Seattle, WA (USA), summer of 2013 from Lake Union

Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop (Part 1)

This is the first post in the series, Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop, including:
Part 2 and Part 3 

In the fall of 2012, Jason and I moved from the rainy, evergreen shrouded hills of Seattle, WA (USA) to a small valley in northern Italy, in a region called Trentino-Alto Adige.

Our reason? There are many reasons, many compelling life forces that catapulted us in this direction, but none of them are simple or straightforward or easy to articulate.

We needed a change, I guess. Read More

Tractor Spreading Muck (Val di Non)

Muck Spreading Season

Val di Non summers are short and cool; the winters, longer and harsher than I was used to, coming from Seattle, WA (USA). That makes spring and fall these sort of brief, frenzied seasons that leave your head spinning. You’d think just four seasons would be enough to round out the year — but no. There’s a fifth season in Val di Non, one people don’t bring up, or fail to mention, or refuse to acknowledge at all.

Yet everyone knows it’s there.

So long as your olfactory senses are intact, you can hardly miss “muck spreading season”. You’ll be forced, in fact, to breathe it in and wonder about it every time it leaves you gagging, grasping for air. And as you ask, How long will it last, this time? Read More

Rainbow at dusk.

Life On Beautiful Street

Almost anything in Italy comes with paired chaos.

As if Italians are just better adapted to (more tolerant of) what we American’s would consider discomfort. Things don’t bother them. Everything is a mess. There’s always noise. People tell half-truths and don’t follow through with things. The heat’s broken. The oven was never properly installed.

It’s what’s expected, and no one is let down. Read More

View of Downtown Seattle, WA (USA) from Kerry Park.

What We Talk About When We DON’T Talk About Amanda Knox

Merely mention that you lived in Seattle (USA) for 9 years, and you’ll likely get asked by the people of Perugia, Italy: Do you know Amanda Knox? As though, somehow, by living in the same city of 3.5+ million (where Amanda Knox now conducts her prison-free life), ones chances of knowing her are better than any Italian’s.

They’re not. And no, I don’t know her. Haven’t met her. Don’t plan to.

Nothing against the girl (and I won’t get into her guilt/innocence here), but the point is: if you’re an American traveling or living anywhere near Perugia, Italy: DON’T bring up Amanda Knox. Più, più, più! (more, more, more!)

A "Watch Your Step" sign on a train in Trentino (Italy).

5 Things Italy Did Not Warn Me About

In most American’s minds, life in Italy could only be wonderful and marvelous. We must all be dancing around in the streets with our Fendi bags and pasta forks, waiting for the always-on-time train to whisk us to the blue sea for sun bathing and holidays.

This could not be farther from the truth. Plenty of parts of Italian living are uncustomary, if not outright baffling, even after living here over three years. So to help you in your travels or expat living, here’s a list of 5 things I wish I’d known about prior to moving here:

1. No exchanges, no returns

Read More

On a countryside bike ride in Piedmont (Italy)

Bicyling The Piedmont Countryside

It felt like biking through a Van Gogh painting. The open fields. The poppies. The bucolic, pastoral scenes.

For two weeks in the spring of 2013 we drove around areas of North Italy in search of our new home. But when we realized we’d be in Piemonte (Piedmont in English) for my 32nd birthday, we wanted to make it special.

Yet Piedmont is such a simple place, I wondered. Will this birthday be any fun?

I hadn’t expected it to be a birthday I’d never forget. Read More

SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK: 3 Things Not To Do (Part 4)

This is one post in the four-part ‘SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK’ series, including:
* The Encounter (Part 1)
* The Aftermath (Part 2)
* The Invisible Wounds (Part 3)
* What Not To Do (Part 4) 

A dog is running your direction. Perhaps it’s friendly, perhaps it’s not — you aren’t sure. It’s getting closer, but its tail is not wagging, and it’s charging, and…holy h#&*! Within mili-seconds, you’re hit with the realization: this dog is on attack.

Most of us react to a scary dog out of instinct (screaming, running), but this will only put you in greater danger. To keep yourself safe, here are THREE THINGS NOT TO DO in the event of a potential dog attack: Read More

A darkened tree in water

SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK: The Invisible Wounds (Part 3)

This is one post in the four-part ‘SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK’ series, including:
* The Encounter (Part 1)
* The Aftermath (Part 2)
* The Invisible Wounds (Part 3)
* What Not To Do (Part 4) 

dog attack was not on my list of things to plan for in life.

At first so grateful to have survived, to have incurred so little injury and to have just walked away, I didn’t stop to think: there could be psychological repercussions from this. I kept telling people, “It could’ve been a child, for God’s sakes. Or an elderly lady.” Instead, it was me: able-bodied, resilient adult.

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t see it coming. Hadn’t anticipated the shock that was in store in the days and weeks following the attack. A year and-a-half would pass before I put the pieces together, before I understood: being jumped by a German Shepherd had rattled me to the core. Read More

Hike with our neighbors' sweet German Shephard

SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK: The Aftermath (Part 2)

This is one post in the four-part ‘SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK’ series, including:

I was bleeding out of my stomach.

It wasn’t a large wound, but there was blood and a visible entry point where the dog bit into me. Today, a scar remains—and in the shape of a dog’s tooth (no less). Looking back, I probably should have had stitches, but the doctor/dentist never offered, and I wasn’t keen on sewing up my own flesh.

Read More

Dog baring teeth

SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK: The Encounter (Part 1)

 This is one post in the four-part ‘SURVIVING A DOG ATTACK’ series, including:

I’ve been around a lot of dogs in my thirty-some years. I mean a lot.

My childhood involved everything from mutts and a Dalmatian to a brood of Alaskan Malamutes my siblings and I raised with our mother, hooking them to wheeled rigs that we rode around the park (yes, this happened). We’re all bleeding-heart dog lovers, as a result, who take in the strayed/abused/neglected canines of the world — and, today, I’m the only one without a dog.

Which is why it’s so puzzling that, the only time I’ve ever been attacked by a dog was when living abroad. Dogless. And in Italy, of all places.

In Cavareno, to be precise.

Read More

Kentucky road sign.

Can’t Take The South Out Of The Girl: Kentucky Born & Raised

It’s true. I am from Kentucky. A place far less glamorous or sexy than the better-known California / New York / Miami. A place so adrift among the middle-of-the-country-melange, it might as well be Ohio. Or…Arkansas. Oklahoma? NO—Nebraska.

It might as well be any of the other forgotten-about states.

People rarely know what Kentucky is (a type of chicken?). They don’t know where it’s located (next to…Michigan?). And they’re baffled how someone from The Bluegrass State could emerge neither illiterate nor inbred (that’s possible?).

You would be surprised how much there is to the state, AND how well we Kentuckians can turn out. Read More