Less than 2 days and counting…A little fear…A lot of excitement…


Everything I own, except six pairs of shoes in a smaller bag, to be sucked into the Space bags.
A pile of clothes I’m offering to Lisa, owner of the house.  If they don’t fit or she doesn’t want them, perhaps she’ll give them to someone else.  It no longer bothers me to get rid of my stuff.  Bye, stuff!

A flutter of excitement began to waft over me this morning, as I ran from room to room, gathering, sorting, and planning. We’re on the move. In less than two days we’ll be out the door on three travel days to Africa, in itself a daunting task.

As a young girl I dreamed of Africa and now as a grown woman in my “golden years” I finally have the opportunity to fulfill that dream. Yes, it is wrought with some degree of fear. It’s all a part of the excitement.

Without a doubt, the flies will be chasing me longing for a morsel of my flesh, the mosquitos will be dining on our blood and, a wide array of dangerous and not-so-dangerous insects at times will run past our feet or across the bed at night. I read somewhere to pull down the sheets at night to inspect the bottom sheet for crawling things before climbing into bed. I’ve done that every night here in Tuscany.

The heat will be unbearable (we’ll be in Africa during their spring and summer), especially with no air conditioning, the dripping humidity, and rampant storms at times unpredictable.

We have no delusions. We go with our eyes wide open. In reality, living in the bug-infested, hot, humid mountains of Tuscany without air conditioning, without screens, and without overhead fans in the midst of summer was good practice. Adapting with modifications. Coins hanging in plastic bags over doorways. A floor fan. Keeping doors closed when a flying thing is buzzing inside. We figured it out.

For now, our thoughts center around safely arriving at our new home in Diani Beach, Kenya, where the hardships may or may not be considerably less than when three months later we head to Marloth Park, Kruger Park, South Africa, far from civilization, among the wildlife we so much anticipate.

We’re no worse for the wear. In our old lives, we turned on the AC in late May, never turning it off until September.  We rationalized it as hay fever prevention, mosquito reduction, and better for health, to be comfortable, to be cool.   

Little did we realize how willing, we both were for a change! Sure, we whined, mostly here to our readers, but less to one another, determined to maintain an air of acceptance and contentment between us. It’s worked.

In only a few days, we’ll have a four-hour layover between flights in Istanbul, Turkey, next door to Syria. Watching the news by the hour, we’re hopeful, if there is US involvement, it will wait until we safely reach our new home in Kenya. 

A few days ago, when Tom mentioned that our flight path from Istanbul will be in the flight path of military planes and missiles, making their way to intervene, I immediately brought up Google Maps to see the proximity to Istanbul, cringing at the result.

It was only three months ago that we were concerned about going out and about in Istanbul, ending up safely taking an excursion to Ephesus to see the ruins.  And now, once again we feel a bit of angst heading onto a four-hour layover and subsequent six-hour flight that passes through Turkey, so close to the war zone.

Trying to put such thoughts out of our minds is not possible. It helps to keep us on our toes, staying observant for possible risks, holding close our belongings, hanging close together, checking most of our bags. Once we’re settled, we’ll be at ease.

The packing continues, bit by bit.  My piles of clothing are neatly arranged, the vitamins packed out of sight, and nothing that would raise inquiry is in our carry on bags. Tom will pack today. Learning lessons from past experiences, we travel lighter, with no items drawing any attention to us in any way.  How we’ve learned! 

Thanks to Lisa and Luca, a very special couple, who’ve worked so hard to ensure our stay in their 300-year-old stone house a memorable experience who both focused on making our comfort and convenience their utmost concern.

Sunday morning, September 1st,  we’ll leave early for the half-day drive to Venice.  Once we arrive, we’ll post our arrival and any photos we’ve managed to take along the way. 

Monday morning, September 2nd, we’ll board the plane for the first of three flights to Kenya, arriving at 3:00 am on Tuesday. You won’t hear from us again, other than Sunday from Venice, until after we’re settled at our new home, late in the day on Tuesday. Most likely we’ll try to sleep for a few hours upon arrival. 

The time difference from Kenya to Minnesota, USA is eight hours, to Los Angeles, ten hours, to Boston, seven hours. 

Thus, we’ll be back on Sunday, in your inbox, or available by our link before midday.  See you then!

P.S.  Tom watched the Viking game this morning at 7:00 am. Now, the commercials are back in with the black screen during the time slot. The last box of the prescriptions did not arrive and we’ll notify the online pharmacy later today. We were able to keep the rental car for the duration. Santina is here as I write this, for the last time. It will be sad to say goodbye to this lovely woman. We agreed upon a generous, well-deserved tip.  Grazie, Santina!

Pizza and nuts…Lots of nuts…

With enough ingredients remaining in our food supply before we leave Italy on Sunday, it was time once again to make pizza, one large pizza for each of us hopefully lasting a few days. 

It may seem that we have pizza quite often, when actually we make it once every three weeks or so, probably not more often than those that have a menu consisting partly of carry-out meals.

For us, it’s always a treat. Tom now confesses that our cheese crust pizza tastes better than any pizza he’s had in any restaurant, including a few here in Italy. 

Often, we’ve received email requests for our recipes, but with the fact that everyone has preferences for their own toppings, we emphasize that our pizzas are made of a gluten-free, low carb, grain-free, sugar-free crust along with a sugar-free marinara sauce along with low carb toppings of choice:  cheese, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, pepperoni, shrimp, ham, non-starchy vegetables and more. 

My formerly all-time favorite pizza was Domino’s Hawaiian which was only a once or twice a year treat. The sweet pineapple has been off of my “approved” list at allowed foods for over two years. Other equally delicious options have replaced it. Tonight my pizza crust is made with cauliflower, cheese, and egg. With a few cups of fresh cauliflower remaining in the fridge, this was a perfect and healthy way to use it.

Jess’ Low Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust:
Mix 2 cups cooked cauliflower, chopped into small bits with 1 cup grated cheese (any type of hard cheese), and 1 egg in a bowl.  Pour this mixture onto a parchment-lined pizza pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375F degrees.  Remove from oven and cool.  Top with low carb marinara sauce and low carb preferred toppings, finishing off with grated cheeses.

Jess’s Toppings:  marinara sauce, bacon, shrimp, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmesan cheese

Tom’s Low Carb Pizza Crust:
Mix 2 cups grated cheese (any type of hard cheese) and 1 egg in a bowl.  Pour this mixture onto a parchment-lined pizza pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375F degrees.  Remove from oven and cool. Top with low carb marinara sauce, adding low carb preferred toppings, finishing off with grated cheeses.

Tom’s toppings:  marinara sauce, pre-cooked Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, olives, fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmesan cheese

In the US, there are several marinara sauces with our recommended “less than 6-grams carbohydrates” per half cups, which usually means no sugar. In Italy, we’ve been able to purchase sauce with 3 grams per half-cup. 

Carefully read the label to determine if sugar is included.  In Minnesota, we used Rao’s Marinara Sauce, but it was pricey at US $8.95 per jar. However, each large pizza only uses a half cup.  One large jar will make 3 or 4 pizzas. There are many other options without sugar. Who needs sugar in a pizza?

For those NOT on a low carb way of eating, our pizza is very high in fat and calories (if you count calories. We don’t count anything). Since our diet is a high fat, low carb way of eating we don’t worry about consuming fat. Consuming sugary, starchy, grain-related carbs results in raising insulin levels which results in fat gain. It’s not due to the consumption of fat.  

This scientific fact is outlined in this website, one of literally hundreds of medically based sites supporting the low carb, high-fat concept. Science is finally discovering that it is not the fat we eat that makes us fat. Its the combination of carbohydrates and fat. Eating low carb foods and fat results in weight loss, or in my case, weight management.

To simplify the science, it goes like this, a quote from the above link:

“Excessive amounts of carbohydrates (especially refined carbs/sugar) increases insulin and results in fat gain.”

Also, this way of eating has been highly instrumental in improving our health, in enormous ways, as described in many other posts on this site. I don’t need to lose weight. Thus, I must eat larger portions of what I do eat to ensure that I don’t.  In itself, that’s a challenge but certainly, one that I readily enjoy. 

For Tom, who struggles with a propensity to eat “junk food,” this way of eating has been a lifesaver. When he strictly follows our way of eating (minus sugary high carb snacks) he easily loses or maintains his weight hunger-free. Having quit smoking almost a year ago, he weighs considerably less now than when he was smoking. 

For those considering quitting smoking, adopting a low carb diet at the same time is a sure-fire way to avoid gaining the typical 30 pounds. We’re talking about saving lives here, not a fad diet so one can “look good” and fit into small sizes!

Much to our delight, we can eat nuts, the perfect evening snack. We enjoy low carb nuts, even peanuts in the shell (which are a legume, not a nut). Arriving in Italy months ago at that time I’d been eating cheese for dessert. Without preservatives in cheeses in Italy, it spoiled within days of purchase becoming impossible to keep fresh with our bi-monthly grocery trips. Thus, we switched to nuts, readily available at the grocer. At the bottom of today’s post is a chart with the nutritional content of nuts.

If you take the time to read a profound scientific book written by Gary Taubes, “Why We Get Fat,” available everywhere, it explains the science of low carb and how the world has become obsessed with eating high carbohydrate foods, increasing the obesity rates and diabetes to outrageous proportions. 

A vital factor regarding eating low carb is to commit to it. Your body will only begin to burn fat stores in a totally low carb environment.  It’s not a “mix and match” environment. 

(In no manner am I attempting to provide medical advice nor am I claiming to be a medical professional of any type. Please refer to scientific studies readily available at many university websites and by medical professionals worldwide. I’ve spent well over a year researching this topic).  

If you have trouble finding information, feel free to contact me by posting a comment at the end of today’s or any other day’s post and I will post a list enabling you to do your own research.

Tonight, the amazing smell of our pizzas baking will be wafting through the air.  Add a lofty side salad or plate of coleslaw and a fabulous dinner is to be had.  For dessert tonight? Nuts, nuts, and more nuts as we’ll watch Iron Man 2!

Here’s the chart of the nutritional content in nuts. Refer to the “net carb” since fiber apparently reduces the absorption of the carbs (not proven as yet but being researched on the horizon):

Carbohydrates and Fats in Nuts and Seeds (1 Ounce Unshelled)

Cal Tot. Carb Fiber Net Carb Sat. Fat Mono Fat ω-3 Fat ω-6 Fat
Almonds 161 6.1 3.4 2.7 1 8.6 0.2 3.4
Brazil Nuts 184 3.4 2.1 1.3 4.2 6.9 0.05 5.8
Cashews 155 9.2 0.9 8.1 2.2 6.7 0.2 2.2
Chestnuts 60 12.8 2.3 10.5 0.1 0.2 0.03 0.22
Chia Seeds 137 12.3 10.6 1.7 0.9 0.6 4.9 1.6
Coconut* 185 6.6 4.6 2 16 0.8 0 0.2
Flax Seeds 150 8.1 7.6 .5 1 2.1 6.3 1.7
Hazelnuts 176 4.7 2.7 2 1.3 12.8 0.24 2.2
Macadamia Nuts 201 4 2.4 1.6 3.4 16.5 0.06 .36
Peanuts 159 4.5 2.4 2.1 1.9 6.8 0 4.4
Pecans 193 3.9 2.7 1.2 1.7 11.4 0.28 5.8
Pine Nuts 188 3.7 1 2.7 1.4 5.3 0.31 9.4
Pistachios 156 7.8 2.9 5.8 1.5 6.5 0.71 3.7
Pumpkin Seeds 151 5 1.1 3.9 2.4 4 0.51 5.8
Sesame Seeds 160 6.6 3.3 3.3 1.9 5.3 0.11 6
Sunflower Seeds 164 5.6 2.4 3.2 1.2 5.2 0.21 6.5
Walnuts 183 3.8 1.9 1.9 1.7 2.5 2.5 10.7

Getting our ducks in a row…

Each day its cooler than the prior day.  More of these puffy clouds surrounded us yesterday morning. With the cool weather, we kept the windows closed all day.  The laundry on the drying rack required the entire day to dry.  It appears Tuscany’s days of hot weather are over.

The packing has begun. I’ve decided to use one of the unused guest rooms to lay out all of my clothing in neat piles, setting aside clothing for the one-day road trip to Venice and another set for the 17-hour flight.

Comfort is key in both cases including the half-day car ride to Venice. Dark clothing is vital for the many hours in the air and waiting in three airports in the event we spill something on ourselves. We’ll wear comfortable shoes and the compression socks intended for long flights and cramped spaces.

More low lying clouds with blue skies peeking through.

Ah, the preparations, so many. Attempting to communicate with a person at Turkish airlines who didn’t speak English on Skype was challenging to say the least. I believe we were able to arrange our seat assignments for the three flights in order to be able to sit together. I couldn’t understand the seat numbers and the aisle numbers. I don’t know any Turkish. We weren’t charged.

I had wanted to discuss my food restrictions with the airline for the meals that will be provided. If what they serve proves to be a problem we can eat at one of our two layovers. I plan to bring nuts just in case.

The thoughtful owner of the house in Kenya has arranged a driver to pick us up at the airport in a newer air-conditioned vehicle who’s already aware of our flight number and time of arrival. The driver will be carrying a sign with our name upon our arrival in the middle of the night. He’ll know where to take us.

The security guard at the house, Jeremia, has been instructed to let us in the gate and the house. The houseboy, Hesborn, is aware that he shouldn’t arrive at the house until after 12:00 pm the day we arrive. We’ll attempt to sleep for a few hours upon arrival. 

Upon awakening, we’ll need to arrange transportation to a grocery store, our first task in our new home. They’ll be no food awaiting us at the house, although the owner kindly offered to leave fruit and crackers, neither of which we can eat. I declined his considerate offer which he usually, provides for his guests, graciously explaining that I have a peculiar diet. 

This photo was taken from the veranda yesterday morning.  We spend most mornings on the veranda it was too damp and cool to venture outside. Today, its warmer and we’re sitting outside now as we write this.

We’ll be fine if we don’t eat until we return from the grocer loaded with a week’s supply.  The grocery stores appear to be larger than we are used to and seemingly well stocked from what we read online.  It will be fun to shop, especially the first time.

The packing? I should have most of mine in order and ready for the “suck bags” (as we call them) by Wednesday. This week, we’ll wash and wear the same tee shirts and shorts over and over to avoid disturbing the packed items. My 25-pound pile of shoes and clothing is ready to be donated. It’s hard to believe I can exist with so little clothing.  

View over the church.

At this point, I’ve let go of my desire to have a “mix and match” wardrobe with many outfits from which to choose. Those days are over. Although I’m keeping two pairs of high heels, each shoe is neatly stuffed with vitamin bottles.

As a matter of fact, our Africa boots are also stuffed with vitamin pills, all of which will be in checked baggage. We’d originally planned to wear the boots on the plane, but I can’t imagine wearing knee-high boots for almost 24 hours. 

I tried on two pairs of jeans in order to decide which would be more comfortable for the flight. It turned out that the lighter colored denim feels more pliable, although they aren’t “stretchy” at all. I wish I’d kept a few pairs of stretchy well-worn jeans. 

Last night’s meatball yet uncooked dinner, which was topped with homemade marinara sauce and locally made combination of finely grated cheeses. Before cooking, we also topped Santina’s tomatoes with the grated cheeses. The black spots are the peppers and herbs from the patio.

One more of the two missing prescription boxes arrived yesterday. Hopefully, the one remaining box will miraculously appear this week, but we’re not optimistic. Plan B will go into effect, have the missing box replaced at no charge (to which the online pharmacy agreed) to be shipped to our mailing service in Nevada. As mentioned in a past post, at some time in the future we’ll figure out a way to have it mailed to us.

Still, we have time to relax on the veranda again this morning. The weather is warmer than yesterday, although very cool. With socks on my feet, I’m comfortable, looking forward to another great day of getting whipped at Gin, watching the last third of the original Iron Man with Parts 2 and 3 already downloaded for our future viewing.

We’ll have another great dinner of leftovers, a fresh pan of the above photo. With no microwave, I always divide the meal in two, cooking one batch fresh each of two nights. This avoids using the oven to reheat already cooked food.

Life is good. Not a complaint in the world.  Looking forward to soon being settled into our new home. 

A stormy, stormy night…Date night that is…

 

The puffs of clouds surrounding us this morning were a delight to behold.

When a couple is together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (I never liked that expression, 24/7) we find it’s important to designate certain periods of time as “date nights.”

Sure, it’s pretending. But then, isn’t romantic in itself a pretense of sorts, making special times out of “normal” times?  Some may believe this is not important in a strong loving relationship.  For some, it may not be important, or so they think.

Sadly, power lines always seem to obstruct the view in the remote areas we’ve visited.

But, spend an evening freshly showered, wearing an attractive outfit (need not be fancy), preparing a carefully planned and executed quiet dinner, finishing off the evening with a movie befitting the taste of both parties and a romantic evening can be had. 

For the budget-minded, the cost is no more than any other evening at home. For the extravagant, the experience is as rich and fulfilling as a lavish night on the town with the end result being the same;  feeling loved, cherished, and fulfilled.

Last night was “date night” appropriately a Saturday night that even us retired folks still perceive as the time for extra fun (along with Friday nights). 

Beginning at 5:00 pm, our evening began when the bells from the church out our window began ringing prompting me to once again attempt to take a video, once again to do a poor job but I’m working on it. Taking still photos has been tough enough for me, as my family so well knows.

The church across the road with the bells only ringing on Saturday nights.

The delight we felt during the six minutes as the bells joyfully clanged began the tone of the evening. It was uphill from there. Since neither of us felt like eating all day (a phenomenon that occurs when one eats low carb-loss of appetite), by 6:00 pm, we were ready for dinner.

Planned as taco salad night (minus the bowl), I had chopped and diced all the accompaniments well in advance and had only to cook the grass-fed ground beef seasoning it accordingly. 

By 6:00 pm, an hour earlier than usual, we were dining at the kitchen table digging into our massive salads filled with meat, cheese, and vegetables from the garden especially those plump red tomatoes gifted to us by Santina on Friday.

More puffs of clouds.  As the morning wore on, the puffs dissipated as the sun struggled to appear.  The thick heaviness of humidity remained with the cool temperature making it tolerable.

Some may say watching TV shows or movies is not romantic. For us, it is.  Tom tends to chatter on incessantly during the show, something I’ve found charming. The laughter and conversation continue as we watch. 

Our show of choice last night during dinner, one that invites comments and observations, was “America’s Got Talent,” a mindless TV series that easily incites laughter and smiles.  Without commercials, the episode ended about the time we’d finished dinner.  I tackled putting away the leftovers (repeat tonight!) while Tom as always, washed the dishes.

It almost looks as if its smoke, rather than clouds.

By 7:15, part two of our evening began, spending time on the veranda overlooking the mountains, listening to the birds, and swatting off a few flying insects.  Once again, I put on the Africa pants to avoid being stung as a couple of flies buzzed around my head. Each time I wear the pants I’m surprised by how well they keep the bugs from biting.  I’ve yet to be stung once while wearing them, even without my arms or feet protected. 

As we often do, we moved my laptop to the coffee table in the living room, positioning ourselves in the uncomfortable 100-year-old sofa, and proceeded to watch a few more episodes of our favorite downloaded shows from Graboid:  season 3, episode 5 of The Killing, and season 1, episode 2 of The White Queen (excellent shows worth watching).

After the first show, we rousted up the big dishwashing bowl for the shells for the pistachios and peanuts, more out of fun than hunger. By 9:00 pm our shows ended, leaving only a few minutes of battery time on my laptop.  

From experience, we knew that by charging it for 45 minutes we’d regain enough of charge to watch a movie in bed. We busied ourselves in the kitchen as it recharged, Tom, checking email, and Facebook, while I read my latest book.

By 9:45 we meandered to our room, setting up a wooden tray to support the laptop on the bed (it’s a dangerous fire hazard to place a laptop directly on top of the bed) and crawled under the comfy covers to watch the movie, Linda Lovelace, (bringing back lots of memories of the ’70s) that we found disappointing. But for us, with Tom’s chatter, I was thoroughly entertained.

Once again, this bell tower is a focal point in our photos.  Most villages in Italy have such a tower, visible as one travels through the winding mountain roads.

By 12:30 am with the mosquito netted window wide open as a cool breeze wafting our way, we drifted off within minutes of each other with smiles on our faces.  Indeed, it was a delightful evening.

An hour later, deep in sleep, we both were alarmed by as an outrageous bolt of thunder and lightening permeating the area as the rain pelted the tile roofs.

It was no less than two hours, there was a relentless storm that hovered in this mountainous valley as loud and as bright as any fast-moving storm we’d experienced in Minnesota.  The difference here was the time it hovered as if it was caught in this valley with no way in which to escape. 

Although neither of us is fearful of the storms, we were entranced by its intensity, eventually forced to close the window as the wind whipped in its direction, pouring torrents of water into the bedroom at the moment it took for me to jump out of bed to hurriedly shut it. 

Tom had fallen back to sleep. I lay awake comforted by the fact that this 300-year-old house has most certainly survived centuries of such storms and was nonetheless still intact. Reading my book, an enticing Irish novel, until almost 4:00 am, I finally drifted off tucking my phone under my pillow.

As always, 6:55 am forced my bleary eyes open, only seconds before the 7 clangs of the clock tower next door to us. It’s funny how it never awakens us during the night. Not wanting to awaken Tom, I lingered in bed until he awoke at 7:56 am, moments later to hear the 8 clangs, as we both offered a groggy, “Hi, sweetie.” As always, upon arising together we made the bed, a habit we started years ago when arising at the same time.

Tom called out to me as I was getting ready to shower, beaconing me to the patio to look out at the mountains. These are the photos we took this morning, thrilled to see the clouds so low, lingering in puffs throughout the valley.  What a sight!

Date night turned into “date morning” as we were entranced by the view as if it was a parting gift from Boveglio for the 2½ months were lived in its midst (no pun intended).  Thank you, Boveglio. 

 

Internet was down for a day…

We sure have plenty of tomatoes (pomodori) to last through our remaining eight days of cooking before we leave to travel to Africa. Yesterday, I had none and today, we have more than we can use.  After Santina left this morning, I discovered this glass bowl filled with tomatoes in the kitchen.  With the substantial batch, Lisa picked for us yesterday in the steep yard, we’re well stocked with tomatoes. 

It’s amazing how lost we are without the Internet, bringing to mind our dependency on technology to assist us through our days.  Would we ever have ventured out on this year’s long journey? I doubt it.

Tom is more wrapped up in being able to get online these days than I. Other than writing and posting photos here, banking and paying credit card bills, and responding to email, hours of being online is less important to me.

My interest began to lessen after leaving Minnesota on Halloween last year, after spending 8 to 10 hours a day for nearly a year researching our upcoming travels, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. In the future, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it again as the time nears to arrange the next leg of our journey.

For Tom, he busies himself looking up possible future cruises, reading stock information, managing our inventory, and reading an endless array of emails from old friends; some political, some funny, some disgusting and heartwarming, only a few of which he shares with me. I don’t care to read passed along jokes and stories unless they really touch a nerve. Tom knows which is worth sharing with me.

Most of my email consists of family and friends, readers asking questions, or making comments or statements from various financial institutions. With little junk mail these days, after unsubscribing on 100’s of sites, each email I receive warrants reviewing.

Yesterday while literally cut off from the world with the Internet, we played Gin, read our books on our phones, and watched the few news channels we’re able to receive in English on the outdated TV. 

Need I say again that Tom is slaying me at Gin?  Always priding myself on being a competent Gin player, I’ve suffered greatly in his hands (literally and figuratively). I can’t stand to lose! 

He’s so ahead of me at this point that I can’t possibly catch up. Thoughtfully, he’s agreed to start a new tally when we arrive in Kenya which hopefully will begin on our upcoming flight, providing we’ll be able to sit next to one another. (We’ll find out on the 26th when we call as instructed).

Yesterday, I packed a little, disposing of no less than 25 pounds of stuff I’m willing to say goodbye to, much to my surprise.  We’ll give it to our “people” here to keep for themselves, to donate, or to share with their family and friends. Tom will do the same over the weekend. The rest? We’ve decided to pay the excess baggage fees and be done with it. After all, we’ve spent so little money while in Italy, our budget’s slush fund is overflowing in the $100’s.

Yesterday, in perusing the budget, I determined that the cost of food in Italy has been the lowest anywhere.  Choosing the finest ingredients, much organic, we’ve spent an average of $22 per day during the 75 days in Boveglio. In the US, we usually spent anywhere from $800 to $900 per month at the grocery store, again seldom dining out.

We’d budgeted $30.66 a day for the time in Italy including dining out. This difference, to our benefit, should cover the excess baggage fees.  The savings are a result of not dining out and the excellent prices on food in Italy.  For groceries alone, we spent from $100 to $200 per month less than in the US.

With the distance traveling on the steep winding road without guardrails, the time it takes to reach any restaurants, along with my food restrictions inspired us to dine in. Enjoying each of our homemade meals caused us to realize how impractical it would have been to dine out in Italy, based on the high carb pasta, grains, starches, sugar, and the bread that comprise most meals in restaurants. 

In Kenya, based on the restaurant menus we’ve been able to find online, the food is more “continental” consisting of a portion of meat, fish or poultry, vegetables, and salads, all easier for us to enjoy. Of course, we’ll leave out the potatoes or starchy side dishes, bread and desserts. We shall see how that goes, reporting back as to what we’ll soon discover.

At this point, we’re ready to move on. Oddly, we don’t feel as if we’re going on yet another vacation as we prepare to head to a new location. Long ago, we anticipated that we’d experience the giddy excitement of an upcoming vacation.  With the experience of the potential for unknown events, we feel a bit anxious about getting the traveling part completed. 

Leaving on September 1st (with one overnight at a hotel in Venice) and scheduled to arrive at our house in Kenya around 6:00 am on September 3rd, it’s a very long haul. 

Traveling at night has always been hard for me, unable to sleep well sitting up while despising the feeling of lack of sleep as we must maneuver through three separate flights over 17 plus hours. It will be equally trying when we leave Kenya almost three months later to go to South Africa and again, three months later to fly to Morocco, all very long overnight flights. There’s no need to think about that at this point.
 
Reminding myself that this is the life we chose and that, once we’re settled these thoughts will waft away, allowing us the total immersion into our new lives in a new location.

This morning when Santina arrived to clean the house for the second to last time, I wrote the following in English to translate into Italian in Google Translate:

“Thank you so much for such a wonderful job you have done for us. Your kindness will stay in our minds and hearts forever. Next Friday will be the last time and then we will say goodbye.”

This translates in Italian to:

“Grazie mille per un lavoro meraviglioso che hai fatto per noi. La tua gentilezza rimarrà nella mente e nel cuore per sempre. Venerdì prossimo sarà l’ultima volta e poi ci dirà addio.”

She read my note while leaning over my computer at the kitchen table, smiling from ear to ear.  When done she placed her fingers to her lips for a kiss to toss through the air to me. I caught it, immediately returning it to her. 

As she left today and each past week we’ve kissed goodbye, one cheek, then the other with a heartfelt, “arrivederci” wishing we could speak to understand one another. 

Yesterday, when the produce truck hadn’t arrived at its usual 3:30 time and place, I was frustrating wondering where I’d get tomatoes for our planned Mexican dinner this weekend. I’d bought a few at the grocery store on Wednesday which we’ve since used. What was I thinking only buying a few tomatoes when I knew we’d need more? 

Would we have to forego tomatoes or once again make the 70 minute round trip up and down the treacherous mountain roads?

As I looked around the parking lot for the truck I ran into Lisa, the wife of the delightful owner pair of Lisa and Luca, as she spoke to a neighbor. Noticing my inquisitive look, she approached me inquiring as to my dilemma.  Asking her where I could get a few tomatoes (Pomodoro) nearby since ours on the patio have yet to mature.

Grabbing my hand she steered me to the backyard, asking me “quanti?” for “how many?” I held up my fingers for “two” while saying “due,” Italian for two.  She shrugged her shoulders, looking at me raising her eyebrows, asking “due?”

(Only two?)  I shrugged holding up four fingers while saying “quattro,” sensing she thought I was foolish for asking for only two.(As it turned out many of the tomatoes were rather small. No wonder she flinched at my request for only two or four).

At this point, I knew she was to find our tomatoes in the massive garden down several tiers which I hadn’t yet tackled with the uneven steps and no handrail. I handed her the cloth bag I still had in my hands when hoping to buy the tomatoes from the now missing produce truck.

Off she went (she’s 35 years younger than I) flying down the uneven steep steps to return minutes later with a bounty of ripe tomatoes nearly filling my bag. I couldn’t have said “grazie” with more enthusiasm. Here again, I wished we could have somehow carried on a conversation. Her warmth and thoughtful demeanor left me longing to understand her.

Lisa and Luca couldn’t have been more helpful during our time in Boveglio, responsive, and kind. They’ve literally jumped to our every need. Of course, we’ve never attempted to take advantage in any manner, as in my request for such a small number of tomatoes or our inquiry to stay one more night beyond our contract (for which they refused to accept payment when we offered to pay on multiple occasions).  So gracious, they have been!  Most assuredly, we’ll be leaving five-star reviews on their listing in Homeaway.

Our two missing boxes of prescriptions haven’t arrived. The company has agreed to replace them at no charge sending them to our mailing service in Nevada. When we can receive mail somewhere down the road, the mailing service will forward them to us. For now, we have an ample supply for the next 10 to 11 months.

Late yesterday afternoon, almost 24 hours later, the Internet signal returned. Almost time to make dinner while still entrenched in a fierce game of Gin, I decided to wait until today to write. Yes, he won again! 

Stay tuned folks. Thanks for reading our mindless drivel. Hopefully, soon, we’ll step it up a notch or two when we arrive in Kenya. 

 

Writing our blog…What it takes…What it does for us…What our readers mean to us…The interesting and the mundane…

Lizard in the house.

Writing this blog began on March 15, 2012, almost 18 months ago.  You can read the first post by searching the archives on the right side of the page.  This requires about three clicks as you go further back to that date.

As we put “pen to paper” on that date, we had no idea that it would grow beyond the scope of our own sphere of influence; family, friends, and co-workers.  Little did we imagine that we’d have unique visitors worldwide, including such countries as Uzbekistan, Croatia, and Taiwan.

How did they find us?  Most likely it was the keywords we’ve used that you see at the bottom of each post that are the words users enter in search engines, such as Google, Bing, etc.  Suddenly our webpage appears.

For example:  If right now, you go to Google.com and search the word:  “Boveglio, retiree” you’ll find that our blog pops up as the first five entries.  (This changes by the minute, so if it’s not at the top, scroll down and you’ll find it). Type the word “waftage” and you’ll discover the same phenomenon. In essence, in many cases that is how worldwide readers find us or find any site they research.

Another way others find us, is by sending the link, by copying and pasting, www.worldwidewaftage.com to a few friends or to their entire contact list.  Their contact reads the blog once or not and if it appeals to their interests they either sign up to receive an automatic email each time we post (few people seem to do this in fear of being bombarded with other emails, which is not the case) or they bookmark our site and visit it each day or from time to time to read the latest posts at their leisure.

For some, reading the details of the lives of a retired couple that they don’t know, traveling the world for years, is of little interest. Many people don’t travel and have little interest in traveling. That was us only a few short years ago. My, how we’ve changed!

Some readers have asked us how we manage to sit down and write almost every day. Actually, when we have interesting experiences, the words flow easily. When it’s quiet and we’re feeling a need to stay put, it becomes more difficult, similar to the times when we lived in the US when life was fine but not necessarily interesting each day. 

Let’s face it, none of us are interesting all the time. We all have periods where life is comfortable but mundane; enjoyable for us, dull to others. That’s how life is, giving us each the opportunity to experience pleasure with more gusto and passion as the mundane subsides for a period of time.

During quiet times, as these have been by our choice lately, we’ve continued to share those mundane details that we all experience. Some readers, based on our appreciated and continually growing readership, enjoy small details. It reminds us of the small details we tend to share with those in our household:  we visited a store, we went for a walk, we read the mail, we stubbed our toe, all minuscule in the realm of things.

Here in Italy most days, as we sit on the veranda, I write while Tom does research in the background, to hopefully ensure any facts that we share are from reliable sources and as accurate as possible.  At times, we falter in this area. Let’s face it; if we find information online, it’s certainly no guarantee that it’s accurate, even if found at reliable sites. 

How long does it take to write?  Without photos, usually under two hours.  With 12 photos or more, over two hours since photos are time-consuming to insert into the blog.  At times, when we’ve had over 20 photos, we’ve posted over a few days as Part 1 and Part 2.

Do we enjoy posting or does it feel like a “job?” It’s always enjoyable. My fingers literally fly across the keyboard, often with one of those sh_ _ eating grins on my face, difficult to stop.

In reality, we have added advertisers to hopefully defray some of the costs of maintaining this site over the long haul. Clicking on any of our links if you so choose, rewards us in tiny increments, more like small change than in dollars.  The price a reader would pay for any products they purchase through our site is the same price they’d pay going directly to that site on their own.  Readers can still use any coupon codes they’ve otherwise discovered online.

Photos?  We realize that readers love seeing photos and we appreciate this as we observe that readership skyrockets when we do.  Unfortunately, in this remote location, high in the mountains, it is unsafe to walk on the narrow roads (let alone drive) leading in and out of Boveglio. 

Our only photo opportunities while staying put, are any scenes we find appealing in the confines of our immediate neighborhood, some of which we’ve posted more than once.  Normally, we only post newly taken photos rather than those from past posts, although the scenery may be familiar.

What does it mean to us?  There are several layers to this answer.  Knowing that our family members always know where we are and can Skype us at any time, gives us peace of mind.  Knowing that our friends, old and new, can see what we’re “up to” avoids the writing of endless descriptive email messages about our travels when all are described here in detail. 

However, we love hearing from family and friends.  For example, Bruce, a co-worker and friend of Tom’s whom he’s known for over 40 years, sent an email yesterday, suggesting they Skype last night.  Tom couldn’t have been more thrilled when last night, he and Bruce connected on Skype, chatting for some time.  With the time difference of 7 hours, he was calling around 1:00 pm his time in Minnesota, which was 8:00 pm our time in Italy.

Nothing in the world thrills us more than seeing our family and friends on  Skype.  But, if we can’t connect, they can easily find our most recent posts for an update.  For us, the greatest benefit of the Skype call is that we get an opportunity to hear how they are doing while seeing their faces as well.  What a treat!

To look at the stats each day to see how many readers worldwide are visiting our site each day, each month, and collectively is a reward that nothing can describe. Honestly, it adds so much to our experience that I can’t imagine traveling without it. 

Every few days, a reader will post a comment by clicking on the comment link at the bottom of each day’s post.  At times, it is a question. At other times, it’s a suggestion or an observation. At other times, a weirdo makes inappropriate comments. Luckily, we have control over posting comments or deleting them. We see no reason to subject our readers to inappropriate or malicious comments. All others we do post, responding to the posted comments within 24 hours.

For this, we thank each and every reader for taking the time to share this journey with us whether family, friends, acquaintances, the many readers, we’ve met aboard our eight cruises and the thousands of readers worldwide who have stumbled across our site. 

So bear with us folks, the mundane will only continue for a short period and then, in 11 days, we’ll begin the adventure of our lives as we head to Africa, where we’ll live for almost a year, for me, a dream come true. 

Tom’s also excited about Africa as long as I don’t let any warthogs into the house or any zebras visit to watch him take a shower or swim in the pool.  We shall see…

Oh, oh, packages didn’t arrive!…Are we running out of time?…

The four of six boxes we received from the pharmaceutical company. We’re awaiting the two missing boxes, hopefully to arrive or be replaced before leaving Italy in less than two weeks.

When living in the US we rarely gave a thought to our few prescriptions.  Ordering online through Medco it was a relatively painless process with the large white plastic bags arriving about a week after placing a refill order.  Once a year we visited our doctor to get newly written prescriptions to comply with insurance requirements.

Now, traveling the world, taking literally everything we own with us everywhere we go, all of our supplies, prescriptions and otherwise, take on a new meaning. It’s not to say that we’re preoccupied with these items. However, we must stay mindful and proactive to ensure that we have everything on hand as needed, avoiding a crisis and its resulting stress.

Early in July we ordered a year’s worth of prescriptions for both of us through ProgressiveRX, a reputable, prescription required, highly rated BBB online pharmacy with the best prices we’ve found so far.

Between us, we take a small handful of medications. Running out of them could be a problem. Having purchased enough to last us the first year in our travels, now  gone since Halloween, 10 months have passed.  We’d have run out while in Kenya.

Tom’s vitamin and pill cases.  Originally, we had four of these cases, allowing me to restock them once a month. Having to ditch two of these to make more room, I now have to refill them every two weeks. Mine is similar. We carry on all of our meds and few vitamins after the incident in Belize when security confiscated all of our vitamins for 24 hours. Lesson learned.

After considerable research and reading online posts, we felt it was too risky to receive a package through USPS while in Kenya with its reported high risk of never arriving or of getting caught up in customs, all of which is less of an issue in Italy. Ordering in July, with our plan to leave Italy on September 1st, made all the sense in the world. 

Unfortunately, ProgressiveRX process is to send a variety of the prescriptions in a variety of small boxes.  With us needing more Z-Pak (antibiotic) since I’d used one in Dubai when I was so ill, extra malaria pills and our few combined prescriptions, six small boxes were due to arrive. 

Two weeks ago, four of the six boxes had arrived, leaving two missing. “OK,” I said, “Let’s give it a little more time.” 

Becoming concerned last week, I contacted the company by email, receiving a prompt response. They suggested we give it a little more time.  By the end of last week, the two missing boxes had yet to arrive. The rep at the company asked that we wait until today to put in a request that the two boxes be replaced and shipped the quickest method available. With only nine business days until we leave Italy, this plan in itself is risky.

Yesterday, I went through the four boxes that each contained a variety of the medications counting every pill, all individually wrapped in childproof shrink wrap plastic packages, to determine exactly what we’re missing. Once completed, I checked the stock against the original order coming up with a list of the missing items.

As suggested, I sent them an email with this list this morning, suggesting that they quickly resend the missing meds. We shall see how this rolls out over the next several days. In my email this morning, I suggested that if the boxes, missing and new, arrive before we leave, we’ll either return the extras or pay for them, preferring to keep them, thus avoiding the necessity of finding a place to mail them.

We have no complaint with the company. They are responsive, providing quality products. This company was recommended to us by the wife of a delightful mature newlywed couple (they hooked up on Facebook after having dated in high school many moons ago) that we met the day after their wedding while in Belize.  She had a home in San Pedro, Belize  but they had decided to have their honeymoon at our resort, LaruBeya in Placencia. Gee, we loved that place. 

In any case, I took her recommendation for the online pharmacy seriously. As an American citizen, she too required a handful of meds having found ProgressiveRX to be ideal for ordering from afar. 

The names of the prescriptions, although containing the exact same ingredients, are different in some cases.  This is important to know to ensure a patient knows precisely which named prescription replaced the familiar name to avoid incorrect dosing.  Should any of our readers’ order through this company, please be careful in observing the named differences. Their website is helpful in defining these different names.

With the time differences in between Italy and the US, it may be hours before we hear back as to what they will do to get the missing meds to us as quickly as possible. We’ll report back here once we know.

Today, our plan was to grocery shop. After looking in the refrigerator and freezer noting the additional meat products we have on hand and seeing our delicious leftovers for tonight from last night’s dinner of Chicken Breasts stuffed with homemade pesto (from the garden on the patio), Parmesan cheese, wrapped in Prosciutto, we’ve decided we can wait until Wednesday. We’ll recalculate our grocery list to get us through 11 more days, instead of the original 13 days.

Perhaps today, a little refining of our items to be packed is in order, a task I thoroughly dread, among other “moving” tasks.”  Oh, I can’t wait to be sitting on the large veranda overlooking the gardens at the house in Kenya; the packing, the excess baggage fees, the three flights, the trip from the airport to the house in the middle of the night and the unpacking will all behind us. 

 

Housekeeping for upcoming travel…

 

Definitely, not as much “stuff” on the bed when we originally packed almost a year ago.

Two weeks from today, we’ll drive the five-hour journey from Boveglio, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy to Venice Italy, where we’ll stay overnight in a hotel close to the airport.  Planning to drop off the rental car after we’ve checked into the hotel upon arrival was a plan I’d originally resisted, thinking it made more sense to drop it off in the morning before our flight. 

Tom was adamant that we drop off the car on the day of arrival in Venice and take the hotel’s shuttle to the airport in the morning. He felt that the time spent returning the car, from past experience when we picked it up on June 16th, would impose upon the time necessary to board the plane.

Those darn vitamins! This is only a portion of the supply!

After thinking about this premise for a few days, I saw his point.  With the free airport shuttle offered by the hotel, it was one less stressful task to perform before boarding the plane. 

The Marco Polo Airport in Venice imposes a strict rule that passengers may not appear at the airport more than three hours before their scheduled flight.  This small airport doesn’t have adequate space to accommodate travelers for longer periods. Thus, careful planning is a must. Otherwise, passengers can be refused entry with their bags into the terminal. That could be stressful!

With only two weeks left, we’ve begun planning for all the tasks we must accomplish before leaving Italy.  No, we don’t have household goods and furniture to move, but in a way, it’s comparable to moving after the moving van has removed the household goods and furniture, a monumental task in itself.,

Its not easy keeping a cupboard tidy with clothing as opposed to dresser drawers, none of which we available in this extra bedroom.

Not only do we have to ensure we’ve collected all of our belongings scattered about the house, but also the following tasks to complete over the next two weeks:
1.  Carefully pack all of our luggage including careful planning for the carry on bags to avoid further delays at the airport when going through security.
2.  Weigh all of our luggage to ensure we’re prepared for any excess baggage fees which we fully expect, although not as costly as on our flight from Dubai,  UAE on our way to Barcelona, Spain to board our last cruise.
3.  Hold back clothing and toiletries for overnight in the hotel to avoid opening the packed luggage, using only a duffel bag.
4.  Ensure we have comfortable clothing and shoes to wear for the long flight, prescriptions, toiletries (especially toothbrushes and toothpaste) considering the almost 24 hours from the time we arrive at the airport in Venice, to the rental house in Kenya.
5.  Grocery shop tomorrow, purchasing enough food to last through our final night here on Saturday, August 31st, while using any items that are frozen, refrigerated, and in the cupboards.  (We’ve already planned a menu for each of the 13 remaining nights with an accompanying grocery list, utilizing our on-hand supplies).
6.  Scan and store all of the receipts we’ve accumulated while living in Italy, tossing the actual paper.
7.  Clean and reorganize our laptops’ bags of any superfluous materials.
8.  Ensure that our digital equipment is fully charged with the hope that the three planes we’ll be flying will have plugins at our seats. If plugins are not available on the planes we’ll locate and use “digital kiosks,” available at most airports during our two layovers.
9.  Return the house to its original condition as we received it upon arrival over two and a half months here, replacing any items we moved about to facilitate our personal needs.
10. Clean, leaving only the towels and bedding we used on that last day. Santina will clean on our last Friday, two days before our departure. With no paid deposit, we are none the less committed to leaving everything in excellent order, as we’ve done at each of our prior rental homes.
11.  Write a glowing review on Homeaway extolling the virtues of our lovely owners, Lisa and Luca, her parents, Cici and Dano, and the overall comfort of this well-stocked and maintained home, which without a doubt we’ve fully appreciated.
12.  Update the budget with any last-minute expenses, including gas for the long drive, rental car fees, hotel and dining, taxi and tips, etc.  Doing so leaves us a clean slate to begin anew in the first of three upcoming homes in Africa:  Kenya, South Africa, and Morocco.

Need I say more?  There’s plenty to keep us busy over the next few weeks with little time for frivolity.  Yes, someday we’ll return to Italy, most likely by ship, allowing us an opportunity to explore further.  But for now, we’re ready to move on, feeling no disappointment in leaving with plenty of enthusiasm for our upcoming adventures.

Tom has kept all of his clothing in the master bedroom where we sleep. Mine have been scattered among three rooms, the master, the above guest room, and the huge main bathroom where I’ve kept fresh clothing for dressing after showering each morning.

Tom just reminded me of one more thing.  We’ll have to empty the Ziploc bags hung in the doorways and windows in order to recover the Euros we’d placed inside with the intent to repel flying insects which, as we’ve mentioned, does seem to work to a degree, although not entirely.  With screens on the windows in Kenya, we’re hopeful that the biting flies won’t be such a bother. 

Lately, in the evening, I’ve been wearing my BugAway long pants for a few hours which have totally protected me from receiving a single fly bite.  Although lightweight they’re too warm to wear all day, during which time I’ve taken on two or three new bites per day, continuing to itch for days.  The cumulative effect is the most annoying, new bites, old bites, all itching at once!

Yesterday, I finally washed my BugsAway pants for the first time. Having worn them to the Pyramids in Egypt, Petra in Jordan, and a few other excursions, they didn’t appear dirty nor did they smell. Most likely they were covered in fine dust.

With the embedded insect repellent Permethrin in the fabric, they’re good for 70 washings of which I’m now down to 69.  That should be enough to see me through our upcoming time in Africa which, dear readers, will begin, sooner than later.

 

Tom’s online football experience…

The haze in the hills continues day after day with the high humidity.
After signing up at NFL.com in order to watch the Minnesota Vikings games, which we wrote posted on August 8th.  At that time, he had yet to watch his first game.
Last Saturday, after the game had occurred the previous night, he watched the first preseason game.
In his words, “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  I’m not happy that I paid (US) $169 to watch the Vikings games.  Every time there’s a commercial, which has been removed, there’s a black screen. Either I sit there and watch the black screen for the length of the commercial or I can click ahead in either slow-moving, 10-second increments or by using the scroll bar to try to find the spot when the commercial ended.”

With the lack of rain, few flowers remain.

We all know how long those commercials can be. This task is annoying and cumbersome for three-plus hours, definitely taking away from the enjoyment of watching the game. Tom’s expectation in purchasing a prepaid package from the NFL, was that it would be similar to watching an on-demand program minus any intrusion by commercials. 

When originally booking the house in Boveglio online comments seemed to indicate that this old hotel’s bar was still open. Unfortunately, the bar and the hotel both closed a while back.

 

This room at the end of the hotel was once used as a ballroom.

One would assume that in this day and age with advanced technology, that this type of issue would have been resolved prior to offering such a package for sale to the public. Will he cancel?  No. 

He’ll continue to watch the game the morning after they’ve occurred with the ongoing frustration associated with this poor system. Isn’t it frustrating enough that the Vikings have yet proven to be the team that loyal fans have fantasized about for many years?

The local residents frequently place flower pot at this neighborhood shrine.

Although not a football fan, I certainly empathize with him over this issue when encountering poor technology by major corporations.

It’s no wonder that we can hear lively Italian conversations and toilets flushing in the tight little neighbor.  All the plumbing pipes are on the outside of the buildings.

Most recently, one of our credit card companies was sold out to a larger credit card company, resulting in the necessity of the customer set up an online account at the new company. Should be easy, right? Oh, no. 

Each day there appears to be a new stack of prayer candles at this shrine across the street from our house.

After trying to create an online account for this card over a period of the past 5 days, only to have the screen require me to enter the same information over and over, I’m left with no alternative but to call. Yes, I can use a toll-free number on Skype without having to pay for the call.  But the issue is the time difference and the loss of my time in making this call. 

Regardless of the drought-like conditions, homeowners continue to regularly water their outdoor plants. With no lawns to tend to, plants fulfill their desire to connect to nature.  Community gardens are within walking distance in which some neighbors participate.

After trying various numbers, I’ve been informed I must call during regular business hours, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Pacific time.  With this time difference, I must call after 6:00 pm here, a time when we’re busy getting dinner ready with the expectation of enjoying a stress-free evening. Being on hold for 10 to 15 minutes only adds to the frustration.

The vantage point from the road heading southwest.
This is across the street from our main entrance, looking up from the road. In most neighborhoods, homes across the road aren’t located so high up!

Wherever we may be, we aren’t free of the time-consuming tasks of managing our daily lives. There’s literally no way that one can choose to be “off the grid” if they require any type of insurance, banking, handling of their assets, managing their credit cards, and paying taxes.

The road as I returned home from my walk.  We’re located a few doors down on the right.


To my left in the lower level as I entered the house.  The laundry room is located behind the curtain.

Years ago, I heard a motivational speaker say, “Everywhere you go, there you are.” So true. So true.

Walking gingerly is a must on these step stone steps to the basement.  The Homeaway listing for this house clearly stated that this property is not intended for the older population due to the many steps required to get from one end to another down the long hallway and the tricky access to the patio on the right of this stairwell.

 

Updates and tidbits…Fun photos!…

 

A photo from guests staying at our upcoming rental house in South Africa.  Doing laundry takes on a whole new meaning!

As we write about the nuances of our days, on occasion we may leave a reader wondering what transpired with a particular situation that we may have mentioned in an earlier post.

The rental car: With no further email from Budget, we are assuming they decided to let us keep the car until we return it to Venice on September 1st.

When they agreed to extend the rental agreement (which we have in writing), they billed our credit card on file for the prorated balance through the return date.  Oddly, when they informed us that the car was sold, they reversed the charge of over $1300, yet to charge us for the balance.  There’s no doubt they’ll charge us for the balance once we return the car.

The bees and the fly’s issues: The coins in the Ziploc bags hanging in the doorways have reduced the influx of bees by 95% and the flies by 75%. Unfortunately, a few flies enter each day. For some peculiar reason, they don’t seem to land long enough to kill them. They are vicious, biting me with a frenzy. As a result, I have no less than 10 fly bites at any given time, that take no less than 5 days to stop itching. 

Can you imagine soaking in the tub with these visitors stopping by to say hello?

At 4:00 am this morning, I was awakened by the itching forcing me to take a Tylenol PM to get back to sleep.  Tylenol PM and other over the counter sleep aids, often contain diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that causes drowsiness and stops the itching. Luckily, I fell back to sleep.

It seems most of the bites occur around dinner time, the smell of food drawing them inside. Instead of feasting on the food, they feast on my arms and legs so fast I can’t shoo them away. Tonight, I am going to wear my Bugs Away long pants during and after dinner, hoping to keep the biting at bay.

The weather: For almost two weeks, we had over 90 degree days. Last week, it was 97 degrees, one day with humidity to match. It cools down nicely at night. On two nights we slept without covers, fortunately, not losing much sleep over the heat. 

Now that it’s beginning to cool down, it was so cool last night that I slept in warmer PJs. With the mosquito netting over one of the master bedroom windows, we can sleep without buzzing around our heads, enjoying the cool breeze. As we sit on the veranda while I write this, it’s no more than 68 degrees, wonderfully comfortable.  We’re hoping it continues to stay cool as we prepare to leave Tuscany soon.

Seat assignment for our upcoming flight: A few days ago, I called Turkish Air able to speak in English to a representative. She informed us that arranging seat assignment wasn’t possible until August 26th, a full week before the flight. I’ve never heard of this before. Most likely, we’ll be charged to sit together which we’ll disdainfully pay. 

Upcoming year’s prescription order.  In early July, we ordered all of our upcoming year’s prescriptions. They were to arrive in 6 boxes.  As of this date, only 4 boxes have arrived.  Now it may be too late for them to send them.  I’ve decided to wait until Monday. If they haven’t arrived, I’ll contact the company having them resend the missing boxes (hopefully, at their expense for expedited shipping). 

A box from our mailing service: The chargers for both of our computers will soon die, based on the difficulty we’ve begun to experience. Thus, it made sense before we leave for Africa, to order two new chargers, in the event either or both of them entirely fail. The replacement cost was US $9.95 each with free shipping in the US only. Also, I needed a few cosmetic items I’d be unable to find in Italy. 

We put together an order from Amazon, all with free shipping to be shipped to our mailing service in Nevada.  The chargers, along with my few cosmetic items were all shipped in one small box at a cost of US $50. Of course, they included the few pieces of mail we hadn’t received as yet, most of which we look at online at a cost of $2 per scan. The box arrived in 18 days from the shipping date via USPS international, coming directly to the door here.

Overpayment on credit card: When we saw the charge on the credit card for the prorated balance (as described above) on the rental car, I immediately paid the bill off in full.  Our goal is to keep all of our credit cards at a zero balance in the event of an emergency. When Budget reversed the charge (go figure) a few days later, we ended up with a credit on Master Card. Wouldn’t one assume, they’d just leave it there until additional purchases we made? Oh no! They mailed a check to our mailing service. How inconvenient!

Fortunately, we’d left dozens of envelope and deposit slips with our mailing service before we left Nevada, in the event we received any checks. Contacting our rep at the mailing service by email, I requested they deposit the check. Looking each day to confirm the deposit was made, it finally came through, taking a full week from the date it was mailed for the deposit to show in online banking.  Good to know. 

Staying on top of situations and tasks such as these, however small they may be, is thought-provoking and time-consuming. Luckily, Tom and I both prefer to avoid tasks hanging over our heads, so we strive to be diligent in getting tasks out of the way as quickly and painlessly as possible.

We’d rather save our time and energy over that which we have no control, the surprises, the unexpected. 

Now, I’ll go make a baking soda paste to see if that will help with the itching. I checked today to discover that both houses, in Kenya and in South Africa have screens. Yeah for screens!