— Knock, knock!
— Who’s there?
— To who?
— To whom.
— Knock, knock!
— Who’s there?
— To who?
— To whom.
I’m definitely not one of those people who complains both about the cold in winter and the heat in summer. I don’t complain for the sake of complaining. At least, I don’t think I do! 😉
But one thing I cannot stand is extreme heat, extreme DAMP heat. It isn’t good for me (is it good for anyone?). It slows me down. It turns my brain into mush. It makes my asthma a million times worse. Just running the vacuum cleaner a bit this morning left me in a pool of sweat, gasping for breath (but I had to do it…CAT HAIR!!!).
Yeah, this new heat wave from Africa is a bad one…a really bad one. Today is particularly bad. Just to give you an idea: according to one of the Italian weather websites, at 2 PM today the heat index in Florence was supposed to have hit 44 degrees Celsius (that’s 111.2 Fahrenheit).
The nighttime temps have also risen, making it difficult to sleep unless you have air conditioning, which Stefano and I don’t, unfortunately…Ah, speaking of air conditioning. I do have something amusing for you. Most Italians will tell you that AC is verrrrry bad for you. Over and over again I am told that it can cause all sorts of maladies, from neck cramps to eye infections and earaches. Even electric fans should be used in moderation, if at all…
To be fair, I should add that this negative and rather silly attitude has changed quite a bit since I was a kid. In heat like this, Italians who have AC in their offices usually turn it on…Just to be on the safe side, though, a window is frequently left at least partly open to let in some “fresh” air…Yeah, I know, air conditioning AND open windows = such a wasteful combination. But it happens a lot here. Last week, for example, I went into town with a friend, and at least three windows on our air-conditioned bus were open, wide open. Eeek.
I always turn on the AC in my office at work and keep the windows shut. Bliss. That is, until one of my students comes in and complains that 24-25 degrees (= 75-77 degrees Fahrenheit) is too cold…mamma mia…
Sorry, I got a bit carried away there. I just wanted to give you ONE of the reasons why I haven’t been writing or doing research for the blog lately. There are a couple of other reasons, too.
The most important one: last week my Dad had a biopsy of a nodule that was found behind his vocal cords. The procedure went smoothly, and we hope to get the results today. Even though I’m feeling very positive about it, living on the other side of the world is incredibly difficult right now…I mean, this is MY DAD…Anyway, nothing to do but wait…
The other thing that happened is that last week our cat no. 3, Priscilla, who is about seven years old, developed a case of gastroenteritis and a urinary tract infection. She’s been on an antibiotic since Friday afternoon.
Now, those of you who live with cats know how bloody HARD it is to give them an antibiotic (any sort of pill, really). There are all sorts of funny jokes circulating on this topic, such as this one: http://goo.gl/kWAuB Don’t miss the part about how to give a pill to a dog… 😀
And Priscilla is our fierce little tiger. Even though she’s been with us since she was a baby, she still hisses and growls–and MIGHT even bite if given the opportunity–if we do something she doesn’t like, such as pick her up when she wants to be left alone. Yet she’s also the sweetest kitty imaginable. Seconds after hissing and growling at you for whatever reason, she will climb onto your chest or into your lap and purr madly, and if you stop petting and scratching her, she’ll stare intently into your eyes and emit a pitiful little “raaaaaaaaaa.” As I write this post, she’s lying between me and the keyboard, as happy as a bee in a field of flowers. Go figure. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that’s our Priscilla.
Premise: Stefano and I know how to give a pill to a cat. Been there, done that. Oh, that reminds me of the innumerable YouTube “how to give a pill to your cat” videos. I can only comment that those cats must be heavily sedated…I mean, I’d like to watch those vets give a pill to one of MY cats…hah! Fat chance…
And so I spend a lot of time trying to come up with new, cunning ways to get the blasted pill into her…
One of my incredibly clever plans was based on the fact that Priscilla would do anything for a bite of rocket salad or arugula (rucola, in Italian)…the bitterer, the better. She will sit next to me while I wash the arugula from our garden, begging like a dog. And she won’t budge until I’ve handed her an arugula leaf, which she devours within nanoseconds. No kidding. So yesterday I got some arugula from our garden, cut it into pieces and added it to the crushed-to-smithereens pill that I’d previously mixed with a bit of the hairball remedy that she normally (!) loves. I even put a few arugula leaves on top, in a foolish attempt to…fool her. Didn’t work. She turned away. And when arugula doesn’t work with the Queen of Arugula, you know it ain’t gonna be easy…
By now I’ve mixed the crushed pill with ALL of Priscilla’s favorite foods. She just looks at me. I’ve tried hand-feeding the food-pill mixture to her, because this kitty will lick ANYTHING off my finger. Last night, that approach worked splendidly. This morning, she sniffed my finger, turned on her heels and walked away. And I’m supposed to give her an antibiotic for another whole week??? 😯
We may have to resort to the “grab and pop” method in the end…If that happens, I’ll be posting from the emergency room…
But let’s get back to the heat wave for a second. This morning, sitting under my ceiling fan thinking cool thoughts, I began making a silly list of things I enjoy about summer. It wasn’t easy. But here goes:
Things I don’t like about summer:
So, what do YOU like (or hate) about summer? Just curious! 🙂
Finally, I’d like to ask you for a favor: please, pretty please!, go sign a petition that will be delivered soon to the U.S. Navy concerning its use of active sonar in training and testing exercises off Hawaii and southern California as well as off the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. According to this article (see: http://goo.gl/xkHJJ), the sonar testing might harm marine mammals a total of 33 million times over five years. These estimates come from the Navy itself, by the way. So who knows what the real impact is going to be…
To me, that’s simply and utterly UNACCEPTABLE. We might be able to stop this nonsense by signing the online petition (it takes less than 30 seconds…easy peasy…and just think: your signature could save the lives of a staggering number of sea creatures, not just whales and dolphins…): http://goo.gl/Ocb6v
And, while we’re at it, there is also another petition. This one is for a group of chimpanzees. Please check it out: http://goo.gl/rHlu5
As a former member of Amnesty International, I know that signatures CAN make a difference. So…pleeeeeease sign! Thank you!
Stefano has complete faith in his GPS navigator. So do I, normally…even though on a couple of occasions in the UK we’d somehow ended up in a cow field (I kid you not) instead of our B&B. But that’s another story and, to be fair, we haven’t yet had a problem with the super new GPS system.
Yesterday, though, I could tell something just wasn’t right. My friend Ben had dictated meticulous “how to get here” instructions to me over the phone, and I had double-checked them via Google maps. To be triple sure, I’d also printed the driving directions I’d found on the (rented) villa’s website, which even provided photos of various landmarks, such as the gas station where we were supposed to turn right and so on. No way we could get lost, I thought.
According to my directions, we were supposed to get off the highway upon reaching the city of Lucca, about an hour’s drive from Florence, but Stefano’s navigator wanted us to keep driving toward Pisa. Then it directed us to get onto another highway, this time heading north, towards the port city of Genoa.
At that point, I piped up and said: “I think we’ve made a mistake. We’re going towards the sea, but we should be heading toward the Apennine mountains, based on what Ben told me.”
Stefano snorted with contempt and replied: “Don’t worry. I told the navigator to give us the fastest route, not necessarily the shortest.”
We kept going towards Genoa.
We finally got off the highway and began slowly climbing up the side of a mountain…one of those incredibly narrow winding bendy curvy roads that I’ve experienced only in Italy and that really shouldn’t be a two-way road at all. But this one was. Of course. Yikes.
And we finally (and safely!) reached our, er, destination. Now, I don’t remember the exact name of the town…It began with a “T,” so let’s just call it Torciglione. Well, Torciglione turned out to be no more than a few houses clinging to the side of the mountain. We stopped in what I suppose was the main square, barely wider than the narrow road, and I asked a man if he could direct us to the villa. After glancing at my printed instructions, he exclaimed: “Oh no, you’re in the WRONG Torciglione! The Torciglione you’re looking for is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN.”
I didn’t dare look over at Stefano.
Stefano turned the car around (managing somehow not to dive off the cliff), and we went slowly back down the mountain, retracing our steps to Lucca.
I tried to restrain myself, I really did, honest!, but it was no use. It began as a stifled giggle. Then guffaws. Finally tears began streaming down my face. Stefano kept driving, looking fierce, the “don’t talk to me or I’ll bite your head off and spit it out the car window” type of fierce.
Finally I managed to sputter: “Well, if we ever need to return to Torciglione no. 1, at lllllleast…at least now we know THE FFFF….FFFFASTEST RRRROUUUUUTTTTTEEEEE…” And then I let it all out. I just howled with laughter, all doubled over, clutching my sides. Stefano ended up laughing, too.
How odd, though, to find TWO towns with the SAME name in the SAME area…a mere 20-25 minute drive from each other. Yep, verrrry odd.
Anyway, we finally got to the right Torciglione…and the right villa. After hugging and kissing (and being introduced to various family members), Ben, Stefano and I headed up to the salt-water swimming pool, located on the top of a hill covered by a gorgeous olive grove…surrounded by lovely views of the Apennines (my photo doesn’t do justice to the view, but I was too distracted and didn’t even think about taking more decent photos). Stunning, absolutely stunning. We jumped into the pool, ahhhh blissssss!, and stayed there until it was time for us to leave, catching up and chatting non-stop.
An absolutely spectacular day…