Ramp redux…

Progress but it’s a slow go. Not surprisingly, knowing that I will have to take pick to dried Mother Earth, an exercise to break my nearly 60 year old back, my mornings can easily be filled with so many other tasks. Like yesterday’s putting La Casa Grande & Apt. Azzurro back in order, today, I discovered I desperately needed to water several suffering Plant Life where I hardly tread, i.e. the upper deck of a grassy terrace. There, the grass is a lovely cooked beige color. Toasted grass. So, I don’t go there. On my tour, I found three pyracanthus DEAD. Burned to DEATH. Terrible sight. Mother Nature & Her Heat can be so cruel. Not a HUGE loss though. They are nasty prickly plants, an element in Our Anti-cat Campaign. Many apologies to all Cat Lovers. In a Medieval borgo, cats are an infestation. The pyracanthus makes it hard for them to enter the premises. I played Nurse Nightengale with a garden hose to save other flora from extinction.

Duty called around 9:45 AM. About all I could bear to do, however this morning, were two more stoney barriers. Matched yesterday’s efforts. Consumed four liters of O2 too!

Tomorrow, two more & the pavers down before the fun stuff can be done… seeding et al!

Reviewing the above photo, all those stones make me think of what’s-his-name from The Lord Of The Rings. Yes! Frodo. Does the name call for a second “d”? Gads.

It’s time to do the Ramp…

The First Order of Business, before picking & axing the Ramp, was to put the Oleander Corner into a more presentable state. This little angle was the once-upon-a-time habitation for the previous tenant’s chickens to swelter in the EXTREME Heat. The chicken quarters were measly befitting these animal’s measly brains… a wood box with a metal roof and, guess what? Chicken wire fencing for the enclosure. Lately, the area was suffering from an over-abundance of weeds. An under-construction photo…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, the finished corner. Please, note the LARGE terra-cotta pots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was My Idea to put LARGE terra-cotta pots next to the salvia… or, sage… to fill in where weeds once crawled. The salvia… one of the Queens of the Italian Kitchen… is the fluffy Green stuff in between the two LARGE pots in the photo. Off to the nursery You & I went to find something to put in those LARGE things. I had previously found the pots at the local hardware store down in Gragnola. There, the folk are used to seeing money fly out of My Wallet to pay for my many, many purchases. They give me a discount for paying in cash. The LARGE pots were a bargain at 2 for ONLY Euro 50. Lord. That’s what just one pot, much SMALLER, cost me at another hardware emporium, an establishment, which NEVER gives me a discount. I rarely go back.

It was like pulling teeth with You on Our Plant Selection Excursion. Perhaps, worse. He was disappointed with the choice at the nursery. He wanted gardenias. There were none. He could not, would not… out-right REFUSED… to accept… even from the nice sales-lady… that 12 to 14 hours of full sun was not the best spot for such a plant. And. what did he think? Everyone has planted before mid-June and certainly before this abominable Heat. We were bucking Tradition & Common Sense. You was plainly impossible. He wanted two gardenias.

Just between us, You was bent out of shape because I had dared to move a plant he dispises… he calls them piney things… from where he had brazenly re-buried it behind another plant he said he dispised too, one he had expressly commanded I buy & put in this little corner of our garden in the Lunigiana, Tuscany, Italy, Europe, Earth, Milky Way… for cryin’ out loud!!! We came home with six flowering plants which put out itzy-bitzy flowers in any amount of sun you can throw at them. Fine. Oh, sorry. Name escapes me. We put together a melange of colors though… You did not want ONLY giallo… so it was one each of giallo, bianco e multi-colore. I was happy. You? He stopped complaining. Always a Good Sign. Otherwise, I would have suggested bed without dinner. Gads.

Ms. Moon and rain…

A sudden downpour last September. Lovely, isn’t it? We haven’t seen anything similar since the Easter Deluge. Several weeks of O2 yet, how quickly it doesn’t matter now with Our EXTREME Heat of the last two months.

The Topic of Conversation here in Codiponte is rain… the lack of it, when will we get some, what’s the monthly storm report, are we ever going to see rain again in Our Lifetime?… for cryin’ out loud. Desperate questions for waterless Times.

You & I had out-of-town guests so, I invited Our English Friends in Codiponte to join us for dinner last Saturday night. I tried not to disgrace myself with a Gourmet Cook sitting at our dining table in the candle-lit Loggia. Apparently not. There were little left-overs for My Sunday night’s dinner. Our conversation veered almost immediately from the over-the-top London Olympic Opening Ceremony to the weather… in about 11 seconds. Our Gourmet Cook Friend kicked it off when her husband said there was a drenching during a bicycle race through central London. Lucky racers. Did you know you can predict the weather to the Phases of the Moon? Our Friend is a Firm Believer!!! It struck me as out of the realm of My Adored South Carolinian grandmother, an ardent fan of watching flights of birds, digesting the Farmer’s Almanac… which exists in an Italian form here… cloud formations AND the Moon…. mostly to know about rain. Our Friend said she hopes to see some O2 at the Full Moon, this coming Wednesday, the 1st of August. At this point in Our Drought, I could enthusiastically go for anything the Moon might do to save me from a MASSIVE Water Bill. Let me mention though that I have considerably cut back watering with the Monopoly’s O2. I still fear for My Plant & Grass Life. I use another source sparingly too. There isn’t much water around this place, whether the Aulella, a stream or a spring.

Wanting to learn more, this afternoon, I Google-ed… Phases of the Moon and the weather. I was intrigued to see what might pop up. What did was a website in New Zealand… of all places!!!… with a rather professional looking site…

http://www.predictweather.co.nz/Default.aspx.

One tidbit my eyes first landed on was a blurb about Stonehenge. That rocky construction was a calculator to predict the lunar phases, its distance from Mother Earth and its position to Our Mother’s inclination… so those folk would know what was coming down the pike… weather-wise, I am sure. Scrolling down, suddenly, I was inundated with myriad info on predicting earthquakes… of recent importance after passing two weeks with daily shiverings below My Feet… determining dry spells… preparing for any wet spells… all thanks to Ms Moon… now & until the next millennium. Seems the Other Powers That Be avidly ignore what the Ancients felt was Common Knowledge. Perhaps, we might do for a much needed re-think?

I am now a believer. A Ms Moon Watcher. I’ll let you know what transpires water-wise in two day’s time. Gads.

 

More on the Ramp…

A very informative photo, don’t you think? It’s to say that I have gathered the courage to confront The EXTREME Heat to begin the re-building of the Ramp. This is as far as I got this morning working between 9 AM & Noon. I wanted to get started earlier but, The Dogs insisted on a w-a-l-k, and then, there were all the chores… several loads of laundry, for starters… to knock off after a weekend house party. I might add… a pleasant time was had by all, myself included even though I was The One who had to cook & see to the basic needs of Our Guests. You managed the Guest PR… whatever that means. His term, not mine.

What work though! Mother Earth is a tight & hard as new-laid concrete. Had to pick & pick & pick some more! Once a trough was dug deep enough to set stones in, I added water, gravel & dirt. Makes it easier to wiggle the stones into place. Then, I packed-in more gravel & dirt around them, mostly up ramp. This, so the rain water will seep down before rather than over these ad hoc barriers…. I hope. There are still another five to six of them to construct. I’ll follow with raking away the Phase IV cement shit left by the Builder + Work-guys… sorry for the French. The gritty stuff burns anything that grows… dammit!!!

Now, for the rest of the recipe…

I’ll dig & set-in paving stones up the middle of the Ramp. Then, off I’ll drive to the agricultural cooperative down in Gragnola for potting soil & peat-moss.  Bags & bags & bags & more bags of potting soil.

It will be interesting to see how much I can bring back in my FIAT sports-car. You took back the beat-up AUDI. I gave it to him washed, cleaned AND gassed. He left me La Barchetta dirty & nearly dry. My terms, not his… even to notice!

After the soil is spread around, arrives the part I adore… seeding grass! Then, out comes the roller to pack the seeds into the fresh soil. Can that be… fresh soil? Guess so. This is followed by putting down the peat-moss with more rolling for that. Oh, gosh! And, fertilizer gets distributed along with the grass seed. Very important item to forget. Add water continually until the real rains come… hopefully before I expire from the Heat… and, ecco! A grassy ramp! Simple tasks for simple folk, I suppose. Gads.

Junque-ing…

My Mother’s word. She was not keen on saying antiquing. Probably, since she found most of her freasures… that’s My Little Brother’s mis-pronunciation of treasure… in dusty, junky stores. My Little Brother was an unconscious victim of My Mother’s Quest to search for interesting & old furniture in Illinois, Wisconsin AND Indiana while we did Our Corporate Time in a north shore suburb of Chicago. But, hey! All us boys did Time junquing. My Sister was exempt. She liked horses, My Mother’s Third Passion after House Hunting as the Second after Junquing. But, tut-tut, Little Brother. I saw junque stores in the states of Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York AND Illinois, Wisconsin & Illinois.

Survival taught me to take a casual attitude to junquing. I go in and, if something calls to me, I stop to take notice. If not, I’m done. Can we go home now? A money saving mechanism. If I do stop at some unusual gem, it has to be Love-at-first-sight!!!… price tags ignored. Observing My Mother on all those junquing jaunts in some tri-state area of the US, I now n’er blink an eye to ask… Will you take less? Bargaining gives you an idea of who you are dealing with and whether it is worth your while to return…. ever again!!! On this point, You & I are one.

You was never ever dragged anywhere by his Mother… except, maybe, to a Sardinian beach. Unconditioned by previous experience, You enters a junk store, flea market, antiques emporium, what-have-you, and he goes For The Hunt. He digs, he lifts, he snoops, he moves, he scours until every square centimeter of the establishment has been unearthed by him. Waiting for that Call ain’t You’s Modus Operandi. For me, his process wastes My Precious Time. I’d rather have a wonderful meal somewhere. In the interim, as You gets down on all fours to see what he had hit with his foot underneath a table, I am outside finishing War & Peace. As I flip to the last page of my tome, You steps up to the proprietor, his hands full of Stuff, ready for Phase Two of The Hunt, i.e. bargaining down the prices to a pittance. Terrific Success Rate.

Our approaches differ. I prefer a few marvelous objects. You just likes Stuff. But then, check La Casa Grande out. Without stuff, what would il Salotto be? Space. Italians HATE Space. Clutter is protection. Gads.

Re-upholstery…

Once I have checked-off from My Task List the re-building of the Ramp… I wore myself out tackling the Oleander Corner. I more than sweated for two days. I nearly expired into a non-reconstituted puddle… doing paint touch-ups around the entire house and the time-bomb menace of Party Planning for Our Poggiolo Do on the 8th of September… we are now at 210 R.S.V.P.-ed guests!!! As is his want, You has been making telephone calls behind my back to invite others left off My Guest List… I will turn my hard-pressed energies to re-upholstering The Love Seat. There it is, on the right in the Blue-blue-blue Salotto, hiding its Shame behind that complex of cushions. Forgive… it’s an old photo.

Ecco! Its Shame exposed. Large rip. Not sure how much love was ever committed on this divano. Perhaps, the negotiations ended in a tussle?

This Loveless Seat was a gift from a friend, thanking us for providing her with Our Moral Support during a very infelice tratto della Strada di Vita… or, an unhappy stretch on the Road of Life. I won’t go into any details but, trust me, know it was pretty wretched. The couch belonged to our friend’s father. He was a prince. Makes her a princess too. And, you can’t get much more princely. Their collective lineage can be traced all the way back to Justinian, a thousand + plus some years of nobility.  And, imagine, their aristocracy survived the Middle Ages. They had popes in their family too. The prince was also an insurance salesman. Kind of ruins the fantasy, doesn’t it? He needed the money. A princely Life can be expensive. Selling insurance policies was the answer, requiring tons of contacts & charm. The prince had bunches of both. Lucky that his buddy princes & princesses and on down the title scale needed insurance to protect Life, Limb & Palazzi. It was an easy Life. I was told the prince would arrive in his office towards 11 in the morning, smoke a few cigarettes, make a few calls and then adjourn for lunch around 1 towing several friends with him. He’d be back at his desk towards 4 in the afternoon. Same program… smoke a few cigarettes, make a few calls and then adjourn for cocktails & dinner out with his princess wife & princely friends.

I never met the gentleman. I would have been charmed by him, I am sure, listening to Our Friend’s stories about him. I did happen to be present for his internment at the magnificent Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa. If you have not been there, you will be in for a stunning Treat. 10 football fields of the most amazing tombs/crypts/monuments ever. There is even a village of tombs crawling up a cedar infested hill. Oh! And Oscar’s Wilde’s downtrodden wife is buried in the Foreigner’s Section. It’s probably where I will end up one day.

Enough of History. That large rip must be dealt with.

In the meantime, You took it upon himself to drag back to Our Lunigiana Homestead several runs of lovely fabric remnants apparently unwanted by the antique dealers who had sold him the goods. They were purchased by You for a pittance. I am sure of it. You never lies about what he spends on his Stuff Junkets though he is not precise in quoteing figures. Let’s see what’s on offer…

I would say a late Empire… pronounce Ahm-peer… cotton & silk jacquard decorated with medallions of wheat sheaves… an eternal symbol of abundance. I could use some of that. Though a lovely, charming striped fabric, I am not sure I could live with it. Too feminine for me. Better for a boudoir. Next…

I’m guessing… this pale yet chilly grey fabric is a late 1940’s floral jacquard. More stuff for a dressing room’s chaise lounge. Onwards…

and a heavy woven brocade… eye-popping-ly masculine… with… you can’t see them in this shot… silver threads AND fake diamonds stitched into the black & taupe pattern. Love that. It’s like Errol Flynn sporting an ear-ring. Or, am I showing my age on this point?

and, finally, a sober Ahm-peer striped silk jacquard. The milk chocolate works well with the Sardinian carpet on the floor underneath. Another advantage is…

the reverse side… a more honied tone… can be used depending upon mood and the dictates of You. But any discussion must wait. The Ramp calls!!! Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ramp time…

No, this is NOT some Taliban Trail over a pass in Afghanistan. This is one of many ramps of il Poggiolo. This particular ramp winds up & around the Esseccatoio to the Azzurro Apartment… The Dogs Main Residence these days. They let me sleep there too. How kind. Not that this ascending grade was ever bucolically green but, once upon a time and yet, not particularly long ago, the grass wasn’t so dead-dead-dead. The sad result of six weeks of Saharan style temperatures above 90F AND no rain!!!

This ramp needs to be re-built before the rains do come in the late-Autumn. That is, of course, if we can trust Mother Nature to stick to her Standard Seasonal Expressions of Precipitation. How divine to think rain might be evenly distributed throughout the year. Dream on, I suppose. And also, it must be re-worked definitely before The Big Il Poggiolo Party on the 8th of September. More so Reason #2 than #1.

Time to do it. Tomorrow morning. I will take pick-ax and begin to make nifty this stretch of garden thorough-fare, so folk can walk up & down without careening off into a rose bush or an oleander from slipping & sliding.

Here’s an impromptu plan drawn up five minutes ago to describe the infrastructure…

The idea is simple… put down stone pavers up the middle of a thick & grassy ascent or, descent, as the case may be. Spaced at critical points will be low stone barriers to break the anticipated rush of rain water… whenever that happens. That rush is The Menace of carrying gravel, etc., clogging up the system of drain-pipes built into the aia’s pavement. Remedying blocked drains is not an exercise I care to repeat often. And though Our Local Stone Mason is cute, I’d rather not call him to bring in his high-powered spray gun. He’s got better things to do with his gun, I am sure.

The trick will be to do enough picking & axing in between The Dogs’ walk at 7:30 AM & Noon. After that, it’s too darn hot to stay out of doors. Yes, I know. I could work on my tan. But, you know, I am allergic to the sun now. I break out into a rash. So much for having a sexy tan line. However, carrying a pick might be. Che sara’ sara’. Gads.

Latest Grande developments…

in La Casa Grande. Our Esteemed Door & Window Man paid il Poggiolo a visit today. Here are the photo-documents of the experience starting with the Doors…

Door A is to the stall where the cornigli… or, bunny-rabbits… once roamed, but not much. They were mostly fattened up in cages to become someone’s Sunday night stew. Yes, cooked Thumper!!! With this addition, the house & its aia… or, courtyard… can be shut-off… mostly. We want to install a locked gate going up past the Esseccatoio to thwart UUPs… Unknown & Unwanted Persons taking improvisational tours about Our Home & Garden. Just today, in fact, I found a woman wandering about admiring the facilities… for cryin’ out loud!!! Comes from leaving the gate open down in the Sottopassaggio. Seems to be an open invitation to come on in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

and… Door Number 2 closes the sgabuzzino… or, storage room. Though a bit tiny to really be a legitimate storage room… since, in My View, A Storage Room must be large enough to stand up in. This one here even You would bump his funny little lumpy head. However, it is perfect for Chairs & Stuff!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the Kitchen… a modest cupboard with shelves and the oven were mounted along with a more than ample drawer above the forno. For what…? Utensils & Stuff, of course!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kitchen, quite quickly, has become burdened with Stuff. I had to bring in a table… probably too outsized to work well in the space… to have, at least, a surface to clutter-up. I am now dedicating myself to filling underneath. You would be proud of me. Gads.

il Poggiolo Party…

Dear Friends, Family & Fans…

 You are invited to celebrate our home, il Poggiolo…

in the little known corner of Tuscany called the Lunigiana…

in Codiponte – Casola in Lunigiana (MS)…

on Saturday, the 8th of September 2012 at 6 PM.

Roberto, Forrest, Nina & Moses

Water ban…

To me, a garden hose attached to & twisted around a spigot is An Installation Piece of Art.

One I am allowed to admire but not use. There’s a water ban in effect. This I knew… even mentioned it in a previous posting… or had gathered such from the way friends in Codiponte with flower gardens spoke in hushed tones at dinners about hosing their gladiolas. Now, if those stalky fiori were jack-beans, carrots or zucchini… Hey! Water away, gentili signori! What I did not know was the presence of spies eager to catch erring flower waterers. Gosh.

Our Maid came to me last Friday to specifically WARN me with this tid-bit of informazione, bidding me to be careful… very careful since, these characters from the water company… a semi-privatized monopoly, which seems to me to be A Huge Conflict-of-interest… have The Law… or, The State, the other half of that semi-privatized b.s… behind them to inflict HUGE fines on any capturees. I asked, to her knowledge, if anyone had noticed my recent aquatic infractions. Her head bobbed, her eyes rolled to the sky, and said… It’s not like you’re hidden behind a ten foot wall.  What’s a poggiolo but a spot sticking out for everyone to see? Ooops was my reply.

Then, another woman, a neighbor living in that ghastly too bright day-glo house straddled the walk & wall which separates us at il Poggiolo from her, brought the same WARNING. She admonished me to be discreet. Hai capito? Said I did and would be extra-extra on My Guard. Besides the advice with the O2, the nieghbor gave me a sack filled with yellow prunes. Pretty but oh so sour. Puckered my mouth. Unable to speak, I noticed the fruit’s color was akin to My Acid-Lemon-Yellow-Green Kitchen Color.

The consequence of these neighborly WARNINGS is I have become A Stealth Waterer… hoping that under The Cover of Darkness will disguise my illegal O2 activities. I also hope these spies cannot do the Math as to why My Grass ain’t brown no’ mo’. Gads.