May 2009

When I had my lunch in Certaldo, Alicia had asked me if I had ever eaten Panzanella. I knew what it was but I never had the desire to order it. She was shocked…oh you must have Panzanella…it is a very traditional dish….you must have….we went on to talk about the place of Tuscan bread in their cuisine…..unsalted bread that is….a tradition of Tuscany which I’ve discussed before. Alicia talked about her grandmother..and how she ate everything with bread….even that big fruit…it is pink….you eat it…ah watermelon? Yes, she even ate watermelon with bread! Her story of her grandmother was wrapped around the recipe of Panzanella….a recipe that she told me in Italian….and I understood her…which for some reason made it take on even more meaning. Hmm…Panzanella….a simple dish…that I will try to prepare in the style of her grandmother.

Weeks went by and the story of Panzanella faded….until one day…it was time. I walked into Elisabetta’s and told her I was going to make Panzanella! Ah…she said…a very traditional Tuscan dish. It is very simple. But let’s go to the book to see how he does it. This has become our new routine…ever since the ricotta fritto. Elisabetta pulls out the CUISINETOSCANA book and looks for the recipe….we go over it…she translates it…tells me what she does different and then loads my bag with the groceries that I need. This cookbook is worn…tattered cover and simply disheveled…but the pictures are beautiful and the recipes amazing…and it is authored by one of the “best chefs in Tuscany” who owns one of the “best restaurants in Tuscany”. I’m always so focused on what Elisabetta is saying that I don’t ever absorb the chef’s name but I will…because I must get this book….it holds so many memories now.

Elisabetta begins with the emphasis on the bread…it MUST be a traditional bread of Tuscany….senza sale…and it must be old…at least a day old….but again it has to be the Traditional bread only…..and a day old for sure. Capito. You then take the onion…and she loads one in my bag…I grimace inside because my GERD does not do well with onions….but I can’t eliminate it…it’s the tradition….it wouldn’t be authentic….I have to sacrifice my esophagus just this once….and stop by the pharmacy for antacids on my way back. You chop the onion into small pieces….you then do the same with the cetriolo….ah how do you say that in english…the green vegetable…cucumber I say immediately….yes cuu cumber she says. I love the way she pronounces some english words. I really think we should change some of our emphasis on some words as it sounds so much better…cuuuuu cumber with a emphasis on the ber. (You know you just did that outloud!). Then of course, pomodori….lots of chopped pomodori.

You also take basil and add it to the rest….then you take the bread out of the water and you spremere….how you say in english as she is motioning with her hands what looks like a squeeze….squeeze I said and she quickly responds yes a squeeza you squeeza the bread til all of the water is outa…and then you add it to the salad. When is all “prepare ed “(another great word I love to here her say) then you drizzle with olio and sale….of coursa…..and then you put in the cooler (refrigerator:)) …for an hour….it is very important that it goes in the cooler for an hour before you serva.

I have to digress a bit and say I am not making fun of her accent in the least bit….quite the opposite. When I attempt to speak Italian I feel as if I’ve butchered…no slaughtered their beautiful language….when she speaks english, it becomes even more beautiful….how fair is that?

So..I’m excited…a bit worried about the onion but excited. I love that I just heard the recipe from two very local people and it was identical…and it was all about the bread. So, I bid my ciaos et al and off I went…back home…with the usual stop by Christian’s to grab our fresh pasta. As I wait for him to prepare and cut the pasta, I notice the bread sitting on the bench…it must be Thursday. Is that traditional Tuscan bread? I ask. OH YES…he exclaims. Senza sale? I say (like an idiot because everyone knows traditional bread is senza sale). Si..senza sale. All traditional bread is without salt he says…which I knew but I just wanted to make sure that I don’t make any errors in my preparation of Panzanella. Would this be the bread I use for Panzanella? Panzanella?! Si….it is the proper bread…and then he breaks into the his story of Panzanella. I smiled to myself as I knew I was fully prepared…..but still…I listened. It is important the kind of bread that you use….this is right….you take this bread and you must leave it for at least a day…..and then you MUST soak it overnight….overnight? Did Elisabetta say overnight? I couldn’t remember….that adds another day onto the process! So, I buy it today…soak it tomorrow….and then make it on the third day? Bummer…I was really craving it now. I asked Christian again….you soak it over night? He said yes…his mother always would soak it over night….very important. He was involved in food…is Italian…can’t remember what Elisabetta said…and I know Alicia didn’t speak to the time aspect….so I decided to go with it…overnight it will be. The rest of his recipe followed suit with Elisabetta…except the cooler part….he did not say it MUST go in the cooler for an hour. I liked that idea though and trust Elisabetta so I decided to keep that step in the recipe.

I was craving white wine for a change so Christian gave me a bottle of the white wine produced from their organic farm. It had Trebbiano and Chardonnay grapes…mostly Trebbiano….very light and crisp….slightly fruity. You can tell he knows his wine as well. He said the Trebbiano is very typical of Tuscany. That confused me because they make Balsamic Vin out of a Trebbiano varietal…in Modena and Reggio Emilia….yes Balsamic is made out of a white grape.

Christian was startled a bit when I asked him about that as most Italians seem to be when you know anything about their real traditions…and said yes, it is the same varietal…and then told me the story about the evolution of the Trebbiano varietal in Tuscany…as it used to be a big part of Chianti…and that is why they planted it. Then something wiped it out at some point so they didn’t have as much for the Chianti….they realized that the Chianti was heartier and more full bodied without it so they decreased the percentage that went into Chianti and now use it for white wine. Now remember this is all hearsay and it’s been translated to me who is then trying to remember the details to translate it to you….so it you are interested I would suggest that you “google it”.

As I walk to our flat, I have to remember that I am not eating panzanella tonight….I keep getting excited for the flavors and then remember ….oh yea…..it’s TWO days! I get home, unload the groceries and get the same cheers from the crowd….what did you get?…..what are you making for dinner?….are you making Panzanella? I quickly explained that I have to let the bread become stale and then soak it overnight…so we were looking at three dinners from now….the crowd was not pleased. At dinner I told the girls about my journey into Panzanella….I said it amazed me that a young dude….like Christian….would not only know the recipe for Panzanella but be very happy to give his version…..which is of course, is the right way! Emily wasn’t impressed…she said mom, he works in the food industry…of course he knows about food. No…I don’t think so Em….I think everyone knows how to cook in this country…..she dismissed me…as a good 14 year old would.

Fast forward to next day….bread aging in the warm air…..and our new internet router being installed. We finally got internet in our flat so we don’t have to leave our security door open to pirate the other waves. The man who came to install it was very pleasant…..didn’t speak much english….probably my age…..hard worker…..typical of someone who might install your internet cable…..whatever that is. I’m sitting in my familiar chair reading an article from Bene, an American Italian magazine….it is an article about sweaters and asking a bunch of different Italians which sweater they like best and why. It showed pictures of each one in the sweater they chose….kind of lame but actually entertaining….

….the internet man, Antonio, interrupted me…. I looked up and answered….looked back down at the article…..looked back up at the Antonio…..tried to stop myself from potential embarrasment….but couldn’t help myself…..and I asked “sapete come fare panzanella?” Emily looked at me in sheer horror….she could not believe that I just asked the internet repairman how to make Panzanella….she looked right back down at her computer….trying to pretend that she was not present.

Antonio, on the other hand, stopped…..turned around with a gleam in his eye and he said, “Panzanella?!” Si!….suddenly the birds began to sing and the angels began to blow their horns…..and Antonio….began to speak VERY good english. The more he spoke, the more the kids relaxed…and listened…and smiled. Yes..it was all the same….he didn’t require an overnight soak…only several hours….and he did not say to “dress” it. I asked…don’t you put olio e sale on it? He looked at me aghast and said ….but of course….he laughed…and looked at me with disdain…but of course you put olio e sale…he mumbled as he went about his wiring duties.

Antonio would work for a bit and then want to talk about Panzanella…work…Panzanella….at one point he launched into the “history”….he said it originated in Jills….I said Jills….and he said yes…Jills….I said where is Jills? He said you know Jills. I said no….where is it…..he looked at me totally disgusted….Jills you know…..preesons. Emily yells Jails mom Jails……geez mom….what is your problem? You’ve got to love 14. Yes he said that in Jills they only ate bread and water….they decided they needed more so they came up with this dish. I asked, really? I think I had a “yea right” look on my face because he got a bit embarrassed and said…..well I don’t know if that is true but that is what they say….Antonio hooked everything thing up….we bid a fond ciao….now bonded in Panzanella….and went along with our day.

I was now totally inspired to ask every Italian this question…and get a broad spectrum of stories….I will ask as I am inspired. It’s mainly for my own entertainment as I get such joy listening to the locals talk about their culture….the information is so interesting…but I believe that is only a piece of it. It is an effort and a definite challenge to communicate when neither is sure nor secure in the others language….it creates a beautiful exchange no matter what the words hold….and it leaves you feeling as if you have truly connected with someone on a deeper level….not sure why….but if you’ve done it…..you know and if you haven’t….do it…and you will see.

Ah…so here are some pictures….you got the recipe….that’s all it is…..everyone has warned me that people will add things to this but if you want to prepare it in the traditional Tuscan way….you will only include…..drum roll please……onions, cucumber, tomato, basil, and bread….now you probably won’t have access to bread without salt so maybe use a Ciabatta…..leave it over night….then soak it over another night…(actually I checked back with Elisabetta and she was adament about one hour)….but I did it overnight and it was good….and then add it to the chopped ingredients…dress with one of our Napa Valley extra virgin olive oils…because you need that bitterness and heat from those oils….and sea salt…folks…please use sea salt! Leave it in your frig for an hour and then toss a bit and serve.

I have to say that is was amazing! I know why they emphasize the bread…it makes the dish. The onion was so sweet…it was a “torpedo” onion…amazing….and no side effects!! The kids loved it…..just a great spring/summer salad with a bit more substance….and the best part is to remember all of the stories when you are preparing and eating it….share them with your family….friends….and make a memory!!

Wow..this was a long one….I really try to make these stories as concise as possible….it’s hard to do when you are trying to capture and pass on just a tad of what you experience….ouch…my hands hurt….time for pictures!

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The bread squeezing was such a cool feeling that I had each girl take a turn….just like preschool……they loved it!

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The bread was very light and fluffy almost….right after you squeezed it..almost like bread crumbs.

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One cucumber, one onion and a lot of pomodori!

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The infamous “torpedo?” onion. Safe for those suffering from GERD. :)

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With olio d’olivo, sale and an hour of being in the “cooler”!

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Buon Appetito!

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STUCK

by admin on May 19, 2009

Right now my mind is like an L.A. freeway….not quite at a standstill…but close. There are so many thoughts stacked up that there is little movement. Every time a thought starts to move, another cuts it off. Every thought wants to go….but no “one” can…there is no path.

Is it because I’m sitting on the couch?…ah….my familiar chair…much better. It’s become a ritual to me…to sit in this chair to write. Hmm…will I have to ship it home with me? Oh no…we are moving in a week to a new pad around the corner (ok they are beginning to cut eachother off again)..where will I sit there?

Ok….wait….I need to make an outline and tackle all of these things one by one. This is why procrastination killed the cat….or was that curiosity? Anyway, I’m screwed because I haven’t written…I’ve been selfish and have absorbed all these amazing experiences and have not shared….and now the chickens have come home to roost. Good thing the cat is gone.

Now…let’s be mature….the outline please…….

1. DID WE EVER GET IN? How the kids and I got in the house on that perfect day….Judi is waiting anxiously! :)
2. HOT ITALIAN TRAINERS INCREASE GYM TRAFFIC. We joined a gym…girls have never been so anxious to workout.
3. HOW MANY ITALIANS DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE PANZANELLA? Perfect Panzanella after accumulating recipes from everyone from the glass sales person to the man who hooked up our internet.
4. LIVE TO TELL. OH…the gas leak….I’ve been sick in the morning….very lethargic….turns out we have had a gas leak in my bedroom since day one…thank God for the internet man who found it!
5. SOCIAL MEDIA INSANITY. With your encouragement, I’ve diven…or is it dove….deep into the world of social media. It’s the largest ocean I’ve ever been in and at times can’t see my way out…I’m still suffering from vertigo from the recent rapid ascent.
6. THE LAUNCH OF OUR NEW BATH CO AND BLOG, ETC…want your input on our blog before it goes to the masses…you will be directed to it in a second. Make sure you learn your Italian word and soak in the beauty for the day!
7. COOKING CLASS WENT UP IN FLAMES. I finally took a cooking class…www.garga.it….met Sharon through Elisabetta’s….cooked an eggplant for the first time in my life!
8. PLEASE RSS FEED…TWIT…FACEBOOK….ME or something so I don’t have to keep paying my email service…my savings equates to your savings…I was a hold out too but we can do this…change is good.

AH…we are finally moving…slowly but the thoughts are beginning to move and make way for clear passage. So stay tuned as I begin to unravel…..

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A Perfect Day

by admin on May 8, 2009

As I stare out the window of the train, I notice a smile on my face….one that I cannot erase. There is no where to start or end the description of this day to do it justice…it was a perfect day…aside from the octopus in my pasta that is…it was a perfect day. I take no credit for what transpired….only that I prepared….yes, I, Peggy O’Kelly, prepared.

Why you ask…now approaching age 45 would I decide to begin preparing? Well… I have a new read…The Art of the Pilgrimage…(thank you Sandi!)…and I came across the quote from Louis Pasteur, “In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind”. I never knew I would have more chance for chance if I prepared!

I prepared myself operationally…ensuring all details were accounted for long before my departure….and emotionally….took time before I crossed the threshold into this journey to sit and meditate….and calm any anxieties about the operations of the day. I then proceeded to Santa Maria Novella with a clear mind and a warm soul to board my train to Certaldo…a small medieval town close to Siena….the home of a glass manufacturer.

I was to meet the sales person, Alisa. She told me she had long blond hair…..and she would be waiting for me at the train station. As I sat on the train, I noticed a map…I decided to look to see exactly where the Certaldo stop was….ah two stops beyond Empoli…got it. Empoli came and the next stop did as well..but there was no sign of what it was….anxiety began to creep in…what if Certaldo was not marked…what if I overshot it….I looked for the map but it was no longer there…was it two stops or three stops….I quickly brought my thoughts down to a whisper and walked over to the door….as we approached the next stop and people disembarked, I looked out the door and couldn’t miss….Certaldo. With a sigh of relief, I stepped off the train. Instantly I was caught in the charm of the small town…the train station is one of the oldest in Italy that is still in operation….you could feel the history.

What is the likelihood of two blond women waiting for a train in a small Italian town? I stared at my first pick and she turned away and then I looked toward the second….and she stared back at me….”Alisa?” I said with hesitation….”Peggy?” she replied… and with two sighs of relief…we shook hands and began to walk to the car. She was young and spoke very good English….we began instant conversation and then jumped in her Alfa Romeo and sped away. As we began to converse, I felt as if I had just reunited with an old friend….easy and fun conversation. It was five minutes to their facility…I went for a tour and then to the showroom. I went through the bottles with both she and another man, a director of some sort….they were very accommodating, professional and had some interesting glass for us. As we accumulated bottles on the conference table, I had to continue to remind myself to forget about the romance of the setting…this was business….and I needed to stay focused and on task.

As Alisa and I were beginning to get into detailed conversation about pricing, etc.., a very strong energy came into the room…Mr. Cervantes, the President of the company. He was a slight bit older then me…in designer jeans et al….a huge rolex on one wrist and two thin ropes ( like a surfer might wear) around the other….his shoes were alligator perhaps…off white with brown splotches…and pointed toes….I had to smile…..he was groovy and he knew it….he proceeded to go off in Italian…said he was too tired to try to speak English…he told me that the best way would be to get a container and ship 20 pallets…..I smiled….and politely responded that only if he would invest in my company could I afford to purchase 20 pallets…he smiled….pretenses were dropped and the real negotiations began.

Now when I refer to Mr Cervantes you must understand…he would look me in the eye and speak to me in Italian…as if I understood. I would then look at Alissa and she would tell me what he said in english. This was the course of the conversation of the day….I then noticed how I spoke to him….and yes I too spoke english to him and then we would look at Alissa and she would translate. When Alissa spoke to me directly she would speak english…and I would answer in english..and then she would fill him in in Italian. At some point I felt as if I was on a game show….if a word was in question, we would throw our other words until we understood eachother….and if we were at the end of sign language and throwing words…Alissa would bring out the ipod touch….google translate. The process was bonding….as anything is when you have to work together….yes there was much more then a business deal on the conference table….there was friendship….my guess…lifelong.

Before we finishedwith all the details, Alisa looked at her watch and noted that it was time for lunch…I was invited. By this time we were all enjoying ourselves…and our inability to communicate….they were interested in America and I was interested in Italy…so we hopped in a dirty SUV and drove about 2 blocks to the restaurant. It was an old building…not historical…old….with the typical look of a traditional Italian restaurant…not pretty…but practical….and as Mr. Cervantes said, “it is not what a restaurant looks like but what it serves that matters, capito?” I was impressed with the lack of pretense. It seemed the more the day wore on, the more the “thin rope” side of Mr. Cervantes came through…and the less of the alligator shoes….it was a welcomed transition.

The specialty of this restaurant was seafood. It took a while using our mode of communication to let them know I was allergic to shellfish. They became very protective…as well as the waitress….they all spoke over the table for quite a while about what to feed me….I told them I wanted a traditional Italian meal….they could choose for me.

They were into the experience…so Alisa began…. normally they would have an appetizer….but not today unless I wanted….I declined. I was excited…I couldn’t really believe that Italians ate all these courses…I wanted to know first hand how this really works….and so we go….

Appetizer.

Second course…normally a pasta. I told them that in America, we would have pasta for a main dish. They were perplexed….”and what do you eat for first course? “….”salad” I said…”usually”….”and antipasta?”…..”we don’t…..maybe hors d’hoeuvres.” “And nothing after pasta?” “Not usually.” They shook their heads.

My first course arrived…a huge plate of pasta…with red sauce and polpo…I didn’t need to use the ipod touch for this translation…it was what looked like little octopus….squidish….they both had pasta with mussels.

We had a glass of a white wine that gave the sensation that it was sweet but the taste was clean and crisp….not sure what it was but it paired beautifully….and of course, the staple, acqua con gas.

As we ate, we spoke about their life….the business….my life….my journey….and then we stumbled into the history of the Chianti Flask. Mr Cervantes began the story of his family….his father’s first business was manufacturing the flasks…with the straw casing…for Tuscany Chianti wines. Originally woman put the straw on by hand….his father had a large portion of the market….700 women worked for him. Originally, the flask was only for the highest quality Tuscan Chianti wines….it was a law and it was protected…or so they thought. I can’t remember when exactly but at some point, the flask began to be used for cheaper wines….and the image was soiled. The original intent of the flask was that it could be recognized anywhere in the World on a shelf as the best Chianti from Tuscany…..but that history is now gone….the flask symbolizes just the opposite for many…..something that Mr Cervantes said his father and many others tried to fight….they tried to protect it….but could not. Their flask business is still thriving but much smaller….the process has been mechanized so no need for so many employees. Apparently, the manufacturers employed a large population of Tuscan women…so when the concept was forgotten, so too was a large part of the Tuscan economy. There is a book written by the University of Florence on the entire history of the flask…probably something on line as well. They both spoke about it with sadness and with passion…they are very proud of their Tuscany.

I continued to eat my pasta never feeling as if I was making a dent so I conceded and rested my fork. Mr Cervantes looked over at my plate, “What, you don’t like? We will get you something else….what do you like?” I looked at him perplexed at first… “I speak a little English”…he smurked. I laughed and told him the pasta was great but I could not possibly eat it all….they both looked at me puzzled. The waitress, who was very attentive and spoke a bit of english, came to clear our plates…. “what, you don’t like?”…..before I could respond, Mr Cervantes answered for me…in Italian….they all laughed….I joined in…that I could understand.

The next course was fish..for me swordfish, bass and calamari….they ate the same plus shrimp. At this course, I could order vegetables or side dishes with the main course…maybe fagioli or fagiolini or insalate…patata…whatever..it would be ordered at this time. I choose a insalate mista. It was very simple…lettuga e pomodoi e olio d’oliva…..delicious!

The fish was great and I was happy to be able to eat every bite. As I picked at the salad, the bread basket was put in my place… “Do you like the bread of Tuscany?” Alisa asked. “The pane senza sale”. “Yes I do now…not at first…and it is great for soup.” I replied. Mr Cervantes then launched into a pane zuppa recipe with Minestrone….I understood everything that he said….wow…. I know how to speak recipes in Italian…they were impressed and asked why I could understand.

I told them about Elisabetta…. ….and that she has taught me traditional Italian recipes…and how I am totally into my cooking here…. and most of my speaking in Italian is about food. I told them her recipe for fagioli and they laughed….yes they knew…very traditional. Mr Cervantes said something in Italian, not a recipe…so I looked at Alisa….and she said, “Next week, we will pick you up in Firenze and we will take you to a restaurant to eat the BEST Bistecca Fiorentina in Tuscany. You are in Firenze where they only serve the tourists….next week you will see how we eat.” I was thrilled and vowed not to eat the day before so I could finish everything.

“Dolce? Would you like dolce?” I graciously declined so immediately the waitress asked if I would like café…. “Si.” “Limoncello, Mr. Cervantes?” “Si…limoncello.” She then departed and so did Alisa….to the restroom. Mr Cervantes looked at me…and I looked at him…as if we were in a standoff as to who would attempt the other’s language first…he broke the silence. “Limoncello? You like?” “I have never had it but I have always wanted to try.” I said realizing that I spoke too many words to have a shot at his comprehension.

“No capito”

Ok so this time I will keep it simple…. “is it dolce?” I asked… “sweet” …..”sweeta?” he said… “what is sweeta”…. “dolce” I said…and he said “sale?”…and I said no “dolce” and he said “sale” and this went on for a few minutes until we both cracked up and then to our great relief…Alisa returned. As soon as my café was done, the limoncello arrived. As I sipped the liquore, I could not help but wonder if it tasted so good because of what it was or because of who I shared it with…two people who I was not prepared to enjoy and connect with…perhaps this was my “chance”.

The waitress was very sweet and welcoming. For some reason, I love to ask people where they learned their english….the taxi driver watched movies and subtitles….others studied in school and spoke English whenever possible….the waitress learned by translating songs….I have yet to meet anyone who has gone to a language institute….their method is true love…..dedication….desire….and determination. I was inspired…

We left with the usual ciao grazies and drove back two blocks to the office to finish up with business. As Alisa showed Mr. Cervantes our website, we all digressed….into one of my favorite topics…. “salvage”. We spoke about the passion for reclaimed items in our country and especially those that come from and therefore, symbolize Europe…and represent the lifestyle that we all dream is commonplace. They laughed and spoke of the realities of their country… I tried not to hear…and we continued to share cultures….mindsets….and were so caught up in the fascination of the tales of our two countries that we forgot about my train. Oh well…they are every hour….

To ensure I would catch the 6pm train, we packed up the glass samples, I called the kids and off we went to the train station. It was a wild ride as Certaldo has a bit of traffic for its size….and Mr Cervantes is not patient driver….as most Italians. As he ranted at drivers, Alisa and I continued our conversation….trying to get in every last thought before our time was up. They both came into the station with me to ensure I would get the right ticket…I put my money in the machine and out came two tickets…no change….they hit the machine…pressed the help button a hundred times and spoke to each other passionately in Italian….they hit the machine again…looked around…and pressed the help button ten more times…more Italian. They were serious yet I could not help but see the charm in it all. This went on for a bit until we realized my second ticket was a credit to redeem in Firenze….oops.

We said our ciao grazies and piacere(nice to meet you) and as they were walking away, Mr Cervantes turned around and said something to me…and then Alisa turned around and said…he said we will see you next week. I smiled at the two of them….and for a second wondered if this was their routine with naïve American producers….to get their business….and he speaks perfect English….ha…..how funny would that be…..but no, because I was not naïve….I was prepared… and this was “chance”.

As the sun beat in the window, I was lulled by the sound of the tracks… I was on my way home. I processed the beauty of the day. I pondered how close I was to having my own mold for a bottle…we still had things to work out and I’m not sure we can afford it quite yet…but we are so close…to a dream I have had for fifteen years…so close that I know it will happen….at some point…and there is so much peace in knowing. Looking back at all the wasted yearning, I now know that I am exactly where I am suppose to be….at the exact time that I am suppose to be here….for everything has its time and this is now…as it rightly should be….and it could not have been then…..so the yearning was for not…or is it naught? Capito?

I need to continue to refine how to just be….and to know….and accept the moment for what it is….for it is what it should be…and I vow to welcome whatever is to follow in whatever form it comes…positive or negative…it won’t be easy and I won’t always get it right…but I vow to try.

Oh and the moments still came as I proceeded on my journey home….with a quick stop at Elisabettas to find an amazing selection of produce from Florence…spring is here!…and more fresh pasta from Christian…and…turning the corner to our flat….I found my kids…..my kids? Standing outside of the door….yelling, “mom!”. Loaded down with groceries and a mind full of the meal to come, I was not prepared to hear that they had locked us all out of the flat…we had no keys….at 8pm…..in Italy. As we sat on the steps of our building pondering what to do next……..I remembered my vow….and smiled sweetly as Emily noted…… “well at least we have good vegetables to eat”.

To be continued………

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