Category Archives: medical

Lemon tree, very pretty…

Today is a good day. I am finished with my procedure and I am fine! A relief. I seem to think the worst will happen and at the worst possible time! Like now. In the middle of the big move. I went to the hospital in Città di Castello. They have a very nice new hospital with all modern facilities. People around here call the town just Castello. It is about 20 kilometers and takes around 25 minutes using the good, old E45 super strada that runs north and south through our valley. Once it was part of the Via Flammina. An old Roman road. But I digress. They were super efficient and fast. Even mindful of my modesty…many are not here. And the doctor and nurse were friendly. So, now I am done with that…I am dusting myself off and going back to the business of living here.

You all must know of my little lemon tree. I had always wanted to be able to have a lemon tree. One of the first things I bought was a small one from a local vivaio or nursery. I wrote a post about this little tree way back in 2020 when we were in the strictest lockdown because of Covid. It was titled Day 46 Covid 19 and I had a bit of fun with my lemon tree. At that time I was trying to keep myself entertained while being locked down. This post was just one day…I blogged for 83 straight days. You, my reader friends, helped me keep sane. This blog helped keep me sane. What a time it was. Anyway. If you’d like to read that post, here is a link — Day 46 Covid 19.

My tree is still flourishing. I am still pinching off all the leaves on the one side. And this year I got 19 —yes! — 19 lemons. She is doing very well and she is coming on our move. I will take off all the lemons to make her easier to move and take the weight off. She will love our new terrazzo and she will be getting a bigger pot. 🙂


As for news of the move, we are making forward progress. I’m making copious lists. Lists of things to leave here for Jane and Christie, things I need to keep away from the packers that I many need first at the new place, cat stuff (of which there is a lot), some clothes, our computers, wires, chargers, remote controls…on and on. We are using up all the food in our freezer. Sadly I’m going to have to throw away most of my frozen peppers. But I’ll just grow more! And we have a meeting with our sellers this coming Friday. We are bringing our agent friend Jim along. We have many questions and much measuring to do.

Ciao for now! 🌈

Italian Health coverage – a new year

Here, in our part of Umbria, we are required to obtain our social security statements from the US Embassy in Rome to obtain our enrollment in the National Health system. This statement must be stamped and signed by the American Embassy in Rome. This is ONLY a requirement in this part of Umbria. How and why this came about I do not know. When we first moved here, we self declared our income. After a couple years they decided we needed this statement. It really threw a monkey wrench into the works that year for all of us! We eventually got used to it and just go with the flow, requesting the statement from the Embassy.

I always send off two emails, one for me, and one for Luther to the Social Security office in Rome asking for this statement to be sent. Usually I do this in mid-December so I can get them by January 1. I complain, and everyone does, about Italian bureaucrats. Now, in this case they work at the American Embassy which is almost entirely staffed by Italians. I got a nice reply from a woman to me that she was sending out my statement right away. But I also got a reply from a man to Luther that he would have to ask again after the first of the year. 😡 Annoyed I shot back an email that said essentially “my wife can get hers now why not me?” He replied that he “normally” waits until the year is done to send it, but would send it now. Think about it, this is our Social Security benefit for the year 2022. It is not like this will change in the next two weeks! Geesh. Dealing with bureaucrats can be exhausting.

When we receive the statements from the Embassy we will go to the USL which is the agency of health and re-up for our annual payment and enrollment for 2023. It is 7.5% of our social security benefits. It is paid annually in January. We are usually out of the system for a week or two while completing the payment and application. Once we sign up, most things are free. Co-pays are small and linked to your income on a sliding scale. For Italian citizens and workers they are automatically enrolled. I am happy with our care here. It is a good system.

What a productive week!

First I want to mention that we had a good hard rain Thursday night/Friday morning last week. First rain in weeks. I was up checking the gutters and all looked fine. Draining, no more waterfalls. And best of all, no leaks inside. Whew. Glad to have gotten that done thanks to Fabio and Mario. Excellent workers in a difficult situation.
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Our friends and buyers of our apartment, had a bit of a mishap. Jane fell off her bike hitting her chin and cheekbone on the ground and breaking her thumb. She and Christie walked over to the Pronto Soccorso (emergency room) where they gave her a temporary cast and made an appointment to visit an orthopedic doctor in Citta di Castello yesterday. Meanwhile, our signing of the Powers of Attorney was scheduled for Tuesday.

We did manage to get the signing done, even with Jane’s right, and main, hand in a cast. It was somewhat amusing. The Notaio’s office is in a former Palazzo built in the 1600s. It is just next to an enormous green space which Jim told us it was once the main Piazza of Castello, and a formal garden. Now it is just an immense lawn. The office is just as I remember it. Grand but threadbare in a pleasing way. I took a couple photos.

Ceiling. Probably 20 feet high.
Ornate door into the room.
Cool fireplace, obviously unused.

So, Jim can now sign for Christy and Jane to close on the apartment. And he can close for us on our new place. That way we don’t need a translator. Saves a bit of money. The deal is not quite sealed…but a step closer.

Because we weren’t sure what they would do at the hospital in Castello I drove them up for the appointment. We went to the hospital and found the orthopedic department where Jane was seen pretty quickly. But she had to endure the pain of resetting her thumb…no anesthetic. The norm here. She said is was REALLY painful. Then they put on a cast and we went to get an X-ray to see how the set was. It took us 45 minutes to FIND the Radiology department. They are very short on signage. On the good side, we got our steps in. 🫤 We returned to the orthopedic docs who viewed the X-rays and told us to make an appointment to come back in a week. Making the appointment at the ASL (Azienda Salute Locale).

To give ourselves a reward for our ordeal…more for Jane than Christie and I, we decided to have lunch! We tried a new place called Grace. It opened in the space where Patrick’s Enoteca used to be. It is a bit of a sad story. Grace was the wife of the chef. She was a 28 year old American. She and her husband were involved in an accident in which she was killed. The restaurant was opened in her name.

We had a delicious lunch. They have half portions of almost everything, so we decided to do three half portions each. It was a lot of fun. Here are some pictures.

Zucchini carpaccio with walnuts.
My ravioli with black truffles
Jane and Christie got this zucca stuffed pasta. Zucca is the big orange winter squash they have here.
Inside – mmmm.
The zucca main course Jane had. She and Christie are vegetarians.
Being an equal opportunity eater I tried the venison. I eat a lot of vegetarian but like to try meats too.

This week we also got our guy to come to arrange to replace two window screens, the electrician is coming to replace two lights, and Luther had a hearing test today. I gotta say…I am OVERWHELMED at all the progress we are making! So un-Italian! 🙂💕 Ciao a tutti!

US and European work

I am enormously interested in what is going on in the US job market. Having lived in Germany in the ‘90s I worked in a German bureau. I learned that the Germans work very hard when they are working. They are the most productive people outside maybe Japan. Yet they work only 37.5 hours a week with 6 weeks vacation a year. I also saw they worked when they worked, and when they didn’t, they had a life outside of work. They started at 9 and they left at 5. They took a 1.5 hour lunch with coffee breaks in the morning and snack breaks in the afternoon. They didn’t work weekends. They took all their vacation time. In other words, they worked to live their lives and enjoy themselves and their families. I thought this was brilliant. And when I returned to the States I refused to work ridiculously long hours. My bosses didn’t like it, and maybe I didn’t get promoted, but I was fine with that.

Now I read that people in the US are reassessing their work lives. After Covid allowed them more freedom to work from home and lose the long commute they have decided maybe there is a better way. Is this the silver lining from Covid? Maybe so.

I had a comment on this blog which prompted this post. She seemed to think people were being incentivized to stay home by the current administration. But those incentives have expired. I truly believe that corporate America is getting a wake-up call. They can’t continue to abuse and underpay their employees. And give them no benefits. Like the restaurants, retail and service industries routinely do. People have realized they have options. And power to them, I say! Corporate America can afford to pay their employees, (without which they cannot operate) fairly.

The restaurant workers are an excellent example. I hope the accepted system in America must be changed now, because restaurants cannot get staff to come back. The restaurants pay super low wages ($1.50 an hour sometimes) because they expect their customers (!) to pay the wages of their employees. How arrogant! And no wonder they can’t hire staff. They need to pay a living wage with benefits like any proper job should have. It works in Europe, it will work in the US. They need to bite the bullet and add a service charge to the menu, and raise prices to pay the wages of their employees. No tipping. People do not tip in Italy. You can round up the tab if you want but that’s about it. It is not expected. Increasing pay, benefits and compensation is what is needed.
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This is not to say the Italian system is better, because it is not. So many problems here. Unemployment among the young and very well educated population is awfully high. The young & educated are leaving Italy for other places where they are valued and hired. They don’t want to go, but they have no choices. The system does not encourage entrepreneurs. They actually penalize those with more than 50 workers. It has become a contract economy. The employees are contract workers. The taxes are very high. I am not an expert. But these are the things I have learned.

And in Covid news…as of yesterday all workers must show the Green Pass as proof of vaccination or they will be laid off. Alternatively, they can pay and have the Covid test every 48 hours but this would take a lot of time and they have to pay for the tests themselves. It has come down to, do you want a normal life?
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So this past week we have been readying for our first guests in a long time. I don’t remember when we had our last guests. It is fun anticipating them and getting ready and planning their time here. It is Luther’s brother and wife who live in Virginia, and their daughter and her husband. Of course, I’ll be taking pictures and doing posts.

Ciao, ciao, ciao.

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. 🌈

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.

Compare and contrast

So, I’ve completed a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) of therapy at Prosperious. It is hard not to contrast it with therapy I got at Casa di Cura Liotti. For one thing, I’m in a lot of pain now, after my sessions. I admit this was not something I was seeking out! But it tells me that there’s a difference between the two. I cannot put my finger on what, exactly it is. I raised the issue with my therapist and he assured me it was normal. Next week, I hope I will be able start working out in the swimming pool. The Prosperious doctor needs to assess my incision first.
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Beautiful autumn day. Our Saturday K-zero market was up and running. I bought some things for soup. I experimented with a soup his past week and really liked it. It had winter squash and a couple links of sausage. Also some fennel, pasta, and chick peas. Nicely hearty. So I bought more squash and some nice dark cabbage for another soup this week. The squashes here are huge, like pumpkins, so they hack them up into pieces and you just buy what you need.

My piece of squash…soon to be in my soup!

Last night we fell back…our time changed to standard time. I’m told it is the last time it will happen here in the EU. They have decided to scrap the whole thing. Should make for some confusion ahead!

First Prosperious therapy session and…

So, Monday was my first scheduled PT session at our nearby rehab facility, Prosperious. Super highly thought of here in Italy, with both in-patient and out-patient facilities. I can walk there from our house but this is, in and of itself, a workout. First I descend 56 steps…piano, piano. Then I walk about 10-15 minutes. This is all good IMO. Walking is good. Steps, maybe not so much but once I can use both legs then good. Repeat…

Once I reached my destination I was directed to Lorenzo for my therapy. The facility is nice. Big and spacious with lots of folks, of varying ages, in various stages of therapy for various joints. Oh, we fragile humans!

Prosperious from outside

Mostly it is non-weight bearing exercise now with some massage. And afterward, electron therapy. Luther and I laughed at my auto-correct which changed electrode to electron. So they place electrons (-trodes) on my thigh to stimulate the muscles. Luther said it up-ended his quantum physics learning!

And afterwards I walked home. I didn’t pay, I didn’t get my patient card back. I’m sure they will inform the idiot American of her error eventually.😑
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It is not all about medical issues, thankfully! Last night we decided to walk over to FOXX, our new pizzeria just across the river. Short walk for us. We wanted to try their Apericena. This is an interesting mash-up of two Italian words by the way. Aperi is short for Aperitivo, or pre-dinner drink, and Cena is the word for dinner. So you get a drink and bar food. It’s like a happy hour thing. It starts at 6PM. Here are some pictures of the posh new space and the looooonnnggg buffet of food. Order a drink and it’s all you can eat…cost? 8 Euro. Not bad.

My plate

Outside space – it is still nicely warm so many people were outside.

Spiffy bar

Since it was on our way we stopped to check out the 3 pomegranate trees I found earlier this year. I picked a few to see if they are ripe. I know NOTHING about pomegranates. I had to look up how to know if they are ripe, whether they will ripen more once picked, and how to open them up. The one I opened is one of the bigger ones and the seeds are yummy but a little sour. Maybe a bit too early. Pictures…