Well, where to begin? First of all, Wendy is no longer in Italy. MOH (My Other Half) retired from the US Navy in May (after 30 years of service), which means we had to leave. Truly sad. This also means that I had to leave my job, which I loved and paid very well. We brought all four dogs and both cats back (I will not even tell you how much THAT cost) and though it was an ordeal, it was definitely worth it. Screw you to those who won’t even try to bring one pet back and dump them instead. If you need to ship your pets internationally, unaccompanied, let me know and I will tell you who I worked with.
We are now in the Pacific Northwest which is my favorite part of the country. MOH had already found a job (weenie) and I am looking. Thank God Washington allows military spouses who had to quit their jobs because their spouses transfer to collect unemployment – a true blessing! We are trying to get back to Italy. MOH is applying for government work there as a civilian, unfortunately I can’t because I was “just a spousal employee” which completely sucks. Apparently my four plus years there do not count as real government employment. Whatever.
So here I am, trying to figure it all out again. I hate the thought of starting over work-wise, but know it is a necessary evil. I am blessed that we are stable financially, and that my parent’s house was available to rent (who else would accept six pets?). I’m trying to appreciate my downtime because I know it is temporary. One of my goals is to start keeping this blog up-to-date again!
Oh my poor little neglected blog! Where has the time gone? So much has happened that I have not shared: wonderful food and travels, wonderful job developments, and just wonderful life in general! I'll never catch all of it up so I'll just start again. MOH (My Other Half) and I are headed to the UK tomorrow for a two-week vacation. Many posts to follow!
Today our housekeeper asked me is she could do the yard work too. Are you KIDDING me??? Woo Hoo! MOH (My Other Half) has agreed to pay the yard work portion while I continue to pay for the housework. Donna is a fabulous woman - without her this house would be a disaster! Plus she puts up with the crazy dogs and cats who live here...
One more day until MOH (My Other Half) leaves for a month and here we have it. The mystery leak from behind the wall in my bathroom is finally being addressed. There are two men here who claim to be plumbers. This is their second visit today, because as you know from previous posts, there is always a site visit first. They come, they look, they leave, and sometimes they come back. At least they brought their own tools this time (that’s directed at you useless electrician aka eye-bolt inserter).
My bathroom wall is being ripped open. They believe the leak is coming from the adjacent bathroom, but they’re going in through mine (behind the bidet). Who the hell is going to repair the wall when they’re done? These “plumbers?” I think not. I’m sure there’s another group that will be sent to do that. In the mean time I fear the cats with enter the hole never to be seen again.
MOH is on leave until his trip Friday so it’s easy for him to be at their beck and call. If this is not all fixed by tomorrow (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – right) then we have a problem. I cannot afford to take leave from work to deal with house shit, especially since sometimes they just don’t show up. I’ll take a picture when they leave tonight and add it to the post.
Don’t worry! It’s a work thing. He’ll be gone for a whole month, though, and I really hate that! You’ll remember from previous posts that as soon as MOH (My Other Half) leaves things go to shit here. Last time it was the dead rat and the broken telecommando. He was only gone for a week that time. I dread the month long absence.
He’ll be back in the states and gets to spend a week with his daughter, which is wonderful!!! She’s almost 15 – really hard to believe. The other three weeks will be spent doing Top Secret Squirrel stuff which I am not allowed to discuss. On the plus side, I will send him back with a shopping list of items that I cannot find here, mostly cosmetics and girly things. He’s a good sport and will find the appropriate make-up counter and hand the list over. He brought me 10 mascaras last time and I’m still working my way through them.
He has another trip scheduled in June for a conference in Paris and I am sooooo tagging along on that one! He spent last weekend there being wined and dined by three hotel/conference centers. His recommendation weighs heavily on where they will hold it and the bonus is that they really set him up while he was there and will give him the same kind of suite and amenities in June. Oh I cannot wait to be pampered in Paris! We travel often here, but our accommodations are the least of what we spend our money on. I have to admit that I am looking forward to spending a week living the good life. I’m afraid I am a little shallow. I want to stay in a gorgeous suite and have a key to the executive lounge. I want to spend my days roaming the streets, shopping, and finding little out-door cafes where I can sip wine and people watch. But I digress.
He leaves in four days and I will miss him like crazy – thank God for Skype! He does a lot around the house so this will force me to get off of my ass and act like an adult when it comes to certain things; he spoils me. He’s also the main cook so I’ve been trying to prep for being responsible for my own meals. I don’t want to become a slave to pizza rolls and microwave meals (which I tend to do), but I hate dirtying so many dishes for one person. The dogs are also a lot of work, but I can handle them. I think if I get up half an hour earlier in the mornings I should be able to do just fine.
It’s all good because it has to be. This should be the last long trip, for which I am very thankful. I’m sure my posts will become more frequent again with his absence. I am asking for no broken down cars or sick animals. MOH, my love, travel safe and come home soon.
I have lived in Italy for three years and four months and had the best pizza of my life today! Naples is the birthplace of pizza and I have had some amazing ones here (there are a couple other posts about pizza). But today, my loves, is the day I discovered THE pizza. I did a previous post on the Eat,Pray, Love pizza place, L’Antica Da Pizzeria Michele, that the author mentions in the book. She said that you must try the Pizza Margharita with Double Mozzarella. I did, and it is most certainly the best pizza margharita I have had the pleasure of eating.
The entire menu of this pizzeria is: Pizza Margharita, Pizza Marinara, Coke, Fanta, Water, Birra Peroni. That is it. When MOH (My Other Half) and I went a few weeks ago we both had the Pizza Margharita con Doppia Mozzarella. Sooooooo incredibly good! A gentleman at our table ordered the other pizza which has only sauce and sliced garlic. It looked and smelled sensational and I knew I would have to try it. I took today off work to hang out with a friend and we took the train to Naples. She hadn’t tried this pizzeria yet so we headed there. We got there a little after 11:30 and were able to get a seat right away (score!). She ordered the margharita with the double mozzarella because, well, you just have to at least once. I ordered the marinara.
Oh, God! I mean, really. Best . . . pizza . . . ever! The sauce was so thick you could eat it with a fork (I know this because I did this). It truly puts the Margharita to shame. Tangy tounge-taesing perfection! Come to Italy; I will take you there.
It’s all good! I’ve never really been bothered by age (so far). I look at where my life is now compared to ten years ago and I wouldn’t go back for anything! I have learned so much about myself in the last ten years and good, bad, or ugly I got to where I am today.
Do you remember where you were when you were at, say, twenty-five? I do. I don’t long for those days at all. How stupid was I? I went out EVERY night and I partied EVERY night and I had no idea who I was. I made very bad decisions and didn’t care who I hurt (including me). I wanted to be liked and loved and didn’t care what I had to do to make that happen.
Thank God we get older! The decisions I made in the past have led me to the life I lead today. Thank you, Wendy! Do you remember the life you dreamed about when you were young and naive? I thought Prince Charming would surly gallop into my life, in my mid-twenties, and sweep me away to a life of perfection! Hah!
Then I turned 30, and 31, and 32, and 33 and realized life is not like the movies. I never thought I would meet someone and get married. Ever. I am not (too) ashamed to say that I picked MOH (My Other Half) up in a bar. I did, and four months later we were married. Best thing that ever happened to me (and him)!
Life now is flying by at an amazing rate of speed, but I am enjoying the ride – little wrinkles and sags and all. For me, being able to share this experience with the person who completely loves me, no matter how difficult I am, with the person who makes me want to be a better person, with the person who loves me on my best and worst days, with the person who is truly the other half of me . . . well . . . I am the luckiest lady around.
I am so thankful that I get to experience my life. Happy Birthday to me!
So you know those neighbors that complained about our barking dogs? The ones who have four barkers of their own? I totally just rescued one of their dogs. You’re welcome.
They have this little mini pinscher that somehow broke out of their yard tonight. They, of course, are not home. They have a wrought iron fence like ours but have plastic up around it so, I assume, their little dog can’t get out. Well it did. MOH (My Other Half) and I were in the kitchen and our four were going crazy outside. Not really a cause for concern – it happens. MOH went out to shut them up and comes running in and says that there’s a puppy in our yard.
I experienced several emotions in a matter of seconds. First: dread. What were we going to do with it? I certainly can’t toss it out on the street! Second: fear. I was sure Max would kill it. Third: excitement. Ooh a puppy! Another little pup to add to our tribe!
We ran out in the yard and there it was. Sweet! Then we realized it was the neighbor’s dog. Max was sniffing it, but Caesar was going nuts. He’s my spoiled little one and I believe he decided he would not share any of Mommy’s affections with a new little dog. The pup ran back out of our yard (through the bars) and tried to get back in his own yard, but the plastic was blocking him.
MOH and I put ours in and went outside to find the rogue mini pin. He was in the alley shivering. He wanted nothing to do with MOH so I told him to stand back and let me try. I got all Dog Whisperer and got down on his level and talked to him. He shakily approached me and I snatched him up. I cooed to him and he shook the whole time. I dropped him back over his fence (it’s not that high) and he seemed happy. We can’t figure out how he got out.
I’ll have to visit the neighbors tomorrow to tell them, through a combination of my Italian and sign language, that their little one can get out. Do you think they’ll say, “Thank you?” I’m not sure. I feel that somehow this will be our fault – we’re so popular here in our Italian parco. I would have just died if our dogs had hurt it (you’ll remember the rat incident – it was about the same size).
I’ll be honest. The only reason I really ever watched the Super Bowl was because there was usually a party involved, and some pretty cool commercials. However, AFN does not run commercials of any kind, except, well, military ones. We’re not allowed to see product commercials (we can’t get half the stuff here anyway). I guess that makes sense. Sort of.
I understand that it’s a legal thing (they tell us that every year around this time). But really? Can’t we have a once-a-year exception to that rule? I know it’s a little whiney, it’s not like we’re in a combat zone here in Italy, although I think driving in Naples is pretty darn close sometimes, but that’s another story. For the men and women serving in combat, however, don’t you think someone could figure out how to make it work?
The Super Bowl starts here at 0030 here (midnight-thirty for you civilians). I’m not saying up (especially with no allure of commercials), but MOH (My Other Half) is. He’s taking leave so he doesn’t have to worry about work on Monday. This year AFN has decided to make it up to us by having people send in their own commercials to be aired. Sigh. Ok. That should be . . . interesting.
We always get up the next day and just watch the commercials online. It’s just not the same. It may be a petty grievance, but it’s a grievance all the same.
Ok. So here in Italy, being part of the military, we get AFN (American Forces Network). When we come here we get an AFN decoder (like a cable box). We get about 12 channels. We get some current TV, a little behind when it’s aired in the US, but OK. We don’t have a lot to choose from.
We are subject to a lot of propaganda rah rah military commercials (still OK with that). However, they are running a new batch of completely moronic bits that tell us, “You’re watching AFN.” Really? I’d understand if we had more than one network option, but EVERY channel is AFN. Do you need to keep telling me what I’m watching?
You have little kids playing instruments telling me, faces painted on hands (seriously) telling me, men running through fields telling me, and people eating other people’s birthday cakes (again, seriously) telling me. Guess what? I’m watching AFN. It’s all I get. What else can I watch?
Hey everyone I’M WATCHING AFN!
I'll tell you about our Superbowl "commercials" tomorrow.
That’s right! While we’ve been trying to come up with a good translation for our house issues so we can call the landlady and get the appropriate people here on the first try, MOH (My Other Half) came home early and fixed the heater!!! Rejoice! There is heat and hot water! I shed some tears of happiness. He did some more research and experimenting and all is well. Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance! I truly cannot tell you how excited I am about not wearing three layers of clothes to bed tonight and taking my little pseudo-showers. Sigh . . .
There’s still the leak issue in the bathroom, but that is a very small problem right now – at least until the floor caves in or something!
Not only is MOH a phenomenal cook, he can fix shit too. I am one lucky lucky lady!!!
Ah, my sweet little girl! Sadly, we are in the process of finding her a new home. A few months after we got Maxwell, she started fighting with Dolce. I mean fighting fighting – to the point of blood. I’ve tried everything and can’t get it to stop.
I’ve googled it and researched the whole alpha dog thing. Nothing I try makes any difference. It’ only when people are around so I think it’s definitely an attention thing. When we are around them it is constant growling (I mean CONSTANT) and posing with an occasional all-out fight erupting. This has been going on for months! I’ve had a couple of near adoptions, but something always falls through at the end.
She has zero problems with the two boys; it’s only Dolce and I know they both are miserable. When she’s by herself she is the sweetest, most loving dog and it breaks my heart that we are at this point. She deserves better and Dolce deserves better. I won’t give her up until we find a great home for her, and I have the stipulation that if, for any reason, her adopters are not happy then I will take her back and try again.
She’s currently listed under “Adoptable Dogs” on the Naples Friends of Animals website (link at right). Think good thoughts for us and hope that we can find her a good family soon!
I haven’t showered in two days. Not because I’m lazy; because we have no hot water. Or heat, for that matter. It’s not freezing, exactly, but cold enough that I’m wearing my coat around the house. MOH (My Other Half) has being trying to fix the thermostat thingy himself. It’s giving a weird error message that could mean anything. He found the manual on-line, in Italian of course, and has been using babelfish to try and translate parts of it. The translations make zero sense.
MOH is going to call the landlady tonight and see if she can get someone here tomorrow. Looks like I’ll be sponge bathing it for work tomorrow. Nice! He also needs to get her to send someone about a mysterious leak in my bathroom. We think it’s coming from the bidet, or the wall behind the bidet. Water pools around the toilet and it’s a nice little wet surprise if you go in there barefoot. You also have to roll your pants up before you use the toilet, otherwise the hems of your pants or PJs get wet. It’s really a lovely experience.
After the Italian worker insanity we experienced with Telecom and the electricians, I’m dreading this a little. But I am cold and a little smelly and the bottoms of my PJ pant legs are damp. I don’t deserve this.
You know what really chaps my hide? Our freakin’ nosy-ass neighbors. We live in an Italian parco and are the only Americans. MOH (My Other Half) and I love it! Who wants to live around a bunch of other Americans when we’re in Italy? It just creates what we call “Little America” and too many people glom together and pretend to be in the U.S. No thank you!
We moved in here in November and less than a week later MOH gets a call from our landlady who tells him she received a call from someone in the parco who says our dogs are keeping them up at night. Yeah. Our dogs sleep inside at night – every night. Every neighbor around us has a minimum of four dogs who are 100% outside dogs. And they bark all of the time, day and night. We wouldn’t think to complain because that’s just life with dogs.
We were pressured, when we moved in here, to hire the parco gardener to take care of our yard, but we declined. I asked our landlady how much he charged and she couldn’t tell me, even though she has been paying him to maintain the yard. That’s because we would be charged differently (read: MORE) as Americans. That’s just the way it is here. We pay more than twice in rent what an Italian family would pay because they know how much we are allotted for housing based on MOH’s rank. They max it out. We’re fine with that though – we love the house. Our yard it big, but nothing that MOH and I can’t handle, so we said thanks, but no thanks.
The gardener is not happy. He rang our gate one day when MOH was home and asked him to put the dogs inside so he could sweep the street outside our gate. Outside our gate! He said our dogs were dangerous. Yeah, only if you put your hands INSIDE our gate. Moron. We think he’s called the landlady as well; you’ll see why in a minute.
We’ve been trying to get an extra telecomando (see previous post for definition) for our housekeeper who comes on Saturdays (oh yes, my loves, I have someone who scrubs my big ol’ villa from top to bottom once a week). She’s worked for us for almost three years and I trust her with my house, dogs, cats, and possessions and she comes even where we’re not home. She has to take a bus now since we moved and the key to the walk-in gate only works from the inside lock. So she has to blindly reach around from the outside of the gate to get the damned thing unlocked. We want her to have a telecomando so she can just open the drive-in gate and walk through. MOH bought one from our NEX and was trying to program it at the gate when another Nosy McNeighbor (who lives OUTSIDE of the parco) wanted to know what he was doing. He told her and she called the landlady.
We know the landlady was called because she and her sister came by yesterday to pick up the rent. MOH was golfing and I was supposed to be having lunch with friends, but was now going to be late because I had to wait for them. They couldn’t come at any other time the whole weekend except at 12:30 Saturday. When they called to be buzzed in the parco I walked outside of my gate to meet them. I already had my car out so I could make a quick getaway to my lunch date as soon as I handed over the ransom (I mean rent). I could tell they expected to come in the yard, but I had it locked up and the dogs were all lined up giving them their “who the hell do you think you are” glares. They walked up and down the gate peering in to get a look and reminded me that we had to take care of the yard. Duh! We’ve had wind and rain storms that have done a number with the pine needles and I hadn’t swept the walkways and tiles yet. I said that, yes, I know that and MOH and I would take care of it (thank you gardener – we’re not paying you a single euro). She mentioned the gardener again and I pretended not to understand. I do that sometimes.
She also told me that we could only have two telecomandos for this house and that it was impossible to get another one (true, MOH was not able to get it programmed to open the gate; it will close it though which makes it pretty useless). So unless she’s psychic she couldn’t have known about it without a heads-up from someone.
I feel like we are always being watched now (paranoid much?) and I think it’s pretty shitty. Our landlady made the decision to rent to Americans because she gets a ton of money to do it. If the other people in the parco don’t like it – tough titty! We’re not going to change the way we live because other people have a problem with Americans being here. We’re quiet and respectful and take care of the house and property. I’m tired of being tattled on. I really don’t want to dislike my neighbors but they are not making this easy. Sheesh.
Sadly, I am that 37-year-old. Day two of MOH (My Other Half) in Germany. Rat drama yesterday, and telecomando drama this morning. Did I not say everything goes wrong when MOH is out of town? This morning started at 4:30 as it always does. Time for café and dog feeding and whatnot. I left the house at 6:00 as usual. I walked out the gate, carefully avoiding the rat carcass thank you very much, and headed to the car.
Oh – a telecomando is a little like a garage door opener. It opens the car gate to the parco we live in so you can get in and out (obviously). We have two of these and one is in Germany with MOH. I drove down our little road to the gate and pushed the button. Nothing. No little red light and no opening gate. Pushed again, and again, and again, AND AGAIN! Slight pause and then a full-on-ridiculous-I-should-be-ashamed-of-myself-meltdown. Banging telecomando on steering wheel, dashboard, whatever.
Then the primal scream; I mean the kind where my throat still hurts almost 12 hours later. The scream continues while I shake the steering wheel for no apparent reason. I am trapped in the parco. Seriously? Didn’t I suffer enough with the whole rat thing last night???? No, I did not. I know there is a back gate that we have a key to somewhere that you can manually open.
I power up the cell phone (which takes for freakin’ ever) and call MOH. Oh, yes. If I am going to suffer then so is MOH – up in Germany in a fancy resort for a conference – WHATEVER!
MOH groggily answers, “...Hello?”
Me all high pitched and whiney, “Mytelecomandowon’tworkwhereisthekeytothebackgateIhavetogotoworkhelpme!”
Pause. MOH, “There’s a key on your key ring.”
Me, “Oh – okI’lltalktoyoulater!”
Hang up. Power cell phone off so he can’t call back and call me out on my craziness. I will apologize to him later. MOH has repeatedly said that I am useless in a crisis, so I know he wasn't at all impressed or surprised.
I drive to the back gate at about 100 kilometers per hour. It’s dark, creepy, the lock is rusty and uncooperative. I finally get it open, drive out, and then have to get the damn thing locked again. Was not late for work (miracle)!
I've resigned myself to the fact that I will just have to deal with the back gate until MOH gets home Friday. It takes FOREVER. I appreciate that I live in a secure area but AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGG!
Am now enjoying celebratory "I triumphed over the gate all by myself" Bloody Mary. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
God damn it! I should have known this would happen after the whole “Maxwell vs. the Rat” incident (previous blog entry). MOH (My Other Half) is in Germany and it’s my first time on my own in the new house. I came in the yard to my usual frantic greeting from the four crazies who live here. I unlocked the house and opened the kitchen door for them so they could come in and out as the pleased.
I got out four pup-peronis for treats and only three of them came running. When I called for Skipper, who was behind me in the kitchen, to come get her treat she growled. I turned around and saw it. A big . . . dead . . . flaccid . . . bloody rat hanging from her mouth. EEEEEEEEEEEk! I shrieked. Really. Repeatedly like a little girl and ran for the outside thinking for sure she was going to jump up on me with it. (Insert full body shudder here.) Turns out I don’t handle the dead rodent situation with any grace. So I run screaming into the yard and all the dogs think this is some wonderful game! Let’s chase Mommy! And me yelling, "Get away! Get away!" Thank God I didn't see any neighbors outside.
Skipper ran out with her big bloody prize and dropped it on the patio. I managed to get her back in the house and shut her in. I went running around the house making this “eeeee eeeee eeeee” sound and found a broom and dust pan. I went back outside, still making that noise, and managed to push it into the dust pan. Then I stood there. I couldn’t put it in the outside trash because (a) the dogs might get it back out, and (b) I would at some point have to take that trash out. We have to drive our trash out to a dumpster outside of our parco and there is no way that bag was going in my car!
I decided I would fling it over the gate. Hah! I got out there and then was afraid I would screw it up and somehow fling it on top of me. I gave a wussy little toss and it landed right on the other side of the fence. We have wrought iron bars and the dogs would totally be able to reach it. I shoved the broom through the bars and pushed it out of dog reach. Gross. I mean just really GROSS. Shit always happens when MOH is out of town. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for me the rest of the week!
Am now enjoying celebratory "I disposed of the rat all by myself" glass of champagne.
My sweet little Caesar is baffled by the cats. He’s the only one allowed upstairs to hang out and sleep with us because he doesn't take up much room and usually ignores the cats. He’s about their size so they don’t pay too much attention to him either.
Poor guy was cuddled up with me yesterday watching season three of the Tudors (oh – I am addicted). I had one cat, Yak, at my feet, and the other one, Oochie, decided it was lovin’ time. She planted herself on my chest and demanded attention. All was well until she started purring. Caesar freaked – I think he thought she was growling and promptly decided he would save me from the vicious cat. Mayhem ensued! Cats jumped to the highest point in the room (dresser) and Caesar put on quite a show. He eventually gave up on the cats and decided my Snuggie would be an acceptable substitute. He managed to get down the hall with it, all the while shaking the shit out of it. Very comical! He’s learning.
My friend Jen told me I had to read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. She said that since I lived In Naples I especially had to find the pizza place she talks about, L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. This place has been doing business since 1870. The author says it’s the best pizza she’s ever eaten and if you get the chance to go there, you have to order the pizza margherita with double mozzarella.
Well today was the day! MOH (My Other Half) and I printed off the map from their website (one of my links on the right) and took the train downtown. It’s not a great map so we wandered for a bit and asked for directions twice before we found it. It looks like your typical little hole-in-the-wall from the street. If I didn’t know it was something special I probably would have never given it a second look. We got there just before noon and I took this picture before we went in:
It was already packed inside and you sit wherever there’s room, which means you share your table (no biggie). They only serve two kinds of pizza: pizza margherita (sauce, cheese, and basil) and pizza marinara (sauce only and basil). We were the only Americans and our theory is that if the locals are packing the place then you better believe it’s the good stuff! The waiter took our order and we both asked for pizza margherita con doppio mozzarella.
It came about five minutes later, and let me tell you – oh lordy, it was amazing! Like sit-back-take-your-time-admire-its-beauty-and-thank-God-for-this-perfection amazing. MOH and I have had MANY of these pizzas over the last three years, but this one was just . . . different. The crust was perfect, just the right thickness and charred a bit. The sauce had such a fresh tangy taste, and the mozzarella (oooh cheeeese), DOUBLE MOZZARELLA! They loaded it on. . . . I have to take a moment . . . Ok, really, if you ever come here this pizza cannot be missed! I will take you there myself.
The crowd really started coming in after 12:00. They were given numbers on a little piece of paper and asked to wait outside. As seats opened, one of the waiters would open the door and yell out a number. The lucky ones would then rush in and grab their seats. This is what the outside looked like when we left:
A man at our table ordered the pizza marinara (I have yet to try this) with garlic. It came out steaming with sliced garlic all over it! I was too embarrassed to ask to take a picture of it (I hate looking like a tourist), but it was beautiful and I want one. Next time – oh yes my loves there will be a next time – I am ordering that man’s pizza!
It was 13 euro for both pizzas, one beer, and a large bottle of fizzy water.
Jen, many thanks to you for enlightening me. I hope to take you there one day!