Hello from Italy where it has been hot and very frustrating. It was 100 degrees last week and we have had lots of days in the mid to upper 90s. The last few days were good, but the heat has returned. Enough already. Days like today I don't appreciate this fur coat. And I really miss a house with central air conditioning. So I am hoping that no more strange people or cars pass by on our street today. Because when they do, I have to run outside and jump up and down and bark and bark, and then I run along the fence and bark, and it is just too hot to do that. But it's my job, and like the pony express I must do my job in the wind and the rain and the sleet and the hail and the heat too. But I think I'm going to have a heat stroke if I keep this up. I guess I better just stay inside with my new toy.
On the days when the weather has been good, we have been to lots of festas. Last night was the Verdicchio festival in Staffolo, a small hill town not far away and Jim and Maree tasted a couple of sparkling verdicchio wines. On Thursday was the big holiday of the summer here, Ferragosto, the assumption of Mary. We went to our friend Alessia's restaurant where we had a five course luncheon out on the patio. It was perfect weather for a change, and I had my first ever taste of proscuitto - just a very little taste.
While the heat has been frustrating, that is not what has created the greatest frustration in my house recently. It is the Italian bureaucracy. A week ago, Maree and Jim finally got their permessi di soggiorno (green cards). First of all, it took almost 8 months. Secondly, when the website said the cards were ready, it also said to wait for an SMS saying when and where to pick them up. Well, in Maree's case, the website had said hers was ready for 3 to 4 weeks, and there was never an SMS. Jim's was not ready yet, so she thought maybe she had to wait until Jim's was also ready before they would send the SMS, and she wanted to avoid making two trips to the police station. So, Maree continued to wait for Jim's to be ready. Well, finally, Jim's was ready, but two more weeks went by and there was no SMS. By this time, Maree had been patient long enough, so she decided that they must go once again to the police station to check on their cards. I think this made the fourth time they went there to inquire dragging me along with them, and every trip is always a pain because we are told we are there on the wrong day or we have to wait in line forever and there are never any other dogs to play with. It's actually a quite boring and inhospitable place. Except for the little boy I met on this trip. He just kept giving me his hand to lick and laughing. He was pretty cute and entertaining.
Anyway, this time, we went on the right day, apparently, as no one came and told us to leave and come back on another day. We took a number, and when our turn finally arrived, Maree went to the window and told the woman behind the glass why they were there. The clerk looked through the box of permessos and found them for Jim and Maree just sitting there doing nothing. But, the clerk said she could not release the cards without a copy of the old permesso. Well, those had long ago expired, and so they had been confiscated by the same police station when our finger prints were taken eight months prior. The woman, it seems, failed to believe that we did not have them and that their staff had taken them from us. She kept insisting that this did not happen. After several minutes of repeatedly stating that we did not have our old cards, she finally conceded that she could give us the new ones. Of course, she had to take more finger prints first. This took many tries because neither Jim nor Maree seem to have very readable prints anymore. But, eventually, she released the new permessi di soggiorno. When Jim looked at his, it was good for 9 more months until May of 2020. Maree looked at her card and it was good until October 17, 2019 - two months. In the past, both of their permessos have always expired on the same day. After all, they were submitted on the same day. Obviously, Maree was not happy. So, she went back to the clerk behind the window and asked, "Why is mine only good for two months?"
"I don't know said the clerk. It was done in Ancona. I can't do anything about it."
"So do I have to start reapplying now since it is only good for two months?" Maree asked.
"No," she said, "Reapply two months after it has expired in December, 2019."
Well, how many things do you find problematic with this entire scenario? Let me not count the ways. This process last time we did it took 5 weeks from start to finish.
Of course, this was not the only recent encounter with the bureaucratic systems in Italy, that led to frustration. Last Thursday, Jim and I accompanied Maree to a doctor's appointment at the hospital in Ancona where she was going for a checkup. The doctor's office had called to make the appointment. Maree and Jim put me in a stroller hoping that they could take me into the hospital because it was definitely too hot to wait in the car. Well, I got as far as the reception area, but even in the stroller I couldn't go any further. That was probably okay. I was embarrassed to be seen in a stroller anyway.
Italy is known for having one of the top health care systems in the world. Well, maybe the care is good, but the processes are non-existent. When we arrived at the hospital, the receptionist told Maree to take elevator 7 to the second floor. Once there, she followed the sign to the department. At the end of the hall was a very large, sparsely decorated, un-airconditioned waiting room filled with people, but no one to check in with. So, when a person came out of the back room and called a name, Maree approached her and said she was there to see the doctor. The woman pointed to the room and said to wait.
After an hour, Maree asked the person next to her what time her appointment was. "11:30," she said. Well, that was the same time as Maree's, so she started to wonder if everyone there had the same appointment time and if just like at the police station where you theoretically have an appointment time, there is actually no such thing. You just show up and wait and wait. Here there was not even a machine with a number to take. Okay. well more time was passing. After 75 minutes of waiting it was lunch time and no one was coming out to take any more people into the back for their appointments, and there were only three people remaining in the waiting room. The place had pretty much cleared out. So Maree, not a patient person under any circumstances, left. What a waste of time. Oh, how she misses Kaiser. Fortunately, my experiences at the vets have been much better than this.
Okay, now that I have done all of Jim and Maree's complaining about Italy, I have some good news. My Presidential campaign is going well. I keep picking up votes and have selected any number of cabinet positions like Chief Happiness Officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Do the Right Thing Officer, Chief Musician and Photographer as well as my head of Presidential security, entertainers for my inaugural, and maybe even my first lady. A President can't be single can they, and she is pretty cute? Now I have about 260 twitter followers, but I'm trying for more. I think I need a 1,000 to become President. My friend, Scooby, says when he has a 1,000 followers he can have a girlfriend. Somehow, that sounds like more fun than President. So I'm still trying for more, because maybe if I get 2000 I can be President and get a girlfriend too. So friends and family please follow me if you have a twitter account and pass this on to your friends.
I am putting my best four feet forward to help save America and the planet from the crimes of humanity. Every day things keep getting worse, and I am trying to make people aware. Here are a few of my recent tweets.
Campaign Promise of the Day: I promise to never leave my sh--- okay, poo, on the sidewalk for unsuspecting walkers. Now, all those other candidates should clean theirs up too. Let's clean up our cities, beaches, oceans. Save our planet. 4 Feet Forward for a clean environment.
42, the answer to life, the universe and everything. I don't think you can be bored at 42. But I think it is a fine time to be reflective and help me save the world. Four feet forward, Hercule. With your cunning and my personality, I think we could wrap this election up. Dino
Campaign Promise Day ? I seem to have lost track. Anyway, I promise not to rub any noses in it or to be a back biter. (Where do people get these bizarre sayings anyway???) My motto: Let's all get along and have some fun. Life is too very short. Good day all, Dino
Trump floated the idea of purchasing Greenland. My reply: Just another brick in the wall of insanity. I, on the other hand, am a very rational candidate out to save the world and all creatures great and small from the misdeeds of mankind, especially this kind of man. Vote Dino for President, 2020.
Hope you enjoy your August.
Your Pal Dino,
The Candidate with the good hair
I am Maree, the voice of Dino - or at least I am the one who does the typing. For more information about me and my life in Italy, you can follow me at theproseccoproject.com.