It has been stormy all week here in Umbria – thunder, lightening and deluges of rain, enough to refill Lake Trasimeno for the year. Not the ideal weather to have during the period that the roof of the house has been removed and the new one was supposed to go on. The builders did their best and have a tarp over the house but nothing but a solid roof could keep that amount of rain out, bellies of water form of the tarp and sometimes give way at certain points.

The continuous wet patch on the stairs shows the course of the river that eventually found its place of rest on the ground floor hallway. A miniature prehistoric landscape has developed with terracotta islands with high mountains of rubble surrounded by seas and oceans on the three floors. Together with the walls, having weird shapes spray painted onto them mapping out where they need to be carved out for electrics and pipes, the place looks like a badly kept crack den.

We can’t resist but to sneak in every evening after the builders have gone, to see the progress, or in the case of this week, the damage. Last Sunday evening, Ronan with the help of a spare scaffolding pole expertly emptied some of the water bellies on the roof tarp above incase they gave way. It was going well until the scaffolding pole he was using went straight through one of the said bellies and he was suddenly standing directly under his homemade version of Niagara Falls. While I grabbed a large plastic bucket to catch at least some of the fallout, a saturated Ronan jumped out of the way. It was like a beautiful synchronised contemporary ballet, me with the bucket, Ronan with the pole and the waterfall backdrop, especially the part when Ronan backed into the makeshift platform the builders had just started to construct that day to reach the centre of the room, it wobbled and began to keel over to the side, I watched in horror at the falling heavy metal poles, as Ronan did an impressive final Grand Jete across our own newly formed swan lake on the second floor just in time to save himself. The scaffolding crashed and wedged itself against the wall in a perfect parallelogram.

Thirty-five years ago, I foolishly asked my math teacher why we had to learn the word ‘parallelogram’, like algebra, I felt I would never use it. He wisely said it would be useful someday. Now I know what he meant, as it describes perfectly the final shape of the scaffolding when my husband nearly got beheaded in Italy. Thank you Mr Maxwell, although I still have never found the need for algebra, but there is still time I suppose.

“Will we just deny we were here today?”

“Good idea.”

We emptied the full bucket out the window and snuck back out the way we came in.

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