The Joy Is Back

The Joy Is Back

He’s away. Again.

This time it’s for at least 10 days. He left on Friday morning for London and then on Saturday flew to China. 10 days is a very long time, made worse by the fact that, this weekend just gone, was a long weekend – Monday and Tuesday were holidays.

But I had plans to make sure that I wasn’t stuck in the house all day by myself. Or, as it could be, lonely.

Plans of things to do. Some of which I did do and some I didn’t – of course, as this is me.

Things that I did do include: finishing all the Christmas cards (they are now with the daughter of the woman who works at the main post office in Milan as the Christmas stamps (see a post below) do not even cover the postage to other European countries, let alone American and Australia or New Zealand); buying of presents; wrapping of presents for overseas to be boxed up and posted today (more on that later); the usual stuff such as washing and tidying up; getting the winter tyres put on the car.

Things that I didn’t do include: cleaning the silver; painting the bathroom shower area; brushing the dogs.

I didn’t quite finish the wrapping of presents to be posted because I forgot to buy things for Best Mate’s dogs. So that means that I will have to go out this lunchtime to get things – which is actually OK because I can also buy the food to keep our dogs going over Christmas. So the parcels will actually be sent tomorrow. This is not so bad and they should reach there in plenty of time.

The cards should also reach most destinations in time. I hope. Obviously, they won’t actually be sent until tomorrow but as it’s only the 9th today, it should be OK, I think – I mean it’s 2 weeks!

I also went to Il Salvegente (a kind of Designer Outlet store – the oldest in Milan) to see if there was anything for BM and J (there was) and to buy some jeans and a jumper and, maybe, something for F. There wasn’t – but I did pick up a pair of shoes that I liked (but certainly didn’t need – unlike the jeans and jumper). As they didn’t open until 11 a.m. yesterday (it being a public holiday here), I took a longer, more meandering route and managed to find a shop (unfortunately closed) that sold Shaun the Sheep stuff – so I’ll be going back there on Saturday to pick something else up for F.

I also got a call from V’s Dad. Ay had told him that we had really looked after her well when she came over. He was ringing to thank me. I told him that he didn’t need to thank me as this was Ay and I would do anything for her – but I think his ringing me was a lovely thing to do.

Next weekend, I still have time to paint the bathroom (but probably won’t) and time to brush the dogs (I will possibly do that) but I’ve decided to forget the silver. It’s better to do that on 24th when F will, almost certainly, be cleaning the house like it’s spring or like the Queen is coming. At least it will give me something to do other than being in the way (and in the cold as the windows will certainly be open throughout the house). Obviously, even cleaning the silver, I will certainly be in the way (and in the cold) but he will understand that I’m doing something – with any luck.

Among other things that I did over the weekend was get some tickets for The Cure (next November) which F wants to go and see. This, I’ve decided, will be his birthday present. I have also ordered tickets for the ballet at La Scala for 30th December – which will be his main Christmas present, as they are quite expensive. I also thought it would be a nice thing to go to – sort of Festive and dressy-uppy and, as it’s Cinderella, both a story I can follow (I’m not that much into ballet) and right for the Christmas period.

What I also did was wrap all the presents for him, so that’s good. I still have the Cinderella tickets to come and one other present which should be on its way soon and, of course, the Shaun the Sheep thing. Then I’ve done.

And, for those of you who’ve been reading this blog over the years, you will know that this is totally unlike me. This is NOT to say that I won’t do some last-minute shopping on 24th as you will know I like that. But I really don’t need to as I have enough. It’s like the old days when I was prepared and ready. F has given me the joy back and I really like that.

So, although I miss him, I AM busy and am doing lots of things and the time is going quickly and so it’s OK. I will be very happy when he’s back, safe and sound though.

I’ll miss you too

I'll miss you too.jpg

“I will miss you.”

Things rarely said become more effective when said.

“And I’ll miss the bambini.”

Well, of course, but that gets said more often.

We’re now into day 3 of at least 16 days. At least 16 because, as yet, we don’t know (or, rather, I don’t know and he may or may not know … yet) if he’ll be required to stay in London for a day or two when he gets back there.

I followed the flight. Most of the flight was over Russia. Russia is a very big country which, although I knew that, following the flight and hours and hours of flying over terrain without towns and hardly any names to rivers and lakes (or seas), I appreciated it more.

Apparently he slept little and watched four films. The flight was over 11 hours. He is seven hours or so in front. As I write, it’s about 6.30 p.m. for him and not even lunchtime for me.

Of course, I’ve been busy. His cousin’s son and his girlfriend came to see Expo and stayed with us. Except he was only there for the Thursday night when they arrived. They stayed until Sunday. So, really, they stayed with me and not us. It was OK. They were at Expo all day Friday and then all day and into the evening on Saturday.

On Sunday, after breakfast, I tried to tell them how to go to the new Porta Nuova area but it was difficult to explain with my bad Italian so I offered to take them. I did my usual walk from there down Corso Como, Corso Garibaldi and into Brera – then we took a tram to the centre of Milan and I left them there. I think they were grateful.

F just phoned me. He has to phone when he can which is not that often since he doesn’t want to run up a huge telephone bill. It’s OK. These snatches of conversation are better than nothing.

I will be quite busy over the next few weeks – also because he’s not here – and that will make the time go really fast. Plus I have a load of films to watch so it’s not all bad. It just gets a bit exhausting – getting up earlier to take the dogs out, doing everything that needs doing, etc. But it’s OK.

He is working too and won’t get so much time to go and visit the cities he will be in. It won’t really be a walk in the park for him.

But, I will be so happy when he’s back and, from his comment, so will he.

And, as I replied to him – “I’ll miss you too.”

Time Warp

The whine by my ear and my futile attempt to bat it away wakes me up.

I look at the clock. It’s about 3. I thought it was later. I wished it were later.

I tuck myself into the bed. The bugger can’t get me now.

But, it’s far too hot. I just can’t sleep. I keep my eyes closed but I get hotter. I worry that, once again, I can’t bloody sleep. Of course, in addition, I have this fear that I’ll go to sleep and become so hot that I’ll automatically put my arms outside the bed and then the little bastard mosquito will get me. Minutes go by.

I hear the clocks strike 4. Surely, it can’t be four? I didn’t think I’d been to sleep and yet the hour seems to have passed too quickly.

I can’t get to sleep. I can’t stand the heat of the covers but I daren’t put my arms out. I just have to fit in one of the little tablets (or, rather two – one each side of the bed) so that the mosquito will go away or die. I get up. I fit the tablet things into the little holders and plug them in.

But then I have to wash my hands. This is really not helping. As long as I don’t wake up enough, I can get back to sleep but fitting the tablets, washing my hands and then going to the kitchen for a quick drink will probably make me too awake.

I try to get back to sleep. Already it’s half past four. Next it’s 5. It still seems I haven’t been asleep and yet half an hour seems to have raced by like 10 minutes!

But, now it’s nearly time for the alarm. I lie in bed, awake, like it seems I have been since around 3, my eyes closed, waiting for the alarm.

The alarm goes off. I put it on snooze for 5 minutes thinking that I may be able to snooze for 5 minutes and knowing that I’ll never be able to snooze for 5 minutes. It’s just wishful thinking. A minute before the alarm goes off again, I get up.

It is warm in the flat, even if almost all the windows are open with the shutters not quite down, so that the dogs can go out onto the balconies, where the normally sleep. I had put a pair of socks out the night before, thinking it would be a tad cold in the morning but it seems not. But, should I risk it or not?

Of course, my powers of deduction and rational, logical thinking are not good when I am still asleep. But, what the hell, it really is quite warm in the flat. I put on my short-sleeved shirt and my sandals (without socks, of course) and take the dogs out.

Even when we’re in the lift, I realise that I may have made a mistake. Whereas it’s not cold, this is 5.30 in the morning and it’s September – there’s a definite chill in the air.

We go outside. It’s too late to go back now. the dogs simply wouldn’t understand. I’ll survive.

The roads seem unusually busy. More like 7 or 8 o’clock than 5.30. I check some traffic lights that I can see in the distance. My mind struggles to compute that, if the orange lights are blinking then it has to be – what time? Well, before 6 for sure. At 6, they go back to normal operation.

But, as we reach the main road there’s a tram that’s quite full of people. How come, at this time in the morning?, I question. It seems strange.

Nothing about the night or this morning feels quite right. It’s as if there’s been some sort of time warp.

20 days!

“20 days!?”

20 days!

It’s impossible to hide my shock and unhappiness.

I am, at once, jealous, happy for him and really quite pissed off. He sees this. I wish he could see that I am happy for him. I recover. A bit.

“Well, if I didn’t know you better, I would say that at least you’d have some great food.” Except I DO know him and I know he doesn’t really like their food. It’s why I’m jealous though. One of the countries is one I would love to go to – just for the food. He says he hopes the girlfriend will come too so that he doesn’t have to spend all the time with M, his boss. But I suspect that won’t happen. It’s not that he doesn’t like his boss, it’s just that he also likes to do his own thing.

He says they will probably go around the 3rd October (which probably means it WILL be 3rd October – a Saturday.) “That will mean you’re away for nearly all of October?” Again, I can’t keep my feeling of panic out of my voice. He’s disappointed, I see. I want to be encouraging but he’s just sprung this on me. I knew it was all a possibility and I was very pleased for him – am very pleased for him – but I was thinking a couple of weeks, maximum. 20 days just seems such a long time.

I know. It’s selfish. My first thought was I’ve got 20 days of doing the dogs; getting up very early; all my lessons; just 20 days of hell – after which I will be so tired – and that’s assuming nothing really dramatic happens (which, after a call this morning, is always possible.)

Later, when I’ve had time to recover a bit from my initial reaction, I’m able to say, “Good babe”, as that’s what I really think. This is a great opportunity for him, and I am genuinely pleased for him. It’s a long trip though, to the other side of the world. It will exhaust him, for sure.

And, I know, in the end, it won’t be so bad. The time will fly as I will be really busy.

“I’ll be away for our anniversary,” he says, pulling a face that looks like he will cry. “Don’t worry, babe, we’ll celebrate when you’re back.” It’s OK. But now I’ll give him the model of Dino for when he gets back. It will cheer him up.

I will get the cleaner to do a special clean for when he gets back.

But, still, I will miss him. And the dogs will miss him for sure, not really understanding that he’s only away for a little while.

Still, 20 days!!!

Final book?

The weekend was spent in Carrara as F had had the extra week’s holiday and kept the dogs with him.

And, I managed to finish The Buried Giant. Good book and interesting story – but not the WOW! book.

And I have, at home, so many books still unread.

I would say that, overall, it was a disappointing book summer. I should have stuck with my usual – the short list of the Bailey’s Prize For Fiction. Next year, I won’t forget.

And the weekend almost signals the end of the “summer”. The forecast is OK for next weekend, at the moment, but it’s no guarantee. Then there’s Mantova in two weekends. OK, so if the weather holds up there arre still a couple of weekends left in September, so we’ll see.

F certainly wants to go down and would really like to go down next weekend as he wants to talk to his brother about buying up his share of the house. He doesn’t talk to me about it very much but he’s quite keen to buy him out and then he can do what he wants to the house. He includes me (as in: we’ll be able to do this; we may have to wait to do this) but I can’t really be too involved. Things are different than before.

Again, he suggests that next year we’ll do more day trips.

But, that’s next year. And this year? Well, it might not be the final book if the weather holds up, I suppose.

Without you.

It’s quiet. I open the door and I’m greeted by silence.

I feel free. I don’t have to rush. I can take my time. It’s great.

I don’t speak to anyone. There is too much silence. I rattle around in the place and it’s suddenly huge.

I can relax. When I come back from going out, I can just go to bed.

I am lonely. Even if we do our usual call. He is there, with them and I am here, alone.

It’s conflicting. It’s only for one week. He’s taking an extra week’s holiday as, after that, he’ll start going away a lot. So the dogs have stayed with him. So I am in Milan on my own which is both wonderful and awful. It is really nice not to have to rush to take the dogs out when I come home and, in the evening, when I’m tired and just want to go to bed.

But I miss them. I miss the fact that there’s always someone (thing) that’s so pleased to see me, someone who wants attention, someone that I have to look after. It’s very rare (in fact, it’s always been very rare) that I’m at home, on my own, without the dogs. In fact, I can’t remember a time since ….. well, probably some time in the UK, so at least over 10 years.

I’m trying to make the most of it – next week will be back to normal.

But, in the end, I miss not having them there, being in the bloody way, always wanting something.

I don’t think I could live without dogs.

And, so I give you this:

Yes, I know it’s not really relevant but it is a wonderful song, isn’t it?

Hello. Goodbye.

He texts me to say that the dogs were exhausted (destroyed, as he says) when he left for work.

He had taken them out for a walk and he lets them play, even in the extreme temperatures that we’ve been having (up to 36° with a “feel like” of the low 40s). But he had taken them out early, so it wasn’t so hot (still, it was 30° at 7.30).

He said they were so exhausted that they didn’t even say hello to him before he left for work.

Italians have a bit of a problem with “hello” and “goodbye” since they don’t differentiate. Salutare, ciao, salve, etc. are used for both hello and goodbye. They don’t really quite get (I’m SURE Chiara does ;-) ) when is the right time to use “hello” or “goodbye”.

As a default “hello” is used.

I try and explain, in a reply text that he should have said “goodbye” and not “hello” as “hello” is used when first meeting/seeing someone and “goodbye” is used when leaving.

However, F is a stubborn barsteward sometimes. He replied that he understood but that, if the dogs don’t see him for 2 seconds it is like the first time they have met. Which is, of course, kind of true.

And it made me laugh. And that’s why I love him.

I replied that he is the only person that will argue with me if I try to correct bad English – and I don’t often do it with him!

But the argument did have a point, as those of you with dogs will know.

The video of Hello Goodbye by The Beatles was the obvious choice :-)

Mice, men and plans.

Mice, men and plans.

“Maybe we can leave early?”

I have work, so it can’t be really early. But, as in less than two weeks, I shall be staying at work a little later (rather than go home before picking up Best Mate), I could leave half an hour earlier.

So, in order to be at home as quickly as possible today (Friday), last night, I went to buy cigarettes rather than, as I usually do, on Friday. And I bought that long-life milk to take down with me. That would mean that the only thing I would have to do on Friday night, on my way home, was fill up with petrol.

But, the best laid plans ….. etc., etc.

Of course, it was first mentioned, a few days ago.

“They can’t deliver the new furniture until Saturday.”

This is for the shop. Since he’s responsible for the layout, it’s important that he’s there. It was due to come this week, during the week but for some reason, can’t be done until Saturday. I ask if he has to stay and he says “no” but I’m not convinced. His boss has also told him he doesn’t have to be there. But I know he’ll feel responsible.

So last night, I met him and some of his colleagues for a drink. He tells me two things. 1. His brother (and girlfriend) will be staying at the house from next week (his girlfriend’s house got flooded and is being “worked on”) and, 2. he has to stay in Milan for Saturday.

Whereas I’m not really surprised, I’m disappointed (and very disappointed for him) on two fronts. First that his brother will “mess up” the tidy, super-clean house that he spent about a week doing, ready for our holiday and secondly that he can’t come down this weekend.

He’s quite angry and frustrated. With his brother and with the furniture thing.

I shall still go down tonight but it’s not really so important to leave early. My heart’s not in it. Without him it’s really not the same. But I’m going down because it will be so hot over the weekend and going down is so much better for the dogs, poor things. But, I think this year, we’ve actually travelled together only once. And, even if he annoys the hell out of me (switching off the air conditioning from time to time and not wanting me to smoke when I want and lots of “be careful”s or sharp intake of breaths because he thinks I’m not driving slow enough, etc.) I much prefer that he’s with me. In fact, I much prefer that he’s with me most of the time and this year he hasn’t been.

And, then, maybe, the weekend after, his brother will still be there so probably we won’t go down, which is a shame, mostly for him.

But let’s see. He wants to buy out his brother from the house. If his brother won’t give up his half, he says he will push to sell the house and then buy one of his own.

He’s angry and frustrated, I’m just disappointed. My plans were for nothing.

Sayings and meanings

He suddenly got, on Saturday, the dreaded bollicine (small water blisters) all over his back.

Before Saturday he had been OK. Looking for the reasons they could have come, I remembered that he had changed sun tan lotion that morning. I suggest it but he isn’t sure.

So, Sunday was me going to the beach whilst he was going to stay with the dogs in the house. He’s been told by the chemist, whilst getting some lotion and some pills, to stay out of the sun for 5 days – the rest of his holiday, more or less.

He started cleaning the house, starting with the kitchen. This means getting everything out of the cupboards, washing everything, cleaning the cupboards and putting everything back.

He was about half way through when I came back from the beach shortly before 4.

We were talking. I was sorry for him that he wouldn’t be able to go to the beach. He said that, anyway, it wasn’t as good without me.

That’s about as far as it gets towards “I love you.” But, for sure, that’s what it means. :-)

Hang on in there!

Hang on in there!

I am exhausted, to be honest. The holiday, in a little more than 4 weeks, can’t come soon enough. It seems I never stop.

Take last night. I rush home from work, park the car, walk to the supermarket, momentarily forgetting that it’s about 34°C and therefore walking down the street with full sun on my back rather than a slightly longer way, mostly in the shade. I buy the minimum of stuff and walk back home down the shady streets.

Arriving home, as soon as I step through the door, having stopped “doing something”, I do my Niagara Falls impression. I put away the milk and stuff, change out of my suit (I had customers at work), put on shorts and a T-shirt. Within a second my T-shirt is soaked but there’s not really much I can do. I need to take the dogs out as I need to be back by 7.

I take them out. We do a slightly shorter walk in the heat. It’s too hot for them. I get home and Niagara starts again. Half an hour later, I change my T-shirt as the Falls have stopped (thank God) but the T-shirt is completely soaked. I could manage it better if I didn’t have to rush – but I have no choice but to rush.

After my appointment, I get to read the document that someone has sent me to look at. It seems serious. I text to say that we need to talk. She asks if now is possible and I agree (I shall be busy tomorrow and I want to pack for the weekend) so we meet at Bar Blanco, the nearest bar to my house. I tell her how bad it could be but that I’ve managed to find someone who may be able to help. It’s going to cost her anyway. She is grateful, for sure, but we end up having a drink which means I’m late taking the dogs out and so late to bed.

With less that 5 hours sleep, I feel like shit. But, I feel I have to help her and cannot just walk away.

But, it costs. The cost being my tiredness.

I don’t really need the appointment tonight but it has to be. Then pack. Then the dogs. Then bed – early, I really hope. I don’t want to drive all the way down there and then spend the whole of the weekend asleep! Not that I CAN sleep on the beach, but “sleepy mode”, if I’m tired, can mean a subdued and exhausting weekend.

But, F is being “made” to take 2 weeks holiday. That’s fair enough, since for over a month he has been home for about 4 days in total. He, too, is exhausted. He is with his mother for this time, with us going down for this weekend and next.

But it’s hard for me too. I have to do everything and there’s no time and the heat means I can’t take my time – although I much prefer this heat to the cold and, if I could just take things more slowly, I’d be fine!

But, only just over a week to go before he’s back home and we can share the dog walking. And just over 4 weeks an I shall be with Best Mate AND on holiday.

Hang on in there, I tell myself.