Tuesday, November 16, 2004


NOVEMBER 11, 2004

Larry and Jill came for dinner last night. They’re retuning to the states later this month and return to Italy on the day we’re scheduled to leave for the states. Since we won’t be back until the end of January, we needed to meet with Larry and Jill so that they could borrow some of our DVDs.

Because it gets dark at 5 o’clock in the winter, and since the nights are not only long, but also cold and rainy, cuddling up on the couch and watching a movie is an ideal past time. Although Jill and Larry don’t have a DVD player, they do have a computer, so they’ll be able to watch some movies on that. Not an ideal situation but it’s something.

Since we’re over an hour apart, we invited them to spend the night…after all, none of us have to be any place at any time, so why not? Although Laurie had slept on our guest bed, we’d never had a couple spend the night, and no one had ever slept on the pull-out section, or tried the side-by-side set up we worked so hard to make.

I think Jill and Larry have had about enough pasta to last a lifetime. As with everything else, when you have something night after night after night, eventually it gets old. We thought a good old fashioned American style Barbeques would be a nice change. Originally Art intended to use the barbeque one last time, and we planned to barbeque ribs and chicken. When the weather turned cold and rainy, we decided to try grilling on the fireplace in the kitchen.

I’m still experimenting with barbeque sauce recipes, and still haven’t found the perfect one. This one used ketchup, brown sugar, and honey. I added a bit of prepared mustard along with the other spices, and at first I thought it was the perfect sauce, but once the flavors had fully blended, I had second thoughts. The search continues.

I also made mayonnaise potato salad and oriental cole slaw. For dessert I couldn’t decide between apple pie and a new recipe for derby pie. Our friend Jack Roby has written a cookbook called “I’m For Easy!”, and he had a great recipe for “Racetrack Pie”…since the name Derby Pie is trademarked. For those of you who don’t know, Derby pie was invented in Louisville, and named for the Kentucky Derby, of course. It’s basically a pecan pie with chocolate chips, and Jack’s recipe called for some bourbon…perfect!

I was worried because the only bourbon I had was 80 proof, not 100 proof, but after I tasted the pie, I decided that 100 proof might have been too overwhelming. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

We should have started the fire earlier than we did, since we needed to make lots of hot coals to grill with. I did pre-cook the ribs and the chicken so that they wouldn’t take quiet as long on the grill, but it still took what seemed like forever.

As I had feared, the chicken was extremely tough…for some reason I have good luck with chicken from the IperCoop, but terrible luck with chicken from the Coop in Marsciano. Luckily we had plenty of ribs, and they were pretty good. It’s difficult to buy meat here, because not only do we not know the Italian names for the various cuts, but the meat is actually cut differently. The pork ribs we’ve found here aren’t quite what we’re used to, and forget about baby back ribs, but we’ve managed to make do.

After dinner we were all so stuffed that we had to wait a while for dessert. Both the pies turned out great, and even though I’m a chocolate lover, I’d be hard pressed to choose which one was my favorite. The apple pie with crumb topping was a recipe of my mom’s, so as with everything she made, it was delicious. And a big thanks to Jack for my new recipe for “Racetrack Pie”.

After dinner Jill and Larry taught us how to play a new card game. Since we’re not card players at all, it was something of a challenge, but we eventually caught on. We played cards will into the night, then set up the bed for Jill and Larry.

The next morning they told us that the beds were comfortable, even Larry’s. I hope they weren’t just being polite!

Jill went through our DVDs and found a few she thought they would like, and we all watched “the Concert For George”…one of our favorites, as you might already know. They headed back to Montanare just before noon, and we gave them plenty of potato salad, cole slaw and pie, supposedly for dinner. They said they weren’t hungry and didn’t want to stay for lunch. About an hour later we received a phone call saying that they had raided the food and eaten it with their hands on the drive home! I hope they’re not mad when they read this…although in all honesty I have to admit that Art and I would have done the same thing!

Once Larry and Jill return in December, they’ll only be here until the end of February or early March…then they’ll go back to the states for good. They’re both just barely 40 and still have a few more years to work before they can retire. If the dollar continues to be as weak as it is now, they’ll never be able to move here permanently. Of course, if the dollar continues to be this weak, we’ll be able to see Larry and Jill in the states, since we’ll be forced to move back.

I don’t want to sound whiny here, but this situation has got me scared shitless. We don’t talk about it much, but I know that Art worries just as much as I do…there’s just not much point talking about it. For a long time we thought that once my sister sold her house and my mom’s estate closed, we’d be okay. We’ve accumulated a bunch of debts…things we thought we’d have the money for a long time ago. With the weak dollar situation, it’s beginning to look as if the debt situation isn’t our biggest problem. Eventually (and how long have we been saying THAT?) my sister will sell her house, and we’ll be able to pay off the debts we have, but if we continue to lose 30% (or more) of our money every single month, we honestly don’t know if we can make it.
Since I tend to be the negative one, I’m trying not to panic. If we can make it through this next year, I think we could make it, but…..

So…am I sorry we made this move? Does Art regret it? The answer is NO to both questions. When we received negative feedback from some of our friends, family and acquaintances about our impending move, our response was that if it didn’t work out, we could always move back to the states. That options still remains. Maybe one day we’ll decide to move back because of health issues, or because we’ve “been there, done that”, or because the dollar has become too weak to support us…who knows when or if any of this will happen?

We tried to do our homework…we read and researched. We searched the internet and made many contacts through the SlowTalk message board. Many of these people are expats who had been through similar moves…faced similar problems, made mistakes and learned from them. Art’s boss told him about friends of his who had been forced to move from Germany when the mark became outrageously expensive. He warned us that this could happen to us, and of course, this was and is true.

But what should we have done? Not followed our dream? Waited until the time was right? How can one ever know when the time is right? Or what would change tomorrow? For me it’s sort of like planning to have a child…what a scary thing! To know that your life will be forever changed, but to be unable to ever imagine in how many ways! To take a chance on bringing a new life into this world, and hope your child is healthy and happy, but have no guarantees that even if you do everything right that things will be okay.

For us, moving to Italy was the start of a new life, almost like having a baby.
We choose to take the leap, to do our best, and to trust in God. Although we feel like God must not be reading the financial page these days, we’re not giving up yet. Who said “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger”?

Whatever happens, we’ll survive. We’ll be together, and we will have had a life in Italy, regardless of its length. No one will ever be able to take away the wonderful times we’ve had here…the friends, the food, the scenery, the history. Life is an amazing adventure, but you have to participate, to take a chance, and we have! No regrets!


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