This is the summer of our discontent. A time to try the souls of a dogs and men.
Five months ago I returned to California. It is hard to believe it has been five months already, but that is what the calendar says, and calendars don't lie apparently. When I returned, I thought I was the luckiest dog ever. I escaped from Italy before the country went into lock down. I arrived in the USA before anyone talked about quarantine or restricting access. I was safe and so were my folks. We were far away from the virus. Well, it didn't take long for the virus to catch up to us, and now some days we all wonder why we ever left Italy in the first place. Friends in Italy tell me things are pretty much back to normal there while here the virus runs rampant and unchecked.
Oh, just to be clear, we aren't really depressed about the move. But we will always love Italy and our friends there. We do miss friends and the beauty of the landscape, fine foods and wines, small hill towns so rich in culture and tradition. But we are back in the USA now for good - even if it's not so good here right now.
I don't want to dwell on the pandemic. It surrounds us, consumes our every thought, devours our happiness like some giant blob out of a science fiction movie, but if we are lucky, we won't fall victim to its ever spreading tentacles. While it now seems nearly inescapable, I keep alive the hope that one day soon it shall perish. But experts predict it will rise up again like a Phoenix and strike just when we want to celebrate the holidays. The biggest regret for me and my folks is that we have not seen Brian and his family in the five months we have been here. It is so difficult and gets more difficult every week to be so close and yet essentially as far away as when we were in Italy. And the thought that we might not even see them for the holidays this year is just unbearable.
But, alas, all is not worry and strife on the home front. The lock down has had its advantages of sorts. It gave Maree and Jim lots of time to get the house they bought in Paradise Valley in order. And Maree has taken up some new hobbies. She bakes all of our bread and snack food. She refinished the old teak dining room furniture that had lived in the garage and storage for years. Now we have this very artsy looking blue and black dining room set. She refinished a 40 year old dresser and nightstand for the guest room. Now she is working on redoing the bathroom cabinetry in the downstairs bathroom. She is learning to do stenciling on some of the furniture and has some lofty thoughts about learning to draw. Her first attempts, however, have put her off of that pursuit for a while. She keeps saying that once the painting is done (now that the house is pretty much in order and she can't use that as an excuse anymore) she will get back to rewriting her book about Italy. I hope she doesn't find any more excuses to procrastinate.
Jim passes his days mowing the lawn, putting furniture together, cooking and cleaning, taking naps, reading the news and cursing about the guy in the White House who my Irish friends call pumpkin face. While Maree never leaves the house except to walk me, Jim does go to a couple of stores for curbside pick up. What an interesting development this has become. Rather like drive through take out I understand. Jim seems to think that it is working quite well. Instacart is ours go to for most of the grocery shopping however. But the ordeal of cleaning the groceries once they arrive is something Jim would gladly live without.
Me, I've adjusted to my new home quite well. So well in fact, that I don't want any strangers to even walk by on my sidewalk. Mom kindly put one of the couches under the living room window, so I spend my days laying on the top of the couch, looking out, and waiting for my next opportunity to shout out to the world, "Stay off of my yard." Through hours of practice sitting here on top of the couch, I have honed my barking skills to a fine level of perfection. The street here is much busier than in Italy, so I get a lot of barking action. Jim and Maree live in constant fear that the whole neighborhood can hear me. My bark even turns on the light in our smart refrigerator. Still can't figure out that one.
While I am content here, I must admit that I am somewhat confused by one thing. I was told that when I returned to California, I could return to my dog park. I was so looking forward to playing with some other doggies. What happened to the dog park I keep asking? Has it vanished? Why can't I play with other dogs or say hello to them if I see them when I take a walk? I don't think I really understand everything that is going on here. But I must admit that I like not having to go out in the car all the time. I do hate cars, and that is never going to change. So from that perspective, staying home and not having to board a plane, train, boat or other similar conveyance is quite a blessing from my perspective.
When I am not barking, I am on the campaign trail with my Presidential campaign. I currently have over 5,420 followers on twitter and lots of folks committed to voting for me. Well, lots of folks think I am better than the current occupant of the White House, and I would have to agree with them. I have many fine qualities typical of my species like honesty, loyalty, compassion, some things greatly missing in the current guy. I have been giving speeches on wearing masks and have advocated a doggy March for Masks. I have spoken about the need for leadership during this pandemic. And I have recognized the truth in Black Lives Matter. We are a nation torn apart by a leader who is stoking the flames of division. Even I know he is leading us down the path toward disaster. So my campaign is striking a cord with folks. You can see my speeches and my campaign tours at my twitter site @dogdaysinItaly or at #DinosCampaignParty.
2020. I think we all had great expectations for this year. I know I did. No one could have ever predicted that it would turn into such a world wide fiasco. One persistent question haunts my family and I am sure your families as well, " When will things ever return to normal - or whatever the new normal will become". It's times like this that I am very glad to be a dog and to not read the news and watch the rising statistics on the virus. I think I'll just go back to chewing on my bone, barking at the neighbors, and zooming around the yard. Oh, I know, you are all jealous of a dog's life about now. So I'll just send some puppy love your way and hope that it brightens your day.
Dino the candidate, going back to my couch until my campaign tour in New York on August 24. Hope to see you all on the campaign trail, fully masked and six feet apart of course.
Stay well friends.
Your friend through thick and thin,
Dino, Four Feet Forward for a Better 2021
Wishing you all a Happy Easter.
I haven't been blogging much lately as I hope you noticed because my life has been so hectic and my typist has been otherwise engaged. I do wish these paws were more conducive to using a keyboard, but alas if wishes were horses beggars would ride as the saying goes. So now, with a little breathing space, I have badgered said typist, and she has agreed to once again put my dictation on paper. So here is my attempt to bring you up to date on our adventure over the past several months.
In November, Maree and Jim signed a preliminary contract for the sale of our home in Le Marche just before we left to come to California for the holidays. They spent the next two months in California focused on looking to buy a house and actually made three different offers, none of which were accepted. So in mid January, we boarded a plane again and returned to Italy knowing that we had no place to live when we returned to California in about six weeks time. Thank goodness for AirBNB.
On all of our flights, I traveled as an emotional support dog. On the flight from Italy in November, I sat in Maree's lap almost the entire time. My sixteen pounds got pretty heavy on her legs after a while, but she didn't complain. I was a little shaky off and on, but Maree noticed that I seemed to be calmer on the floor. So when we returned to Italy in January, I was placed on the floor at her feet, and I had a great trip. I even amazed myself. I just stayed there for the 10.5 hours from Philadelphia to Italy and never made a sound. I was the perfect passenger if I do say so myself. I think I have this flying thing down. Well, I am sure Maree and Jim will agree with that assessment.
When we arrived back in Italy in late January there were a lot of documents to gather, new documents to be made for a price of course, and questions about Maree's immigration document for us to close on the house. Her Permesso di Soggiorno, green card equivalent, had expired and a new one had been applied for but not received yet. At issue was whether her expired Permesso and the receipt showing she had applied for a renewal would be sufficient to close on the house. But thanks to one of our young friends in Osimo, this issue was resolved. (By the way, her Permesso still has not been processed. It took eight months to get it when we arrived in Italy in 2018 and it seems like this will be a repeat of that experience.) In addition, there was all the work to get the house we had owned for ten years ready for the new owners to take possession, and selling our little Alfa Mito. The car sale took place a day before we left Italy and is a story unto itself, so I will spare you the details.
Like any house buying experience, Maree and Jim encountered some frustrations. The Italian notaio who serves as both a notary and escrow officer was a real pain in the butt, at least that is the polite way Maree describes her. Whenever Maree wrote to her to ask a question she never returned the emails. We were not the ones paying for her services, so she chose to ignore us. Fortunately, our friend Giuseppe knew this Notaio and did a lot of the interface with her. A few days before we were to sign the closing documents, she had her office call to tell us we had to go to the bank the next day to get a document. Of course, the bank we had to go to was 45 minutes away. Once there, it was clear we could have taken care of the issue over the phone or several months earlier since escrow did not close for four months from the signing of the preliminary contract.
Finally, our escrow closed on February 24 after five hours of an oral reading of the sales contract in both Italian and German. I was spared the endurance contest because Jim and Maree couldn't catch me to put the harness on. I was left alone for the entire time in a yard in a strange house. It was the first time I had ever been left behind and I didn't like it one little bit. But, did I learn my lesson. NO. I still make them chase me every time they want to take me out.
The biggest issue Jim and Maree had to deal with in selling the house actually came after the close of escrow, and that involved getting their money. They were told it could take a week because the funds would not be released until the new deed was recorded. Once that occurred they received a confirmation of the wire transfer from the notaio's office. Jim immediately noticed the notaio did not follow our wire transfer instructions and the account information was invalid. So a number of days of going back and forth trying to tell the notaio that she made an error in sending the wire transfer ensued, but she refused to believe it or take responsibility. Fortunately, the currency exchange agency here that was to receive the funds went into action and straightened out the problem. But it wasn't until several days after we were back in California that the money was found and transferred to Jim and Maree's American account. Talk about stressful. The air was vibrating and my fur was standing on end.
On March 1 we left Italy which had been Jim and Maree's home for seven of the past ten years and my home for more than half of my life. It was a bitter sweet departure leaving so many good friends and good restaurants behind. After all the trials and tribulations of trying to sell a house in a country where Maree and Jim's language skills were insufficient, they considered themselves very fortunate both for being able to sell the house and for being able to leave Italy just before the entire country was locked down. Of course, little did we know what awaited us here. It seems Covid 19 followed us across the Atlantic.
We arrived in California on March 2nd and checked into an AirBNB in Benicia, Jim and Maree were determined to isolate themselves as much as possible since they could not be certain they weren't infected by the virus. However, we needed a house. So the next day, we all went to see two houses. Jim and Maree loved the one neighborhood so much they immediately decided to make an offer. It wasn't until we returned to the house with the inspector a week later that they actually saw all of the problems. Nothing had been updated, sinks were cracked and leaking, appliances didn't work, the deck was falling down, and the owners were not going to fix or replace anything. So we came to our senses and decided not to pursue this purchase. Within a week, Jim and Maree were in contract on another house in Paradise Valley in the northern part of Fairfield. We hope to close on this house in about a week.
In the midst of all this, the owners of the AirBNB we were staying in decided that they wanted us to move to another one of their properties a few miles away. It is a beautiful property, and we are quite happy to be here, but the move was just more chaos in the midst of an already stressful situation.
At this point in time, we have all been pretty much sheltering in place for almost six weeks. Jim and Maree are having groceries, and wine delivered. We are all going a little stir crazy, but I think I have cabin fever the likes of the Shining. I spend my days chasing the squirrels in the yard and the birds. I bark at the neighbors and anyone who comes with a delivery. But, I need more exercise than I have been getting. Most days now I get a walk around the neighborhood. And I come back panting like crazy since I still try to run full speed ahead with Maree holding tightly onto the leash and trying to keep up. She doesn't pant when we return to the house, however, which is probably a good thing.
It has been three weeks since we moved to our current AirBNB in the hills of Benicia, but I still feel unsettled. I can tell something is coming. I hear all the talk about our new house, but after seeing so many I really don't know which house I will be moving to. And what will the move entail? At this point Jim and Maree will be the movers. So the move will take time and none of the big pieces of furniture will get moved for a while. I can't imagine what the house will look like for our first month or so there. Well, as long as I have a yard and grass, I guess I will be okay. I like sleeping on the floor anyway.
Well, friends, I hope to be back in touch again soon. But my dog days in Italy are over for now. I'm a California dog again and I think I will like that as soon as the dog park is open for business.
Stay safe all of my friends, and Happy Easter to you and your families.
Your once upon a time Italian friend, Dino
You haven't heard from me in a while because I have been waiting for the right time to unveil our big news. We have a buyer for our Italian house. This buyer did not come through any of the realtors we have been dealing with for some time. They have not brought more than 2 people by all summer. The buyers found out about our house because Maree made some posters and left them at two of our friends restaurants. The couple buying our house saw one of the posters and contacted us to come and see it. Like us, they had been looking for a house on and off for five years. We will sign preliminary contracts on October 31, but the final sale will not close until March, 2020. So, we will be back in California for two months for the holidays. Then we will return to Italy for two months. Then we come back to California for good this time. So, life around here has been quite busy trying to gather everything we need for the contract document called a compromesso in Italy and then for the final closing documents. We would not be able to get this done without the help of our dear friend Giuseppe. He took charge and got us the appointment with the notaio and told us what we needed to make the compromesso.
In the midst of all of the house preparations, Jim and Maree have been taking care of routine business like renewing Maree's permit to stay which expired this month, renewing Maree's expired driving license, getting a residenza which may have some bearing on any taxes on the sale of the house. I got dragged along to all the appointments, obviously. All this standing in lines, sitting around, waiting, listening to people speak in a language none of us really understand is quite tiring and stress making for me. I'll be happy when all of this business is concluded. But I don't think I am too happy about getting on a airplane for the long haul back to the US.
The house deal is not the only news from here, however. This week I celebrated my second birthday, and my second birthday here in Italy. There were some presents and a canettone, a panettone made for dogs. I got a necktie for a present, now I look truly Presidential. But I won't wear my tie so it hangs around my crouch. I'll wear it like normal dogs do.
With all of the things going on around here, no one has had as much time for me as I would like. I am quite demanding about getting attention. So twice in the last couple of weeks, I managed to break the fence and scamper off in the fields. Maree was rather freaked out when she couldn't find me in the house or in the yard. She called and called, but did I come? NO. I don't like anybody telling me what to do, and that includes coming when I am called. Besides, I was having too much fun wandering around and getting into all kinds of new things. Of course, this time of year there are hunters and their dogs around, so it is rather dangerous for me to be out running around, but what did I know. There was so much to explore. The only way Maree finally got me in the house is by tossing a paper towel roll inside for me to come and get it. I just can't resist those paper towel rolls. But I'm not sure that I'll ever fall for that one again. Once I was in the house, Maree spent a very long time checking me over and brushing me looking for deer ticks. I came home with about a half dozen of them crawling in my fur. I liked the added attention of being so well groomed, but I didn't like the ticks.
My Presidential campaign is heating up, and picking up new support daily. I now have 1,550 twitter followers and the number keeps increasing. This campaign has sure been a lesson in vocabulary for me: emoluments, impeachment, quid pro quo. And it has been a lesson in how not to act as President. It's been rather embarrassing some of the words coming out of the mouth of that fellow in the white house. Did people really vote for him? Does half the country still support him? I sometimes think that I am definitely the best candidate out there. I have no dirty laundry to be exposed, no ties to the Ukraine or Russia, have never told a lie, would never think of calling anyone "scum of the earth" or to using the derogatory word lynching. In addition, I have youth on my side, and I definitely have the best hair. Talk about full disclosure, I have even shared many of my baby photos and challenged all other candidates to do the same, but so far there have been no takers. I don't understand why? Is it because they know they just can't compete with me on the AWW factor?
My Four Feet Forward campaign slogan has now become a Friday event on dog twitter. Each dog (and family) are encouraged to do something special for someone or the earth on Fridays like pick up some trash or their droppings or plant a tree since digging holes is so much fun, or taking some things to be recycled. Speaking of picking up doggie droppings, one of my friends wants to know, "Who picks up after guide dogs?" If you know the answer to this burning question, you must share it.
Well, it is almost my dinner time. Turkey and sweet potatoes and green beans tonight. At least I eat like a Presidential candidate. Hope you have a good week and a good meal out at your favorite restaurant. My favorite restaurant is right here at home.
Keep the faith, things always work out in the end,
Your pal, Dino for President 2020
Hello again from Italy. It has been a while since my last post, I know but that is mostly because I've just been hanging out at the house, and life has been pretty boring. The rain has started and the fog is starting to roll in. It seems to have a schedule. It rolls over the hills each afternoon, hangs out for a few hours, and then moves on. Well, that is on a good day. As we move through fall and into winter, it likes to hang out a lot longer and then we can't drive to our favorite restaurants for dinner because you can't see a foot in front of you. I don't mind so much, because I always eat at home before we go anyway, but Jim and Maree like to go out to eat at Alessia's for fritto misto of calamari and shrimp or Anna's for pasta with tarfufo and chicken. I always get a little lettuce or carrot from the salad or the frozen green beans Maree brings along.
This past week, things picked up a little bit here, and I got to go somewhere new and stay in a hotel. Last weekend, we took a trip to Perugia. Even though it is only 90 minutes from our house, Maree and Jim have never been there before. My assessment of Perugia, Four paws up for dog friendliness. If I had five paws, I would give it five. We walked around (and I got pushed around in the stroller part of the time so I didn't end up pulling Maree's arm out of the socket or making her trip on the uneven stone pavements). I even got to go into a little bit of the National Art Museum with some very cool sculptures and an amazing ceiling. But the town is just full of architecturally interesting buildings, a beautiful cathedral, and a grand piazza where the annual Umbrian Jazz festival is held. There is even an underground city which you can travel through as you take 5 escalators down to the bottom of the hill where the big parking structure is.
The best part of Perugia for me, was the dog friendly restaurants. Our Saturday night dinner was at Al Tartufo, and they brought me a dish of treats. They told Mom, "No dog. No truffles." But Sunday lunch was the best and I can't wait to go back to La Taverna. Once we were seated at the table, the waiter, who thought I was just so cute, asked if he could bring me chicken and rice. So, shortly a bowl appeared with lunch for me. Then the owner had to come and say hello. He loves dogs and told us he will not eat in a restaurant that does not allow dogs. When it was time to leave, the waiter told us to wait because the owner wanted to come and say goodbye to me. He was a very nice man. He even gave us a nice discount because he liked me. Now that is what I call truly dog friendly.
Back home, there has been some excitement too. Yesterday morning, I found two dead bees -- the really really giant kind, floating in my water dish. And when I went to sit on the sofa, Maree grabbed me because there was a giant bee crawling just where I was going to put my derriere. She made short work of that bee. Well, we have found several more of those huge bees around too, so I have to be careful. I do like to chase those flying things. But as though all the bees weren't enough of the wild for one day, that afternoon when Jim opened the front door to go out to the car, he called Maree and said, "Is this a viper?" Maree looked at the little thing - about 14 inches long, and said, "Close the door. Don't let that in. Yes, it is a young viper. See the triangular head." So, Maree was all freaked out and worried because it was right up against the bottom of the door and she thought it might be able to get into the house. She sort of stood guard and kept shooing me away from the door. I couldn't go out in the yard for a while either. I really wasn't very sure what was going on, but I knew there was something wrong. Anyway, there is a good end to this story because within an hour, that snake decided to mosey on off somewhere. Now the only problem is where did it go? I hope it doesn't decide to go into my yard. It is small and sneaky I think, and I might not see it when I am running through the grass to bark at the neighbors.
Well, when I am not traveling around or tweeting to drum up support for my campaign, I am thinking, thinking about the world. My twitter friend Darcey from Ireland said I always look thoughtful. Well, I am a thoughtful guy. I think about global politics, global warming, animal cruelty which I have been seeing so much of on twitter, and the fate of our democracy which seems to be hanging by a thread at the moment. I continue my Four Feet Forward campaign to motivate all the four footed friends to act to save life, the universe, and everything from the mindless people who seem to be running things. I keep hearing the term impeachment, and I'm not sure what that means, but I'm not sure it is going to be enough anyway. Well, fortunately not all of my thinking is so heavy or my head would explode. I also wonder about the way people walk. Have you ever noticed that most people when they walk, their palms point toward their thighs (thighs, I like thighs, those chicken thighs taste pretty good). But there are some people whose palms point behind them. I'm sure those people are aliens or at least zombies in disguise waiting to break out and rule the world. Hum, I have to take a look at the guy in the White House and see how he walks and his wife too. I'm not so sure about her. She looks like one of the Stepford Wives to me.
Speaking of my twitter account, I now have just under 1000 followers. People like me because I am so cute. And my best twitter friend, Scooby, could be my twin. He isn't an American Eskimo dog, however, he is a Japanese Spitz. When I see his photos I get a little confused sometimes because even I think he is me. We even have the same toys. Unfortunately, he lives in Ireland, so I don't think we will ever get to meet. On the other hand, that might be good, because if I am a time traveler and he is me in another time, then if we meet the whole world might explode. You just never know what catastrophes time travel can initiate.
As I write my blog, today, however, I am just thinking of bones, treats, green beans. It is almost lunch time here, and I'm ready for food. Or maybe I should just keep chewing on this toy. There's not much left of it anyway.
Hope to see my California friends over the holidays when I understand we are coming back to visit Brian and family. If anyone has any thoughts for an inexpensive rental for about two months, please let Maree know. She's been looking without much success. Of course, they will have to allow one small very well behaved and very cute dog. Just know that if you come to visit me, I like to bark and jump and try to get you to pay attention to me. I am not well trained at home, but I am perfect everywhere else.
Well, friends, I wish you all happy thoughts and snake less and killer bee less days.
Your Thoughtful friend,
Dino for President 2020
My Presidential campaign has been consuming most of my time lately. But the hard work is paying off. My polls show support growing every day. I now have about 600 twitter followers and the number keeps increasing. I think my message is reverberating with women and dog owners and cat owners and goat owners and anyone who loves animals. So, if I could capture the vote of all animal lovers, I could certainly capture the White House. After all, the current occupant doesn't even have a dog. I still don't understand how someone who doesn't like dogs got elected.
As part of my campaign, I have been making a campaign promise a day. Since so many of you apparently are not twitter literate, I thought I would share some of the latest with you. I keep encouraging all of my friends and supporters to put their Four feet forward to save life, the universe, and everything. Right now, we really need to help save the rain forest and Greenland if we are all going to continue to survive on this earth. (Personally, I think we need to save Greenland from the real estate lust of the current White House inhabitant. Is he for real?) Here are a few of my campaign promises from the past week.
Campaign Promise of the Day: I promise to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and bring lots of smiles. Now what other candidate can make these promises? Anyone? Join my campaign to save the planet and all creatures great and small. Dino for President 2020. 4 Feet Forward
Campaign Promise of the Day: I promise my Presidency will be all about wagging tails not wagging tongues. Let's bring happiness back to the world. Four feet forward for a happier world. Dino 2020
Campaign Promise Today: We've been using the same calendar for too long. It's time for a change. I propose the new 2020 Dog Days Calendar. We'll add dog days and not just in the summer. There will be no work for man or four legged friends on dog days. Vote Dino for dog days
Campaign Promise of the Day: I promise to keep four feet on the ground for greater stability, my head in the clouds for greater creativity and problem solving, and to maintain a moral compass. Four feet forward to save all creatures great and small and the earth. Dino
Campaign Promise of the Day: When I'm President I will protect those who can't protect themselves like our four footed friends who have no voice. If we ran the world it would be safer, saner and more honest. Also there would be more licks, hugs, and belly rubs. Dino 2020
I have been getting a lot of experience at diplomacy and foreign relations recently. The other night we were seated outside at a restaurant next to a table full of people from Germany. They had a friendly dog along with them, and we became friends just hanging out together. The two leggeds talked a lot of politics, and the general consensus was that the US needs a new leader. But one gentleman was happy because he said we haven't entered into any new wars. Well, not yet, but look at all of the new nuclear weapons testing going on. Pretty scary. I also met some people from the Netherlands the night before at my friend Alessia's restaurant. Maree tried to sell them our house, but they weren't buying.
We did, however, have a couple come to see the house this past week, and they liked it. But they are considering some others as well. Wish us luck. Maybe we can sell this house soon!!! While they were visiting the house, we had to leave because otherwise I would be barking and jumping up and down the whole time they were trying to see the house. So we drove down the hill to a bar (really coffee shop). I got to hang out on the stage. But I don't think it was my cup of tea. It smelled like coffee, and there were no other dogs there. Here is a photo of me at the bar.
My German doctor neighbor is here now. This is the first time he has been here since I arrived in October. I don't like all of the activity down the road at that house. My vocal cords are getting a lot of exercise now that he is here and I do a lot of jumping up an down too. I'm not sure that this is really the best tactic for developing a foreign policy. I think I have to consider a kinder, gentler approach.
Well, there have been no encounters with the bureaucracy here recently. And we are all happy about that. But there have been a couple of close encounters with trees. Yesterday morning when I went outside in my yard, there were a whole lot of leaves and branches. And when I looked up, I noticed that a very, very large branch had snapped on one of our ancient mulberry trees, and it was just hanging down in the yard. This is the second huge branch that has come down in my yard in about a month. I am getting worried about those trees. They are very tasty so I want to make sure they survive. I also don't want one to fall down on my head. Our gardener will come and take away the big broken branch. But we need to get the trees all cut back. They have grown too big and heavy now to support the weight. Oh, they look so beautiful. It will be sad to cut them back.
That is about all of the news from here. Looks like a week of cooler weather, and I am so happy about that. Hope you enjoy some good weather too.
Wishing all of my friends a good week and hoping you will all put your four feet forward to save all creatures great and small.
Dino, candidate for President 2020
Hello from Italy where it has been hot and very frustrating. It was 100 degrees last week and we have had lots of days in the mid to upper 90s. The last few days were good, but the heat has returned. Enough already. Days like today I don't appreciate this fur coat. And I really miss a house with central air conditioning. So I am hoping that no more strange people or cars pass by on our street today. Because when they do, I have to run outside and jump up and down and bark and bark, and then I run along the fence and bark, and it is just too hot to do that. But it's my job, and like the pony express I must do my job in the wind and the rain and the sleet and the hail and the heat too. But I think I'm going to have a heat stroke if I keep this up. I guess I better just stay inside with my new toy.
On the days when the weather has been good, we have been to lots of festas. Last night was the Verdicchio festival in Staffolo, a small hill town not far away and Jim and Maree tasted a couple of sparkling verdicchio wines. On Thursday was the big holiday of the summer here, Ferragosto, the assumption of Mary. We went to our friend Alessia's restaurant where we had a five course luncheon out on the patio. It was perfect weather for a change, and I had my first ever taste of proscuitto - just a very little taste.
While the heat has been frustrating, that is not what has created the greatest frustration in my house recently. It is the Italian bureaucracy. A week ago, Maree and Jim finally got their permessi di soggiorno (green cards). First of all, it took almost 8 months. Secondly, when the website said the cards were ready, it also said to wait for an SMS saying when and where to pick them up. Well, in Maree's case, the website had said hers was ready for 3 to 4 weeks, and there was never an SMS. Jim's was not ready yet, so she thought maybe she had to wait until Jim's was also ready before they would send the SMS, and she wanted to avoid making two trips to the police station. So, Maree continued to wait for Jim's to be ready. Well, finally, Jim's was ready, but two more weeks went by and there was no SMS. By this time, Maree had been patient long enough, so she decided that they must go once again to the police station to check on their cards. I think this made the fourth time they went there to inquire dragging me along with them, and every trip is always a pain because we are told we are there on the wrong day or we have to wait in line forever and there are never any other dogs to play with. It's actually a quite boring and inhospitable place. Except for the little boy I met on this trip. He just kept giving me his hand to lick and laughing. He was pretty cute and entertaining.
Anyway, this time, we went on the right day, apparently, as no one came and told us to leave and come back on another day. We took a number, and when our turn finally arrived, Maree went to the window and told the woman behind the glass why they were there. The clerk looked through the box of permessos and found them for Jim and Maree just sitting there doing nothing. But, the clerk said she could not release the cards without a copy of the old permesso. Well, those had long ago expired, and so they had been confiscated by the same police station when our finger prints were taken eight months prior. The woman, it seems, failed to believe that we did not have them and that their staff had taken them from us. She kept insisting that this did not happen. After several minutes of repeatedly stating that we did not have our old cards, she finally conceded that she could give us the new ones. Of course, she had to take more finger prints first. This took many tries because neither Jim nor Maree seem to have very readable prints anymore. But, eventually, she released the new permessi di soggiorno. When Jim looked at his, it was good for 9 more months until May of 2020. Maree looked at her card and it was good until October 17, 2019 - two months. In the past, both of their permessos have always expired on the same day. After all, they were submitted on the same day. Obviously, Maree was not happy. So, she went back to the clerk behind the window and asked, "Why is mine only good for two months?"
"I don't know said the clerk. It was done in Ancona. I can't do anything about it."
"So do I have to start reapplying now since it is only good for two months?" Maree asked.
"No," she said, "Reapply two months after it has expired in December, 2019."
Well, how many things do you find problematic with this entire scenario? Let me not count the ways. This process last time we did it took 5 weeks from start to finish.
Of course, this was not the only recent encounter with the bureaucratic systems in Italy, that led to frustration. Last Thursday, Jim and I accompanied Maree to a doctor's appointment at the hospital in Ancona where she was going for a checkup. The doctor's office had called to make the appointment. Maree and Jim put me in a stroller hoping that they could take me into the hospital because it was definitely too hot to wait in the car. Well, I got as far as the reception area, but even in the stroller I couldn't go any further. That was probably okay. I was embarrassed to be seen in a stroller anyway.
Italy is known for having one of the top health care systems in the world. Well, maybe the care is good, but the processes are non-existent. When we arrived at the hospital, the receptionist told Maree to take elevator 7 to the second floor. Once there, she followed the sign to the department. At the end of the hall was a very large, sparsely decorated, un-airconditioned waiting room filled with people, but no one to check in with. So, when a person came out of the back room and called a name, Maree approached her and said she was there to see the doctor. The woman pointed to the room and said to wait.
After an hour, Maree asked the person next to her what time her appointment was. "11:30," she said. Well, that was the same time as Maree's, so she started to wonder if everyone there had the same appointment time and if just like at the police station where you theoretically have an appointment time, there is actually no such thing. You just show up and wait and wait. Here there was not even a machine with a number to take. Okay. well more time was passing. After 75 minutes of waiting it was lunch time and no one was coming out to take any more people into the back for their appointments, and there were only three people remaining in the waiting room. The place had pretty much cleared out. So Maree, not a patient person under any circumstances, left. What a waste of time. Oh, how she misses Kaiser. Fortunately, my experiences at the vets have been much better than this.
Okay, now that I have done all of Jim and Maree's complaining about Italy, I have some good news. My Presidential campaign is going well. I keep picking up votes and have selected any number of cabinet positions like Chief Happiness Officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Do the Right Thing Officer, Chief Musician and Photographer as well as my head of Presidential security, entertainers for my inaugural, and maybe even my first lady. A President can't be single can they, and she is pretty cute? Now I have about 260 twitter followers, but I'm trying for more. I think I need a 1,000 to become President. My friend, Scooby, says when he has a 1,000 followers he can have a girlfriend. Somehow, that sounds like more fun than President. So I'm still trying for more, because maybe if I get 2000 I can be President and get a girlfriend too. So friends and family please follow me if you have a twitter account and pass this on to your friends.
I am putting my best four feet forward to help save America and the planet from the crimes of humanity. Every day things keep getting worse, and I am trying to make people aware. Here are a few of my recent tweets.
Campaign Promise of the Day: I promise to never leave my sh--- okay, poo, on the sidewalk for unsuspecting walkers. Now, all those other candidates should clean theirs up too. Let's clean up our cities, beaches, oceans. Save our planet. 4 Feet Forward for a clean environment.
42, the answer to life, the universe and everything. I don't think you can be bored at 42. But I think it is a fine time to be reflective and help me save the world. Four feet forward, Hercule. With your cunning and my personality, I think we could wrap this election up. Dino
Campaign Promise Day ? I seem to have lost track. Anyway, I promise not to rub any noses in it or to be a back biter. (Where do people get these bizarre sayings anyway???) My motto: Let's all get along and have some fun. Life is too very short. Good day all, Dino
Trump floated the idea of purchasing Greenland. My reply: Just another brick in the wall of insanity. I, on the other hand, am a very rational candidate out to save the world and all creatures great and small from the misdeeds of mankind, especially this kind of man. Vote Dino for President, 2020.
Hope you enjoy your August.
Your Pal Dino,
The Candidate with the good hair
It has been a while since I last wrote. It's a busy time here with my campaign, summer festivals, and Maree's book and other writing. She has been very busy tweeting for my campaign. I now have nearly 80 twitter followers, but I need lots more. Unfortunately, most of my friends aren't following me. SIGH!! I know it is hard to find my twitter account, so here is a link. https://twitter.com/dogdaysinitaly
Maree is starting to get comments from her beta readers on her book and Jim is giving it a second read. Hopefully this fall she will be able to publish it. It will probably be an Amazon self published book. We will let you know when it appears.
Festival season is upon us. We have been to a wine festival in Montecarotto, a Notte del Verdicchio in Cupramontana, a Crescia festival in Castelplanio, and tonight we'll attend another festa down the hill in Moie. Every weekend there are festivals celebrating foods or wines or folk music, and every festival has bands and the music carries on until the middle of the night. And on the last day of the festival there are fireworks. Italians love fireworks. I'm not sure I like the festivals. Too many cars, too many people. I only like them when there is another dog to play with. But Italians seem to be afraid to let their dogs play with other dogs. If you are a male dog, like me, they think you will attack. Right, I really look like an attack dog. Oh, well, I can't wait to get back to California and the dog park.
While it has been hot here, we have been fortunate that our hottest days have been around 93 degrees unlike Paris with 109 or even London or Germany. But of course, without air conditioning even 93 can be too hot especially when you always wear a fur coat. Our three foot thick walls do keep the house fairly cool, but after a week of heat, they absorb the heat and are no longer a good buffer. Our little standing room air conditioner does an adequate job of keeping the house from getting any warmer at least. And the days of thunder storms act to cool it down for a few days. I am not afraid of the thunder, but I do wonder what that noise is and where it comes from.
Today, I thought I would share with you some of the tweets you've been missing along with some of the accompanying photos. I don't like the camera, so it is hard to get a good photo of me. These are the best Maree could do with that obsolete blackberry. At least you can still see how cute I am and that I have the best hair of any candidate running for office and the best smile too. Enjoy my tweets, and if you are on twitter, please follow me and get your friends to follow me too.
Here I am when I was a baby. I have nothing to hide. I'm the only candidate sharing baby pics. Do you think Congress should ask all the others for baby pics? Or maybe we need the courts to decide. Dino for President. Four feet forward to save America.
Friends, I am told I am like a cat. (Is this a good thing?) I lick my paws and wash my face. A Presidential candidate needs a clean face, a clean record, and a clear conscience. Vote Dino in 2020. I'm very clean!!!
Here I am contemplating my platform and worrying about the Democrats. Why attack each other. You won't find the back biting among the Canine party. We are united and have the best interests of mankind (and womankind) at heart. We are man's (and woman's) best friend after all.
Dino's wisdom: The road of life in never straight and narrow. It is populated by blind curves, potholes and sometimes even incomprehensible road signs. But with a wealth of persistence, a little luck, a dash of magic, and a dog at your side you can realize your dreams.
Dino's wisdom: Tomorrow may be another day, but don't put off 'til tomorrow. Make every day count. Help all of your four footed pals to stop climate change. This heat is killing me. Four feet forward to save America.
Hello from my campaign headquarters. It's time for a change. My platform: A dog in every home. A chicken in every pot. A roof over every head and a bed to lay it on. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a core value. Four feet forward to save America.
I am the only candidate focusing on preventing the zombie invasion. Dino for President. Save America from the zombies.
Hope you all have a great day. And vote for Dino. You know I am very fast and good at herding, so I will herd those members of Congress so we can get something done. Spread the word.
Dino the dog for President
Thank you for supporting my candidacy. My campaign is hot. I have a number of committed votes, and our internal polls indicate that I am leading the pack among women and dog owners. I think with those two blocks, I have a really good chance of winning this. That guy in the White House better get a dog if he wants to compete with me. And I don't even have a twitter account yet. I know I said no twitter, but my campaign manager is insisting, so look for my twitter campaign coming soon. I will let you know when it goes live. I have been thinking of some great tweets like, "The Country is Going to the Dogs," or "Four Feet Forward for More Stability and Less volatility," or how about "It's Time for a Paws," and "I'll Jump Through Hoops to Get Things Done Right." Maybe I don't want to use the word right, after all I can't say I lean in that direction, and I don't want to give any false hope or comfort to that side of the aisle.
I think I've hit a nerve with many people. Twice in the last week I've read headlines using my phrases. The country truly is going to the dogs, and my campaign is leading the charge.
Right about now I am charging to the water dish because it is so hot here. It's been in the 90s, and it will continue for the next two weeks. No relief in sight. And each day the house gets a little hotter and the tile floors a little warmer. Just imagine if you were walking around in this weather wearing a fur coat. Our house is not air conditioned, but we do have a little room air conditioner which I think we will have to use if this keeps up. Thick stone walls only do the job for so long before they heat up and the house gets hot. While I am complaining about our weather in Poggio San Marcello, it is one of the coolest spots in Italy. Even so, with no rain for a month, the hills are all brown just like back in California. I'm glad we aren't in France where the temperature hit 115 degrees. Global warming??? It's time to rejoin the Paris Accord I say.
This hot weather is bringing out all kinds of creepy, crawly and slithering things here. I've never seen things like these before. Of course, there are still my favorites, the lizards. I finally caught one and found that they are rather tasty treats. Maree was not amused. Today, I was out on my patio and I looked up at the wall. There was something crawling there between the wall and the shutter. I just caught a glimpse of a tail as it went under the shutter. At first, I thought it was a lizard, and I got up to run and get it. But as I approached, I went, "WHOA, that is not a lizard." Whatever it was I had never seen anything like it before. It was long and thin and black and it didn't have legs. How could it move without legs? I guess it couldn't jump like me either. It had little beady eyes that looked sinister. I didn't like the looks of it. Something was telling me maybe I didn't want to chase this. Maybe it wouldn't taste too good anyway. It didn't look very edible. So I backed up and left it alone. Maree apparently didn't like the looks of it either since she made me go in the house and wouldn't let me back out until that thing decided to wander on out of the yard. I hope it doesn't return because I wouldn't want to come face to face with it unexpectedly. It probably wants to feast on my lizards.
Here in Italy the hurdles of bureaucracy continue to rise higher and higher. Four years ago when Jim and Maree went to get a Permesso di Soggiorno (green card) it took three weeks after they had their finger prints taken. Now, it has been more than six months. So last Monday morning Jim, Maree and I got into the car and drove the 45 minutes to the police station in Jesi to check in and see WTF??? (Can a presidential candidate use those words without the twitterverse going nuts?) Anyway, we went on a Monday because when we went to check on the status at the three month point, we went on a Wednesday. A mean looking man with a grumpy attitude told us only people with appointments could be seen on Wednesdays. He said we had to come back on a Monday or a Thursday. This time, we walked in on a Monday knowing that Wednesday was not the right day, and we stood around for a while waiting. Eventually, the same grumpy man approached Maree and asked what we were there for. When she explained our problem, he said, "No we cannot deal with your issue today. Today is only appointments. You must return on Wednesday." ARG!!! The worst part of this ordeal was taking the drive to the police station because the air conditioning in the car decided to bite the dust, and so it was a very hot drive through several little towns and behind an oversized farm vehicle going at about 10 miles per hour. Eventually, because Jim and Maree made no effort to try to leave, one gentleman who obviously had an appointment, started to reiterate what the grumpy man said suggesting we should go. Because we didn't want to get into any altercation with folks waiting, we left. Boy was I glad to get out of there. I just don't understand this waiting around thing and standing in lines. Have you ever seen dogs line up for anything?
When Wednesday arrived, just as hot, and still no air conditioner in the car, we headed back to the police station. When we arrived, I am panting like a dog. Well, what did you expect? There were a bunch of people in a sort of line and any number sitting in seats. A man in the chair section immediately told us that all of these other people got there before us. Okay, so why weren't they in line? Anyway, Jim and Maree walked me over to the line after the aforementioned gentleman took his place there. Now, here we were in line, and I started sniffing legs. Well, you know there was a great mix of people all smelling different, and I wanted to taste each one. Some of those people from other countries definitely did not like me sniffing their legs though. I think they were afraid of dogs. So, I was on a very short leash. No more leg sniffing for me, and I laid down on the floor to await our turn. (Have I mentioned that although I am involved in this travesty of justice, I do not personally need a Permesso di Soggiorno. So I am just with Jim and Maree for moral support and because they are afraid if they leave me home there will be no furniture left when they return.) Eventually, our turn arrived and we approached the counter and explained our dilemma. The clerk consults her computer and says, "Your application is being processed. You will receive an SMS when it is time to pick it up" She didn't appear at all surprised by the fact that it had already been six months. Apparently that is the norm now. The influx of immigrants in Italy has grown astronomically over the past four years. Maree is still perplexed. She can't understand that it can take this long to process our application when we are really just renewing our Permesso and we own a house here? If this goes on much longer, Maree and Jim's visas will expire before they ever receive a Permesso. Isn't Italian bureaucracy great?
What an interesting time to be here. But I am looking forward to returning to California one day in the near future. It won't be too soon, however, as the prospects for selling our house any time soon aren't looking good. I miss the dog park and my friends and the wide variety of treats and toys. And I could do with fewer creepy, crawly things.
Hoping your life is full of treats and free of creepy, crawly things.
Your Italian friend,
Dino the Snake Whisperer
It has been rather quiet here at my home in Italy, and with the heat, I have spent a lot of time just lounging around and thinking. And when I think, I like to think big picture. You know, what's over the fence, what's under that rock, why do bees sting and those lizards grow back their tails. But today, it is hard not to think about the current American Presidential campaign. While I am far away at the moment, it remains big news. As I see it, the current race has become a circus. And being from a long line of circus performers (my forefathers were brought forth by the Barnum and Bailey Circus), I decided that as an experienced candidate, I would throw my hat into the ring. (Obviously, I mean the hat thing metaphorically.) I have a family history of jumping through hoops with great dexterity, and I am sure this will be a valuable skill. How many of the other candidates can say this? So, I am happy to announce my campaign this week as the candidate for the Canine Party. In the interest of full disclosure, my party has no ties to big oil, big pharma, big business, wall street, or Hollywood. My only ties are to the ASPCA and animal rescue organizations.
As for my qualifications, they are many. First, I have spent half of my life abroad, and have developed strong diplomatic skills. I find that where ever I go, people are just naturally attracted to me. I like to kiss babies and shake hands. There is never a language barrier when I meet new people. Living in Europe, I hear a lot of talk about US and European relations, and I understand the importance of our relationships with our allies. I wag my tail heartily at all of them. Make love not war I like to say. Yes, I believe in world peace. Oh my God, that sounds like I am running in a beauty pageant. Well, if I were, I am sure I would win that race. I have by far the best hair of any candidate and a body that would look great in a bathing suit, although I prefer to swim in the nude. (No paparazzi please!)
I can state with all sincerity that I will run an honest campaign. I have never and will never tell a lie. I have no tax returns to hide. I will accept no campaign contributions and will be beholding to no faction or individuals. I can bark loud and strong, but my bark is worse than my bite. Well, actually, I am not a back biter and never will be. My life is an open book, or maybe it is still waiting to be written. I will never tweet. I will never use the word "SAD" or call a fellow candidate "a dummy" or chant "lock her up." I promise to smile for the press. Speaking of the press, I believe in freedom of the press and will never use the phrase "fake news". And I never have and never will eat junk food or drink sodas or alcoholic beverages. As for making any unwanted advances, well, I can't say that has never happened. You see, I like to stand up on my hind legs to see better and sometimes, that means resting my front paws on a leg and then I like to lick hands. And I don't discriminate with my affections, male or female, it is the same to me. But this is my only transgression. Full disclosure here.
My platform is simple:
Thank you for listening my fellow Americans. And may whichever deity you choose to talk to provide you with happy trails and lots of treats.
Dino for President, 2020
Well, the weather has certainly taken a turn here. I can no longer complain about fog and rain and cold. We are having a heat spell. I don't think I am built for the hot weather. It would sure be nice to be able to take off this thick fur coat of mine, but I am not supposed to be trimmed or to have my coat shaved because I have an undercoat and very pink, delicate skin that would burn in the sunshine. (I am so delicate, such a little Prince.) I'll just be doing a lot of panting I guess. The house is not air conditioned here like in California, but so far those thick stone walls have kept the indoor temperature very livable, and the cool tile floors are just right for stretching out on and cooling off. We do have a standing air conditioner that we can use if it gets too hot. Jim and Maree say it works good. I hope they're right.
With the change in the temperature, we finally had a warm night. We went to Alessia's restaurant for dinner and sat out on the patio where I could lay down in the grass next to the table. That was the best time I have ever had at a restaurant. There were lots of kids running around, running past me. And I, much to your surprise I imagine, was a perfect gentleman. I didn't run at them or jump or bark. I just stayed there in my position, stretched out in the grass and watched the world go by. What a great life!!!! While I hung out, watching, sniffing the air, and getting some pets I might add, Jim and Maree indulged in a dinner of polenta with truffles and frito misto of calamari and shrimp. We didn't leave the restaurant until almost midnight. I hope I get to go hang out in the grass there again soon.
We went for a tour and wine tasting at Colonnara winery this past week with our friends Renate and Udo. Renate and Udo are from Munich and they have a vacation home nearby. Our friend Cristina works at the winery now and she took us around for the tour. Her husband, Massimiliano is the President of the winery which is a cooperative of growers. His grapes make all of the biologico (organic) wines. Our tour took us down into the cool wine cellar where they store the sparkling wines and where the red wines age in the barriques. Maree likes it down there with the scent of wines and all of the riddling racks. I liked it there too because it was cool and I got carried around during the tour. We took an elevator the size of a 12 by 15 foot room to get down to the cellar. That was pretty weird, but then again it was an adventure.
After the cellar tour, everyone went into the tasting room, and I just had to lay down and wait. It seemed like a very long wait. I think they tasted every wine on offer. First there was Luigi Ghislieri, a methodo classico sparkling wine, which has been one of Maree's favorites. It is bottle aged for three years. Then there were white wines, Verdicchios and a Bianchello, then there were red wines Cabernet, and another one that I don't remember. Oh, and there was a rose too. At the end, they tasted a methodo martinotti (charmat for those of you more familiar with the French term although the Italians assure Maree that they made sparkling wines first). The table was weighted down with bottles. When they were done, I don't think anyone walked a straight line back to the car but me. I should have been the designated driver. Fortunately, lunch was only five minutes away.
Back home, I keep learning new things. For a very long time I never jumped up on the furniture myself. I had to be invited and picked up. But, eventually, with a lot of coaxing, I learned to jump up into the car. Well, once I mastered that, the couch and the bed were easy. I started with the couch though just to check out the response and see if it was okay for me to jump up there. Of course, I only do it when Maree is there and I can hang out with her and play. The bed took a little longer. I think I liked being able to sit there looking up longingly at it until I was picked up and put on the bed. I especially liked it when I would wake Maree up at 1:00 am with a little woof so she could put me up there. Somehow I think something in my life will be missing now that I can do these things on my own. I don't think I'll have quite as much control, and I am all about being in control. Maree and Jim have not figured out how to break me of this idea, and they have tried.
On the house front, it looks like we will be here for a while, so if anyone wants to visit, they should do it. We have someone coming to see the house on June 20. The woman from Milan is still interested, and she will be coming back to visit when she has time - so who knows what that means. In the meantime, Maree is going to start more marketing on her own with fliers in our friend's bed and breakfasts and the local restaurant. Maybe we can pick up some interest that way.
Brian is off to Japan for a week for work. He arrived there on Sunday. He is looking forward to the Ramen whatever that is. Maree wonders about Siobhan all alone there with the three little boys. Siobhan seems to have this Mom thing well in hand though, and she is home schooling Charlie. He is five and doing 3rd grade math on his own for fun and writing signs that he posts around the house. My favorite sign says "Stop Chickens." I would like to stop some chickens. I think that would be a fun game, but no one will let me near enough to catch them.
Speaking of animals, I saw deer outside of our fence the other day. It just ran by the yard on its way into the forest down the hill. I stood there looking and made one little, quiet growl. I didn't want it to hear me in case it was mean because it was very big with big antlers, and I don't think I wanted to make it mad at me. It was the second time I saw a deer within a week. A few nights before one jumped right out in front of our car when we were coming home from a dinner. Some nights I can smell the scent of the deer and the wild boar. I just stand there in the yard, nose up, smelling. Then I run and bark like crazy. I think that scares them away. I wish that my barking would also scare away the deer ticks. Maree says there never were deer ticks here before, but they are here now along with the deer. And, unfortunately, my long, luxurious fur, seems to have a magnetic attraction for the ticks.
Longing for a little bit of rain,
Your friend in Italy,
Dino the hot and thirsty
I am Maree, the voice of Dino - or at least I am the one who does the typing. For more information about me and my life in Italy, you can follow me at theproseccoproject.com.