Sunday, November 30, 2014

'TWAS A FEW NIGHTS BEFORE XMAS, UMBRIAN STYLE (PART OF THE “CHRONOLOGY IS OVER-RATED” SERIES, THIS WAS WRITTEN LAST YEAR. BUT PRETTY SOON IT WILL BE CHRISTMAS AGAIN, SO MAYBE ITS TIME HAS COME)




VEHICLES
In addition to being a cyber-dunce, I have no understanding of what makes a vehicle tick. Why should something as heavy as an airplane ever get off the ground? (Especially with all the extra weight my husband, aka Babbo Natale, has in his holiday suitcase)  That's probably why I place so much faith in my magic, flowered, flying shirt and my I AM CALM socks.
These are an indispensable part of my travel "uniform," which includes, of course, my magic shirt --the one that keeps the plane aloft. You've read about this before in one of my earliest posts from 2011   RECONNECTING and also in my very first post,


Flash to the moment it came time to leave our middle-of-nowhere-Italian home-reachable-only-by-two-routes-each-worse-than-the-other for a lovely-sounding holiday party.  Even on a good day, I think of our 2002 Renault as The Little Engine That Could. You've heard about this car before. As you know it serves as the ideal fruit dryer (See 


 ). And it is fully capable of falling into a ditch, leaving a certain blogger behind the wheel completely mortified at having to be pulled out by her farmer neighbor's tractor. We can usually abandon it for four months at a time, and it will start right up. Score another point for the French! But on this particular dark and foggy Umbrian night, this was one little engine that couldn't. Even my optimistic husband proclaimed it "dead as a doorknob." I reminded him that that nutty expression was actually "dead as a door nail," but who knows why?

This unhappy situation called for some quick thinking, to be followed by a lot of waiting. First, a phone call to the kind host to express our regrets. Next to the friend who had offered to meet us at a parking lot and drive to the party. Being the generous soul that she is, she even offered to drive here to pick us up, but when you live where we do, you could not accept such an offer. And since tomorrow is the Sunday before Xmas, you have all night and more to plan your next move.

CALLING OUR WISE CONTADINO NEIGHBOR WHO KNOWS STUFF

I'm getting used to calling the wife of our farmer neighbor to tell her our latest tale of woe and ask if her husband (the same one who rescued my car in the post ,ON DRIVING INTO DITCHES AND MARKETING PLUMS (EXCER... can come help us deal with the latest disaster. "No problem ! He can't come himself tomorrow morning, but will send his brother and son-in-law."
Help has arrived! Looks promising, no?


Moving right along...


We've got the situation in hand--sort of...


Hmm...There's just one little problem:where could those sly Frenchmen have hidden the battery?

SUNDAY MORNING AND THE QUIET SOUND OF A DEAD BATTERY.

The neighbors arrive armed with contadino confidence and jumper cables, but there's a slight problem. SO WHERE'S THE BATTERY?
After much searching and head scratching, Jim whips out the poorly-indexed owner's manual that doesn't say anything about a battery. Leave it to those wacky French to hide the battery under the passenger seat!
AHA! (AS MY FATHER USED TO SAY, "WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, READ THE DIRECTIONS!" MY HUSBAND AGREES COMPLETELY.)


WELL, LET'S START AT THE NON-FRENCH END.


THIS IS GONNABE A PIECE OF GATEAU. OR SHOULD WE SAY A PIECE OF TIRAMISU?


JUST ONE MORE STEP, AND WE'VE GOT IT COVERED. OUR WONDERFUL NEIGHBOR IS HAPPY AND RIGHTFULLY PLEASED WITH HIMSELF. (LITTLE DOES HE KNOW, HOWEVER, THAT HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO COME BACK FOR A REPEAT PERFORMANCE TOMORROW.)



We would never have thought to look for the battery there, because the car has another special feature that I have not mentioned: whenever it rains outside, it also rains INSIDE the car due to a hitherto unidentifiable leak. Because it rained a lot during the four months we were away, I have, at my feet, a body of water the size of Lake Trasimeno.

The tired, wet battery eventually sputters to life, but how long will the charge last? As instructed, we keep it running for an hour and a half, but did we follow the advice to take the old Megane for a little spin up and down our stall-worthy hills? Not so much. Having been there and done that, I did not relish the idea (even if we did survive the fall into a ditch) of wearing out my welcome by having to ask to be pulled out. After all, it was already pretty likely we'd need a recharge the next morning in order to get to our friendly mechanic. We rashly turned off the engine.

Next step:verify if Giuliano the Mechanic will be open for business on the Monday before Christmas. Italians have a very elusive way of scheduling. And with so many saints and holidays, you never know when things will be open. But our architects who know everything, including how to reach Giuliano even when he's closed, reassure us that he will definitely be there to greet us, should we actually make it into town without stalling.

Time to call our neighbors again to thank them for the help of yesterday and to ask for Round Two.

I'm happy to report that the old Megane is once again up and running. I even took a sponge to the Lake at my feet and wrung out a few liters of liquid.

All in all (toutes choses considérées/in tutto caso), that French-Italian car, which we bought "used" from Giuliano himself--a smart business move for him--has been good to us. And anyway, isn't this the time of year when most of our batteries need a recharge?
AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO ALL IGNORANT OWNERS OF A VINTAGE, LEAKY RENAULT MEGANE:IN CASE YOU EVER NEED TO RECHARGE YOUR BATTERY, HERE IS WHERE YOU WILL FIND IT 







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