The Latest Kitchen Design…

The kitchen design for the Upstairs Apartment is relatively finished. “Relatively”, because there are a couple of “issues” to sort-out still. Please remember, the Kitchen is to be built into the niche of the old fireplace. It was the Oven & Cook-top in the olden days. To its left is a stone sink tucked into another niche… the sink goes to the Bathroom… thus completing the two key elements of Water & Fire.
#1… I do not know the actual height of the new finished wood floor. This is important. If you compare the height of the little figurine… at my exact height of 189 cm or, 6 feet 2 inches… to the two brackets holding up the boxy valence above them, then, you can see there is the risk of bashing a head against one of them. I have a hunch the floor will be even higher than I have drawn. The valence will have to be re-thought, the sink & cook-top might be pulled closer together by a few centimeters and the entire counter could also be pulled-out some from the old fireplace’s niche for additional “Bracket Clearance”. I did play chef on site to check to see if there was enough space to properly place a kitchen in the 177 cm between brackets. It seemed possible. However, I do feel the need of a second opinion. That will come from Giorgio, our brilliant cabinet/door/window maker. He is also an experienced builder of kitchens. Living dangerously, what IS SET is… the sink goes on the left and the cook-top on the right of the 240 cm long counter in between those 177 cm of the two brackets. That’s vital info for the Plumber.
#2  depending on how #1 turns out, and as the kitchen design stands, I doubt I will have built a hood on top of the valence. Its motive is to cover the traces of the old & asymmetric flue… the fine dotted lines climbing up from the two brackets in the left-hand drawing. The Kitchen with the hood strikes me as being too monumental a construction to tolerate. Instead, I might have a re-cycled beam… we have lots of used beams to choose from… installed against the wall to run across & hidden by the top of the valence, so the flue above it can be smoothly filled-in. I am not concerned for covering-up the traces of the old fireplace. The wall above will look cleaner, simpler. Mr. You & I agree that Kitchens ought not over-whelm open spaces, decidedly against the American tradition of contemporary in-your-face kitchen design.
#3… and, depending upon #1 & #2, the Kitchen might actually be constructed as an armoire!!! Doors will open out to show an evidentially functioning Kitchen… the Perfect AND Ideal Solution for any Kitchen, especially mine!!! Gads.

Electrical Plans…

A bunch of funny-looking symbols but… finally… the electrical plans that might pass muster. 
The gist of the lighting scheme for the Upstairs Apartment is…
no up-lights…
no down-lights…
and not much mounted on a wall. Nope. Instead, lots of lamps. They aren’t shown on the plan. Their outlets are, like unsightly nasal hairs, if you look carefully for tiny circles-with-2-prongs symbols scattered along walls/partitions/other. Trust me. They’re everywhere. There are even two on top of the fireplace, so Mr. You can put small lamps on the mantel. Yes. He thinks of everything.
As for the Stanza dei Tini… the future Laundry Room with Bathroom, Tool Shed & Water Storage. This last item is one way to recycle the tini… or, the enormous vats used for making wine. Remember the famous episode of I Love Lucy? Peasant garb, dancing in a vat & sampling the fruits of the vine? Since The Garden has not a vine in sight… too damn humid… the tini make excellent & convenient reservoirs for furnishing acqua for the entire Il Poggiolo complex… will have ONLY wall mounted lights. In my mind, there is nothing drearier than dangling ceiling-mounted light fixtures. Gives the impression of an unfinished basement. Nope. Don’t want that. Gads.

Taking stock…

I have just spent a miserable week in Codiponte, weather-wise. All it ever seems to do down there… and in the rest of Italy too from many the reports of the smartly decked-out Il Capitano del Meteo on RAI 1… is rain, rain & blow cold winds, rain & dump snow, rain & sling sleet, rain, rain, rain. I refuse to show you a picture of this!!!
Last Tuesday, during a down-pour, and thus, unable to do anything important outside… like find fertile homes for the box-wood recently trucked-in when the sun was shinning… I wandered around The Garden in my high-top Wellies and took stock. I discovered that I have a major water problem.
You see that ramp coming down from the Upstairs Apartment? Well, on that day, it was a dry river bed. When it rains, however, it becomes a Mississippi River. There is a secondary ramp on the left too, marked by the wheel-barrow. It’s the Ohio River. All the rain-water comes pouring down from these two mighty rivers and floods La Spianata… or, plateau???… so the grass-seed can’t take hold for an eventual badminton court. Let’s pause here for A Desperate Note…
On the 30th of April, a Saturday, 100 or more of Mr. You’s relations are destined to descent upon us at Il Poggiolo for a family reunion. We’ve got to have a bdaminton court ready for them!!! 

Ditto, the same situation at L’Esseccatoio. That somewhat grassy ramp is nothing more than a conduit for tons of water & silt. We now have grass growing where we don’t need it… on the Cortile. Remember, it took Mr. You & me an entire day… lo’ those two years ago… to scrape-off the 15 to 20 years of sod build-up, which had accumulated on the Cortile, as per all that nourishing water & silt. 

So, when once again in Codiponte, I will need to bring in Earth-movers & Marcello to reshape the ramps, dig & bury pipes to take the run-off somewhere else. Had I been real, real, real smart, I would have gotten Marcello back last August, when re-building The Garden’s terraces, to dig troughs for the water to scurry right into the Fish Swimming Pool. Apparently, programing infrastructure ain’t my bag. Gads.

Wall Labors…

Here’s the latest Garden Mathematics…
One… take a stretch of garden-terrace badly needing facing in stone…
Two… add stolen rocks, if none are legally lying around…
Three… add too a good stone mason available to artfully place said stolen rocks after a shoddy attempt at do-it-yourself…
Four… equals a new garden-terrace wall, if only the rains were to abate long enough to finish the damn thing!!! Gads.

The Next Winter Task…

The Weather-man said there is a good possibility of snow by Wednesday. So, The Dog… as my Canine Construction Super-intendant… & I have got to get this next Winter Task done in a jiffy. And that is to build a mortar-less rock wall…
…with these stolen goods. It’s time to hide the evidence. Gads.

Spring’s Here?…

It might be. This flowering quince is the first thing in The Garden to bloom this year. Though the skies are grey and the air wet with rain today, the plant’s pink flowers lend an optimistic note. 
Taking a tour around The Garden… Mr. You has already texted me three times asking for updates… I have noticed crocus sprouting through the hard gravely clay down by the Fish Swimming Pool. I thought they had been bull-dozed into oblivion. Along the stone path, which leads to the Castle of Codiponte, another series of bushes, ones I had planted over a year and a half ago to build a green privacy wall, are now rife with deep red leaves of sudden new growth and are soon to be caped by their odd bouquets of furry beige flowers. And, the lille bushes above the Cortile’s massive stone wall are a veritable convention of buds waiting, perhaps, for the days to last just a half-hour longer before breaking-out in their waxy green leaves.
There has been some tragedy too. We lost three pyracanthas… a pretty bush with tiny green leaves the whole year-round, graced with bright orange berries during the Fall & Winter… highly poisonous ones too…  but, they come equipped with stabbing spikes. Anti-dog devices. A neighbor’s dogs have all of Nature to donate their “hard-stuff” but, where do they choose to leave it? In My Garden!!! Another plant, whose name I cannot recall… I called them the Chinese Restaurant Plants since, every Chinese restaurant  has them in planters at the entrance… also were burnt to a crisp brown by the extreme cold & ice of late. They will not be replaced.
Having lived through a year’s turn of seasons here in Codiponte, I am coming to know what are the real climatic conditions of My Garden. I know where the sun strikes, where it is very humid, where it is too cold and where it is hot. For instance, I may have to move the hydrangeas from above the retaining wall below the Fish Swimming Pool, if the willows there have not grown enough to give them more shade. I will know shortly.
In the meantime, I must get cracking on pruning, cleaning beds & planting the next installment of plants. 40 more are due next Wednesday. Then, there is a rock wall to repair… with my own hands. Gads. 

Stolen Rocks…

Shhhhh!!! Stolen rocks. I stole them. Quite bold, no?
I discovered that I had been speaking with the WRONG PEOPLE about stone/rocks/bread-box-sized-boulders and their sources for replenishing my now non-existent back-stock. You do not talk with housewives & children!!! No. I asked builders and every one of them said when queried… I drive a flat-bed tractor down to the river and get them there! So, that is where I went with Our Stone Mason  last Thursday afternoon. He has a very handy flat-bed tractor. We went to an area that was once the in-field of a Motor-cross track down by the Torrente Aulella. The track died from too many Italian Rules & Regulations. There might have been some nasty accidents too…. kids, suddenly separated from their dirt-bikes, flying through the air & landing in the hospital with broken collar bones, etc. The spot was a buffet of stones/rocks/bread-box-sized-boulders. Plus, they weren’t so rounded like the ones you pull right out of the torrente’s waters. Relatively square. We happily returned to Il Poggiolo with our load. I would have greatly appreciated had Our Stone Mason refrained from mentioning that, if we were caught by the Forestry Service, there would be a hefty fine to pay. Blessedly, we were undetected!!! Gads.

Wall’s Junk…

Today’s Yard Work… well, I don’t understand. Before I could shove some of Mother Earth into the gulf left behind the new rock wall… 
I first had to clean-out all the junk/crap/toxic-stuff I found dispersed… a dark blue T-shirt, a rubber tube, plastic sacks, plastic netting, plastic bottles, plastic NestaTe cups, plastic candle-holders, plastic, plastic, plastic…
a tin pot with attached spoon, metal rods, metal wire, metal hinges, metal hooks… metal, metal, metal…
and frigging styrofoam!!!… probably, the innards from a color TV-set bought in 1977.
So, again, I don’t understand. The local contadini… or, peasants!!!… proudly bring me the Fruits & Vegetables from their orti… or, gardens… they break their backs curating their olive groves & in their harvest to present me with bottles of olive-oil, yet, they also treat The Land… especially, if it ain’t theirs… as if it were a garbage dumpster!!! Gads.

Today’s Winter Task…

Kind of a sad collection of plants & bags of potting soil. Delivered this afternoon, once I had met up with the nursery owner cum delivery boy at the local bar for a caffe’ and his four attempts to win Euros with those Scratch & Win!!! cards. He ended up in the RED. The cost of the cards and the two caffe’s cost more than his winnings of five Euros. Afterwards, it took me eight wheel-barrow trips to cart the stuff down to The Garden of Il Poggiolo. Tomorrow… Yard Work!!! Gads.