Sunday, August 13, 2006


Thanks to everyone who posted encouraging comments and to those who called or emailed. Yes, I am a worrier, but the things I worry about are very real. I’m not worrying about things I can’t do anything about, like world hunger or the disappearance of the Amazon rain forests. The things I worry about hit a lot closer to home, and in my opinion, are things that NEED to be worried about.

I NEED to know what my fixed costs are every month, because most of those expenses are in euro. If I need €1000 per month, for example, it will cost me $1,280 with the current exchange rate, but last March it only cost me $1,180. So yes, there’s a very real danger that my dollars won’t stretch to cover my euros. And if that continues month after month, pretty soon we’re living on credit cards again and I’ll freak out even more.

I realize that there are probably thousands of people who carry credit card debt, some probably in amounts that I can’t even imagine. For me, the idea of paying interest is just too painful….what a waste! I don’t mind scrimping and saving to get what I want, and I don’t mind waiting for what I want. Unfortunately the situation here is a bit beyond that.

At the current rate of exchange we don’t have enough money for even the basic, fixed expenses, let alone any extras. When I buy bags of mulch, potting soil and my fruit and vegetable plants in the spring, those are all “extra” expenses, not included in the budget, meaning that I would be in the hole for those expenses in ADDTION to the shortage created by the weak dollar.

When we bought the umbrella for the patio, that was definitely a big splurge. Same for the freezer, even though we hope that it will help us to save money. We’ve given up our dream of European travel, which was one of the most exciting benefits of living in Italy, at least for us. Our primary source of entertainment is entertaining friends for lunch or dinner, and we don’t even do that more than once, maybe twice, a month.

Of course Art says we’ll make it, and much as I love him, he’s an optimist. Fortunately for us he does seem to have some sort of guardian angel who looks out for him. I, on the other hand, don’t think I have a guardian angel. Maybe I did at one time…maybe the angel just gave up on me as a lost cause, but I sure never feel the reassuring presence of a guardian angel. Maybe pessimists don’t get one.

Anyway, we try to not wish too hard for Art to be 62 (so he can apply for his social security benefits) because that seems like wishing your life away. I even have days when I think “Oh what the hell, who cares if I still owe on the credit cards!”, but granted, those days don’t come very often.

If anyone is interested in hiring us to show them around our part of Umbria we’d be more than happy to accept. On occasion we’ve rented out our guest room, but that’s a fairly rare occurrence. We hope to be working with our friends Giacomo and Belinda soon on projects they have planned, but for now, things are tight…too tight for me.

I guess in the end all I really needed was to vent. I certainly can’t change the exchange rate, and my stubborn streak won’t let me leave Italy until the last possible moment. For now, that moment is still a long way off….at least as long as we have enough credit cards! Do you think I could put a little PayPal logo on the blog for people to make donations?


At 8/13/2006 01:56:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've an awfully clever wit and gift with the cyber-pen. Have you ever thought about shopping your story to some publishers?
It sure would keep you busy(er)!


At 8/14/2006 06:16:00 AM , Anonymous bardigiana said...

Dear Barb, welcome to my world. Got here 3 weeks after 9/11 and a year before the euro. Thaank God I got my furniture while it was still the lira! My major travel dreams have gone down the pike too, those slow meanderings, stopping here and there, staying in some town I liked, just for the fun of it..zilch.

Try to go someplace different at least once a year for the kid, so his whole European experience isn't this one town. But even those have been hectic 3 day whirlwinds with more get there, than be there is demoralizing.

So I guess I had a need for a mutual vent to commiserate!!

Now my car is reaching it's used shelf life, my kid in the states is in crisis(nothing new there)but it would be nice to just buzz over for some moral support...
and so it goes...

But there must be some options like Allisa said, or maybe making a deal with the local real estate agents to translate and give relocation advise for English speakers or like you said, offering to guide, maybe hook up with some B&B people as a service they can include for their customers, just a matter of printing up some bus. cards and a little computer brochure of excursions.

There are options, just depends on how much effort you want to put out.

How many more years til Bush is gone?? Should get better after that! So hang in there!

If you ever want to come to the Veneto, I'll put the kid on the couch to make room, but you're always welcome!


At 8/14/2006 04:10:00 PM , Anonymous Annie M said...

Barb ... don't some bloggers make money off their sites by having some advertising revenues? I have no idea how that works but could that be an option for you?

I'm sorry to read about the $$$ troubles but you and Art are so strong and smart, I'm sure you'll both find a way to make it all work!


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