July, 2010

Jul 10

Snap, Crackle, Pop… Photos!

More Photos on Flickr

Jul 10


I would like to stop time for a moment please.

There is so much happening and changing that we could really do with a pause to acknowledge it. That’s life I suppose. It was different when I was a kid. I’m sure time went slower then. Has someone turned the clock onto mega speed while I wasn’t looking?

Where does one go to check that sort of thing?

I am happy to say that I no longer feel like a cowering hamster at work. I’m still a little nervous each morning on my way to work, but every day I feel more like “Gina the Physio”, only in Italian. There are occasions, like when I’m trying to explain (in Italian) something tricky to a patient, such as chronic pain, and I wonder how I managed to get the job… But I’ve been enjoying the banter with my patients, and that feeling you get when you’re able to help someone. Walking out of the hospital each time I look up and can’t believe that this is where I work. Right below some amazingly beautiful mountains, one of which Jeff and I, and the motley crew of Darragh, Conor and Ritchie climbed a few years ago. It’s quite surreal working where you are usually on holidays. I love it. Jeff is also working away (on the internet), and enjoying his job more than any other I’ve seen him do. It sure beats the stressed-out, angry Jeff that used to come home from the middle school teaching job in VA. That was a Jeff we’re both happy to leave behind!

We had the pleasure of Kathy’s company here for a week in June. It was wonderful. Lots of time spent walking in the mountains together, chatting and catching up, with gelato in the piazza, and Italian-style extended dinners served with wine and laughter. One day while out hiking together we came across an elderly Italian man working on the trail that passes his ‘baita’ (mountain cottage). He invited us in for coffee (with a dash of hard liquor!) with him and his wife, and we dutifully obliged. I’ve often said that you can tell a lot about an area by how friendly the people are that you pass on the hiking trails. Some places people will actually ignore you when you say “hi”. Here you get invited in for drinks.

My Italian exam has come and gone. Results are still awaited. As is any further progress with my application for recognition of my qualifications in Italy. I have been waiting over 11 months at this stage. Thankfully I have given up holding my breath, and am happily earning more money with nicer work conditions across the border in Switzerland 🙂

We have just moved into a new apartment, complete with two big balconies with mountain views, an “office” room for Jeff to work, a spare bedroom for guests, and great little “orto” (vegetable patch), in which I immediately planted 30 tomato plants. If all were to survive we’d have enough tomatoes for the entire neighborhood, but considering I planted them so late I have my fingers crossed that enough will survive to bear fruit. We are the youngest residents in a condominio of 6 big apartments. All the rest are elderly and I feel like we have become the grandkids. One neighbor has been helping me with the gardening, providing advise, equipment, plant cuttings and company while weeding. He even waters our plants when we’re away. Our little chats, over the tops of his giant tomato plants, are a pleasure that I look forward to when heading out to the garden, trowel in hand.

We have continued to enjoy the company of our new friends here in Chiavenna, with aperitivos, dinners, and hikes together becoming regular occurrences. This past week we also got to spend a long (nearly five day!) weekend with some friends from Ireland in the French Alps a few hours away. A sweet trip, spent playing in the mountains with old friends, and cooking up big dinners together in the campsite each night. In a magical way it felt a bit like jumping back a few years in time. The same old crew, just a few extra stories under our belts (and one very cute baby boy!).

Two weeks have passed since I first started writing this blog entry. Time keeps flying by without the least bit of concern for me, Jeff or any “to-do” lists that get written on yellow post-its and then lost somewhere in the bottom of your bag. It’s probably best to just leave them there. To be found a few months down the road, when you realize that you got on fine without them anyway…

I’ve also just decided to write shorter blog entries from now on. If it takes me two weeks to finish writing something, how long does it take someone to read it..?

Pictures coming tomorrow (I use that term loosely).

Jul 10

We live here?!

Today we moved most of our stuff to our new apartment. It took three trips with the car which is both a bit puzzling and a bit troubling. We’ve not even been here 5 months and already we have three car loads of belongings to move from one place to another? And a car to move those loads with?! We’re becoming entrenched. This would bother me more except that every morning I wake up and look out the window at the looming peaks around us, every time I go in a shop and spend much longer than I had planned because the shop keeper wants to have a chat and every time I have a glass of wine before dinner, sitting in the street listening to, and struggling (less every day) to speak, Italian I feel a little more a part of this place. Can entrenched be used in a positive way?

Since arriving, we have invested in a small library of guidebooks (a contribution to the car loads) and over the course of quite a few hikes and days climbing using said guidebooks I have decided that I need to change my beliefs and become hindu. There is just no way that we’ll ever have time to get through everything that we want to do before we leave this earth, com’on reincarnation! But maybe that’s part of the beauty of it as well. At the risk of sounding trite: there is no destination, only a journey. Just a never ending stream of climbs, hikes, bike rides, days of skiing and, of course, aperitivo’s.

Here are a few photos of the latest day out in the mountains. For those geography nerds our there (and Ray), we started down near Lago di Como from a tiny village called San Bartolomeo and hiked up to Sasso Canale then over to the Bivaco di Manco and then over another ridge to Alpe Campo and finally found our way back to the valley floor by way of Val Bodengo. Roughly 8 hours in total.