Happy Mothers' Day to Everyone, especially, Princess, my Mom.
This is my second spring. And it couldn't be more different than the first one. My first spring was spent in California dog parks with friends and daily walks. Now, I am relegated to a yard where nothing ever happens except when Fabrizio arrives next door, and I run and jump and bark at the fence. I bark and bark until he finally decides to leave. I have very strong vocal cords, and I regularly test their limits. Of course, there continues to be the lizards. They are entertaining, but there are so many more of them beyond the fence. So I continue to search for ways to get out of the yard. And I found a new one. It was great, Dino the Magnificent was back hunting his lizards, romping around the fields, exploring under the lavender bushes until Maree got smart. She brought out a very large, stale baguette, and when I saw it, I immediately had to have it. So, she threw it in the yard, and I ran after it. That was my mistake, because now I was back in the yard. And she had figured out where I was able to get out under the fence and closed the gap with an enormous planter box. I've been looking for a new escape route, but so far, I haven't found one. I guess I'll just have to dig my way out like those prisoners in the movies do.
During the past two weeks, my normal tranquil life has been upset by lots of activity at the house, and lots more opportunities to bark and jump up and down. I get sooooo excited when anyone comes to the door. I think I almost passed out from all of the excitement a couple of times. Jim and Maree are both really embarrassed to have a dog who is so ill mannered. But then again, I am pretty cute and cuddly.
Last week, the man who does the annual checkup of the heater came. Then Giuseppe came a few times. One time he brought Vito, Maree and Jim's friend from Puglia. (Maree and Jim visited Vito and his wife Anna in Puglia about four years ago with Giuseppe, Graziella and another of Giuseppe's American friends from Philadelphia.) Then there was a man who might be our new gardener - actually, he has come twice now. I think I like him. I got to jump all over him, and he didn't mind it one bit. Jim is so very happy to be rid of Mario our old gardener. He cut our olive trees back so much that everyone who comes to visit comments on it and says he ruined our trees. Our new gardener says they will never get big now, and someone else commented that it will take three years for us to get any oil. Maree, who is a real tree hugger, is devastated.
Several people have come to look at the house to buy it. First there was an Italian man. He liked the house but not road. Then there were the Dutch people. We don't know anything about them because Jim and Maree took me to the beach in Senigallia for lunch and a walk while they came to see the house. That way they didn't have to endure my naughty behavior. Then there was another Italian lady from Milan. She really liked the house and said she would have made an offer if there was an annex for a caretaker. We're putting her in touch with Giuseppe to see if he can convince her he can build her an annex. Giuseppe is a master builder and knows his way around the byzantine bureaucracy that is Italy. And, he works fast. Another person is scheduled to see the house later in the month. I sure hope someone buys it, and I can come back to my friends and the dog park. Italy is pretty, but I miss my California life and California weather.
Maree has been assiduously working on her book about Italy and buying the house here. She'll be sending it out to friends to read and comment on within the next few weeks. I'll be glad when that is done then perhaps she can spend more time with me. Maybe I wouldn't be so bad if I got more attention. Then again, maybe I already get more attention than any other ten dogs combined. I am a very high maintenance guy.
We had Easter at Giuseppe and Graziella's house with Giuseppe and Graziella, two of their children, a Dutch couple who live in Le Marche about half of the year, and Jim and Maree's German friends, Udo and Renate, who just arrived from Germany. I was on my best behavior just sitting on the floor next to Maree. Everyone seemed to love the lunch, but I didn't get to try even a bite of it. Graziella made a quiche like appetizer to go with the antipasti platters and marinated vegetables, then there was pasta with a pesto, followed by a Marche style meatloaf, a Moroccan chicken dish and vegetables. Graziella always likes to try new recipes, but Giuseppe is not enthused about tasting non Italian dishes. Maree made an orange almond cake that she took for dessert.
This past Monday night there were a lot of candles lit in our house. No, it was not a religious holiday - Easter Monday was the week before. It was because our electricity kept cutting out. It all started that morning. Jim went out to the box outside and flipped the switch, and the lights went back on for a minute. But as soon as he got back in the house, they went off again. This kept going on for about an hour. Then Jim noticed a message on the box that when translated apparently said that we had 15% power. Hum, in Italy when you don't pay your bill, they start cutting back your power instead of just turning it off. Of course, there is never any written warning about this happening, so now we could run a few lights but nothing like the washing machine, dish washer or microwave. Jim tried to call the company to see what the problem was. When he looked at their on line site, it didn't show that we had any outstanding bills, and we had paid the last bill we received. After trying to call about ten times and never being able to get through, Jim was frustrated and gave up. It was now after business hours. So he tried to find more information on line. Unfortunately, the company's customer service website was not functioning.
The next day, he asked our friend Cristina for help. She finally got through to the company and learned that we did indeed have an outstanding bill. When Jim put on his detective hat, he discovered the bill had been sent via email and went directly into the SPAM folder. There is a bank site that apparently lets you pay utility bills on line, and he tried to do this. The site asked for a codice number, and Jim tried every number on the bill and none of them would work. So, that afternoon he tried to go to the bank, which is open for one hour in the afternoon, to pay the bill. Well, on Tuesdays, the bank does not do money transfers for bill payments. Jim was directed to the COOP, a major super market where you can pay your utility bills. Arriving at the COOP, however, Jim was told they only do the bill payments in the morning. So, Jim returned home and tried again to go on line. The customer service site was still not working. After three days, the customer service site was finally working, but Jim couldn't pay the bill there because he didn't have an Italian credit card. So, finally, he found an IBAN code for the utility company (did I say this is a new utility company that we have only had for a couple of months and there is no IBAN number on the bills). And with this he was able to complete a bank transfer and pay the bill on line.
What can I say. It's Italy. You have to love it or die of frustration.
Hoping your frustrations are small ones. Ciao from Italy.
Dino, a California dog hoping to return home soon
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.