Warm-weather routine

by Laura A

This week it has suddenly become hot in Torino. It makes me realize that the seasons have almost fully changed and my routine has changed, too:

We open the doors, but close the shutters, at night.  In the morning, I keep them closed on the east side of the apartment, so that my kitchen and study don’t heat up quickly.  We don’t have air-conditioning, but we have good ventilation, so I’m hopeful that we’ll get used to not having it.  I get a cup of coffee, make some toast, and go read my Bible, pray, and write in my journal. And there’s a bird, undoubtedly a Blackbird, because it sounds like an American Robin, that sings every morning before dawn.

Right after we’re finished with breakfast and hot water for showers, I start a load of wash.  If I get the clothes out on the line by late morning, they may be dry by early afternoon. Sometimes I do a second load at night, after the electricity rates go down.  But since I can only run one major appliance at a time (besides the refrigerator), sometimes another appliance wins out. Usually, if I get up in the middle of the night, I remember to turn the water heater back on.

Clothes started, I go food shopping.  The markets are in the peas, spinach and asparagus season now.  Cucumbers, ox heart tomatoes, and even melons are starting to appear. There are always lots of interesting salad greens, mostly bitter ones. I never have quite figured out what to do with the barba di frate, though.  I think it’s almost finished, so perhaps I should.


Barba di frate (image by Stefan Proud) from Wikipedia commons

Sarie and I often watch Khan Academy videos during lunch.  Lately we’ve been watching cosmology/astronomy videos.  One day we got started investigating possible shapes of the universe–flat, sphere, and hyperbolic plane.  If the universe has four dimensions, you should be able to see the same stars in two places, albeit at different times.  Whoa.

In the afternoon, I do e-mail, or whatever desk work that needs doing.  I’m still working on that conservatory business. I’m planning for next year’s school.  I help Sarie with whatever she needs help with.

Then I do some cleaning, more shopping, some project, or perhaps even an ice-cream walk.  Sarie sometimes has classes in the afternoon.  I try to make some time to read, screen-free.  Then I start dinner.

Now that it’s warm out, the people whose apartments face our courtyard have their windows and doors open all day and often all night.  I hear renovation going on across the alley. I hear the upholsterer’s staples. I hear dishes at lunch (1:30) and dinner (8:00).  I hear people talking on the phone, and sometimes I even understand what they say.  I hear soccer matches on TV.

And there’s white fluff floating everywhere.  It floats past our windows.  It floats inside and piles up in the corners until I sweep it away.  It lands on the table during dinner.  It started on Monday.

All day, I hear socializing, and especially people calling for Angelo.  I’ve now figured out that Angelo is the balding man who wears rubber boots and runs the car wash behind our building.  Across the courtyard I often hear a toddler who stays with her grandmother all day. Today just before lunch the little girl stood out on the balcony calling, “An-ge-wo!  AAAAN-ge-wooooooooe!!!”  Of course Angelo showed up under her balcony, like Romeo.  Who wouldn’t?

We’re starting to experience the long daylight that comes with a European latitude.  It’s light when I wake up, and it stays light until after nine.  About an hour before sunset, swallows swarm overhead, crying continuously.  The light fades, their high circles swoop lower, and their loud screes become faint squeaks.  Imperceptibly, they’ve morphed into bats.

At the sun sets, we go to close the shutters, and I always look to the west to see a huge planet, almost certainly Venus.  Yesterday, as I closed the shutters, I heard the voice of Salman Khan, explaining how you can calculate the distance of a star by noting the angle overhead as the sun rises or sets, at opposite times of year.  So I looked straight up.  Because here, I can.