Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ever since we moved into our apartment, Allyson and I have been hearing a mysterious buzzer sound. It’s not the doorbell, which sounds completely different, though whenever we hear it we run to the door, only to find no one there. It’s not a smoke detector or a fire alarm, either. I’ve been joking that it’s a ghost.

It always rings at the most inopportune moments, like when I’m getting out of the shower. I wrap myself in a towel, run to the front door, see no one through the peephole, return to the bathroom, hang up my towel – and then it rings again!

Yesterday afternoon, while Allyson was doing laundry, it rang again, only this time it wouldn’t stop. It was constant, like somebody – the ghost? – was pressing on a hidden buzzer somewhere. The sound, we discovered, was coming from the electrical panel by the front door. The only way we could make it stop was to flip the circuit breakers – which of course turned off all the power to our apartment.

We called the embassy, which sent over an electrician (grazie, American taxpayers). He arrived within an hour (in the crepuscular light, I might add) and flipped the circuit breakers back on. The buzzing resumed. Then he asked us if we had bells in our bathroom. This question puzzled us. No, Allyson said, I don’t think so.

Here I should mention that each of our bathrooms has a string coming out of the wall above the bathtub. It looks like the string you might find in an American hotel or motel bathroom for hanging laundry from, the kind that attaches to a thingamajig on the other side of the shower stall and retracts into the wall. Only our strings don’t retract, and there is nothing to attach them to. They just hang there.

Still, we figured they must be for hanging laundry, so we tied them to the towel racks in each bathroom. I would hang my towel on the one in the main bathroom. Allyson would hang her laundry (gentle cycle stuff, of course) on the other.

So the electrician walked back to the second bathroom and politely asked Allyson to remove her unmentionables from the string, which she did. The string, which had been pulled taught, slackened. The buzzing stopped. The electrician explained, laughing, that the strings aren’t for hanging laundry, but for emergencies: if someone falls in the tub, he or she can summon help by pulling the string and ringing the buzzer.

It was the easiest 100 euros that electrician had made in a long time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Greetings from Rome! We all arrived safe and sound last week (cats included). I finally found a place with free wireless Internet access - a bar, as fortune would have it - so I can finally post something. (Forgive any typos or other errors, dear reader.)

Our apartment is smack dab in the center of the city, maybe a one minute walk from Trevi Fountain. I've been here less than a week, and the tourists are already on my nerves.

Our furnishings haven't arrived yet (maybe next week), so we're living with temporary furniture. temporary everything in fact. Setting up house for the umpteenth time this year is a pain, but, hey, we're in Rome.

We really haven't explored much yet. Allyson's at work and I'm mostly running errands.

It's all still pretty crazy, but we're adjusting. A fuller, more entertaining update soon...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Went to the Phillies game with some old friends yesterday. Had a great time, but it was HOT!

Tomorrow we leave for Rome. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. We don't have Internet access at our place up here in Maine, so my access to the Web is spotty. We're having a great time. On Tuesday we took a boat ride on Casco Bay. Yesterday was rainy, so we went to the movies and saw a great documentary called Man on Wire. It's about the guy who walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers in 1974.

On Saturday we start heading south. Next Tuesday (the 16th) we fly from DC to Rome, so, God willing, one week from today we (inc. the two cats!) will all be safe and sound in our new home.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My niece, Nora Algeo, is in a play that's now running at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. It's called The Hoppers Hit the Road, and it's pretty hilarious. If you get a chance, check it out!