And so it begins…

I hate being cold.  I probably should have chosen some warm southern city in Calabria or Sicilia, but it was Tuscany that pulled my heart strings.  But I have to admit in the winter, the love affair wanes a little.  The fog is here, it’s been raining almost every day and it’s impossible to do laundry without it all smelling disgusting because it takes too long to dry inside.  That being said, I spent last weekend in hibernation mode, trying to find a solution.  I have heating oil in my new apartment, so I was patting myself on the back that I wouldn’t be suffering the high gas bills of last winter.  What I hadn’t counted on was an old boiler that regularly stops working and seems to be consuming the oil much faster than I’d anticipated.  At this rate, even with my miserly usage, it will be finished by the end of January.  And even when the radiators are working at full capacity, it’s always still chilly.  So what’s a freezing girl to do?  After asking around and considering the wood stove option, pellet stove option, both of which are great ideas, but way above my budget for this year, I decided to take the advice of Anna and get a stufa a gas con bombola.  This basically is a space heater but with a gas tank like the one I have in my kitchen for the stove.  But why not an electric space heater, you might ask.  Well, electricity is as expensive as the natural gas so it’s really not an economical option.  I do have one that I put on when the boiler is on strike, but basically that’s for emergencies.  I put out the word that I was looking for this contraption, which means I told two people and they did the work for me.  This is how tiny towns operate, everyone knows everything in a matter of hours.  By the end of the evening, my friend Caterina had called me, secured a space heater for 10 euro and we’d arranged for pickup.  With the help of Bonnie’s husband Mark I brought it home.

Which brings me to today.  It’s now in my house and I am recovering from the panic attack which occurred last night when I realized I have two tanks of combustible fuel in my living space.  This was not helped by the freak lightening storm that was going on outside my window.  For someone who has always had a fear of the house burning down, this might appear to be insane.  While Mark was helping me schlepp the heater, he’d suggested that I should get an electric blanket for the nighttime and I’d mentioned my fear of fire and he looked at me and then at the gas heater and then gave me the look you reserve for imbeciles.

In any event, I am sitting in my kitchen with my new space heater glowing from a safe distance away and Cinder and I are feeling pretty festive.  I’m not really sure what’s going on with the weather, but the first snow of the year just began falling outside my window in big fat flakes.  Unlike last year, when I was quite depressed and panicky about everything, this year, I seem to have found some peace.  I am still quite poor, and have clothes that I’ve now been wearing for two years, and really you wouldn’t even give them to the salvation army, but somehow I feel like I’ve turned a corner.  I have a little sporadic work at the winery, some babysitting and more and more people are calling for English lessons.  It’s not much, but compared to last year, it’s HUGE.

I’m getting into the holiday spirit this year.  I just received a beautiful advent calendar from my favorite website (thank you aunt Linda) and so I have something to bring some joy to each day.  My friend Daryl sent me some maple syrup, which was wonderfully thoughtful, much like Daryl herself.  It’s unfortunately missing in action because she sent to my old address, but just knowing that eventually I’ll be able to have this treat which I haven’t tasted in almost two years, is awesome!  And my friend Louise has undertaken the mission to send me some books in English and my brand of tampons. (I know that sounds strange, but the tampons here are subpar because the Italian women don’t use them.  I haven’t met one yet who does.  So I’m quite excited about this gift!)

Other holiday fun includes recently finding a website which allows me watch American fims and tv programs in English!  Yippee.  I’ve already gotten caught up on some shows and am now embarking on my favorite holiday past time — watching the schmaltzy Hallmark and family channel Christmas movies which I adore.

And yesterday,  I put up my tiny Christmas tree.  Marinella kept it in her garden for me all summer and it’s now grown a bit bigger.  I added some lights and really it’s quite festive.  Cinder and I have no plans for the holidays, but we are content to be home, me writing and baking and she sleeping under her comforter.  She is recovering from a bad fall where she couldn’t stand up or walk for a full day, but seems to have rallied.

I know I haven’t posted in over a month, but now you are up to date on my little life.  I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season and send you much love from Tuscany.

In case you were wondering what the heck a bombola looks like! This is the one for my stove.


December view from my kitchen window

Bonnie's kids are already in the holiday spirit

Erm... maybe it looks better in person.