Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. B!!!!!

You're the love of my life. I'm so happy to be on this new Floridian adventure with you!

Happy birthday and many, many more to come!

Love always,

Mrs. B

Friday, August 19, 2011

Florida Homeowners AND Residents

We successfully closed on our new house Wednesday afternoon! Yey! The moving van should arrive in an hour or so and we'll begin THAT process.

The dog is with her grandparents in Ocala and the cats are in a Residence Inn about 15 minutes from our new house. They are starting to get on one another's (and our) nerves. Keeping a kitty litter box in a closet ain't much fun.

Had a bit of a scare coming down I75 Tuesday afternoon; a hard rubber thingie came flying out of nowhere (probably fell off the back of someone's work truck), went under the car I was driving, flew out behind me, went over one lane and smacked right into the windshield of the car Mr. B was driving. Thankfully, it hit in the middle, not on the driver's side and doubly thankfully, Mr. B is cool under pressure.

If this had happened Wednesday, our FL insurance would have covered it free of charge. Since it happened Tuesday (when we were still under NC), our crappy NC insurance did not cover it so we are out $260. But, really, since it could have been far, far worse, we're not really complaining. It's already been replaced.

Anyway, other than this, everything's worked out okay so far (well, we're a bit irked at Allied but that's another story, maybe).

Here are a few pictures from our journey (so far). More to come!

Oh, BTW, the Internet in our new house is WICKED fast! Woot!

Mrs. B
Monster moving van outside our "old" house.
One last picture in front of our "old" house.
Mrs. B and Mom. Don't cry!
Pete at a Red Roof Inn in Hardeeville, SC (about five hours from Durham).
Lucy's an old pro at this traveling thing.
Lily is unperturbed by it all. Time to eat.
Athena was actually not hiding.
Apollo looking handsome with his tag.
Ares. Before he started howling.
Looks worse from this view.
Apollo hanging at the Residence Inn in Sarasota.
Time to chill out, Ares.
Lily decided Pete's crate made a nice bunk.
Four of the five (Lily's in the crate).
Happy FL homeowners 8.17.11

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15th: Following the Road

It's August 15th, 2011 and it's moving day! Yes, after much advanced preparation and forethought, this day has finally arrived.

Of course, not without some anxiety and melancholy, but, not too much, really. I'm a traveler at heart and my beat marches on. With the advent of technology; cell phones, texting, email and social media, I know that I'll remain in touch with my loved ones in NC. And, as my brother put it the other day as we exchanged an emotional good-bye, we can "put pen to paper". I like that thought; actual, physical letters (assuming anyone will be able to read my handwriting!) Plus, we ARE moving to Florida, after all, and I'm fully expecting to have visitors (especially in the winter).

We had a few hitches in our get along this morning; somethings you just can't plan for. The moving van showed up about 1/2 hour early, which meant we had not yet corralled and cornered the cats. We spent a few frustrating moments chasing Apollo and Athena around the house and Pete frightened even me with his vehement hissing. Finally, all five were sequestered, but, not together. No way were we going to open up the bathroom door which behind lay Pete, Lily and Ares to throw Apollo and Athena in. This little snafu changed our mind about sedating them. They're ALL getting the sleepy pills later on this afternoon.

The next hitch was Mark asked the driver how we'd know how much our shipment actually weighs. The driver said we had the "guaranteed price" so it didn't matter. Uh, no, it does matter because we were told we'd pay no MORE than the estimate (which was wildly on the high end, there is no way we have 12,000 pounds!) and if it weighed in less, we'd get a credit. So, a few phones calls back and forth before we Mark got that ironed out.

Anyway, now it's a lot of sitting and waiting and anticipating. And, like last night, when I couldn't sleep, lots of thoughts rolling through my mind.

One thought that struck me was it was on August 15th that I flew to Italy for my six week adventure back in 2003. Eight years ago already. Like this move, I had planned and planned and planned for that trip. When the day finally arrived when I embarked, I was both exhilarated and terrified and also slightly melancholy. I remember it was a Friday and that my step-mom Margot took me to the airport. She came inside the terminal with me until I'd checked in and then left with a quick hug and a wave (she was never good with good-byes). Although I know I've posted this before, here is a snippet of what I wrote later that day:

I am sitting on the plane in Philly; believe it or not, there may be a problem with the plane (indicator problem) but, the captain just came on to say we’ll be on our way in 10 minutes. Sigh of relief; although, I guess it’d work out if I got delayed.

I’m on my way to Paris, then Verona. So far it’s been uneventful, although I am already thinking I have too much crap (even though I did get everything in one wheelie bag and one carry-on). Yes, I began to think this while lugging the carry- on through the airport here in Philly, my shoulder aching from its weight. I’m definitely going to ship some shit home after the class in Verona is over. No way am I lugging this over Italy for two weeks. See how much I’ve changed already!

The most traumatic thing today was saying good-bye to Nigel and Clyde. This will be the longest yet that we’ve been apart. I know they’ll be fine, but my heart still hurts a little. I’m happy that my heart is hurting for cats and not some guy. Yes, I really mean this!

I hope the people get friendlier during this journey of mine! So far, no one has been that outgoing. I think I have a “dud” for a seat mate; some big guy who won’t even look at me. He seems to have an attitude; or maybe he’s one of those that is scared shitless of flying but he doesn’t want to let on. Well, it’s a 7 hour flight; maybe he’ll say something at some point (He never did!)

I’m not sure yet how my writing will go. I do want to capture details of my trip so I can write up a memoir later. I’d like to write about my inner-journey, too. I think I’ll be in a different place emotionally six weeks from now. And, of course, I’d like to write poetry, stories, articles, etc.

When this trip is all said and done, I’d just like to be happier. That’s a broad statement; I’ll figure out more details as time goes on.

That trip to Italy turned out to have its share of both wonderful experiences and AFOGS (Another FU$$ing Opportunity to Grow) and it obviously was a catalyst, or a bridge, to my next life, the one I've been leading, the one that is about to change directions yet again.

As I sit here and type this, I am thinking about the many positive aspects of this move. I am grateful that I am not doing it alone; unlike my journey to Italy, this one I'm embarking on with a loving husband, my faithful dog, and my cat colony. There are people waiting for us there and the people we are leaving behind, as previously noted, we are not REALLY leaving behind. It's not the pioneer days; we WILL see each other again. I am also cognizant that much of the same holds true today that did eight years ago; "When this trip is all said and done, I'd just like to be happier. That's a broad statement; I"ll figure out more details as time goes on".

This is not to say I've not been happy these past eight years. What I feel is, it's time to make a change so that I can continue to be happy. I'm not ready to stop growing just yet.

More to come.

Mrs. B

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Moving Mania!

I knew it was going to be this way as it always is; the final days before a move are totally insane, despite the best efforts to be organized. We've been probably over the top organized this go-around and it's still be a bit wiggy around here. I shudder to think how people who don't lean towards methodically planning things out step by step manage to get themselves successfully moved; e.g., people, pets and possessions all ending up at the correct address.

Here's my recap*, starting with a week ago today:

Thursday 4 August. I had arranged for an "Open Closet" sale from 4-7 in a (futile) attempt to pre-sell some of my clothes, shoes and accessories. A woman came the Saturday before and bought one of my "Italian Outfits". One woman did show up during the actual sale and bought a few things. Although it didn't have the result I'd hoped for, I still think this was a good idea. IF I ever attempt to get rid of more clothes et al, I'd seriously consider doing this again, but with a bit more lead time. Mom came over to help me with the sale (not really needed, of course) so we spent some time put price tags on the moving sale items which were piled all over the garage.

Friday 5 August. Mom and Dad came over to help us get organized for the moving sale. No mean feat, believe you me. Despite the fact we'd already inventoried and priced all the items, we still had to figure out the best way to set up, where to put what, etc. We did a partial dry-run with two long "tables" (really long pieces of wood placed on top of saw horses) out in the driveway, the tools and yard equipment in the yard, etc. Mark and Dad put up the several signs Mark had already made. As we were sitting in the garage enjoying a well deserved lunch of Subway sandwiches, beer and wine, several people drove by, stopped, and inquired about various items. One gentleman wanted to know if we were selling our "cook stove",which I took to mean the camp stove, but, no, he meant our stove-stove, as in, the one in the kitchen! A yard maintenance man wanted to know about the lawn mower (already bequeathed to my brother). A neighbor came over and put dibs on a snow shovel and the wheel barrow. And, the dude who'd placed a deposit on the china hutch (which had been listed on Craig's List) came by to pick it up. While he and Mark prepped it for loading, his buddy bought several items that we'd placed out on a table.

Saturday 6 August. Woke up around 3:30 to the sound of rain. Damn! We both ended up getting out of bed by 5:30 so we could figure out what to do regarding the sale (it was pouring down rain with thunder and lightening). The sale was due to start at 8:00, and Mom, Dad and my brother were coming over shortly before to help us set up per the previous day's plan. Problem was, that plan was now in the crapper. Mark began to put things on the front porch while I went out on a (fruitless) donut run (the Dunkin' Donuts I was searching for did not appear to exist). Long and short (the entire moving sale experience is worth an entire entry or two on its own), the sale went from 8-2 as planned. Even though it rained much of the morning, that didn't stop people from coming, thankfully.

Sunday 7 August. In stark contrast to Saturday's rainy day, Sunday was bright and sunny but just as humid. In fact, probably worse. We had a real slow day; probably a combination of heat and it being Sunday. We switched to "1/2 Off Everything!" mode at 10 which helped sales a bit but not much. By 3 (we stuck it out longer in hopes we'd get some late-comers), we packed it up (literally) in preparation for the remaining items's trip to various charity organizations.

Monday 8 August. I followed up on a few points with our real estate agent. Mark delivered boxes of stuff to charity. I arranged for another charity to come pick up our large furniture pieces that had not sold. I also finalized both our car and homeowner's insurance policies in FL, talked to the alarm company about moving the system once we're in the new house, and a few other new home related business items which I now can't remember.

Tuesday 9 August. I dropped several boxes of books off at the local library. I did a ton of laundry. We each had some personal appointments plus The Kid came over for dinner/to spend the night. We went to a Foo Foo Mexican restaurant called Dos Perros and enjoyed our evening with The Kid (no moving stuff).

Wednesday 10 August. I took two cats to the vet for their annual exams and also picked up sedatives for whichever cats may need it for the drive down to FL. We spent the day organizing for the packers (e.g., moving stuff that we don't want them to pack to an empty room, packing up things we will take with us (e.g., jewelry, cigars, toiletries)). Mark also did some real work. We had dinner with one of his clients at a Southern comfort food restaurant in Chapel Hill called Mama Dip's. Eh, so-so.

Thursday 11 August. Today. Woke up full of fire to get everything else done. As of almost 3, much of it is done, including moving clothes that we will need to take with us into a room the packers won't go into, going to the bank (for something like the 10th time this week), paying bills, putting notes around the house for the packers, movers and carpet guy, clearing out the pantry and putting aside food stuffs that family may want (perfectly good but we can't take it), going through our wine stash, doing a trial run on doping up the cats (with mixed results), and wasting time blogging.

So, yeah, it's been a whirlwind week and this synopsis hasn't even included all that Mark's been doing (he has is own Blog!*)

Left to do yet (no particular order): Vacuuming the couches and throw pillows (to remove cat hair) before they all get boxed up/wrapped up tomorrow. Moving the rest of the items that we want the packers to leave alone to a safe place. Vacuuming under our bed once the bed has been removed (cat hide out; you can imagine how much fur must be under there). Re-setting the AC for something that won't break the bank since we won't be here to adjust it. Lowering all window blinds. Removing the beach towels that we'd stuffed under one of the kitchen cabinets when we got Pete and Lily (to keep them, and later the Littles, from climbing in). Getting Lucy's (never used) dog house to my brother. Having a family get-together here Saturday. Make sure the neighbors know to not park their cars on the street or in their driveways Monday or else they'll get creamed by a moving van and/or won't be able to get OUT of their driveways. Secure the pets on Monday Moving Day. Load the cars. Leave for our new life.

WHEW. No wonder I'm exhausted!

Mrs. B

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Journey to Patience

I’m going on a trip; a journey, rather, a journey to Patience. It’s not really a destination, I know, but, “they” always say it’s the journey that matters, anyway.

There are two traits I’ve inherited from my biological parents. There are probably more, but, I know for a fact that these two I can attribute to them. One, courtesy of my Mother, is vanity (although my Father has told me he is pretty vain, too). The other, which has caused me no end of trouble in my life and has led me to the conclusion that I need to take this particular journey, is impatience.

In other words, I have no patience and I’m fairly certain that I never have had any. Even as a small child, I’d get extremely frustrated over the smallest things. I could go from a sunny, happy cooing toddler to a raging little brat in zero to five seconds. Of course, I could also just as easily return to my sweet state in the same amount of time. This hasn’t changed much in 45 something years. Just ask my husband. There is a reason I bought a cap at Disneyworld a few years ago with an emblem of an angry looking Tinker Bell and these words stitched below, “Moods subject to change without notice”.

But, wait, that’s menopause, not impatience. Shit, I’m screwed.

When we got our dog Lucy a few years ago, we should have named her Patience; then, I would have had some patience, anyway. Ok, so I stole that idea from my former boss, Ed; another person not known for his patience. He was giving a speech to a group of college hires one afternoon and was, to his credit, doing his best to make it a bit more personal so that he (a very tall, imposing man who didn’t usually crack a smile) wouldn’t scare the crap out of them. He was disclosing some tid-bits about his life; his own college years, why he decided to go into engineering, his rise to VP-dom, and the fact he loved to sail and was finally able to buy a boat which he named Patience; and so he quipped, “And she’s the only patience I’ll ever have”.

The realization that I must do something about my impatience AND my quick temper flare ups (which are likely related most of the time although the temper can rise with or without any situation requiring patience) has been floating around in my brain for about a year. Yeah, it used to be a lot worse back when I was working 12 hours a day but, you’d think after eight years of not working (unless you count my less than half-time, heck, less than quarter-time job doing consulting work for one company as working, which I don’t) I’d have cooled my jets by now down to a really low boil or a slight simmer when matters start to torque me off. And, in fairness to me, I probably have managed to do so about 60% of the time.

It’s the other 40% that causes me some concern; mostly because I don’t want to look like or come across as an out of control bitch. Or, Rumpelstiltskin; that fairy tale character who got all pissed off because the queen figured out his name right before she was going to have to give her baby to him and he got so enraged that jumped up and down so hard his right foot drove into the ground and he sank up to his waist, which only infuriated him more such that he grabbed his left foot with both hands and ended up tearing himself in two. Hey, that’ll teach ya to not be able to control your temper; talk about a split personality, ha ha ha. Seriously, when I get into a fit and start losing it, I know that is exactly who I must look like to anyone who may be a witness to this silly behavior.

And, oh BTW, he isn’t even a major fairy tale character. There are likely many, many children (and adults) who have no idea who he is. So, on top of it, why behave like an evil, unnoticeable, inconsequential bad guy?

And it IS silly. That’s probably the primary reason why I want to change it. I don’t want to be a silly person. I’ve strived too hard to NOT be a silly person; I don’t want it to take me down in the end, after all.

So, this is a long, rambling way of saying that I’m embarking on a journey to Patience and I figured I may as well chronicle it; who knows? This may be “the” thing I write that I finally try to publish. You know, the “How to go from Asshole to Sweetheart in 30 Days” concept Father and I came up with like, seven years ago and I’ve still done nothing with (that’s another blog entry). In any event, this chronicle will probably be hysterical to read, at least to me.

Mrs. B

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Memories: Road Trip with Peri, Nigel and Clyde 2003

Eight years ago tomorrow marks the anniversary of the beginning of a road trip I took with pal Peri and my faithful companions Nigel and Clyde. I told Peri I'd get her a copy of this "memoir" and this is the easiest way to do so. Unfortunately, the pictures that accompanied the story are on a CD packed in a box somewhere. Anyway, here ya go, Peri!

I thought you'd all like to know that we (me, Peri, Nigel and Clyde) made it across country with very little difficulty and almost exactly on schedule.

We were smart enough to load the car up the night prior (with everything except the cats) and it's a good thing we did as it took us a few iterations to get everything in its right place (get everything to friggin' fit).

The drive that first day was relatively boring; through the desert, through Las Vegas, through more desert, etc. We entertained ourselves this day (and the other five days of the trip) listening to music, talking, trying to spot all 50 state license plates (we ended up with 48; couldn’t get either Hawaii or Delaware (Peri is convinced that Delaware simply does not exist)), and, of course, listening to Italian language CDs.

We stopped the first night in Richfield, Utah. We walked to a nearby hometown cafĂ© for dinner where we had a pretty decent diner-type meal but no alcohol (being in Utah and all); also, we got a clear idea of the local mentality when we came upon a sign during our walk for a video store that said “Coming Soon! Edited Movies! No Sex, Violence or Bad Language!”

The poor cats were fairly traumatized at this point; both of them spent a great deal of time under the beds; or, rather, they tried to get under the beds but since each bed had pedestals underneath them, they were SOL.

The next morning we got up somewhat bright and early, scrounged up some coffee, loaded up E5150 and got back onto the 70 headed east towards Colorado. This day’s drive was by far the loveliest; flat desert terrain giving way to vistas of rangy looking trees and rocks which eventually rolled up into the mountains. We sang along with John Denver as we winded our way along the almost deserted road through the Rocky Mountains; amazed at the scenery, caught up in its simple beauty, and found ourselves giving in to the emotions it provoked (and, by the way, there is something called “Rocky Mountain High” and it has nothing to do with illegal substances; it’s the altitude that makes you silly and giddy and, well, a bit more relaxed and happy).

We made it into Colorado Springs around 5:00 pm. Our timing couldn’t have been worse; we got stuck in rush hour traffic on our way to my friend Shaleen and her husband Matt’s house on the NE side of the Springs. I also noticed that E5150 was gasping a bit (I later realized she was going through her own sort of Rocky Mountain High; cars need to be adjusted if you intend to drive them for long periods of time in the high altitude regions).

We enjoyed a evening of great hospitality at Shaleen and Matt’s. We sat outside on their patio and watched a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm (which breezed in and out in about 15 minutes; I’d forgotten how tempestuous the weather in Colorado can be). We had dinner; shared wonderful food, wine and engaging conversation that ranged from catching up to discussing the CA political situation. We were also treated to an impromptu recital by Matt’s daughter, Mandy, who sang “Part of Your World” from the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid” quite beautifully.

The visit came to an end all too soon (this is the bad thing about road trips, you usually only have one night in each location which makes for insufficient time to catch up with dear friends). After corralling the cats the next morning (which meant dragging them out from underneath the bed as they hissed and swiped at me), we loaded up the car, said our good-byes to Shaleen and made our way up to Denver.

We drove through Denver (Peri was excited to see Mile High Stadium which is just off the I-70); then headed east towards Nebraska. The next few hours of driving were boring and uneventful. By this point in time, the cats had given up meowing (they were quite the talkers on Day One and even a bit on Day Two) so we once again amused ourselves with music, Italian lessons and hunting for license plates.

Although it was a bit dull, we were pleased that we were on schedule to arrive in Omaha by 6:00 or so (we lost an hour the first day due to moving into different time zone and lost a second hour this day). We cruised along the I80 going east and all was well until about 30 miles or so out of Lincoln, Nebraska. All of a sudden, the traffic, which up to this point in time had been fairly light, came to a dead stop. We sat there for about 20 minutes trying to figure out what was up. People were getting in and out of their cars and trucks asking around to see if anyone knew why we’d stopped; no one seemed to. Peri and I attempted to tune into the traffic report on local radio but couldn’t get a signal. We called friends in California to see if they could go on line to see what was up. No luck. Finally traffic started to move but only to a point; about ½ mile up the road we were all forced to make a U-Turn and go back in a westerly direction. This was not so great since we weren’t really sure how to get back in an easterly direction to continue on towards Omaha. Luckily we had an atlas and also the phone number of the hotel we were to stay at in Omaha. Between these two avenues of information and from what we gleaned from some folks we met at the rest area we’d stopped at, we were able to figure out which route(s) to take to get to Omaha.

Here at least we hit pay dirt. My friend Mardie had booked us into the Sheraton in Omaha located in the downtown Market District. Che bel posto (what a nice place)! We got the cats situated (they quickly made a mess of the bathroom by throwing cat litter all over creation) and walked a few blocks away to Old Market District proper where we found a place to eat that I’d been to about three years prior called M’s Pub. We ordered Cosmopolitan Martinis and phenomenal sandwiches and relaxed, relaxed, relaxed after a grueling day of driving.

The next day we elected to sleep in (I slackened up on my Nazi-approach to road trip travel) and had a nice breakfast in the hotel dinning room. The waiter was quite friendly although he appeared to think that Peri and I were interested in alternative music because the first thing he said to us after asking if we wanted coffee was “So, what IS it with Radio Head these days, anyway?” I was quite startled by this (especially as I had no clue who or what Radio Head was).

We left Omaha around 10:30 am and continued on our trek on the I80 east. We had a relatively uneventful drive until we reached the outskirts of Chicago where we had to merge onto a toll road along with countless other cars and a multitude of semis with rude and snarling drivers (whoever it was that told me truck drivers are nice and especially like to look out for the ladies driving alone on the road were full of it). We stopped in a town near La Porte, Indiana to get gas and got stared at. Apparently two women and two cats driving around in a gold BMW was not something the folks there saw overly much! I got a nice compliment, “Beautiful car, ma’am” and one friendly cracker-looking dude made a point of coming around the side of his car to wave at me and say hello.

We pushed on and arrived at my parent’s house in Ft. Wayne around 9:30 pm. They of course were not there (they are currently in Florida with the three grandchildren) but they had offered us the option of staying in their house rather than in a hotel. We managed to get into the house without setting off the alarm and got the cats ensconced in the sun porch. We opened up a bottle of Merlot, took a few pictures of us toasting my parent’s hospitality, and sat out on the porch listening to the night sounds that only seem to exist in the mid-west. I thought I saw a fire fly and I know (when we were driving) we saw a falling star.

The next morning, after cleaning up the mess the cats had made in the sun porch (kitty litter EVERYWHERE); we loaded up and headed on our way for the short drive to Cleveland (where things definitely did not go according to plan!)

We had no problem getting to Cleveland, but once we arrived, we quickly realized we’d been faulty in our planning. We’d hoped to get into town, find a motel to drop the boys off at, and then hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in downtown Cleveland. Well, what happened was we discovered that Cleveland is NOT a pet-friendly town; meaning, we couldn’t find a motel that would allow cats. After awhile of driving around, I made the executive decision that at least one of us should see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and since Peri wanted to see it more than I did and since I have six weeks in Italy to look forward to, I dropped her off at the museum and headed off with Nigel and Clyde to find a motel.

As it turned out, I had no better luck on the outskirts of Cleveland; I drove around for almost two hours trying to find a place that would accept all four of us. Once I figured out that we were not going to obtain a room in Cleveland, I resigned myself to driving around visiting the few sights that I cared to. I drove by where my father and stepmother Margot used to live in Pepper Pike and I drove by the TRW Headquarters on Richmond Road (Northrop Grumman has not bothered to change the signage here, it still says “TRW”). With an hour or so yet to kill before I expected Peri to call for me to pick her up, I bought an iced latte at Starbucks and Nigel, Clyde and I practiced Italian in a strip mall parking lot. It wasn’t exactly what I had wanted my visit to Cleveland to be but it could have been a lot worse.

When I collected Peri around 6:00 pm, we elected to continue on our trek east towards Pennsylvania. A few miles outside of Cleveland, we got stuck in a horrendous traffic jam. We decided to say the hell with driving to Pennsylvania and pulled off in small town called Willoughby. Luckily in Willoughby there were motels with exterior room entryways. We spent the night in a Red Roof Inn, which really wasn’t half bad, and had a decent dinner at a nearby steak house.

The next morning we headed off to New York at around 9:15 am. Other than a bit of rain on the New York Turnpike and some creepy people we ran into when getting gas in a small town off the Turnpike (which we dubbed “Deliverance Ville”) we had no problems. We reached father and Margot’s farm almost exactly on schedule; at 5:15 pm Saturday afternoon.

Even though it was tiring at times and a bit frustrating at others, the good aspects of the road trip definitely outweighed these minor irritations. For those of you who have never experienced traveling across the United States in a car, I’d certainly recommend it (however leave your pets at home!)

At the end of the road, we had the peace and serenity of Windwood Farm waiting for us as well as several days of relaxation before Peri left for New York City (Tuesday; where she was destined to meet President Bill Clinton in a Toys R Us in Times Square) and I headed for Verona (Friday; where I’m sure I’m destined for many things). My father and Margot have provided wonderful hospitality to us and the cats (who will continue to take advantage of this hospitality for the next six weeks while I learn Italian and otherwise goof off in Italy).

As you can imagine, I’m definitely looking forward to the next leg of my journey!

Vado a Italia subito!