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This is what happens to people when they keep their chin up....eventually they succeed at stuff....

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dawdling is the Florentine Way...

We ran up alot of hillside before dark hit o get a view from what Spencer saw as a "castle and wall" on the hillside across from the Arno and its north bank of treasures...it was close to sunset...and we scrambled up the beauttiful hill with green lush hillsides around us to find ourselves with a stunning view...a sunset!!
This is the view from "the castle" across the river...stunning beauty all around...becoming quite hohum to see bronze, gold and silver everywhere one looks. Or stunningly detailed statues....or wonderful smokey, faded frescoes on buildings...

We took the tour of the Piazza De Pitti...it was filled with a museo of art...stunning art!! We went through fancy apartment and fancy apartment of newer and newer famous artworks where Spencer set off an alarm by standing too close to a piece. It is beautiful here...we were almost overloaded by stunning art when we got to the section of "modern art" and debated over whether we wanted to see the angles and art of modernity. We opted to try it anyway and found ourselves looking at 1700's artwork...

The oldest things we have in California are from the 1700's...that almost qualifies back home as "ancient" yet here it is simply "modern"....how funny is that?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cappelle Medici e Mercato

Even the polizia look snazzy here!! Everyone looks sharp and cool!!

I am a huge fan of the Medici famiglia...through PBS....they have a whole series on how the Medici family single-handedly financed the artistic renaissance, and teaching a Waldorf class why we should care about the foremost European family because of the amount of power, money and control they controlled over Europe in general. They are an awesome batch...with cleverness, debauchery and power all mixed around in the generations....this is like the family we all wish we had...popes who are bad and create the Reformation almost by themselves, as well as artist fostering heroes. Crowned heads and knuckle heads....they have it bigger and better then your own family...guaranteed.

So going to the Cappelle di Medici and touring the family crypts was way too cool to pass up...we wandered through the mercato...and I found a love of the smell of leather that no poverty stricken student should foster!!
My sisters would fit this zone so much...to shop here with my mom and sisters would be a perfect dream...with Brittany and Gillian and Mallory would be even better....this is the place to really crave cool stuff and their is high quality and some super cheap mixed in.

I got myself my dream...a pair of Romani Antiche Scarpe....and a scarf too...my Roman sandals made me feel so Italian and mixed with my new 2 Euro scarf....I look like a different person from my casual CA self...I like this...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Praying inside the Duomo....

To get into the Duomo is sort of the urgent call of any tourist visiting Florence. The line was long and bored when we walked by and we were sure we wanted no part of it. Gordon said we shoud take the hike up to the top of the Cupola instead. I was worried about the cost, while he was wreckless, saying that is sounded like fun.

What a stroke of brilliance!! I was the perfect tour for us! We ran up the sneaky back alleyways in the building several flights of stairs, and twisting dangerous spiral staircases wih weird little nooks to peak out of the buildings thick stone walls, only to find ourselves thrust out at the top of the cathedral with a full view of the entire church from above and near the stunning artwork!
We were alone enough to be able to silently pray at the tippy top, looking down on the tourists sannping photos with flash, (against the rules) and generally seeming to miss the best view in the house!

When that part was done....through more cramped corridors to the ouside of the top!! The only annoying people were 2 separate sets of Americans who insisted everyone move aside for them to
video the view...I had to laugh when they came at one another from opposite sides. When they started in on how they were taping could the other move...it sort of reminded me of a
Dr. Seuss book...they sort of stood there gawking at one another and trying to make the other one move...We found a Deathly Hallows sign graffitti-ed at the top...proof that Harry Potter fans are everywhere! The view was stunning!

Everything about this beautiful place qualifies as stunning!!

Details, Details...



We could not get over how detailed everything here is.....even the nside rafter beams were carved to a state of beauty....the grate in the gutter had the community's name on it....everywhere you looked there is a level of care that I found stunning....even our dinner in the shadow of the Duomo's Cupola we had climbed that morning was detailed. The Bruschetta had a layer of carefully cut tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and flavorings that made me feel I was eaten something my mom had cooked and not some rather affordable meal that was sort of the special that day. Not only was the toast awesome but so was the salad, lasagna and spaghetti and on top of it all it came with wine!! All for 10 Euros a piatti...no need to tip here or taxes according to Rick Steves so the price you pay is the price you pay. But it was actually way more affordable then they say Italy is!! 

While I write this the church bells are ringing out the morning wake up call over the city...and birds heralded the dawn....so pretty...this whole place is pretty! Even waking up here is che bello!!

Consistently High Quality!!


Oh My God....When my daughter was little, she wanted her own land....and she had the same preferences as here auntie...I find myself in that lovely land. I am in Brittville!! She always wanted there to be a and where no one would dress messy...and all would be happy to dress sharp, al the houses would be tidy and clean all the time and polite behavior would be mandatory. I still remember her face when her father told her he would not want to live in Brittville since it sounded like a dictatorship, but now we know it is not impossible....it is Florence. She was simply craving Florence!....all homes ARE perfect....everyone IS well dressed and polite and all the people ARE well behaved, not because they have o be BUT because they WANT to be? That is Florence!! While on French Air we couldn't seem to do anything right, with our luggage and fellow passengers and every one was a tad pushy at the airport and impolite from my tired sleep deprived state, (or perhaps stressed we were in the exhausting part of travel!) and slightly "superior" or lacking patience compared to here...what astark contrast!!..we get to Italy and everyone is so careful and polite with people here...everyone...security forces, service people personnel...EVERYONE switches to the language that you speak as soon as possible to be uber polite!! It is just really nice the way Italians, or maybe just Florentines, seem to love other people. There are no grandmas in sweat pants here...dressed to the nines to do everything. Old ladies look sexy here and pull it off...not seeming to go after their youth but instead they seem to be "civilized...." I want to dress Italian today, not because I have to, but because it seems the polite thing to do here....There is no superiority, but an overall sense of doing things really right the first time here....even my dad would simply adore Italy. This is certainly the land of thoughtful existence. Everything in Florence is well done....I guess it makes sense that clothes and food would be too....

We did everything in a day....

We started up and instantly all 3 of us were acclimated to the new times....it was odd really.

I woke up at 6,45 in the morning and we all were out of bed by 7 am. Here...that is Florence time. There is no jetlag or hungover feelings. Just instant, "Oh, the sun is up....we are supposed to wake up now" pop out of bed happy feelings....

We have Gordon's watch set on CA time and my watch set to Italy time. On the flight we had a miserable time sleeping....but, as soon as we made it here we did a quick walk around the block and Bam, we slept like rocks....we each got a cool bunk in the bunk beds here at the hostel and since we are a family they gave us a room with 5 sleeping beds...pretty nice, too.

We have been having a great time. It just feels so right to run around here...the light is bello...the people are bello...I went for a comfy CA gypsy look feel,clothingwise (oddly my friend Laura wrote about the gypsy look in her blog today or yesterday!) and I found myself wearing it today before I found out. Everyone here, little old ladies, men, women and children dresses like it is another day in formal day in paradise. I saw men in Armani suits riding bikes...women in full wool dresses in this warm weather...and little old ladies that looked so dainty it reminded me of the older women on the family tree from the citta`(city)...they had lovely handbags and big friendly smiles...and tiny women with little waists and big waists too...just a very done community...here...I think tomorrow I might dress more formally. Though I have no idea how I would have climbed to the top of the Duomo if I had a suit on...

Gordon's phone is not working so we are writing carte postale for family members...I was shocked at how expensive a post card costs to mail...but even buying the stamps in Italian was fun...I had to go to a Tobacchi...shop....made me think of hillbillies...you know"Pappy had a hankering for some Toe-backie...so we got 'im some..."

"Io Vorrei venti francobolli per favore...."

When Spencer picked his meal from the menu, he pronounced it so well the waiter complimented his perfect accent. I knew his Italian teacher back in Santa Cruz would be so excited!

The guys are swimming in the pool downstairs...I had no idea that hostels could be such a sweet deal....we only ate twice today....the first was our free meal downstairs....buffet style...and actually healthy and good choices....we were thrilled...kept us through till 5 in the evening...accept for the gelato...that was sort of a meal in itself.

Gotta admit...I love Italy and the Italians...what a land of polite and civilized people...my sister Christine always is so polite and well behaved, it made me think she would have so approved of the place...everyone is well dressed and plain nice...just the land she would create if she could make everyone obey....she would absolutely fit in like a charm...I was sort of a floppy vagabond just having a blast...but she would slide right into this culture and not have to change a thing...it is a fairy tale place...quite charming! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trying to Post a Pic...

The view out our window is not really a view but even it has a lovely orangey look to it...
See, even beautiful Europe has grubby little office buildings in it to!!
But notice the lovely light?

Orangey Light...

So it is 7 am here in Italy...

And at poking our heads out the window...Spencer and I noticed right away that the light is orangier here then in CA....the light there is more yellow and here it is so golden...oddly it made me think how cool it is that Gillian, my neice, and my Uncle Tom would love this light. My Uncle Tom and Gill always notice the way things look and the glow they get from light....this really is the land of artist's delight. I am SOOOO grateful I dragged, scratch that, my poor Ex hubby, Gordon, dragged, that 12 kilo bag of art supplies and books for me to use dragging around Europe!! I am going to want to try to sketch this already!!

I already drew the back of the seat in front of me and the 4 Tin Tin screens that were in view on the flight from San Francisco to Paris...Spencer drew characters from Tin Tin and out the window of our plane...Gordon and Spencer also have a squiggly line game from the flight or 4 that they drew in our moleskin journals that fit into our carry on luggage...we also wrote inour lined journals that our older son Harry James bought for Spencer on the trip....part of our family's fixation on Indian Jones..Young Indiana had a moleskin...muy older kids had art and written journals...we already have several written and drawn entries in our art journals...this is such an interesting perspective....we went for a walk last night and I was very aware of my surroundings, something my fiance really wanted me to focus on for safety....we bounded out for a walk at 10 O' Clock at night....meandering out into the street and noticing its not so old architecture mixed with old around here in what must be an newer area of town....

Now it is simply a matter of popping up and using the breakfast tickets to go enjoy our big buffet to hold us over for a day's exploration around Florence...still haven't gotten the photos to load from San Fracisco's ariport and Charles De Gaule in Paris....gonna have to figure that our later...

SFO or PAR?

I was trying to quickly load a pic and this was either San Francisco's Airport or Charles De Gaul in Paris....they got the mirror image of this with the planes and images in the background...this is way more fun then they say it is...so what if we are tired beyind compare we are in Italy....WooooHoooo....traveling is awesome!!

Air France.....Loved the Language!!

We had a great time jus getting on our consantly delayed flight. The service was mediocre to say the least but we were so happy...who had time to notice?

I loved the way every little announcement was in French first  on Wir France!! I was able to ttranslate boarding information, the people sitting next to us talking in French only....and what the next set of directions, times weather and information were....it really was nice to use my foreign language!!

The flight attendant had no clue as to what I was asking when I asked in very polite French for some hot water to use with my Jasmine Green teabag from home...so I drank to water she gave me instead and I found that I felt so good about the water, and asking in French that I did not care that I had to leave my tea bag...unused behind...

I absolutely loved seeing women in dresses with lovely scarves and fancy clohes all around... so many men in expensive suits...adn women in real wome's suits....it was shocking how nice everyone looked....like I walked into the 60's and am flying with the real jet setters....

Can't load my French pics yet....very slow internet...and very slow email...so we wrote to family on french pos cards last night....mightt not be able to get my photos loaded on blog or FB very welll with this connection!!

Thank goodness my friend Rachel told me about this wonderfu hostel...!!

I am not in lovely Italy!! Lovely Europe and its street signs are so much cooler then they look in the movies!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crawled out of bed at 1 O' Clock in the Afternoon....

I crawled out of bed here in Oakland at 1 O' Clock in the afternoon....but here in Oakland it was 4 AM in the morning!! I am going to be so out of whack!!

We have spent the day proving our lack of international traveling experience by being shocked by the changes on our flight that we saw as set in stone!

We were scheduled to leave at 3 in the afternoon....then it got cancelled yesterday.....and moved to 5:00 in the afternoon. Now it is all the way over to 8:20 pm here, and leaving out of SFO at that time.

I am sure you real travelers think it is flat out funny that we were naive enough to plan  around the ticket times.

We also spent some time realizing that Wells Fargo keeps the Euro exchange rate in constant profit rather then an accurate exchange rate so if you are getting ready to do this fo  any reason ....just use your card and use a local bank....my little Santa Cruz County Bank was only going to charge me $15 for ordering Euros but it would take a bit....so I thought we should use the big bank...WRONG!! Nice service today but it cost $40 to exchange it.

Now we are all dressed in our traveling clothes....Spencer in his sleeping clothes....sweat pants, T shirt and a hoodie, while I have my comfy, but beautiful wrinkle free dress and clothes my elegant sisters picked out for me. It pays to have sisters with class if you aren't born with your own....

And I have to say, I am really enjoying this now that I won't be stuck in a classroom doing Italian grammar drills all day long. I get to be with Spencer, instead of focusing on school...and generally I have to say seeing Kimberley and Wales is more exciting then beautiful Italy even....life keeps getting better and better!

I am so excited....I am going to be in Europe later....I am going somewhere and doing something....this just isn't like me!!!Wooohoooo!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Last Minute, Last Minute, stuff....

Spencer has been spending his last night with Big Brother and Mallinator, and I spent my last night with super handsome fiance...which we spent watching "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" The Coen Bros take on Homer's Odyssey and eating at home since it was rainy and cold. I have been indulging in last cuddles with the pets....the dogs have been clingy and even the usually very aloof cat has been getting inside the luggage while I pull it all apart again....the downside is being away from family, friends and pets....but I am sure some one in Wales and Italy will have pets that Spencer and I can go gaga for....

Now I pulled everything out of the already packed luggage to really think about whether I need all of that stuff and repacked it one last time....according to the directions, all of our stuff should be able to go into "carry on" and go with us in the plane. My purse, Spencer's backpack of books and recorders, as well as 2 wheeled bags that we can carry or roll around Italy and England. I put in labels this morning, realizing I had forgotten to up to this point.

During the night I woke with a wonderful feeling of EXTREME gratitude! I realized in my dead sleep that if those people in Fin Aid had told me the truth earlier, I would have definitely backed out of all of this....and now I find myself in the most wonderful situation!! I feel like Iam going on a much deserved vacation!! I get to see relatives that I have not seen for so long...I get to see my beloved Wales that I have always longed to see and spend time in lovely Florence with Gordon, Bart and Spencer, and a month along the coast of the Adriatic Sea!!! If they had done anything different....I wouldn't be doing this!!

So here is a kudos and deep gratitude & appreciation to OSU's Fin Aid....!! Aaron and Patti....you are the tops!! Sorry about all the bad vibes I sent your way last week!! Manny told me not to write them yet to that effect....I think he is right...I will keep my gratitude under wraps for now! But it sure feels better to not be peeved anymore!!

And Wales and beautiful Italy here I come....

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Finally a day without stress!!

Today was a beautiful day!! Spencer went to his last Italian class until we get back. We fly to Paris and then Florence on Monday and tomorrow I leave my house and head over to Oakland where my Ex, (and super cool travel buddy!), lives and we stay until we get geared up for flying out of San Francisco!!

My oldest son and his girlfriend will be driving us up to his dad's house....it is going to be so much fun...my fiance has made it clear that he needs a short and sweet goodbye in Santa Cruz before we go.

Now the plan is to go to a place I have ALWAYS been studying for...Wales is where my family came from at the turn of the last century...and my children have a bigger dose too, since I married a man whose father was from Wales too....I know the Welsh national anthem, and a Welsh song that promises a Welcome in the Hillsides will be waiting for me....now a Welsh relative has opened her house to us as if she were a promise come true when we needed a place to stay so urgently. I had to realize that I was more excited about seeing Kimberley and her son then the excitement of visiting a place I desperately wanted to see my whole life!

My school plans fell through but these plans...that seemed to materialize from no where are sooooo much better and closer to my deepest desires then sudying for 3 months in Siena!!

All of our packing is done!! I am now down to the simple last minute tossing in of things I think I can't live without.....but now, I don't have to worry about vagabonding through Europe without eventually having a place to put my stuff.

And thanks to Kimbereley, I now have a place to ship my schoolbooks for my classes that had to replace my Italian classes that fell through...so much is now put to rest that we have a room to stay in...and even before she volunteered to let us stay with her...we already knew one day she would have to stay in Santa Cruz with us...now she wont be embarrassed to planon going out our way when she has time...

And Spencer now will know Kimbereley's boy....they will now see that the other is more then an abstract concept at the end of a letter or package!! Hurray!!!

Wales and Italy...

Spencer and I are soooo EXCITED!!! We heard from a relative via Facebook, and she has kindly given us a Welsh welcome in the hillsides by offering us a room at her house to stay in between Easter and May 8th or so!! We now will be able to see relatives we love and for the first time in my life I will walk on my ancestor's land!! Spencer has Welsh in him from both sides!! I am sure he and I will be so happy in Cymru!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6TXz_shw_M&feature=player_embedded

Friday, March 23, 2012

Where to go?

So I decided to ignore the fact that I have reason to be really frustrated with my school and instead focus on moving forward. Where to go while there? In Europe?

I am working on alternative loans but even if they came through I have always thought it would be cool to stay in a hostel...and they are so clean and fun now. Fresh linens every night to make sure that it is clean..no need to bring our own. No need to bring towels...and even camping sounds like sleeping in pretty civilized conditions. I remember when camping (which I really liked anyway!) meant no showers, (I always really like showers though!), and rugged conditions...now "camping" means wifi connections and beds indoors...

This one is near Rome, Roman ruins and awesome coastline...for 10 Euros a night....hmmmm....
http://www.plushostels.com/pluscampingfabulous
http://www.plushostels.com/gallery/pluscampingfabulousrome

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Went And Played....

I was very frustrated when dealing with my school. The really nice useful people were not there and even though one of the ECMAPUS folks tried to help...we got no where fast and lots of time was involved. Unlike Financial Aid...I could not complain about her kindness...this woman really tried to help.

I had worked myself to a frazzle after a lovely chit chat with my sister, when I started thinking, I believe that I can get something better to happen if I change my frame of mind...so I went for a walk with Spencer and my dogs....there were still some blossoms on the apple trees and it was heavenly outside.

I walked over a half mile while he rode his bike and the dogs dug happy dog holes on the property we live on...it was just marvelous...thanks to the dogs, there was the smell of fresh soil in the air to mix with the sweet apple blossom smells.

We veered off into the really wet areas next to our little flowing creek that meanders all the way to the Pacific ocean miles down stream from where we are on top of the mountain. We sat on our little bridge. We dipped our faces in the water trickling by us so fast. It reminded me of an old song I used to play on the recorder of how the mountain streams laugh as they go by....we talked about Greek Gods...and books....

After about an hour my son had stripped off his now wet shoes and was walking in the stream as the clouds were thickening and the air getting chillier.

I went back to the house for my coat, and also brought out my art journal and colored pencils in a tin, and we both sat and colored and talked about Greek Gods...After all that loveliness, I came back to the house refreshed and found Manny enjoying the quiet of the house after work....

.....And that was when I found an answer to one of my multitude of housesitting letters looking for a place this next month in Europe anywhere! It is an opportunity to live in Abruzzo, Italy...and it sounds wonderful!!

It made me wonder if it would have happened if I had WORKED away at the computer MAKING it happen!!???!!

Fight or Fun?

I have school work to finish in this last 4 days before I leave, or I can waste time fighting with my school that I can really lay into when I come home via political action, (ie talking to legislators about FORCING colleges to give online students fin aid advisors as they sign up instead of this garbage of never getting to the same answer or person twice and no one is held accountable for what ever they choose to say!)...I think working on getting to say is more fun...

So today I sent emails to 16 different housesitting gigs and also I wrote to 2 European people I know to try to find a place there to stay in...

I had a lovely talk with my wise little sister this morning and I decided that I should try to stay in hostels, (that has been a bucket list anyway!) and just enjoy myself going forward...what a better way to go!

http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/PLUS-Florence/Florence/22996?source=googleadwordshostelsbynamebroad&kid=537554&aid=2&gclid=CMWVnKvf-K4CFWgaQgodlwvOzQ

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Too Much!!!

The Perugia housesitter fell through as far as I am concerned.

She wanted 500 Euros a month ($800) and also 3-4 hours per person a day from Spencer and I and for us to rent a car (which I have been resisting since I know I would not wind up practicing any language if I am cooped up in a car.) Rick Steve's says to get out of the car and talk to people...and that is what I intend to do so here I am about to fly to Europe with no money and no place to stay initially....I never would have planned  to go to Europe with so little nailed down...I am a bit irritated and ANGRY with my school's insensitivity!


So I joined the housesitting site and have been applying for places all over Europe all day....these are in France...I have sent letters to Italy, Spain, Ireland, France, and England. Actually it seems like alot of fun if I can find one...
http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lounging and Appreciating Home...

We spent the day lounging around here. I started out working on schoolwork and reports, but shifts to my first day ever of watching any Die Hard movie in an effort to try to get into Manny's favorite movies. He has been watching my shows with me while I have been getting through a week without Spencer, so it really was only fair....

I have to admit that the house sure feels cozy with the Corned Beef and Cabbage cooking on the stove....Nice St Patty's....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Time to Hold Those Accountable....

I woke this morning knowing that I had to start the ball rolling for damage control to my education and to my finances. I sent an email yesterday to the Business Office of my school to stop any funding from being disbursed to my Study Abroad program that Iwas wrongly told I would have funding for...not Iam $8000 short and cannot attend the program.

When I found out the money was not coming Iwas treated callously by Financial Aid, as if I had just willy nilly decided I could afford to go. I have been honest and up front about being poor all along. I told everyone I was in contact with that my credit suffered from my foreclosure in 2008 and therefore I could not do this on outside loans and Iwas always told that I could still count on my funding. Ouch!!

Now I stared demanding that my school put a hold on my account until I have an audit conducted into this whole situation. I wrote several key administration today!! Ialso wrote the White House since all along I have felt that a few key things woud be more fair to us online students but are simply not done yet sinc eno one os legislating the schools into providing beter customer service for those of us who cannot visit the campus at the first sign of trouble.

The U of Pheonix has a credit counselor who works wih you unil graduation. You have their name before you even start classes and they handle your problems with you and make sure you receive funding that you can count on and know what is coming down to the penny. Not OSU. Little Monterey Peninsula College had several counselors to talk to when there were questions about my classes or degrees. Not OSU. I didn't find the great counslor I have until the summer before my senior year status went into effect.  Inever got calls back from the Political Science people or help planning out my degree.

So I think all of this could have been preveted if I had a person to talk to about each of these things but the school does not have professionals answering the phones. It has been my experience that I have gotten a different answer each time I called Fin Aid and Isuspect they are student workers who have no real answers or experience.

Even though my school is world class, and has the best teachign staff, I think this has now gotten to be too extreme. Ihave never once known what my Fin Aid award was in OSU, nor have I ever gotten a straight equation. There is always a complex set of variables that did not allow for me to have enough money to pay my rent and eat...time to let the administration know of my frustrations, troubes and expecations.

Hopefully they will put a full hold on my accounts and really analyze whether it is fair to charge me over $1200 for a program I can't attend sinc eI believed my counselors and staff there when they said the funding would come...I am just glad Iasked again BEFORE I  left instead of waiting until I got there and did as they were told waiting until my firstt week of school was done in Siena, Italy!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rainy Day in March

Rainy Spring Day in March in California....this is about 100 steps from my deck in Santa Cruz..such a lovely wet walk...with the stream really flowing from 3 days of hard rain here.

Shifts Can Be Confusing but Good, I Guess....

After doing some research I found that I can hold my account so I don't have money automatically funneled into the AHA program that is planning on chargin me exhorbitant charges for not getting to go after all.

I also found that I can get my usual funding in Italy as if I were home since I am still going to take a regular full time schedule on time via online access. Hence, if I play my cards right and luck stays with me, I will live as I always do here but live over there instead. I will also learn some Italian there and speak enough to help my entrance exams in grad school which is very helpful, and in retropsect might have been one of the big reasons why I tried this anyway.

One could look at this as though I have been forced into studying abroad in the Italian countryside, instead of here in Santa Cruz where I would have normally been. I am always in debt either way since funding does not cover living expenses!

If I understand the way the dust has settled, I get to be home with my son or out being Italian WITH him instead of in my expensive study abroad program in the school that my college sanctioned and still doing a full time schedule online wih my classes. Iwill be forced to work outside and weed eat the property, which I have been itching to allow myself to do anyway and I will enjoy Italian culture at my leisure when Spencer and I leave our really lovely place in the countryside to explore.

Maybe it isn't so terrible to have a change of plans after all...we will see what happens...

Broadsided But Back Upright Again

To be honest, I was broadsided by the past couple of days but now that I have had a chance to let it sink in I am working through and towards otehr options.

I was geared up for studying in a city and walking to EVERYTHING in Siena, attending classes daily and singing my son up for school there. My clothing had to be upgraded since Iwould be in class every day and in a place that cared about fashion, so I was getting used to wearing heels and nice clothes when I walked out the door in preparation. I had my suits lined up and figured on making business connections to be ready to  work for after I graduate. I would've had o speak alot of Italian in order to get through a day walking around a town.

Now I am looking at the housesitting thing in the lovely Perugia countryside. I had been researching already but for July and Fall not for NOW...so I am suddenly bombarded with many things to consider.

As I see it I will be engaged in outside work, something I do not fear but rather enjoy. My favorite thing about my rental in the Santa Cruz mountains is that Manny, Spencer and I had taken over the woodcutting duties to a strong degree.

I am a hearty creature and love staking wood, moving and cutting it. I enjoy yardwork and love picking weeds and planting. Ilove it when Ihave a small flock of chickens and can gather my own eggs.

I have no idea of what Iwill get to do as chores in Perugia but I can honestly say I would love it. And since Iwont be attending class in person, Ican also keep my son home and we can do the chores and explore the countryside together which is a wonderful option and certainly not a Plan B secondary status in my head.

I guess any trepidation I have is strictly the idea that this has been a sudden switch and not a methodical carefully figured out plan.

But I have "2 tickets to paradise," so I am packing my bags and leaving soon. Leaving the handsome hulk behind and headed out with my kindly  Ex to help me get there and get settled....now we all will have our own rooms instead of squeaking by in our appartamento near the Duomo.

I wonder if I can rent some chickens for neighbors for Spencer to learn to tend and to have our own eggs?

I wish I had bought another pair of jeans...maybe I will get another pair before I go...unless I want to wear a casual sundress while "strimming" or weedeating over there....Iam sure Spencer and I will be the odd new ones on the block...



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Transportation...

So I need transportation in order to get the housesitting gig, but my problem is that Americans are not EU citizens and cannot own a car. We have to have residency proof (I am leaving in 82 days therefor I do not need residency visas) but one must prove residency in order to purchase a clunker or whatever...so now I am checking in France...I can buy a car there according to my preliminary check...but it is so complex....running out of time so here it goes..I did a hard workout on Netflix and feel much less stressed...still finishing off previous term with my %$(&*%&$ school that pulled the rug out from under me 2 weeks before my study abroad...gonna have to really consider a lawyer on this one...now they want to charge me for changing my mind....as if I woke up yesterday and suddenly decided to do something else...not anything to do with telling me all along that Iwill have funding and at the last minute not having it suppied by the school as promised! Grrrrrrr.....

Wow...just when I thought....

I had a great conversation with my Study Abroad Counselor and her biggest concerns were that I was to bring worn tennis shoes and sorne other things so I could leave them behind in Italy when I leave in June!

As she worked her way through the packet she complimented the way I go everything done. There wasn't a shred of paper that I had not turned in or forgotten. She was amazed at how there was nothing to nag me about.

Then she asked me if I had any questions.

I did.

For the entire time I have been in Oregon State University as an online student, I have had difficulty getting any real answers or help from Financial Aid. On this whole thing I had perpetually worked to get answers from that department and I had always been told that the money will come 3 days or so into my first week in Italy.

In all the departments I had been told that I would be receiving money for me and my son while abroad. I had set up a cushion in expecting money of my own to cover the first week before my funding hit. I had set it up so if they were correct, I should be very comfortable. I just had no idea of how much I would be living on for food money until Igot a straight answer from Fin Aid.

So I asked the helpful counselor to get into Fin Aid somehow and find out a bottom line for my food money a day or my overall allotment while there. If I am living on $20 a day I need to know to budget ahead...

So imagine my surprise when I get a call back saying that I do not even have enough to pay for the program that was covered in my loans. No school. No trip.

But I have 2 tickets to Italy and a connection for a housesitting gig. I hate having to change my plans so late in the game but I am going to Italy now. There is no stopping the trip. Spencer and I are going to explore Italy, with or without credit from school.

So this morning I wrote to my connection in Perugia. I asked if  I can come earlier then the Summer plan we had been kicking around.

I feel disappointment, but I also feel that this is going to lead me to a more interesting place...if I could go through a crushing divorce, a foreclosure or two and now my school screwing me...well, this isn't the worst thing I have experienced. And things always wind up working out alright for me. I am a very lucky person and even the worst flop I leap into, can lead me to a really wonderful place if I let it...so I am watching lovely shows like Once Upon a Time and soaking up the moment to get into a calmer disposition and then I can move forward...and figure out where I am going to be in less then 2 weeks...thank goodness Gordon is with me on the first leg.... 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Loving Going Away Party....

I LOVE Stockton, CA in the springtime. It is always breezy and the air is fresh. Usually my little sister and her hubby have an orange tree in their back yard that has flowers in bloom and bees buzzing about the fragrant beauties.

This early Easter it was different. The orange tree, usually at this time of year is a mass of angular twigs and soft white buds, but yesterday it was a tree with full green leaves and full size oranges. They were so full size that my son plucked one and peeled it and ate it on the spot. Wow...so different from years past...either Easter is far ater this year or Spring came much earlier this year.

What happened to winter this year?

We had a lovely time appreciating my littlest sister's well appointed home and her husband's excellent cooking. He is the kind of guy who might someday run a restaurant. Every day woud be a treat to eat at such a place.

And there is nothing nicer than talking to the Cady side of our family. We see each other once or twice a year yet we always get each other and I absolutely love the conversation. It is not everyday that you get to talk to intelligent and witty people and to have a whole backyard of them is really a fun time in the making.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rework on my Arrancione Top...

Last night I ripped out the stitches I had done and opened up the lining of the Orange Italian Suit top to make it smaller and more form fitting.I had to do this since I looked chunkier with the bigger size that was meant to give me room to gain weight while in the luxurious eating world of the Italians. Instead I decided I wanted to be shallow and go for looks over practicality, and have it ready by my long drive to my Little Sister's house over in Stockton, where she is having a Going Away Party for Spencer and I.

I am so excited...so few days left...I have to pick up my prescription for the months that I am gone, finish off my courses from Winter Term... and finish gathering items that I am going to need and pack them in the biggest suitcase like recorders and music stuff.

But it is such fun to be planning out the last details like this....I have to admit that I am absolutely delighted to be me today...I have had times when I felt like such a loser (divorce, foreclosure, no job prospects), when I would have had a hard time believing that I could BE so happy...as I am right now...goin' with the flow...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Practice Packing...

So I did a round of practice packing. As I looked at all the clothes I would need to take me from Spring to Summer in Italy, I worried that there was no way I could fit it into my biggest piece of luggage. After working myself into a frazzle I yanked everything I had hanging tidily in my closet and started folding...and lo and behold, I did it!! I fit it all in  with some hair stuff besides. I have now also decided to sew my orange Italian seeveless top a bit making it tighter...after seeing my pictures on FB...I decided I don't need to leave so much room for eating Italian and perhaps adding a bit more in the middle...

But the practice was marvelous for my system. I feel so much more ready.

Spring Readying!!

Spencer and I are puling out all our clothes and luggage to start truly packing...

Now I can't find the size of the luggage and weight we can take...better figure out where I put those dimensions...but we are letting them air out in the sun. Also washing every last shred of clothes...though Spencer realy does not need to take anything older. Gordon and Bart have been outfitting him in great clothes for our life in Italy. He has new jeans, (and considering how fast he has been growing he really needed them!!) new shirts, shoes, socks and underwear...it really is nice to outgrow your clothes when you are younger...not so nice now that I am grown.

Test to take today in ANTH but hard to focus on that...I want to just work on Italy and get pracical but school needs to roll to the front... 

Busy, Busy, Busy....

We had a pizza party for my fiance and it was part of a surprise...he did not expect it so it was fun for us too....it isn't everday that someone you love turns 50 years old.

I have been trying to handle alot of things at once....I dropped the ball in Econ and now I have decided to just focus on finals and papers for school instead of visas and buying cars in Italy, even though the study abroad is far more important to me at this point.

Having one of my lifelong dreams come true has made me happier AND edgier lately...I pinned it down to being a bit afraid and nervous and once I realized that is what I was feeling, I became really clear that this is too good an experience to waste it on fear. Manny gave me a pep talk reminding me that fear, anticipation and excitement all act within the body the same way...and I realized he was right...my nervous feeling is the same way I have felt before when I heard the jet engines fire up before heading down the runway!! I am really just thrilled and excited!

I have had to meditate alot to calm myself down from looking for things to be worried about too! I wake in the night with unfounded fears or worries that I have forgotten something big in my calculations, and I will wind up without maney at all while there.

...And this is from someone who is having every dream come true!! I won't allow it to hurt to have my wishes come true! This is good, happy and fun...and I am going to remember that...even in the midde of the night when my mind tries really hard to take that away...breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out......

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My How Far I Have Come!!

Just 5 years ago, I was happily in my house in the woods of the Sierra Nevadas...I never drove at night. I never put gas in the car...I loved my friends and family and life but my life was tucked away and quiet, calm and meditative. I was Rapunzel up in my tower and I LOVED IT!!

But thanks to the foreclosure, I now love driving over highway 17 at night and seeing the jewel like beauty of San Jose laying out so pretty before me when I reach Los Gatos...I love driving by myself late at night with the radio on and being speedy on the road. I have no qualms about putting gas in the car nor do I feel too concerned about my safety like I used to when out alone at night...I think Italy came laong just when I was ready to go...gotta love it...

Obstacles......Fun obstacles....

http://americansinumbria.blogspot.com/2011/09/buying-car-in-italy.html

I found a great blog about a California couple experiencing Italy....I really liked the entries I have read so far from this one...especially the Americans buying a car in Italy since it is not just interesting bu also filled with info useful for me....

In our own adventures, we have the housesitting gig if we want it, (And we do!) but now I am trying to climb over the multitude of obstacles this now creates in our world...such as buying  car there...getting into school there for a term to finish off my BA requirements and make me alot more desirable for grad school when I get back to the states...we also have to apply for our visas to stay longer now before I go since you cannot apply for a visa when you are in Italy...yikes!

I love how cool it is to be going somewhere and doing something...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Making Copies for all Places!

I spent a chunk of the afternoon making copies of all my documents. I have copies for my money belts, my waterproof packet for my apartment and for my travel partners! I sure feels good to start gathering the details into place...I am ready to start placing things in my luggage too...what goes in carry on...and what goes in my luggage?

My Official Packet Is Here!

I got my fancy shmancy Identification Card from my program and the final details of exactly where I am to be on my first day of school. I also was sent our ID insurance documents and cards too...unlike the International Drivers Permit, it will easily fit into our wallets!

The IDP is bigger then a passport! Now I know where I am going and exactly what I am to be carrying.
I also get discounts to hotels and restaurants in Florence, Siena and Rome. This is going to be a blast!!

I even got a new luggage tag...I feel like such a traveler.....