Category Archives: doctors

Sunday lunch

Yesterday we picked up our lunch at Calagrana. It was Five Spice Slow Roasted Pork Belly and Bau Buns. Tasty! Picture follows.

It was a decent enough Sunday weather wise. Quite cool but a nice little drive. A tiny change of scenery. The pretty driveway to Calagrana.

Otherwise it was same ole, same ole. Today, Monday, I called our doctor. She said we would get our shots this week or next. She seems to be a little behind the other doctor in town that most of us go to. She said last week she did 78, 79 year olds. This week she will do 76, 77 year olds. Depending on the number of shots she may get a little lower. We may have a bit of a wait. I volunteered that we would be happy to come and take any left over shots if someone doesn’t show. She said her practice has never had anyone not show for their shot. Ok then.
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Yesterday, I noticed the exciting sight of our little House Martins visiting their nests after the long migration back from Africa. They return every year to the same nest. So today, in honor of our returning friends I chose as our Italiano phrase…”i balestrucci sono tornati a nidificare” In English “the House Martins have returned to nest”. Pronounced Ee bah-lay-struch-chi so-no torn-ah-tea ah nee-dee-fee-car-ay.
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Stay safe everyone! 🌈

Everyday food

Someone wanted my bolognese recipe. So here you go.

Ingredients
1 carrot diced small
2 garlic cloves minced
about a pound of ground beef
1 can (15 ounces) tomatoes chopped
About 3 to 4 cups whole milk
Pasta (about 8 oz)
parmesan to serve

Sauté carrot in oil. Add garlic for one minute. Then add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes with juice and mix and cook a bit. Add around a cup of milk. Cook slowly until milk is incorporated. Add some milk every so often and let simmer into sauce. I try to cook the sauce for two or three hours. Or until it’s creamy and all the milk is incorporated. The amount of milk can be more if needed. It will become creamy. Once it is finished you can feeeze some of it. I usually get two or three meals for two from it. Boil pasta in salted water until nearly done. Drain. Saving some water. Return pasta to pot. Add sauce and some water and cook over heat letting the pasta finish cooking and absorb some sauce. Salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan. Mmmm.
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For our weekday lunches we often have egg “McMuffins”. Silly huh? We’ve been getting English muffins from Ely at Calagrana. They are not to be found elsewhere here. So we enjoy them. I have a cute little contraption I brought over here from the US that cooks my eggs to just the right size. I put it in a non stick pan, and add a pat of butter, salt and pepper. Heat it up and crack an egg in. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove that little ring and flip egg for 10 seconds. This “should” finish up with a not completely hard yolk. Depends on the size of your egg. Eggs are smaller here. It makes a good lunch. Here’s the ring. We have a set of four.

And here is the finished egg “McMuffin”. I toast the muffin and add cheese.

What else is there to do around here except eat? Well, that’s not completely true. We ran errands this morning. We picked up some cat supplies and went to the Coop supermarket. Brought it all back, to include emptying the trunk of four bags of pellets. We figure these are the last we will use this spring. All of this had to be carried up to our house. Huff puff.
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Italian phrase for the day…”ogni giorno leggo molti giornali” — English “everyday I read many newspapers”. Own-knee gee-or-no leg-go mol-tea gee-or-nahl-ee.
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Four of my friends here in Umbertide got vaccinated yesterday. Stupendous news! Soon it will be our turn, we hope. Stay safe everyone! 🌈

Regional meal and…vaccine issues

Last post we said the doctor would call. Seems that has changed. The doctors revolted and said they couldn’t possibly call all of their patients. Now it seems that plan is scrapped and no one knows what will happen next. This may be good news for friends who don’t have the health card here. They had effectively been shut out but now who knows how we will get appointments?! Will they return to the online registration? Will they want us to sign up at the farmacia?

They can’t even decide on a place to give the vaccines here. First, I had heard the empty old renovated tobacco barn would be used for giving shots. Now that is not happening due to ventilation issues. Then they said the soccer field…but that’s not under cover. Che casino… Stay tuned!
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Dinner last night courtesy of Calagrana Regional menus was very good.

And here is the meal….so yummy. The guinea hen (Faraona) leg was boned and stuffed. Wrapped in ham. Mmmm.

Today Italiano phrase. “Che casino” in English “what a mess” — One of my favorite sayings in Italian. Very useful. Pronounced kay casino. 

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Stay safe all 🌈

Boring things. We all have to do them…

Like everyone on this earth, we all have errands to run to keep our lives ticking along on track. We are happy all the shops are still open and, although we have to stay in our Comune, we have everything we need here.

Our list for today was extensive. First stop. As everyone does, we are preparing for winter. We have a heated mattress pad for our bed. And we have a summer one. So that summer one went to the dry cleaner to be cleaned for next summer…SUMMER ☀️ which I see as a shining light ahead of us! Maybe a new beginning after this pandemic. Spero di si.

Second issue we had been dealing with. Our old printer had died and we ordered a new one from Amazon, after trying to find one locally. We got that on Friday and have semi-set it up. (Don’t get me going on how hard it was!) Of course, as these things go, I had JUST ordered new toner for our previous printer when it died. €80 worth. So I needed to return it. But, without a printer, I was unable to print the mailing labels to do so. So I waited. Today we took the toner to the DHL pickup location to return. Check.

Last week we also had to go to the ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – Local Health Unit) because our E01 had expired. Our Dottoressa had noticed when we visited her. This is the code that is used here to determine how much you must pay for prescriptions and some tests…according to your income. If it expires, you automatically pay the most. So we got that updated but we didn’t have all of the copies of our cards they needed (of COURSE they need copies!!). At home, we had no copier…so we waited and once we got the new printer – we made the copies and we took them there to drop off. Check.

A trip to the EuroSpin supermarket to order a turkey for thanksgiving was next. This part I liked best. This year I decided to do Thanksgiving dinner, even if it is just for us. Our friend Susan offered to make a pie and I think Gary is making a vegetable. No matter. I will take a pan of turkey, maybe dressing, gravy, and of course, mashed potatoes to them. We will eat alone, alas, but at least we will share the bounty with some friends.

After that we visited the Coop supermercato. I had not been since we went to Code Orange and they are again taking things seriously. We had our temperatures taken before we could go into the mall, of course masks are mandatory everywhere now, both inside and outside, and the spacing between people is being enforced. We bought a bunch of the staples we needed. And also some cat food for our friend who is in isolation. She feeds a mamma cat and her litter from this year and was running low on food. I dropped it by her house so she should be good for a while. She told me they are coming to her house to give her the Covid test rather than making her go to Citta di Castello. One of the few benefits of age 🙂.
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I took a walk Sunday evening. By the time I got back to the Centro the sun was just setting and the sky was pretty. Here are two pictures.

The Rocca, our fortress.
The entrance to the Centro Storico. We have a pedestrian bridge which crosses over from the road.

Stay safe all….andrà tutto bene 🌈

Stupidly happy…

We have a list a mile long of things to get done. We have been trying to work our way through them. This week and last, we made MAJOR progress!

Last week we had our stufa cleaned. This is our pellet stove that warms our living room. Now we are ready for winter. We also finally got a plumber to come to our house to fix a bunch of things we’ve had for, literally, years. Today the plumber came back. He fixed everything! I am stupidly happy. I have new toilet seats for both toilets. I have a toilet that flushes again. I have a new rain shower and a shower door that no longer leaks. I have a new faucet outside on the terrace. It has leaked for all the time we’ve lived here. First time it will be dry out there.  My small table is no longer wet, and I hope the mold goes away now. It makes me crazy happy.

We also visited our primary care doctor for an introductory appointment. And to get flu shots. I really like our new doctor. She is so accommodating. She will email our prescription refills rather than make us return every month. We changed from our old doctor because we were not happy with her.

I also have an appointment with my knee surgeon on Saturday. Looking forward to asking him about my ongoing knee issues.

The only thing not working out so far is mailing our absentee ballots. We have tried twice and so far have not managed to mail them. We want to use DHL so we can track, and also so we can avoid Poste Italiene and USPO. Next week for sure. Piano, piano…

Pronto soccorso (emergency room)

Today I visited the Pronto Soccorso for the first time. It is a weekend and I am unable to see my doctor. Yesterday we decided to give our two cats their yearly bath. Simba objected. And at one point he went totally nuts and while struggling with him he bit down on my thumb, right through it and for a moment I wondered how I was going to get him to let go. And it hurt! A lot!

I know a cat bite is one of the dirtiest bites you can get. I’ve also heard horror stories. I asked a friend of mine who used to work with animals and she said a veterinarian she knew lost her thumb due to a cat bite. That kind of lit a fire under me. I am never anxious to go to a doctor or a hospital, or worse, an emergency room. But we live in Umbertide. We have a hospital and we can even walk there. So we walked over to the Pronto Soccorso.

We rang the bell and explained why we were there. I had to fill out a form about how I was feeling today (Covid related) and they took my temperature. Then I got to go in. I had to go alone as they won’t let more than one at a time. I was pleased I understood everything they asked me and could answer all the questions. My Italian has improved quite a lot I’m happy to say.

The doctors were nice, interested because I am American. One even looked up Virginia on his phone and started listing the states all around Virginia. I showed them my Tessera Sanitaria, my health card enrolling me in the system here. They were surprised but I explained I live here and am in the health system.

There was no discussion about the cat bite. It seemed almost a given that one must get treated for a bite from a cat. They examined my thumb and redressed it. Then they gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics and dressed my wound. I have to return in 6 weeks for a booster tetanus shot. The visit cost nothing. I do love the Italian health care system 💕.

Afterwards we walked back and I drove to a farmacia to get my prescription filled. All in all a painless (mostly 🙂) visit. I’m glad I broke down and went. I won’t be so reticent in the future.

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Yesterday and today I made pesto. The Basil is going wild. I harvested these two. They aren’t so pretty and bushy now. If you want to keep your basil producing you must cut it back as it starts to flower down to just above the juncture with two small leaves at the intersection of the stem. These small lives will grow into new, robust basil branches. I have regular basil and violeta.

Here is the jar of regular pesto I made.

This one is an experiment. Thai basil pesto. It has a dark color because of the purple leaves, and it has Thai flavors like fish sauce, sesame oil, etc. I haven’t eaten it yet. I will report back.

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I have more to report as today was a busy day, but I will save it for tomorrow 🙂

It is still ungodly hot but supposed to break on Tuesday I think. Stay safe y’all. 🌈

Corona Virus

Since this all over the news I thought I’d do a quick update. There have been 60 new cases in the past 24 hours in Lombardia. Also two cases in Florence and one in Palermo. These are the first in Tuscany and Sicily.  Total cases nearing 300. Seven people have died, all of them elderly or with compromised immune systems. The provinces affected are closing schools and canceling events. They are advising people with symptoms to not go to the emergency room but call their doctor or the health department.

People here in Umbria seem calm and nothing has changed. We have had no reported cases. But that could change. Some areas are reporting runs on food and water. We went shopping today and it was quiet and the store was fully stocked. So all is well in our region for now.

Doctors, and wineries, and la cena – Oh my!

Yesterday was a Very Busy day and I want to share it with you.

It started out pretty early. We had an appointment with my knee surgeon at the hospital for X-rays. It was the standard 45 day post op checkup. I’m happy to say I’m fit as a fiddle. I’m now cleared to walk normally up and down the steps, which I did with very little problem. I’m very happy!

It was a pretty day (mostly) with a lot of fall colors and watery blue skies. Not too cold. To go from our house to the hospital in the city of Perugia we can take the SuperStrada around the city (faster but busier), the road that goes through the middle of town (tiny one way streets) or the pretty 2 lane road through the mountains. So, on the way to the hospital Luther took us through the city. On the way home I chose the mountains.

The road goes by a winery and agriturismo we like so we stopped to buy some wine. They also raise pigs which become prosciutto. Here’s the big ole sow. The piglets had run inside. The pens are super clean, and have inside and outside parts.

We also stopped at a place we’ve been passing all the years we’ve been here. It is an enormous castle and a beautiful golf course. We were looking for the restaurant that was supposed to be there. We drove up to the castle which is shuttered. Word has been it was supposed to be an upscale hotel, they also advertise condos for sale. For a long time it was covered with scaffolding but it had been removed a year or so ago. Yet still it is not open. Somebody put a lot of money into this property with the 18 hole Trent Jones golf course.

Castle

Old olive groves surround the castle

The golf course. We don’t have many golf courses in Umbria, or Italy, for that matter. It had a number of people playing. The sign at the entrance says welcome in Italian, English, German, and…Russian. Tells you who they are hoping to attract.

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We had been invited to la cena (dinner) by our friend Vera. She is such a gem. Her suocera (mother-in-law) was having a big dinner for friends and family. No special occasion that I could discern. I was a little reticent but decided I need to mix more so we said we’d come. Vera said not to expect much. It was a down-home feast with the contadini (contadino means farmer) so local folks – working people, farmers.

I will tell about it in pictures 🙂 Here is Vera and her suocera.

The meal was going to be in the garage. As garages go, it was a nice one. Here is the cinghiale who watches over the scene.

I asked what the wires across the ceiling were for. I was told they were to hang the grapes that they dry to make Vin Santo. It is for personal consumption. The grapes are allowed to raisin to get sweet before they make it. They don’t make it every year so no grapes were hanging.

What garage do you know that has a crackling fire? It was for warmth but also for roasting chestnuts at the end of the meal.

Beside the fireplace inside sat Silvester, the ancient Tom Cat. He’s 13 years old and never been to the vet. Not castrated…Italian men don’t allow “cutting”… he didn’t want to be bothered or touched. When he moved it was the slowest I’ve ever seen a cat move. He must be hurting 🙁 But he did seem to be enjoying the fire’s warmth.

Just outside is their big forno (wood oven). And the outside fireplace. Both were roaring hot.

Here is the pork liver (I am fairly certain I’ve never had pork liver before) that had been cooked for both the crostini and the secondo, much to Luthers dismay. Not really, there was plenty of food and he tasted it. We were surprised Italians love liver so much!

The meal begins with crostini. One, liberally dosed with the new olive oil, the other, fegato (liver). Very, very rich!

Beginning the polenta. Two kinds of corn meal…Add to the boiling water,  bring to a boil again and continuing adding hot water,  “til it is right”, cook, stir.

Takes a LOT of stirring to make polenta

The polenta is pronounced ready.

To go on top, a luscious ragu. It had simmered for hours and hours in the biggest pot I’ve seen in a home kitchen! It was pork bits. All sorts with bones and all. Plus lots of sausage. By now the meat was off the bones. They scooped the meats out and put them on a separate plate.  Then they took the tomatoes, which the meat had simmered in and scooped it into a separate dish. Rich and mouthwatering.

To serve, the polenta goes in a plate, add meat and sausages, and top with rich tomato sauce.

Two long tables. All men at one, all women at the other – hah! (Kids were upstairs) Very typical. After a while Vera and I moved over to the men’s table. There is no rule or prohibition to sit together. But the men and women prefer to talk of men’s and women’s things so why sit together?

I had fun. It had been a long day and I was pretty tired so we had the dolce (dessert) and headed home before the chestnuts were roasted. A very traditional, home cooked meal that couldn’t be beat! And a unique experience.

One week home

Well, I’ve been home a little over a week. It’s been good. I had most of the week free. I shopped at the market Saturday and Wednesday. I met up with friends for caffè. I had a Campari spritz with Luther in the piazza and walked to our new, very sleek and glitzy pizzeria very nearby named FOXX. I pronounce the pizza first class.

Monday I went to Prosperous to make an appointment with the doctor for PT. I saw him Friday and liked him. He admonished me to keep using my crutches. So I will. I’m set up for PT Monday-Wednesday-Friday ongoing – start Monday (tomorrow).

Saturday I went back to Perugia and my doctor removed my punti, staples. I thought I’d be happier but actually my knee hurts more. But I also went to the grocery store and our special butcher so maybe that’s why it’s more painful…

Pictures  near our butcher in Bosco. I’ve always loved these views. More soon!

Sabato

Today is Saturday. There is only a half day of therapy today, and none tomorrow. I have NO idea how I’ll amuse myself for a whole day here.
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This morning after raising all sorts of ruckus yesterday, I had il Capo Dottore, his name is Berrettini. I finally put my glasses on so I could see his name tag. And also both of the Dottore Del Citernas father and son. Turns out there is no way I can transfer between facilities within the same Region. I wish I had just known that at first. Che casino as they say here, which means, what a mess! I can check myself out at anytime though. And if I want I can go to Prosperious as an out patient, walking over for daily sessions. I think I’ll have to pay for them if I don’t want to wait for the system to find a place. That’s OK. I told il Capo I would like to be released on Friday. Just a week, which I can handle. So, the saga ends. Italia – 1 Hamptons – 0
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This morning I was a bad girl. I went to ginastico and they put us in the room with 7 beds. And instructed us to point our toes up and down. Well I did that for a long time. Quit and waited. Finally someone came back and put a big rubber roll under our knees and we were instructed to do leg lifts. So I did about a bazillion of those. Finally I quit. I sat and waited maybe 15 minutes and then I got disgusted. It was such a waste of time. So I left. On the way down the hall I met an employee on the phone. He got excited I was going on my own. But I told him I was perfectly capable of going down an elevator on my own. They insist on escorting us for some reason. He asked me to wait and I did. Then our PT guy, that I had waited so long for, came out of the elevator. I said finito, and he asked if I wanted to go down on my own. I said si. And went back to my room. I wonder if there will be any repercussions from me doing this. I hate to wait and hate to waste my time. Bad l’Americana!!
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Today’s lunch was good enough. Bow tie pasta with ragu, chicken cutlet and peas. Pear for dessert. I put hot sauce on the chicken 😋

This next week will be more of the same so you won’t hear much from me til I’m sprung outa this joint. Except for any interesting observations or decent or interesting meals. Thanks for following along so far. Ciao!