The Life

I woke up yesterday morning to Cassandra, our pool girl (think pool boy, but as a woman), softly singing some indistinguishable Caribbean lullaby. With the Tuscan sun beating down on me the roof patio-slash-bedroom, Cassandra peacefully fanning me with palm fronds was a welcomed start to the morning. The wafting buttery aroma of french toast, and warm maple syrup was received with equal appreciation. Ahh, this is the life!

That, however, is entirely a figment of my imagination. As much as it pains me to say, I don’t know a Cassandra. Furthermore, even if I did she couldn’t be my pool girl because, among other problems with that scenario, I don’t have a pool. (Sigh.)

Instead I awoke yesterday to the sight of my frosty breath while nestled deep in my bed with just a small fraction of my face exposed to the elements of my bedroom, much like an Eskimo. Sometime during the night, and much to my shivery dismay this dreary morning, my winter ski hat had fallen off. Brrrr. This is the life.

The cause of and cure for all of my problems can be summed up with two words. THIS BOX.

Truth be told, I don’t even know what this box is. All I know is that it heats the house and our hot water. And when you’re cold, pretty much that’s all you’re thinking about, namely, just how freakin’ cold you are.* See that tiny window in the middle of the box? Up close, it looks like this:

I should point out that it looks like this when it’s working. When it’s not working, that precious blue flame is no where in sight; instead there’s just the unwelcome sight of my breath and not much else in this dreary, barren land. Winter has it’s cruel hands locked firmly onto Italy, folks, and spring is a long time away yet.

Thankfully, there is also this machine! Therefore in the meantime while the previous box is waiting to be fixed, this one that magically produces coffee serves as my cause-of-and-cure-for all of life’s problems.

I can tell you that a cold apartment is not all that pleasant, but quite manageable with the correct attire. However, returning from a frigid, damp, and dank training ride through the Tuscan hillside to an ice cold shower is the horrible hydrogenated icing on a tasteless Wal-Mart cake. It. Is. BAD.

I’ll cut straight to the chase and say that after a week of no heat nor hot water, the fix-it person – coincidentally not named Cassandra – thankfully came yesterday soon after I awoke from my chilly slumber and heroically fixed the issue entirely. Life just got a whole lot better.

Hot water: check!
Heat in the apartment: check!
Coffee maker still works magnificently: check!

Speaking of European machinery, I wonder why the bidet never successfully migrated to America.

* Okay look, I’m not going to complain all that bad, because relatively speaking I’m doing pretty well. I have a roof over my head and a sweater or three that I can put on to stay warm. Furthermore, I’m reading a book called Unbroken right now which is all about life in a Japanese POW camp during WWII, which sounds excruciatingly miserable especially through the brutal Japanese winter.


  1. Tom

    The house I grew up in had 3 bidets. And 2 urinals. Bit of an eccentric built. Took me a long time to figure out how to use those bidets, but now I long for them, ahhhh…. I would like one of those integrated bidet/toilets….

  2. Chris W

    TK, just be glad you aren’t back home right now. It’s been down right arctic weatherwise this week in NH. I’d take a cold apartment in Italy over sub zero temps anyday!

    Did you ever get a chance to check out the Bicycle Coalition of Maine site during your recent adventures?

    btw – love the new site.

  3. connie

    Ted, two words for you: space heater! of course…and this is a big IF your apartment is not rated for the extra amps you might have all your electricity go out (best to get a low amp space heater without a blower)…hopefully you know where to throw the switch …been there done that in Italy. where are you living?? and your italiano? parli bene??? dimmi tutto ….. dalla connie

  4. Laura Stephenson

    I have to admit I live in Florida, and that I haven’t worn a coat in 3 days. But just reading your entry, I went and put on a sweatshirt. I think I might have left the country after the first cold shower. I am serious. That is awful. Hope you stay warm.

  5. Bob

    65F again today in Marin, Ted. NorCal misses you.

  6. Kat

    Oh no! I didn’t have hot water for 2 weeks in august in campagna and that was bad!! It actually lasted a month, but I refused and trekked down the hill to my friends place who had finally got theirs turned on after those first 2 weeks and took showers there for 2 weeks….but my new place only had a small vat of hot water that took hours to heat up, so we could only take “shaths” where we sat in the bathtub and turned the water on and off when we were soaping up….so after 3 girls taking shaths, I sometimes hiked down the hill to our friends’ place to take a shower in the world of neverending hot water 🙂 oh the days….

  7. Wendy

    Are you wearing your hat with the flaps? The ties are there to keep it on at night!

  8. Tom T

    but you’re in Italy…

  9. George

    I finished “Unbroken” a couple of weeks ago, and my wife is reading it now. Yesterday, she went to the doctor to get her injured knee checked out, and he asked her to rank her pain from one to ten. Reading about Zamperini has skewed her notions of pain a bit (i.e. anything short of starving and shark-wrestling is about a “two”). She explained this to the doctor. Hilarity ensued. Check it out on her blog:

  10. Dan B

    1.) Box #1 is known as a “combi boiler” in the UK, or as I misheard the South London accent, a “comedy boiler”. It may be more of the latter than the former to you by now. 2.) Box #2 is known as 3.) My 6-y.o., then 3, rushed into our bedroom one morning in our rented Spanish house to say that she liked the “baby sink” in the bathroom. 4.) By the author of Seabiscuit, right? It’s on my must-have list. 5.) Ciao e in bocca al lupo!

  11. Dan B

    2.) Box #2 is known as *sound of angels singing*


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