La Sagra Dei Pomi…

Tomorrow is the first day of September. And, this weekend is the first one of the month. That means it is time for the Sagra dei Pomi…or, the Festival of the Apples… in Codiponte!!! Our little Tuscan neighborhood is home to a particular variety, a red & crisp Rondei/Rondelle/whatever apple. Every time I ask a local the apple’s name, I get a different response. This is a perennial problem with Italian and its innumerable dialects/terms/other. I cannot tell you how delicious all the pies, cakes, fritters, ecc are. Let me just say that Mr. You & I bought an apple strudel and it was finished BEFORE we had left the confines of the village. There!!!
The banners are out. The entire village is clipped and swept and cleaned and decked out in its festival finery. And…
…the teenagers of the village have been working afternoons & evenings on the various floats for… The Floats Competition. Allegory, it is to be. How that works with the festival’s 40th Birthday is beyond my imagination.
…the family whose house is nearly ON the Medieval bridge spanning the Aullela have been building a new grilling pit for the barbecue restaurant, which will be in the flood-plain underneath the same bridge…
…other men-of-the-village have erected a new kitchen over by the Piazza Civico, since the Health Authorities said all cooking facilities must meet their rigorous Health Standards. What Standards? More like a lot of bureaucracy and from Berlusconi’s government. Meaning, there are now more regulations than an ex-Italian Communist could ever dream of…
…and still others have been dealing with electrical/plumbing/refrigeration issues. More fodder for the Health Authorities, I suppose…
…the women-folk have started cooking the 800+ pies/cakes/others for sale in several local kitchens meeting, again, those Rigorous Health Standards…
…AND… Mr. You is a Judge for the Apple Cake/Pie/Other Competition on Sunday afternoon. Poor thing. He’ll have to mix with the falderal. Gads.

Fits & Starts…

The Work-guys are back at work… as promised. They come & go depending, probably, on how much fresh stucco they throw-up on the walls of what will eventually become a Laundry/Bathroom Room. The Cortile has once again been despoiled by a cement-mixer and the gritty ingredients for making stucco… an ancient formula. Should I feel heartened to know that recipe is pre-Roman?
Meanwhile, inside, here is the bizarre scene of the current work. Lots of clutter. But, it’s cool!!! Gads.

No Pot To Pee In, But…

Yep. No Bathroom! No Kitchen!! And, No Electricity!!! But, the Furniture is in!!!!! Even the bed has been made. And, guess who did that?
Our Flooring-guy finished the oak flooring Saturday morning. There’s a wonderful perfume of orange-blossom from the last application of the protective oil. Mr. You hounded the poor guy ’till he relented and said… OK, you can put your furniture in after lunch but, NO RUGS!!! Please, no rugs. The Heat was so atrocious, we had to wait-it-out ’till about 4:30PM. Then, Mr. You COMMANDED we lug the stuff out of its temporary home in one of the unfinished rooms of La Casa Grande and carry the pieces up to a their new home in the Upstairs Apartment. The temperature was hovering around a 100F. I had wanted to do this sort of annoying labor Sunday morning, when the temperatures would be at a more reasonable 90F… give or take a few degrees. I lost the toss.
OK… take a gander at our 17th Century cherry armoire, the Umberto I divanetto with an oddly placed 17th Century Madonna & Child… artist unknown and who cares? Neither will remain where they are… and the Cheap & Modern IKEA single beds cum futons up in the Sleeping Loft. I would like to add that the heavy oak director’s chair is not a permanent fixture here either…

Another view towards the non-existent Kitchen. Again, that director’s chair goes outside…
And now, for the Bedroom. Looks like someone died. Since the bed was constructed in the 1830’s. the chances are someone has!!! Must remember to bring on Our Spear-itual Healer, Tiziana, to do her Spear-itual Work on restoring the proper energies, etc. I certainly DO NOT WANT any bad-dreams!!! Gads.

An August Medley…

It is very hot here. Again. This time, the extreme humidity DOES NOT HELP!!! Nonetheless, onwards with a hot August Medley of Events…
…dead fish kept appearing belly-up in the Fish Swimming Pool!!! 
Mr. You thought it was our nieces, Junior Aquatic Terrorists for the entire four days of their visit. He said something about their possibly breaking the spines of the few gold-fish we have with the net we bought them for Euro 3. The objective was to scoop-up the dead leaves, not bludgeon the poor defenseless gold-fish. I remained dubious. Yet, one or the other always seemed to have the day-glo net in hand bashing the water. Hmmm? 
To me, it was the water. It looks so scuzzy, murky, dim… thick, even. I mentioned this to a local Friend of Fish… she donated two gold-fish to Our Cause. They were dinner a couple of nights ago for the cats of the neighborhood. I didn’t tell her this though she was the one who said… Nature is cruel… at dinner last Saturday night. We were at a village dinner, chowing down a superb sausage & beans concoction as a prelude to the main course of grilled meats!!! Yes, yum-yum. Our Fish-friend explained, what with the extreme heat for the past week, the fish food sort-of-kind-of spoils in the warm H2O. The next day, I tested the water while the mid-day sun blared down upon Our Fish Pool. HOT!!! HOT!!! HOT!!! Stinky too. Gads. We’ve been boiling Our Gold-fish to Death!!! I zipped-off straightaway to the local do-it-yourself center… Brico Center… pronounced Breeecoh Cent-errr… down in Aulla to buy an umbrella for Our Fish. Naturally, with most of the store’s products imported from China, the umbrella selection was beyond Deplorable & Cheap. Escaping inside the air-conditioned warehouse-like store, I happened upon rolls of cane screens, ready to go!!! I called Mr. You for his opinion. It was seconded in a jiffy. And, so too the purchase. I spent the better part of this morning rigging branches, wired together to drape the cane-roll on top. So far, the water is relatively c-o-o-l. Maybe, Our Fish are SAVED!!!
…the Pavement-Guy is working on Our Oak Flooring… 
That machine in the corner is one half of the stunningly heavy apparatus needed to brush the flooring to bring out the fine veining of the Romanian oak. Though the Upstairs Apartment is NOT AIR-CONDITIONED, there is a nice breeze. At least that!!!
…whereas, I labored in the Cortile painting saw-horses… 
The medium afternoon temperature kicked at 105 degrees Fahrenheit!!! I thought it would be fun to paint each saw-horse in a different color from the vast array of pint paints cans from our Color Trials for the walls & doors of La Casetta AND Upstairs Apartment AND work-on My Tan!!! Nearly died of heat-stroke!!! I also put a near-toxic wood protective stain… horrifically expensive at $45 for less than a half-gallon, since naturally, it’s a petroleum product. Multiply that by 3 and you have quite an expense!!!… on the old wood doors we used for the July 22nd wedding feast Mr. You & I hosted. All is ready for our next big party. Hey!!! It’s tomorrow!!! 20 Folk with a predicted evening temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I know… I know… nothing says that I have to write out “Fahrenheit”. However, in light of The HOT Temps, writing it out in long-hand seems more appropriate. I hate to say but… I cannot wait for Fall!!! Gads.

Country Ad Hoc…

Look!!! A few iron rods & wood branches make a pergola… Codiponte country-style. If, instead, we wait for Our Builder to get around to building a more substantial pergola from old roof beams, the wait might last for years and I ain’t getting any younger, you know. 
A Codiponte neighbor, Anna, who has done the same along her allee, where she has a small river-side vegetable garden & chickens, gave us the idea. Mr. You was very keen on it. So keen, he would call me every five minutes to ask if I had gone to Our Local Hardware store to buy the necessary supplies for Our Pergola Post-haste. By the way… chickens may make a delicious drum-stick when fried in olive-oil but, they are dirty/smelly/trashy animals.
Once the August Heat Wave desists with its near 100+ temps, I will move a banxia… produces a small yellow flower at the beginning of Summer… to begin its perennial climb up what I have constructed with my own Anglo-Saxon hands. If all goes well, within the arch of a year, we will have a shady place for a nice plate of pasta… out of the sun. Y’all are invited. Might be cramped but che sara’ sara‘!!! Gads. 

Came Back…

…with furniture for the Upstairs Apartment!!! Very exciting.
No place for them but, che sara’ sara’. Mr. You thought we might as well organize their transport now rather than during a helter-skelter later. We have the Italian Summer holiday… Ferragosto… this weekend to admire them. Gosh… what’s in that pile? Well, we have…
an 1830s country Empire bed… modified to take my 6′-2″ frame… people sure were short back then… and thin too. The bed is a very narrow double-bed…
a 17th Century cherry armoire… explains the propped-up doors inside 1/2 of the armoire’s guts…
an 18th Century chest of drawers in walnut… which, when we bought it, the thing was shellacked a dirty black!!!…
a three-legged ladder once used for picking fruit or beating-up olive trees for their oily fruit…
an 19th Century country table… with an already wobbly leg damaged in the move & to be repaired…
a 19th Century pots ‘n pans drying chest… it will resume it’s age-old duties shortly…
and…
two single bed frames for the sleeping loft of the apartment bought from our friends over at the Genoa IKEA!!! They are great with heavy plastic wrapping.
Here’s what all that stuff looks like from another perspective. Interesting, no? Gads.

Escape…

I am fleeing to Genoa tomorrow. I am sort of over pining away for a house… a simple one-bedroom apartment, dammit!!!… that is not going to be inhabitable until the 15th of September. I am tired of looking at the Upstairs Apartment’s unfinished front door. No light over it either. I am fed-up seeing holes where a toilet should be. I cannot bear to look at the ex-fireplace imagening a kitchen… one with a marble sink, under-counter frig and a three-burner box to home-cook a plate of pasta to be eaten under the who-knows-when-it-will-happen pergola outside. I am sick of trucking back to Genoa dirty sheets, dirty T-shirts & jeans, dirty-towels to be washed in our MIELE complex of washer & dryer. By the way… ONLY 4% of Italians have a dryer. I don’t even have a tub to hand wash stuff at Il Poggiolo!!! And, I refuse to go down to the river to do it. There ARE limits. So, until I pack The Dog, the laundry and other essential belongings into FIAT Barchetta and drive back to Genoa, I have found Solace & Sustenance in gazing at this photo of a rose in my Cortile. Beyond that iron-grilled-wondow is the Laundry Room. Gads.

The Worst Of Errors…

Mr. You-know-who never seems to miss an opportunity to remark upon every single infraction of mine he spies in the Garden. He tells everyone about them. I think he is a yard sadist. However, I refuse to be a lawn masochist. I have found Refuge in a newly devised Law of Gardening. I wrote it…

Those who do stuff in the Garden are forgiven of any Errors & Other Horticultural Outrages… by the Love of Our Almighty God!!!… and thus, are protected from Any & All Comments & Commands of those who don’t… 

It ain’t Mr. You who wields the weed-whacker in Our Garden… risking Life & Limb while accidentally wiping out an entire phalanx of tuber-roses where chickens once roosted. No. He ONLY Points & Commands remediation. And, if he does so deem to take shears to hedge, I am the one who has to pick up his mess… thank you so very much.
Since I AM THE ONE who does The Stuff in the Garden, I have, naturally, developed quite A History of Infractions. Two and a half years of them. Let me say… previous to this little adventure of Il Poggiolo & its 1000 square meters of terraced Mother Earth, I had only mowed grass and that was 45 years ago to earn The Meager Allowance allotted me by My Work-ethic-Corporate-Captain Father… 

yes, I have killed plants with the weed-whacker. I have run-over a few with the lawn-mower too. I have over-fertilized & over-watered. I have also under-fertilized & under-watered. I have planted God’s Flora on slopes where the water passes right by them or, in spots which become Laghi Maggiori… or, big lakes… when it pours down rain. I have planted bushes too close together or too far apart for our barrier-wall of green. I have neglected to put stakes to brace trees from the Winds of Winter. But, nothing beats these many Disgraces than The One Major Error… 

of seeding clover!!!
I had practice. The run-up to The Clover Fiasco was the seeding of a cows-eat-it blade grass. I don’t know what possessed me. We don’t even have cows. I must have been overly concerned about The Big “E” word… Erosion. The local Consorzio Agricola… or, the agricultural co-op… unaware of My Ignorance about grasses, yet available to please even though given meager information, delivered a grass-seed which sinks its roots ASAP & grows with or without benefit of watering. You have to cut it… dammit!!! Basically, I seeded a kind of iron re-inforced cement in grass form as an erosion deterrent for which, I will be forever sorry. Luckily, it is contained to only certain areas of the Garden.
That was all before the re-construction of the Garden’s many terraces. The Erosion Factor quadrupled.
With the help of a friend, we returned to the Consorzio Agricola for a kind of grass which would put down its anti-erosion roots BUT would not need cutting. I came home with a dwarf clover. Well, at least, that is how it would be translated into English. Great!!! However, I discovered… TO MY TOTAL ALARM!!!… that no cutting is necessary ONLY if you happen to like clover a foot high!!! The label should have said some oxymoron, such as… Long-necked Dwarf Clover. I now have to cut the damn stuff, for example, planted in between lavender, planted to forestall erosion, with either a damn pair of scissors OR rip-out the three-leafed Sequoias with My Bare Hands. I am toying with The Other Option… more drastic… of yanking the whole lot of clover & attendant plants and start all over again. Next year, thank you. In the meantime, suffering the Slings  & Errors of My Gardening Ways, I have enjoyed the psycho/physical-satisfaction of yanking clover up by its three leaf throats. So far, ain’t seen one with four. And, I hope I don’t ever!!! The Worst Year of My Life happened right after I found an innocent four-leaf clover in the grassy fields outside the Gonzaga Palazzo Te in Mantua. Other Errors. Gads.

A Summer’s Morning…

Then, of course, there is the beauty of the morning at Il Poggiolo. The air & light are fresh, clean, sparkling. 
The village going’s-on are the reverse from the evening. Yet, we can happily add il canto dei uccelli… or, the birdsong. Why the birds make more music in the morning than in the evening is probably due to their hitting the straw early, like The Dog!!! Gads.

A Summer’s Evenin…

My favourite time of day is the early evening. This shot was taken around 7:30PM. I had finished watering the newly planted grass of the new terrace on the other side of the house. 
The evening’s rays turn everything gold, soft, easy. Even Il Poggiolo basks in the light. Once, it looked so grey & forlorn. Now, after two years of re-construction, a new roof, windows & doors… and a newly restored & installed antique iron railing!!!… help to brighten its portrait. 
I love to sit in a deck-chair on the terrace right above the Upstairs Apartment to take-in the after 6PM scene. In the distance, as the sun recedes behind the hills which define our little valley, I can hear the roar of a couple of tractors returning to their garages in the borgo after a late-afternoon foray to the olive groves, the slowing whoosh of the cars winding their way home through our village, dogs barking here & there and, always, the constant rustle of the Aullela River. Naturally, there is a glass of white wine at my side. All it needs would be The Dog to be at my feet to share in this Moment. However, mine hits the divano early. Gads.