Crazy Awesome 

This year I decided to spend three weeks in Italy with my family. My first week, as expected, passed way too quickly. Though we did gather to celebrate my fathers cousins birthday. Her 86th year.


These are her children. Also present were her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A highlight of the first week was a visit with my grandmothers niece, Vincenza. I say highlight because she is the last living elder on my grandmothers side.

When I was here last year she spoke of a tree that my grandma had planted on their property in the country. It was just before I was going back home and no time to go see it. So for the whole year I thought about this tree and wondered if I could make a trip to see it. The following day we picked up Vincenza and she lead us to her land of vineyards, apple trees, wild strawberries, pear trees etc. Sadly it is so overgrown now that her brother Angelo has passed. I’m sad to think what will become of this place that has belonged to the Montanarella family for well over 100 years, but grandmas tree stands. We estimated she planted it sometime around 1907.

It made my heart race to see this mighty tree. Knowing that as a young girl around the age of 10 years, put a seed in the ground, its roots took hold and here it is over 100 years later.

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Excitement Anxiety and Reward

The excitement is building for my return to Italy. I was able to get my tickets last week and in just a few months I will be on my way back to my “other” home again. My family is waiting and happy that I added one extra week this year. It will give us more time together and me more time to absorb more of the language and culture. The pace will be a bit more relaxed as one extra week will, I hope, take pressure off of trying to cram a bunch of stuff into less time. There are the meetings of elderly family members and little side day trips to places off the commercial path. Places of amazing beauty and history such as Castelmezzano & Benevento that many tourists never get to see. Am I sill considered a tourist?

This year I will be going with a large group of family to spend one week at a Resort on the southern shores of Sicily. It is a birthday celebration for one of my fathers cousins. I’m excited about this trip within a trip! I will get to see another piece of Italy and relax on the beach. There are half and full day tours available to visit ancient Churches and historical places which I would like to try to see if possible.
Although, the not so great part of this is the fact that I will have to wear a bathing suit. I have not worn a bathing suit in close to 15 years! Nor do I own one, which means I will be having anxiety over both searching for and wearing one. And I am only buying one, so they will have to get used to seeing me wear the same one.

I took a huge financial hit in the beginning of January when I injured my knee quite badly and was out of work for two full weeks. The back story is complicated and messy so all I will share is that I didn’t get paid for those two weeks. Which has put me behind a great deal and caused me a good amount of anxiety. Also, the huge swelling threw my Rheumatoid Arthritis into a frenzy and I have been dealing with that as well. But, all in all I think I’m getting close to putting myself back together and within this month should hopefully be able to get caught up financially. I kept thinking I had more time to save but somewhere lost track of that, so it’s nose to the grindstone from here on out.

I am so lucky to have this opportunity. I am so very proud of myself that I was able to find family I didn’t know I had in a beautiful country called Italy. The time and perseverance spent searching and digging for the possibility of family has brought me such great rewards and happiness. I feel complete knowing that they love me as much as I love them. My hope is that my sisters and family here will someday be able to accompany me, that I can be there to see their lives forever changed when they meet our family in Italy. I am excited to share this with them, all of them.
My dad would be so proud. Maybe he already is, watching from heaven.

Oh and for anyone who has followed me; Bruce Springsteen will be in Itlay while I’m there!!! Again!!!




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Change is in the air – Blessed are the Gypsies

I do not enjoy being in the company of people who think there’s nothing better than to drink so much alcohol they either go “numb” or make complete jerks of themselves under the guise of “let loose, have fun” or the best one; “relax” and whatever other reason they deem to justify being in such an altered state that they slur their words, stumble while trying to walk, think every stupid little thing is funny or start crying because the alcohol makes them so sad etc.
I have spent the majority of my life with people who either use alcohol in excess and turn into flaming idiots or assholes. I have also lost family and friends who have died as a result of excess alcohol. New Years Eve is the LAST night of the year that I want to be anywhere near these fiasco’s. Far be it from me to judge or stop someone from enjoying themselves, it’s just not MY thing.

I bid farewell to 2015 in peaceful slumber just a couple of days ago. Warm and comfortable in my bed. My year recounted quietly in my head, the good, the not so great, the fabulous and the difficulties. I thought about my visit to Melfi, Italy in the spring. My personal tours of places in Rome, Castelmezzano and Benevento. The private tour of the cave church Santa Margherita sec.XIII was incredible. As was the time I got to spend with family again.





I thought about the multiple car repairs too. From 3 brake lines going at 3 different times, slave cylinder going, needing a hole in the muffler plugged, oil change and worrying if it will make it just…one…more winter here in Upstate NY.
Thoughts also went to moving my elderly mother to a better apartment Easter Weekend. My sisters and I all worked fervishly to make that move and transition as easy as we could for her, but per our mother, she fought every step of the way. Only two and a half months later her stubborness backfired on her and in her refusal to use her walker because “she was fine” she fell on the kitchen floor and fractured her elbow in multiple places. I thought back to being in the Emergency Dept. with her and two of my sisters. Each of us cursing in our heads, mom included. The Surgeon wired back together the fragments he could save and sent her and a full cast off to a beautiful ReHab facility where she spent 6 weeks. The oldest sister had planned to come East for a 2 week visit anyway, so she was the lucky duck who got to help transition mom from rehab to home.

While snuggled quietly in my comfy bed I thanked God for lessons learned during 2015, for the strength and grace he provided me to accomplish my life’s tasks, both good and bad. I looked back at the year with grateful appreciation for all that I have and all that I have become. It was a year filled with love, family, friends and framily.

My 2016; Yesterday I started to price airfare back to Italy. My heart raced and jumped when I saw how cheap the same flight was compared to last year! This trip will be for 3 weeks, I’m a little nervous being gone that long, but they want me to stay as long as I can. They are excited and waiting for me.
Our Italian Language teacher has moved to NYC and I am crushed. I was looking forward to continuing classes with him. I am so far behind with my studies, I pull out my books, review my vocabulary flash cards, dabble with Rosetta Stone, listen to my Italian radio app on my phone, but I need to do more. There is a class at Nazareth College nearby, but it’s over $200 – out of my budget range. So, I will do as much as I can, but it will be what it will be.
Hopefully 2016 will be my year for another vehicle. The Honda has been a champ at 15 years old and pushing 200,000 miles. It still gets me around and I’m praying that it hangs in there for at least another 6-8 months.
I have been calling my Financial Case Manager regarding my health grant renewal to no avail. I only use it for my Rheumatoid doctor visits and required blood work. Monday, I will try another call. After that I’m not sure what to do. I need the medications, and with out the grant I can not continue. Without the meds I can not use my hands.
My expectations for good an wonderful things in 2016 are high. Keeping negative at arms length and inviting positive to come closer is becoming easier with each week that passes. I can be there to support my friends and family but I don’t have to absorb their sadness or pain.
The biggest change coming to me this year is silly but I will be turning 60! I can’t believe it. It seems so strange. Part of me feels totally fine with it, then other parts of me are panicking. My plan has always been to slow my work to a crawl and have no worries about surviving financially. Ha!!! Well THAT didn’t work as planned but I will still focus on the things I Can do something about. Work. Love. Peaceful warrior. Kindness. Protector.

Change is in the air, I can feel it. My gut never lies. 


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The Thanksgiving Police

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Mountain Gypsy's Blog

Today we American’s join together to celebrate one of the biggest non religious Holiday’s of the year – Thanksgiving. Filled with tradition, family, friends, food, football and parades. We gather with intentions of sharing all of the good we find in our lives, to give Thanks for our freedom, our bounty of food, those we love and those we have loved and lost. It is centered around the meal and the collection of those people who are important in our lives. Some Thanksgivings are memorable, some are not. Some are filled with laughter and joy, some are just another Thanksgiving. Some you never forget.

There is one Thanksgiving forever etched in my heart. It was about 1967 and I think I was about 11 years old. It was the first Thanksgiving without my dad and our “happy” family. My parents had split that summer, my mom packing all five of…

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I miss you so much

The two-year anniversary of my forced move is not that far away. I had to leave so much on the curb for the trash people. Literally on the curb. Years of building my art studio went into storage, I haven’t seen or touched my paints, inks, papers, ribbons, pencils, glues, cutters, stamps, beads since the day they were packed. My kitchen, books, curtains and assortment of antiques all in storage since move day. The “things” that gave me comfort, caught my eye, made me happy, made me smile all packaged up in cardboard, sitting in a barn, waiting and hoping.

It seems too that along with everything else packed away, so has my ability to write. I guess it was just too much anxiety, fear, sadness and adjustments that shut down my heart and my mind. I have thought of you all so often, stopped in to see the great posts, photos and adventures. But for some reason that I can’t explain, I have been rendered speechless. It makes me sad in the sense that I am no longer a part of your lives because I can’t write. I miss you all so much, truly I do. In some way maybe I just don’t feel equal anymore. My life is not filled with the adventures of Kayaking NYC and abroad. Going to beautiful, exotic places in Europe as a Travel Blogger, sharing magnificent photos from California and around the world, seeing the heart and soul of a painter from Vancouver BC or the most breathtaking Sketches from Australia. I miss you, each and every one of you. My life doesn’t seem worth sharing, at least not right now.

Please, please don’t give up on me.

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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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