Nuances, annoyances and obstacles of living in a 300 year old house…5.2 eathquake hit today while writing at 12:33 PM!!

The issues receiving the automatic email each day as mentioned yesterday have been resolved by our web designer.  No later than tomorrow, you will begin to receive the daily posts in your inbox. 

Also, we’d planned to discuss the upcoming flight to Kenya today.  However, as today’s post became so lengthy, we decided to hold off until tomorrow.

Halfway through writing our blog today, we experienced a 5.2 earthquake as we sat on the veranda. Having grown up in southern California, this was a familiar sensation for me although  it was Tom’s first experience. 

We reminded ourselves as we ran for cover, that we are in an over 300 year old stone house, most likely the safest place to be.  Wow! The adventures never cease to amaze us!

Last night as we crawled into bed at 9:30, early for both of us, we hauled our laptops into the bedroom to watch a few familiar news programs, some of which we’re able to access from afar.

No more than a moment after getting settled a giant flying thing buzzed my monitor causing me to scream and flail my arms wildly killing it.  Jumping out of bed to examine and remove it remains, Tom bolted out of bed to quickly shut the screen-less windows grumbling all the while about the lack of screens. 

As a cool breezy night, we’d hoped we could sleep with all the windows opened. Its like camping.  We don’t camp. In my automatic response to scream, a quick thought ran through my mind…soon, we’ll be in Africa. Talk about bugs!  (Those who know me, feel free to laugh).

A window in the long hallway that we keep open during the day allowing a variety of flying insects inside.  At night we have no choice but to close most of them to avoid bugs flying around our heads during the night.

Overall, I’ve overcome the sight of a flying or crawling creature having lived in a nature area in Minnesota for decades. But when they land on me or my stuff, I scream, involuntarily of course. 

Another screen-less window in the kitchen.  There was a huge geranium plant in the window box, constantly attracting bees some of which we’re both are allergic. Tom removed the flowers placing them outside enabling us to enjoy the view and the breeze while cooking and dining.

The single most annoying aspect to living in this 17th century stone villa is the lack of screens. You The remainder…we’ve adapted to quite well. 

 The window in my bathroom is kept open during the day.  We found a good spot for our the trusty travel scale which Tom is using often as he quickly loses the weight he gained on our past eight cruises.  (It converts to kilogram necessary for weighing our bags for flying).  Together we are enjoying our low carb, gluten free, grain free, sugar free and starch free diet since we arrived, dining on the freshest meats, cheeses and organic vegetables we purchased only a few days ago.
The third bedroom that sleep four, has a window we keep open during the days for the added breeze.  We’ve yet to be uncomfortable during the day although the daytime temperature raises well into the 80’s. After months of air conditioning, the clean, humid air is refreshing.

Yesterday, the owner’s mom delivered us a regular coffee pot as opposed to this one in the photo below that we’ve tried to use that only makes a one cup portion and is too hot to handle immediately to make another. Avoiding injury is of our utmost concern. We can tolerate the inconvenience.

Remember these old fashioned percolator?  Its must smaller than it looks here, making only one large cup at a time.  We tried to make it work to no avail. Kindly asking the owner for an alternative, within hours we had a regular plug in drip coffee pot that makes 12 cups at a time.  We’re couldn’t have appreciated it more, making our first batch this morning.  It required a little experimenting with the strong Italian coffee.
These are the smaller versions for tea and the smallest for espresso which most Italians seem to prefer over regular coffee.  When we grocery shopped earlier in the week we stopped in a café hoping for a plain cup of coffee and cream to discover they didn’t serve such a product, only espresso which neither of us care to drink.

The owners, living nearby, are a lovely young couple.  Her parents maintain the property by stopping by each few days to water and tend to the gardens and make any necessary repairs.  None of them speak English but with the help of Google Translate, we can easily communicate by email.

Surprisingly, we’re learning enough Italian to decipher most conversations by picking up on a few select words, Tom included. Since arriving here last Sunday, we’ve yet to share a sentence with an English speaking person.

I wish we’d had this when our little dogs had “poopie butts” in the cold Minnesota winters!
The sun shines in my bathroom from the open windows most of the day, highlighting this practical accoutrement, mostly ignored in the US.
Tom’s tiny en suite bathroom window stays open during the night seemingly attracting less bugs than other windows in our bedroom.
Another aspect of this house, is the extremely long hallway from the master bedroom to the kitchen with several inconsistent steps along the way, a real hazard for old timers.
Its difficult to tell the length of this hallway from this photo but we expect its no less than 45 feet based on measuring using Tom’s 3 foot stride.
Plus the angled ceilings are low requiring Tom, four inches taller than I, to duck.  He has hit his head on several occasions getting better each day. If I walk to close to the one side, I, too could hit my head, having had a few “brushes” so far.
Also, climbing on the larger patio is tricky, requiring one to pull themselves onto it from the stone stairwell. Subsequently, we use this patio less frequently but have found it ideal for hanging wet laundry to dry outdoors.  The barbeque is located on this patio which we may not use as much as we’d like due to the tricky access. 
The patio is through the doorway on the left in this photo.  Can you see how tricky entering here may be for us older folks?  We enter together carefully, me first while he hold up the rear down a few step and then with me offering him a firm helping hand as he climbs up.
This is Tom’s “closet” in the master bedroom, not everything he has, just what he’ll wear while here.  To the right is a large four drawer dresser he’s using.  It all works for us.

If we were 20 years old, it would be no issue. In the advertisements for this house the owners clearly stated, it was unsuitable for the “old or infirmed.” Cocky that we were, not considering ourselves neither “old or infirmed” we signed up.  Now that we’ve figured easy ways to maneuver these challenges, we’re more at ease.

Our assumptions that houses have closets and lots of hangers is often based on our past experiences. We’ve found, after months on ships, that we can easily adapt to limited closet space.  Maybe I’m not as tidy as I used to be, stuffing everything into the spaces available.  Wrinkle free clothing is not so important to us anymore. I threw away the clothes steamer in Dubai when trying to lighten our load. 
This is my closet in the second guest bedroom, a piece of furniture not a built in closet. Hey, folks, these are all the clothes I own in the world, except for our Africa clothing which we haven’t unpacked.  Not too bad, after years of four closets in four bedrooms, filled with decades of clothing. How I can possibly trim this down to further reduce our weight baffles me.
As much as a retired person may think that watches and clocks are a thing of the past, we find ourselves checking the time several times a day as a normal part of life.Tea time?  Happy hour? Its getting late, we should eat.  Of course, we have the medieval clock tower next door that  clangs close to the half hour and twice close to the hour, 24 hours a day. Strangely, as loud as it is, we sleep through the night.

The very old living room sofa, dating back to the early 1900’s is worn and covered with this cloth.  Unfortunately, it is rather uncomfortable. Plus, we prefer to sit outdoors on the veranda most of our time, day and evening until bed. Its hard to take our eyes off of the breathtaking views, sounds and smells.

Although this farm sink is great for washing large pots and pans, in our authentic Tuscan kitchen it is close to the end wall, making it impossible for two to do dishes together. As  result, Tom washes alone and for the first time in my life, I allow dishes to “air dry” removing them to use the day for new meals.  This makes Tom happy.  If his happiness is achieved this easily, I’ll comply.

This is the opposite end wall in the kitchen.  Note the radiator toward the bottom right. Luckily, no stones were damaged during the earthquake we experienced only minutes ago.
Living in Minnesota, I’d often seen these food covers to protect food from insects although I’d never used one.  Now, as we prepare meals in our kitchen without screens, this is the first item we grab. 
Tomorrow, we’ll share our Kenya flight details and the history of the village in which we are currently living which dates back to 700 AD.  Hopefully, we won’t have anymore earthquakes!

This tiny freezer with our stock of meats and two ice cube trays fits our needs.  In our old life we had a giant stand alone freezer plus more. We do adapt, don’t we?

Our tiny old fashioned refrigerator is stuffed with enough food to last for two weeks while we dine out twice a week.