Thursday, October 30, 2003


I’m not sure about the whole of Italy, but there are no sugar maples in Umbria. This is quite obvious during the fall, when the leaves change colors. There are a few trees whose leaves are turning yellow, but that’s it. Maybe there is an odd variety or two with red leaves, but so far, the fall looks a little drab with only green, yellow and brown colors on the landscape. Seems like I recall maple syrup being one of things listed to bring to Italy, so I would guess that the trees don’t grow here.

Last Saturday we “fell back” an hour, just like the US. We got burned one year when someone forgot to tell us about the time change in the spring. That year, the spring was a week or so different from the US. Since this time we were the same as the US, I’m not sure if this changes from year to year. We’ll have to pay attention in the spring!

In Italy you have to pay for the grocery bags you use. Of course you can bring your own, but if you want to use their bags, it will cost you. Small bags are about 3 cents, large ones maybe 5 cents. Finally, after being in Italy for maybe 3 weeks, and shopping EVERY day, I finally remembered to put some bags in the car. We bought one of those new insulated bags that all the stores are selling now, for our refrigerated items, so I was determined to be prepared. We forgot to take the bags into the store with us the first 2 or 3 times. After that, we remembered the bags only as we entered the store, and had to return to the car for them. We are trying to get ourselves into the habit of taking the bags…it’s not so much the 5 cents, it’s the huge collection of plastic bags that is growing in our kitchen closet!

Suddenly my free time has disappeared! School started on Monday, and we don’t get out until 1 o’clock. If we head straight home, we’ll be there by 1:45, but if we need to do any shopping or business, we have to go back out after 3:30. Yesterday, we finished school at 1, but needed to stop by the bank to cash a check. Since the bank closed at 1:20, and we knew we wouldn’t make it in time, we decided to go to the shopping center in Collestrada to pick up some groceries. This was one of the times I had to go back to the car to get the bags that we keep in the trunk. Once we were inside the shopping center, I realized they had a hair salon. The haircut I had before we left the states was getting pretty ragged, so I asked if I needed to make an appointment. I was told no, they could take me immediately! I went to tell Art, and he decided to get his hair cut too. I explained to the girl cutting my hair that I had had a face lift about 8 weeks ago, and was still a little tender. She understood, and said she would wash my hair very gently. She started to show me some pictures of hairstyles, but I told her to do whatever she wanted. I was very pleased with the cut, but instead of holding my hair between her fingers and cutting with scissors, she pulled a comb through my hair and cut it with electric clippers! I didn’t see a pair of scissors in the entire shop! Art’s hair was cut the same way.

After the haircut, we headed to the grocery store, and ran into Wendy and her friend. We chatted for a few minutes, and told Wendy we were going to the bank later. She offered to stop by for us, and since her name is still on our checking account, I just gave her a blank check, and we’ll pick up the money when we see her on Friday.

Once home, and by now it’s after 4, we decide to take apart the old, ugly armoire that is in the guest room, and replace it with the one that is now in the master bedroom. The task was so time-consuming, I thought we were moving in slow motion! Finally, about 7:30 we were finished! Since we had to move all our clothes out of the old armoire, they were now sitting on an old bedspread on the floor. Everything that had been under the bed was moved to the bathroom we don’t use much. The bed frame was taken out, but we just stood the mattress on end, so that was one less thing to move back into the room. We didn’t even eat dinner, just sat for a minute, had something to drink, then went to bed. Oh wait, I forgot, we both had Italian homework to do! THAT was a lot of fun in a state of complete exhaustion!

Today, Thursday, we left school and stopped at home only long enough to eat lunch. We then headed to Terni to pick up our Permesso di Sigiorno. It was supposed to be ready on Monday, but the only afternoon the questura is open is Thursday. Wendy had called for us on Wednesday to make sure that it was really ready. The only problem we had with getting it was waiting for the woman in front of us to resolve her problem. We got a little scared…she too had called to make sure her Permesso was ready, but now the questura couldn’t find it! Luckily, we had no problem with ours! Yeah!

As we were leaving Terni, the phone rang. It was Wendy, who said she had the geometra on the other line, and were we supposed to have an appointment with the electrician? We said not that we knew of…one of the workmen had asked if we were going to be home in the afternoon, but we had told him no, we had to go to Terni. I’m not sure what happened, but we told the geometra we would be there in 30 minutes, and we made it in 40. We went over the placement of the electrical outlets in the kitchen. The electrician, the geometra and Art were huddled over a piece of paper, and I heard the words “change”, then Art saying okay. Uh-Oh! Excuse me, but this is MY kitchen …just what changes are you saying okay to? After much discussion and MANY MANY questions on my part, I finally got to the bottom of the problem. I simply refuse to say okay, or that I understand when I don’t. The electrician spoke a little English and he was telling me that the switch for the oven had to be moved. When I asked why there was an electrical switch for a gas oven, he then told me that the oven was electric. Excuse me again, but I think I know what I want, and what I ordered for my kitchen. After a phone call to Rosella, it was finally straightened out. Yes, the broiler was electric, but somehow the fact that the oven itself was gas had been forgotten, so no line had been run. And Art just said “okay”! Advice to anyone doing renovations…make sure you understand WHAT is being done and WHY. Ask questions! Be persistent! Oh, and don’t let someone else answer for you!

We went through the rest of the house, marking the worksites with a can of blue spray paint! I’ll need to be careful when I light the stove! And finally, we were finished. As Mauro said, “a little English, a little Italian, okay!” It was definitely challenging!


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