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A Year In The Life of …

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

Well, once again I have fallen badly behind.  My excuse?  We have had a very busy time this year and are only now finding time to do the things we enjoy – and I certainly enjoy writing my blog.

The year started with a hiss and a roar and I related much of it in a post in April.

Then it was off to Europe for three months.  What a lot of fun that was.  We have friends in Como and made this our base for our travels.  Coming back to Como to welcoming friends (and a washing machine) was great.  These people have been my partner and his family’s friends for years and so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to go to Como.  And I am so glad that I did.  They welcomed me with open arms and within a few days I felt one of the family. We enjoyed our time with these people and their family.  Three little grandsons were around almost every day and Claudio aged 3 was teaching me English.  His constant plea was ‘Storia Judith”  Well, of course, it was a picture book but as I know little or no Italian and he knows no English,  story reading time was hilarious.  He kept correcting me and I don’t know how many times he told me “pompiere” was the word for fireman.  “No no” he would say and fall about laughing at my pronunciation.  What a joy he was.

We had lunch with friends of our host and hostess at a lovely villa on the hills above Lake Como.  A dazzlingly beautiful day, great fun although much of the conversation went over our heads.

Venice (of course) beckoned as did Tuscany, Spain, France and the UK.  Three months is a long time to be away but hardly enough time to do all the things we wanted to do.  A visit to Germany to meet our friend’s mother who is 93 years old.  A pleasant day indeed.

In Switzerland, we had lunch with our hosts’ son who lives in Como and works in Lugano.

We spent a couple of weeks in Spain with our hosts and then went on to Barcelona for 9 days on our own.

Tuscany, of course, was a delight.  We stayed in a lovely converted farmhouse five minutes from San Gimignano for almost a week discovering and rediscovering the countryside and lovely towns and villages.  Florence called again and this time we found ourselves in a 15th Century converted farmhouse owned by a delightful young couple and only a ten-minute bus ride from Florence.  I have said before that Fiesole is one of my most favourite places in this wonderful world.  I waxed lyrical (?) about Fiesole when I stayed in Florence last year.

And this year we visited my favourite spots in Florence having somebody to share these things with at last.

We came home after our trip to Europe with the prospect of moving house looming.  We were still in the brother-in-law’s house but after a few days back here I organised the removal company to deliver the furniture.  What a huge job unpacking all that was.  Forty-six years of living in one house had my partner moving boxes and boxes and boxes of belongings.  My furniture and effects?  They were and are, still in storage.  Note to self –  make a decision about this..soon.

But now after three months, we are totally settled into our new abode.  My stuff is still in storage and by the way, talking of storage, the arsonist who set fire to the storage facility at the beginning of April has been charged and is currently being tried.  Would you believe he has pleaded Not Guilty even though there is CCTV coverage of him entering the facility complete with a petrol can?  Well, let’s see the outcome of this trial – what a waste of taxpayers’ money.

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Tie a Yellow Ribbon

The siren call of home has sounded and each day it is getting   louder.  It is now 10 weeks since I kissed my family and special friend goodbye at Wellington airport and set off on this adventure.  And what an adventure it has been.

Wellington August 2013 040

First I visited my sister in London and we did things that sisters would do if they saw each other on a regular basis.  We don’t but we make up for it when we do meet.  We visited family, and aged aunt with Alzheimer’s (although we discovered she is only a few years older than us), cousins, nieces and a special blogging buddy in Oxford.

Sisters

Originally our plans were to both go to Florence, hut these plans were dashed when my sister had to have a series of tests after suffering what was thought could be a heart attack.  She wasn’t allowed to fly so I went on my own.

I felt rather shaky on the day I left London.  I was going off alone to a country where I knew nobody and didn’t speak the language.  But what a great time I had there.  I found my way around very easily and quickly felt at home in this wonderful city.  Paris is described a the City of Light but for me now Florence will always have that soubriquet.

I discovered all the wonderful buildings and artwork that I had read about so many times in the past but I also discovered the back streets where lesser known wonders were housed.  I discovered the joys/benefits of living in an apartment in a suburb as opposed to living in a five-star hotel in the centre of town.  And there is a certain freedom in being somewhere where one is not known and one knows no-one.

I have waxed on and on about the wonders of this now my favourite city in earlier posts and so wont bore you here, but if you have missed them or if you are a new reader of this blog please click here to read of my adventures.

Il Duomo

Click the photo to read some of the posts on my visit to Florence

After almost three weeks the call of family and home was becoming stronger and so I left Florence and went back to London to decide on the next leg of this journey/adventure/experience.  The decision was made that I should return home and resume normal life albeit slightly differently because now my partner and I have decided we want to spend the rest of our lives together.  So another chapter in this long and colourful life is beginning.

Wellington city and harbour.

Wellington City and harbour. Via Wikipedia

Changes to the airline ticket have been made and I am now going home on Saturday 2 November – that’s only “four more sleeps” and I am getting excited about seeing family and friends again. Oh I shall miss my sister,the interaction, laughs,stories and jokes but it is time for normal service to be resumed.

China Southern Airlines

Because of the mix up on the way to London the airline has upgraded me to First Class travel home.  I another reason to be looking forward to Saturday.  I am looking forward to it.

So I will be off-line for a few days, but watch this space.

“Is it possible for home to be a person and
not a place?”
Stephanie Perkins,  American author

A Fright

The alley was so dark.  No lights showing anywhere and along both sides were dark shadows; unknown lumps perhaps of boxes, perhaps of people waiting to hurt her.  But she had to go down that street to gain access to her building.  There was no other way; no other choice.

Behind her she could hear the loud mouthed youths taunting her.  Telling her in crude words what they would do to her when they caught her.

So she ran.  This encouraged the youths.  They too ran, laughing and jeering.  She was out of breath and crying and one of her shoes came off as she ran.  But she knew she had to go down that alley to reach her building and the safety of her family.

Suddenly coming towards her she saw the light of a torch.  Her Father, being worried at the lateness of the hour, had come looking for her.  Never had she been so pleased to see him.  She ran to him crying and laughing at the same time.  He gently held her and they turned towards home.  At that moment she vowed that never again would she remonstrate with him about waiting up for her and scolding her for being late home.

And the youths?  As with all bullies they disappeared as soon as they saw an adult coming to rescue his daughter.

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Note – I have so enjoyed Janna T’s entries in the Trifecta challenge  that I thought I would try my hand at it.  This is my first attempt.

This week’s challenge is to write an entry between 33 and 333 words using the word alley defined as – ALLEY (noun):  a narrow street; especially : a thoroughfare through the middle of a block giving access to the rear of lots or buildings.

The complete guidelines for the challenge can be found by clicking  here .

Solitude, Silence, Simplicity, Sentiments and Saturday

“There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.”
Colette  1873 –1954, French author

Pebbles for Meditation

I read this post on Quiet from Misty at Rainy Day in May and it set me thinking about all the noisy years I have had in my life and now the quiet years.

The years when the children were growing up, going to school, after school activities, having friends over, learning to drive, arguing with each other, arguing with mother or father – these were noisy years.

During these noisy years, I often wished for some quiet time alone and as with all mothers, these were fleeting.  But mostly I loved being involved with the children and their activities.

Now the children have left home and started families of their own.  My post on April 1 ‘waxed lyrical’ about them. And the house is quiet without them.

Very occasionally, it is filled with noise of growing boys laughing and arguing with each other and one or both of their parents.  But when they leave, the house once again settles into silence.

And so now I am in the quiet years.  The time now that I am on my own, without anybody else to worry about, and I choose what I do with my time.  After all, my blog is titled “I choose how I will spend the rest of my life”.  This is my simple time.  A time when I can divest myself of all the extraneous junk, both physical and mental that I have been carrying around for ages.

So each day I can choose to

  • Read a book
  • Have coffee on my own or with a friend
  • Take Lotte, the Tibetan Spaniel for a walk
  • Make phone-calls
  • Watch TV
  • Write my blog
  • Read blogs written by others
  • Invite friends over for coffee or dinner
  • Go to the movies
  • Go to a concert

The solitude is at my choosing as is the silence.  The sentiments come and go because I find as I get older, I do become more sentimental. And today is Saturday and the sun is shining.

And I found this poem from Wang Wei a Tang Dynasty Chinese poet, musician, painter, and statesman. who lived 699-759 AD

In these quiet years growing calmer,
Lacking knowledge of the world’s affairs,
I stop worrying how things will turn out.
My quiet mind makes no subtle plans.
Returning to the woods I love
A pine-tree breeze rustles in my robes.
Mountain moonlight fills the lute’s bowl,
Shows up what learning I have left.
If you ask what makes us rich or poor
Hear the Fisherman’s voice float to shore.

To read more of his poems go to http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Chinese/AllwaterWangWei.htm.


Developing and Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude

Earlier this week I touched on the subject of gratitude.  I am so grateful for all that I have and all the experiences I have had in my life.  I am one of the lucky ones who married early and found the one person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, ill-health took my husband and left me to manage and navigate the rest of my life on my own.  But I am profoundly grateful that I found that one man.

I am grateful for my two adult children and their four strong sons; I am grateful for the support offered by my wonderful family and friends.  I could continue in this vein for pages but that would bore you.

So what I am now suggesting you do is get a piece of paper and write down all the things for which you are grateful.  Don’t forget to add the small things; we all have so many reasons to be grateful.

Here, to get you started is the beginning of a list

  • The warm and dry house that protects me from the elements
  • Wonderful friends
  • My caring and supportive family
  • Fresh water to drink
  • Ability to walk
  • Food to put on the table
  • The money in the bank
  • Living in a free country

Now you get the idea start compiling your own list.  Don’t be surprised if this runs to around a hundred things to be grateful for.

I also tell my family and my clients that you have a gratitude muscle that needs to be exercised just as the other muscles in your body.  Each day take a look at your list and add anything you remember to it. Then at the end of each day write a list of the five things for which you are most grateful.

And even if you have had a bad day, just persevere and you will find some things to be grateful for.