Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What’s large, white, furry and likes to catch flies?

Correct, Bertie. Sometimes he’s like a 32 kilo, self-propelled fly swat.
To see Bertie chasing flies outside is quite fun.
”Aw. Isn’t he lovely,” La D and I say to each other soppily, as he goes bounding around the estate jumping and snapping. The problem comes when he thinks the inside of the house is also fair game for fly-catching. Those of you who have been fortunate to be invited and stay with us and be graced by our presence know how small it is. Bye the bye, we’ve just had to put Liz and Phil off, again, because she still insisting on bringing the wretched corgi and we know that Bert will eat it. Anyway, you can imagine Bertie bounding round the place when about five of his strides takes him from our bedroom through the living room and into the kitchen, trying desperately to munch on a housefly.
We are having pretty good weather at the moment. Days are very clear and sunny and therefore lovely and warm during the day, but chilly at night. So the flies’ biorhythms(?) are shot to hell and they are still wandering around, albeit in a somewhat dazed fashion. Well of course to Bertie, it’s like all his Christmases have come in one go.
Apart from the mayhem and general destruction to our meagre belongings, there is a downside to Bertie too. Stinging flies. Namely wasps and hornets.
Quite often we find a hornet or two at the bottom of the outside stairs where they have been attracted by the outside light the night before. I’m not sure why but can’t think of any other reason why they would end up just outside the house. They have then been numbed by the cold night and end up pretty lifeless on the ground. But Bertie pretty much ignores them. Presumably he thinks they have given up on the game of chase, chomp and therefore is not interested in playing with them. However the wasps are a different matter and are still flying a bit, although some of them look as though the port engines on fire and it’s going to be bumpy landing.
Last week I saw the dog leaping at a wasp and I gave, my now, somewhat perfunctory address, “Don’t Bertie, you’ll get stung!” and thought nothing more. Some time later I came out of the house and Bert was in his usual place, in his sentry box at the front gate. I had to do a double take. One side of his mouth was hanging down. I went up to him and only then saw the reason for this. The lip was huge and it was bulging out rather than hanging down. I wish I had the presence to go and get the camera to have a pictorial record of it.
It could only have been a stinger that had done it. He didn’t seem perturbed at all, which in one way is a great shame as it would be nice for him to learn his lesson and of course Great Aunt Margaret’s tea service could sit in peace on the sideboard.

Sparky? ………Not!

I’d just like to say now that I am writing this under duress as La D has said I have to appraise you of certain events.
Now you know that my name is L’uomo chi fa, or if you must have it in English, the man who does. Well here is instant when I should have been called, L’uomo chi non fa. I am not going to translate as I am sure you will understand what it means.

We try to keep Sundays as God wished, i.e. you’ve been doing all your worky bits in the previous six days so now you can have a day when you don’t do anything. Last Sunday we woke up to no electricity. The first telltale sign was the electric alarm clock was not on.
I got up and flipped up the trip by the meter. But it wouldn’t stay up. I tried several times, but no, it would not catch and stay. Now this is not the first time that the trip has gone and I have been able to reset it
So, I went round and made sure all the appliances were unconnected and tried again. No joy.
I thought in that case it must be the supply to the house. I went and checked with a neighbour, but no, she had power – in our hamlet we are all on the same line, so if there was a supply issue, we would all have a problem.
I rang the electricity company but got one of these multiple choice answering machines – reminded me of chemistry exam papers – and all I could make out was that there was no one you could speak to until Monday.
I was despatched to go and see another neighbour. He and his sister have a company that project manages restoration of old houses for people, a lot of them non-Italian, and he speaks pretty good English. I explained the problem. He said have you flipped the trip or “fare scattare” in Italiano. Yep. So, very kindly, he rang a different number at the electricity company and got through to someone. Anyway we verified that in fact there was power to the house and therefore the problem was internal. Drat. In his line of work of course he knew a sparky and said he would ring them but doubted they would come out on a Sunday and that Monday morning was a better bet. I said that was absolutely fine and thanked him as effusively as I could without it becoming sickening.
So La D and I passed our Sunday in great peace. In the evening speaking to family by candlelight and making a lovely beef and dumpling stew out if the piece of beef we had bought for roasting. It was stonkingly delicious.
The next morning I tried the trip again as I had done all through Sunday. Nope. Nienta. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zero. What more can I say.
Eight o’clock, the sparky and his mate rolled up at the house. We show him the metre and trip, he presses a button the trip and then lifts the switch and, bugger me, it stayed up. He pressed the switch again to trip it and pushed it up again and the sweet music of small electric motors from the fridge and freezer hummed into life.
I apologised, but this time sickeningly so. I was so embarrassed. I had tried every which way to do it. After all it is only a trip. He asked if there was any water that might have come into contact with the power and there isn’t. We have very straightforward pipe work for the plumbing and none if it goes near the wiring. He said the wiring is old and I pointed to an old label hanging from one of the wires that had written on it “Installed by Methuselah.” He nodded. Resignation written all over his face.
He indicated that we should check plugs and sockets in case there was looseness that shouldn’t be there. We bade our farewells and he said to call him if there were any other problems. Very kind and understanding.
As soon as they had gone I looked at La D and said, “You saw how many times I tried to get the trip to work, didn’t you?”
“Did I?” she said, haughtily. “I can’t remember”
“Yes you can!” I implored.
“Of course I can darling” she said with a big smile on her face and gave me a great big cuddle. She did have me worried for a bit though.
The electrics? So far so good.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

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