The Will that was never written

I’m feeling inspired today. It could be because I am on my second glass of Prosecco or that I am about to start week four of lockdown and have finally found my balance in this brave new world.

I have been somewhat silent lately, I know. Odd perhaps because generally I am a pretty outspoken person. I have a loud voice and have stuff to say but sometimes I need to step back because the world is not all about me, is it.

Three days ago I started writing out my will. Sounds so mellow dramatic to me now but that night I was scared. I have had chest pains since day one of lock down and on this particular night the room was spinning. To write a will at fifty-four years old just seemed pointless to me. I have no kids and no money. No property. I mentally started to list what mattered to me. I would be dead after all and the idea that someone would have to divvy up my shit seemed so foreign to me. Two cats, some cash and jewelry and my paintings.

Let me first tell you something about being mellow dramatic. I’m not a drama queen. As much as I am an extrovert I am ten times more the introvert. I hate being the centre of attention but at the same time I like to be appreciated and acknowledged from time to time too. My close friends actually call me the hermit, which just makes me laugh at how accurate they are and how well they know the real me.

I like being inside my head. It is a space that has always felt safe to me.
So back to that will…which by the way I never finished writing. I had a head cold or perhaps allergies. But the idea that I could get this virus and have some anonymous paramedic whisk me off into the sunset was not exactly the dream date I was hoping for.

Social distancing in a country that kisses cheeks on a regular basis and spends 80% of their life outdoors socializing seemed impossible to me. I never fully realized how Italian I had become until I was faced with that awkward moment of meeting someone and not being able to kiss them hello.

Three weeks ago, this Canadian born gal was in denial. I was lunching at Ikea while laughing at how many times I needed to sanitize my hands after touching the salt and pepper on the table.

Fast forward to now and I have been out of work for a month and forced to quickly learn new online skills to earn a living. And yet I am still embarrassed to ask for a break on my rent because my landlady is awesome and I still feel so grateful to be here.

The reality has been slow to sink in. My good friend warned me over a month ago about what was happening in China. This is a respected friend and yet I dismissed her entirely. Shame on me!

Now, ironically I suppose, I see myself in her shoes. A week ago I was frantically writing emails to family and friends in Canada warning them of what was to come. There was a sense of panic in my pleas and I know that my sense of urgency was still falling on somewhat deaf ears.

People watched from a distance on TV and my world just seemed too surreal to them. Well guess what, it is also surreal to me too. I cannot believe this has happened and is happening still. I cannot leave my home without a document stating my business. I am high risk because I am asthmatic and unlike all those other people, I have no mask to protect myself. I never thought I would need one.

I am home alone. If I get a fever or a cough no one is going to reassure me that they are waiting for me to return home safe and sound. Much like the people who died alone, with no one to comfort them on their last breath on this earth. This virus is pure evil. It robs us of our humanity. Our connections at a soul level. It forces us to examine our world and our impact on the global community.

Everyday I watch in horror. I want to scream. How long will it take for the rest of the world to wake up I wonder? When will we realize that it is not just about us? Every ripple in the sea, every choice we make has a cause and effect. We are all connected whether we like it or not. My personal decisions today could literally affect hundreds, maybe even thousands of people tomorrow.

We are not autonomous after all. And believe me, as a self proclaimed hermit, I like to live as autonomously as possible. I don’t want my selfish choices to be someone else’s burden, but they are. Every time I engage, everything I buy or eat will have an impact on the planet and the people on this earth.

That my friends is our reality. As much as I hate the whole Big Brother mentality, now is not the time to rebel against the machine. Now is the time to live and learn and protect each other. Even if it makes no sense to you today, it will tomorrow. Trust me.

I wake in the morning, I am happy the road is quiet. But the news screams at me and the incoming calls were making me frantic for two weeks. I would read a news story and cry. Now, I am approaching week four and the rest of the world is slowly waking up to what has become a new norm for me. This is my new reality.

Realistically, I am now waiting to see if this pandemic will reach my inner circle. Will I be spared the pain of losing a friend or family member or is it just a waiting game that I have no control over? Will the clock suddenly stop and reverse? Will it be me?

I have no answers. Like a sitting duck, I wait.

My paintings fill a room. My ramblings fill empty pages like fallen leaves in Autumn. Maybe this is all I ever had to offer to my existence? Am I truly okay with that? I’m not entirely sure.

My ego will not rest on that note…
But my soul says sure. What will be, will be.
The universe is bigger than you and me after all.
If you know me at all, you know I am a carpe diem kinda gal.
But this is not about me, it is very much about us. Collectively.
If you care at all about humanity then do the right thing.
I don’t need to tell you what that is, you already know.

Love Leah

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Portofino is Unstoppable

Say cheese!

I admit, this blog has been ignored for quite some time but it seems that somehow it is gaining traction again because my stats have been spiking like crazy lately. Perhaps that is a hint to start writing again, I don’t know. I have so many interests that I am easily sidetracked and lately it has been my new Canon EOS 200D camera that has swept me away into a dreamlike stupor.

It has been a rough year with our road being swept away last October in the “perfect storm” and five grueling months hauling groceries etc. on boats and on foot while they repaired it since it is the only road connecting Portofino to the rest of the world!

I won’t lie, this was not exactly how I had planned my winter and near the end of it all I was losing my mind and patience with it. It was my first official year living up on the mountain and that was one hell of an initiation.

Now Spring is here and we are getting an unusual amount of rain and it is colder than usual too. I am pretty sure I have gained 10 kilo just sitting around watching Netflix waiting for the rain to stop. Thank goodness for Ru Paul and wine.

The B&B will reopen soon and for now I am hitting the books hard for an upcoming Italian exam. Yes, after ten years living here I am finally applying myself to getting more proficient with the language. Having an end goal for me is important otherwise I would just float away…it is my Aquarian nature to daydream and procrastinate unless I can see tangible results. This goal involves an exam at the University and exams scare the crap out of me. But sometimes it is good to be scared. It means you are still alive. I will do it this week so, wish me luck and I promise to get back here with the results afterwards. Hopefully with good news.

Buona serata tutti!

Xo Leah

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Late Italian Summer

20180805_064807This morning I caught myself doing that old lady Italian thing. You know what I’m talking about, that hang half your body over an open window and gaze out at the world kinda thing? I gotta say, it feels kinda wonderful too! I never really understood what the attraction was but now I totally get it. It is the most relaxing thing ever. The cool breeze and sun is on my face and I can rest my folded arms on the window’s ledge and just gaze out at the sea and ponder about this beautiful life. What’s not to love about this simplest action?

Of course I’m also just screwing around for five minutes, not all freaking day, because I am not some 80 year old Nonna who has hours upon hours to gaze at the sea or lint in my bellybutton for that matter because I just opened my new Bed & Breakfast finally and damnit Janet, I’m kinda freaking out!

Giologorough copy test

Yes! That’s right…after 10 solid years of having this dream (blood, sweat and tears), the renovation is done (it is never truly done but that is a whole other blog post), and now I am knee deep in paperwork to get this baby on par.

The good news is that I now have a website (ATTN: Window gawkers…you can see some photos of the room and completed house) and also a Facebook Page (please like me because that is what makes me look cooler than I really am) and am listed on (click here if you want to see my booking calendar and prices, and please share with your friends and maybe family, but only if they are nice people, teehee)

The best thing, is that many of my readers have been here with me every step of the way towards this enormous goal. So I know you will all be clinking your Prosecco glasses tonight along with me when I can finally say Mission Accomplished! Yay!

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Crackhouse Camper Van

Ever wonder what the guidelines are for Air Bnb? Yeah, me too. When I travel, I often like to take the road less travelled. It always ends up being worth the risk and offers up tons of blogging opportunities too. A few years back, I booked a room in Nice, France using the above mentioned website. My host was a pink haired photographer who owned a psycho cat and a rat and her apartment smelled like a coffee house in Amsterdam.

Fast forward to this year and I decided to give the website another shot…

I rented a beautiful upper half of a house located on a ravine and river. The house was perfect! Clean and well equipped and centrally located.

I was told to be respectful of the permanent tenants who lived below and shared half the deck and driveway. What I didn’t expect was that there would be an RV parked in front which was plugged into the side of the house and obviously used on a daily basis as a smoking hut of sorts.

If you know me at all then you know that I have a pretty wild imagination and my affection for the Netflix series Breaking Bad had me conjuring up all kinds of scenarios of what was really going on in that RV. It didn’t really take much to spark my imagination since the second night in, I was confronted by a wild-eyed cat staring at me from inside and when I passed the open window there was no mistaking that that cat was as high as a kite!

The old faded blankets covering the windshield and all the windows made this crazy situation all the more fascinating to me. I randomly caught a glimpse of the girl who lived below, her pink and blond hair made me wonder if that crazy rat loving photographer from Nice had followed me to Canada or if there was some kind of secret club on Air Bnb that stated pink haired women all got automatic five star ratings.

By the end of the week I had summed up that there was a major drug ring operation happening in the driveway inside that camper van and that the poor cat was held against his fuzzy will. I started to get paranoid about leaving the door unlocked and wondered if almost getting arrested on a Cayman Island beach back in 2001, with my hippy, California, weed-smoking friend, may have had a long term affect on me. By the way, she did get arrested. I didn’t. I’m squeaky clean when it comes to drugs but I am also a magnet for trouble. It follows me everywhere.

Anyway, it created some great stories to tell at the wedding and by the end of the week that RV was cooking with crack and the pink haired girl was a bad-ass drug lord, hahaha.

My question to you guys is this though…what the hell kind of rating do I put on Air bnb and should I bother mentioning this to the owner of the house or do you think he is in the know already? He contacted me several times to ask if all was ok and each time I just replied that all was great.

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Share the Love Globally

One of the things I have benefitted from the most out of writing this blog for the past ten years is having the opportunity to meet and connect in person with some of my readers. How awesome is that! I have also learned just how connected we really are out in this world.

Last summer, I had two cat sitters back to back, come to Genova and stay in my apartment. They didn’t know each other. One was from Canada, an old grade school friend whom I had not seen in 30 years and the other, from New Zealand, whom I met through this blog and she invited me to a photography workshop and later on she moved to Genova. A year later, the Canadian friend was on holiday in New Zealand and walking through the supermarket and guess who she ran into? My New Zealand friend who was back home on holiday! What are the odds?

Another great person who I met through this blog is Lucy Williams. She is also married to an officer and used to work on ships just like me. We never met at sea but lucky for me, her husband is also from Genova. Lucy chose to continue sailing along side her husband and she spends her time onboard blogging about all the wonderful places she visits.

She has become an expert in cruising advice from a behind-the-scenes viewpoint and shares loads of travel tips too. Recently, she started a Sunday Series on all the Officers’ Wives who travel onboard just like us. If you want to read more about this series or any of her other great posts, click here. Enjoy!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter Weekend!

Ciao for now,

Leah x

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Home Sweet Home

Just wanted to share these photos…it truly is so beautiful up here on this hilltop!

Posted in Italian Culture, Nature, Portofino, Tourists, travel | 7 Comments


It all started innocently enough when I told Secret Santa to get me a hat for Christmas…

My buddy Joanne, who didn’t even pick my name, decided to play a prank on me and she gave me a chicken hat! Clearly, she knew she would get a lot of mileage out of this one since I am a big jokester who isn’t the slightest bit shy to sport a chicken hat on the platform of a Paris Metro Station. Or, for that matter, all over Paris and beyond. I even wore it inside the Louvre!

So, yesterday, when I saw this Kickstarter ad for a beautiful chicken book, I knew I was on the right track to full, unbridled, chicken love. I have painted them, photographed them and hugged them. They really are the coolest birds!

Maybe they are plotting to take over the Internet…if I was a cat, I would be a tad bit frightened.

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Circa 1970 Pasta Maker

How cool is this? I have only made pasta twice with a lot of assistance but this was tucked into a random box and in its original package. The stamp inside for the warranty reads 1970! It is older than my FIAT 500 car. I don’t know if it is still operable but now I have it stored up above the kitchen cupboards…who knows, maybe one day I will drink too much espresso and decide to make ravioli!

My kitchen has taken on a life of its own with all kinds of little treasures and while I am not a huge fan of clutter I love all these quirky finds and just cannot seem to part with them.

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Getting drunk with the Internet guy

Having a house renovated can be quite stressful. I cannot tell you how many bottles of wine I’ve killed over the past year just to keep my sanity. The walls are presently being redone and the guy said ten days it will be done. He is still working on bedroom number one, five days later…Red or White tonight? By the way, I am still holding onto my optimistic ten days regardless…anyone wanna place bets?

In true Italian fashion, I have also easily adapted to popping a cork for lunch and always having coffee in the house (of which I rarely drink myself). Yesterday, the Internet guy came back. He showed up close too noon, which I’ll admit, kinda brought out my grumpy side. My stomach is like a Swiss watch when it comes to mealtime! I meandered down my hill to my car only to find some other random truck in our parking site and blocking my car in. I wasted no time in giving these guys proper cacca and I am sure they think I am the biggest bitch on the hill now.

This is a very small community and it is not the best idea to piss people off but I had to skip lunch, go pick up the Internet guy (round two of this saga) at the busiest time on my road and bring him back up to my house. My road is two way with only space for one way traffic. Catch my meaning?

But it gets better I assure you. I sent an Italian family member down to the parking lot to properly curse out the dudes in our space, since I am not that proficient in the language and so therefore all political politeness gets tossed out the window (who am I kidding, I am actually a bitch in both languages when I’m hungry, lol).

Then, the Internet guy tells me he needs a ride back down the hill to town to see a central control station, then back up my hill again! I grabbed the dog and a leash and said ok, but I am going to wait for you in town. 45 minutes later, we headed back up the hill. I offered him coffee, he said wine, I said cin, cin!

He fixed my Internet, I had a rosy glow on my cheeks (1 glass of wine and no food = drunken sailor) and I drove him back down the hill a third time (speed limit is 10 KM so no comments about the wine please) 2:30 p.m. I finally ate lunch and then promptly had a nap. Who said house renovations can’t be fun?

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Coming up for air

Adventures ahoy! You know when people tell you they are really busy and you think in the back of your mind really? Are you really that busy, or do you think I will be impressed if you seem to be busy? Or what about those people whose phones are always ringing? FYI, mine never rings and I am totally ok with that.

I like a quiet life. Not boring, but a balance of excitement in bite size portions is just fine for me. I also like order. The more organized I am, the calmer my brain is, the happier I am.

So, why in the world did I think it was a great idea to have my first art exhibit while my husband was home and in the middle of a renovation and only days before the big move…and then bugger off to sail in Mexico two weeks later for Christmas?

Yep! That is exactly what I did. I moved into an incomplete house with two cats and then handed my keys over to a complete stranger two weeks later. The matress was on the floor and I will say that I got really lucky with my cat sitter because she didn’t seem to mind that I still had no bathroom doors! She just kept saying no Leah, I am the lucky one, this place is paradise. Well, she was coming from Buffalo, so I could see her point.

It probably wasn’t my best laid out plans to be jetting off overseas so soon after moving but it was Christmas and I promised my mom we would cruise with my husband over the holidays.

Admittedly, I was exhausted beyond belief and a week after I returned home I got that horrible flu and thought I was dying. I haven’t been that sick since I had pneumonia thirty years ago!

It is now February, and I am coming up for some air. But the saga continues with the house because we have mould on the new walls upstairs and so I had to move out of the bedroom yesterday and all the walls are being replastered! Can you believe it?

A week ago I was ordering a new bed and waiting for doors to be installed and now this. I had to move all my stuff out of the upstairs. The cats are freaking out a little bit, and I just want a nap.

Did I also mention that I have to fly overseas again in May? The way I figure, I will get the cats calm and the house in order just in time to leave again.

And about that nap…yes, I think that’s a great idea. So, if I tell you I am really busy, it is most likely a lie and I am just napping, lol.D8754B64-BD9C-4849-8DFF-CAA049A5B9CB

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