Topo Gigio update…

IMG_3504Cleaning the Stanza dei Tini yesterday, after the umpteenth scosse left debris everywhere… what do you expect with old mortar encrusted stone walls?… I managed to sweep-out from behind one of the tini the newfangled mouse trap where You had so courageously hidden it to check to see what was what. I opened the plastic container and found it was still stocked with the three Bread & Meat-sauce flavored poison packets I had put in lo’ those many pre-earthquake weeks before. I suppose Our Little Field Mouse, Topo Gigio, prefers Our Fields… AKA Our Garden… to Our Humble Home. Good. He’ll live longer, if he continues to roam other parts outside, unless, of course, Nina-beena happens upon him…. Watch-out, Little Topo Gigio. She’s a known KILLER! RUN!!! Gads.

Last supper…

IMG_3516Hiked up to La Concia last night… a once-upon-a-time story-book Medieval tower cum 16th Century hemp dying center, thanks to a near unlimited on-site supply of O2, and now a relatively active B & B full of NLs, GBs & SWEs with children too… for dinner & conversation. There are two Ways to get there … 1. The Long Way, which Dr. You prefers since, he insists on dressing elegantly for any & all dinner invitations, regardless of locale, and does not want to ruin his brown suede pumps senza calze with Way #2, The Short Way, which is My Favored Avenue, because it’s FASTER, though it is also one of the more intense obstacle courses ever constructed out of planks, beams, gravel, junk. I like the challenge with My Bum Hip. IMG_0117Descending the same under the cover of darkness is especially challenging. Naturally, The One & Only Topic Of Conversation of the evening was The Earthquake. We exhausted it over a delightfully simple meal of melone e prosciuto crudo, una frittata di cipolle e pomodorini e un’insalata superba di zucchini in padella… all plucked from the vegetable garden below… and served with an excellent salsa di senape & erbe plus vast quantities of Lago Maggiore sparkling white wine. The evening air was light, the stars twinkled, the Moon appeared.

I don’t think I want to talk about The Earthquake anymore. I’ve managed to bore everyone AND Myself with My Formulated Opinions, Views, Complaints, Ventings on the subject. My Conclusion is… it happened, we survived it, there are lingering problems with it, it’s not the End of the World because of it so, let’s push on with Other Stuff. One Stuff will be My Hip Operation in September after My Glorious Return from the Colorado Family Reunion Tour 2013. That is if I survive bungey-jumping off a bridge over a freezing cold Colorado river while eating a pizza & drinking a beer. What a wonder for My Bum Hip. Hope the rubber-band is hearty enough. Gads.

Pissed-off…

IMG_3516I went to have a cappuccino with My English Computer Wizard down in Gragnola yesterday. I needed his help with a few mysterious Settings with this blog. I was also anxious to hear from him what I had already picked-up from the network of the local English mafia of his Tremor Troubles with his 19th Century palazzina in the centro citta’. He sadly yet calmly brought me up-to-date. Having only the minimum of earthquake rods and other EQ-precautions, his house shook in that Friday’s quake to the point that three-stories’ worth of back wall is pronto per crollare. A Big Collapse. This catastrophe would not only put an end to his palazzina but, to many houses around it. My ECW said he immediately sought help from the Authorities… Protezione Civile, Genio Civile and the even Firemen too!!!… but, only the last group showed up and promptly declared the palazzina OFF LIMITS!!! And remedies were not forthcoming. Then, one fine day… nearly three weeks after the 5.2… the Mayor of Fivizzano toured the stricken town of Gragnola. His Honour-the-mayor & Co of Genio Civile… the Earthquake Engineering Division of the Italian State… toured the ECW’s palazzina and summarily stated to all present that…

A) if the ECW wants to do the work privately to safeguard the palazzina & neighbors it must be accomplished within five days…

B) if not, the Genio Civile would do the work… whenever… but, the ECW must foot the bill… and payment due when called in…

C) and, furthermore, the cost of Room & Board for the neighbours evacuation while the Genio Civile worked away… whenever… would also be the ECW’s responsibility to pay…

and…

D) if, perchance, a tremor comes to cause the palazzina to tumbling down, the ECW would be arrested. Yes… ARRESTED!!!

As you can imagine, this lecture was not especially well received. How could it have been? For folk suddenly & violently driven away from their homes and living with the constant fear of seeing those homes and its possessions disappearing in a puff of fallen debris, well, it would have been far better for that public servant to have kept his Big Mouth shut and saved His Show for another audience. What pisses me off… A LOT!!!… is that his statements smack of a nasty bias against foreigners… xenophobic par excellence… for I doubt he had spoken so to an Italian victim as he had to whom he should bow down & lick their boots for their Time, Energy & Money invested voluntarily in the Lunigiana. How dare he. Really.

Italy is rife with such helpful & compassionate public servants. They must have attended the same School of Life as Marie Antoinette + Co. The other day, on the TV news, the Minister of the Interior was queried by a Rete 4 whipper-snapper-news-reporter about the earthquake in the Lungiana. His comments were…

1) The earthquake in the Lunigiana was a non-event…

and…

2) certainly the citizens can expect a stronger earthquake… say, one of 6.2. The Lunigiana is an Earthquake Zone.

So much for a reassuring Good Word from the minister. And, I am sure he then bade his thanks, slipped into his chauffeur-driven Blue Car and sped off with his battalion of armed guards following him in their SUVs back to the comfort of his ministry.

I suspect that both the mayor & minister think their back-sides are covered with national public sentiment, since there occurred NO DEATHS, NO INJURIES, NO VILLAGES & TOWNS LAID WASTED by the 5.2. What will NEVER be covered is their insult to injury. Lives & livelihoods have been altered, changed forever, confidence is shaken beyond any repair and a beautiful region full of castles & quaint towns & the majesty of the Apuane peaks, continually disregarded by a chronically weak & ineffective government, will reel & struggle to the best of its ability & fortunes. Gads.

 

A quiet Sunday morning…

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and the temp is an already scorching 84F degrees at this wake-up hour of 7:45AM yet, the lilly flower risked opening its pinkie petals. The fish have sunk to cooler depths underneath their impromptu cane canopy. Smart. Gads.

Guest Couple #7…

Yeah, more Australians…
down at the bottom of the above map, sort of where the top tip of the Tasmanian island… Do know it? If you don’t, it’s easy since, it is the only one on the map!!!… might spear the Australian Continent just southwest of Melbourne and way below most of that color-coded tribal mess, there ought to be a small beach-town by the name of Ocean Grove. It is home of Guest Couple #7. They said their town is a surfer haven. I THOUGHT ALL OF AUSTRALIA WAS A SURFER HAVEN!!! They said there are Bihg Wayves. I’m so glad to hear it. They both work in Melbourne. Four hours to & fro are eaten out of their lives with the commute. Happily, this happens ONLY three times a week. One day to recoup and another to get on with really interesting stuff. She’s a Doctor of Women’s Issues, Please don’t hold me to that particular title. I am deaf… another encroachment of Old Age upon My Well-being… and I might not have understood properly her Australian terminology. He is an ex-musician… been lots on TV too… and now a lawyer but, is moving into finishing a novel. They came… well, he came to work. Up at 6AM, writing ’till Noon… while she lazed about in the garden on blankets & pillows under the Mulberry Tree reading intense novels. A speed-reader. I must tell you, though laid-low by Tremors & Things, the cancerous lack of Good Government in Italy, Berlusconi’s stabbing shenanigans di pessima gusto e giustizia, taxes & taxes & taxes too, I am encouraged about Our Future due to people like Guest Group #7. I believe the World could do with more thoughtful Folk like them. Perhaps there are already but they haven’t book L’Appartamento Azzurro yet. Chissa? That we could talk about sex, movies, books, OURSELVES!!!, she with her beautiful blond smile and he with his shy one, was all wonderful side-dishes to their Quality, Character & Charm while hosting them for 8 sunny, tremor-filled days. They took that last item in their stride, by the way. I hope they come back… and soon!!! I miss them already. Gads.

Earthquake words…

IMG_3516Jolted, shook, shaken, rattled, rolled, rumbled, moved, bumped, jogged, jared, bounced, jerked, jostled, jilted, jangled, shuddered, knocked, joggled, jounced, juddered, stunned, shocked, surprised, staggered, jumped, frightened, alarmed, scared, DISCOMBOBULATED!!! disturbed, disquieted, UNDERMINED!!! joggled, jittered, afraid, shimmied…

 

 

Back in the news, again…

IMG_3516Several quite sudden & frightening tremors hit yesterday, Thursday morning… 2:46AM, 3:34AM, 4:49AM, 4:56AM, 4:58AM, a truce of a few hours, then… BLAM!!!… another at 10:52AM. For those of you geared to info-knowing their respective intensities on the Richter Scale… and please, don’t think that anything under 7.0 on the Richter Scale is just so much tut-tut, ’cause when you hear AND see AND feel what even a 2.0 can do to House & Limb & Spirit, you’ll reassess very quickly…  here are the registrations… 2.7, 3.4, 2.5, 2.7, 3.3 and 3.0. I have not heard yet from the Pharmicist for the definitive Flake Fall-out of La Scala Mauro…. The Maurice Scale. I would hazard to guess that they are similar in scope.

This latest-in-a-series tremors jolted the news medias into bringing back the Lunigiana’s Earthquake from a couple of week’s worth of Oblivion right up & onto the Front Page. Or, if you cannot resist the Italian TV’s Babes & Boys news presenters, you are gravely informed with New Story #2, naturally, after the Numero Uno of Berlusconi’s continuing court cases… of… La terra si muoveva di nuovo!!! Tante paura e disagi nella Lunigiana. Andiamo IN DIRETTA al nostro inviato a Fivizzano!!! Fivizzano? That’s miles away!!! Broadsheets & TV news were littered this morning with images & videos of tent cities, old & sick shown being spoon-fed by an embarrassed Disaster-relief Person, confused shots of cobble-stone streets strewn with rubble… which is which?… a tacky interview of a mayor of a town you never knew rated one… dippy color-coded maps with a case of acne to show where these tremors occurred… till you say… Enough!!! What might just cause a true stir of compassion beyond the media’s sensationalism would be to broadcast the mournful sound of Codiponte Church’s campanile ringing in the sad news of another death in the village today. The earthquake’s toll is the worse on the old & infirm. It’s too much for them and they expire. No further comments necessary on that yet, let me now say…

in moments of acute stress, I habitually resort to a bag of potato-chips. The hour don’t matter. I happily prefer the Italian brand Amici Chips but, have also been known to grab at San Carlo Classic Chips. Let me caution you though… potato-puffs or, even corn-puffs do not… IN ANY WAY… offer the same level of medicinal & psychological remedy as a potato-chip. How can they? They’re like eating flavored air!!! And, the crunch is practically non-existent… like there wasn’t one. Happy Crisis Munching. Gads.

This year’s hydrangeas…

I love hydrangeas!!! The more the merrier for me. Got to water though. It’s worth it. The compliments come from all sectors, stations in life, situations, etc. when they are in bloom. The ad hoc riot of white, pale blue & rose, fuxia & pink and an inky blue are just what is needed in these days of instability, uncertainty… and an acute lack of sleep!!! I wake up drowsy after a tremor-filled night, open the window to check on the fish pond… like gold-fish could ever be a detection device for earthquakes or tremors.. and end up gazing upon big snow balls of flowers. A moment of Peace & Joy. Gads.

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A new earthquake scale…

IMG_3516Our Renter of La Casetta is A Dear & Conscientious Man. He is quite handy to have around too since, he’s the Pharmacist down in Gragnola. Home delivers too. Not bed, eh? Poor thing though. The Man is paying rent on a house which has cracked plaster practically at every glance, especially upstairs in the Master Bedroom. I ran into him today on the Medieval bridge after an early morning of tremors galore… seismic wake-up calls… AND THEY WERE STRONG ONES TOO!!! Good Grief. The Pharmacist told me that while wide awake and still lying in bed after the Early-morning-tremor Numero Uno, he began to devise what he feels to be A Totally Accurate Method in determining the Force & Intensity of an earthquake and/or tremor. La Scala Mauro… or, the Maurice Scale. He counts the number of plaster flakes jettisoned off a particular wall of the MBR. His scale is simple. For instance… four flakes = 4.0… three flakes and a bit of dust = 3.4… two flakes = a solid 2.0… and so on and so forth, up & down the new scale. Excellent news I said. Finally, someone has taken The Visual Evidence and used it to transform those anonymous Richter #s into a credible & understandable system. An accurate one too in light of the news on the TV of this morning’s seismic seizures. This new scale answers The Question… So? Hey! A 4.4. What’s that look & feel like? Just put your head down to the floor and count those plaster bits and you’ve got Your Answer!!! The Pharmacist has proven himself to be still handier. Reminds me… I have to call the maid to remove the evidence to avoid confusion. Gads.