer them to the ‘cloud’.  (cost, time)  Or we could move them.  Online I found the suggestion that it is possible to get rid of the hard plastic cases.  Inexpensively!


Ladies and Gentleman!  We have a winner!!!!!  For a little over 5 Euros, at the Chinese Dollar store I bought 200 light weight protective sleeves.  And transformed…


That tall stack on the right into the short stack on the left!   Horray!  Now if I can just figure out how to do this with the china that I want to bring back…..





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