carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

A Big Week

Guest Post:  By Guppy, The Lucky Dog 3

Well this second full week in June was certainly a busy one for me.  On Tuesday I went to see my new vet, Dr. Melissa Hudson at Northwoods Animal Hospital in Cary.  Link to Northwoods  She said that She had known Dr. Hudson since she was a pup.  Apparently, She used to come here all the time many years ago, bringing good dogs to see Melissa’s father, Dr. Dan Hudson.  Going all the way back to Bailey, the cocker spaniel.  That was a really long time ago and then there were the two Afghan hounds, Shamir and The Contessa, and then Hawthorn and even the Sainted Siena came here.  I’m guessing that the only dog that She had, that never came here, was Nerone.  (Sometimes Ben calls me Nerone.  That’s okay because he was a pretty good looking dog so I don’t mind being mistaken for him)  Anyway, my Dr. Hudson was pretty nice and didn’t do any thing really awful to me.  So I guess I won’t mind going back to see her again.

That night after we finished at the vet, we went home and got Ben and then it was off to dog school for graduation. Link to Dream Dogs  I think I did pretty well.  I lost a few points on ‘recall, come and sit’.  I got distracted by my friend Grace.  (She’s just so cute and stylish.  And petite.  She reminded me of my puppies)  Otherwise I did real well on all the exercises.  She and Ben were so proud of me.  She said that one of those Afghans, The Contessa, had flunked dog school.  Can you imagine?

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(Photo credit Robina Thornton)

Anyway, She said we are going to work all summer on exercises and then in the fall I can go back for ‘Distraction Dog’.  I’ll learn how to ignore squirrels.  I was going to work on that this summer since some group has opened a day camp for young squirrels in the big tree by the deck.  (Sometimes there must be 15 or 20 of them up there!)  but what happened to me next will keep me from doing that.

On Wednesday, She and Ben took me back to Saving Grace, the rescue place that I came from.  link to Saving Grace  I know that She and Ben hugged me and told me that they would be back.  I didn’t want to go.  It took a whole lot for me to walk through that gate.  I was real upset and depressed.  I was there for a long time.  She said it was only two nights but it felt like a really long time to me.  Anyway, they gave me big ole shots that hurt.  They are for my heartworm.  So now I need to be quiet for 60 DAYS.  The nasty heartworms die and break off.  If I get too excited too many of them might break off at a time and that would be really bad.

I was moping around on Friday, really sad, napping in my little box when one of the nice volunteers came to get me.  The volunteer walked me out and there was She waiting for me.  I was soooooo happy.  And Ben was in the car.  She says that all the papers are signed and they are really my people now.

 

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I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am.

 

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Dog School

Guest Post: By Guppy, the Lucky Dog 3

 

Dog school, again tonight.  Finally, She has caught on and we are doing things I enjoy.  COME.  I mean REALLY!  How easy could it be.  Run to the person calling you who loves you and/or gives you treats.  There we were in the class room.  That silly big lump Max was there but none of those other dogs, just the two of us.  Max’s person clearly had not done his homework.  She didn’t do much of it with me because it was so obvious that I knew this.

She, the nice lady with treats (She calls her the ‘teacher’) and Ben.  They all stood in a triangle calling me, so I would run from one to the other and they gave me treats.  (Silly People) Well, I aced that.  Afterwards She hugged me and said I must have learned that from a certain black and white dog.  I don’t know who She is talking about but there were little tears in her eyes.  I gotta figure out who this black and white dog is….

Anyway, only one more class.  I heard She talking about some other dog, an Afghan that She knew.  That Afghan had flunked dog school.  Oh my!  Well that won’t happen with me.  As long as some stupid squirrel doesn’t come through class.

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Introducing Guppy

Guppy has taken time from her busy schedule to write a

Guest Post:  By Guppy, the Third Lucky Dog

It has been a whirl wind spring for me.  One day I was down and out on my luck and then the next I was at Saving Grace, (link to Saving Grace web site).  They are just really nice folks there.  Then I was off for a little surgery and then on May 4,  I came to live with She Who Must Be Obeyed and Ben.  I have to be honest, I was kind of hoping for a home with some kids and a big comfy sofa.  These folks are old.  Ben is really old and uses a wheel chair.  It only took one time for me to catch on that wheel chairs run over toes! She is okay.  She takes me for nice walks and plays with me a lot.

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I get to sit outside on the deck.  Which is really nice.

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And I get to watch a lot of Dog TV.  Wow, it is really interesting, all kinds of action, lots of dogs and people.  It’s good!

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So She has this BIG bed, but won’t let me share it with her!  But She does let me use when She isn’t using it.  So I guess that is okay.

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This is my bed.  Between Ben’s chair and that BIG BED.  But that is okay.  I can keep track of both of them.

And She put me in Dog School.  Like I need it….. Really?  She needs it.  It took me TWO WHOLE DAYS of snubbing that awful food she bought me.  I was gettin’ a little faint before she finally went back to the store and bought the kind I like.  So I hope this school helps her.

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Otherwise, I’m having a very good spring.  Thank you for asking.

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We’ve been DOGGED!

Introducing Guppy

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She came to us from  Saving Grace in early May.  We don’t know too much about her past.  She likes to remain mysterious and really does not like to have her picture taken.

It has been two years this month since Nerone died.  Ben and I had been talking about getting another dog.  The expense was one thing that was slowing us down.  But we were gifted with a small amount of money so that helped to cover her adoption costs.

I started looking a few months back for a ‘rescue’ dog.  Always the best kind.  There are a number of organizations here in Raleigh that handle adoptions.  Lots of paperwork to fill out for each of them.  References!  One wanted vet records for any dog we had owned in the past ten years.  I tactfully explained to the lady what it is like to pay for, pack and physically move (yourself) from the other side of the pond.  How, perhaps, I had not moved Nerone’s records which were in Italian….. Still she persisted.  ‘I’ll just call the vet.’ she said.  I pointed out that many Italian businesses did not use the internet the way Americans do and that there was only one person at the vet in Italy that had some command of the English language.  That wasn’t enough.  Finally, I listed the last vet we had here in Raleigh in the 1990s, the vet we had in Virginia until we moved to Italy and gave her a link to my blog, most particularly Nerone’s guest posts on my blog.  Something in that group must have worked.  We were approved.  By that time, we were 4th in line for the dog I picked out.   So no go there.

I had the idea to get a smaller dog.  Sort of a Jack Russel type (like Eddie on Frazier).  Didn’t bother to discuss this with Ben.  I’m looking at sites.  Most dogs seem to be Chihuahua types, Beagle types or Lab types.  No in between.  No mid-size.  No dogs with long fur!  Finally one appeared on the Saving Grace site that was a terrier type with some fur, not too big.  So with much appointment making Ben and I went out to see him.  He (the dog) could have cared less.  We were disappointed.  So the volunteers brought out some other smaller dogs, lap dog types.  One sat in Ben’s lap.  I walked it around.  Ben made a face.  “There’s hair on me.”  Ohhh, clearly Ben doesn’t want a small dog.  Who knew.  It is really busy there and volunteers have figured out that we really don’t have our act together.  So we leave.  Agreeing to keep looking at the web site.  As soon as I saw Guppy on the site I was emailing away.

When a dog comes to a rescue, they see a vet and have the appropriate ‘operation’ to stop producing more rescues.  We saw Guppy two days after her ‘operation’ and she came home with us that day.  She is very polite, well-mannered, curious, loving and is gradually trusting us more and more.  We are all going to dog school to polish up our behaviours.

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So, we have all agreed not to worry about the past and focus on our bright future together.

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Deep thoughts while unpacking

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I wondered if I had run out of boxes and staged a raid on the Post Office.  Then I remembered that Ben had a stack of these in his office in our Virginia house  (he used to mail out info about computer systems that he sold).  Fearing that he would pack these up and move them I probably ‘appropriated’ them for use  packing my Chinese fish platters.

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I unpacked boxes from places where I worked, not just in Virginia but also in North Carolina before we moved to Virginia.  Boxes, Ben had used moving back to the US from Germany even before I met him.  Boxes, used by our Virginia neighbor who moved back from SE Asia just as we were packing up to move to Italy.  Boxes used by John and Richard  (we rented from them in Italy) who had moved all over the world several times.  Boxes from Florida when I packed up my parents’ house.  Boxes Boxes Boxes.  Each one I opened, I thought about the connection it had to us.  About how far that box had traveled.  About the people that I had known.  About the times I had spent with them.  And that is just in the outside of the box.

Inside oh the treasures!  (Oh, the “why did I pack and keep this?”)  I was most excited to find

 

 

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My collection of Revere Ware pots and pans.  I was really afraid that these had been sold or given away.  I am so happy to see these again.  It is a nice set and a duplicate set which was my Mother’s.  For now I am keeping both of them but some of them might have to go.

 

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This hammered aluminum Dutch oven cooked many meals for my family as I was growing up.  Many a Sunday roast.  I can remember my mother experiencing some amount of distress if the church service ran long….”oh, the roast will be dry!”   Very happy to see this again.

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And look at this, it is Siena’s hair, snagged on a piece of furniture and packed away for almost ten years.

UPDATE 2/5/18

I wrote this back in the summer.  Super Bowl weekend I finally got around to cooking a roast in the pot that my mother used.

 

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It turned out well.  I think my parents would have enjoyed it.

There are still boxes tucked away that need to be dealt with.  I am torn between dealing with boxes or working on the projects that still need to be done.  Maybe I’ll try to do a bit of both.

 

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What are you reading?

Growing up I always loved summer because I could read what ever I wanted and as long as I wanted.  And many is the night that I stayed awake half the night finishing a book.  The joy of doing that, but oh how awful you feel the next morning….

I know I recently posted about the two series that I am reading this summer.  To my dismay, I discovered that my library doesn’t have all of the series.  (Yes, thank you, I know how to order up books from other branches and have them sent to my branch.  I am talking about the library as a whole)  So either I need to fill in by reading some of them online or buying some (HORRORS!)  Anyway, while waiting to figure that out I decided to expand from the two series that I was reading.  So I have added The Irish Country series by Patrick Taylor and Effie Leland Wilder’s three books about aging in a retirement community.

The Irish Country series takes place after WWII (maybe the 50s) in a small Northern Irish town and centers around the new doctor in town and his settling in.  It is 15 books. That should keep me amused for a while.  I have been to Ireland, but not Northern Ireland, and I certainly understand being an outsider and small town life after living in rural Italy for 10 years.  This is not some great work of literature but an entertainment.

I have also read Amazing Place,  What North Carolina Means to Writers  (edited by Marianne Gingher) a collection of observations by North Carolina writers about how living in North Carolina has  influenced them.  From more than one writer I agreed with the idea of how important it is to write in and preserve the language of North Carolina.  And how maddening it is to read an article written by someone who does not know the area and portrays the entire state as full of hicks and rednecks.

(Which brings me off on another branch, I have made the acquaintance of a brother and sister whom I speak with regularly.  And I have a friend who would turn up her nose about me chatting with these folks because ‘they sound country!’.  (I can tell, that growing up, her Momma instilled in her using proper English and not sounding like you are from the sticks beyond.) Anyway, I delight in being back in North Carolina and having conversations like the ones I have with these folks.  And if you put aside some of the words that they use, you can hear a lot of college level vocabulary used correctly.  Even though I don’t think either one of them went to college. Conversations like these are one of the things I enjoy most about being back in the US and especially in North Carolina.  I can over hear (and 99% of the time no one cares if you join in the conversation) great stories and comments and truly appreciate all of what is said and the little nuances of the words.  Keep in mind that after 10 years in Italy I was just getting to the place where this happened.  Anyway I have digressed)

So I have come to the conclusion that what I really like about the Miss Julia series, (by Ann B Ross, the one that is helping me find my repressed, not so gentile, Southern lady) the Deborah Knott series, (by Margaret Maron) and the three books by Effie Leland Wilder is the telling of a story and the use of dialect when appropriate.

Now off on another tangent…the telling of a story, especially for comic effect.  One year when my Momma was still alive, Ben and I were driving from Virginia to Florida to see her.  From the Vienna, Virginia library we always got several books on tape to pass the time.  The Margaret Maron, Deborah Knott series was agreeable to both of us, so that is what we were listening to.  Hawthorn, the black and white dog was in the back.  (I haven’t written much about Hawthorn, a good ole boy dog, he died 11 months before we moved to Italy and before I started my blogs.)  He was a very good traveler and always went with us to Florida while Siena went to the ‘spa’ in Leesburg.  He never minded wearing a seatbelt, would happily settled himself down in the backseat.  The only time we would hear from him was when we went through the Hardees or BoJangles Drive thru.  That big paw would come forward and smack down on the console between Ben and I.  Just to remind us that he was back there and ‘oh, make sure to get me a butter biscuit.’  So we are driving down the road listening to a mystery about North Carolina and the reader was at the part where one of Judge Knott’s nephews was deer hunting and came upon a deer lying in the road.  Now he already had a deer or something in the back of his truck.  So he proceeds to put this small road kill deer in the front seat with him.  And goes on down the road.  Well, the deer wakes up!  At this point, Ben and I are laughing.  I hit the pause button.  The language, the way the scene was set up, the reader’s voice.  It was all too much.  We are laughing so hard.  Tears are coming down my face.  I rewind and we listen to it again.  Laughing away.  Well, that was just too much for Hawthorn!  HUMPFH! was the sigh from Hawthorn as he got up, gave us the death stare and then resettled himself in the back seat.  Ben and I did our ‘ohhhh, we disturbed the dog’s nap’ routine which caused a raised eyebrow from him before calm returned to the car.

All this leads to, the ability of these three women to tell a good story and lead you up to the place where you at least chuckle if not have a prolonged bout of laughter.  The best comic parts of the Miss Julia books are complicated.  You have to have read the whole book and catch all the nuances and know the Miss Julia character.  The same with Margaret Maron’s books.  A lot of Effie Leland Wilder’s three books are just entertaining but probably only to someone in my age group or older except for this one short chapter in the second book, Over What Hill?.  I will just say that it involves a constipated donkey, a French horn and an Intracoastal waterway bridge.  Recently, well after midnight I read that chapter and started laughing out loud.  Ben wanted to hear it, so I composed myself as best I could and read it aloud to him.  Now I am laughing, Ben is laughing and I am wondering what our neighbors on each side must think.  But, I know what Hawthorn would do….

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Hawthorn and I in the early 2000s.

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Cousin Visit

On my father’s side of the family, there were only 4 female grand children while there were 9 male grandchildren.  So, us ‘girl’ cousins have stuck together even though there is a good bit of age difference between us.  The oldest ‘girl’ cousin died some years back.  There are three of us left now.  Both of my ‘girl’ cousins came to visit us in Italy.  And my one ‘girl’ cousin, Bonnie and her husband have always taken very good care of us.  We stayed with them when we first arrived in late December.

I was tickled when Jeanne, the other ‘girl’ cousin got in touch and said she would be passing through.  She and her cute dog, Bebe, arrived on the last Tuesday in April.  We had a nice dinner together.  Wednesday, she relieved some of her pent-up “I live in rural Georgia frustrations” with some retail therapy.  (Cameron Village has very nice shops).  We had lunch and then we went to the North Carolina Art Museum to see the Venetian Renaissance exhibit.  A nice dinner that night and she was off to Philadelphia the next morning.  It was a great visit and I hope we do it again soon!

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On the Queen Mary 2 (part 2)

This is a continuation of our trip on board the Queen Mary 2 taken in December, 2016.  Read part 1 if you missed it.

Our crossing of the north  Atlantic in December took 7 days.  The sea was very rough.  It is December in the north Atlantic.  Get over it.  We went outside, briefly, one day to see the kennels and think about what the good dog Nerone would have done on this trip.  The Queen Mary 2 is the only vessel that will take dogs on the transatlantic crossing.  Many folks who are moving use this as a way to get their dog to or from Europe.  Our friend Lynn who just moved to Italy came over that way with her dog Flori.  On our vouage there were at least three other sets of folks who were moving from Europe to the US.  If you want to bring more than one suitcase it really is the way to go.

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What other things did we do?  We went to the very well stocked library every day.  We heard several talks given by Nicki Chapman the host of Escape to the Country and other shows.  That is a series that we had watched, so we found her very enjoyable.  I managed to make it in the hot tub 3 times.  I do wish that I had pictures of that.  The seas were very rough.  The indoor pool seemed to have a giant wave machine in it as the ship would slosh up and down.  It was rather fun to watch.  Ben got bronchitis and we got to visit the medical clinic.  (thank goodness for travel insurance which covered all the costs)  And that was about it.  That is probably less than one tenth of the things that we could have done.  It was just that the sea was very rough.  Fortunately I had Ben in his wheel chair to give me stability.  Unfortunately I had to push that wheel chair every where.  That wore me out.  So by the time we reached someplace I just wanted to sit down, taking pictures was the last thing on my mind.  Even though we were eating three full meals a day, I lost weight.  I really was worn out.  And there was a lot of dressing up to do.

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How do you dress someone with balance issues on board a ship in rough seas?  You make them hold on.  The handicapped bath room was one of the best designed bathrooms that we have seen.  It was really designed for someone in a wheel chair.  This was about the only time Ben was out of his wheel chair for the trip.  The sea was very rough and we did not want to chance him taking a fall.

So how about some food pics

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surf and turf

 

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This was supposed to be rabbit. I think it was a dry chicken wearing bunny ears disguised as bacon.

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A very nice Indian meal

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Lamb and mushy peas

On the last night the Chefs and cooks come out and parade around.  It is impressive to see how many there are, probably over 50.

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The best meal I had was a bowl of Thai shrimp soup.  For breakfast and lunch rather than going to the dining room we went to the open buffet.  Ben had sushi most days and I had whatever ethic food was offered.  That was where I had the good soup and most of the meals that I thought were good.

To be fair to the Queen Mary 2, there is nothing wrong with the food in the restaurant.  It is important to know my filters.  I worked in the restaurant/culinary industry with many talented chefs and students.  I lived in Europe for 10 years and have traveled other places too.   At the risk of sounding like a spoiled over privleged brat,  I do not get excited about most ‘classicly prepared dishes’.  (like most of those above)  I do get excited about ethic food that has different and strong flavors.  I do get excited about a main ingredient that stands by itself not nappped in sauce, think a steak with just a blessing of very good olive oil, salt and pepper.  (at out of the way restaurants in the Tuscan countryside that is how food is prepared)  I do get excited about taking a traditional preparation and giving it just a little twist…. oh Menchetti how we miss you.   But for many, many folks without these filters/opinions the food will be a highlight.

Look for one more post with some more pictures of the ship.

 

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Elizabetta

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.

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