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.