Saturday, January 31, 2004



We’re home. Finally. I had no idea how long six weeks could be. Yes, we had a wonderful time in the states. We spent lots of time with our kids, grandkids and friends. We visited four states, and I got to ride the Spiderman ride at Universal Studios. But, as Dorothy said, there’s no place like home.

I will summarize our trip as best I can, but those of you who know me will realize that this may be a long report. Grab some popcorn and settle in, it’s story time.

We arrived in Louisville on December 14, tired, but happy to see familiar faces. The weather was cold…about 15 degrees or so, if I remember correctly. We were as happy to see our grandson Nicholas as he was to see us. We quickly settled into the guest room at my daughter Angela’s house, and slept like logs.

The next morning we took my car, which had been waiting at Angela’s for us, and went to borrow my sister’s old car so that we could each have a set of wheels. After three months without driving, I was free at last! After a stop at Target, where we spent a quick $400, we headed our separate ways, then met for dinner at Angela's. We ate dinner with Angela, Duffy and Nicholas for about the first week…partly to spend time with them (especially Nicholas), but also to recover from jet lag. After that first week, we were either out of town, meeting with friends for dinner or catching up on our movies. Because of this schedule, we managed to stay in good graces with our hosts, or at least I hope we did.

I stopped by the Hikes Point station one morning to visit with former co-workers, and subsequently discovered that I might be related very, very distantly to one of the carriers there! We plan to compare genealogical notes in the near future via email.
I also visited with former coworkers at St Matthews, and took Donna from Iroquois to a celebratory lunch since our birthdays are within days of each other. Art basked in the glow of warmth generated by his former co-workers. They were all so glad to see him, and made him feel so welcome and so missed…it was definitely one of the high points of his trip home, in fact, he liked it so much, he stopped by several more times.

I had a follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon, Dr Fox, who told me that everything looked fine and normal. Although I hadn’t had any problems or concerns, it’s always good to have the “official” confirmation! A few weeks later I did call to ask about the incision on the back of my head…the left side has been the slowest to heal, and is still quite bumpy. One day it just got a lot bumpier and began to ooze…not a lot, and nothing worrisome, but still…. Dr Fox said there were some undissolved stitches there, and said that everything would settle down by my next visit in May.
Art had follow-up visits with his back doctors, Raque and Glassman. It was just one year ago that he had his third back surgery, this one a fusion to try to ease the pain in his legs caused by a pinched nerve. Although this surgery was slightly more successful than the previous two, he still has shooting pains in his legs and sometimes can’t walk or stand for long periods. We each had a few more routine checkups, and will do the rest in May. We hope to enter the Italian healthcare system as soon as possible. Since we still have our BC/BS, and since it will cover us overseas, this is a good time to test the Italian system, knowing that we have a backup!

While we were in Louisville, we caught up on some movies, although we didn’t see as many as we would have liked. We bought the first two “Lord of the Rings” movies on DVD, and re-watched the first one. We never got to watch the second one at home, so we didn’t get to see the final installment in the theater. We did see “Runaway Jury”, “Cold Mountain”, which we loved, and “Big Fish” which was AMAZING!!!! We also saw “Under the Tuscan Sun”, only because we thought (hoped) it would have lots of beautiful scenery. I guess the movie was okay, unless of course you had read the book…the only things the book and the movie had in common were that a woman named Frances bought a house in Italy. And there was way too little scenery! That was a wasted afternoon! I had wanted to see “The Last Samurai” but it got such mediocre reviews that I decided to skip it. My sister took me to see “Calendar Girls” for my birthday, and it was cute…”The Full Monty” with women.

The Christmas holidays were a bit strange this year without my Mom. Traditionally all the grandkids went to her house to make Christmas cookies a week or two before Christmas, and we wanted to keep the tradition going. It began when Angela was two years old, and now that she’s thirty four, it’s been an important part of our
Christmas for a long, long time. Although not everyone could make it, we did make cookies, and now Terri and I are the Grandmas. Next year, when Terri has completed her move to Mom’s house, we’ll move cookie backing back there, where it just “belongs”. Christmas day was held at Angela's house, and everyone pitched in to make it a good day despite the sadness. Art and I got some much needed items for our home in Italy….a one gallon pitcher for iced tea, two American style calendars, one with pictures of Italy the “365 days in…” series, which I love, and also a calendar with pictures of Kentucky.

For my birthday we went to dinner at our usual place, Ferd Grisanti’s. Although nothing can compare to Italian food in Italy, everyone at Ferd’s is so nice to us…they all know our story, and are anxious to hear about our life in Italy.

On New Year’s Eve we flew to North Carolina to visit with my son Frank, his wife Shannon and our adorable two year old granddaughter, Siobhan. Since New Year’s Eve is the anniversary of Frank and Shannon’s engagement, they decided to spend a few days alone, leaving Siobhan with us for two wonderful days! I know no one wants to hear about how smart she is, but too bad, this is my blog, and I’m going to tell you that yes, she IS the smartest, cutest little girl in the whole world. She is being raised bilingually, and speaks as much Spanish as English. Any time I had a problem, like not knowing where her snacks were, she was able to help me out. The things she knew amazed us…all her colors (in both languages, of course), ABC’s, oh, and shapes! For her birthday she got one of those square boxes that has cut out shapes…this is a more advanced one than the basic Tupperware model, so we were all having a hard time with it…except for Siobhan! She just grabbed and put the blocks right where they went. I wasn’t too surprised when she knew “triangle”, but when she knew “oval”, that really impressed me! We also went to the park several times, and watched her favorite movie of the moment, “Mary Poppins”, over and over again.

On Saturday we had a party for her second birthday. Two other little girls and their parents came over, and the hit of the party was the gift from Shannon’s parents and sister…a wooden chest full of dress up clothes, jewelry, shoes, hats, purses, even a feather boa. She had been practicing signing “Happy Birthday” all week, first to me, then in preparation for her own. I took a zillion pictures, and managed to get a few good shots. When you’re trying to photograph a moving target, it’s not always easy!

Well, I just found out that it’s Friday. I thought it was only Thursday, and at this rate, I’ll finish my trip summary around the time we return to the U.S in the spring! So, since this blog is set up primarily for me and Art to read in our old age, I’m going to start posting this in bits and pieces. I know this will make it more difficult to read unless you check every day, but wait, maybe not…since I probably won’t be posting every day! So for now, this is the beginning. More to follow.