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Tuesday 2 September 1997

Terrace, not quite 8 A.M. Another perfect day, one or two cirrostratus plus the low-lying Umbrian morning fogs partly due to wood smoke. Not very hungry this morning yet, I've had my coffee and'll probably have a coupla yogurts.

In a short while I'll be walking into Foligno, or actually to BCSNet's offices not quite there but 2 km short on the road to Fiamenga, to see about my Net connect. I have an intro from Walter, who stopped in last night to set up a trestle table in the study for the computer — actually I did the setting up — and to give me my own cellphone 0347.0670.70.10 now I'm officially Italian! with the best of 'em. The idea is that he'll be gone for a week or maybe a bit more, this way James can reach me without meeting with a non-answering switchboard. But it also allows me to receive calls, or call locally, while I'm on the computer.

Computer still unpredictable, mostly down, with Netscape; but at least I've found a break button for crashes — beats putting it on battery and making them run down.

I need camera batteries already!! But I discovered that my sideflash fits easily in my camera bag. It took me 5 minutes to figure out how to open the battery compartment, but I find myself very quiet and patient — a godsend. No nerves at all.

Come to think of it, I just this instant realised that I haven't been having car reactions: as predicted, but it's good to see it confirmed. Still a bit nervous with a tendency to chew at my fingers but that too is going away. Also, I can't really say I'm happy — I have no happy feelings nor of course even vaguely euphoric like in '94, but things feel OK and safe, and I'm actually this time looking forward to James's arrival, also Melvin's and his friend's.

Well, enough o' that, time to have a peach or strawberry yogurt and wander down to BCSNet.

About 9:15 P.M. or so, linguini cooking in the background, although I'm not so very hungry; still, that way I'll avoid any insomnia. Movie about Diana on TV: weird seeing a historical novel about contemporaries, most of them still living — and in Italian —

Today's walk to Foligno was, as expected, dull. I got to BCSNet without the slightest difficulty on a little side road along the railroad tracks; it was hot going, and hotter, maybe 90°, coming back. The road was unattractive and relatively busy. Plants: dock and chenopodium both stunted apparently from a dry summer — the clods of Umbrian earth seem unusually dry to me — clematis, hawkweed, chicory (about 30% of which mauve-flowered which is quite rare in Chicago), plantago both major and minor, a hirsute and not very good mint; mullein, Queen Anne's lace, vetch, rubus, elderberry as Pliny would say: plus a few things I ought to recognise but don't. Fields are mostly plowed and barren; the only farmer I saw was making hay; a few fields of sunflowers, depressing dark brown things hanging their drying heads: on the train there were miles of them around Baiano, merci­fully changing to pines around Spoleto, and here a lot of olive trees.

Anyway the 4 km to BCSNet was mildly unpleasant, and from there to the train station in Foligno wasn't that terribly much better — hot pavements, semi-industrial zones, and a huge derelict ruined factory.

BCSNet were businesslike and warmed up a good deal when I showed them my site. For 6 months, I can get full unlimited access for 140ML, which I did. Per month that's under $14 — cheaper than in the States.

Train station: the abbonamento 2d class is 156ML from Foligno to S. Maria delle Mole; but unlike last time, it starts when you buy the ticket, not on the first ride. Since James leaves the 3d, that means a trip to Rome on the 2d: I might as well wait til tomorrow or later.

Stopped at a supermarket in Foligno: a liter of milk and some old discounted fregnaccia still 24ML per kg (from 26); and still pretty good: apples, walnuts, currants or maybe raisins in a chewy sort of sweet biscuit. I was starving.

Back here, no further lunch; pottered a bit, tried to get the Internet connection to work: no luck. James called on the cellphone: he had difficulty hearing me, and once I him. He called to tell me the fridge had conked out so he'd bought a new one; and that Pliny seemed depressed and out of sorts and was therefore misbehaving.

[image ALT: The roofless ruin of a small Romanesque church, overgrown with ivy in an arid plowed field, with a few olive trees in the foreground. It is the church of the Santissima Trinità just below the walls of Spello, Umbria (central Italy).]

The ruined Romanesque church of the SS. Trinità on the E edge of Spello.

At about 4 o'clock I left the house thinking I was going to check out the amphitheatre; instead I got waylaid by a street and a little view of Umbrian landscape and wound up exploring the lower east flank of Spello; then seeing a Dalmatian on the p.zza della Repubblica fell into conversation with a group of 8 Italian tourists (4 from Palermo, 4 from Gorizia) who were stunned I knew where Gorizia was, claiming some Italians didn't, which I can well believe. I wound up guiding them up to the Belvedere via the via della Torre Belvedere then down via Giulia leaving them on my doorstep. By then it was seven past: I sat on the terrace and read the paper with a glass of Rosso di Spello and some sausage cut into tiny little pieces. At 8:30 I came down for the news, then the beginning of the Diana movie as noted, but it was not very good (except for the occasional impersonation of Lilibet: on the other hand, the actor playing Charles just collected his tics in a bag and occasionally showed you one, it was pretty awful) so I dropped it to go wrestle a bit with TCP/IP, FreePPP and all the other stuff, to no avail: it's already corrupted my FreePPP, modified my password on its own; refusing to connect, and hanging all the time. Apparently I should post a notice at my site via James in Chicago that I will not be able to do anything until November. That's fine: I'm here to rest, walk, photograph things, skate, and try to feel better.

Which latter, finally, I don't: I feel about the same's I did a few weeks ago, just distracted and occasionally wondering what I'm doing here. [. . .]

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