Sunday, July 27, 2008


People often ask what we do all day, if we get bored. The time seems to pass quickly, and boredom is never a problem, but when you're retired each day can take care of itself without too much planning.

By nature I'm a night person, but I've tried to change my ways. I usually go to bed around 11 p.m.. If I don't go to bed by 11 I'll miss half the day because I really, really really love to sleep, and if I don't get at least eight, preferably nine hours I'm just miserable. Art keeps telling me that as you get older you need less sleep, but so far I haven't experienced that. I try to get up at eight every morning, but of course if we've been out late the night before, all bets are off.

Sometimes I walk down to the bakery for bread, usually foccacia. Art will usually walk down to the bar for a coffee, often taken the recyclables with him. Sometimes he checks the mail for our Canadian friends or refills the phone card while he's out. I water the plants in the back yard, and check the orto (vegetable garden) at Adamo's house. Since I only have basil planted this year, the orto is much easier to look after!

One morning last week we got up early to take sunflower pictures. Although the field we were going to is just outside of San Venanzo, I wanted to get the early morning light, PLUS I wanted to avoid the heat! Because we're in hilly Umbria, taking photos in a large field of sunflowers means getting right in the middle of the field, or getting to the bottom and shooting up at rows and rows of golden yellow flowers. And walking down the hill means that eventually I'll have to walk back UP the hill, and once the sun is out, it doesn't take much to get hot!

On Saturday mornings we drive down to Marsciano for the farmer's market, and then again on Monday mornings for the big weekly market. We usually try to do most of our grocery shopping in the afternoons around two when the rest of the town is eating or napping.

Yes, here in Umbria almost everything shuts down for lunch...which in Italy is one p.m. sharp. Although Italians are never in a rush and don't feel the same need tor punctuality as we Americans, lunch at one is something you can set your watch by.

Art tapes the NBC and CBS nightly news each night during the wee hours and once he's fixed his coffee this is usually his first project of the day. A quick email check is also done early in the morning, and now that we have ADSL and unlimited time, we just leave the computer on during the day, checking in from time to time.

Very ofter lunch is a big part of our day. For us and our fellow expat friends, lunch is often preferably to dinner. We have more time to relax and enjoy the day, and no one has to worry about driving home on dark windy roads. Quite often we also have visitors...usually friends from the
SLOW TRAV MESSAGE BOARD. Over the past few months we've seen Ray and Donna, Jan and Ken, Marcia and David, and we have plans to see many more slow travelers while they're here in Umbria on vacation.

My mornings and early afternoons are often spent in the kitchen. If I've picked a bunch of basil I'll make and freeze pesto. If we've been to the grocery I'll package the meats for the freezer, clean the fruits and vegetables., maybe freeze some green beans since they won't be around forever and I probably won't be able to find them canned during the winter. It seems that there's always a new recipe to try, so I'm constantly experimenting. Sometimes a recipe is a keeper, sometimes not. Art likes to experiment so he doesn't mind being my taste tester.

Over the past few weeks Art's been helping a neighbor's daughter with her English grammar. Elenora has been coming twice a week for an hour each morning. She's shy and quite hesitant to speak English, but Art's been speaking (mostly) English to her. Most kids here learn English, but rarely have a chance to speak it, and usually speak it with many mispronunciations since they've been taught by native Italian speakers using the Italian rules for pronunciation: bird becomes beerd, because in Italian "I" always sounds like "eye".

Art's enjoying lots of baseball this summer since SKY is carrying the
NASN – the NORTH AMERICAN SPORTS NETWORK. Not surprisingly, an afternoon of baseball often ends with a nap, but that's just fine with Art. While Art's watching baseball I busy myself at the computer, editing pictures, writing for the blog, catching up on my email, or just surfing the web.

We still eat at the very American time of six o'clock. We just don't like eating Italian-style at eight or later, even though we do make dinner our lightest meal. In the evening we sometimes catch up on American TV shows like "Brothers and Sisters", "CSI" or "NCIS". Most of these shows run about six months behind the states, so we're still waiting for the season finales! If a local festa is underway we might go down to enjoy the music and watch the dancing, or we might just take a walk after dinner, which is the typically Italian thing to do. Italians don't seem to care about having a yard since they tend to congregate in the bars or piazzas, especially in the evenings. Since no one has air conditioning, people sit outside well into the night, just talking and enjoying the evening.

For us there really is no 'typical' day. Each day brings new opportunities and new challenges. I think we'll drive up towards Ospedaletto this week to see if we can find the mozzarella di bufalo farm that we've heard about. I'll have to make sure we have tomatoes on hand because if we do find it, a caprese salad will definitely be in order!


At 7/27/2008 05:58:00 AM , Blogger Gil said...

I'm also a night person. I can't even imagine going to bed by 11pm and getting up at 8am, especially since I retired. My theory is why get up if you don't have to get to work that has established hours or take pictures.

At 7/27/2008 07:05:00 AM , Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

You have to live to your climate, Gil. If you sleep in all day you miss the nicest part of summer. Mornings are cool, bright, wonderful, whereas nights are cool, dark and buggy! Since you can nap after lunch, just get up and go!

You still haven't found the bufala farm? It's been weeks!

At 7/27/2008 07:40:00 AM , Anonymous Jerry said...

It sounds as if you have found lots to occupy your time! Who needs plans and schedules?


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