Sunday, July 04, 2004


JULY 4. 2004

Independence Day! And yes, we have our independence! Free from schedules and deadlines, free from stress and jobs!

Another week and gone by, and what did we do? On Monday we went down to Marsciano for market day. We bought some peaches and some parsley for the herb garden. Once we got home, I planted the parsley, watered the tomatoes that are across the street, and made a tart with some of the peaches. The rest of the day slipped away while we were reading or studying, or just enjoying the garden.

We had planned to go to Perugia with Wendy on Tuesday, but she had to go to Rome. I experimented with another bread recipe, still searching for the right one. The day was spent on the patio, reading and studying.

The temperatures have been amazing…most days the high has been in the mid 80’s. Lots of big fluffy clouds seem to hide the sun just enough to keep the temperatures from being too hot. This, combined with a wonderful breeze, makes the days very pleasant. Once the sun goes down, the air cools off considerably, and when we wake up, it’s usually around 70º. One morning I was even cold! We’re sure it will heat up, but for now, we’re really enjoying the warm days and cool nights.

On Wednesday we spent yet another lazy day at home. We walked to the market to buy some vegetables for dinner. We usually try to eat dinner at a more “American” time…say, by 6 o’clock. This isn’t done because we’re Americans, or because we’re tied to a schedule, but really because we want to have enough time for our food to settle and digest before we go to bed. We try to talk a walk after dinner, and we’re usually walking when everyone else is eating.

On Wednesday evening we took our walk. We headed out of town, on the main road towards Ospedaletto. We decided to turn up a street that we hadn’t visited before. It turned out to be a dead end…or what we would call a cul-de-sac. As we were walking around the top of the cul-de-sac, a man called to us…”English?” And of course we answered, “No, Americani!” He motioned for us to come back, and told us that he had learned English from his friend in Verona. There’s an American base there, although I don’t know exactly what it is. I think my son told me it was a combined Army/Air Force base.

We never did understand what this man’s name was…it started with an “F”, but we never quite got it. He was eager to talk with us, wanting to speak English, although his English was about as good as our Italian…which is to say, not very!

His house sat at the end of the cul-de-sac, and was quite large. He told us that previously he had lived closer to the centro, but that he had built this house when we got married. He insisted that we come for coffee, and I hesitated, thinking about his wife, and this big surprise she was about to get. Since there didn’t seem to be a gracious way to decline, we followed him into his house, through a wonderful covered porch and into a large living room.

We waited while he went into the kitchen to tell his wife that they had company. After a minute, he called us into the kitchen, and we said hello to his wife and to his mother. It was then decided that we would sit on the covered porch to have coffee, so the three of us went back outside. After a few minutes, our host went back inside to get the coffee that his wife had prepared.

While he was getting the coffee, his son came out and sat with us. Five year old Mateo had a fever that day, but was of course curious about the “straneieri”. We spoke a few words of Italian to him, asking him his name, introducing ourselves. We then began to teach him a few words in English. “La tavola in Italiano….in Inglese, the table”, and “la sedia in Italiano, in Inglese, the chair”. Of course the little boy was like a parrot, and he repeated everything back to us just as we had said it.

Our host returned with coffee for Art and water for me. Of course we never saw the wife again. We tried to find something to talk about, and Senore F…told us about a small bird that his son had found. It took us forever to figure out the word “bird”. Although he was saying the word in English, he was saying it with an Italian accent and with the Italian pronunciation…. “beerd” is what we heard. Once we realized what he was trying to say, we realized how hard it must be for the Italians to understand OUR pronunciations!

As we got ready to leave, we went back in the house to thank the wife, and to say goodbye to her and to the mother. We told our new friend where we lived, and invited him to stop by to see us. Another interesting evening!

On Thursday we were to meet with Wendy to go to the questura in Perugia to get a new codice fiscale card for Art. Apparently the fact that this office is open during lunchtime on Tuesdays and Thursdays is a well kept secret. We arrived at the office around 12:20, and the parking lot was all but empty. Once inside, Wendy asked a few questions to determine which section we needed to take a number for, and was given a form to complete. After a few minutes, we were called to a desk, a clerk took the information, and we were told that a new card would be mailed to us. And all this was accomplished in less than fifteen minutes! A new record!

We had gone to Geniale before we met Wendy to look for a screen door for the back door. The door that we want operates something like a window shade turned sideways. The door just rolls up into itself horizontally. Since our back door is made up of two small doors that meet in the middle, and also has shutters on the outside that close the same way, this was really our only option.

We saw three different models. The first one we looked at was the cheapest at €80, but it had a large, high track at the bottom that would have to be stepped over every time we went in or out. The next door we looked at was three times the cost of the first, but it opened with the touch of a finger, as opposed to the first one, which required a bit of effort to open. The most important feature of this door, however, was that it had only a flat strip across the bottom of the doorway, which meant nothing to trip over. We just couldn’t stand the thought of paying €250 for this door, and really, we couldn’t afford it. As we prepared to place an order for the first door, I said to Art, “You know, we’re going to have this door for a long time…do we REALLY want to have this thing to step over every time we go in or out?”

It was at this point that the salesman showed us our third option: a door that cost €150, and had a bottom track that was only about half an inch high. We decided that this one was our best bet, and placed the order. Art had taken the measurements before we left home, and told the salesman that we would re-verify the measurements once we got home , and call if there were any changes. The door should be ready in ten days.

We also bought some screening for the living room door and for our bedroom. Although all our windows have shutters, these shutters don’t allow a breeze to flow through. We expect to have the screen for our bedroom window by the end of the month, and thought we would just put up these temporary screens for now. These screens are just nylon netting held onto the door or window frame by a velcro strip that has an adhesive backing.

Once back home, we put up the screens and the difference was immediate and wonderful! We did discover that the screen we bought for the bedroom window didn’t have the same type of screening or velcro, and consequently just did not want to stay up. Maybe we’ll just get some furring strips for now.

On Friday we drove to the frame shop to pick up the two small pictures from Prague that we had framed, and also my Paul McCartney poster from the concert in Prague. Everything turned out great! I really like this frame shop…every time we go in there I see something new that they’ve framed and I want to take it home!

We stopped by OBI, a home improvement store for some paint and a paint tray. Apparently paint trays are all but unknown in Italy, so we figured we’d better buy one where we knew we could. We wanted paint for the trim in the house, and luckily, we found a salesman who helped us pick the right paint.

I also bought some different velcro for the bedroom window, but we would discover later that it didn’t work either. The problem seems to be with the netting itself, and I guess furring strips are the best answer for now.

Saturday was the day we decided to paint the door for the small shed that houses the caldaio. The caldaio supplies the hot water for the house, including the radiators. This shed is just a small extension built on to the back of the house, and the door was currently industrial gray. We had previously bought a sandy colored enamel for it, and if we ever paint the house, we’ll just choose a color that coordinates.

The really amazing thing we discovered when we painted this door was that due to the lack of humidity, it dried in just a few hours! In Louisville, in the humid summer, this would have taken a full day, maybe two. Art painted the trim, and I did the door itself. It looks so much better.

Today, Sunday, we’ve been invited to Enrico and Wilma’s. Enrico called us, maybe on Wednesday to ask if we could come this Sunday. We said yes, and checked with Wendy, who was also free. We had to tell Enrico that Jill was still in the U.S., and that we would ask Larry if he would like to come. Unfortunately, Larry already had other plans, so it will just be the six of us at the ranch. I can’t wait to see what this place looks like! Will it really look like a ranch? I know that Enrico wants to build, or rather, recreate, a Western town. This work hasn’t started yet, but we do know that he has several horses…Appaloosas and Pintos, maybe others.

I’ll have to write a separate blog for the lunch. For now, this is just another lazy week in Umbria. A little reading, a little gardening, some shopping. We check our email, watch CNN and Fox News (the latter always gets Art agitated!), maybe walk to the Post Office to mail a letter or recharge our phone card. We hang a picture, paint a door, do a bit of housekeeping (there’s ALWAYS dust!). We water the garden, hang the laundry on the line, or take a nap. We talk with our neighbor Armando, wash the car, watch a movie. Occasionally we have company for lunch or dinner, but mostly it’s just the two of us. Independence Day indeed!


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