Blooms Require Water

Everybody always tells us military spouses to bloom where we are planted.  Not always so easy, but something I’ve actually tried to accomplish.  More success at some locations than others, but not half bad at the end of the day.


These plants and flowers are thriving in a tiny, unlikely space with less than optimal growth potential.  Pretty inspiring if you think about it.

So the ideas of planter boxes, flower beds, mixed blooming pots and cut flowers really speak to my heart.  It is as if those small blooms, wildly colored blooms and riotously growing plants are my friends, my neighbors, me.  They are showing out even when conditions are austere.

But all plants require water.  In the heat of summer, most require daily water.  Remember this as I tell the story.

Our parking is paid hourly 8 am to 8 pm.  So in the morning, it’s important to go down and pay the meter if Jerry isn’t taking the van to work.  He reminded me at 7:45 am this morning that he was biking to work. Great.  Thanks for that notice.

IMG_3338I throw my hair in a pony and put on a Margaritaville ball cap from our trip to Jamaica.  Never did make it to the shower and I’m still sporting that pony and cap as we head out to dinner. So Americano.

I digress.

Realizing I don’t have any Euro coins, I decide to walk to the cafe to buy a cornetto so I can bust up a 20€ bill. They give me “the look” for using a big bill for a 3€ total.  Whatever.  That’s also another blog story.  Grudgingly, they gave me the coin I needed and I started walking around the block to the van.

Remember that scene from Flashdance? (Do I need to insert a rating warning?)  The one where Alex has water dumped on her in the big dance finale?  At least she knew when she pulled the chain that the water was coming down.

However, I was unprepared for the water that dumped down on my head.  Turns out those pretty planter boxes that I love to photograph require daily watering.  And the sweet Italian nonnas don’t care who is walking below when they perform said watering.

Let’s just say that I really didn’t need a shower after that. But maybe it will help me bloom where I am planted. At least for today I received my watering.

Sorry.  No pictorial proof.  I was too busy hoofing it to pay the meter.


Actual scene of the crime.  Just past where this also unsuspecting man is walking. Beware the nonna!  Full disclosure.  Photo taken hours later.


Don’t Stop Believing

Friends, this small town girl sure felt like she was in a lonely world today.  But I never gave up hope.  I just held onto the lyrics of my song and believed the stains would come out.

ImageWe have to switch Airbnbs this weekend, so I wanted to get ahead of the laundry.  I was feeling good–proactive and on top of this mobile life we have right now.

I navigated down the narrow stairwell and out three security doors without dropping the laundry basket full of dirty clothes.  I landed a pole position spot at the laundromat.  I even remembered to get the detergent out without having to go back to the van to get it.

I was zoned in, folks!  Boss time.

Sorted those clothes out, had all my quarters in piles and started three loads.  I had enough for lights, darks and towels.

This is when disaster struck.

IMG_3332I was so focused on not touching his nasty, sweaty balled up PT clothes that I totally missed that my new pink Journey shirt was in the basket.  (My fellow Army wives give me a shout out because you know how smelly those clothes after they ferment for a day or two. ) The stink was strong and in a moment of weakness, I let that untested shirt go in the light load.

OK, machines are going and I’m off to walk to the PX food court to get some lunch and to cash a check at the cashier’s cage.  Why cash a check? Because my ATM card was already hacked and the replacement hasn’t arrived and I need money to buy Bocelli tickets for the concert in Verona.  That’s a whole other blog.  Wait for it.

Cash in hand. I’m feeling great about going with a new friend to buy the tickets.  I’m hardly aware as I open the lid to the machine with the light load.


IMG_3320My white pants were pink.  His favorite shirt had splotchy pink stains on it.  Our underwear was closer to red.

Now keep in mind,  I’ve maybe let this happen twice in 25 years of marriage.  But not long before we left Maryland Jerry ruined a new shirt of mine.  In hindsight, after today’s disaster, I realize I may have been harsh with him.  I pretty much lost it.  It was expensive and I loved it and he ruined it.  So, I immediately realize I’ve showed him my underbelly and I’m defenseless.  He’ll be able to hold this over my head for the next 25 years. Le sigh.

I quickly text my friend that I have to stay and try to get this out.  I run to the PX and buy all the Oxi-clean, Clorox and Shout they have on the shelf.  Whew, man, that was expensive.

IMG_3319With a prayer and another stack of quarters, I start the wash load on cold. I cross my fingers.  I say a prayer.  I start negotiating with God.  I promise to never get mad at Jerry again over the laundry.   Never, ever.  Basic stuff from my Laundry Negotiations 101 HomeEc class.

I won’t make you journey with me from load one to load two and finally to load three.  But I never gave up.  I believed I would leave that laundromat with white pants and I did!

Small town girls still know how to get out of a jam.





Ice Ice, Baby

I didn’t really care for ice when I was a kid. I actually preferred drinks with no ice. I could drink a room temp soda or sweet tea with no problems. I’ve even been known to drink down the last swigs of a hot Dr. Pepper in the summer.  Don’t hold that against me!

Dr_Pepper_bottle.jpgWhen I was in high school, I was like every other VIP in the Class of 1990–I could do a great Vanilla Ice rendition of Ice Ice, Baby.   But I still didn’t actually prefer ice.  It was just easier to take it or leave it.

As I got (way) older and started having hot flashes, ice became a bit higher priority. I used it to strategically drop an ice cube in my blouse and cool down.  I value holding that cool glass on my forehead more and sticking my head in the freezer has happened a time or two.  I even keep an ice pack in the freezer for emergency hot flash moments.

What’s missing in Italy? Really, across Europe in general? Ice.  So far about half the drinks are served chilled, but our water and sodas are often brought to the table at room temperature.  OK, maybe this is acceptable at dinner when the sun has set and the ambient temp has dropped 15 degrees.  But at 1 pm with lunch after walking 2.5 miles to post in the host sun?  Nah, I’m gonna need me some ice, per favore.

I was so thrilled the other night to have my Coke Zero served with a glass of ice.  I savored every sip of that tiny little can while also being grateful for the classic Zero formula vs the new Zero Sugar.  I’m wondering if this ice service was because we were in a lake area with many German tourists? Doubtful as ice was scarce on our previous visits across Germany.

7b4e223c-049d-4bfd-ab47-459ea044a2ec1.jpgBut, more food for thought crossed my mind tonight.  We tried a new restaurant that had an excellent white house wine.  There is an unoaked Chardonnay served in Italy that is amazing.  I’ve always avoided California Chardonnay because I don’t like the oak flavor.  However, the Chardonnay they serve here is light, crisp and perfect for hot evenings.

Looking across the table at Jerry’s Coca Cola Light (also a different syrup formula than you get stateside with Diet Coke), our acqua naturale carafe and my glass of house wine, I was truck by the inequity and reversal of costs.  The Coke was €4 for the grande size with no refills.  The water was €3 for a 1/4 liter.  And my single, well poured glass of house wine was €2.

Have you ever lived somewhere where drinking wine was cheaper than drinking water?  Here’s a little secret…I’ve cut way back on Coke Zero since we moved here.

I wonder why?




My Secret Garden

“…be still with me in bella Italia. This is the essence of dolce vita.”

So there I was coming down the interior stairwell in a large apartment building. As I stepped onto the 2nd floor landing, I heard beautiful music wafting in from an open stained glass door in the foyer. I was confused why there was a door and assumed it was a balcony. Curious about the music, I stepped around to look out and saw this enchanting secret garden.

It is hard to define perfection. At 4 p.m. there was a heavy, indolent feel to the hot sun as it refused to give up its grasp on the longest day of the year. Yet, the shade of the old olive tree and vines cooled the space by several degrees. I could hear crickets and birds dueling for notice above the piano serenade next door. The grass needed tending, but offered a casual backdrop for the empty pots, and broken lawnmower.

I heard the gnome say, “Don’t think about the grass and weeds. Unfold the chair and sit in the shade with me. Count the hydrangea blooms. Watch the butterflies and bees. Savor the solstice and be still with me in bella Italia. This is the essence of dolce vita.”

It moved me to tears. 

#day13 #1017daysinitaly 

Are you here for the Polish pottery?

I’m a good Army wife. I love Polish pottery. Do I need any? Absolutely not. Do I need any before I even move in the house? An even bigger no. Did Jerry’s head explode when he heard about this excursion? Of course! So there I am scrolling through trying to figure out what’s going on in this new place and one of the ladies in the Facebook group here posts that Lucas, the ex-pat who gives cooking lessons, also apparently goes to Poland every now and then and buys pottery and brings it back to sell. Game on. Does it matter that all I have is an address? No. I naturally assume he has a storefront. After all I have an address on one of the main roads in downtown Vicenza.


The store with the pink in the window is where I thought I would find Polish pottery.

When I get there, I quickly discovered that there is no storefront. There’s just an open courtyard and a big apartment building. Now in the States I would’ve been very leery about punching a button and going up to some strange man’s apartment even if it was just to look at Polish pottery. I take a chance here. After I finally figure out which bell to ring, I am buzzed in.

I still don’t know actually what apartment to go to but I head up the stairwell. Down comes a lanky young blonde kid, not the ex-pat I expected. He says to me, “Are you here for the Polish pottery?” Yes, yes I am. Never mind that in my head it sounded like he said, “Are you here for some drugs?”

Anyway, I’m escorted into a lovely little apartment with tables stacked with Polish pottery—it’s stacked under the tables, it’s stacked on shelves by the window. It is everywhere. I succumb to temptation and buy a small jar (or two) to keep my balsalmic vinegar.


Aren’t the colors gorgeous on the platter and jar?

The young gentleman and I chat as well as we can given the language thing. I get out my cash and prepare to slip it to him when no one is looking. Just kidding. I hand it to him over the table and he writes me a very official looking receipt in case it gets broken and I need to file a claim. I say my goodbyes and leave.

I just want credit that in less than 14 days I found Polish pottery in Italy. Who is going with me to Poland for the big haul? 

#day13 #1017daysinitaly

Living a Buzzed Life

Not that kind of buzzed!  The kind that starts with an annoying “bzzzz” near your ear.  You swat it away and there is silence for a few seconds, maybe a whole minute goes by and you think you’ve dodged a bullet. Then you hear it again, but by the other ear, or overhead or from areas near your exposed ankles. Swat!

This cycle has viciously played out many times since I arrived in Italy. I’ve used more DEET than in my whole life combined and they won’t leave me alone. The bites make a vicious welt, too. I seem to attract them more than Jerry does. Naturale!  I’m just sweeter than he is.

But all this begs the question, how in the world do Italians live here without window screens? They must have an anti-mosquito gene that makes their blood taste bad.  Plus, I would never be able to sleep with the mosquitoes bzzzzzing around like vampires.  Having window screens is a number one requirement for our house and access to lots of citronella.

It’s true that I stole the photo from another friend, but it is also truly indicative of the size of the mosquitoes here in Italy. I didn’t think you wanted to see smushed mosquito pics. But I think their size must make them slower than the domestic mosquitoes in the US. Here I routinely catch them in my hand and kill them. Dead mosquitoes are good mosquitoes is my motto. Perhaps their size does slow them down. Either way, it is only #day12 and I am already over them.