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Narrow squeak

December 8, 2016 Leave a comment
Almost too dark

Almost too dark

This sunset photo shows the car (the grey one in front) of the Tiscali technician who came to change our arial and modem, back on Friday 25th November.

If there hadn’t been a break in the rain of a couple of hours allowing the roof to dry, he wouldn’t have come. And then it was getting dusk …

After his visit, it was almost a week of nail-biting internet blackout before the system went live on Thursday 1st December at 8.20 pm.

Today being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception has made me think how glad I am we didn’t trip up over this particular Public Holiday, which in so many years past has seemed to get in the way.

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Sound business practice

November 21, 2016 2 comments
Sluggish, smug and impervious

Sluggish, smug and impervious

We continue to struggle with an unusably slow internet service and no news about the ISP’s upgrade.

With a view to finding a solution to fill the gap, I phoned another internet service outlet.

“Do you have any internet keys?”

“Yes. We have one left.”

“Is it for 12 months or 1 month?”

“I can’t tell you that. You have to come in to the shop.”

“But it could be a wasted journey!”

“In the time I take to talk to you over the phone, I could make an actual sale.” And he put the phone down.

I think he just won salesman-of-the-year award.

Darkness

November 19, 2016 2 comments
Our current modem

Our current modem

This is our current internet modem with lots of jolly green lights on it which means it’s working.

Unfortunately the service provider is upgrading the system, and they seem to be in total chaos about it.

In their one communication, they implied we should be sent a new modem which hasn’t arrived, and we’re now way past the proposed date of the upgrade.

It’s almost impossible to get through to them on the phone at the best of times; now it’s absolutely impossible.

I’ve camped out on the line several times now and never got anything other than avant garde music.

What’s even more annoying is that the call menu only has buttons for if you’ve received your modem but not heard from a technician about installing it, or had the modem installed and it doesn’t work, or had the modem installed and it isn’t satisfactory. (Worrying that these things are being planned for.)

There’s no choice for if you haven’t received the modem!

Now the service is going down at random times so they can do preparation work.

Clive and I are heavily internet-dependent so things are going to be hell for some time to come.

Shifting reality in the Post Office

October 14, 2016 Leave a comment
Italian stamp that is now less than the minimum for anything

Italian stamp

The photo shows an Italian stamp which will be wasted because it’s for less than the minimum to send anything, and nowhere sells low denomination stamps to make up the value.

Today I went into the Post Office to send the original prescription for Clive’s CT scan.

I asked to send it Priority Post (as advised by Milan hospital) and the operator weighed and franked the letter.

I was a bit surprised that the cost was different (less) than what I’d found on the internet so I queried it.

“Where does it say ‘Priority Post’?”

“It’s all in the franking. But it’s done, now, Signora. You can’t change it.”

“OK. Just for interest. What’s the cost of normal postage?”

“The same.”

“Then how is this Priority Post?”

“This will arrive in 3 or 4 days.”

“When would normal post arrive?”

“In 3 or 4 days.”

“How could I have sent it faster?”

“There’s a service which starts from €6 and which gets there next day – or in this case, Monday. But what you did was OK. Now, can  I interest you in buying a mobile phone package through me?”

“No, thank you, I have a lot of minutes with my current carrier and they cumulate month to month.”

“If you say so, Signora. But minutes never cumulate in Italy.”

Well they do in this case, but obviously not in your shifting reality …

 

Start of the winter spray

January 20, 2016 Leave a comment
The orchard a little earlier in the winter (there are still some leaves)

The orchard earlier in the winter (there are still some leaves)

Today I made the first tentative start at the winter spraying of the orchard. It should be the easy one because all the trees are bare and there’s no fine timing between tight buds and half-open flowers, or discrepancies in defoliation, or whatever.

All seemed well, although the little hand-held pump (for various reasons I’ve not been using a knapsack sprayer) seemed to be having difficulty changing between spray settings for the different distances.

Then it blocked altogether and nothing came out. I cleaned the nozzle – no difference.

To cut a long story short, it started to spray (or rather shoot out) continually and with such a short reach that I had to go from one small tree to another trying to use at least some of the mixture.

At that moment the Postwoman arrived – a charming and obliging lady who tries hard to do the right thing. She went right up to the house obviously with something more than just letters. I yelled to her from the middle of the orchard:

“Hello. The sprayer’s not working properly. I can’t come.”

I doubt she heard me; just carried on looking at me expectantly with a parcel in her hand.

“If you need a signature my husband’s in the house.” I doubt she heard that either. The pump continued to shoot.

But I did hear her asking where she should put the parcel.

“On the bench,” I called.

“Shall I put it on the car?”

“Yes, fine.”

“I’ll put it here.” She put it on the windowsill.

“Oh I see, you’re spraying,” she observed.

It’s surprising she even recognised me in goggles and with a headscarf pulled tight over my hair!

 

Torpor

December 14, 2015 Leave a comment
Slow progress

Slow progress

This is the Topino river, after which our town Valtopina is named.

Topino actually means ‘little mouse’ but today, watching its gentle meandering, all that came to mind was the word ‘torpor’.

I recognise Torpor. I meet it practically every day when endeavouring to stir the Italian Health System into meaningful activity. They’ve had 4 months (minus 5 days) in which to help a man who can neither stand nor walk, and they’ve achieved precisely nothing.

The Topino is a flashy river. Sometimes it brims over its banks, churning and gobbling in an opaque brown torrent.

I’m not holding out for that kind of activity; just forward movement of some kind …

Yellow ribbon

December 4, 2015 Leave a comment
Brightest thing in the garden

Brightest thing in the garden

It’s not a yellow ribbon and it’s not around the oak tree, but it was the brightest thing in the garden on a day when a lot was talked about Clive’s imminent absence. Or not.

One man from the ambulance service (a kind and sensible man we know well) and four from the fire service (three men, one woman) arrived to gauge how to get Clive into the ambulance to go to the rehabilitation centre.

The fire people immediately began casting their eyes about to find props and equipment in the environment: mattresses, armchairs, sofa cushions (which don’t detach), benches, tables, pieces of wood.

They estimated, by eye, that the passageway between the patio door and the pool isn’t wide enough, but as they’d already judged a metre-long bench to be two metres, I was sceptical. Nor did I appreciate the glance they threw at the door frame (imaginary hatchet in hand), nor the woman among them describing the whole situation as ‘dramatic’. (A conflagration might be dramatic, but surely not a patient being transported to hospital.)

No sooner had they left than I received a phonecall from the rehabilitation centre.

“What equipment will the patient be bringing?”

“You mean, like the wheelchair and hoist which I phoned up yesterday to make sure you knew he didn’t have and which you said you’d provide?”

“Yes. We thought he might have something. We’re trying to get it together.”

“Are you going to have to postpone his admission?”

“We hope not, but quite possibly.”

I don’t think I’ll tie that yellow ribbon just yet.