Pillows for pallets…

Don’t you love stuff for under ten bucks, especially for what you really had in mind to buy?

You & I found these marvelous AND cheap flat pillows & 100% cotton striped pillow slips at the Italian version of IKEA… Gran Casa… for the pallets-cum-sofas for Our Poggiolo Party 2012. Though not nearly as much fun OR irritating as IKEA… following those darn pathways through the store’s window-less maize of mouth-watering-I-want-I-want vignettes, like you might find Mr. OZ in the Kitchen Department… Gran Casa does have some stuff to tempt and at good prices too.

Let me say… it does require An Extensive Search & Find Mission. You & I were in the darn store for well over an hour. We batted between the available options we discovered in our travels from the Garden Furniture to Home Furnishings then to, finally, the Baby Bed Department… of all places.

You, at first, thought to use self-covered chaise cushions for garden furniture. The options were few… a gold & tan stripe plump cushion, an ugly milk-gone-bad colored flat one or, a dark green awning stripe super well-padded variety. All had weird proportions or dimensions to what we needed. It took me several minutes to let You stew in his own juices trying to force a Decision from these miserable choices. How could any of them work with the transparent, day-glo apple green & fuschia re-useable… certainly after a thorough turn in the dish-washer… plastic plates & cups in we had purchased from Gran Casa just the week before? Colori, You. Abbiamo bisogno di colori divertenti!

Then, it was my turn. You nixed My Idea of flat brightly colored tufted-rugs in silver, fuschia or gold. Ditto for the square 60’s Flower Power flowered cushions in blue, brown or green. I will not divulge the accent colors in their patterns. Too ghastly. Glad You deterred me too. Those cushions were expensive, once I found a sales-person to tell us their price.

Back to Bob, who suggested we buy HUGE striped light cotton bed-spreads, cut them up to the dimensions of the pallets and draped them over some cheap-cheap baby-bed mattress. This failure led us to what we ended up walking out of the store with, having spent much less than ten bucks per pillow & cover. Shhh… not a word to You… but, what we hit upon was My Original Idea. Both You & I are happy. Onwards now with other Party Preparations. Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party pallets…

The hardware store down in the thriving metropolis of Gragnola, where I disburse considerable sums of uncertain Euros on various household & garden essentials… from hedge clippers to nails… gladly donated these wooden pallets to The Cause of Our Poggiolo Party 2012. Amazingly, You’s AUDI could carry 7 of these beasts in one shot. Two trips and we were set.

Back at the ranch, the table placed, tarp spread… I had a little accident when a bright blue paint spilled onto the old stones of the aia while I was painting one of the saw-horses without proper protection below… surgical gloves slipped-on but, boy! Do they make my hands sweat!!!… and away I painted. Two days of slathering the pallets with examples from Our Extensive Supply of liter cans of the many paint trials over the past three years of renovating il Poggiolo. No more of the Sage Greens from La Casetta. No more of the Light Umbers from the Apt. Azzurro’s doors & kitchen cabinetry. No more of the Periwinkle Blues from il Poggiolo’s window trims.

Now, all that is required is a fast trip to the nearest IKEA for some cheap cotton rugs & pillows and… Ecco!!! Party Sofas. Gads.

Ramp remiss…

Lots of Brown with speckles…

here, a close-up view of the Ramp taken this afternoon. I sowed grass on said gradient 10 days ago. I had expected to see tiny, optimistic looking blades of grass by now. This, especially, in light of my intense AND illegal nocturnal waterings. Any green seen is the old grass which survived the burn-out from the Work-guys washing out their cement mixer. I guess, I ought to concede… Even a little green helps?

I am getting nervous. I desperately want a bounteous green carpet of healthy grass to run up & down the Ramp. I have 150+ folk arriving in 25 days for il Poggiolo Party 2012. I have already sent a message to all know invitees…

it might be fair to state that the incidence of surprise e-mails from persons unknown to me yet giving thanks for the invitation to Our Little Do extended by You has dwindled to… Blessedly… next to nothing. The latest threat, however, to My Mental Stability… for ’tis I, who must organize the innumerable details of this Shindig… is the change of mind of many who initially replied with a gracious… Sorry, no. We will not be able to attend… to the original invitation…

by suggesting they forego sporting their PRADA or GUCCI sandals, for the Girls… and leather soled loafers & lacers, for the Boys. Do I have the guts to now advocate bringing trekking boots… or, worse still… lugging their Wellies? Gads.

More on il Poggiolo Party…

You & I had a fight. We were in the AUDI. I was driving. Normally, the division of labor in Our Family is… I drive my FIAT, he drives his AUDI. Something was already amiss. You was thus a passenger in his own beat-up car, sunbathing, as the afternoon sun poured through his side window. I detest it when he does that. Can’t he perk-up, sit-up straight & talk to me, rather than reclining his seat back to catch those apparently noxious rays while sporting his latest acquisition of a new pair of Ray-bans & faking sleep? Any topic would’ve done the trick… his views on the lack of rain, comments on some 800 page tome he is reading from the lexicon of Italian literature, scandalous bunga-bunga gossip of Italian politicians? Twenty minutes previously to Our Departure, The Dogs had been left behind with a local woman in Codiponte. With that, the Math started to go hay-wire. Other toxic ingredients were… it was hot, it was humid, and, I was also distraught thinking we would be 200+ for this darn Poggiolo Party. Unexpected e-mails… from hardly known sectors… were suddenly arriving in my proverbial e-mail… what? Cybernetic receptacle? Saying… Oh! We wouldn’t miss your party for anything in the world. My message to You was… I do not intend to be an unpaid indentured slave forced to host 200+ of mostly your friends when, Dear Sir, the party was originally intended to be a celebration with Our Friends of Our House in Our Home away from Home. I have a question… how come You can threaten me with… Not over My Dead Body… and not I?

Nothing was resolved though I did feel better for unloading all my anxiety, fear & trepidation… and so on and so forth… into the sprawled lap of Dr. You. Also, there were the beneficial effects of diving into a superior pizza primavera later that evening.

I think we will be about 125…. I so dearly hope. Tonight, once the Heat has abated, I will begin the Process of Cooking & Freezing, starting with My Chicken Salad.

Oh! We have a NEW! MODIFIED!! MENU!!!

Sgabei… fried bread made with sage or rosemary and served with a creamy white cheese called Stracchino and various salumi of Our Locality…

A Medley of Savory Pies… made with rice, green beans, a spinach substitute called bietola and something else yet to be decided upon.

Chopped liver and hummus served with garden fresh chopped veggies and these incredibly delicious AND costly crackers now appearing in our local supermarkets…

A Cold Pasta Salad… which I will invent closer to the date of the party… however, from experience, it will more than likely consist of basil, tomatoes & olives…

My Chicket Salad…

My Meat Balls…

A chopped medley of garden fresh produce to act as A Salad without the green stuff which, will ONLY wilt in Our Current Heat…

A Cucumber Salad…

A Tomato & Buffala Mozzarella Salad…

And, Cupcakes of every hue , Chocolate Brownies, Cookies of whatever ilk and Apple Brown Betties…

But here is The Thing… once you have zipped past a head count of 45 – 50, quantities become tubs & tubs & tubs of food. Gads.

 

Poggiolo Party progress…

 

No more time to dither. The Poggiolo Party’s menu must be defined now. There are several Camps of Opinion…

Our English Friend said… Finger food, darling, finger food. It’s all you can safely do with 200+ folk banging down your doors. No plates, no plastic silverware. Oh! And, get them drunk. I like the no muss, no fuss simplicity of her suggestions. However, if I were to drive 2 hours to find platters & platters & platters of ONLY savory pie squares as the party’s single Bill of Faire… and it would matter ZILCH to me, if they were made of potato, rice, beans or, spinach, I’d be put out…  and not just a little bit.

You commanded… Make Your Chili and those open-face-y cheese-y panini! No one will care. Most just want to drink! Our Guests will have to resort to drink, if they see cauldrons of My Chili about. The last time I served chili, tragically, I had used an untested Ecuadorian cayenne powder so potent… religously following the recipe’s specifications… many Guests turned a deep red from their unexpected internal fires and resorted to the International Hand-sign Language indicating a dire need for the Fire Brigade!!!

Our German Friend… way up in Mannheim, who does a mega-big Christmas Eve party… told me on the telephone yesterday… Don’t over plan… let it happen… and make sure you have enough to drink!

At least, the above all found Common Ground with the alcohol.

At this Time-Space Junction of My State of Fear to host way more than the previous MAXIMUM of 50 Persons of various classes, persuasions, nationalities and their ilk… since, unbeknownst to me, Our Ranks have swelled to nearly 200… again!!! You has been inviting Other Persons to Our September Shindig behind My Anglo-Saxon back… My Menu Ideas are the following…

an array of local salamis… cervo, prosciuto, pancetta, mortadella

a fine assortment of local cheeses… pistacchio, mandorla, pecorini…

bruscchetta of various toasted potato, black & rough-milled white breads with sauces of… hummus, pomodori & basillico, pepperoni gialli e rossi, fegato, sugo di carne, parmiggiano e aglio…

una pasta di salsiccia e verdure…

un risotto cremoso di radicchio verde…

i dolci di… chocolate brownies, cookies and apple pies… My Perennial Ode to Americana…

and tons and tons and tons of beer & wine!!! Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greenhorn gardener…

These photo-documents below attest to A Happy Ending. But, for a moment, I thought I was going to be bankrupted by the Quality of My Flimsy Garden Equipment. Before that could happen, I had had a good laugh. I’m A Garden Wuss. A couple of recent examples… there have been others this week…

During the heavy-duty labors of re-building the Ramp, I had piled high the carriola… or, wheelbarrow. A cute Italian name for such a thing… full of shards of the dreaded, flora-burning cement picked-out from the extra dry Mother Earth to create the stone barriers. Souvenirs left by the Builder + Work-guys during their hasty… very hasty… Clean-up & Go of Phase IVB… but, the darn carriola-thing wouldn’t wheel… anywhere. I looked underneath to discover the wheel carriage was all catty-whompus. Missing A Crucial Bolt. Oh! Shit!!! I thought the Options at the time were…

A) try to lug the broken thing in the passenger seat of My FIAT Barchetta sports-car… with visions dancing in My Cerebral-cortex of being stopped by the local over-active Carrabinieri patroling in their dark-blue & red SUVs the single by-way of Our Area of the Lunigiana… and thus, NO ESCAPE!!!… coupled with a stiff fine for transporting an object ill suited to its location in the car … to the hardware store down in Gragnola, who had sold me the aluminum-framed, plastic-tubed carriola, so they could replace The Bolt or, whatever it might need, so the thing will wheel as wheelbarrows are supposed to do…

or…

B) chuck the darn thing in the dump and go buy a new one from the same store.

I pulled a Scarlet O’Hara and put these Options off for Another Day. It arrived the Next Day. Lo’ and behold, in the gravel next to the top most barrier was The Bolt which held one side of the single wheel’s carriage to the barrow’s frame. Suddenly, a NEW!!! & BOLD!!! Option appeared…

C) Fix the darn thing yourself, Forrest!!!

Done… as  you can see.

That very same Next Day, I yanked the 50 meter long bright-yellow garden-hose on the aia up the Ramp to water down the pebbles + stuff along each of the completed barriers. The water helps to solidify the construction. Once the hose was snaking in place, I went back down to the tap to arm it and I got thoroughly doused. The hose had sprung a HUGE leak. I knew I should’ve spent way more Euros on that re-inforced nylon wire hose!!! The same two Options sped though the same Cerebral-cortex but both were short-circuited with the same Option C… I’ll just cut it above the leak and re-attach the thing to its plastic tap connection. Done… and NO MORE wet dungarees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrilled to have saved a few Euros. Nothing beats Do-it-your-self Garden Repairs. Gads.

Ramp re-redux…

Trough & barrier building is complete. Managed to start work at 8 AM this morning instead of 9:30 AM or later. Still frigging hot at any hour. Tomorrow, I’ll run to the local consorzio… I refuse to deal with Google Translate. This seemingly competent service is like flying an airplane with the controls switched. And, you know what happens then? CRASH!!! BOOM!!! BANG!!! An aside…

I had to SEND an e-mail last Monday to the Telephone People… TIM, for short… to have a phone cable moved. The darn thing runs about six feet above the Eastern Sector of My Garden at il Poggiolo. Cannot tell you how many times I have BONKED my hatted head on it. NEVER learn, I guess. Thank Goodness, for the hat. Just got fed-up waiting for Our Geometra to deal with having the thing raised. So much for his fantasy TIM Contacts. I wrote the communication out in English asking for a translation into Italian on Google Translate. Now, I can fair all right barreling my way in my adoptive language. My French is akin to a chain accident. German we will not even mention. However, writing Italian is still an escapade. Yet, I know enough… after twenty-five years of living & speaking in Italy… to tell when something ain’t written in legit Italian AND what Google Translate coughed up WAS NOT!!! My Problem is I just don’t think AND write at the same time in legit Italian.

…to pick up several sacks of potting soil & peat moss. Seeds I’ve got. I am debating about putting down pavers. Cannot grab ahold of enough paver-looking stones to do the entire Ramp. I do not feel disposed to breaking My Back moving all the rocks piled against the rear of the Esseccaotio to find the quantity & quality I need. Perhaps, it might be more chic? Helter-skelter? To put down only a few? Chissa… or, who knows? The rest might happen at some future date… like 2013!!! Gads.