Friday, August 20, 2004

SCREENS, NEIGHBORS AND A NEW PASSPORT

AUGUST 20, 2004

We are enjoying our new screens so much!!! We have them in every window except the blue bathroom and the kitchen. When those windows are replaced the screens will be added. For now, just to have a screen door to the garden is wonderful…it allows the light to come into the hall and the breeze to flow through the house. We seem to get most of our breezes from the south or the west, and the garden door faces south.

The other screens in the living room, guest room and hall allow us to get some cross-ventilation, and the screen in our bedroom helps us to cool the room down in the evening, and to keep an otherwise dark room a little more light. We still close the shutters in the late afternoon to keep the hottest sun out of the room, but the screens are so wonderful!

For us as Americans, screens are a normal, no, expected fact of life. Well, maybe that’s no longer true, since so many people now have central air. Even when we had central air we still enjoyed opening up the house to let the breezes flow through, but we’re probably in the minority.

Not having to worry about bees in the house is great, and not only are flies annoying, they are also grossly disgusting, so I don’t have to worry about them getting on my food. The man who installed them did a great job, and we hope to be able to begin replacing the windows soon.

*****
We had some friends from the Slow Travel message board over for lunch yesterday. Jonathan and Phillipa are from England, and are in Italy for a couple of weeks. As is the ST tradition, we try to get together with other members whenever possible…it’s nice to put faces with names!

We were lucky that the weather didn’t get as hot as predicted, but I had prepared a light lunch in anticipation of the heat. We decided to eat inside, since there wasn’t much of a breeze in the garden. We had bruschetta with home-made pesto, tuna and bean salad, focaccia, caprese, and for dessert, my standard chocolate chip cookies. After lunch we took a short stroll through San Venanzo, then let Jonathan catch up on his email since they didn’t bring their computer.

As a wonderful surprise, they brought us some cheddar cheese! We were so grateful! Why there is no yellow cheese in Italy is puzzling. Yes, we love Parmigiano, Pecorino, and mozzarella…all the wonderful cheeses of Italy…but there are times when it would be nice to have some cheddar. Or some Colby…we could cook Mexican for a change, or just make macaroni and cheese! We also miss sour cream, although I have tried substituting plain yogurt in recipes.

Maybe someday when we finally get back to England we can pop in on Jonathan and Phillipa with some treat from Italy!

*****

Yesterday our neighbor Sandro had a meeting with the mayor (il sindaco), and we learned that the cleanup of the park behind us will begin in October! We don’t know if this was because of Sandro’s request, or if it was scheduled to happen anyway. We also think that the dead tree in our yard will be removed, as well as the one that’s right up against the house.

Sandro then had a meeting with Signor Rellini, Mauro’s father, to set up the cleaning of the gutters and the roof after the park is cleaned. There’s no point in cleaning them now since the debris from the trees will continue to fall. Our only hope at this point is that our half of these costs isn’t too overwhelming!

We sat outside in the small park across the street from our house last night. The Farnesi’s use this as their living room, and with the mild temperatures and nice breezes, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy the evening.

Yesterday was their last day in San Venanzo. They returned to Bologna this morning, and will be back for a short visit in November. Sandro’s’ wife Josepinna still works, and I think they must own a shop of some sort. We think when she retires they’ll spend more time here…maybe spring through summer. It was such a relief to us that they turned out to be such wonderful people! They’ve been so kind, and so helpful…friendly without being over-bearing. They seem to be happy with us as neighbors, and we’re glad to have passed muster!

Our water pressure dropped unexpectedly after dinner, and we had no idea why. Armando’s water wasn’t affected, but we know from last winter that their condominium has a reserve tank. As we sat talking with the Farnesi’s, a man walked by and Sandro asked him if he had water. The man said no, and told us what had happened.

Somehow, a farmer had been plowing and had accidentally hit a water line! Repairs were underway, but of course no one knew how long that might take. Our supper was over and our dishes washed, but the Farnesi’s hadn’t; even had dinner yet, so this was quite a problem for them. Luckily, Armando gave them a huge tank of water.

Sandro and Enyo told us that because the tractors drive on the public roads, they’re required to have insurance. They said that the insurance would pay for the repairs, but that the man, a cousin of theirs (surprise!) would have to personally pay a fine.

We also learned that Sandro has lived in Bologna for the last forty years, and that Enyo was also born in San Venanzo. Both men worked for and retired from Phillip Morris in Bologna!!! We told them that Louisville (and Kentucky) had once been very important to the tobacco industry, but that fewer and fewer people were smoking, so things had changed.

It wasn’t any news to us when they talked about how many Europeans still smoke, and about how many young people are smoking. Even in the states, it’s amazing to see how many kids start smoking…even though I did when I was a teenager. I did it to look cool, but I usually think that kids now would be smarter. I guess if that were true the teenage birthrate would be down, and we all know that’s not happening!

Anyway, it was a nice evening, just sitting, talking, relaxing…feeling a part of the neighborhood! Yesterday as I was walking up from watering the basil plants, Donatella (from Tecnocasa) drove by, and we exchanged hellos…again, seeing someone you know driving by is a good sign! Also yesterday, Sandro came back to the house after having been at the bar down the street, and told us that he had seen our English friends Hazel and Adrian…..again, just part of the neighborhood! They had come to San Venanzo for Adrian to get his hair cut at the place Art had recommended.

I have an appointment for a haircut this afternoon so that I don’t get too shaggy while we’re at cooking school. I hope the weather stays mild, but we’ll take our fan just in case. We don’t have to be at the villa until after 4:40, so we’ll have plenty of time on Sunday morning to get organized and packed. I love being able to take conveniences like the fan and my pillow!!

*****

I had a phone call from the US Embassy in Rome yesterday! The good news is that my passport and renewal application arrived safely! The bad news is that the money order I purchased from Fabio at the Post Office was completed incorrectly!

This “money order” is similar to those in the states…the money is guaranteed…already paid. When I bought it at the Post Office, Fabio told me to sign it at the bottom. The machine had imprinted it with the amount to be paid and with the payee’s name, just as in the states. Since it’s normal for the sender to sign a money order in the states, I accepted Fabio’s directions, signed it, and mailed it to Rome.

The man at the Embassy said that they can’t accept it…because I signed it, it “looks” like a personal check, and they don’t accept personal checks! It’s irritating since they know as well as I do that the money has already been paid and there’s no problem with it bouncing. Of course it’s also irritating to know that Fabio F*#%!* up again!!!!

The man at the Embassy said that I could just send him another check and that he would just mail the first one back to me with the new passport. Because I was concerned that Fabio wouldn’t cash it for me since it’s made out to the Embassy, I asked the man to send it to me now, so that I could take it to Fabio and asked that it just be replaced with a new, correct version.

Later, Wendy offered to call and talk to Fabio, and he said that it’s not a problem to refund the money back to me. Of course he still thinks that he did it the right way. Wendy had to go to the bank today, the regular bank, and she just bought the “assegno circolare” from them and mailed it to Rome for me. Corrado confirmed to her that the Embassy was right and that Fabio was wrong. At least I don’t have to worry about trying to explain all this to him!

Since I won’t receive the “wrong” check back from Rome until after we return from cooking school, the process would have been held up until then.
By having Wendy mail the check today, the renewal process will be able to continue, and hopefully I’ll have my new passport with a few weeks. I’m glad that I try to plan ahead just in case problems arise!

We’ll have to go to Terni to renew our Permesso di Sogiorno’s in September, and I’m sure that will be loads of fun too! Apparently we have to take all our documents again and maybe some new ones to boot. We’re going to try to find out exactly what we need before we go. For some reason, the Italian bureaucracy seems to get some thrill out of keeping the public in the dark about what forms are needed for any such situation. Their policy seems to be “if you don’t ask, we don’t tell”…and you have to ask many, many specific questions and anticipate every possible problem.

1 Comments :

At 8/23/2004 01:25:00 AM , Blogger BGE said...

Barb...
I read your blog regularly, and totally enjoy it! You have a way of telling about your everyday life and it becomes not everyday at all! Someday...I may live in Italy...you give me incentive!

Ciao for now...
Brenda

 

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