Time to return to Spello

The suitcase is out, the odds and ends that I carry back to Spello have been gathered, and I am beginning to prepare for a departure soon. As usual, I think that customs must look at the contents of my suitcase and wonder, “WHAT is this woman thinking?” I am carrying a plastic storage container and lid, a lemon squeezer, seeds for cilantro, sponges, microfiber cloths, a new raincoat that folds into a pocket, sliced and slivered almonds, pecans, microfiber mop heads, and three new pairs of slacks (for me). I have a pair of slacks for a friend, bars of a special mild soap from an online pharmacy for another friend in Spello, and two books to read (“Sistine Secrets,” and “The Swerve”), both just arrived from Amazon. The list goes on and on–all things for the house, for friends in Spello and Italy, and very little clothing for me.

My carry-on bag is camera gear, my laptop, electronics and chargers, and whatever else I can carry to lessen the weight of my checked bag–but the airlines are beginning to be very strict about the 8 kg. weight limit for carry-on bags. The “wiggle room” for the checked bag has completely disappeared–if it’s 52 lb. I can either take out 2 lb. at the airport, or pay an additional $200 for an overweight bag (yes, the fee has doubled). No more “looking the other way” for a couple of extra pounds. No excuses for me, though–I have a very accurate digital scale, and know precisely the weight of my bag when it’s packed for a trip. I have pushed that limit over and over, and now there is no possibility that I can get away with smiling and hoping that my bag will be accepted “just over” 50 lb.

I have had visitors come to stay at my Spello home since I left in June. My Italian professoressa, Ester Martinelli, was there in June for the Infiorata. I missed it for the first time in several years, but she was there (a native Italian herself, from near Lago di Garda), and was invited to work on one of the teams, preparing flowers for hours each night before the Infiorata. In fact, she worked with an award-winning team. (Had she known “the rules,” she would have joined Signor Antonio’s team–also award winners–based on where my house is located.)

The Infiorata "tapestry" created by Signor Antonio's team, outside my doorway in Spello

The Infiorata 2014 “tapestry” created by Signor Antonio’s team, outside my building in Spello    (Photo by Helen Chernoff)

Only a week ago, Pall from Cinque Terre and Birgit, from Pacific Grove, were there staying for a week. I hear from them that they have set up my barbecue for me, and have taken the outdoor furniture out to the patio–all is now set up for my arrival. It has been a rainy summer all over Italy, and Pall and Birgit returned to Riomaggiore for more of the treks and tours that Pall and Birgit lead there, for tourists from all over the world. I hope to see them in October, there, before Birgit returns home to California.

I’m just about ready to leave–spending extra time with grandson, Aiden, and preparing to miss him while I’m gone. It’s been quite a hoot to be his Nonna, and now, at 17 months, he hugs and kisses on command–a stellar accomplishment, according to me. He has a real personality now (and a bit of an Irish temper), and he grabs books and runs to our laps when he sees Mike or me, backing up all the way, so that we can read to him. We’re just getting into the very best parts of being grandparents–and I hope I can keep in contact via Skype. Aiden is a precious gift to all of us, and Julie is such a good Mom–she’s “a natural.”

Aiden Sunday night, at the playground riding a dolphin for the first time

Aiden Sunday night, at the playground riding a dolphin for the first time

Aiden inside the Hollow Log at the playground

Aiden inside the Hollow Log at the playground

Time to get back to my preparations. I have left nearly 12 lb. of me here–I’ve been back to Weight Watchers, taking it seriously, and walking most days a bit over three miles home from coffee. My last weigh-in is tomorrow–and this is my last week home. I’m trying to get out the last of the weeds, the last of the laundry, enjoy the last of the season’s peaches and plums and pears. I look forward to my first figs in Spello–always twice the size of what I see here, and a treat I had shunned until about 2 years ago, and then wondered why I missed out for all of my life on such a glorious fruit–often free for the taking and falling on the ground from abandoned trees in Spello.

It is my plan to catch up on the belated blogs from last spring, once I arrive in Spello. When my sister and niece (Cathy and Stephanie Yanez) arrived for their visit in May, we were on the go every minute of every day, including trips to Rome, Florence, and Venice–and I had no time for posting blogs. I have the photos and will catch up soon–they will be coming. Until then, back to my final packing and preparations to leave home. It’s almost time for me to switch addresses and languages for a while!

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