Freezing views…

1C degree today. Yesterday, -4C degrees. And the day before yesterday, -2C degrees. The Apuane Mtns. under a mantel of snow from last weekend. It’ll be washed away soon. A frozen Fish Pond which saves me from feeding those critters now in heavy winter sleep. But who should care when Mr. Sole shines like he has a monopoly on those sunny rays.

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IMG_4044This Big Freeze of November 2013 forced me to lug-in all my potted-plants into non-sub-zero safety. These gardenias, nearly exterminated last winter when their semi-transparent coverings flew off during a series of snows-storms, are in the Stanza dei Tini. Huddling to be warm. Sun-light does filter in through a small window. Other plants are in You’s Kingdom… that’ll be appreciated!!!… or, in the Kitchen, where the shutterless Front Door acts like a green-house, more or less. This confuses The Dogs no end. They look at me to ask why Their Eating Area is cluttered so with greenery. I’d explain but, it’s easier to feed them & then flee on a W-a-l-k. Gads.

 

Last week’s sky…

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From Sunday, the 17th of November until today, Monday, the 25th of the month, a medley of last week’s skies over Il Poggiolo. A predominance of grey, I would say. Gads.

Where the chickens once…

IMG_4035I huffed and I puffed and I tugged and I lugged and I dug and I raked and before the sun sank behind yonder low hills of Our Bucolic Aullela River valley… at 3:57 PM!!! Winter. Yeck… I stood back and admired My Sunday Afternoon’s Bit of Gardening Work. It was truly a sunny Sanday for us here. Then, I hobbled crutch-less & bent to the warmth of My L’Appartamento Azzuro to take a pain-pill. Lord, My Trials & Tribulations!

The contents of the attached photo may not mean a thing to any of you, Dear Readers… I barely know what to think of My Handy-work… but, to The Big Kahuna You & Little Ol’ Me, it is a settling of a long & on-going dispute: i.e. the distribution of oleanders for A Proper Privacy Screen from the horrendous new roof Our New Neighbors, I Spezzini. The terra-cotta tiled Horror was plopped onto an addition to their home. I Spezzini? Ah! Well, because, they’re from La Spezia, a place about as charming as their cheap terra-cotta roof tiles. They will not be forgiven for either error but, never mind that for now. Thankfully, Our Discussion never reached the Level of Threat like it did over the location of the Kitchen in La Casa Grande. If you all recall, You invoked The Dreaded WARNING… Over My Dead Body!!! No. I quietly followed His Oleander Orders. Today, this quaint photo-scene in the corner off the ramp from the aia to L’Appartamento Azzurro and the Upper-Forty of the Garden, where chickens once s**t, p****d & c******d, has now been put to rights. The oleanders will be thick, and in a couple of years, we won’t see I Spezzini at all. EVIVA!!!

There’s more History to this Story… for I Spezzini to follow their lousy Aesthetic Instincts… HELL & DAMNATIONl!!!… they’re getting a 50% kick-back from the Italian Government, the same government which says they’re ain’t no mo’ Euros around… I allowed their Cute Local Builder to use Our Oleander Corner as a staging area for the construction work. I hope to receive a discount when the Cute Local Builder when he and his crew come to Il Poggiolo to patch things up post-Earthquake next Spring. I first had to YANK up all the oleanders & box-woods, so they would not get c*****d… t******d… or a*****d. I wanted to re-work the beds anyway. An aside…

the previous tenants must have enjoyed lots of fried chicken. N’er a tree or bush or blade of grass even for shade was had at the time of Our Purchase of Il Poggiolo. Just a concrete pad. We were told by Our Neighbor Lady Below that the Hen-house & smallish pen were  covered with ad hoc sheets of that declasse’ & quag-like semi-transparent plastic Green awning… rippled too… the Locals cannot resist from using. More God-awful Aesthetics. WE’RE SURROUNDED, YOU!!!

All that needs to happen before I can dust myself off of this task is to buy one more oleander… preferably, with soft apricot flowers, as per Further Instructions… and You will be happy to have his Oleander Privacy Screen. I shall be very happy not to be hen-p****d. And Winter can go blow. Gads.

Snow in them there hills 2…

I wanted to shoot these sights while out with The Dogs yesterday on Our W-a-l-k around Codiponte. We have several tours. The Dogs tell me which one they want to do. Naturally, their decision is based upon where the most stinky smells are. 9 out of 10 times, its one of several groups of dumpsters around Our Community. I had left the camera at home. And, once home, it started to rain hard… sleet some… and snow a little bit so, I postponed the attempt. Today, a light drizzle so, no problem. The digital camera was buried deep in a jacket pocket. And, ecco!… I took these photos. I happen to like what the snow clouds do to the colors of Our Neck of the Lunigiana woods. Meanwhile, back at Dog Centrale at L’Appartamento Azzurro, The Dogs staid cozy warm next to the home fires. It would be

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helpful to stoke those fires by themselves. They aren’t just for me, you know. I keep them roaring for them too. Gads.

P.S. Behind that lumpy & frosted peak in the right-hand photo is the Mediterranean Sea!!!

Snow on them there hills…

IMG_4027Well, to repeat myself, it’s back to The Weather… Sardinia was knocked low by a cyclone. I don’t think the folk here apply the word hurricane to the Mediterranean Sea. Using the word cyclone though sounds so…? So…? Well… so Homer’s Iliad! The storm system hit the mythic isle during the night between Tuesday & Wednesday. By Noon, the NE corner of Sardinia was a wash-out. It’s Friday today and it is still raining on that not-so-dry island. As You would say… Beeeg devastations. Yep. Enormous. Then, the cyclone down-graded itself by a notch & moved on over to the Italian mainland. Can a boot-like peninsula be taken for a mainland? The forecasts on the Internet said rain… wind… sleet… and snow. They failed to explain with their cute little symbols just how much force, intensity, damage all those cute little climatic expressions would be. Let me present an example, here at Il Poggiolo in Codiponte (MS) Tuscany, Italy….during a pause with the various forms of precipitation last night, I thought it might be appropriate to exit L’Appartamento Azzurro for a much retarded Pee-pee Run. This decision was made by the light of candles. Yep. Chronic power outages. Thank God, You had insisted we stock lots of IKEA candles. The lack of electricity sent My Internet Connection all to Hell. Anyway, escaping on a full-fledged W-a-l-k might have pushed it. Out, pee-pee, in. Well, The Dogs REFUSED to leave their poltrone!!! Spoiled animals. Feeling that Our Window of Opportunity might be short-lived, I grabbed Nina & directed her fanny out the apartment’s door… and BLAASSSST!!!… off she flew. It was a brusk landing for Our Little Girl. She tumbled towards the glass damigelle. I immediately went to fetch her and got kicked off My Still-Awkward-Sense-of-Balance by the gale, thanks to My Recuperating Bum Right Leg. I was bashed against the rock wall where all those hydrangeas were withering in the cattivo tempo. I was twirled around, fell… onto the Good Leg, Bless the Responsible… managed to pick myself up, rescue the be-thunked Dog and return to the safety of Our Home. That did it. Not until we had passed a rough night of waves & waves & waves of thunderstorms furious with rain, hail & winds, did we three even think to go outside… into a semi-bright day on this Friday’s morning. It’s only a break. More R-W-S-S is envisioned until Sunday Noon. Can we resist until then? Gads.

Rhythms & repeats…

IMG_4019In between writing & posting My Last Post… Harvest… today at the Italian House Blog, I took The Dogs our for a W-a-l-k and thought about what I had just written. May I say? You says I should avoid being in a reflective mood. Says it’s not in My Character to be so. OK. You also insists it’s dangerous for Americans to brood too much. Often leads to unexpected unpleasantness for innocent victims. You might be afraid of stray fire or an explosion, if I were to blow a circuit from lack of such mental reverie. Well, let me have a stab at it anyway. It won’t last long. Nearly painless. I shouldn’t be a threat to women & children…

Thought #1: Am I repeating myself too much on this blog?… Thought #2: You might be… a brisk Thought #3: Do you think this is boring…? Dull…? STUPID, even!!! to treat any readers about The -Net with the more than the rare repeat of topics?… A deafening SILENCE… then, a loud Thought #4: Well, Hell! What’s the Big Deal if you do?… a relatively protective Thought #5: Listen, you spend most of the year, from March to today, the middle of a rainy November, at il Poggiolo and you have done so for the last five years. Ditto, caro, for that blog of yours! Of course you’re going to recite a few of the same topics on the blog. It’s expected. It’s a blog. It’s not great literature. And, no money is involved… dammit!!!

So, those thoughts absorbed the Allotted Time of Our Dog W-a-l-k. I had to come to A Rapid Conclusion…

Il Poggiolo was once-upon-time a working farm and though it is no longer, it still has a primary spot in the active farming community of Codiponte. The seasons reign dominant of the village’s day in & day out Farming & Gardening Tasks on the List, and by necessity. I am neither a farmer, nor a gardener. Too citified, is My Excuse. I am just a fellow, who likes to be outside working with his hands, making a mess with Mother Nature and who has the happy privilege of cleaning her & the mess up… all… by… himself… and to later enjoy any flora results. So, just by the Swing & Sway, I have taken on the same yearly rhythms & repeats of farming, gardening and their seasonal pursuits. For me, a few examples are: ranting about cacchi making mushy marmalade on My Not-So-Perfect Grassy Lawns… lodging Complaints about the amount of O2 which falls in the Fall and doesn’t in the Summer… Pruning Arguments with You in the spring to encourage a sapling into a mighty shade tree, while both of us sport goofy-looking straw hats against the sun… ad infinitum. One day, You & I will recommence new & additional renovations on il Poggiolo. I guess for you, the Reader, and me, we can both look forward to the shenanigans of a builder + crew. New builder + crew, I can assure you. Betcha can’t wait for that? Then perhaps, you can accept a few more yearly repeats at the Italian House Blog. Oldies but Goodies? Yes, maybe. I hope so! And, thanks for stopping by, if you do. Gads.

Harvest…

IMG_4019You interrupted me while I was making a much required caffe’ after awaking from a too short Sunday afternoon nap to inform me it was high time we harvested the cacchi... or, Our Makes Marmalade Friends, the persimmons. We? I am still… officially… in a period of convalescence, Caro Dottore. Well then, come & observe. Gosh, what fun! Watch you break your neck falling from a twenty foot tall ladder? How good are you at dangling? I do not intend to dangle. You will when you loose your balance and need to grab ahold of something to forestall a bad fall, i.e. like a tree-branch. I won’t. I want to harvest the cacchi and before it rains. I’ll be outside. Oh! Is there a caffe’ for me? Suddenly, after this typical negotiation, out of the murky light, came two neighbors to help. A man and a woman. One, the man, was light enough of foot to scale to nearly the tippity-top branches from that twenty foot tall ladder. He declined The Harvesting Tool… a canvas mini-basket held to a long wood pole by a crown in a garden bright orange aluminum. Couldn’t miss it in the dark, if you tried. The trick of The Tool is to capture a fruit… mela, pera, cacchi… by ramming the basket part up to the desired fruity orbe, snagging it in one of the furrows of the funny crown and YANK!!! I was the only member of the Team to enjoy success. Apparently, I had better leverage remaining firmly affixed upon Ms. Mother Earth, what with My Hip-op-ed Right Hip and its partner, the non-hip-op-ed Left One. Then, I ran out of cacchi to yank at My Level of Reach. Fine.

I went & bush-wacked weeds on the Upper Forty. Enormous sense of satisfaction too. Sad we can’t eat the stuff too. Would be a bumper crop every two weeks, thanks to the mild temps & constant rains of September, October and now, November.

The tree looks a bit denuded & top-heavy. Those fruits left upon the tree will, no doubt, be marmalade on Ms. ME after the next rain & wind storm. It’s envisioned for tonight & tomorrow.

Our neighbors lugged home three baskets full of cacchi for their happy labors. Must’ve weighed a collective ton. The persimmons are picked when yellow & hard & pesante. They’re consigned to the dark of a cantina to ripen. Ours have been sequestered in the Stanza dei Tini until someone dares to eat a ready one. Won’t be me. Do not care for their taste though I like their autumnal hues. Here below is the proof… last shot on the far right is cacchi-mush. The proverbial Fallen. The Rejected. But ain’t that Red-orange pretty, if you can ignore the mouldy blotches? Gads.

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A baldy night sky…

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Stepped out last night to take a Nocturnal November W-a-l-k with The Dogs and saw this. A waning Moon washed by arriving rain clouds above the Convent of Codiponte. Brought to mind Night on Bald Mountain. The choice was to fish on YouTube for Mussorgsky OR, take a pic and fast. Opted for photography. Returned inside for the SONY. The Dogs circled around me wondering what-in-Hell-was-going-on. They both sat down on the Sardinian carpet out of frustration. Here is Our Dialogue…

The Dogs thought… Oh? That must’ve been Our W-a-l-k. Moses asked Nina… Did we leave the house? And Nina replied… Technically, yes, but we didn’t go anywhere. Hey! That fellow’s in the kitchen so, goodie! Has to be Cookie Time. I lectured… No, Dear Animals, we have to actually leave the confines of Il Poggiolo, you Dogs do your Stuff and don’t look at me like this is new to you. Then, once again within the confines of My Property, it will be Treat Time back at the ol’ Poggiolo corral… and in that order too! Their Weimaraner lazers said…  Gosh? Really? 

My mini-digital is not the adequate gizmo for emblazoning on its pixel-guts such a dark snap. But, as so, it’s very bats-flying spooky. Once a few shots were taken, off we three ambled down to the Medieval Bridge, the trash-dumpsters et al for Our Nightly Business on this Rain’s-coming Sunday evening. Treats followed by Beddy-by Time. Gads.

The winds of change…

The Weather has changed! Terrific wind storm hit Sunday night. Came from Libya. Il Libeccio. Then, Monday night, an about face. Came from the Balkans. Yep. Just the two places to excite the emotions. Il Greco. You have to imagine that Greece makes part of the Balkans to get this NE winter wind to work out with the geography. A crisp air… not especially cold, but its force made it seem so… brought on a stunning sunset last night…

towards the Mediterranean Sea and Libya distantly beyond…

IMG_4002and back towards the Garfagnana and the Balkans/Greece/whatever, equally as far, but blowing hard enough to down a tree or two and lots & lots of roof tiles. Gads.

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November 2013 garden pics…

Drizzle today. During a lull of the watery spray, I took a brief photo-tour around the Garden del Poggiolo on this Sunday morning, November 10, 2013…

IMG_3985at night, I light these candles outside the door to the L’Appartamento Azzurro, where I am now staying. Phase II of My Hip-op Recovery. The Dogs are still below nella Casa Grande. Six weeks after the op, I now have… mysteriously, high blood pressure and a fluttering heart. I suspect, since a few of the symptoms are similar, of an massive allergic reaction to the Dog’s oily coats, cooped as I was in a closed & humid Casa Grande full of dog hairs!!! Nina especially. Running tests to see why when before, during and right after the Hip-op, My Vital Signs were A-OK. Anyway, sorry to belabor the Health Report… Love the gentle candle-light outside when I head to the frig for something to drink… at 2 in the morning!!!

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Nooo… those are not oranges or late-season melons, but persimmons. Back during the famine after Italy had surrendered to the Allies in WWII, one persimmon was worth six eggs in Codiponte and for the simple reason of its large dose of Vitamin C. Folk were suffering from scurvy, among other ailments. Yesterday, I tackled picking some under a waning afternoon sun… encroaching cloud cover with rain… for a ninety-three year old neighbor, who remembers those hard years. A compassionate oddity of Italy… this woman has the right… written down in black & white… to pick up any fruit or nuts wherever they are to be found on property not hers. Not that I find the dear woman scavenging in Il Poggiolo’s Garden. Certainly not!!! She politely asks us every year for some fallen persimmons. We happily oblige her with a basket full of ones harvested off the tree. Saves us cleaning up the persimmon marmalade on the grass and the walk-ways underneath, when the fruit drops from a great height… SMACK!!! Instant jam. Oh! So, before that happens, you pick them hard and let them ripe.

Crepe myrtles’ leaves tinged a lovely rosey-red and the hydrangeas’ flowers a soft, acceptable, brown. All this says, pleasingly, of Fall EXCEPT the temperature. Gads.

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