you might ask. Well, it’s making progress slowly, slowly….
When we moved here,(upstairs) 17 months ago, the idea was that eventually, Renata (Italian woman and her teenage daughter downstairs) would be moving and when that happened, we would be in place to move downstairs, which would be easier for Ben and for the person who has to carry EVERYTHING up the steps and down the steps and run in and out with the dog and do I need to go on?, oh that would be ME! Many folks thought Renata’s moving would happen last June, since Renata spent all spring announcing to me and the owners that she was moving in June. Didn’t happen.
So imagine my surprise in November, we were visiting in Kentucky then, when I saw an email from the owner of the property announcing that Renata was moving. I replied back, ‘why should we believe her?’ since she has been threatening to move for years. I mean, was she really going to pull her teen age daughter out of school mid-year?
In early December, we returned to Italy and Renata started assuring me that she was moving. December 28. December 28 came and went and Renata was still here. I had seen no signs of packing, boxes, anything. What should I think? Then Renata announced January 3. Again the date came and went and Renata remained. But suddenly a man appeared and stayed. The new announcement was January 10. Indeed a truck appeared on January 10, partially filled with someone else’s belongings but it got packed to the tailgate with Renata’s. We all stood around and watched as Renata, the man, the teenage daughter, the cat and Nerone’s friend, Max got in the car and drove off. Renata announcing that she would be back at the end of the month for all that would not fit. Which really was a lot. And indeed the truck and Renata returned this past weekend. And finally 98% of her belongings have left her apartment. Some are now being stored for another visit by her to collect them. I guess it was hard for her to cut the attachments to this place. Or she had no idea that she had soooo much stuff.
In the meantime, a member of the owners’ family has taken ill. Their attention, rightly, has been drawn to that person. Folks need to leave and be at bedsides. I understand completely. Absent from here is Marie-Claude who runs the place in the absence of younger family members. I miss the calm, stabilizing influence of Marie-Claude, the mother/mother-in-law. And I know the caretakers Costo and Lecca miss her too. They have had to seize imitative and act on their own. I don’t think that this is normally part of their skill set. Usually they follow direction rather than setting the course. But they have rallied and finally all belongings of Renata have been removed. They have cleaned.
When we were about to move here, 17 months ago, I was all set to start moving in the day after the other folks left. ‘Oh no!’ was the cry. ‘They must clean! Costo must paint! At least a week.’ So forgive me for thinking that was what was going to happen again this time. 17 months ago, I convinced them that since we anticipated being upstairs a short time perhaps it would be wise to wait on painting until we moved downstairs. A good thing since when the storm hit at the end of July and water poured in, every ceiling was stained from that. So now painting up here is really worth while. And water poured in downstairs too. So I thought that painting down there before we moved in was going to happen.
Imagine my surprise when after a day of carting the remaining belongings out and vigorous cleaning, Costo asked me, ‘so will you start to move tomorrow?’ Let me just say, I do not have a poker face. Just about everything I think and feel passes across my face. It might be quickly and it might take special skills to read it all, but it is there. So after concentrating to fully understand Costo (Italian is not his native language and he speaks rapidly) and staggering back after the impact of what he said hit me, I’m sure I made a face that was not a pleasant one. And I know I thought, ‘well, dag, I haven’t even packed a box and he wants to know if I am going to start moving tomorrow?’ I mean, in my defense, Renata’s moving date has been a bit of a moving target. (pun intended) How was I to know when she was really going to finish moving? Delicately, I suggested perhaps some painting and crack patching could be done. Costo hits me with a barrage of Italian, most of which I didn’t understand but the gist of it is that he will have to talk with the owners.
The next day as I am lying in bed, trying to decide how long the dog can wait before needing to go out and is it really 10:30???? What is all that noise downstairs? Finally, the dog and I wander downstairs and there is Costo happily painting the child’s room. ‘This is the only room I am going to paint. It is going to take 2 coats. I had to mix this up with leftover paint. Do you like the color?’ Well it’s too bad if I don’t, but fortunately I do. Okay, I say and off the dog and I go. At this point I decide I should probably start to look for a few boxes. Costo paints and then he locks the place up. God forbid, I am allowed in, to look at the rooms now that they are finally empty and consider where furniture might go. I mean this is the first time I have seen the rooms empty. And Ben has still not seen them. That afternoon Costo returns to paint some more and Ben gets to sneak in and see the place. While it is the same size (more or less) of what we are renting now, the rooms are configured differently. The kitchen is where Ben’s office is now and the living room is where our kitchen is now. So we really need to think about furniture placement. And I really need to think about furniture. We own very little. Frantically I am emailing the owners trying to find out if we are going to be allowed to take furniture from up here down? Is there a secret stash of furniture that Costo can go to to pull things out for us to use downstairs? And of course they are worried about the family member that is ill and not us and our moving issues.
The next morning, the dog and I are on our way out. The downstairs door is open. I take advantage of this to see the rooms again. There is Costo, painting another room. This rapid fire barrage of Italian comes at me. (Now mind you, this is all before I have had my cup of tea) (Costo is a very lucky man that I like him and that I am not able to be snarky in Italian) He says ‘ I found more paint. But this is all there is. And it is going to take two coats. And it is so wet out it will never dry. If you want other rooms painted who is going to pay for the paint?’ Now keep in mind each one of these sentences he says 2 or 3 times. Repeating the same idea but changing a word or two when he says it each time. So the conversation…no barrage… is really something like this. ‘I found more paint. There was more paint. In the back of the garage was more. This is all there is. I could not find any more. There might be more but only the owners know where it is.’ You get the idea. And the kicker to it all is that instead of saying 2 coats he is using the word that means ‘hands’. In my caffeine starved state I am very puzzled by this. It’s going to take two hands to paint the wall? Nerone pulls and whines and I am saved from considering anything else so that I can get his walk under way. Only later I work out that 2 ‘hands’ means 2 coats of paint.
Later that day I am able to check inside again. This new conversation with Costo consists of ‘when am I having my furniture delivered?’ Okay, news to me. Did I win the lottery and am suddenly able to afford to buy an Italian leather sofa and all the matching Italian designer tables and things? From our conversation it is clear that he thinks I am not moving furniture down. And it is clear that he thinks I talk with the owners everyday. I don’t even know their phone number. And they are not answering my emails. But they must talk with Costo every day. And that evening he must have raised the issue of the furniture with them, because I get a call from the owners. ‘Yes, we can move furniture down. Yes Costo is reluctant to paint because of the humidity. Could we just wait until summer to paint? It should not be a problem to get the electricity turned on. But I can call this family member if I need to.’ Seemingly all the issues are resolved. Except of course I don’t have the family member’s phone number.
A new day dawns. Costo has moved on to a new room, fixing cracks and patching. ‘Am I going to be buying paint for this room?’ Well, no. Paint is expensive. We have already had to buy ceiling fan/lights for each room because there are no overhead fixtures in any rooms. And the fixtures that the owners supplied upstairs left a lot to be desired so Ben and I figured it would be worth it to go ahead and get fans and lights in each room. Keep in mind, we don’t have a lot of disposable income. And we were not planning to move, 1 month after coming back from a pricy trip to the US. If I had 6 months to save for the move we would be in better shape. We simply can not afford to spend $50 to $75 for paint for each room. So now our living room has tan walls with white patches. Costo and I work out that I will buy paint for one wall of the kitchen, the base color that I have used upstairs when I did our kitchen back in the summer. He agrees to paint the wall. And he does. And now he is pretty sure he is finished until I ask for help in moving furniture. So I move on to getting the electricity turned on.
Our first trip in to Arezzo to ENEL (which is one of those words that you have to be careful how you pronounce because if you put the accent on the wrong syllable it comes out sounding like a slang word that means some private part of male anatomy), the electric company, I arrive at 12:20. They close at 12:30. When I walked in the door I realized that I did not have Renata’s last name with me. While politely turning me away, the lady at the office was nice enough to look at what I had and explain that I needed to get the number off the meter. Well, okay. I don’t even know where the meters are. Then I tried to pay the bill from ENEL that I had just received. Oh, no. Couldn’t pay the bill here in their office. Have to go to the post office or my bank to do that.
Another day comes along. I drag myself out of bed early enough to get to the ENEL office before it closes. The woman remembers me. All smiles. She looks at all my papers and the magic number that Costo has supplied from the top secret hidden meters. She asks do you get gas from us? ‘No? Why not?’ It is not my choice who we get gas from. I am inordinately proud that I know the word for choice, say it correctly and use it correctly. I am whisked to another woman at a desk. We exchange pleasantries and papers of all sorts. I have to produce identity documents. My account must appear before her on the screen. ‘You know you have an outstanding bill?’ (It’s outstanding? It just arrived 2 days ago!!!) ‘Yes, I know’ as I produce it from my purse along with money. ‘Would you like some money for it?’ Oh my, you would have thought I was offering poison. We move beyond that. She is now saying ‘you don’t have gas with us?’ Once again I get to use the word for choice and explain that it is not mine to make. We move on. Now she is telling me about the times of day when the rates are less expensive. ‘Yes, I know.’ Bringing out the bill again and showing her that 79% of our usage is at lower rates. She seems very pleased with that. A few signatures and copies and within 5 days the power will be turned on. I am so tickled that I have managed to handle this almost entirely in Italian and all by myself.
So now I am trying to figure out how to move without really packing. It is only going down a flight of stairs. Why do I need to pack? And trying to do a little decorative painting in the kitchen. And trying to dragoon folks in to helping us move. I have set the 14th or 15th as my goal to be moved. We’ll see.
The living room. Ohhhh, we get a fireplace.
Ben’s office. The sickly green is now mottled cream. Costo truly did run out of paint.
My office which was very dark blue is now with 2 ‘hands’ of paint, a fresh buttery cream color.
The kitchen. Which has a double porcelain sink. But see where the sink is and see the hole under the counter (to the left of the picture) that is where the dishwasher goes. About 6 feet from the sink. Who designed this? Anyway this gold wall is now turquoise.
And look, my fav…
a smaller sister of the EVIL wine glass breaking, algae growing stone sink that was upstairs! I’m so happy. (At least I can still be snarky in English!) No, really this can be what it is supposed to be, a utility sink. We will get along just fine.
And there is a door in the kitchen to a small entryway right across from the entrance doors to the building. That means air might actually circulate in this kitchen! Oh happy day!
So we are excited about moving. And it will get done. And we will continue to live very happily here. We are lucky folks.