Sunday, July 4, 2010

(Re)Born on the Fourth of July

Well. So where were we? What? What do you mean, "where have you been?" Oh, very well, if you insist on explanations, here's the deal, or at least as much of it as I can cope with at the moment.

First things first: we're all well - Mr. Muscato, Koko, and me. It's been something of a wild ride over the last few months, a whirlwind of surprises, difficult decisions, unexpected opportunities, enormous annoyances, horrid misbehavior from startling corners, the occasional complete nervous collapse, a shade too many doctors and lawyers, endings, and, now, beginnings. It all required a good long rest, which I have to say we've been enjoying tremendously.

Now that I'm catching up, at last, I can't tell you how much all the interest, concern, and nagging from friends and Gentle Readers over recent months has meant; I only wish I'd had the energy not simply to disappear for a while, and I hope, very much, that forgiveness will reign for the long and enigmatic silence.

So, here's what's up, more or less, in no particular order.

Alas, the Villa Muscato is no more. One of the first signs, in fact, that the universe - ours, at least - was falling out of alignment was the unwelcome news that our longsuffering landlord had at last awakened to the fact that he was being woefully underpaid and was exercising his option to retake his little slice of heaven, ostensibly for a family member.

In discussing domestic options, it became clear that my betters at VeryDull International Consulting (a wholly owned subsidiary of Gilded Cage Career Choices, LLC) were not encouraging about the prospect of a new long lease. "I wouldn't," said my Fearless Leader in the Home Office, "count on more than six months, really..."

At that point, much becomes mercifully unclear even in such recent memory.

Lights up, then, on a sunny morning some six weeks later, in which after much backing-and-forthing, suggestions, proposals, and just the slightest hint of threats in several directions, our way forward became clear(er). In short order, we were dealing, badly, with the appalling prospect of packing, closing accounts, zeroing out obligations business, fiduciary, and social, and generally steeling ourselves to entirely unendurable levels of activity, change, and general stress and strain.

The first wrench was saying adieu to Ermilia, our stalwart domestiche, who is now brightening the lives of a charming expat family who have taken on the formidable bureaucracy currently required to secure the presence in one's life of what Grandmother Muscato referred to as Good Help. Even the temporary attentions of her silent and eccentric chum, the ever-reliable Flordeliza, were only a pale substitute for our lamented factotum.

But then, at last and with a curious mix of relief and melancholy, Mr. Muscato and I bade farewell to the peculiar little Sultanate in which we'd made our lives for the past six years. I suppose I will have more thoughts as time passes on the place we've called home, but for the moment, suffice it to say that we don't miss the driving, and it's wonderful not to feel guilty wearing shorts.

And ever since we've been recuperating, most recently for an extended stay in one of America's loveliest, most relaxing, and most invigorating (a seeming contradiction, I know; but it's not) seaside villages, one that will I suspect be familiar to at least a few of you from the snap above. We've slept, we've luxuriated in the sun and sea, we've gorged on lobster in all forms, we've regaled friends and family with tales of our injustices and triumphs, we've shopped furiously for perfectly useless bibelots, we've made our way through a fair amount of Champagne, and now...

We're preparing, with a certain amount of mixed trepidation and excitement (and a great deal of procrastination and inertia), for the next Great Changes.

Soon, therefore, we will once again be expatriates. We've found ourselves, long distance, yet another commodious-looking villa not too far from the sea. We will shortly be reunited with our beloved Koko, who has spent his long summer leave in the devoted care of friends and who has been sorely missed. We will be facing all sorts of new hurdles and opportunities, from securing basic services in a place almost as noted for bureaucracy as the dear Sultanate to securing a (pale, but with luck adequate) Ermilia-replacement to finding a decently amusing place to spend a Thursday evening.

It all raises the question, I have to say, of what to do with the Café. The name, of course, will no longer be entirely accurate, nor, for that matter, will my own nom de blog. We shall have to see, as things go along, and I hope you will be as patient with me as I figure these things out as you all have been while I went, for a while, underground.

In the meantime, a lovely Independence Day to all of you who care for such things; we'll be celebrating in our own quiet way, before shortly setting off for our own New World. I hope you're all as well, or at least as content, as, in the end, it's turned we have managed to be.


  1. Welcome back... you were missed, plus we were worried!

  2. Good God, we have been so worried. My Inner stalker was totally freaking out. So glad you are back, and please keep updating us on your adventures on foreign shores.

    It's a shame we never got a chance to meet up for a cocktail. Happy trails to you both, wherever life takes you.

  3. Welcome back!!! Silence is scary.

  4. Naughty boy!

    You have been missed but the absence is easily understandable now after that explanation.

    Welcome back or should I say home?

    I'm confused.

  5. wonderful to be able to read your blog - and so glad youre ok

  6. Good to know you're all OK :)

    Have fun in your new adventure!

  7. Welcome back Muscato.

    You have friends here. Lots of them.
    They may be virtual, but many felt very hard done by.

    Next time.....leave a note ;)


  8. oh joy,joy!

    all of the stars have aligned and brought back our beloved muscato!

  9. A sigh of relief that things are, in overall perspective, well. I worried but was fairly certain you'd re-emerge. I hope you, Mr. Muscato & Koko are reunited and settled in at your new digs soon. Lovely to have you back.

  10. oh, my! My Fourth of July celebrations were just ending, but now they must start anew! I am so glad that you are back. I look forward with anticipation to whatever you are willing to share.

    I'm moving as well...I've been in Muscat, then in Doha and now Rotterdam in the Netherlands. If you are ever in the vicinity or a train ride away...I do so wish I could meet you! I don't mind claiming my stalkerism of you or my desire to hear stories from you rather than just read fascinate me. I am unashamed.

    So glad you are ok.


  11. oh my goodness! You're back!!!!!!!!!!! It's a Christmas miracle (in July!)

    You've been sorely missed.

  12. Welcome back, darling!!!! We not only missed you, but were terribly worried. Glad that all is well.

  13. Welcome back! Seriously though, you had us worried. We thought that you had been captured by White Slavers!

  14. I've never commented on your blog before but do so now to share in the celebration that Muscato lives! My own little desert in the southwestern U.S. is now verdant and cool once more. Your oasis of a blog was sorely missed.

  15. Thank you so much for the update, I too was worried. The best of luck on your new adventure.
    Thank you too for your blog, it's an oasis for me at work.

    Charlie, Sonoma County, CA

  16. Darling! You have been so totally missed at the Chateau! So glad you're back and well, and very excited for you. As much as one tends to resist it, change is always good.

    Much love to you and yours. XOXOX

  17. Good heavens! We were so worried, darling, and then we started getting spam ... not the food, but the email. It was all so James Bond, well not James Bond, and not even Matt Helm. I am quite familiar with your new (temporary) location and wish I could breathe in the fresh salty air and dine on lobster with you before you set off yet once again. This is the best news I've had in a while. Much love and of course, best wishes to you, Mr. M., and Koko.

    PS. And don't disappear again! You had me worried sick!

  18. glad you are safe and well muscato! we missed you! change is good,once you get past the stress and strain. good luck in the future.

  19. Oh thank God, I'd been so worried. I've checked every day hoping to hear you hadn't been done a grievous harm.

  20. As one who merely lurks, I too was worried. One hopes for the best. How does it work to be peripatetic and still ensure that one's favorite tchotchkes are safe?

  21. Caro, sweetie, darling, cheri, hon, how fabulous fabulous fabulous to have you back safe and sound, even if your explanation was so delicately phrased that I have no idea what you're trying to talk about. Whatever. I'm just pleased that my dream of someday sharing a tin of pilchards with you in the Quartet in Autumn Rest Home in Tiling by the Sea is once more a possibility.

  22. Oh, darlings, thank you for all the kind words. I feel like Dolly Levi returned to the Harmonia Gardens.

    And sorry, Peenee, for the indirection; some things are better danced around than stated outright. Suffice it to say that when it comes to at least some of those with whom I was recently associated, I think alternately of Auntie Em ("...but since I'm a Christian woman...") and Crystal Allen ("There are words for ladies like you...").

  23. Ok, I'll see you at tea at the Boatslip!

  24. Look out for the amused-looking pair of stout parties of a certain age who are not The Hat Sisters, and that will very likely be us, at least through Friday....

  25. Welcome back! We missed you!

    Pardon the test comment, above.

    I've been having problems with my comments. They disappear after one day into the ether.

    So I have to comment using this method instead.


  26. Once again, late to the party. Story of my life. Jeepers doll I'm so happy that your back I don't even know what to say. And make no mistake, you ARE Dolly Levi to me. May you never go away again.

  27. The best news. You are back.