“What happened to your blogs? Where did they go?”

I came back to Spello for this current visit with an agenda: getting blogs posted as soon as I could, and starting right away with a “bridge blog” to explain why so many months have gone by without any new posts–in fact, more than a year. It’s been an extraordinary time for me, with many challenges that have called for my time and the blogs have had to wait, although I was always wanting to pick up and start posting again. This is the first of what I hope are many more blogs, and here is “my story” of the other choices I have made, when I might have been posting blogs.

• I sold my home of 31 years, returned to being single again, and bought a condo that was more suited to locking and leaving behind for my trips to Spello. For more than a year, that condo has undergone total renovation, including demolition of most of the rooms and bathrooms, down to the concrete floors and the studs and insulation in the walls. It has been slow and thorough, but the results are wonderful. I’m very pleased, and I’ll have an energy-efficient home that suits my lifestyle for the rest of my days there. Rather than moving me out, the contractor let me stay and worked around me, and I “camped” in one room, used my BBQ for cooking, and drove a few blocks to one of the neighborhood clubhouses for showers. Somehow, it all worked.

My “new kitchen,” totally torn out to the studs–January, 2016

Lighting and plumbing going into the kitchen and dining room–February 2016

Master bathroom, old shower pan and broken out tiles

• My spring 2016 trip to Spello included working on two teams for the Infiorata, several visits by guests who stayed for short periods of time with me, and then returning to Sacramento in late June with Chiara, a 14-year-old student from Florence, who spent the summer with me. It was her first time on a plane, she did well, and then we managed to get in visits to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, to Monterey Bay as well as to Yosemite Valley, and we took many other trips to local events to give her an idea of the beauty and lifestyle of California. No matter where we went, she still preferred a day in pajamas with her iPad, watching Netflix (“The Walking Dead,” specifically)–and was never far from her iPhone and texting with girlfriends in Florence, either. (Thank goodness for that! I was unpacking moving boxes, trying to set up the house for us, and looking for dishes and pots and towels.)

Pajaro Dunes, heading for the beach from our cabin

Grandson Aiden and Chiara, at Pajaro Dunes

Chiara’s first view of Yosemite Valley

Never without earphones and her iPhone, even in Yosemite–a “digital native”

• I returned to Spello for the fall, a week after taking Chiara to the airport for her return to Florence, spending time with my Spello friends and overlapping for a few weeks with a friend from California who had rented my Spello home for November. Jack came early for the Eurochocolate Festival in mid-October, and I stayed a week into his month to finish the olive harvest with friends, but we enjoyed touring Umbria in a rented car together, and he fit in well with my friends there in Spello.

Jack on the aqueduct trail looking back at Spello

At the Spello train station, heading out to collect the rental car in Perugia

Waiting for me in Trevi, sitting on the footstool I had just purchased

With Brother Axel at Camaldoli Monastery/Retreat. Jack had arranged a tour for us with a Brother he knew at the New Camaldoli Retreat in California.

• Most important of all, I was present in the OR in December with my daughter when she gave birth to Ryan, her second son. It was my joy to carry him to meet his mommy when the doctor handed him to me, and I brought her and her two sons home on Christmas day to my condo for two months, to recover while I did the cooking, driving and housework. We shared a special time together, as well as managing to find and buy a small home for Julie and her boys, and doing some needed work on the house before she moved in to start her new life there.

First photo of Ryan, Julie and Nonna in the OR

Ryan, with a full head of hair at birth

• Pat, a friend I met years ago in Italy who recently moved to Madrid, came in February to visit me in California for the first time (we usually visit each other in Florence or Spello). Choosing the only two days without snow in the forecast (a tough assignment this year, with heavy snow and rainfall all season), we got ourselves to Yosemite National Park for Pat’s first time there–a “must see” in my book. A native of Minnesota, she was accustomed to the snowy road conditions, and coached me while I drove. Not only did we get some spectacular views of Yosemite in winter (my first time in winter weather), but we happened to be there for the few days each year when the “firefalls” may occur in February. The golden light at sunset passes through Horsetail Falls from behind, giving it an intense glow for a few moments that is rare to see–but we were lucky, and the clouds cleared just in time while we watched with a few hundred like-minded others packed into every vantage point possible to see this phenomenon. (No Photoshop magic–just what we actually got to see!)

Pat at Sentinel Bridge, with Half Dome in the background

My first winter photo of Half Dome!

Once in a lifetime–seeing the “firefalls” at Horsetail Falls, February 25

Not excuses, but those were the choices I made. Moving into and out of my condo over and over during construction, two trips to Spello, a summer guest teenager, my daughter and grandsons living with me (and Christmas), and a visit from Pat that took us to Yosemite–just those. Those are my “lame reasons” for not posting any blogs for this last year. I’m sitting in Galway posting this blog, and the next blog post will explain how I came to be here, not in Spello!

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