Thursday, October 28, 2004


OCTOBER 27, 2004

Yesterday we walked to the bakery to make an unusual purchase, at least for me….flour! When I had first asked about where to buy good flour for bread, several people asked me if I had tried at my local bakery. Huh? Do they do this in the states? If so, I never knew about it. In Italy this seems to be commonplace, not only for flour but also for yeast. For some reason the yeast used by bakers is stronger, which I guess means more active, than the yeast you can buy at the grocery.

The bakery sold us three kilos (6.6 pounds) of flour for less than €1.50…I’m not sure how much less since Art had a pastry too. I know this is more expensive than flour in the states, but that’s just the way it is. I don’t have a lot of room to store it, or an airtight container to put it in, so I can’t buy in large quantities. And with the bakery just down the street, there really doesn’t seem to be any need to. I can’t wait to see how this flour bakes up.

We walked to the Post Office where I started to mail a package to the states, but it weighed more than 2 kilo, making the price jump WAY up. The clerk advised me to divide the stuff into two smaller packages, which is sort of what I did. Since the most important part of the shipment was Flat Stanley and his souvenirs, I packed that stuff separately, along with some chocolate that Stanley bought for Nicholas’s class. (If this kid doesn’t get an “A” on this project, I’ll feel like a failure!)

The rest of the package had been part of my daughter’s birthday present, but I’ll just send it back with my sister at the end of November. I hope my daughter understands! The shipping was going to cost more than the gift, and I do have one part of her gift in the states, scheduled to be delivered to her in time for her birthday, just so she knows her mom didn’t forget about her!

And yesterday the armadio for our bedroom was delivered! We now have storage space for our clothes!!! Now all I have to do is get more hangers! For some reason hangers seem to be very expensive in Italy…the plastic ones are something like two or three for €1, whereas in the states I can get ten or twenty for a buck when they’re on sale.

Anyway the armadio looks great! The full length mirrors on the center set of doors really help to brighten up the room, and the wood matches nicely with what we already have. The only bad thing about having the armadio is that now the TotalGym has to be folded up and stored in the corner. We barely used it when it was sitting in the middle of the room…what are the chances that we’ll unfold it, drag it out, then re-fold it and put it away every day? I’d better get serious though, or I won’t be able to wear the clothes I have in the states!

In the “everyone needs a Wendy” department, we have a horror story to tell. About a week ago, we received a letter from the bank, and at the bottom of the letter was something that looked like a check, imprinted with our name, and a “pay to” area for a company we couldn’t place. We thought the amount was for €2, and couldn’t figure out what it could be for, so of course we called Wendy.

I read the letter to her, and she said that it was just explaining a service they offered, where you could have a company or store send the invoice to the bank, and the money would be automatically transferred out of your account. She told me to just throw it away, but I told her that the bottom portion didn’t look like an example, since our name was on it, and the name of a company that sounded familiar.

I dug back through my checkbook and discovered that the bill was from the company that put in our kitchen…nearly a year ago! I told Wendy I’d scan the letter in and email it to her. Unfortunately she was unable to open the file, so we stopped by her office on our way home from the grocery today, and thank goodness we did!

First of all, the amount was NOT for €2, but for €2000!!! I hadn’t really paid much attention to the amount, and Art had forgotten that in Europe, they use commas where we use periods, and periods where we use commas, so 2,000.00 in the United States looks like 2.000,00 in Europe! This is almost as confusing as having the date and month reversed in Europe!

Wendy had explained to us that since the company only knew where we banked, but not our account number, we were supposed to sign this document and add our account number in order for this transaction to take place. I don’t know what happens if you don’t sign and return this form. According to the letter, this money would be transferred out of our account on October 31. Not only do we NOT owe this money, as also don’t have €2000 in our account, which could have resulted in fees and fines for an overdraft!

Wendy told the girl at the bank to put a block on this transfer, and called Rosella at the kitchen company to find out what was going on. Rosella was of course shocked and apologetic, and promised to fax a letter to the bank immediately informing them that we did NOT owe this money! Whew!!! What if we had been in the states when this letter had come? What if we had thrown it away? How much more trouble would we have had trying to correct the mistake and get our money back? Fortunately for us, Wendy was able to communicate with the bank and with Rosella much more easily than we could have. As I’ve said before, everyone moving to a new country needs a Wendy. Ours is our guardian angel!

Oh, and more big news….and I just KNOW this bit of information will THRILL those people who think my blog is boring… we bought five bags of manure!!! Now we can work it into the garden and let it “cook” over the winter. I plan to find some worms in the spring and introduce them to the new and improved soil in the garden…and hope they stay.

So, as you can see, life in San Venanzo is just one thrill after another. I guess there are people who think our life is boring, but for us, we knew we were making sacrifices and trade-offs to live in Italy, and after one year here, I can honestly say that we would rather lead our boring life here than still be in the rat race in the states. Art was working two jobs…it seemed like he was ALWAYS working, and my job at the Post Office was getting worse and worse…I was about to be transferred to god-knows-where working who-knows- what hours. And with very little seniority, I had little hope of things getting better. Art had seniority at both jobs, but didn’t feel that he could give up one…he wanted to keep building his retirement at both places, and thank goodness he did.

We don’t live a life of luxury by any means, but we live a life that’s relaxed and peaceful. We enjoy the ever changing scenery as we drive to Marsciano. We marvel at the fog as it lies in the valley. We never ceased to be in awe of Assisi all lit up in the sunlight, sitting on the hillside of Subasio. We fill up our fiascos at the local cantina, amazed that we can buy five liters of red wine for less than most US restaurants charge for a glass. We wander the streets of San Venanzo and nod “Buon giorno” to our neighbors. Boring never felt so good.


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