Summary of The Rules…

Way back in 2009, when I mentioned to Friends & Family about the purchase of il Poggiolo, many pleaded with me not to go & write a tiresome book on renovating the house. Please, no Under the Tuscan Sun!!! I promised not to. But, does a blog count? Hopefully not. And, I pray it hasn’t been too tedious an exercise to read. Blogging about il Poggiolo has certainly been fun to write.

Had I ripped to shreds My Promise and written a book, one idea was to organize it around rules…. The Rules of Renovation. Two were nominated in a previous blog posting of May 29th. There are many others. Let me list the Four Main ones for you. These need to be fresh in one’s mind, if hankering to renovate, ’cause the Construction Folk will get you every time. I know from the Mother of all Mothers… First-hand Experience!!! Here goes…

Rule Numero Uno… They do not listen to you. While you are blabbing away to a Construction Folk on how you envision, say, the flooring tiles laid in a certain pattern, The Construction Folk’s Internal Mental Mechanism is furiously employed to alter Your Vision into the easiest, fastest and thus, most profitable one for him/her/it.

Rule Numero Due… They do what they want to do. This Rule is tightly connected to Rule Numero Uno. Beyond that, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the Construction Folk Phrase… But, we’ve always done it this way. The 2nd Phrase follows… All Our Clients want it done like this. All these statements do is re-affirm the Construction Folk’s ingrained habit… one, rock hard… to do any requested Task in the easiest, fastest and thus, the most profitable manner to him/her/it. Consider yourself very lucky, if their Rule Numero Due happens to correspond to Your Vision. A rare event but, it has been known to occur.

Yes, it’s a vicious cycle.

Rule Numero Tre… They do not bother to communicate with you… unless they want money. That’s guaranteed. I have sometimes felt over the course of Our Renovation that after I have explained EXACTLY what I want, even drawn up a plan… a mistaken notion that Everyone can read an architectural plan… the Construction Folk, encountering a problem, go into Automatic & head IMMEDIATELY to Rule Numero Due rather than calling you to say… There’s a problem, Sir. Being on site can help but, does not insure catching unwanted expressions of a Construction Folk’s rote imagination.

and, Rule Numero Quatro… which, probably, ought to be Rule Numero Uno… You don’t count. You just get to pay up. That’s The Crux of Renovation. You discover, too late to do anything about it, since you’ve already signed The Contract, that you exist ONLY to put Euro-Euro-Euros in the pockets of Construction Folk… from the big-fellow Work-guy, who wields a wheelbarrow full of cement up & down ramps, the little fellow Work-guy putting in the terra-cotta flooring, to the Builder, who has to maintain an enterprise which consumes money at an alarming rate… from taxes to equipment to pay-checks. This may not be a bad thing. Good to spread the cheer, so to speak.

Know this… The Moral of the Story… you’re just a cog in the machinery and not the Supreme Capo. Letting go of any presumption to the contrary… though you may not feel all that better… you WILL HAVE LIGHTENED Your Load of Frustration/Dismay/Anger, etc. Gads.

 

 

 

Advances in la cucina…

The marble counters arrived and were installed yesterday. They are too thin, since… as per Rule Numero Uno… the frigging Marble Man did not listen to my instructions, damn-it all to Hell for counters 4 cm thick… because, thanks to Rule Numero Due… the Marble Man does what he damn well pleases.

Now, certainly, I should’ve have asked him to do it the way I wanted. However, after three years of these shenanigans, it just creates more Problems/Stress/Anger Managment… for cryin’ out loud!!! So, what I will do is hold off… for a very, very long time… to pay him his Euros. Pray that I can be strong. Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Do not concern yourselves with those two color panels. The Kitchen will be Beige until it is painted Beige to see how the Beige looks. Then, I will decide what to do afterwards with the Beige. To Beige or not to Beige… as I always say. Gads.

Shaking property taxes…

I went to meet with Our Geometra this morning. The Earth shook something fierce while I drove around & around & around looking for a parking space. Tuesday is Market Day in Fivizzano. We should’ve known not to make an appointment for Tuesday AM. Little did we know that Pandemonium & Fear would also shimmy & shake around 9AM. The series of strong tremors registered from 5.1 to 5.9 during the course of the morning. These quakes are an unnerving Continuing Story since the Big Quake of nine days ago in the Emilia-Romagna.

Our Geometra wanted to speak with me about the new property taxes installed by the un-Democratically elected Mr. Monti & his government. Naturally, any talk of taxes puts me in A Real Bad Mood. I think the State ought to pay me a substantial sum for giving employment to 6 Work-guys for the past three years, not to mention the boon to the builder too!!! I tried NOT TO SHAKE as Our Geometra explained the situation. I discovered that I was not obligated to pay the property tax from the time I bought il Poggiolo. I did and for 2009, 2010 & 2011… damn-it all to Hell!!! You don’t, if your place is a work-site. This little detail had escaped You’s accountant, who insisted upon my paying the damn property tax. Now, since my house will no longer be a building site… as of June 24, 2012… I must really pay the upped property tax. I am very proud to say, I did NOT shake, rattle or roll as Our Geometra continued with his explanation. No one knows, much less Our Geometra, what I am supposed to pay, thanks to the confusion created by Mr. Monti + Co. However, I will know by December of this year. Ample time before resorting to panicking. Now, if the Earth would stop its shenanigans, we might have some Peace for the next six months, thank you. I’ve got things to do in the Garden!!! Guests are arriving in June!!! Etc!!! Gads.

Gardening annoyances…

 

Some skin-ripping tidbits found as I ran my naked hands through Mother Earth’s earth yesterday… bottle shards, plastic, wire, a medicine bottle and, my all time favourite, and one which I am thankful I have had a tetanus shot, rusty metal. Sadly, they brought a disappointing end to my gardening sensual pleasures. I should’ve known better. Since the Garden of il Poggiolo was used as a local dump for nearly twenty years… by who else? The locals, of course!!!… the ONLY thing I did not find was a Richard Ginori toilette. Glad I did not pursue a deeper experience. I might have found another iron bed frame. Gads.

Earthly sensations…

A rather unpromising clump of green. It is, however, the fruit of My Day’s Labors in the Garden today. Weeds & Unwanted Grasses. If the last Item were wanted, it would be written as Grass. The pile was garnered in between a series of rain-showers and yelling at Dog Numero Due… DaNinaDog… to stop pestering a poor lizard furiously sought within the confines of the rock wall in front of the entrance to the Apt. Azzurro. I could hear stones falling. That four-legged creature… Adored Canine though she may be… has the strength of an elephant to pry loose the very things which keeps all from tumbling down upon us, i.e. the ancient stones of My Rock Walls… for cryin’ out loud!!! Though thoroughly exasperated…

God Bless, I have found the Upside to all the rains we have been experiencing for the past eight weeks… with respects to gardening. And, what might that be? Ripping Weeds & Unwanted Grasses is done in a jiffy!!! Just grab, pull & out they come. The soil, irrespective of being Top, Middle, or Profoundly Deep, is so soften by the constant O2 of late, yanking… for instance, the insidious clover by its superficial roots… is darn near the most wonderful sensation I have ever had. Even counting that unexpected encounter in the Ritz-Carlton in West Palm Beach, FLA… lo’ those many years ago.

And, for an additional Sensory Experience, there is the After-yanking Driving-my-hands into the humid soil to turn it a bit before moving on to yank some more elsewhere. A long lost event. Harkening back to My Five-year Sojourn in Portland, Oregon… lo’ those even more years ago… where five and a half days were consistently & constantly devoted to rain, My At-her-wits-end Mother would bodily shove My Sister & Myself out the back Kitchen door to play in the down-poor. We were properly suited, of course. Rain slickers, rain boots, rain hats. I cannot claim child-abuse. I can, however, claim it in light of My Mother informing me of Kindergarten The Day I was summarily carted-off to such an institution. And, God, in His Infinite Wisdom, saw to it that I hit five of them… two in Portland, one public, the other a Dutch-Reform school… and three in Denver, one public, another Episcopalian and another public one. None of them agreeable to me!!! But, back to the down-pour… What would we do? Naturally, make mud pies!!! This entailed running our small hands into the rain-soaked Mother Earth to get at the most saturated dirt for our pies. Today’s sensual pleasure brought all it all back. Means, I cannot wait to get at it again tomorrow. Yanking & feeling dirt. Oooh-la-la!!! Sensory overload. Gads.

You doesn’t like…


You does not like this rose-bush. In fact, he HATES it. It’s a bastard, you see. That rankles You. It was not always so. This rose-bush once had a very rosy pedigree. For that, it was the most costly rose-bush You & I have ever forked-out money for. Euro 40!!! We came upon it at the very posh garden fair at il Castello di Masino…. here’s a view of the castle…

But somehow, this rose-bush forsook its pedigree and went for mongrel. Naturally, You holds me responsible. He says it was cruelly abused by me… I had ZAPPED its boughs with the weed-whacker. That shock alone was enough to provoke its transgender migration, said You. May I interrupt to say? That is quite a ninny thing for him to have said. You never uses any of Our Garden Machinery. I’d like to see him try & control a whirling weed-whacker and then, we can see what massacres occur by his hands… by the Work-guys, who repeatedly dumped… though asked not to… the cement-y water at the rose-bush’s feet, so to speak, after cleaning their cement mixer… and by The Dog for consistently lifting his leg to pee on it several times a day. Par for the course, I’d say. In any case, You wants it removed ASAP.

I am not of this opinion. This will be One Command of You’s I will not obey. The mongrel is a big green bush full of happy blooms hiding the neighbor’s lack of maintenance on their ugly roof below. A job well done, in my mind. Why should it matter, if the rose-bush has forsaken in programmed DNA for something less exalted? It’s green. It flowers. It’s not in the way. Basta!

Then, You does not like this wild-grass. Besides claiming that it is unruly, You regularly transmits His Opinion that snakes are living within the wild-grass’s cool & fresh confines. There may be. I do know for a fact that a family of bull-frogs have made a home there. If I were to mention this to You, he’d more than likely complain about their nocturnal noises. That would be adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. To me, the frogs croaking is the Music of the Country. How poetic, no?

Yet, in the case of the wild-grass, it gotten too tall. For instance, I cannot see what Nina is doing on the top-most terrace. She’s very enthusiastic about menacing God’s Creatures. Frogs, lizards & crawling bugs are her three favourite to assault. I especially do not want anything to happen to the Country Music-makers. So, once the weekend rains have abated, I’ll tackle the grassy slope with the weed-whacker. You is in Sardinia. Out of the way to be a bother with his complaints. Gads for that.


The Earth trembles tonight in Codiponte…

Nina & I felt the earthquake in Emilia-Romagna Sunday morning in Genoa. Nina was agitated. I thought she was awake because, it was sunrise and she was hungry. She scratched at my arm dangling out from the bed. Her usual sign. Then, the bed shook. I thought to myself… Oh! An eathquake… and then, went back to sleep. I was awakened again by the noise of Nina’s nails on the Travertine flooring of our Genoa apartment. She was pacing the house in alarm. Moses & Roberto slept through it all. The news of the earthquake on TV was so sad. Death & Destruction. The rest of the day was asking and being asked if I had felt the quake. Sure did!

Since Sunday, tremors have been occurring regularly. I have felt none of them. Until tonight. The Dogs were agitated. I thought it was because, Nina had robbed Moses of his usual mattress. No. it wasn’t that. It was the long shake of the house which happened shortly after both Dogs came into my bedroom to hold me in seated AND rapt Weimaraner attention.

They are sleeping now… well, sort of. The have one eye cocked on me. I am wide awake. It’s why I have written this posting. Guess I’ll go back to reading my book. See what happens. Gads.

Vita mondana in Codiponte…

…means social life in Italian. It is why I adore Codiponte. All it takes is for me to drive up in the FIAT, putter in the garden or, w-a-l-k The Dogs for The Locals to know… Quel americano e’ tornato! Automatically, I am invited to… pass-by for a drink… come to dinner tonight… have a caffe’? My Social Calendar fills quickly thereafter.

Like yesterday, returning to Codiponte…

as I tootled over the New Bridge on my way up to the parking piazza at il Borgo Castello… both Dogs crazed to exit the car to get to all the fresh smells of the country. I was too with the encroaching cramp in my driving leg… I saw my English friend coming down the Road to Casciana carrying empty bottles on his way to l’Acqua Paradiso. He invited me to… Pass by for a drink, sevenish would be good. Gladly accepting the invite, I then wheeled the car around… The Dogs still trapped inside with me… to head up to il Castello… to be rid of Animals AND Stuff.

Later, while inspecting the garden… cannot wait for the grass to dry from the recent rains to cut it… the cellphone rang. It was my Dutch friend, who was out on the courtyard of her home, La Concia, which has a panoramic view of Codiponte and il Poggiolo, in particular. My bright blue T-shirt moving around the Spianata… Our Scenic Overlook of a grassy terrace… caught her eye. She rang with an invitation for dinner at 8:00. Yes! Thanks.

Gosh. Drinks AND dinner in less than a half hour. What next?

Inspection finished… My Gardening Task List is now even longer… I took The Dogs out on a w-a-l-k… Nina runs & runs & runs with a silly smile on her slightly squished Weimaraner muzzle, while Moses just stumbles along with his nose glued to the grasses, acquainting himself to anything new in the way of an odor… I passed by The Local Bar to pick up the two books delivered to its door-step. It’s easier for the van-driver to leave packages with The Bar-lady than hiking through the village to deliver them… Time is Money?… to me at il Poggiolo.

Leaving said bar, I stopped to say Ciao! to the butcher’s wife as she swept the front stoop of the shop. She came over, gave me the standard Italian kiss-both-cheeks, a great big abbraccio too and an invitation to come in for a caffe’. Another citizen of Codiponte, a fellow Genoese, was invited to join us. Thankfully, we three talked ONLY of Dogs and Our Respective Companions. Usually, at the butcher’s, politics is The ONLY Topic of Discussion. The Locals belly-ache bitterly to the butcher, his wife AND son about the deplorable state of Italy, thanks to its politics & politicians of any or all hues. If I am around, they turn to me… almost in unison… to remark… Sicuramente non e’ cosi’ in America… vero? I lack the courage to ruin their fantasy… that we too are prey to the storms of political Winds & Corruption & Incompetence. I lie by confirming their impression… in as few words as possible. Not this afternoon. Easy conversation and a good caffe’.

Then, I went home. And, what a wonderful place to be, knowing that I am surrounded by nice folk and never without a free dinner, a glass of white wine or a caffe’ enjoying being part of the Codiponte company. Gads.

 

The Sardinian Connection…

You & I are going Our Separate Ways tomorrow…

I am driving down to Codiponte in my ultra-smallish FIAT sports-car with two Weimaraners… one sleeps, the other wants to help me drive, for cryin’ out loud!!!… and the trunk packed full of Stuff… mostly Stuff You & I brought back from Our VIsit to Barcelona. Once unloaded at il Poggiolo, I will seek the satisfactory completion of La Casa Grande, cut the grass… which I am sure is now a foot high after My Two Week+ Hiatus… fight the on-going War with Weeds, clean, sweep, prune, spray, etc. the rest. Such toils I do have in perpetual abundance as a Gardner.

Meanwhile, You heads to Sardinia. Reason? R & R. In between his Forced Marches to & fro the city of Alghero, sunbathing on sandy beaches here & there… this may be a somewhat abridged ambition since, the Five-day Forecast calls for rain… and put-zing around the apartment in preparation for the summer onslaught of his three brothers + families, I am quite sure You will pop-off to peruse the various antique establishments in the vicinity. More Stuff in Our Immediate Future, thanks to You’s Iron-clad Rule to Live By = More is NOT enough. However, if You does come back towing gems, like the above pictured 100% wool hand-woven Sardinian rug, I promise NEVER to complain about having too much Stuff. My Soft Spots are for rugs, baskets & 17th Century furniture. And You knows this too! Gads help me.