Starting to Get into the Groove

On July 14th, we finally got our UAB shipment which had all of our bedding, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, and the electric drill!  Then we played the game of, “oh yeah, I forgot this thing was in this shipment!”  I have a feeling we are going to be doing that a lot when we get back and have all of our storage come together with the stuff we have in Italy.  It’ll be like, “Hmmm…if I didn’t need it for three years, then maybe I don’t need it at all.”  It’s nice if you think about it, its a good way to thin out the surplus of stuff you really don’t need but for one reason or another have justified in your mind keeping.

So as we were finally able to make our beds and eat out of real bowls again, our house began to really look like a home.  It was a coming together of our stuff with the new stuff.  Let’s talk about the new stuff.  Knowing that we were coming to Europe we left behind or got rid of many of our small appliances with the intent on picking up some new ones that we could use here and then choose to either sell to other military people when we left or hang onto and store for the next time we venture out to Europe.  So we got a slow cooker and rice steamer, I gotta have my chili, pot roast, and rice with our flank steak ala nana style!  We bought a toaster.  Let me tell you about this toaster, it’s brilliant!  Rather than burning your fingertips reaching for that toaster strudel or hot piece of toast, you just pull up on the handle, remove it from the toaster and squeeze the handle over a plate and the toast is free without you ever having to touch it!  I’m half tempted to bring it back with me and use a converter every time I want toast.  Remember, any appliances bought here are not only going to have a funky plug that requires a European outlet but is also 220 voltage as opposed to the US where everything is 110.

Now we move to the dish rack, you may have thought that there were no improvements to be made to the dish rack, oooh but there are!  There is a built-in dishrack in the cupboard just above the sink, so when you finish with the dishes, you place them in the dishrack that drains into the sink!  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we are manually washing our dishes!  I think we have used our dishwasher once just to make sure it worked and how, but since we totally got into the habit at our temporary housing we just continued figuring we’d save more on our electric and water bill.  So we place the dishes in the cupboard/dishrack and they aren’t an eyesore, they are neatly behind cupboard doors, brilliant, right?!

Here is our coffee pot!  This little doozy makes the crazy liquid that can keep one up for 36 hours after a 24 hour shift.  Okay, I am only slightly exaggerating.  But with the amount of hours Rob has had to put in at work, he would have needed that.  The Libya situation has had him quite busy, we just want him to be on a normal schedule again, that has been frustrating.  But back to the coffee pot.  This pot is intended to make 3 servings of espresso, ironically if you add milk the way most americans do, it’ll make about 6 cups (that tells you how intense the coffee is).  You put water in the bottom half, you fill the tiny little filter with coffee and insert the filter on top of the water, screw in the top part and warm over a low flame…voila…café to wake a coma patient!

Note army guy who was being held captive.

As we move onto our patio out back, you will find a laundry tree line.  Rather than using the dryer, which again uses a lot of electricity we have resorted to hanging out the laundry.  It’s funny, we knew that it would take some getting used to, but who knew that Ben was going to find some additional uses for this new fangled contraption.  This is what I found waiting for me with the laundry….

Grocery shopping in Italy has been quite the adventure.  We accumulate food in all kinds of ways.  First there is the commissary, this is a grocery store on base.  So the advantages are that for the most part it carries all the things you have grown accustomed to in the US and they take US Dollars and everyone speaks English.  But there are distinct disadvantages, the base is 20 minutes from where we live, we don’t always carry dollars anymore since…I dunno…we live in Europe!  Aaaand… American products are not always going to be the most effective when incorporating them into our Italian homes.  For example, we bought floor cleaner for our tiled floors and marble steps and while I’m sure the floors are clean, they certainly didn’t sparkle.  So we called our realtor, who is kind of our resident expert on services in Italy and where to go, since as I said before, everyone’s “connected”.  I asked, what do you use on your floors?  His response, “A lady that comes by every two weeks.”  Wow.  Okay then.  So I hired his cleaning lady and for 5 hours she scrubbed the floors, windows, balcony floors, tubs, sinks, rugs…everything!!  Meanwhile, we’ve now stocked up on things like Svelto to clean the floors and special mops for the tile.  Yeah, that’s right…we’re in the know!  (She says with the pursed lips and the vato chin up)  So since the commissary isn’t the answer for all that is grocery shopping, we generally do a big trip every couple of weeks, but have begun exploring the local economy for our fruits and vegetables and other odds and ends.  Produce is a little different.  Rather than gathering what you need and taking it to the cashier to weigh and ring up, you put what you want in the plastic bag and hope that there is a number underneath that particular produce.  You take it to the scale, punch in the corresponding number, it prints out how much it weighs and total cost on a sticker, that you tear off and place on your bag.  Then you take it up to the register to pay.  Or you could be unlucky like me and find the scale that doesn’t have numbers or pictures to match to your produce, but just the word.  That’s right, better hope you don’t have apples and pick the button with the word for cherries which could end up being quite costly!

Those pictured are not true representatives of actual individuals that come to our house, but this is the only picture I could find. But Rob is now Facebook friends with our guy!

Lastly, there is the Eismann man.  On July 18th, something magical happened.  No it wasn’t the day we finally got internet, that was about a week later and was in it’s own realm of euphoria.  On July 18th, a van pulled up to our neighbors, a man got out and was talking to our neighbor, then went back to his van.  She called over to us, “He’s going to you next!  I just got some gelato and veggies!”

“What?”

Rob said, “Oh it must be like the Schwann guy in the states.”

“The what?”

“The Schwann guy, he’s this guy that…”  Just as he was about to explain someone buzzed our gate.

So this guy comes to our door and with his broken English and our broken Italian we discover that he has a catalog for us to choose from that contains anything from fruits and veggies to pasta dishes to desserts!  We tell him what we want, we pay him and he gives it to us right then and there out of his freezer van!  I love this!  Then he tell us he will come every Monday and see if we want anything!  Let me get this straight man, you will bring gelato to my door?  I’m in!  You had me at hello!  So our food comes from the commissary, the local markets, and the Eismann guy!  Not a bad system.

So no horrendous catastrophes to write about this time around, and I’m okay with that, I’m sure if you give us time we’ll be sure to provide, but until then…

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