The weather has turned cold. Snow is predicted for the end of the week. We have been insanely busy with outdoor work, clearing, slashing, cutting, burning, in preparation for the turning of our fields. We are looking to plant a small vineyard next spring, and in order to do that, 25 years of neglect have to be chopped away before Oswaldo comes with his backhoe. Oswaldo has become a semi-regular fixture for us. He is our scavatore (excavator) who works with Carmelo, our muratore (mason), who also turned us on to Stefano, our sabbiatore (sandblaster). You need alot of guys who have jobs that end with tore for a project like ours.
Unfortunately, Oswaldo does not do trees. We have to have the trees cleared before he and his backhoe and bulldozer arrive. I am astounded what has been able to grow in these abandoned vineyards over a quarter of a century. I don't want to cut all the trees down, but I know Oswaldo will protest, because turning the ground two feet deep around trees is a pain. Going down 24 inches is necessary to get up the old root systems from the decaying vines. This all seems too much to me and at moments like this I think it might be nice to go back to having an apartment in the city, any city. Michael is inspired and energized by the challenge of clearing these fields, seeing the end game, the bursting grapes which we will harvest in five years. He already can smell the pasta which I will cook for the neighbors who will help us pick the harvest during the vendemmia. I, on the other hand, allow myself to be overwhelmed by the thickets and the underbrush.
I have been trying, for what seems to be a very long time now, to get my pottery studio up and running in a proper way. Stefano the sabbiatore came and sandblasted the old brick ceiling of the old stall in the barn, and I painted the floor. That was all several months ago. Ugo, our elettricista (electrician) installed the high tension cables necessary for the three phase electricity to be installed. My kiln takes alot of power.
Here is where the story takes a decidedly complicated turn.
ENEL, which is the electrical power utility for Italy, is an amazing entity. You are given, as an Italian resident, 3 kilowatts of electrical potency when you have your electricity turned on. To get an idea of how little that is, look at your hair dryer. Does it say 1600 watts? Well, use your hairdryer and you are sucking up over half of the 3,000 watts you are entitled to. So don't even think about doing a load of wash while styling your hair. You will trip the circuit.
Now, you can apply for an upgrade to 4.5 or all the way to 6 kilowatts (allowing you to run 3 hair dryers and a few lightbulbs simultaneously, but not enough, for say, the washer AND the dishwasher). The upgrade will cost you about 300 euros, just to have access to the "higher power".
Well, my kiln takes 20,000 watts, or 20 kilowatts. Enough to make the ENEL guy do a quick sign of the cross when I mentioned it.
So, the ENEL dude told me exactly what the electrician had to do. Ugo even came up while the ENEL dude was here so there could be no misunderstanding as to how the barn needed to be wired. ENEL then sent us an estimate as to what having access to this "mega-power" would cost. A whopping 2400 Euros, just for the access. Then an extra 100 Euros a month, as a fixed tax, even if I use no power. Then there is the cost of the electrician for installing the wiring.
Franco, our neighbor, just shook his head at this news, and said "well, you better make alot of vases!"
Ugo completed the work as required , but now ENEL has given us a new list of things for the electrician to do before they will switch on the motherlode. The saga continues. The falegname (carpenter) and the muratore have to come up and install three windows, and Carmelo also has to make a hole in the wall so that I can run my stufa pipe through it. Then I can start producing ceramics again, even if I have to hock the family silver to make it happen.
So, after the muratore, scavatore, sabbiatore, falegname, elettricista, and the ENEL dude have finished their work and left, peace can return to our hill, and we can start fighting over what kind of grapes we want to plant next spring!!