Nails into walls…

Hanging pictures & prints? I HATE putting a nail into walls. It’s an outrage… a sacrilege… a crime. Please, don’t make me do it. You did. He eyed and I banged. I have a black & blue left thumb to prove it. Three solid days of pain. Oh, not the thumb. It was the violence done to the new stucco & paint of the walls in La Casa Grande & Apartment Azzurro. A double dose.

The two demons of My Anguish were drilling and round-headed nails. They both drove me to speak French, as in… God-damn mother-fucking son-of-a-bitch damn-it all to Hell!!! Strong language I rarely use. Yet, it was hard to control a whirling drill without resorting to it. Move the bit even a tiny 1/100,000,000th of millimeter and what happens? Chipped, flaked & gouged painted plaster. Horrible. I did not pay umpteen thousands of over-priced Euros to see these barbarisms committed. Ditto for the other bane of My Three-day Trauma, round-headed nails. If you do not plant a determined & well-aimed blow to drive the metal menace solidly into four month old plaster and the hammer slips instead, the result is worse than with the Black & Decker. Pot holes in Our Blue-blue-blue walls. Both have been given A Permanent Ban. I am & will be ever vigilant on this. And, from now on, anything, whether picture or print, which cannot be hung with a simple, light, iron flat-head nail gets propped up against the desired wall to gather dust as it might. Or, it will be summarily transported back to You’s Storage Locker in Genoa to rot in a silent, airless darkness. Yes, I can be cruel when disciplined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhh, but there are The Mighty Lessons to be Learned. I now know EXACTLY why few folk paint walls in strong, vibrant, earth-shatteringly bold colors. The slightest nick shows. And, not just a little but, a lot.

And then, we had acrobatics too. To plant this mounted Azerbaijani rug of My Maternal Grandfather’s… The General’s saddle blanket… above the Entrance Door to il Salotto of La Casa Grande, You had to climb 30 feet up one of those contortionist-like ladders. He had won the toss. I had graciously offered to do the circus act. My Opinion was, if someone had to fall, I’d rather it be me than him. Tut-tut said You as he scaled the heights to plant not one, but two nails… massive 3 + 1/2 inch iron anchors. Their design is akin to those used by mountain climbers on Mt. Everest.

Other acrobatics feats were the hanging of Our Horns. Fast & Furious, it was… I climbed up that ladder… placed the horn into an acceptable position… asked You what he thought until I got a Si!… made a pencil mark… ripped a hooked-nail & hammer out of my jean’s back-pocket… banged in a nail at the mark… hung the horn. Repeated 18 times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, we are hung now. I am an even Bigger Fan of Statuary. No muss, no fuss. No nails, unless you cannot resist hanging a flying putti over a mantel. No hammers to slip or crush your thumb. No drills to whine & whirl. No ruined walls, for cryin’ out loud!!! Put the darn thing in its window niche or on the floor, out of the way. And, call it A Done Deal. Gads.

 

 

Blocks unblocked…

The Construction Guy showed up last night… promptly at 6PM… with his super-powered hydro-cleaner… a Star Wars character with water jets at the end of a very long black tube attached to what looked like an upright Electrolux. By the way… why are industrial equipment’s color schemes based on black with… yellow… orange… or red? The bi-colors lend a certain air of industrial strength? The jets shoot back, so the very long black tube scooted down the errant tube under its own power, met the Enemy & dissolved it with the plain force of its high-powered cleansing action. Resistance was useless.  That block of sand & debris flowed right out & on its way to the Codiponte sewers. Yeah!!! We’re clean & flowing. Gads.

Courtyard blockages…

For an hour and a half in 90+F Heat in the morning and another three and a half hours in 100+F Heat in the afternoon, I sought to unclog sand & debris blocking the drainage pipes underneath the old stones of the Courtyard. I would like to blame Everyone Else but, I fear, it was my untimely use of water which, hitting the accumulations in a juncture of tubes seen in the photo below, caused the sand & debris to become too sodden to budge. Wet cement, in other words. Ugh.

The excess water from the hose flowed right on over the gratings, making a thorough mess of the Sottopassagio underneath the Loggia AND the ramps down into the village. And this, not two days after I had just cleaned them. I am thankful I had the presence of mind to SWEEP up & carry-off four buckets of sand & debris still left on those old stones before I hit with water. This, the after-effect of the last bout of construction on the aia.

I spent those five hours ramming a hose down the entire length of pipes, starting at the gratings at the gravely ramp at the Esseccatoio all the way to the last grating at the entrance to the Sottopassaggio, cleaning & hoping its semi-powered spray might dissolve the wet cement… wherever. Though I was unsuccessful to get any water to slither away as constructed… putting me into a desperate mood only slightly alleviated by a heavy dose of white wine at the Cocktail Hour delayed two hours due to My Hydraulics Challenge… I do know where the block is. At least that. It’s at the pipe which takes a hard left before gliding underneath the stones of the Sottopassaggio, the Ramp and via to the village’s sewers.

When I had had enough, I called the Work-guy who had built the pipe network to ask if he would come & help explain… do… fix the problem. He said no for that night and was very if-fy for tonight. Since we are in Italy and there is this subtrefugic fear of cellphone conversations being monitored by the Finance Police… La Guardia di Finanza… I could not add that there would be Euros in the Work-guy’s Immediate Future. And, I am not hip to the Italian method… ???… lingo… ???… vague phrases… ???… to get that Key Point across.

As a back-up, I called the Construction-Guy, the crack stone mason who had rebuilt the Front Stoop not only to My Complete Satisfaction BUT… miraculously… You’s too!!!… to see if he had a super high-powered hydro-cleanser… or, so says Google Translates. I mean, really!!! He said si and would be by either tonight or tomorrow morning. Great.

Now, I have to return to My Task List in preparation for My 84-year-old Mother’s arrival in Codiponte next Thursday. Gads.

An incomplete but functioning Kitchen…

A quick 360 degree look at the Cucina della Casa Grande…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must say, these photo-documents do NO JUSTICE to how brilliantly fun My Acid-Lemon-Yellow-Green is in Real Life. Gads.

P.S. Coming Attractions… the oven gets lifted off the floor with a shelf above it & right under the counter for utensils, etc… next door will be shelves in chestnut, pieces left over from some part of il Poggiolo’s roof, for pots ‘n pans… the drawer & shelves need to be either the color of the door to the Laundry Room in the middle photo… a special brown we discovered at this castle-cum-modern-art-museum in Turin, il Castello di Rivoli… OR, I am seriously considering a silver paint color. This will surely cause You’s hair to turn TOTALLY grey!!!… No. I guess I won’t do that… and a small work table will go in the middle of the Cucina with a rug underneath, yet to be found by You in some delectable flea market… is it possible for a dust-laden junque-store to be delectable?… we tried a natural wool Sardinian one with a scalloped yellow border but, someone feared it would be stained almost immediately. You graciously DID NOT nominate anyone as the Guilty Person though I knew who he meant. Gads again!

Comment oddities…

OK… this has nothing to do with Our House… yet, since I have signed onto WordPress, cranking out these blog postings, I have been subjected to the oddest array of comments. Thank God, they appear first as e-mails to approve or not their messages of whatever.

Many strike me by their unexpected… well, at first they did… non sequiturs that there must be automatic & marauding cybernetic engines of info shooting out messages of computer gibberish, ads for Jordan basketball trainers, weird compliments & thanks for the help in a generic English… if one could even call it that.. and, of course, solicitations from porn sites to wherever on the World Wide Web!!!

This was not the case with Google’s Blogspot. I wonder why?

I always appreciate… more than I can adequately express here now… the joy of receiving a comment to the Italian House Blog from a Friend, Family or Fan. It means so much to me. Truly. These legitimate efforts to connect by sharing an insight or perspective, renew, raise, create, while these anonymous, strange & unwanted communications leave a sort of dirty after-taste, one which I am not used to experiencing.

So, thank you Friends, Family & Fans for countering this unseemly side-effect of blogging. Please, do not stop.

OK… everyone can resume their previous pursuits. Thanks for reading & putting up with me. Gads.

 

Cool or warm, where it shall be…

Today, another Lady of the Village said we must be frying in La Casa Grande. I said no. It was relatively cool, if we had obeyed the hard-fast Italian Rule of shutting every window & door to the invasion of the Sun & Heat off the aia. Humidity is A Lost Cause. She seemed surprised. She said that that part of the house was always the warmest spot of il Poggiolo, come winter or summer, as she remembered it from her childhood. I suggested our recent work might have changed those conditions some. More windows & stucco-ed walls, for instance. So, off she scuffed.

I mentioned this to Our Next Door Neighbor and she confirmed what the other woman had said… La Casa Grande was warm year round. Hmmm… Good News & Bad. Our Inaugural Pranzo inside was very…? Very…? Very not hot for a Heat-wave-y Saturday in June. And, when I come down in the morning to open up a few windows, closed for the night, the interiors seem enclosed. Does that make sense? Like it might be fine in the winter… not COLD.

Now, in Day Four of Our Heat-wave, it’s essential to be cool. No air-conditioning, you see. Any where. ONLY natural air-conditioning of stone walls against Mother Earth. But frankly, I do not want to pass more than a passing moment in The Coolest Part of il Poggiolo, La Stanza dei Tini. It’s Our Water Resource Room & corridor to the Laundry Room & Bathroom. No thanks.

From my experience, the coolest living part of il Poggiolo is La Casetta in the summer. It has no Southern exposure, part of the first floor is above a cooled passageway which runs from the ramp up to il Poggiolo to a house squeezed into the borgo behind Our Neighbor’s house. I have spent two winters & summers in La Casetta and I can say there is no better place to be in the summer than in the Salotto out… of… the… sun. And, at night, all it takes is to open the BR window… the rush of the Aullela’s waters outside… and the other in the Salotto. Ecco! Natural air-conditioning. It’s called a breeze.

The winter is cozied by an excellently functioning fireplace. Superbly spews hot air into the Salotto and also into the BR & Bath out of vents strategically placed. The weather can do whatever it wants outside. However, the First Floor is a bit frosty thanks to a HUGE vent in the Kitchen. The Law requires it… dammit. Italians are not good with gas. Palazzi explode regularly from ill-fitted or maintained gas fittings/equipment/other. But, all it takes for that chill to flee is a flick of the thermostat, if you are copacetic to paying those HUGE energy bills from ENEL. I’m not. The gas company is a State monopoly. The Italian State gets enough of our money… new taxes of late… to miss-manage.

The Apt. Azzurro is the warmest, nearly all the time too. This is A-OK by me and The Dogs in the pits of a January Beeg Freezing. Not now this June’s Heat-wave. I had two hysterical Dogs panting in my REM Deep Sleep… AS IF I WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAMN HEAT!!! I discovered that the door out to the Terrace and the open-space’s window out to the Garden must be wide open to induce that all desired b-r-e-e-z-e. Once established though… at 2:30 AM!!!… an air-conditioned Peace reigned… for both Canines & Human Being.

The trick in the winter is to get the fireplace going in the Apt. Azzurro… STILL NOT COMPLETELY FINISHED, thanks to the crack tactics of the Builder for two air-vents… and keep it going until the tall flue heats up to cut the cold in the open-space of the Apt. Then, it’s as cozy as La Casetta. Maybe more so with two snoring Weimaraners curled under my feet.

So far, La Casa Grande is a delight in the mornings. Sweet air comes in from the Garden. Ditto for the morning’s sunlight. After Noon, however, it’s IMPERATIVE to barricade shut everything towards the aia until 6PM. After that, one can live with the Kitchen window open, etc.

In the end, Heat in the winter is more important. I used the same rational with My FIAT, bought in Switzerland. The number of days demanding air-conditioning there you can count on one hand. Heat is not a discussion, however. I have survived the choice and hope to with il Poggiolo. However, if it’s absolute cool I must have during a desperately hot day & night, I can just throw those two Weimaraners in My FIAT, drive an hour and a half to Genoa, hit the 3rd Floor elevator button, open the door and find myself in an air-conditioned apartment. Personally, I prefer the adventure of finding cool or warmth as it happens. What fortitude!!! Gads.

Heat-wave…

Oh, goodie… now I can complain about the Heat!!! It’s sooo hot here. It’s as if God had decided to bake an Idaho potato AND broil a rib-eye steak at the same time. Naturally, having forgetten He had left the ovens ON, so distracted with His Work expanding the Universe and what all. One item of that “what all” ought to be saving the Euro… for good, please & thank you… but, let’s get back to the Heat…

Yes, just as il Capitano Bonelli of the Italian Government Weather Office predicted, the 100F Heat hit last Saturday. You & I inaugurated the Acid-blah-blah-Green Kitchen in La Casa Grande by inviting our Dutch/Milanese Friends from La Concia over for pranzo. We dined in the COOL Blue-blue-blue of La Sala da Pranzo. We adjourned around 4PM. T’was entirely too hot to abandon il tavolo di pranzo any time before those bells had struck. Less hot be a degree or two as we adjourned.

Even though hot breezes blew in from l’aia… or, as Google Translates put its, the farmyard. Courtyard is my word… scalded by the radiating heat off the old stones, those breezes were refreshed by the Blue-blue-blue coolness of the Salotto e Sala da Pranzo before they sailed out the small windows in each towards the Garden. The inside temp was a pleasurable 77F while, out on the aia, it had to be 107F!!!

The aia’s heat effect makes for an excellent clothes dryer. I had put out the laundry to dry and it was board-stiff in about 30 minutes!!! I also had moved the four camellias to a shadier/cooler spot next to the door of the Esseccatoio… or, that shed, I’d guess would be Google Translates’ suggestion. Anyway, I’m not keen on cooked camellias.

A lady of the village told me a while back… to beat the Heat… there was once a couple of wood struts projecting out of the facade of La Casa Grande to a couple of wood posts… they had to be at least 10 to 12 feet high!!!… placed about midway out from the house on the aia to hold an awning draped over the structure for some much needed shade. The summer-time farm-work was not done without it she said. Later, in the 50s, a cement canopy… what You & I refer to as La Loggia… and as La Terrazza del Appartamento Azzurro… was built and the wood structure was done away with.

Half way through Year One of il Poggiolo’s re-construction, Our Geometra & Builder declared La Terrazza pericolante… or, Google Translates says unsafe. DANGEROUS for me!!! Its single & meagerly re-inforced concrete pylon was deemed the most suspect. Once the demolition started, however, the Work-guys discovered the base flooring for La Terrazza… tetto della Loggia… I’m irritated by Google Translates so, will dispense with any further inquiries… wasn’t really attached to the rest of il Poggiolo!!! In place by la grazia di Dio, I suppose. Yes, Him again. An earthquake tremor would have swatted down the entire affair in a matter of seconds said the Builder. Now, we are safe.

You & I want to return to the idea of an awning which we can remove in the fall & erect it again in the spring. There are some old beams from the Apt. Azzurro which could be milled to be made thinner to serve as posts & lintels. Then, we have these old cotton sails You has collected over the years… what possessed him to do so is A Big Mystery. And yes, more stuff. There are enough of them to stitch a patchwork awning to throw up on the mega-pergola dell’aia. Shade to the Heat. Gads.

 

 

Before & Afters…

Appropriate time, I think, to Compare & Contrast with a few Before & Afters…

La Casa Grande taken last summer after I had move into the Apt. Azzurro… senza un camino… BUT before The Builder’s Big Blow-out back on the 23rd of September 2011…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, last Thursday night’s photo-shot of the lights del Poggiolo in honor of You’s early weekend arrival from Genoa…

 

 

 

Il Salotto before the Work-guys bashed those niches into windows this past winter…

 

 

 

 

And now, with Giulio Cesare keeping watch… I doubt for any new political currents. More for some air currents…

 

 

 

Il Salotto… again… without the passageway between it & la Sala da Pranzo and the mini-passageway made into a niche for a never to appear TV set. Stereo. yes. TV, no!!!…

 

 

 

Ahhh! What a difference a Blue-blue-blue can make, not forgetting the new traffic patterns allowed with that archway. Gads.

All it needs is paint and a door…

The stone masons have gone away. One will come back to be paid. In the meantime, shall we take a little tour of the Front Stoop? Here goes…

out the Over-my-dead-body-the-Kitchen-goes-elsewhere Kitchen onto the landing where You has set vasi di fiori strategically placed to guide the way…

down… down… down the old stones to the Courtyard…

 

 

 

it’s always nice to see where one once was… AND, if I may say so? I am extremely proud of My Acid-Lemon-Yellow-Green Kitchen paint color. Works so well with the geraniums, don’t you think?…

 

 

Ahhhhh!!!… to admire the stone mason’s workmanship. Looking very complete…

 

 

 

EXCEPT for the inside to painted white and the door put on. Then, done!!! Gads.