Yellow-jacket invasion…

IMG_3977Yes, dead yellow-jackets. I have no pity. I killed them. Thanks to an effective spray I bought at the superior hardware store down in Gragnola. I made the purchase on the same day as My Great Car Capriccio. I was out. Might as well pick up vital & important supplies.

You NEVER uses bug spray. To defame him further, he never turns on the AC either. I’d die if I did that. You just puts up with pests, even the stinging types. He must be a Buddhist, or something. I KILL the stinging pests. Without remorse. This is very brave of me. I’m allergic to their stings. I want them eliminated post-haste from My Time-Space Continuum. I do not have time to wait for them to move on, as per You’s transcendental take-to-wait. I’m an American. We blast away at anything. And, we do it now. I get results too. See above photo, please. You says the pest-spray will KILL the air we breath. Fine. You says the pest-spray will KILL the soil. I could tell he was making a point. Lecture #4,437B. Fine. You says the pest-spray will KILL us all too. So we all die but those stinging bugs, Mr. You, Sir, will be DEAD too. There. That’s My Point. We retired to our respective corners. You to riordinare la camera sua. Me to vacuum-up DEAD yellow-jacket bodies.

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There is no place to hide from these buggers. I am very sorry for this.  The infestation… never before seen or experienced in the entire 5 Happy Years of Our Residence here at Il Poggiolo/Codiponte/Lunigiana/ Tuscany/Italy/Europe/Universe… is particularly severe in one key room of La Casa Grande… la cucina. There, with its amazing 2 coats of an Acid-Yellow-Green paint color, is a large assembly of yellow-jackets convening from sun-up to sun-down, if I don’t keep the doors & window closed. I don’t dare spray. The odds are against me. You immediately HATED the choice of the paint-color. He said it would attract bugs. And, darned, if he wasn’t right. I can barely make a cup of coffee, feed The Dogs, or cook a spinach & sausage pasta per mezzogiorno without being investigated by an overwhelming fleet of yellow-jackets. All is shut and yet they still infiltrate. These pests seem to like to sniff. Bright things too.  So, do they take My Acid-Yellow-Green Kitchen to be an ENORMOUS sun-flower? Or, should I be more attentive to clean-up? That might explain why you cannot dump trash in the dull-Green dumpters for the clouds of yellow-jackets around them. They certainly aren’t there for the color. So, I toss & flee. Differentiating is to risk being stung.

Now, though I have been enjoying sitting out on the Loggia… now that I can sit down… during my convalescence typing away at this blog and at other shenanigans gently caressed by the warm temps of this year’s Fall… I may have to sacrifice the mild climate and call for a 10-day cold-spell to freeze these yellow-jackets pests into a swift & final years-from-now. Might be better than spraying. What do you think? Gads.

P.S. One new item about yellow-jackets is they don’t come out after dark. This saves on spray & protects the environment too. Also, if you add the fact that it’s Totally Dark by 5:30, means I can lounge out on the Loggia UNDISTURBED!!!

 

Floral geeefts and other events…

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More flowers for the invalid from You. He has discovered a florist outside Aulla which faces a bank AND a barracks. It’s along the road to Codiponte. Might just be a good name for a song, a traveling song. I wonder if Tony Bennett is available? Could be a big hit for him, at least, in Italy. Studying the bouquet, You likes beeeg florals. Lilliums, mostly. Is that Latin? Lilly, Lillies, Lillium? I HATE their stink. You insists. Says they are beauuuteeeful. I prefer the chrysanthemums. I say they are beauuuteeeful too. And, they don’t smell like a mortuary showroom. I also like the wilted beauty of old flowers. I don’t say that to You. He’d be confused. Questions of beauuuteeey. And I cannot have him confused right now either…

I am ambulatory e senza bastoni!!! Not that I am so liberated to return them to their owner, Our English Friend, in the village. I still must use his raised toilette-seat contraption. Ugh.

I cut the grass yesterday!!! It was a Do OR Die Decision. Yes. What about the hip? I chose to do. It was sunny. That green stuff was nearly 3/4’s of a foot high. The temps are so mild, that g-stuff is still growing. Took me 2 hours and 2 passes on 2 separate mower settings… 1. as high as the lawn-mower can be raised, which ain’t much… and 2. a mid-range setting for the desired grassy crew-cut. Bad buzz-cut, I’m afraid. The grass was so wet & heavy the lawn-mower couldn’t suck up every g-blade to cut them properly. Later, as the cut grass dried out in the golden glow of the afternoon sun or, it no longer feared the passing power of the mower’s blades, strips of grass stood up at attention, demonstrating the quality of My Labors. Poor. So much for the joy of seeing a uniformly sheared lawn. For the next bout of sunny days, however, and I’ll pull the mower out to do it all over again.

On a happier note… no aches or pains with the hip after said escapade. I did lie down after a much needed shower to read for a while. I’m reading a book on the relationship between Stalin & Shostacovich. Interesting. I told You about My Reading Material and his shot-put reply, sadly, cannot be published here. He used a 4-letter parolaccia. More to my liking than You’s sappy Italo-avant-garde literature with dull paper-back covers. I like meaty stiff. Cannot get more so than Stalin… or Shostacovich, for that matter.

Later today, I am going to drive My Car!!! Right now, it won’t start. I’ve left it sitting on the humid Medieval bridge for too long. Thank God, I’ve got cables & friends happy to jump Miss Lulu. Poor thing, to be so ill-treated. Gads.

A very shaggy garden…

The Garden at ol’ Poggiolo has never been so shaggy…

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there was a spell earlier this past year when all it seemed to do every & all the live-long day, from Jan. 1st to May 31st, was rain. Desperate that the grass would hit the lawn-mower’s Factory-recommended Max Grass Height, I was forced to speedily break  a few times The Hard & Fast Rule… Never Cut Grass When Wet. The lawn-mower cough & sputtered as it regurgitated the wet grass but, the job got done. And, it also managed to suck a lot of expensive Italian gas in doing so. Had I waited though, I would have had to cut Our Garden’s 22,000 square feet of Lawn with a weed-whacker. I’m sorry to break any Rule but, I can guarantee to you all, both My Right Hip & Back were not up to that task! And, I am sure the whacker would have sucked even more gas. So, I opted to conserve.

This new situation is the consequence of My Surgical Hiatus… now starting its 5th week of convalescence… and the weather. It is this last item which poses the most problems. I can have A Local Fellow come… paid willingly to cut the grass… but, it calls for sun. And yet, if it is sunny, this Local Fellow and the Other Fellows of Codiponte are up in the olive groves preparing for the mid-November start of la raccolta dei olivi… or, the olive harvest…

by the way, please allow me, as The Proud Owner of an Olive Tree with Olives to show it off…

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Today it is sunny… OFF & ON. I might try to cut the grass myself later this afternoon. Well, if I can garner the courage to break another Rule… No Heavy Hip-popping Tasks until at least, Jan. 1, 2014. The Garden may just have to get even shaggier and in time for the eternally long Italian Ogni Santi to Epiphany Holidays. Christmas is in there somewhere. Gads.

As it should be too…

IMG_3958…and, let’s not make it easy for Poltergeist or Thief. There are now two containers of Doggie-cookies… one with Meaty Tidbits… an English translation of the rinky-dink Italian… and the other Bio-Bones… To keep teeth & tummy healthy! More Italian advertising jargon. Gads.

Flash! Flash!! Flash!!!…

Well, just as Hugh Grant quickly put aside his convertible peccadillo… on late-night TV… I might as well get this over ASAP at this late hour of 9:24PM…

The Veils of the Mystery are lifted!!! The Culprit is found!! Hopes of a long yet, excitingly drawn out investigation are dashed! However, what I am about to write is terribly embarrassing… to me…

First, the missing goblets were right behind the three I took for being what remained. And, secondly, I was forthwith informed by You, who physically demonstrated, that instead of six goblets, there are, in fact, eight. Two Mortifying Admissions are enough, wouldn’t you not agree?

These revelations makes it appear that… A) I am blind or, gentler to say, I cannot see… B) nor can I count when given the gift of sight, apparently, on rare occasions, which is oddly ironic since, I co-habitat with an eye doctor/surgeon. If any of you ha-ha-ha, you’re in trouble… and C) and worse still, I am incapable of caring properly for My Stuff, especially gifts from Dear Friends. I can already hear… for shame… for shame… for shame on you.

May I say? I totally blame this… this… this fuck-up on Il Signore Principe Dottore You. Had he obliged me in rigorously following My Explicit Organizational Dictates, previously agreed to… that in all situations, I MUST BE ABLE TO CLEARLY & QUICKLY SEE ALL MY STUFF OR IT IS OVERLOOKED & FORGOTTEN & I CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE… and I wouldn’t be writing that I have eaten My Hat!!! I am convalescing and prefer not to be encumbered to account for all My Stuff at this particular time. Well, until at least Jan. 1, 2014, as per My Surgeon’s Recommendations made early today. I am already carrying a heavy enough load of Guilt as it is… thanks to You not following The Rules. Must My Burdens be increased, I ask?

So, we can all relax, breath easily and strike-off from the Mystery Missing List the now eight Green goblets. However, I still would like to know WHO TOOK MY Car Key, The Doggie-cookies and the Wooden Stairs… AND, perhaps more importantly, WHO JIMMIED THE LOCK ON THE DOOR TO THE STANZA DEI TINI… I would so very much like to know. I am open to confessions/admissions/other.

I’m sorry. Carry on. This too will pass. Gads.

 

Poltergeist or thief?…

IMG_3952These goblets were a belated yet highly appraised house-warming gift for Il Poggiolo from A Dear Genoese Friend. I do not have the heart to tell her… nor will I ever… that, last weekend, You & I had the full set of six Green goblets. Now, as you can see in the accompanying photo, there are only three left. And, again for the nth time in My Recent Life, I have had to turn upside down AND sideways the entire La Casa Grande trying to find The Missing… and, to no avail, naturalmente!!!

I was in a funk. So, I called You for Moral Support. I should have known better. Moral Support is not You’s best forte unless… unless you happen to be one of the downtrodden with bad eyesight. Then, he is all quiet concern. He said, during Our Brief Conversazione TelefonicaSomeone has taken them. Don’t you mean Something instead? No. You does not share in My Belief in a Poltergeist co-habitatiing with us at Il Poggiolo. No. He DOES THINK there’s a thief lurking about Our Premises and, while I am o-u-t with The D-o-g-s for a w-a-l-k, he/she/’cause it ain’t an it… according to Dott. You… sneaks in & steals Our Stuff!!! This, probably, is to let us know who’s IN CONTROL!!! Who is THE BOSS!!! It’s an Italian Thing. Top on the List too right after… A) insisting on explaining something to you which exhausts your endurance to listen… B) bureaucrats & other folk, who sit behind counters… I cannot say work… purposely taking their merry time shuffling papers and other non-sense, while you are at your wit’s end from having waited for hours & hours!!!… and C) asking directions and what you get is a hap-hazard finger pointed, often, in the opposing direction ’cause THEY AIN’T NEVER GOING TO SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN!!!… they think.  Unfortunately, because you are dealing with an Italian and/or Italians, if caught… which I did to a stupid vigilli one fine day in Florence… they, being A Crafty Folk. Go & read what the Experts said in a US Defense Department study about The Italian Character during WWII… always seem to have A Winning AND Discussion Ending Reply… damn them. Anyway, a light blinkered OFF & ON inside My Sixty-one Year Old Drug Rattled Post-Hip-Op Brain… maybe it’s a Brain. I’m not sure anymore.. of a small detail I had notice earlier… the door to the Stanza dei Tini/Lavaderia/Bathroom did not shut AND lock when closed as it had before all these shenanigans of Our Missing Stuff began to afflict us. The Math was easy… Our Stuff gone + Door won’t shut & lock = THIEF!!! Now, I have to figure out who is The Culprit. Knowing You, as I do, he would never make An Accusation of Anyone unless absolutely 100% SURE-FIRE of all The Cogent Facts. However, he will have considerable divertimento hypothesizing who might he or she be. Oh! This would be D) on the above List. Watch out!!! I fire when ready, as is the Character of those in the United States of America. Of course, I am well aware that that land is several thousand kilometers away from Codiponte, Tuscany Italy. So, if you will excuse me, I must shut AND lock all the doors & windows. Gads.

 

 

 

Physical proof…

IMG_3954One of the shards given to me by The Sweet Couple as an example of the demolished wall-stencils from their house just off the Piazza Civico in Codiponte. Pretty, no? If you study the two blues in the Fleur de lis design, the darker of the two is nearly on the same street as Our Blue-blue in La Casa Grande. Gads.

Going, going, gone…

On September 7, 1920, there was an earthquake which was centered in the Garfagnana region, the Colorado-like mountainous area sharing the northwest corner of Tuscany with the Lunigiana. The extent of destruction was immense… from the Big City of Aulla past all the towns & villages climbing along the Aulella River Valley to the Carpinelli Pass and all of the towns & villages of the Garfagnana to nearly Lucca. Much of Codiponte was destroyed. Il Poggiolo was a different looking farm-house on evening of September 6th… for instance, there was a high stone wall surrounding what was the vineyard, the Loggia and the terrace to L’Appartamento Azzurro were rooms of La Casa Grande, there were many more windows on the vineyard-side of the house and a good bit of Il Poggiolo was stucco-ed. We know because we have photocopies of photographs taken in 1916 of Il Poggiolo. All gone after 5:55AM on September 7th.

Most folk had little money to re-build. Earthquake chains were a known item, and at the time, any old iron forge could make & install them fairly cheaply. Roof cordoli, sub-floorings, low-center-of-gravity bricks or picking & re-stucco-ing the stone walls of a house were either too expensive or yet-to-be-specified. Most just patched up walls, dismantled & modified sections of houses & out-buildings and what was not tumble-down piles of rubble was re-plastered & painted, as quickly and as inexpensively as possible to erase the traces of the tragedy. The tell-tale signs of structural damage from the earthquake were often ignored… covered-over & forgotten.

I used to be an interior designer. I even taught it. One item of My Personal Design Philosophy with which I tried to inspire clients & students alike was this… often, humble means can bear more creative fruit than all the gold, glass & Glory of say, a Versailles. Unavoidably, many still yearned for what could be had by a Louis XIV… or any other rich person about. An irresistible & expensive look of early 20th Century Italian interiors was flocked wallpaper. I love the idea of such wall-covering… or, carta da parati, but who today would want to feel they are living inside a lined box? Not back then. Responding to the market… in grotesque americanese… painters of the day concocted huge rollers with stencil patterns chiseled on them. And, off they rolled simulated flocking…

IMG_3942Ecco… of the Florentine symbol, Fleur de lis, in an innocent Copenhagen Blue. And a what? IMG_3938A lotus seed pod in sepia. Such quaint & recognizable designs sprouted across umpteen quickly plastered interior walls in the houses of the earthquake struck area. The above examples are from a house just off the Piazza Civico in Codiponte belonging to a couple… two of the sweetest folk in town… tackling the job themselves with its reconstruction. They had inherited the sins of the previous owners… fast & clever plaster & paint job disguising gaping seismic cracks in the house’s stone walls from the 1920 earthquake… when they were revealed by falling plaster from the 2013 one. I had caught them loading up a tractor at the bottom of the stairs to the re-do filled with shards of the now demolished stencil work. I said how sorry I was that this vestige had to be sacrificed to structure but, they were justified in doing so. I suggest they leave at least a portrait painting size panel to commemorate the house’s history. They said they had already thought to do so. Good. They gave me a few shards as a souvenir.

I may be guilty of the pot calling the kettle black but, not really. Though L’Appartamento Azzurro had broad boarders of applied stencils where the walls met the ceilings and around doors & windows in a nearly French tri-color flag combo of red, white & blue, there was little to save. All had practically faded away from salvation after 25+ years of abandonment to the elements of wind, rain & sun through long shattered windows & doors. Not such a big shame this loss of a bit of Il Poggiolo’s history. Too late. For the couple it is. Gone. Really gone some of the best examples of decorative stenciling I have laid eyes upon. Ever. Gads.

The nature corner…

IMG_3949This is the Year of the Preying Mantis. Been here at Il Poggiolo & Codiponte five years and n’er a one before. Now, I see them all over. And, as is their want, not always in this high-voltage Green sheathing. Perhaps, he/she/it does not have a tint to match Our Light Blue-Grey. The last P.M. I saw… right after My Capricious Escape to Gragnola in My FIAT Barcchetta… had just leapt off the rock wall in front of the parking spaces down at the ol’ Medieval Bridge. It was a chic beige. REALLY COOL!!! At first, I had thought someone had chucked a popsicle-stick and then, I remembered that in Italy, they use plastic. So, it was… Hey! Look everyone. Another Preying Mantis!!! Naturally, no-one was. It was nearly pranzo.

IMG_3949I have to admit to doctoring the photo. In actuality, this character… hanging on waiting for his next prey and boy! It’s a buffet for him/her/it… was perched like this to the left. I would get dizzy and would starve to Death, if I had to stay like he/she/it has to just for a meal… of another bug. Euw, ick!!! Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gads.