Friday, November 28, 2003


Our Thanksgiving in Italy was pretty low-key. Since our cooking facilities are limited to a microwave and an electric oven, we opted for dinner at Ternana’s. Instead of our usual pizza or chicken, we decided to get pasta. Art wants me to try to make pasta in the microwave, and so far, I’ve resisted that idea. First of all, how would you keep water at a constant boil? And where would all the steam go? And wouldn’t that much steam damage the microwave? I hope I never find out the answers to these questions…much as I love to cook, this just doesn’t seem like a good idea. So…back to Ternana’s. We got there around seven, which is late for us. Now I will have to digress again, and explain why we were running so late that night.

Now that everything is ALMOST finished, this is when things start to get complicated. You know what I mean…trying to coordinate everything and everyone so that one day, you just get up and have everything ready to go…a complete and functional kitchen/bathroom/laundry room, etc. I know I’m living in a dream world, but this is what I would like. So, every day, we are asking the geometra, “What’s happening today? When will the painter return? When will we have soft water? When will the light fixtures be hung?” And so on and so on.

I expected to have the water softener hooked up, and the washing machine back in place, LAST Wednesday. And then again, I expected it back in place THIS Wednesday. And for some reason, it wasn’t happening. I told Mauro that I had LOTS of laundry to do! I was hoping he’d show his understanding by sending the plumber over subito! Instead, he invited us to come to his house for coffee and laundry. At first, I didn’t get it…I thought he was just having us for coffee, then Art explained, no, we were supposed to bring our laundry too! Okay, it was a nice gesture, what the heck. I’ll take some of the laundry, we’ll meet his wife, and as an added bonus, I’ll get to see HIS house! For those of you who don’t know, I guess I am just the world’s nosiest person, at least when it comes to houses. I could go to open houses every Sunday, just looking for ideas, seeing how other people decorate, etc. So we were supposed to go to his house at 2:30 on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, Art saw the electrician, and we thought we were supposed to meet him at Mauro’s office about ten minutes later to select the colors for the switch plate/outlet covers. When we walked down to Mauro’s office, the electrician was nowhere to be found, Shortly after we returned home, the electrician showed up with the catalog and sample covers, and we asked him when he was going to finish. We have two wall sconces for the upstairs hall, plus a new entry light waiting to be hung. The light for over the kitchen table is here, but I think we’re going to have to wait for the kitchen to be installed and the table to get here so that I can see exactly where I want the light. In the course of this conversation, we discovered that WE were supposed to buy the light fixtures for the bathroom and laundry room, and that he was waiting for us! Of course, we had no idea…we would have bought the stuff weeks ago had we known. Now we’ll have to make a trip to Self/Obi/Gran Casa to find the light fixtures.

Since it’s after noon, I send Art to the flower shop to buy a small bouquet to take to Mauro’s. I don’t want to make a bad impression on Mauro’s wife, although I’m sure she’s heard what a headache we are! Art returns with a beautiful bouquet of bright yellow lilies…he caught the owner of the flower shop just as she was locking the door, and she was only too happy to reopen for him. Of course, once she knocked over the two vases filled with water and soaked herself, I’m not sure she was still happy about it!

We eat lunch, and Mauro stops by. We tell him that we finally made the connection with the electrician, and Mauro tells us that the plumber will come tonight at 6 o’clock to install the washer and dryer. As he is leaving, we say, “see you at 2:30!”, and Mauro says, very patiently, “No, the plumber is coming to night to hook up the washing machine, so you can do your laundry here.” So we got uninvited for coffee and laundry. And now I have a beautiful bouquet of yellow lilies in my kitchen. After lunch we head to Gran Casa, and are waiting at the door when they re-open at 3:30. Luckily we find a bathroom mirror with lights that we both like, and, unbelievably, it’s on sale! We also find a light that we hope will work for the laundry room. And then we have to get back to the house, so we don’t miss the plumber, just in case he comes early!

When the plumber arrives, he and Art have to carry the washing machine up from the garage. For those of you who don’t know, front loaders are heavy. I am concerned about Art’s back, but there doesn’t seem to be an alternative. When I am upstairs, I hear water running and know that I will be able to do some laundry tonight! My plan it to do one load of laundry, hang it up on the portable clothes rack in the guest room, then put it in the dryer for about 10 minutes after a day or two. Then I’ll do another load of laundry, following the same plan. To dry an entire load would just be too expensive, and since we aren’t in a big hurry, why waste the electricity and money?

NOW we are finally able to leave for Ternana’s. Bet you thought I’d never get back to that, didn’t you? As I said before, it was later than usual for us, but what we found when we arrived must have another explanation. Inside Ternana’s were at least 30, if not 40 teenagers. Needless to say, the atmosphere was loud and boisterous! We waited in line for a few minutes, then decide to just sit and wait for the crowd to clear. There is a group of five men who have been eating dinner at Ternana’s every night about the same time we are there. They were already eating when we arrived, and we thought if we couldn’t find a place to sit, we would ask it we could share their table. The small table just behind them, which is where we usually sit, was available, so we made our way to it and just sat down.

After a few minutes, Art walked up to the counter to place our order. The place was STILL packed with kids, and Pino, Rita, and Marco were having a hard time keeping up! Pino turned to Art, grabbed his face and said “One minute nothing, the next minute, we’re FULL!” What could Art do but nod in agreement?! There must have been some sort of school/social/sports activity to bring this many kids out together at the same time. We ordered spaghetti with ragu, and a mixed salad. A large bottle of water and a quarter liter of red wine, and we were set! We are constantly amazed at how delicious this simple food is, and how much we continue to enjoy it.

Once home (driving in the dark AND in the rain, as is standard). I start a load of laundry before I call my sister. We have a nice chat, until my phone card runs out! I have already had this happen before, and tonight I warned Terri that I only had thirty two minutes left when we started. Once the call is over, I go back to check the laundry.

For some reason, the lights on the front of the machine are blinking, and nothing is happening. I push the button to clear and restart the machine, and water starts coming out the front where the soap dispenser is. I turn the machine off, and for reasons, unknown, open the door. Water rushes out. I scream! I try to close the door as quickly as I can, but there are lots and lots of socks in this load, and one or two are blocking the door. I yell to Art to bring a mop. The water is about ½ or ¾ inches deep…I know that doesn’t sound like much, but when you are standing in it, in your slippers, it might as well be a foot. I mop and mop. Art gets a towel and just soaks up and wrings out. I finally get brave enough to re-open the door (BE QUICK!) so that I can shove the problem socks back in and stop the water that continues to trickle out of the machine. This time I am successful, so now all we have to do is keep mopping until all the water is up. I am able to dump the mop bucket down the toilet, and Art wrings out the towel in the shower base. He had been aggravated to see that the plumber hadn’t finished putting the shower walls up. In retrospect, this was actually a good thing, since we didn’t have to worry about bumping into those walls: they really would have been in our way.

After mopping and mopping and mopping, we are finally finished. And we decide to see if the washer will work. The first thing I want to do is to make sure the water will spin out of the machine. I don’t think this was the original problem, but since I have no idea why the lights were blinking, thanks to no help from the instruction manual!, this is the most important thing for now. And of course, the water spins out without a problem. Now I guess I may as well go ahead and wash this load of clothes…the fabric softener was still in its compartment, so I know the cycle wasn’t complete. I decide to wait for the entire cycle to finish, before I go to bed. And of course, the entire cycle, although taking an eternity, completes without a problem. It’s after midnight when we go to bed.

On Friday, Wendy and her friends arrive around 10 to finish moving the furniture out of the garage. Of course we tell her about our laundry fiasco, and as we are moving stuff, Mauro stops by. We tell him about our late night, how we were mopping at midnight, and he turns to Art, extends his hand, and says, “Welcome to Italy!” Then he tells us how it’s good luck, the same thing they told us when we picked up our new car in the rain. All I can say is, I hope this luck covers the entire ground floor, because I sure don’t want to go through something like again!