Monte Rosa Italy

on Monday, January 28, 2008

My relationship with Italy is that of love/hate. I can complain all day, but when it comes to scenery like this... The day this was taken we went out for lunch to an agriturismo in the area and had the pleasure of "torturing" a friend of ours visiting from the States. I mean torturing in a good way. We ate well and a lot, our friend visiting wasn't expecting so much delicious food. I think his stomach was still in shock two days afterwards. I am glad he had a great time while here....

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Italian Bomboniere









I've never been much of a collector, minus the usual stamp collection I had when I was a kid. Since I've moved to Italy, I've started collecting Italian Bomboniere. Bomboniere are little "favors/trinkets" that are given out at weddings, first communions, confirmations, graduations and the silver and gold wedding anniversaries. They contain 5 candy coated almonds (confetti in Italian), the color depending on the occasion along with a small piece of paper with the name(s) of the person(s) and the date of the event. White for weddings, first communion and confirmtion; red for graduations. Here are photos of my bomboniere collection for your viewing pleasure. Which one is your favorite and why?

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Making Canada Home

I have mentioned previously that my husband and I hope to one day make Canada home. Why would we want emigrate from this beautiful country known as Italy to the frozen tundra of Canada? The first reason being the drastic gap between the cost of living and salaries. At the beginning of this year, even the prices have gone up for groceries, utilities etc. Thursday I went to the grocery store, spent 89 euros and basically had nothing to show for it. That was at a small discount store, not at one of the big expensive supermarket.

Did you know that 20 MILLION Italians are underpaid? That would be roughly a majority of th

e workforce, considering the population of Italy is around 60 million. That around 5.1 million households are considered poor or at risk of poverty. Then there's Italy's underground economy, which is estimated to have generated about 549 BILLION euros ($808.5 BILLION USD) in 2007.

The high taxes and receiving almost nothing back in return. Imagine paying at least 20-30%, if not more, in taxes and receive almost nothing. Public schools where the students have to pay for their text books, the streets (at least in our neighborhood) are something to be desired; a totally disorganized health system.

Why not just move back to the United States if you're so unhappy with life in Italy? For one, I am really unsatisfied how things in the States, politically speaking, have gone downhill. I know, they've been going downhill for sometime now. Nowadays it's all about cooperate America, not the PEOPLE that make up the country. The blue-collar that works their backside off every day, pays their taxes and what sort of thanks do they get back in return? A $200k mortgage, monthly credit card payments of at least $200, $350+ car payment a lousy health insurance policy (if they're lucky). All because corporations are looking out for themselves, raping their employees, treating then like robots.

What to we hope to obtain by moving to Canada? A better quality of life, wide open spaces, a more socialistic and open minded government and people. I can deal with cooler temperatures and snow. Remember I'm originally from South Dakota.

What are we doing at the moment to move to Canada? Right now save up (or try to should I say) some money in order to do so. In two weeks I'll be going to the States for two weeks on a business/vacation trip. I hope this will bring in a decent amount of cash to put in the sock drawer aka savings. Our/my savings goal - at least $12,000 Canadian.

Just because we have a strong desire/need/want to move to Canada does not mean that we are putting our lives on hold until moving day actually comes. Life goes on. I may or may not agree with many things here, but I just have to deal with it until moving day comes. We get out of the house on Sundays, weather and pocketbook permitting. We still go out for pizza or Chinese once a week, like we have for almost six years.

With this intention of emigrating to Canada I had to apply for rehabilitation, even if I wanted to visit Canada on a touristic visa. Back in November 1995 I was a bad girl and was arrested for a DWI (driving while intoxicated). That was my first and last time doing such a thing. I learned my lesson. Now I am the designated driver.

With this DWI it made me inadmissible for entry into Canada, even for touristic reasons. I had to send an application and supporting documentation to the Canadian Embassy in Rome proving that I have kept my nose clean since. I had to include my criminal record from the FBI, the state of South Dakota, the records from when I went to court for my DWI also showing that I paid my fine and sentence. I also had to include my criminal records from here in Italy (I have a clean slate here, not even a parking ticket). Once I gathered all of my documents, translated my Italian criminal records (and spent 70 euros to have those notarized by the Canadian consulate in Milan (who is now closed)), I sent everything off to the Canadian Embassy in Rome back in November 2006. The end of May 2007 I had not heard anything so I emailed the Canadian Embassy. I was notified that they had received my application for rehabilitation on May 5th. I know the Italian postal system is something to be desired, but come on! Shortly after that, I received two emails to let me know that they were processing my application. Less than a month later I received a glorious email, "You have been deemed rehabilitated." That really made my day, in addition they never charged me the $200 Canadian fee that is normally required. Maybe cause they figured so much time had passed, I was BARELY over the blood alcohol limit, and I've been a good girl since. Who knows. In the end, I'm considered rehabilitated in the eyes of the Canadian government which is all I was asking for.

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Update on Fresh Breezes

on Sunday, January 27, 2008

Going through some folders on my computer and also my blog, I realized I haven't updated this blog yet with my ongoing novel of Fresh Breezes. Mainly in part that I had updated my old Blogcharm blog, but never this one. As you know from previous posts that Blogcharm has bit the dust. I am posting what I have since written. In all honesty I haven't worked much, if at all on Fresh Breezes in the last few months. So below you will find what I have written up until now. Remember this is a work in progress, fiction and any resemblance of people and/or situations in real life are just a matter of sheer coincidence.

Chapter eight

As I predicted it is about 1:05pm and I am on the highway heading for Boulder, Colorado. Lunch hour traffic is next to nothing, set the cruise control at 65 miles per hour, pop in a Enya CD and basically sit back and enjoy the ride.

By the time I get to my room at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa it is two, and I am absolutely exhausted. Even so, I head for the hot tub and maybe order room service after that, who knows. This afternoon is for ME.

I no more than sit my achy bones into a Jacuzzi and an obviously drunk man, who seems to be in his sixties accompanied by two young “working girls”, joins me. I have no disrespect for them, only when their john treats them like pieces of meat and no regard to the fact that they are human. I have full respect for the working girl, knowing all too well with the things they have to deal with.

This obnoxious old loud drunken male figure seems to think he is god’s gift to women, thinking his bank account contains the most cash, plus his Ferrari and two mansions in Beverly Hills are impressive. Wonder what his monthly car and mortgage payments are. From my first impression, seems like he has champagne tastes on a cheap beer budget. Maybe he’s trying to “compensate” for something that he is lacking in.

He brags to his “girls” of his work accomplishments. Starting out flat broke, no family, dropped out of school at the age of 16. Started a small software company out of the basement of a friend in Boulder, and is now a Fortune 500 Company. Being proud of such an accomplishment is one thing, but when a person is arrogant about their feats is where I have a problem.

“Hey baby, how much would it cost me to have you join us for this afternoon and evening” he asks me in a drunken slur.

“The last time I checked this is a hotel not a supermarket or butcher. I am not a piece of meat for sale.”

“Baby I can show you a good time. I’ve been around the world, including France. I know who you are and what you used to do for a living. Name your price honey, no amount is too high for your sugar daddy. Otherwise, I could turn you in for your former activities. So what’s your going rate?”

“You can’t afford me. I am no longer in the business nor do I intend to return, not for even all of the money in the world. Go ahead, try to turn me in, but would be hard to prove such a fact, plus happened on foreign soil where such activities are legal. If you tried, I could turn you in for blackmail, which happened on American soil, with two witnesses. Heaven forbid your stunning image would get tarnished. You are a worthless piece of shit and I refuse to associate with people that think they can buy everything, including companionship, friendship and love. Now if you’ll excuse me ladies, I have other things to attend to. I hope you have a good evening.” exiting the Jacuzzi, nodding to the girls and ignoring their pathetic john of the evening.

Such is the life of many rich and powerful, no matter the nationality. They think they can buy anything their heart desires. But where and what does it actually get them in the end? Absolutely nothing.

After a warm relaxing shower, and fresh change of clothes I feel almost like a new person. Even after putting up with the arrogant guy in the Jacuzzi. I had been thinking of ordering room service, but feel a bit sociable, so will head down to the restaurant, dressed in an elegant red evening gown.

As I approach the restaurant I immediately hear the drunkard I encountered in the Jacuzzi, this time with two different young ladies. He must have grown bored with the other two. He seems like the type that bores easily and that once he gets what he wants he throws it away like an old shoe.

I walk past his table, he immediately burst into laughter and whispers “What a cheap whore. I wouldn’t even pay $5 for her, not even for a lousy blowjob. She probably doesn’t even do that. What a nasty cunt.”

“What beautiful, eloquent and educated language you have sir. With such an attitude, I am shocked that your wife left you and took the majority of your holdings in your company, leaving you flat broke.” And walked away.

Evidently that was enough information to ruin his dinner with his hired girls. Finding out their supposed sugar daddy is actually flat broke would rain on anyone’s parade.

In his usual drunken stupor he approaches my table and proceeds to yell “You fucking bitch, how dare you embarrass me in front of my dinner guests. Now I am alone for the evening and probably for the rest of my trip. How the hell do you expect me to get any work done with a 24/7 hard on?”

“Stop thinking with the brain between your legs for once, which isn’t that big to begin with. Otherwise you would be able to concentrate on your work and know how to treat a lady. I have overheard you complain about the ladies you’ve hired, and also about your wife. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that with women, like a business, you have to invest time and effort if you want something in return, even if just for a one night stand.

Yes I worked as an escort in France. It is something I am not proud of, but I am not ashamed of what I had to do to earn a living. My late husband was sick and unable to work. Bills had to be paid, groceries bought. I needed to do something to bring in cash, and quickly. Plus be able to be at my late husband’s side as much as possible.

I had to put up with several types of men, from those who were in town on business and just wanted some company to those who had some fetish that their wife/partner could/would not fulfill for some reason. But the majority of the men where like you, they just wanted a hole to plug. I learned to become cold and callused. I’ve had men promise me the world then never come through with their promises. Then I’ve had men who have stole from me and threatened my life.

Yes the money was not bad, but a lonely job and sometimes brutal. The only thing I want you to think about, when you hire an escort is this. Think what it may be like in their shoes. Treat her like a human being, and you will get your efforts returned tenfold. Now if you will excuse me, I would like to finish my supper before I lose my appetite.”

“Would you care to join me for supper this evening? As you can tell, my company has left and I would not want to eat alone.”

“No thanks, I play second fiddle to no one, not for any amount. Plus I think it would do you some good to spend some time alone, sober up and think about your actions.”

With that he finally left me in peace. I thought for sure an argument was in order at one point, but seemed like he was starting to sober up a bit.

Chapter nine

The next morning I wake to a knock on my hotel room door. Who could it be at such an hour in the morning? I open the door to find no one there, but an envelope with my name neatly written on it.

“Lynn, I am so very sorry for the way I treated you yesterday, I truly beg your pardon. As you probably noticed, I had a bit too much to drink and the alcohol was talking, not the true me. You are correct; my wife has left me and taken everything. I worked hard for everything I had, and she pulled the rug out from under my feet, and has in doing so crushed my pride and self-worth. I say self-worth not because she took all of my material possessions, but because by doing so, it has made me question what I value in life. So maybe by her leaving me and taking everything, maybe it is a good thing. Maybe making money isn’t the only thing in life.

“Lynn, again my most humble apologies for last night. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, you did not and do not deserve to be treated in such a way. The call girls and alcohol were what I thought just venues to try to forget about what has happened. I realize now this is not the correct way to deal with what life hands you.

“I am sorry I could not tell you this in person, but I had an early flight to Los Angeles for an important business meeting. My wife may have tried to take all what I have, but I have to try my hardest to salvage what I have left. I will be back in Boulder in a matter of less than a week, I hope then we will have more of a chance to talk. Ron”
Just like a man, relies on alcohol and physical pleasures to cope with their big problems. Sorry Ronny boy, but this trip is first for my beloved Jim and second for this travel project and also time for myself. I am not about to let a man get in my way.

Today’s agenda, first have a wonderful breakfast in Jill’s Restaurant at the hotel. Then I am off to the Rocky Mountain National Park to put Jim at peace, in the Rockies. Afterwards, spend some time at the park then from there who knows.

Breakfast was absolutely wonderful. Pancakes with maple syrup, two made-to-order eggs, crunchy crisp bacon, hashbrowns, two pieces of white toast smothered in butter and strawberry jam, tall glasses of orange juice and milk, finished off with a cappuccino. Minus the cappuccino, a typical American breakfast, something I really missed while in France.

Even though I have only been Stateside a few days, I think I am going to seriously consider moving back. Jim and I had talked about it on occasion, moving back to the States, but nothing ever came of it. He knew I truly missed life in the United States and that I had moved to France to be with him. I was never meant to be a “European Gal”. While I am on this adventure trip, I am going to think what I plan to do as far as work and where.

With a full stomach, I head for Rocky Mountain National Park. The views from Boulder are absolutely amazing. Boulder has a population of little over one hundred thousand, with an elevation of 5,430 feet, everything is so open that it has the air and feel of a small town, with easy access to pretty much everything a person would need. Denver is only half an hour away, so if a person wants to go to the city, no problem, or spend time out in nature, again no problem.

I have spent some time in the mountains in France, but never in the States. When I arrived at the Rocky Mountain National Park, I can feel all the air sucked out of my lungs, what an awesome sight. No words can really describe this great work of nature. From the snow capped mountaintops to the rush of the Colorado River. Absolute breathtaking views, fresh clean crisp air.

I check in with the Park guard to see if there are any necessary procedures that I need to follow in regards to scattering human remains in a national park. With a certified copy of Jim’s death certificate and also a letter from the funeral home certifying that the urn contained human remains, along with an English translation of both certificates I would be ok.

Setting off into a secluded area, peaceful and serene. After half an hour of hiking I find the perfect resting-place for my beloved Jim, a quiet area along a babbling creek.

“My dearest Jim. You suffered a lot over the past months and you have finally found peace, and are now in the place you call heaven. Your spirit runs free along with the deer in the open pastures, climbing these wonderful foothills with the mountain goats. You touched the lives of everyone you met, putting their needs before your own. Now it is your turn to enjoy your paradise, soaring with the eagles, free as a bird, knowing you’ve done so many wonderful things while on earth. Dear Jim, you’re home in paradise, but will always have a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of all the people you have touched in some way or another. Until we meet again my love, good bye, for now.”

I did not realize that I had started to shake, I could feel warm tears streaming down my face but I felt at peace. A peace I have not felt in such a long time. Jim is now home, where he always wanted and needed to be. I know his spirit was where he wanted to be the day his physical body ceased to function, but now his body has been reunited with his soul. Now I feel I have let go, and continue on with my life, that is what Jim would have wanted.

All of a sudden a warm fresh breeze comes along out of nowhere. Like a warm hug, gentle touch and a soft whisper combined in one.

Chapter Ten

There was a side to Jim people never seen. Jim and I were together 24/7, so I got to know the “real” Jim. Yes he helped changed Roberto’s life, literally, and helped others in countless ways. There are two sides to every coin, and this applied also to Jim. Don’t get me wrong, he had a heart of gold and the best of intentions, but at the same time he had a dark side that not many if anyone knew about except for me.

Jim had a quick and strong temper. If things did not go his way, all hell broke loose. He never laid a hand on my literally, but at times the words did, even if I had not caused his temper tantrum. I just happened to be there at the time, wrong place wrong time.

I thought about several times walking out on him, but felt trapped being so far from “home”. Living in France was not like living two states over in the United States, where I could just pack up the car and move. I wish it was that easy, but it wasn’t. Plus I was not working while living in France, minus the occasional escorting appointments I had while Jim was sick. Yes I could have just boarded a plane and left, but barely had a few Euros to my name so being able to afford an airline ticket back to the United States, let alone starting over again was impossible. I had no family to call back in the States to borrow money from until I could get back on my feet, that was not an option.

The escorting, well there were a few reasons why I was doing it. I was forced by NO ONE to do it, I had no pimp, I worked for myself by myself. When I first started escorting, was to start saving up money so I could move back to the States, alone. I was getting fed up with Jim’s abuse and Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde attitude. Second for male comfort, physical and emotional. Comfort I was not getting at home. Then when Jim was unable to work anymore due to his illness, sure he received some income from his company, but not the full amount that he used to bring home. So I needed to escort in order to help pay the bills.

I am not ashamed of myself or what I had to do to bring money in, but is something that I am not proud of either. A person has to do what a person has to do in order to put food on the table.

Now I am back in the States, something that I dreamed of while in France. I moved to France to be with Jim, not knowing a word of French or anything about the culture. The first three months were a blurr, then the dust started to settle and I realized France was not the place I wanted to be, no matter how much I loved Jim. I cried myself to sleep many a nights, homesick, wanting the comforts of “home”. Home that was four thousand miles away. Jim knew how much I hated living in France, and had promised on many occasions that we would move back as soon as possible. Actions speak louder than words, I should say in Jim’s case, No actions speak louder than words. I think he had no intent of moving back.

I am now back on home turf, and I am going to stay. The only reason I will return to France will be to pack up the rest of my belongings once I have decided where I am going to settle down and live. Thanks to David’s generous gift, I am able to start a new life back home in the United States of America where I belong, or who knows, maybe even in Canada. Either way, in North America. Once I am done with this little project, I am seriously thinking of doing a coast-to-coast tour, and also Canada.

Back to Boulder.

The sky started to cloud over a bit as if it could rain plus my stomach started to rumble a bit, so I decided to head back into town to grab a bite to eat before heading to the hotel. I had been craving Mexican for a long time, tried a couple of restaurants in France, but nothing like in the U.S. So headed to Chipotle Mexican Grill on Pearl Street, downtown Boulder. Absolutely loved this place, casual atmosphere and excellent food.

After a busy morning and stuffed like a turkey from an excellent lunch, it’s time to head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. As I enter the hotel, I am stopped by the front desk clerk. She hands me a large manila envelope with my name and room number neatly written on it. I open the envelope to discover it's time to move on again.

Chapter Eleven
I am set to leave this afternoon for Chicago, spend the night there then start my trek on the Mother Road, Route 66, tomorrow morning. The instructions that were included with my travel packet were to find local Mom & Pop restaurants, B&B’s and off-the-wall tourist traps, write reviews including all details, address etc. and take plenty of photos. The cameraman I was promised for some reason was unable to make it, so I am on my own and my reviews will be published in magazines and newspapers throughout Europe. For my expenses, gas, motel etc. a credit card was enclosed with everything else, along with a professional “old style” manual 35mm camera.

My flight was uneventful to Chicago, minus the fact some of my bags are missing, including my briefcase of cash. I knew I should have deposited the money before leaving New York. I highly doubt if I will ever see the cash again, especially that large of an amount. A limousine was waiting for me at the airport to take me to the hotel. It’s been a busy day, so am off to bed early, since I plan on getting up at the crack of dawn so I can first have wonderful breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant downtown Chicago, then I’m on the open road.

I’ve been on the road for two weeks straight now, driven countless miles, interviewed and photography even more business owners than I care to remember. At least I am on the last final leg of Route 66, the “Mother Road” of America. I JUST crossed the Nevada/California state line. I think if I would have been driving Route 66 as a pleasure trip/vacation, I would have actually enjoyed myself, but since this is for “work”, and published throughout Europe, I could care less. Plus I have an itinerary to follow, places already chosen for me, with my next stop at a locally run motel a couple of miles down the road.

When I arrive at this little hole in the barely standing wall, I have a message from Roberto to call him as soon as possible. The front desk clerk said he sounded rather distraught and had a sense of urgency in his voice. Something serious must be up for Roberto to be in such a state, he’s usually pretty laid back and takes a lot to rattle him. What also is strange is the fact I have not heard from him since I left New York.

As I enter my musty smelling room, the phone rings, the front desk clerk stating she has Roberto calling from New York.

“I thought I left a message for you to call me as soon as possible” Roberto in a firm and almost upset tone.

“Roberto, I JUST checked into the motel and have BARELY entered my room. I do not appreciate such a commanding tone. I have been on the road for two weeks now, just got done driving for 10 hours STRAIGHT. I am exhausted, dirty and crabby so back the hell off. I don’t see or hear of you doing such a thing, you have other people doing your dirty work for you.”

“Sorry Lynn, you’re right. Please accept my apologies. It’s been such a hellish week at work, plus I also found out some bad news for you. On your flight from France to New York, did you by chance meet a Finnish man by the name of Fredrick?”

“Yes I did. He was a rather chatty guy. His wife was having some problems with depression and was rather worried about her. Has something happened?”

“Lynn, I hope you are sitting down. He came into my office about a day after he arrived in New York, very solemn. He mentioned that he had met you on the flight and was very impressed by you. He said the main reason for his visit to my office was to seek some advice, whether to see if it would be possible to change his will in regards to his property in the United States and also in Finland. He was scared and worried about his wife’s condition and would fee more comfortable knowing that someone mentally stable would handle his estate properly if something were to happen to he and his family. My experience with big name clients and also internationally have had this request on occasion so I didn’t think too much of it at the time. Yesterday I received a phone call from a colleague in Finland to inform me that Fredrick arrived home to find his wife had murdered their children then took her own life. He could not bear the thought of such a tragedy so he decided to end his own life by hanging. Now you are the heiress of his estate, a very large one at that. I will be handling the American side of his estate, while my colleague in Finland will be handling things there in Finland. I cannot go into detail on the phone on the exact details of Fredrick’s estate, other than you will be flying back and fourth between New York and Helsinki where Fredrick was based out of. Fredrick’s funeral was today, so out of respect to Fredrick and his family, proceedings will start on next Monday, a week from today. My colleague in Finland, Christian, will have everything all drawn up and ready for your signature on Monday. You have a flight out of Los Angeles on Saturday to Helsinki, I think you should be done within a matter of a week or two. But do not be too surprised if you have to return to close any property deals, if any. From Helsinki you will be flying here to New York, were we will work together on his estate here in the States.” I do believe he also had some property in Canada, but will be sure by the time you arrive here in New York.


Chapter 12

I arrive into Helsinki-Vantaa airport at 10:40 in the evening, after over 20 hours in the air, including a layover in Munich. At least I was able to catch up on some much needed sleep and also casual reading.

Christian was waiting for me outside customs and immigration. He seems to be a very young man, seems just out of law school, yet at the same time he seems to be a young old man. A man who has a few stories to tell.

“Welcome to Finland Lynn, please let me take your bags to the car waiting outside. We do not have much time, due to airport security reasons plus you have had a long day traveling. Tomorrow morning sleep in, we’ll have brunch then you will have the day to see the city. I would suggest seeing the Kamppi Center, which is a shopping and transportation complex in the Kamppi district, also suggest relaxing in Sibelius Park. Relax and do not do anything strenuous, since for sure you will have jet lag and you NEED to be clear headed for Monday. Monday is going to be a busy day, actually probably the entire week.”

I checked into my hotel suite, exhausted. I am filthy from spending about an entire 24 hours traveling. I have a Jacuzzi bathtub in my suite which is oh so tempting, but that will have to wait for another day when I can actually enjoy it. Tonight I just need to shower and head straight to bed. Mentally my head is still spinning a bit from Roberto’s news; I have not had time for everything to sink in. A man I only knew on a plane ride from France to New York, is dead along with his family and has left his estate to me. Why I do not know, even though Roberto told me that this man, Fredrick, had told Roberto that he was impressed by me. I am just an ordinary person; I am neither superior nor inferior compared to the next person. I am physically and mentally drained from everything. I have not had the time to lighten up, to relax. I went from losing my husband of five years, my trip from France to the United States, traveling cross-country across America for a project. That wasn’t exactly a vacation, but work. Now to find out that an acquaintance and his family are dead and I am the executor and heir of his estate. My head is spinning mentally and physically, my head barely touches the pillow and the next thing I know sun is shining through the dark curtains and my phone is ringing.

“Lynn, it’s Christian. How did you sleep?”

“I’m still sleeping, what time is it?”

“It’s 10am, remember we have a brunch date. Meet me downstairs in the hotel restaurant in an hour. See you then.” Then a dial tone.

I decided to go down to the restaurant a little early to have a cup or two of coffee to wake up a bit before meeting up with Christian.

Christian was already sitting down, with two cups of coffee waiting. Does this man ever sleep? Is he always so punctual, if not always early?

“Good morning Lynn, a little more awake?”

“A bit, I will be after a cup or two of strong coffee, preferably espresso with a bit of milk and sugar and a cigarette.”

“Not a problem Lynn, here’s your first cup. I won’t hit you with anything important right at the moment, but in half an hour we have some hard core talking to do. Enjoy your coffee.”

“Thank you Christian, you are very kind. In the mean time, mind if I ask you a personal question or two?”

“I have no secrets, go right ahead.”

“How long have you been in practice? You look as if you just graduated from law school.”

“Actually I just turned 40. I know I look like I am not a day over 25. This is me naturally, I have not had any plastic surgery. I just take care of myself, I work out, watch what I eat, pay attention as far as how much sun I take in etc.

“Lynn, you look like you’ve woken up a bit, let’s have something to eat. You are probably famished.”

After a bit to eat, a couple of cups of strong coffee and a cigarette, at least I've become more conscious. Christian picks up on this immediately and starts right in with business. He seems to be the type of person that doesn't beat around the bush, straight to the point let's get down to business type of guy. He comes across that he wants to get this estate done and over with as much as I do. Not that he doesn't want to deal with it, but more of not wasting any time, his or mine.

“Lynn, I know last night I mentioned that today you would have some time to relax before starting to work on the estate. Last night when I got home, I got to looking over everything and thought that the sooner we start the better.

“Fredrick's estate not only consists of his property, but also his late wife. She also had a decent sized estate, old and new money. Before she started suffering from depression, she had updated her will that in the event of her death everything would go to Fredrick. I had just no more than taken care of this for Fredrick, so all of the property, bank accounts etc. had been put in his name, then he took his own life. So basically now you have inherited not only Fredrick's estate, but also of his late wife.

“The total combined estate includes 2 houses here in Finland, 3 cars, a bank account here and also a nice size bank account in Luxembourg. Total value of the estate, four billion Euros, or $5,423,770,026 U.S. Dollars. This is not including any other properties in North America.”

Needless to say I am a little overwhelmed. I've gone from dirt poor to billionaire overnight. To think this is not all either, there's still Fredrick's estate in the United States and possibly also Canada.

“Lynn, are you alright, you've become ghostly white?”

“Just a little shocked at the moment, that's all.”

“Pull yourself together and fast. Have another cup of coffee and cigarette. If you feel you need to, step outside for a breath of fresh air.”

“Fresh air no, I think the coffee and cigarette will do just fine.”

“Great, then we won't waste any time. Let's get started. I have already prepared all of the necessary documents. Since you lived in France for some time, I understand that you have dual citizenship, French and American. Being that is the situation, that you are a European Union citizen, this makes everything easier. What I need is your French passport, along with your French equivalent of a taxpayer identification code. You will have to pay some fees here in Finland, taxes and estate fees, but that will all be taken care of by my office and deducted from your inheritance.”

Christian took my passport and taxpayer identification code, went to the hotel front desk to have them photocopied and was back in a matter of seconds.

“Let's get started Lynn. Today I need you to sign several documents, basically that will transfer everything into your name. These are the majority of what you will have to sign, not all though. Tomorrow morning bright and early we will present these to the judge who will sign everything off, thus closing Fredrick's estate and all of the property will become yours. Then it is just a matter of technicalities, transferring the deeds of the houses, cars and bank accounts into your name. You will sign those forms today, that way by tomorrow afternoon I can start that process. By the end of the week you will be officially a billionaire.”

Two hours later I was finally done signing documents. My right hand is a bit numb from signing my name so many times. But if that is the price I have to pay, I have no complaints. For today Christian's work is done. Now I have the rest of the day to relax and visit Helsinki.

“Don't forget Lynn, we have to be at the courthouse tomorrow morning at 8. So make sure you get to bed early and get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, the entire day. It does not end when the judge signs the papers.”

My head is still spinning from all what I have encountered this morning and also from traveling all day yesterday. This afternoon I am going to spend in the area of the hotel.

Bright and early Monday morning, at 7:30 Christian picks me up at the hotel. We're off to the courthouse. Christian fills me in on what to expect. The judge has had all of the information for a few days now. Today is just a formality, to meet the judge face to face and witness his signature on the case. Christian feels that all will go well and that we should be done in a matter of about an hour. Then it's off to Christian's office to start the transfer of all the deeds and bank accounts into my name.

As predicted, we were in and out of the courthouse in less than an hour. At Christian's office, he started faxing some of the forms I signed yesterday to places in order to change the name on the deeds and bank accounts. By that afternoon he had faxed confirmation from everyone stating the name had been changed and would receive the official paper copy via courier in a matter of a day or two.

“Congratulations Lynn, you are officially a billionaire. If you don't mind me asking, what are you planning on doing with your new found wealth?”

“That I have not decided yet Christian. Maybe I will travel the world a bit, who knows. First I want to get Fredrick's estate in North America settled before deciding anything.”

“Of course, that's understandable. Since your work here is almost done, do you have any questions for me?”

“Yes I do Christian, if you don't mind. Since I have no plans on returning to Europe to live and have no need for the houses and cars here, who can I contact to list the properties for sale and may I have you as my power of attorney to take care of the transactions while I am back in the States?”

“Here's the business card of a real estate agent that I know personally. I can call her immediately if you wish. Her name is Annika. For the power of attorney, I would just need you to sign this form.”

Christian called Annika and made an appointment for me with her for bright and early tomorrow morning at one of Fredrick's homes that was just around the corner from Christian's office. I will need to clean out both houses, but both Christian and Annika said that in their off hours they could help me with that.

At 8 am I met Annika at the first house I need to put up on the market. Within an hour she had taken several photos and had the property listed for sale. Minus a few personal belongs of Fredrick's, the house was pretty much empty. I had it cleaned out on my own by noon. Good thing that I did, by that afternoon Annika showed the property twice and had one serious bid on the place. The second house will be a little more work, will take a solid two to three days to clean the place out, since it was Fredrick's main residence. Annika has already placed it on the market anyways, since it will take awhile to sell.

Chapter 13

The offer on Fredrick’s second house was about 50,000 euros above what I had listed the house for. I decided to meet the couple before accepting their offer. First Annika was against the idea, saying to keep the sale of the house “professional”, but after explaining that I would rather have it on a personal level she agreed. I would rather have the sale a personal experience; this couple is investing in their future and for their family, so why not make the experience more intimate. I am not out to make new friends or kiss up to anyone, but at least show that there are still people out there that are more interested in people and not only in greed.

Michael and his wife Isabelle are a young couple from the United States, looking at buying their first home, in Finland. They are in their early thirties, no children and just transferred to Helsiki from Chicago due to Michael’s job. They at first were surprised when I wanted to get together before the closing to get to know them a bit. Michael is a banker in Helsinki, Isabelle a housewife. Annika was able provide them some great information on the area, including groups to help both get adjusted to their new life in Helsinki and Finland. Young women groups with various interests for Isabelle, to help her become accustomed to her new city and country. With that I was able to accept their offer on their new home. Annika is a great agent, thinking outside the box, but also with a slight push from me. I remember my move to France from the United States, without knowing a thing about my new country, culture and language.

With the initial meeting of Michael and Isabelle out of the way, the acceptance of their offer, I can let Annika do her work on the paperwork and sale of Fredrick’s second house and I can fully concentrate on cleaning out Fredrick’s first home. I want and need to get it cleaned out as quickly as possible, then get it on the market and sold. So I need to get up at the crack of dawn and get to the house bright and early so I get the house cleaned out. I called Cristian after my meeting with Michael and Isabelle to let him know of my plans. He’s meeting me at the house after he gets done at his office at 5pm and hopes to bring an assistant or two of his, along with maybe another lawyer at his practice. Great, four extra pairs of hands will be a substantial help.

The house is immaculately clean and organized. One would never know that this was a home of two adults with four young active children. Nothing has been touched since Fredrick’s death evidently he left things as they were when he arrived in Helsinki from New York. His wife had cleaned and made sure everything was in order, not wanting things to appear out of the ordinary. Hopefully cleaning will not take too long then, in combination with the help from Cristian and his employees and colleague. The big decision at the moment, which room should I start with?

Annika had arranged to have a dumpster delivered to the house for the garbage and large boxes for clothing, toys and household items to be packed up and donated to local charities.

Before deciding which room to start with, I walk thru the house to get a feel what needs to be done. I am still surprised how well kept the house is, two immaculate children’s bedrooms, matching the rest of the impeccably clean house. The kitchen is about the only exception, due to food that has been sitting in the refrigerator and cupboards for who knows how long. The stench from the fridge is horrible, so the kitchen is the first on the list. Thankfully Fredrick’s wife was a perfectionist when it came to cleaning, therefore having an ample supply of cleaning products in a child-safe closet.

Fredrick’s wife had anything and everything she could ever want, the latest trend and fashion in cookware, luxurious and noble serving plates, silverware and stemware. Yet she only had what she needed, nothing in excess or wasted. She had the best not only in the kitchen but throughout the house. She had the best quality, but was not wasteful and not boastful. Fredrick and his family’s home was warm, comfortable and welcoming.
The kitchen took a bit more than I thought, with boxing up all of the cookware and non-perishable food from the cupboards. At least with everything boxed up I was able to do a complete cleaning and remove the foul smell, with a bit of help with all of the doors and windows wide open. Total time – about an hour and a half.

The rest of the house is just a matter of boxing things up and hauling out the furniture to donate to charities or throwing in the garbage.

Christian, his assistants and colleague arrived a little after 5pm, punctual as always. In 8 hours time I was able to get three-quarters of the house done, so with the help of four people should be able to get the house finished by late tonight, the majority of the work being hauling out the furniture for the vans to pick up in the morning.

By the next morning, the house was completely empty, including everything that was out front the night before. I met Annika at the house as to list this house on the market. Within an hour, she was done with photos and measurements. Like with the other house, by that afternoon she had the house listed and was already receiving calls on it.

Two weeks later I was in Annika’s office closing on Fredrick’s second home, and going through several offers on Fredrick’s main house. Once I accept an offer on the main house, I am free to go back to the States and start working on Fredrick’s estate there with Roberto. I signed a Power of Attorney with Cristian so he will be able to handle the closing on the main house for me. Fredrick’s bank accounts in Luxembourg and Finland were transferred to my name long ago. Since I have no plans of returning to Finland or Europe in general to live, I had all of the money transferred to New York where Roberto had set up a bank account in my name for me with a major bank there.

Before heading back to the States, I have decided to make a side trip to France, to pack up the last of my belongings there, ship them back to New York and put them into storage until I decide where to call home. France, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, is not my home. I was not meant to live in Europe, not my cup of tea. A mentality different compared to mine, not worse nor better, just different. I understand one hundred percent why Europe is considered the Mother Land, Old World. Even though we are in the 21st century, there are things that I would consider old compared to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I do not thing this is wrong or right, just a varying way of life compared to other parts of the world.

While in France I met up with Alice for lunch one day. She would have been disappointed and upset if she knew I was in town and did not have the opportunity to get together. Plus she is the one that started this entire adventure for me, really. I owe her my gratitude, to say the least. If it weren’t for her, for pushing me to go on the adventure in the States, following Route 66 etc., I wouldn’t have met the people I did, including Fredrick. If not for Anita, I would still probably be in France, alone, unsure of how I would be able to afford financially moving back to the United States.

“Lynn, you are a totally different woman! You are not the woman I knew here in France! You look wonderful, happy, relaxed, this is the first time I’ve seen you as such! Please, tell me, what has changed?”
I had not talked to Alice since I left France for the United States, so she had heard the news of my inheritance etc.

“So you met a guy on your flight to New York then the next thing you know you’re a minimum of a multi-millionaire?!?! Why do you say minimum? You’re joking, right?”

“I wish I were, but seriously now I am a minimum of a multi-millionaire. I just closed this Finnish guy’s estate up in Finland, which was worth millions of dollars. In a couple of days I am off to New York again, to start working on his estate there. I say a minimum a multi-millionaire due to the fact I do not know how much Fredrick’s estate in the States is worth. Plus there is the possibility that he has some type of properties in Canada also.”

“Lynn, I am ecstatic I sent you on this adventure in the United States! This couldn’t have happened to a better person! I am so sorry to hear about what happened to Fredrick and his family but every cloud has a silver lining. Obviously this Fredrick seen in you what I see in you. You are a better person than what you give yourself credit for woman! I think and hope now that you’ve gotten this far in your adventure, that you are able to see and ‘accept’ this part of you and to use is for your advantage.”

Alice hasn’t changed one bit, still the strong, straightforward, wonderful friend that I knew before I left for my adventure in America.

During lunch I receive a phone call from Christian in Finland. I wonder if Fredrick’s main house has finally sold.

“Lynn, I have some what could have been bad news here in Finland, but when you get back to the States you may be in for some issues. This is not in regards to the house, but Fredrick’s estate in general. Seems as if Fredrick’s mistress has learned of his huge estate and she feels she is due her fair share. Not to worry though, at least here in Finland she stands no legal ground since she was by no way any relation nor mentioned in Fredrick’s will, so therefore she is not entitled to anything.

I think the same will be in the States, but I am no expert. That is Roberto’s cup of tea. I just wanted to warn you that you may be in for a bumpy ride when you get back to New York.

On a better note, just to let you know the second house has sold. Closing will be in a week. Once everything has been signed off I will wire the money to your bank account in New York, if that is acceptable.”

“Thanks a lot Christian for everything.”

Great, just what I wanted to hear. A gold digging little wench wanting her piece of a pie she's not entitled to. I didn't ask to inherit Fredrick's estate, but this little mistress was just seeing Fredrick for his cash, not for the person he was.

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Scopello Italy






Last Sunday we went for lunch with a couple of friends in the region of Piedmont, in Valsesia, in a little village called Scopello. We ate at this particular agriturismo once before in July, was absolutely delicious and inexpensive, especially for Italian standards. Usually one can spend up towards 30 euros per person at an agriturismo. At this particular agriturismo, 18 euros a head. It was a gorgeous day in Valsesia, the sun was out, the air crisp and cool.

Last Sunday was our first road trip with our new car, our 2001 Renault Scenic. So far I really like it, I like it better than our old car, the 1995 Ford Mondeo. Like our Mondeo, our Scenic is also an automatic.

Shortly after lunch, we received a phone call from my husband's mother. Their 15 year old dog collapsed after being taken out to do her duties. The poor dog had a brain hemorrhage and passed away shortly after. She will be sorely missed.

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Vigevano Italy photos

on Friday, January 25, 2008




I have not posted nor will I be posting much from now until the end of February due to my upcoming trip in two weeks. I beg your pardon. I've been rather busy trying to organize things for this trip. The main purpose of this trip is business, plus at the same time vacation. Killing two birds with one stone. Part of me is looking forward to this trip, two weeks away from Italy, the other part of me wishes this trip was over with. I will try to post some occasional photos that I had on my old blog.

These are some photos that we had taken on a trip back in 2002 to Vigevano Italy, shortly after I moved here. The church is in the center/downtown of Vigevano. The other photos are also downtown, on of part the main square and also of an old castle.

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Scotland photos

on Wednesday, January 16, 2008













In May 2007 I had the pleasure of going up to visit a friend of mine that lives near Glasgow Scotland for one week. A wonderful relaxing time was had by all. Flew from Bergamo on Ryanair to Glasgow Prestwick for less than $60 round trip. We visited some sites outside of Glasgow, including the quaint town of Paisley. Seen the Paisley Abbey which dates back to the 12th century. Also seen the exterior of the Paisley factory, home of the famous Paisley print. One day we went to Loch Lommond (Loch is Scottish for Lake) and the small village of Luss. There is a beautiful small church there in Luss, Luss Parish Church. Unfortunately we were unable to visit that day due to a wedding that was scheduled, but we were invited by a member of the wedding party! No we did not go to the wedding. It is said that many famous people have been married at Luss Parish Church.

For the most part the weather while I was in Scotland was pleasant, with the minor occasional sprinkle of rain. Except one day when we went to visit the cottage of Robert Burns, the Scottish author of Auld Lang Syne, in Alloway Scotland. That morning it rained cats and dogs then by afternoon was cloudy.

We only spent a couple of hours in downtown Glasgow, enough to do a little window shopping, have a coffee and lunch. Oh also took advantage of being able to buy a book in English at a REASONABLE price. Here in Italy the selection of books in English is fairly limited. I have to go to Milan in order to get them.

While I was there even had a Reiki session. Reiki is a "spiritual" practice, for the treatment of physical, mental and emotional problems, in a nutshell. I don't remember all what the gal told me, except that I basically keep to myself, have built a tower around to try to stay safe. Also that she seen that my mother and I have really never been close, basically no love felt from my mom. She envisioned Paris France, that I for some reason NEED to visit Paris. That something good will come from the visit (my impression). I would like to one day visit Paris, before if/when my husband and I move to Canada.

Note to whomever is searching on Google with my username of Amborg and Blogspot to arrive at my blog, why not just subscribe to my blog, either via email or in a reader then you will know when my blog is updated?!? Save yourself some time knowing when my blog is updated.

On a different note, I may not be posting much these days due to planning a trip to the United States in February. I will be in the States for sixteen days next month, on a work/pleasure trip. I am really looking forward to this work vacation. Especially the sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures.

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Project

on Monday, January 07, 2008

A few posts back I mentioned a possible project in the works that I, my husband and a couple of friends of ours are working on. We are planning a documentary "gypsy tour" February 12th - 28th 2008 along the southwestern part of the United States. We are going to be visiting California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. Hitting up parts of Route 66, visiting some national monuments and national parks. But the main purpose of our adventure is to visit some of the Native American reservations in the area. Along the way meeting new people, if anyone wants to join in on our "gypsy tour" at any given point in time the better!

You can find out information here and also our Myspace profile. Our official website and Myspace profileis in Italian and English.

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Photos from Orta Lake

on Sunday, January 06, 2008





On my old blog I had posted several photos from here in Italy, but now obviously that blog has died so I am reposting photos of Italy that I have accumulated over the last almost six years. It is going to take SEVERAL posts to do so. I beg your pardon and enjoy the photos.

These photos are from July 2007 when we were along Orta Lake, near Santuario Madonna Del Sasso.

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Valsesia Italy Photos

on Friday, January 04, 2008


Some photos from when we went to Valsesia Italy in July 2007. This is a popular area for hikers, Italian and international. The photo of what looks like a restaurant is what is called an agriturismo here in Italy. This agirturismo is in a small village called Scopello and the name of the agriturismo is il Bucaneve. I highly recommend this agriturismo. You can eat well and not pay an arm and a leg, plus if you feel you need to take a nap they do have rooms for rent above the restaurant.

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Why?

A few posts back I mentioned that my husband and I hope to one day move to Canada and I promised to share our motives for moving. Many consider Italy a beautiful country with an excellent cuisine. I agree to a point with that, yes Italian food is delicious and the types of dishes vary from region to region. There is no ONE TYPICAL Italian dish. What is typical in Milan isn't typical in Naples. You get the point.

Speaking of regions and provinces, this bring up another topic. I have met people that are very "provincial". Provincial in the sense of that they are the type of person that has barely left their province (county for Americans), let alone visited other countries outside of Italy. The type of person that is offended if you say you like other ethnic cuisine in addition to Italian.

The bureaucracy, getting things done. Taking 3 hours and going 5 million different places just to get something simple done. Example in point, getting one's Italian passport. You can go to the post office, pay 20something Euros for the packet of forms you need to fill out and submit everything right at the post office. One stop shopping, Italian style. Or you can do it the old fashioned way, going to the police station, standing in line for 3 hours just to get the form you need to complete, go to the post office to pay for the passport then it's back to the police station with the completed form and stub from the post office proving you payed, only to stand in line again for another couple of hours. That's not including time spent trying to find a parking spot.

Then there's the traffic. We live on the northwestern outskirts of Milan, the fashion and financial capital of Italy. The city of Milan alone, not including the urban areas, is 70.3 square miles (182 square kilometers), with about 1.4 million people. That is not including the commuters that work every day Monday through Friday. So you can imagine the congestion, smog and pollution.

It is hard to find a job, a job with a decent wage and also a permanent contract. I am not saying it is impossible, just very difficult. I've been in Italy for five and a half years now and have been teaching English since 2003. I have been unable to find a "regular" full-time job and a permanent contract. Part of which is due to I am a married women, in her prime time for having children. Employers are hesitant when it comes to hiring a married woman in her child bearing years.

High cost of living and relatively low wages. Average worker salary - 1,200 a month. Then there's rent, we pay about 500 Euros a month plus condominium expenses of about 100 a month. In total, 600 euros a month plus utilities. Groceries, about 400 euros a month. Utilities run about 110 euros a month. That's not even including car insurance and gas for the car. Between my husband's and my earnings, we're barely making it. But hopefully in this new year, 2008, things will change. There is one project in the works that will hopefully bring some prosperity our way. Nothing is set in stone yet, but am keeping the fingers and toes doubly crossed!

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Pavia Italy photos

on Thursday, January 03, 2008





































The first photo is of what remains of an 11th century tower that collapsed on March 17th, 1989 and unfortunately 4 people lost their lives. The second photo is of a statue downtown Pavia near the Pavia Duomo (cathedral). The third photo is of the Pavia Cathedral, and the last photo is of Chiesa di San Michele (Saint Michael's Church) which dates back to the 12th century.
** July 17th 2008 Update - We do not live in Pavia, the day we went to Pavia my husband had to go for work and I tagged along. My husband long ago went to university in Pavia.

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