Thursday, December 9, 2010

Back in the U.S.

I left Italy on a gorgeous, blue morning this past Sunday - our first clear, beautiful day in forever. We had coffee that morning in our Glass House, sitting on our NEW sofa. The Glass House is finally usable! It was heaven to sit and enjoy our caffe while looking out at Capri and the ferries leaving Pozzuoli port. Scully decided to use his great, fluffy tail as a table sweeper and near knocked my caffe onto the new sofa, so he was banished. But he's too cute to have let that last, especially since his tail was wagging so hard due to happiness at being near us. There's just no getting irritated at that.

I flew from Naples to Munich, flying over the Alps on the route. Wow! Absolutely phenomenal, especially from the air. Mountains as far as the eye could see. Snow has hit northern Europe, so we then flew over a white blanket, and at one remote farm, there were three horses with riders galloping across a field, headed towards a home with smoke coming from the chimney. What a wonderful, winter scene and so relaxing in preparation for the many hours I was about to spend crossing the Atlantic. I had a 1.5 hour layover in Munich, and it was just enough. The Germans are super serious about their security measures. I'm thankful for it, but as I was standing in my final security line watching the monitor that stated my flight was boarding, I must confess to a little anxiety. And when my time through the line came, I realized what all the hoopla is about in regards to the airport pat-downs. My security officer was very professional, but I haven't been touched in all those places by someone other than my husband since I was a toddler. We were so intimate that I really feel like I should have gotten her name.

The flight from Munich to Chicago was brutal. It wouldn't have been so bad, but I kept thinking, "When this agony ends, I have another three hour layover and then two hour flight to Baltimore. This trip will never end." The movies on offer were recent, new, and plentiful, and my seatmate was pleasant, so the trip wasn't so bad. I'm now in Baltimore at my sister's house, and it is fantastic! I love spending all this time with my niece and two nephews. They are adorable and I love when they come running into my bedroom in the mornings, hollering "Auntie, Auntie." We spent the first two days running errands. I had a short list that quickly grew very long of things I need to buy here and take back with me. Although in just the first day, I'd collected a pile so large that I'm now putting together a box (or two) to ship home. I miss the stores here. I know it's just familiarity and knowing where to go for what specific item, so in time, I know I'll love the shopping available in Italy. Right now I'm still in the stage of having to figure everything out. Where to go, how to get there, where to park once there, do I have a euro coin for the shopping cart (you have to "unlock" the carts with a coin, then you get your money back when you rejoin the cart to the other carts), how do I ask the shopkeeper the question I have to find an item or about an item...the list just keeps going. It has been nice to have a few "normal" errands.

Yesterday, my sister and I, along with her sister-in-law, took the kids to Longwood Gardens in Baltimore to see their Christmas displays and lights. It is beautiful there. I've included a few photos at the end of this blog. Longwood has the most incredible Children's Garden, filled with water features, fanciful ironworks, pathways and a "secret" staircase. The conservatory was filled with rooms of beautiful trees and plantings, and I think the kids had as much fun as the adults.

I'm here for a few more days before traveling to North Carolina for most of next week for my best friend's wedding. I'll return home just before Christmas. Nathan is back in Italy with Crazy Dog, who is reportedly acting even crazier than normal. Nathan's uncle lives near a great, pet supply store that sells eco-friendly dog toys (organic fabrics, etc.). We got one for Scully just before leaving for Italy and it became his very best friend. He loved his bunny rabbit to death, literally. Nathan's uncle sent a dog toy care package, which arrived a couple of days ago, and here is Nathan's email to me on the events surrounding it's opening:

Scully was too funny as I opened the box and was reading the note.  He repeatedly tried to steal/walk off with the new toys as though I wasn't looking.  I figured that he should get to enjoy the care package from his Great Uncle.  So, I cut the tags off and laid them out on the couch for him to choose.  He sniffed them all very carefully, decided on one, and ran off to the yard with me chasing after him, "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Not outside!!"  I finally caught up to him (he thought it was great fun), and brought it inside.  He never put it down and ultimately slept with it in his box.
[Box is our name for his crate, which we now use for his dog bed that used to be inside the crate, but is now just in the corner of the room.].

Here are the Longwood Garden pics:

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