God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Next Year at This Time!?

Already qualms set in! The summer has been delightful here in our little piece of earth we call our own. Even in a city, it is possible to escape into a private world of beauty and serenity.
Our property looks so beautiful this year--myriads of flowers; a startling pink bougainvillea owning a corner of the orchard; greens of every color; many, many birds with plumages of red, yellow, irridescent greens and blues flitting around the foliage and feasting from two feeders; water fountains playing music and the sparkling clear pool which has been Casey's favorite hangout this summer. It has been a rather perfect year--except for the whole visa situation and the obvious frustration of dealing or not dealing with a very obtuse LA Italian Consulate.
So--here's where it's at. For those of you who haven't been following the saga and really don't want to go back to the beginning--a quick synopsis of what's happened. Ken and I fell in love with Italy many years ago, so, in between travels to other places, we returned again and again--always finding enchantment in the favorite places and the new. Eventually we envisioned that in retirement we would spend several months a year in this country that captured our hearts.
Then--life played a trick, making parents of us again in our retirement. Because of a daughter who has run into problems grabbing hold of motherhood, we are now the court appointed guardians of our grandson--whom we adore and love wholeheartedly. He is a charmer who opens all kinds of doors for us as only a child can.
And so, he travels with us where ever we go--Italy, Spain, the Rain Forest, the Galapagos Islands, Holland, France--across the world. At seven he has seen more of the world than most people see in a lifetime. To read about these travels, check out our Travel Commentaries and Photos.
Now we are trying to make reality of the dream to live in Italy for a while. With this aim, we have been preparing to move there in July 2006 for a year, intending to enroll Casey in the International School of Florence. Our real preference would be an Italian public school but two things interfer with that. 1.) A year is not long enough for him to become fluent enough to learn well and 2.) In Italy, students go to school on Saturday and we want our weekends free to come and go.
There are several requirements to successfully apply for an elective residency or long term stay visa--some of them rather arcane and cumbersome but all are doable. But--we ran into a major hurdle revolving around our guardianship of Casey. The consulate wasn't quite sure how to handle this and was fearful to take the papers at face value. In this day of international kidnapping, countries have become cautious about allowing kids in when they are not traveling with natural parents. So--the Los Angeles Consulate (which is excruciatingly unfriendly and difficult to work with), decided that they would have to send our papers to Rome for a decision.
At this point, we decided that rather than hope that Rome would understand the legality and complexities of a California guardianship order, it would simplify things if we went back into court and obtained a direct statement from the judge stating that taking Casey is OK. The problem being that it is always risky business going back to court when you have a favorable ruling. Going back puts that in jeopardy in the event the judge decides to see things differently. Plus, attorneys do not come cheaply even when the work required of them is minimal.
So--we sweated this out for a few weeks but Monday, the judge ruled favorably once again, approved our petition and left out attorney to write the final wording.
Now we are back into planning and, as with anything that involves a major life change, we question and we wonder--but, not enough to seriously consider not following through. It is exciting, invigorating, exhilerating, etc. We can't wait--being a major type A person, I want to get it all done now--patience is not my virtue. I like to know that all is well and to be in charge. But, wait we must.
However, we have a short reprieve in getting started as Wednesday we leave for 3 weeks in Alaska-- bear viewing, walking on glaciers, river rafting, watching whales and more. We're taking our first cruise and then renting a car and driving on our own for two weeks. I have found that planning for Alaska is almost like planning for an international trip as it is so different from the lower 48. I think that this will be a lot of fun and anticipate sharing it when we return.
So--ciao for a while. A Presto!