A Magnificent Return 

Here I sit nearing the end of my second return to my beloved second home; Melfi, Italy. For some reason I can’t wrap my head around the fact I have been here for almost two weeks again. It just goes so damn fast! 

Today I was taken to Benevento, about one hour away from Melfi towards Napoli. We walked around the city a bit, had a caffe’ and took some photos. I couldn’t help but think how many of the people flocking to Florence, Pisa, Venice or other cities in the north are missing out on the beauty of the southern cities. Quaint, slowly paced, friendly and hiding amazing treasures. If only travelers could see the breathtaking beauty these cities and towns have. 

   
 

Castelmezzano is a perfect example of a hidden jewel. Perfect for anyone who enjoys a surprise around every corner while taking a hike to the very top! A photographers dream come true, Castelmezzano would never disappoint. 

   
       

For the thrill seekers there are two different Zip Lines as well. One Zip Line is so high and long you will start in Castelmezzano and end in another city!! 

More in another post. For now I want to leave you with this photo above and no I did not attempt that climb! 

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I’ve waited 2 years for this

Soon I will be back in my beloved Italy! Since the day I returned from the last trip I have been planning and dreaming of  this visit. First is was 2 years, then 1 year, then I started counting months. In April I started counting weeks and NOW I am counting the days! 

Containing my excitement for just a little longer has been difficult. Making my mental lists and working my butt off to cover my finances/budget has been the steady focus. As has been my Italian Language classes. I’m in Beginners Level Two and struggling through it, but I keep at it. The way I look at it is that I know a lot more now than I did before and I will learn a lot more while I am there! Once on that plane and headed “home” all of the hard work and struggles will be set aside. There have been four babies and one adopted child added to our family since my last visit and I will get to see most, if not all, of the elders I met the last time. 

Returning to Italy has been more than a dream or a goal, it is a must for my heart and soul. I want to walk the ground, see the sky and breathe the air of my beloved land called Italy. Family is waiting for me and I am so anxious to see them again! 046

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Going Home

Tornando Casa

There are only a few weeks to count down for my return to Italy. It’s getting close now, the time seems to be passing much quicker and the excitement is building. My list is as follows:
Italian Language Classes; Beginners Level 1 taken twice. Beginners Level 2 starts in two weeks. Study, study, study!
Wardrobe; After changes in my medications I have returned to my normal weight (I lost the extra 30 lbs I had gained). So, I decided that I would allow myself to create a wardrobe to take this time. It’s been an amazing feeling to find clothes that FIT and are comfortable, stylish and make me feel terrific. Through discounts, sales and coupons I have really created a nice mix. Though not finished I have a great base. Never in my life have I purchased a “wardrobe”, it’s always been a shirt here, jeans there, etc. This feels awesome!
Money; Of course it always comes down to money. Ugh. With the weather starting to break slowly towards Spring, things are picking up some. I have been working into my schedule every grooming dog I can. I should be fine, with the exception of getting a Hotel room for 2 nights in Rome. I found that if I fly into Rome I can save almost half the airfare and I now have family that lives in Rome, so I will be able to see Rome and have personal tour guides!
Gifts to take; Well, that has been the hardest part. This time I want to bring a little something for everyone. Rochester is known for it’s Lilac’s. We have a Lilac Festival every May and it attracts people from all over. If I can find them reasonably priced I’d like to get little bottles of the Lilac Perfume to take. I also would love to find small “packable” gifts that are made either here in my city or in the US.

My family in Melfi is waiting for me! It has been two years since my epic trip. I have stayed in touch with most of the family. Facebook Helps, as does the cell app “Whatsapp”. Now that I have been working harder at learning the language, I can recognize much more of what’s being said as texts come through. I use the translate program less and now mostly to confirm accuracy. My cousin has been taking English classes and it should be interesting how well we can communicate this time!

The excitement is building!!!

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Stealing my WordPress Password

Some one out there has been trying to steal my account. In the past three months I have received multiple emails informing me of requests/attempts to change my password.

This is MY account and has been since 2008, I will not let it go willingly or otherwise. Mountain Gypsy is my name, you can’t have it. All posts are mine, stories of MY life, MY experiences, MY thoughts and feelings. You can’t have those either.

Mountain Gypsy

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My Absence

My apologies for my long absence. The only excuse I can offer is my lack of inspiration. My life has really not been very interesting lately. Work is work and though I like what  I do, I have been exploring other possible careers with greater opportunities financially. It’s tough when you’re pushing the age of 60.

A very good friend has invited me to continue my horseback riding lessons. It has been a wonderful diversion and a chance to spend more time around horses. There is both a calm and nervous feeling when I’m there. Since I can remember I’ve always loved horses, always wanted to be around them. I love the smell of a horse barn, I love to hear them walk through the barn, I love to listen to them eat and I love to be near their massive size. The nervousness comes from inexperience and lack of knowledge about them.

I am going in to week 5 of beginners Italian language classes this week. It’s starting to sink in and make more sense. The class size is much smaller than my last beginners and the teacher is very good at drilling the basics. All of the students are older women like me. Some struggle as much as I do and the others have the structures of grammar ingrained in their head – unlike me. Thankfully, I recognize more and I am slowly remembering. Lately, I have noticed that I automatically am converting or comparing certain words. All in all I guess it’s going pretty well.

The monthly countdown to my next visit to Italy has begun; almost 7 months now. I busted my butt this summer to make every dime I could and almost have the money for my tickets. I have spoken to the Travel Agent and gotten her advice to purchase them in January. She thinks the prices will have dropped some by then – right now they’re pretty high. I have also been thinking about finding more information about moving to Italy. Still going over the “Pros & Cons” of a permanent move. It’s a huge step for someone like me and the logistics of that kind of move are overwhelming. I have a hard time dealing with the “what ifs”. On the other hand, my Italian family loves me and are all anxiously awaiting my return. We still send messages daily through WhatsAp and that has been very comforting. I am a small part of their everyday lives and I cherish that.

Getting through the next 6 months of winter should be my last hurdle before I leave. Here in Western NY the leaves are still falling and the gloomy days have begun. Last week I packed my flip flops and shorts, tanks and tee’s. I pulled out the tote with my long sleeved shirts, sweaters and beloved fleece. My dresser now filled with the bulk of winter clothes. We pass through another season of change. My hope is that these months will pass effortlessly and that there will be little or no drama added to my life as I wait.

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Wheels go ’round

Have you ever had so many thoughts go through your head at one time you question your own sanity? Yeah, that’s where I am right now. Actually, that’s where my head is at the moment. My body on the other hand is hanging outside with a gentle warm breeze touching my face and arms. Listening to the birds sing and glancing to watch them zooming and darting from one feeder to another. This makes me happy and peaceful. I have put out a couple of suet baskets and there are frequent guests including a Woodpecker pair, chickadee’s, a pair of Cardinals, lots of Goldfinches and a few House Finches. I have strategically placed three Hummingbird feeders about the area and those darling little gems visit often and always make me smile when I see them drinking the nectar I have made just for them. Next to me there is the pond stocked with so many little goldfish and the gentle sound of the waterfall rolling and bubbling. This is my joy this is what I will think about during those long, dreary winter days when my hands and feet are cold. The days when the sky is always grey and the days are dreadfully short and snow is plentiful. I will take in these days of warmth and sunshine as long as I can.
I find it so strangely ironic that this happy little spot where I sit now is just seconds away of my childhood. The house my parents had when I was born is right up the street and directly across from that house sits the old farmhouse that my father loved so dearly and purchased when I was a toddler and just up the street from that old place is the last home we lived in as a family. The ugly 1950’s rectangular box newly built and purchased for us because my mother hated the farmhouse so much. Granted there were rats that occasionally made their way into the house and the old well out front had long been abandoned when modern plumbing came to the suburbs. Its new residents were snakes. I remember my father trying relentlessly to rid the well of the snakes to no avail. My mother won and we moved into the “box”. I had always missed the farmhouse with its old barns and out buildings we kids had so much fun playing in. To this day I still love the smell of old barns. I can remember sitting in the stairway of that old house during my first encounter of “The Wizard of Oz” scared to death. Dad kept peeking in to check on me and refill the little bowl of popcorn that I clutched for dear life all alone in the dark, still hearing the movie but not watching it. “I’ll get you my pretty”…….
At the new “box” house dad built a swing set from wood by hand. We had a pool back there too. In the garage he had sets of hooks on the walls; 5 bicycles, 5 skateboards and an assortment of snow sleds all hung neatly. My dad was in the Liquor business and for a short time he was in charge of bringing an Altar Wine made by catholic monks to the public. He often would have us putting labels on wine bottles and sorting various paper promotions into piles. I liked doing those things because he always had Cheese crackers that he’d take to the wine tasting events he’d put on and of course snacking on those made the tasks even more fun. The Cheese crackers were “special” and we did not have them in the kitchen. Our snacks were more like apples, bananas, celery and maybe some potato chips here and there.
There were ALWAYS large amounts of kids around. My mother did a lot of babysitting for others and at any given time would have 10 kids, us 5 girls and 5 or more that belonged to other parents. Sometimes I wonder if that was the reason she turned to drinking. I guess the more you have the easier it could be. We were one big band of little people ranging in ages from teens to diapers. Each sort of chummed up with another and my bestie was Debbie. Closest to my age by a few months but those months put her one year ahead of me in school. We remained friends for many years after growing up and parents severing friendships.
The house Debbie grew up in is one street away from where I am now. It freaks me out a lot. It breaks my heart because she has been gone over 30 years now and I miss her, oh God how I miss her. She took her own life at the young age of 27 and never said goodbye to me. We were in diapers together, shared Barbie’s and hot summer days, winter school vacations and at 19 we even shared an apt briefly. We worked together at a Record warehouse where we’d pull the old vinyl records with amazing art covers and put orders in boxes for deliveries the record stores. It was a really cool job and we shared it like two broke girls hoping for the big break in life. Her childhood is one street away…..
My head spins, my heart aches and all the while I make adjustments to both. Wanting desperately to go back to the past and wanting somehow to find my future. I want to find my place in the world where I belong. As a little girl and teen into my twenty something years, I only wanted to find my true love, get married and have babies. During my late 20’s and into my 30’s I came to accept that those dreams were not to be for me. I’m totally fine with that now but I sure do wonder sometimes when my trade off will come. When those moments come I hit myself up with “you’ve lived more than most people”. I just remind myself of the years lived; the hurts, the happiness, the times I felt beaten and the times I got up. My faith hasn’t always been my compass but I have leaned on it often. I can say with complete honesty that I have offered up just as many “thank you’s” as I have fears and heartbreaks. There has always been a feeling within me that I am being guided through this maze called life by someone other than my earthly self.
I go through my days focusing on work because it’s all that has ever saved me. I hope and pray for a better life and God knows I sure do work hard for it. I still consider the possibility of moving to Italy. I still think I can pull a rabbit out of my hat and have a home of my own again. Whether in the US or Italy, I would love to have a home of my own again.
It’s so strange being here in this area again. Remembering what the landscape was like so many years ago and how much it has changed to fit growth and population. The big horse farms are gone and the dairy farms are all gone as well, replaced with housing tracks, medical buildings and commercial businesses. Once 4 way stops are now 3 to 6 lane intersections. It makes my head spin, the stark contrast of what life was like as a little girl and what it is now.
Moving forward and working towards my goal of a better life has always been the common thread in my life but now it seems much more difficult to focus on. It’s hard to keep perspective when all you see are memories of your past. A past filled with happiness and innocence, sisters and besties, snow suits and bathing suits and all of the things that came along with my childhood.
Though the memories of childhood linger and I fight to stay on track with my goals for my future, my head just spins with thoughts of both. The nagging questions are; what can I learn from this, how can I use this mental place to understand and make sense of it all?

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One sure thing

There are few things we can count on in life other than change. It can happen in an instant or it can happen over a few weeks or months but for sure it happens. Sometimes change happens so slowly you hardly even notice it until, one day you see things completely different. It is in that moment you realize, for better or worse, you have changed. Then there are the times you make change happen, a choice, a conscious effort to recreate or relocate or do something totally out of your comfort zone. Switch things up to make your own life better.

Bring in the surprise factor and change can send you reeling….the sudden loss of someone close, the betrayal of a friend you trusted for years. Forced change is by far one of the hardest changes, at least for me, to deal with. I don’t allow many people to get too close into my heart for this very reason but when I do, you’re “all in”. Break that trust or betray me and you’re done. It may sound pretty harsh and severe, but I can cut you out of my life, with the skill of a highly trained surgeon. Every possible tie is broken and absolutely NO information that I have any control over is given about me. The person doesn’t get to know where I am, what I’m doing, who I talk to etc. I leave them with the wondering, the not knowing and their thoughts or reminders of me. As far as I’m concerned they have no rights to know a single thing about me once they have hurt and betrayed me. It all changes.

This brings me to how we change ourselves. It’s a sure thing; we change. Whether its chosen or not, everyday we meet with the challenge of how to adjust to it. How we might want to make it happen or how we plan to alter its path, our path. Looking for the good or just pieces of positive parts so that we may become the better for it. Taking the lessons learned and applying the better parts to make us better people. A person who can hold their head up and say ” I met with a dragon today – it scared the crap out of me but I learned from it “.

Change is unstoppable, for me the key is how you deal with it and the choices you make. I happen to be one of those people who needs time to think, to examine the parts and the rolls all have played. I take the time to digest the hurt and the pain that have changed my life. Slowly I adjust to the changes others have inflicted and I move on, I push forward and make the alterations necessary to stay true to myself. Bitterness is not an emotion I like to feel or carry so I refuse to let that in. My choice has always been to learn from change, accept it and use it to be the person I want to be. Someone who is open, honest, loving, giving and taken their share of changes with grace.

It’s a sure thing change comes – how you handle it is completely up to you.

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