Updated: Aug 24
I know, I've been quiet. I could say it's been the heat (and it is very hot here this week) but actually much of the summer has been unusually mild: we had regular rainfall though mid-June and from mid-July through early August our daily highs rarely touched 30°C. For Tuscany, that's bizarre. Now of course, the data are righting themselves, with highs well above 35°C and only 13mm of rain since July 1st. The grass around the pool is no longer soft and green, as above (photo made on August 2nd), but crisp and yellowed. Yes, water trucks are visiting us again and yes, when the landscape withers it kinda takes the wind outta my sails. But that's not really what's kept me from writing.
I could say my mom Lilia's declining physical and mental health has been tougher to witness, and it has. Her carer Vasile took a month off between mid-June and mid-July, and that left me, my partner Gio and my eldest son Elio pinch-hitting with the help of part-time workers. This brings us into closer contact with
her, which is arguably good, but that also means getting a deeper sense of her loneliness, disorientation, ill health, consequent discomfort and attendant snarkiness. All normal for 93 years of age, but hard going for her and those near her. Vasile is back now; we're all relieved. All except mom that is. She's looking out at the fienile and the olive grove on a good day but mostly she's looking back on what no longer is. And that includes what she can no longer do: talk to her husband, go for a drive, visit friends, make a meal (most attempts end with charcoal-like remains at the bottom of a burnt-out pot), write... And since that's a lot to bear she mostly stays inside and watches TV at high volume for hours and hours each day. She claims the TV is "company". Hard for me to fathom considering she has a PhD in modern literature. When I catch sight of her outdoors with a book in her hand, my mood lifts momentarily.
Before Vasile left, I was thrilled to host some of my closest American friends. In late June I took advantage of a late guest cancellation to have the dear and brilliant Masa and Sigi (neither is American actually) come stay for a week from New York City. Their visit coincided with an upsetting situation involving a young Nigerian man whom Gio and I had intended to help, but who instead ended up extorting money from us. The emotional charge was high enough to want to blog about, but the issue was complex enough that time not spent with my good friends was best spent solving the problem. Just as a resolution was negotiated, my friend Chuck flew in to see us from San Francisco. Chuck's visit had great resonance not just because it
was years in the making but because Chuck is, for me, that rare friend with whom multiple major passages are shared: the birth of my first two children (and his), career twists and turns, separation and divorce, the death of a parent. To add heft to Chuck's 10 days with me, we participated in a Native American sweat lodge ceremony (in Belluno!) and proceeded from there to hike to a mountain hut in the Dolomites. Back at Poggiosole, Chuck helped me refinish some outdoor wood planters, instantly charmed my two youngest boys, and re-forged a connection with Elio (now 21). After having my head handed to me by a charming and traitorous Nigerian, this was just what the doctor ordered.
So yeah, I've been quiet; life a little less so. Guests have kept coming and seem content, including a Dutch-Canadian family that just checked out this morning after having stayed a full month! As we wind down towards summer's end, there's a ton to reflect and act on, from the mundane (improvements and repairs), to a blisteringly high rating of 9.9 on Booking, to the bonds that hold us together and the fears and prejudices that destroy trust and goodwill. I'm grateful for Gio, for my four kids, for friendships, health, and a job that I love.
Next up: why our rates are increasing again next year 😵