Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Before I unplug the computer and prepare it to be moved, here are a few last minute thoughts. I know there was something else I wanted to mention, but I guess it will come to me sooner or later (obviously later)

My plan was to strip the bed today, take off the heated mattress pad, then remake the bed. Since we’re leaving at seven tomorrow morning, this was the best I could do, and at the time I formulated this plan, it seemed logical and workable. Except that spring forgot to come to Umbria, and there is NO WAY I am sleeping without the heated mattress pad tonight! Although reason tells me that I won’t need it when we return in four weeks, I still have a hard time imagining that. It’s cold for three reasons; #1, it’s just cold, #2, with all the clouds, the sun never gets a chance to warm up anything, and #3, the dampness only makes it worse. Here’s to a wonderfully warm (not hot!) summer.

We got a big shock today in the mail…our gas bill! First of all, we are on gas mains, which means that our gas is the cheapest type. Bottled gas costs much more and we felt very fortunate to have the mains gas. When we got our bill in February for December and January, we thought it was a bit high, especially considering the fact that we had been gone for most of the period. Mauro assured us that the bill was very reasonable, and what else can you do but pay it? These bills are estimated, I think, so we knew that eventually things would even out.

Sure enough, a few weeks later we got a letter in the mail telling us to call an 800 number over Easter weekend and report our actual meter reading. I marked the dates on the calendar, and we dutifully called in our reading, as taken by Art. The bill came today. To say that I was in shock wouldn’t be right…I guess I was stunned…unbelieving…incredulous…….. €849.50…or, to translate that into U.S. dollars, $1027 and change! This is for a two month period, but also to adjust the reading. I would think that the meter was read for the final bill when the house was sold, so like it or not, this was all ours, and we probably got off lightly the past several times. Haven’t these people ever heard of the equalized monthly payment plan? I wonder if I could suggest it?

Art started to carry on about how he now understood why so many people had their coats on inside, but this has been in stores, not in private homes. Except for Enrico and Wilma, of course. But it’s not like we run around in shorts and tee shirts…I wear an undershirt, and long sleeved shirt, and a sweatshirt every day. I try to keep the door to the living room closed, so that it stays warm. Keeping our bedroom warm is an impossibility due to the size of the water pipe running to the radiator, but what little heat we have in there is generated by electricity, not gas. I’m not sure what our tactic will be for next winter, but I am considering a trip to someplace warm.

I’ve checked our flight schedule for tomorrow, and everything seems to be as originally scheduled. Wendy will pick us up around seven for the two hour drive to Rome. There was once talk of the Perugia airport getting international flights, but that apparently isn’t going to happen. The “international” would have meant Holland, but for us it would have been great. We could have flown into Amsterdam and then flown directly from Amsterdam to Perugia. Since the Perugia airport is only about 30-45 minutes away, this would have been wonderful.

As it is, we have to drive to Rome, and you never know what traffic problems you will encounter along the way. When we came back in January, it took us over an hour to go just a few miles. Of course we experienced the same thing the other day on the E45, and only found out yesterday that it was a strike of some sort, and that the road had been blocked by whoever was putting on the strike!

Strikes in Italy are regularly scheduled events. They are publicized in advance, and last a specified time, usually a few hours. It’s most common for the gas stations to be closed due to a strike, or for a specific airline to go on a four hour strike. Trains are affected too…this is just how it’s done over here. Since we don’t get the newspaper, and couldn’t read it anyway, we can’t find out about the strikes that way. We have to hope that we see something on television, or that someone tells us about an upcoming strike.

Art had intended to get his hair cut today, and just remembered at 6:45. Since every business closes in the afternoon from one until four, more or less. They all stay open later in the evening. This is true for MOST businesses, including doctors. Can you imagine having a doctor’s appointment at 7:30 in the evening? Since it’s now 7:40, I’m assuming that the barbershop was open, and that Art is waiting for his turn. He’s probably happy as a clam, talking with they guys, hanging out at the barbershop. He didn’t return until 8:45, having sat down in the chair at ten till eight. Art just loves the way this man cuts his hair, but really, even with a shampoo, FORTY FIVE minutes? I think it took even longer this time because Art told him that he wanted to show his new cut to the girl who has been cutting his hair for years in the states. This only intensified the barbers’ desire to get it just right, to show a colleague.

We’ve eaten up as much of the stuff in the refrigerator as we can. We’ll have eggs in the morning, and I’ll take a container of yogurt with me for a snack. Tonight we’ll close all the wooden shutters so that we don’t have to do that in the morning. Armando has volunteered to water the plants, if they need it. Right now, they could go for at least 10 days without a problem. I’ve shut most of the shutters, but can’t get the one in the blue bathroom to budge. You don’t think all this rain has caused the wood to swell, do you?

I know we’re going to have a lot of fun in the states, but I also know I’m really going to miss Italy. At least this trip will only be four weeks, not the six we spent in December/January. And, amazingly, I’m going to get to visit with my granddaughter again. Best of all, I’m going to take my grandson with me, so that I can enjoy both of them at the same time. I need a new picture of the two of them for the wallpaper on my computer, and I can’t wait to start snapping away.


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