Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's the Little Things

I haven’t showered in two days. Not because I’m lazy; because we have no hot water. Or heat, for that matter. It’s not freezing, exactly, but cold enough that I’m wearing my coat around the house. MOH (My Other Half) has being trying to fix the thermostat thingy himself. It’s giving a weird error message that could mean anything. He found the manual on-line, in Italian of course, and has been using babelfish to try and translate parts of it. The translations make zero sense.

MOH is going to call the landlady tonight and see if she can get someone here tomorrow. Looks like I’ll be sponge bathing it for work tomorrow. Nice! He also needs to get her to send someone about a mysterious leak in my bathroom. We think it’s coming from the bidet, or the wall behind the bidet. Water pools around the toilet and it’s a nice little wet surprise if you go in there barefoot. You also have to roll your pants up before you use the toilet, otherwise the hems of your pants or PJs get wet. It’s really a lovely experience.

After the Italian worker insanity we experienced with Telecom and the electricians, I’m dreading this a little. But I am cold and a little smelly and the bottoms of my PJ pant legs are damp. I don’t deserve this.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nosy Neighbors

You know what really chaps my hide? Our freakin’ nosy-ass neighbors. We live in an Italian parco and are the only Americans. MOH (My Other Half) and I love it! Who wants to live around a bunch of other Americans when we’re in Italy? It just creates what we call “Little America” and too many people glom together and pretend to be in the U.S. No thank you!

We moved in here in November and less than a week later MOH gets a call from our landlady who tells him she received a call from someone in the parco who says our dogs are keeping them up at night. Yeah. Our dogs sleep inside at night – every night. Every neighbor around us has a minimum of four dogs who are 100% outside dogs. And they bark all of the time, day and night. We wouldn’t think to complain because that’s just life with dogs.

We were pressured, when we moved in here, to hire the parco gardener to take care of our yard, but we declined. I asked our landlady how much he charged and she couldn’t tell me, even though she has been paying him to maintain the yard. That’s because we would be charged differently (read: MORE) as Americans. That’s just the way it is here. We pay more than twice in rent what an Italian family would pay because they know how much we are allotted for housing based on MOH’s rank. They max it out. We’re fine with that though – we love the house. Our yard it big, but nothing that MOH and I can’t handle, so we said thanks, but no thanks.

The gardener is not happy. He rang our gate one day when MOH was home and asked him to put the dogs inside so he could sweep the street outside our gate. Outside our gate! He said our dogs were dangerous. Yeah, only if you put your hands INSIDE our gate. Moron. We think he’s called the landlady as well; you’ll see why in a minute.

We’ve been trying to get an extra telecomando (see previous post for definition) for our housekeeper who comes on Saturdays (oh yes, my loves, I have someone who scrubs my big ol’ villa from top to bottom once a week). She’s worked for us for almost three years and I trust her with my house, dogs, cats, and possessions and she comes even where we’re not home. She has to take a bus now since we moved and the key to the walk-in gate only works from the inside lock. So she has to blindly reach around from the outside of the gate to get the damned thing unlocked. We want her to have a telecomando so she can just open the drive-in gate and walk through. MOH bought one from our NEX and was trying to program it at the gate when another Nosy McNeighbor (who lives OUTSIDE of the parco) wanted to know what he was doing. He told her and she called the landlady.

We know the landlady was called because she and her sister came by yesterday to pick up the rent. MOH was golfing and I was supposed to be having lunch with friends, but was now going to be late because I had to wait for them. They couldn’t come at any other time the whole weekend except at 12:30 Saturday. When they called to be buzzed in the parco I walked outside of my gate to meet them. I already had my car out so I could make a quick getaway to my lunch date as soon as I handed over the ransom (I mean rent). I could tell they expected to come in the yard, but I had it locked up and the dogs were all lined up giving them their “who the hell do you think you are” glares. They walked up and down the gate peering in to get a look and reminded me that we had to take care of the yard. Duh! We’ve had wind and rain storms that have done a number with the pine needles and I hadn’t swept the walkways and tiles yet. I said that, yes, I know that and MOH and I would take care of it (thank you gardener – we’re not paying you a single euro). She mentioned the gardener again and I pretended not to understand. I do that sometimes.

She also told me that we could only have two telecomandos for this house and that it was impossible to get another one (true, MOH was not able to get it programmed to open the gate; it will close it though which makes it pretty useless). So unless she’s psychic she couldn’t have known about it without a heads-up from someone.

I feel like we are always being watched now (paranoid much?) and I think it’s pretty shitty. Our landlady made the decision to rent to Americans because she gets a ton of money to do it. If the other people in the parco don’t like it – tough titty! We’re not going to change the way we live because other people have a problem with Americans being here. We’re quiet and respectful and take care of the house and property. I’m tired of being tattled on. I really don’t want to dislike my neighbors but they are not making this easy. Sheesh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

37-Year-Old Suffers the Tantrum of a 2-Year-Old

Sadly, I am that 37-year-old. Day two of MOH (My Other Half) in Germany. Rat drama yesterday, and telecomando drama this morning. Did I not say everything goes wrong when MOH is out of town? This morning started at 4:30 as it always does. Time for café and dog feeding and whatnot. I left the house at 6:00 as usual. I walked out the gate, carefully avoiding the rat carcass thank you very much, and headed to the car.

Oh – a telecomando is a little like a garage door opener. It opens the car gate to the parco we live in so you can get in and out (obviously). We have two of these and one is in Germany with MOH. I drove down our little road to the gate and pushed the button. Nothing. No little red light and no opening gate. Pushed again, and again, and again, AND AGAIN! Slight pause and then a full-on-ridiculous-I-should-be-ashamed-of-myself-meltdown. Banging telecomando on steering wheel, dashboard, whatever.

Then the primal scream; I mean the kind where my throat still hurts almost 12 hours later. The scream continues while I shake the steering wheel for no apparent reason. I am trapped in the parco. Seriously? Didn’t I suffer enough with the whole rat thing last night???? No, I did not. I know there is a back gate that we have a key to somewhere that you can manually open.

I power up the cell phone (which takes for freakin’ ever) and call MOH. Oh, yes. If I am going to suffer then so is MOH – up in Germany in a fancy resort for a conference – WHATEVER!

MOH groggily answers, “...Hello?”

Me all high pitched and whiney, “Mytelecomandowon’tworkwhereisthekeytothebackgateIhavetogotoworkhelpme!”

Pause. MOH, “There’s a key on your key ring.”

Me, “Oh – okI’lltalktoyoulater!”

Hang up. Power cell phone off so he can’t call back and call me out on my craziness. I will apologize to him later. MOH has repeatedly said that I am useless in a crisis, so I know he wasn't at all impressed or surprised.

I drive to the back gate at about 100 kilometers per hour. It’s dark, creepy, the lock is rusty and uncooperative. I finally get it open, drive out, and then have to get the damn thing locked again. Was not late for work (miracle)!

I've resigned myself to the fact that I will just have to deal with the back gate until MOH gets home Friday. It takes FOREVER. I appreciate that I live in a secure area but AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGG!

Am now enjoying celebratory "I triumphed over the gate all by myself" Bloody Mary. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wendy vs. The Rat

God damn it! I should have known this would happen after the whole “Maxwell vs. the Rat” incident (previous blog entry). MOH (My Other Half) is in Germany and it’s my first time on my own in the new house. I came in the yard to my usual frantic greeting from the four crazies who live here. I unlocked the house and opened the kitchen door for them so they could come in and out as the pleased.

I got out four pup-peronis for treats and only three of them came running. When I called for Skipper, who was behind me in the kitchen, to come get her treat she growled. I turned around and saw it. A big . . . dead . . . flaccid . . . bloody rat hanging from her mouth. EEEEEEEEEEEk! I shrieked. Really. Repeatedly like a little girl and ran for the outside thinking for sure she was going to jump up on me with it. (Insert full body shudder here.) Turns out I don’t handle the dead rodent situation with any grace. So I run screaming into the yard and all the dogs think this is some wonderful game! Let’s chase Mommy! And me yelling, "Get away! Get away!" Thank God I didn't see any neighbors outside.

Skipper ran out with her big bloody prize and dropped it on the patio. I managed to get her back in the house and shut her in. I went running around the house making this “eeeee eeeee eeeee” sound and found a broom and dust pan. I went back outside, still making that noise, and managed to push it into the dust pan. Then I stood there. I couldn’t put it in the outside trash because (a) the dogs might get it back out, and (b) I would at some point have to take that trash out. We have to drive our trash out to a dumpster outside of our parco and there is no way that bag was going in my car!

I decided I would fling it over the gate. Hah! I got out there and then was afraid I would screw it up and somehow fling it on top of me. I gave a wussy little toss and it landed right on the other side of the fence. We have wrought iron bars and the dogs would totally be able to reach it. I shoved the broom through the bars and pushed it out of dog reach. Gross. I mean just really GROSS. Shit always happens when MOH is out of town. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for me the rest of the week!

Am now enjoying celebratory "I disposed of the rat all by myself" glass of champagne.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Caesar Doesn't "Get" the Cats

My sweet little Caesar is baffled by the cats. He’s the only one allowed upstairs to hang out and sleep with us because he doesn't take up much room and usually ignores the cats. He’s about their size so they don’t pay too much attention to him either.

Poor guy was cuddled up with me yesterday watching season three of the Tudors (oh – I am addicted). I had one cat, Yak, at my feet, and the other one, Oochie, decided it was lovin’ time. She planted herself on my chest and demanded attention. All was well until she started purring. Caesar freaked – I think he thought she was growling and promptly decided he would save me from the vicious cat. Mayhem ensued! Cats jumped to the highest point in the room (dresser) and Caesar put on quite a show. He eventually gave up on the cats and decided my Snuggie would be an acceptable substitute. He managed to get down the hall with it, all the while shaking the shit out of it. Very comical! He’s learning.

Yak & Oochie Chillin' in Quieter Times

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The "Eat, Pray, Love" Pizza

My friend Jen told me I had to read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. She said that since I lived In Naples I especially had to find the pizza place she talks about, L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. This place has been doing business since 1870. The author says it’s the best pizza she’s ever eaten and if you get the chance to go there, you have to order the pizza margherita with double mozzarella.

Well today was the day! MOH (My Other Half) and I printed off the map from their website (one of my links on the right) and took the train downtown. It’s not a great map so we wandered for a bit and asked for directions twice before we found it. It looks like your typical little hole-in-the-wall from the street. If I didn’t know it was something special I probably would have never given it a second look. We got there just before noon and I took this picture before we went in:

It was already packed inside and you sit wherever there’s room, which means you share your table (no biggie). They only serve two kinds of pizza: pizza margherita (sauce, cheese, and basil) and pizza marinara (sauce only and basil). We were the only Americans and our theory is that if the locals are packing the place then you better believe it’s the good stuff! The waiter took our order and we both asked for pizza margherita con doppio mozzarella.

It came about five minutes later, and let me tell you – oh lordy, it was amazing! Like sit-back-take-your-time-admire-its-beauty-and-thank-God-for-this-perfection amazing. MOH and I have had MANY of these pizzas over the last three years, but this one was just . . . different. The crust was perfect, just the right thickness and charred a bit. The sauce had such a fresh tangy taste, and the mozzarella (oooh cheeeese), DOUBLE MOZZARELLA! They loaded it on. . . . I have to take a moment . . . Ok, really, if you ever come here this pizza cannot be missed! I will take you there myself.

The crowd really started coming in after 12:00. They were given numbers on a little piece of paper and asked to wait outside. As seats opened, one of the waiters would open the door and yell out a number. The lucky ones would then rush in and grab their seats. This is what the outside looked like when we left:

A man at our table ordered the pizza marinara (I have yet to try this) with garlic. It came out steaming with sliced garlic all over it! I was too embarrassed to ask to take a picture of it (I hate looking like a tourist), but it was beautiful and I want one. Next time – oh yes my loves there will be a next time – I am ordering that man’s pizza!

It was 13 euro for both pizzas, one beer, and a large bottle of fizzy water.

Jen, many thanks to you for enlightening me. I hope to take you there one day!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Feelings Will Be Hurt

The content of this blog has been deleted at my father's request.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dog Dumper

This is an open post to the person or persons who dumped their little dog at the traffic circle near my house. Let me start by saying, “Fuck you!” Four days ago I noticed a little brown dog (Chihuahua mix?) at the traffic circle where we live now. It looked like this, but brown.

I was so happy to leave Casal di Principe thinking I would no longer have to look at the poor abandoned dogs, but apparently I was wrong. I was with MOH (My Other Half) the first time I saw it and I was mortified. The animal was obviously a pet. It was well groomed and cared for, and terrified. It stayed in the middle of the road. The only thing I could think of was that it had been abandoned. It was still there when we came back from our errands, right in the middle of the road. I told MOH that we had to do something. He told me, “What? Where will you put it? We have four, and three of them are big and probably won’t accept it. It will fit through the bars of our gate. You cannot save them all.” The problem is that I want to save them all.

The next day I was going on a road trip with the girls and it was still there, confused and upset in the middle of the road. For some reason I decided it was a “she” and talked about her on my trip. I was trying to figure out how to save her. I knew there was no place for her at our house, but surely someone would take her in. I came back home that evening and she was still there – in the middle of the road. She was so obviously waiting for the one who had dumped her. I talked to MOH and he again asked me, “What are you going to do with her?” We really don’t have room for any more – I know that. I named her Zelda and decided that if she was still there in the morning that I would have to pick her up and figure out how to deal with her.

I left for work the next morning and saw her in the road, run over, and cried the rest of the way in. MOH told me it was not my fault and not my responsibility but I can’t help feeling I could have saved her.

She waited for two days in the middle of the road, negligent owner, for you to come back and get her. Congratulations on getting rid of your burden. I hope you rot in Hell for letting that scared little dog die alone in the road waiting for you to come back for her. I will never understand people like you.

Lottery Winners

This is what MOH (my other half) calls our four dogs. We’ve adopted them one at a time over the past two years. Each one was found on the street. MOH says that makes them lottery winners because of the massive amount of dogs that don’t have homes here. Naples has an enormous amount of strays on its streets and it is truly hard to see them and not have your heart break. I am an animal person. I like them more than most people I know. My next post is going to be very nasty, so I thought I’d start with my little tribe of successes. The following pictures are courtasy of a very good friend of mine who also occasionally dog-sits for us.


Dolce was our first find a little over two years ago (she's my profile pic). She was found wandering the streets by an acquaintance of mine who already had two large dogs and didn’t have room for another. We had the room and happily took her. She is the sweetest, most loving, intelligent dog I’ve met. She listens and obeys so well that I don’t think she began her life as a stray. I think she must have been abandoned.


MOH found Skipper in the alley where we used to live in Casal di Principe. He told me he had seen a little dog laying out there that didn’t look so good. We walked out there together and found her laying in a pile of trash. She was so pitiful and when I tried to stand her up she fell back over. I told MOH we had to take her home. He picked her up and carried her back to our house. We fed and bathed her and waited to see how she would do with Dolce. They were great! Skipper got her name because her two hind legs could not move independently of each other. She jumped along with a funny kind of hop, or skip, hence: Skipper. X-rays from the vet showed a shattered hip, most likely from being hit by a car. She has healed remarkably well, and though she may have some trouble when she’s older, can easily out run the rest of them.


If you read my post “Maxwell vs. the Rat” then you know his history. MOH golfs on the weekends and noticed a little black puppy digging through trash at a nearby restaurant both mornings that he went out. He said that on his way home the second day the puppy was still there and he pulled over. He opened his car door and called to him and he ran over and jumped right in. He knew a good thing when he saw it! Maxwell was a destructive pain in the ass at first, but won me over after crawling in my lap and going to sleep. 47 pounds later he still crawls in my lap to sleep and has the sweetest personality.


Sweet little Caesar was found at one of our favorite restaurants in Villa Literno (from the Pizza Pizza post). We were sitting outside eating one evening and this little dog tried to come up to me to beg for food. One of the waiters quickly chased him off. He was in the parking lot (waiting for me I have no doubt) when we finished and came up to me when I bent down to call him. I grabbed him up and took him home. He was a challenge to potty train, but finally came around. I almost put him up for adoption with Naples Friends of Animals, but changed my mind at the last minute. I just couldn’t give him up! He is a little charmer who has me completely wrapped around his sweet, tiny paw.

I will never understand people who can just toss animals aside as if they are inconveniences. I am sure that at least two of mine were previously someone’s pets and it sickens me that they were treated like garbage. If you have an animal that you can no longer care for then find it another home. The odds of it making it on its own are zero. More on that in my next post.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kauai Yummies

MOH (My Other Half) and I just returned from a week on the island of Kauai. It was my first time there, and hopefully not my last! Besides lounging on the beach for a week with the latest Stephen King novel, Under the Dome, I also spent time discovering some delicious local treats. Here are my top three favorites.

The Puka Dog
The Puka Dog is the most delicious hotdog creation I’ve ever had - sorry Hillbilly Hotdogs! We found the little stand on our first morning when we went to breakfast. Here is their menu:

They poke a hole in the bun, not all the way through, just enough to hold all the wonderfulness you can handle. They then insert the sausage and all of the toppings. It’s warm and wonderful and just ding-dang-dog delicious! It’s truly a little pocket of Heaven. I strongly recommend the polish sausage with the hot chili pepper sauce, the pineapple relish, and the Lilikoi mustard. I had two during our trip. MOH’s favorite was the polish sausage with the hot hot habanero sauce, the mango relish, and the Lilikoi mustard (you MUST have the Lilikoi mustard!). He had four of these. I’m still kicking myself for not bringing home some of the mustard, but I suppose it just wouldn’t be the same. Behold the Puka Dog:

Ahi Poke
Ahi Poke is a tasty full-of-flavor sushi salad served on a bed of rice. MOH would sooner stick a chopstick in his eye than let a piece of raw fish pass through his lips, but I am a sushi fan! I paid about $3.50 for a little to-go container of this divine little treat. Besides the cubed raw Ahi, it had soy sauce, green onions, some dried seaweed, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and a hint of wasabi. I only had it once, and wish I had gone back for more. Maybe I’ll be daring and try to make some myself. MOH says my time would be better spent learning to make a Puka Dog.

The Loco Moco
I can only describe this as one of the greatest concoctions I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. It’s a bowl of layered loveliness! One of the locals told us it was the best hangover cure around. Though I was very NOT hungover when I tried it, I can certainly see why it would be appealing the morning after having one too many. I also believe this can be easily replicated at home. The bottom layer is two scoops of sticky rice, on top of that is what tastes like Salisbury steak smothered in gravy (oooh graaavy), and finally topped with two eggs prepared any way you like. I mean just look at this.

It makes me drool just a little. Seriously. It’s all just so perfect together! Genius - there is nothing else to say.

We also attended the Smith Family Luau (yes, Smith – there’s a story there) and had some wonderful food. My memory is a bit marred, though. While standing in the buffet-style line a lizard that had been chilling on the ceiling fell on me and I just about peed myself. After doing what I’m sure was an extremely entertaining “get this reptile off me” dance it proceeded to crawl up another lady’s leg. Good times!

Bubba’s was also a treat! Good burgers and frings (a mixture of fries and onion rings). I love this sign.

I love to travel, and I love the food I get to experience. Kauai was a real food-tastic trip. We didn’t do any high-class dining, but we certainly discovered some beauties!