Saturday, July 14, 2012



Water, water everywhere BUT in our water tank!

Mirko and Diego contemplate the problem

They decide to consult our dog Murray who is an expert on making water

Mirko looks temporarily stumped, but these things cannot be rushed. After all, this is Umbria, the land of S-L-O-W cooking and "slow" everything else.


Well, here are our two brilliant electricians solving our water problem--for the moment, that is. They have just installed a new "Made in China" sensor, all the while saying somewhat admiringly how "furbi"/sneaky those Chinese are to be manufacturing everything nowadays. It seemed to work great until shortly after their departure. On exiting, Mirko had said confidently, "just call me if there's a problem."

Love those Italian phones!

Easier said than done. He has a special phone that will not take messages and that has the world's worst reception. He can't blame that one on the Chinese! That phone, if you can ever get him to answer it, allows you to shout into it, while he keeps saying "pronto!" and something else of which I can only hear every tenth syllable. I usually get as far as to say who I am, before the static kicks in. Many rants later, in increasingly iffy Italian, we seem to agree that he will come tomorrow morning. At least, I think so. Hope he brings a new sensor with him--maybe one made somewhere else?

Marrying Mirko: Something of an Odyssey?

But I need to backtrack a bit. While we were waiting to see if the Chinese sensor would tell our Italian well to send water to the empty holding tank that was dying of thirst, we Americans got on the topic of adorable Mirko's love life. Turns out he's been engaged to Orvieto City Girl, Nicoletta, for 12 years. Gee, and I thought he was barely 12, himself. Molto wrongo. He's 35, and he's been renovating a house for them in Orvieto for the past 5 years. He says it should be ready next year.

"Oh, congratulations! Then you will move in together, right?" I say, naively.
"Oh no, I'm going to keep living with my family, and she will do the same with hers."
Hmm...Knowing that Mirko enjoys living in the country, I ask, "So is your mom a good cook?"
His eyes roll in delight.
"And what about Nicoletta?"
"No, she can't cook a thing."
"How does she spend her time?"
"She's studying to be a nurse."
"Are you guys going to get married? What's going to happen with the house?"
"Oh, that's for our old age."
I gently ask if Nicoletta is a bit of a snob.
"And is she pretty?"
(His sidekick, Diego, nods enthusiastically)

I think I get it. No need to rush into marriage, but Mirko has figured out who will be taking care of him in his old age. And maybe that house won't be ready so quickly, after all. I find myself thinking of Penelope undoing her tapestry each night to stall the suitors until Odysseus comes home. Only in this case, maybe the sexes are reversed?

Moral of the story?

I've discovered that only native Italians are allowed to call someone else "furbo," which implies a certain type of cunning intelligence that arouses mixed feelings of admiration and disdain. That means that Mirko and Diego can call the Chinese makers of defective sensors "furbi," but no American should ever think of applying that term to him! (And I say that with WAY more admiration than disdain!)

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