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.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reflections in Pictures

...sitting here thinking about Italy this summer and pondering how vacation times fade into forgotten memories so quickly as the "now" takes over. Thank goodness for the magic of photography which captures memories for times of reflection and appreciation of what was.

So, forthwith here are some of this year's memories:

(these have music attached so you may want to turn down sound.)

Montepulciano--Good Friends--Bellissimo

Verona--Not Casey's Favorite Experience

Venice--A Place of Fantasy and Intrigue

Next up: Cortona, Greve and Assisi.  Stay tuned..

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Someone said.....

..if life gives you lemons, make lemonade (or something like that.) Traveling offers many life experiences and this year Casey has learned to make lemonade. Hopefully it is a lesson which will hold him in good stead throughout life.

If you have followed us for a few years, you know of the extraordinary relationship Casey has had with Camilla beginning when we lived at her family's farmhouse in 2006-2007. These two children were soulmates who bonded in a deep and meaningful way. They said they were more than friends, more than brother and sister, not "girlfriend/boyfriend." If you have read Casey's or my blogs over the years, you know.

It was with trepidation and curiousity that we returned to Italy this year after a two year absence. Now that they were older, what would the relationship be? Casey had become a teen-ager; Camilla not there yet but almost. How would their friendship reform itself?

The first day, after an initial awkwardness, it seemed as if all was well and, as usual, they had picked up where they had left off. But..somehow, by the second day, things were not good. Camilla pulled away and, inexplicatedly, rejected any interaction with Casey. Our boy was totally confused, devastated and profoundly hurt. We, he and her parents have no understanding of why or what. It was bizarrely strange. For several days, Casey would wake up with his usual optimism believing that things would be different. But, as days progressed, even he recognized that was not to be.

So, time for lemonade making...time to refocus and find new pleasures which were readily available. He just had to look and move on.

At Viticcio where we lived and were staying there was a family from Belgium who had been there several times when we were there. They had two girls whom Casey had now known for 5 years. So, it was easy to have fun with them, swimming, walking into the village, playing games, etc. Ken and I were happy to hear Casey laughing and happy. He still would wonder what had happened with his old friend but he was able to move out of his initial despondency.

Then we went to Cortona where he had a wonderful time with Matteo, the son of a friend of mine in that lovely, haunting hill town. He wrote all about it on his blog.Matteo and Me. Ken and I were so pleased to see some of the hurt dissipate as he had such a fun time with Matteo and his friends. He had no time to spare for thoughts of a little girl several villages away.

When we returned to Viticcio, it was time to have the birthday party we had planned to have when his very good friend Tomasso came home from camp. So, with Tomasso and the friends from Belgium who were still there we had quite a celebration. The absence of Camilla, who was in Cannes at a ballet school, was hardly felt.

The rest of the week Tommy and Casey were together constantly--either Tommy was with us and staying the night or Casey was at Tommy's. They went to the late showing of the Harry Potter movie (in Italian, of course), wandered around Greve connecting with other friends, just did what boys do together. No girls necessary.

We ended up leaving Viticcio a week early as Tommy was leaving and so there wasn't much reason to hang around being sad. We had already arranged to go to friend Rebecca's agriturismo Brigolante outside of Assisi for three nights and then were fortunate enough to be able to extend that for a whole week. So we waved goodbye to our friends Alessandro and Nicoletta and moved on.

At Brigolante, Casey had fun again with Rebecca's boys who are quite a bit younger than Casey but boys seem to be able to adjust to age--that plus the little house in the woods, the ATV, the open hills and the farm were enough for Casey to love the week there. Casey and Brigolante.

So, although we had expected a twist to the story of Casey and Camilla this year, we could never have anticipated the curve it took. I don't know if time will reverse this year--if it was just a blip in this fairy tale story of young children. It is very mysterious and strange.

Casey feels a loss of some magnitude. He is puzzled. I encourage him to feel the loss so that he doesn't react by hardening against hurt. Since ways of response can be formed so early in life, children need guidance as to how to handle disappointments. I tell him to remember the years of fun the two of them had as they can't be taken away. And we all hope that next time we return, the unique and special friendship will reestablish.

And this year the lemonade turned out pretty sweet after all.

Tommy and Casey

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