PLUMBING SUPPLY OUTLET, SOMEWHERE IN PINETTA, UMBRIA ¬–Yes, in many ways, life is easier when your wife is a witch.

A good witch granted. One Darin could imagine himself kissing as he went off to his job at the ad factory. We’ve always had our time in the ad game in common, Darin and I. And I’ve always felt it went deeper than that.
shower panicale italy
Except instead of being on 1960’s TV, in an American suburb, we are in downtown Umbria. Ergo, we have company. Fun, lovely company. Then we traveled, came back, had more. Do not try being us without a calendar in hand. Both companies, plural, were in the same upstairs apt, just at different moments.

The second set are wonderful friends and neighbors from Maine, and Paul is one of the handiest people I have yet to meet. He can make anything out of any other thing almost as a party trick. Marvelously handy. But he couldn’t make hot water come out of that apt’s shower. And if he couldn’t make it work, it was well and truly fried. He could with the right tool. But it was the weekend. And then they left.

But with more company on the horizon, it was quickly falling to me to Stand and Deliver. Which means call the plumber. And bathe in the withering glare of his famously handsome but nevertheless, cold, ice blue eyes. Eyes that, as soon as I could find him (please allow a week to ten days) would be saying “a preschooler with half a brain, hint, hint, and the proper tool, a tiny pre-schooler could do this. I have massive, important castles and business people of great import to stare down, and yet you bother me.” So. I could go that route. And, or, I could be that tiny pre-schooler with the proper tool. And just do this thing.

As always, before any trip to a foreign land, say, an Italian hardware store, I take copious photos, and any visual aids I can break loose from the battle site. In this case, the tub faucet on which was written in script “Nobile.” All of which I packed off to the giant plumbing supply place. Where they gave me the same look I could have gotten from the plumber. And then they gave me what was even obvious to me, the wrong tool. And advise that was even wrong-er. Which boiled down to “Oh, llustrious client, Mr. PreSchooler yourself, please buy this wildly expensive pair of regular pliers and pull on that thing, there in the middle, pull like your wife depended on it. And then it will miraculously come off in your hand, and you will have no water at all in your home until you bring that part back here. And we’ll see what we can do. Maybe we’ll have one like that. Maybe.” And then he added “Semplicissimo.”

Hmmm. Ok. Like Scarlett I will think about that Domani. showerview panicale italy

Domani came, Midge left. For a Girls’ Day Out in, and surely involving a glass of, Chianti. But before she left she said “You know how I like to think that things left alone can fix themselves?” Yes, yes I do know that. But being someone who went to an actual engineering school for a couple semesters, that is really not fixing the actual faucet here.

After waves goodbye, I shut down the water supply right at the street. And cautiously approached the surly tub. New pliers in hand, I grabbed the thing they said to grab, it stuck, I wrestled, and immediately purpled the pointing finger of my left hand. At which point I realized I needed professional help. In oh so many, many ways. Because this valve thing isn’t going anywhere if it depends on me and this particular tool. And I can’t get any other tools because our car is cavorting in Chianti.

Friends? Already used Bruno to do a gratis repair in this bathroom, earlier this same week. And company still coming tomorrow. What to do now? What. If. I. Just …what if I just try, not the shower, slowly carefully try the tub faucet, just one more time?

In a scant few moments you could poach eggs in the water coming out of the faucet and you could hear the comforting roar of the gas heater. I’m more of a tub guy but I’m going for the gold now. I flip the lever to “Shower.”

Sure enough. She fixed it.

See you in Italy,,

Stew Vreeland

PS the landscape is the view out the window of the bathroom. To keep everything in perspective. That is the important bit! Hey, we can shower when we get home, right?


  1. Stew…this is priceless! Love it. She may be a witch, but she is a good witch.

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