Our new back gate…

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And now, something far, far away from Our Recent Concerns…

a gift from Dr. You. 900 Euros of intolerably heavy iron-work to serve as Our New Back Gate… if we are so lucky to find a Builder-chap strong & clever enough to install it.

I discovered an interesting notion… WHOOPS!!! Sorry… more like An Iron-clad Rule, about what is absolutely essential for an Italian and his/her house. I was caught unawares of… A House Ain’t A House Unless It Has A Fancy Gate Law. Your abode can be a hovel… a risk we almost experienced on the afternoon of the 21st!!!… or a Medici palazzo but… if it ain’t got no gate, well… you don’t got no house!!! I apologize for the Grammar. The bigger, the fancier, the phouffiest, the most impressive it is, all the better. I guess we win!!! We did so, thanks to the ten tone weight of the darn thing. Anyway, I would have rather had those funds devoted to cut & pasting back Il Poggiolo. I mean, we’ve got post-earthquake cracks to mend, once M.E. decides to be quiet for a goodly spell. But no!!! I was FORBIDDEN to use those Euro bills for anything else.

Two thugs delivered the gate, if threatening to leave the two-piece-gate at the head of the Medieval bridge could be said to be delivering it to Our House. These Thugs were highly recommended & organized by the Stud-sales-person, who bilked You, at the cheesy bric-a-brac store on the old Roman road, the via Aurelia, down Sarzana way. You loves the place. What can I say? The outside patio of the wood-clabbered strip-mall-store is strewn with large cement sculptures of dolphins, horses, a Venus de Milos or two, a Hercules AND even a frigging elephant FOR SALE and installation next to your, I would presume, rubberized inflatable swimming pool… for cryin’ out loud!!! 100 Euros for a hour’s worth of work, travel-time & lugging included. They arrived 4 hours late for the appointment. I did not set the hour. THE THUGS DID. Then, at arrival, Thug #1 zipped out of this truck’s cab and summarily invoked A Previously Known Law… one of You’s favourite… Over Our Dead-body will we drag this gate to your house!!! I told them then that they could go back from whence they came. Thug #1 called the Stud-sales-person. Thug #1 reasserted his Law. I was passed the phone to re-assert mine… the gate is to be taken up to the Courtyard of Our House… STOP. It was taken up to the Courtyard of Our House. So, I now have The Daily Reminder of… A) the vision of a totally unnecessary New Back Gate. I like the one we’ve got. Nina-beena goes right out between its broken spokes. Ease of escape is always important… B) it probably will not ever be installed since a) I ain’t spending My Euros, when I want to spend mine on Pasting & Painting Il Poggiolo back to its former pristine self and b) You’s gifts NEVER include installation or service… and C) the Italians need to come to grips with The True Notion Of A House = A Gate Does Not A House Make. Let us pray. Gads.

P.S. We have A New Calpurnia for L’Appartamento Azzurro’s Terrace but, for the time being, she’s resting on a solid table on the Loggia.

Munching…

IMG_3516Sooooo, at about 1:30AM, a BIG tremore hit. WOKE EVERYONE UP!!! Nina-beena fled La Casa Grande… Moses changed poltrone with her elsewhere… My Renter was up pacing in the Salotto with every light on down in La Casetta… and, as I toured Il Poggiolo with a high-powered flashlight checking for exterior damage, I saw that a good many villagers were up too. Lots of lights on. And what was worse, Mother Earth thought it would be fine time to sock it to us and after such a Peaceful Monday too. N’er a moment of Tranquility & Silence was had from that wee-hour in the night all the way through the morning ’till after pranzo. The Richter Scale got a good work-out too. Thankfully, below ground, the afternoon was less vibrational and especially during the critical Nap-time Period though atrociously hot, stale & airless above. I could not even dose. I changed tactic and went out to the Loggia… more space to sweat & drip… to work on My Earthquake Memoirs. Once the laptop, tazza di caffe’, digital camera, notepad were arranged artfully on the teak-slated picnic table… one of You’s unusually practical purchases… I sat down to the task at hand. IMG_3517While musing… What IS that noise? How can I think to write with so much disturbing munching… chewing… squeaking noises? Do I have animals eating mortar in the walls? Are there bees drilling for more space between the stones? Pardon Our Mess? What IS going on? Concentrating & listening closely to what was about, I discovered that one of My Frenchy Garden Chairs… the one on the left in the photo… was being chewed to a Slow & Terrible Death by woodworms!!! I looked down and… ah-ha!!!… the tell-tale sign of evil woodworms at work… a little pile of light brown dust on the terra-cotta pavers. I hope they find the 50’s wood to their liking and until I can get a can of woodworm spray from the local hardware store, where I spend most of My Money anyway. Buon Appetito! Gads.

P.S. I took the shot after I had switched to a local red wine. It was after 5.

 

 

 

A 5 star restaurant weekend…

IMG_3516It is difficult enough to cram two Weimaraners into My FIAT Barcchetta Sports-car… Moses gets the passenger seat, which is about two sizes too small for him. His head ends up on my lap while the rest curls & spills over the p-seat. Nina-beena gets the foot well. She doesn’t like it because she can’t see to drive… much less two panting & heat-exhausted Weimaraners in our current hot, hot, hot & humid post-earthquake weather. I had fled Codiponte with The Animals to go to fancy yet, intimately fun wedding dinner Friday night in Genoa. The private wedding of family ONLY was on the Sunday previous. La cena was held on the grounds of a 16th Century summer villa, Lo Zerbino, perched in a park above the city. Imagine a cloudless indigo sky, many swaying palms & other frothy frond-things, a herculean swimming-pool with gods & goddesses cavorting to rhythms of those palms, waiters in black or beige jackets offering orgasmic tidbits to nibble on while also handing you glasses discretely filled with a crystalline white wine before we sat down to an equally discrete dinner. I might have overdone the frisheur of fresh fish. Mouth-watering beyond all expectation!!! Naturally, You later felt compelled to give us A Personal Tour of the villa’s ten open-window rooms… we’re friends of the princes who own the place… decked with lively frescoes 30 feet above our heads. My Question was… which ones are the bedrooms? The rooms all look the same. You gave me a severe look. Oh! Ever hear of Grecchetto?  His well-paid oeuvre was farm-yard animals feasting at the feet of nymphs messing the hair & drapery of the gods & goddesses in his large made-for-drawing-room canvases. There were several examples. We brought in the wee-hours. I am now in recovery and am back in Codiponte.

I stopped in Aulla on the way to pick-up a large tray of paste… or, pastries… for the homeless down at the Croce Bianca. My Gift was paid with an instant invitation for pranzo. I went home, unloaded The Dogs & luggage in La Casa Grande and returned. I was greeted by one of the volunteers with… Benvenuto al Ristorante Cinque Stelle della Croce Bianca!!! I laughed & said to myself… Yeah, right! A plate of industrially concocted pasta which, on the last go-around, gave me a week’s worth of intestinal scosse to those of Mother Earth. I was wrong. Here is the pranzo’s menu…

fatte in casa ravioli in a superb meat sauce doused with freshly grated Parmigiano… vongole in a piccante sugo di vino rosso, pomodori e prezzemolo… also vongole in a salsa di limone e vino bianco. There were baskets of black bread to sop-up all the au jus… un arrosto di maiale squisto con patate al forno, which ran out when that plater reached me, darn-it!!!… un’insalata di pomodori rubati da un orto li’ vicino… My Contribution of Fresh Pastries… frutta, caffe’… AN AFTERNOON NAP!!!

Sort of wished I was homeless too. Instead, Guest Group #I’ve-forgotten-the-number slipped down to the Loggia this evening to give me a wonderful plate of tagliatelle al ragu di melanzane, olivi e prezzemolo frescoe. The rigores of 5 Star dining. Gads.

Another earthquake club….

IMG_3516A quiet day today, tremor-wise. The absence of their disturbance worries me. It’s a funny thing about earthquakes & after-shocks… you fear them when they happen and you fear them when they don’t: the next one might be another earthquake. A dreadful way to live. Damned either way. The only viable pass-time is to socialize…

last night, I was invited to Casola-in-Lunigiana… the Mother capital to Codiponte and the next village above us… to visit friends living in tents on the parking piazza at the little City Hall. It’s also HQ for disaster relief. Their neighbor is the temporary La Protezione Civile camp. I had gone to drink but, was asked to sit down to a lively dinner of grilled salsiccie & wurstels… or, sausages & hot-dogs… zucchini & pepperoni and a cold beer or two. An impromptu picnic table had been set up under the awning belonging to a stunningly faded baby-blue FORD camper… vintage 1978. It sleeps 6 and it has installed a kitchen & bathroom… sort-of. I felt honored to be included. I was with the truly earthquake homeless. And I heard some stories…

the owner of the FORD camper, raised in Argentina but returned to his Lunigiana roots 20 years ago to work in local construction, came home after The Friday Quake to discover the dislocated force of a reinforced concrete staircase had shattered not only the walls of his house but, also those of his neighbor’s. Both abodes are now all taped up alla Protezione Civile. Thus, life in a FORD camper with his family.

the proprietor of the Casola hardware store, one with a near perfect location… you can stop to pick up stuff just as you enter or leave the village!!!… lived in a quaint stone house without any of the modern earthquake hardware of recent years, i.e. earthquake rods. The house is now just one scossa away from total collapse. He & his family of 4 had originally re-located to a couple of pup-tents behind the hardware store, already a make-shift out-door warehouse but, the damp sent them up to join others at City Hall.

an English couple, ten year residents in the charming and now highly dangerous… ’cause it’s falling down on everyone’s head!!!… centro storico di Casola, to get to either their car and/or any of the few accessible shops on the town’s bell-tower piazza, they must walk right out of the village… the typical Italian maneuver of going in the opposite direction to the logical one desired…  descend a stone path down to the Aulella River before climbing back up & around. Not homeless, though cut-off, the couple came to lend their solidarity and have beer or two or six.

I rather liked this Casola crowd’s club. They drew other town-folk to their gaiety… and from the enticing smoke of the portable barbecue grill… to come & hang-out, drink a beer or two & enjoy the assemble company without the near endless discussions about The Quake, The Scosse, Their Homeless Situation, etc. I had a great time and managed to drive home… down-hill, Thank God!!!… without banging a fender. Gads.

 

 

 

 

Codiponte Club…

IMG_3516I am happy to announce the formation of a brand new club here in Codiponte!!! It was founded last Sunday evening after that horrendous series of tremors…

and by the way, and from My Recently Acquired Earthquake Experience, tremor is such a whimpy word. Sounds like you have a nervous tick or a mild case of indigestion. Whereas, the Italian word scossa harks of unexpected, perhaps devastating, and certainly frightening, physical AND emotional AND spiritual agitation…

…around a bottle of tequila. Monday night, eight or so core adherents gathered around a fine selection of grappa after dinner. Last night, there was a spaghettata… or, a meal of spaghetti of tonno, caperi, olivi neri, prezzemolo fresco, cipolle e aglio… followed by ice-cream & just picked mulberries… yum-yum!!! And for tonight, una zuppa di vongole was mooted before the assembled. Yep, more yum-yum.

Membership is simple & easy = 1. gathering with friends/neighbors/others to commiserate the vagaries of Mother Earth’s Fury… 2. we all sleep in Our Own Beds in Our Own Homes… and 3. we bad-mouth all who DO NOT!!!

Yes, Day 13 and many people are STILL slumbering… yeah, right… in pup-tents, cars or, similar at the Croce Bianca… OUT OF FEAR. I find these choices ninny-ninny, massively uncomfortable and leading to a deteriorated mental & physical health. This last item is especially valid for the old & infirm, who suffer the most. They’re dropping like flies too. Of the 20 old & weak folk bedded & boarded at la Croce Bianca since the first shake-rattle & roll, 7 have been sent to hospital!!! I think it would be better to send them home. Most can return to their shaken but standing houses. There they can find all that is familiar & pleasing… like the TV set. Camping out in an atmosphere of hysterics & fear just eats at their well-being. Ditto for the young too. I asked a 25-something, if he was continuing to sleep in a tent in his back yard and, like being awarded a Boy Scout Badge of Honor, smilingly replied… Siiiii!!! Though he can go home to feed the cats, play on his computer, sit on his toilette, he goes & eats at the canteen of La Protezione Civile… for cryin’ out loud.

The Codiponte Club believes… A) there are less & less tremors. Yesterday was quiet. So, looking at the trend, there is little justification to live in such fear of another quake. Might it not be true that a quake does not strike twice in the same locale?… and B) someone of Authority needs to administer a healthy kick-in-the-pants to those who have homes unaffected by the earthquake. Cracks in plaster DOES NOT… I repeat… DO NOT CONSTRUE IMMINENT DANGER!!! Our Tax Euros are paying for these spineless citizens and all because they have an exaggerated sense of being scared. As You says… If your times comes then, it’s come. Basta!!! The only worthy recipients on Day 13 are the old & infirm and the true victims whose houses are all tapped up. Now, please pass me more red wine, thank you. Gads.

 

 

Scary Sunday…

IMG_3516Yes, I spoke way too soon yesterday. From 4:40PM until around 9 at night, Mother Earth vented her subterranean friction in what seemed like a never ending run of tremors… sudden, quick, forceful, frightening. I grabbed The Dogs… more than willing to vacate the premises… locked up the entire house and went to see how all Our Codiponte Friends were fairing. NOT GOOD. Demoralized, exhausted and shaken towards an anger with the Authorities for not recognizing that this earthquake is a decidedly outside the norm. Seems the whole week-long episode is a mild annoyance to both the government AND press, i.e. NO DEATHS, NO SERIOUSLY INJURED, NO HOUSES NOW RUBBLE. The factions of the hung-government are squabbling to hang onto power and the press is more interested in the Obamas’ visit to Nelson Mandela’s prison cell and the riots in Egypt.

I came home, fed The Dogs, ate left-over pasta I had discovered in the way back of the refrigerator. Then, I sauntered-off to Our Born-in-Codiponte Friend’s garden tent for after dinner drinks with other villagers. Not that Misery loves company but more, Fear loves it better! Eight of us knocked-off a superb bottle of Albania made tequila. Had never heard of Albanian fire-water. NOT BAD STUFF!!! At around 11PM, the party broke-up and each of us went to sleep with one eye open… some in tents, others in cars and a few of us brave souls in Our Own Beds in Our Own Homes. Gads.